You know, every time I do something nice for a friend, it tends to come back on me and bite me in the butt.
Remember I was driving my friend to the airport yesterday? We left about ten minutes later than we planned, but there was no traffic getting up there, so she was at the gate well before she needed to be. Not only that, but her flight ended up being delayed till 11am.
I was on my way home when I drove by one of those informational billboards that said the Newport bridge was “temporary closed.” I kid you not; that’s what the sign said. I called Kurt to get him to find out more information since that is the only way to get onto the island from the south — and yes, you have to approach the island from the south when you’re north of it in Warwick. It’s complicated, but just take my word for it. Eventually Kurt was able to get through to an employee at RIDOT, who initially told him that it was “unofficially” closed, probably for ice, but then gave him the number for the bridge authority. They confirmed there had been an accident, and that they were having issues getting emergency vehicles to the scene, and that the bridge would be closed for quite some time. They also suggested I listen to the AM station for updates.
I listened to that stupid AM channel. Not once was the closure of the bridge mentioned. Sort of renders the whole idea of radio updates rather null and void, yes?
By the time it was determined that the bridge was going to be closed for a while (a nine-car pileup resulting from ice on the bridge that occurred about fifteen minutes after I traveled over it that morning), I was already halfway home. I ended up making a U-turn, heading back through Providence and Massachusetts, and approaching the island from the north. It took me two hours to get home.
It was actually kind of nice. My friend owns a minivan with all the bells and whistles, so I had just about anything I could wish for. I stopped at McD’s to get my favorite breakfast (a #1 please — Egg McMuffin, hashbrown, and a cup of coffee), I had music blaring on the stereo, and I did not have a four-year-old yelling “Mommy mommy mommy!” at me from the back seat. It was lovely.
Unfortunately my friend’s husband needed to join his family in Florida because of an emergency situation that developed, so it was off to the airport once more for me today. Fortunately the bridge remained open, so it was a quick shot up there and back. Plus I got to drive my friend’s minivan again. Woo!
I made a killer dinner last night. Yes, you’re probably tired of me saying that. But you know, I really did! It’s not so much that I can cook well; it’s more that I find recipes that are really, really yummy. I’ve gotten to the point where I can just tell when a recipe is going to turn out well by looking at it. I tend to stay away from Allrecipes.com unless I need a recipe for serious comfort food; anyone can post a recipe there, but it doesn’t mean that it’s going to turn out well. I stick with sites that use recipes from cookbooks or cooking magazines, like MyRecipes.com.
But last night’s dinner came from a cookbook. My friend Pamela had posted on her blog about some ethnic cookbooks she’d bought for her daughter whom she homeschools, and the set looked really intriguing to me. I asked her to keep an eye out for another set, and she found one at a great price. These cookbooks really are great. They take a nation or a region, describe the people, the countries, the festivals and holidays, the flavors, and the food, and then showcases a few recipes so that the student can make the food described in the book. Plus the recipes are very, very easy since they’re meant for students.
From the Mediterranean cookbook, I chose the Arroz al horno, or Baked Rice. It comes from Spain, and it was the best dish for such a gloomy, blustery, cold day, like it was here yesterday.
Baked Rice (Arroz al horno)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 links Spanish chorizo or a milder pork sausage, cut into quarters
2 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced thickly
1 whole head garlic, with outermost skin removed
2 medium tomatoes, cut into wedges
2 cups short-grain rice, such as Arborio
1 (15oz) can chickpeas, drained
4 cups chicken or beef broth
1 tsp. paprika
pinch saffron (optional)
1/2 tsp. salt
1. Preheat oven to 400º.
2. In a deep, wide skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add sausage and potatoes and sauté 5 minutes, or until lightly browned.
3. Add whole head garlic to pan and sauté 2 to 3 minutes. Add tomato wedges to pan and sauté another 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
4. Place rice, chickpeas, broth, paprika, saffron (if using), and salt in a deep saucepan or stockpot. Bring to a boil and cook, uncovered 10 minutes.
5. Pour rice mixture into a baking dish [I used 13×9″]. Arrange sausage, potatoes, and tomatoes on top of rice, placing garlic in the center. Cover with aluminum foil and bake 25 minutes, or until liquid is nearly absorbed.
6. Remove from oven and allow to sit, still covered, 10 minutes. Uncover and serve from baking dish.
I made a few changes from the recipe as written. For one thing, I can’t get chorizo here on the island. So instead I used chouriço. Sort of the same thing, so it doesn’t matter a whole lot. You could also use kielbasa or smoked sausage or mild Italian sausage, or whatever you like. I used Roma tomatoes, since they were cheapest at the commissary. I also used Calrose rice, which is a medium-grain rice, but it worked well in this application. I didn’t want to buy a special rice just for this.
But the main thing was I started the rice part that’s supposed to simmer on the stove for 10 minutes before I sautéed the sausage with the potatoes. It just made more sense to do it that way. Also the recipe says not to serve the garlic, but I can’t see why not. Why waste roasted garlic? It’s absolutely delicious!
Let me tell you — it was awesome. And it was almost better the second day, reheated in the oven. What do you think?
I really encourage you to try it! I think you will be well-pleased with it.