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  • Sometimes, the simplest of dishes can be the most difficult to pull off. You might hear people you know say otherwise, but they might be the exception to the rule. There seems to be something, be it in ingredients or preparation, that can make the most seemingly simple of dishes turn into an exercise of great difficulty, be it for you or for your personal chef. A good example would be rice.
  • A staple of Asian and Mediterranean cuisine, rice is an amazingly flexible ingredient. It could be used for soups, salads, a component in noodles, and even as a dessert. Rice also acts as a sponge, absorbing the flavors from whatever soup or broth that you used to cook it in. Now, there are two difficulties encountered with rice. One, how not to make it too fluffy; and two, how not to burn it. This brings us to a notable rice dish that you or your personal chef would love to try at home: Tomato Rice Stew. Simple to make, but bursting with flavors, this is just the dish you need for a chilly autumn evening.

    INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups uncooked white rice
  • 2 unpeeled potatoes, diced
  • 1 (12 ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 (13.5 ounce) can whole leaf spinach,
    drained
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can stewed tomatoes,
    drained and sliced
  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
    DIRECTIONS:

  • 1. In a large saucepan, mix the water, rice, potatoes, tomato paste, and tomato sauce. Stirring constantly, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, and stir in basil, sugar, salt, and bay leaves. Cook about 15 minutes, stirring often, until potatoes and rice are tender but firm.
  • 2. Mix spinach, stewed tomatoes, and lemon juice into the saucepan. Reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes, or until rice has finished cooking and the mixture has thickened.
  • Now, while cooking process seems simple enough, and the ingredients quite common enough, you have to take note that the main ingredient, rice, requires a little bit of careful handling. You see, when rice is stirred too often in the simmering phase, the grains may be cooked unevenly. Too often, you will hear cooks complaining that the rice dishes they may still have raw grains. Professional chefs (and those who knew better) can solve that by using more fluid, and letting the rice grains cook properly along with the other ingredients before stirring. Often times, this would enable a better blending of flavors and textures.
  • When it comes to cooking, it is important that you truly take the opportunity to learn how to cook. Experience is an excellent teacher when it comes to cooking. Yes, you will make mistakes along the way, your dish may be less than stellar at the start, but you will be better. Or, to save you grief, you can just get a professional chef to do the job for you. Either way, you would still get a tasty meal.

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