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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Cheesy Peas and Rice

I have been steadily trying to avoid both processed foods, because they are stupidly expensive, and anything overly cheesy, because I am trying to overcome something of an addiction. [If I had my druthers, my diet could easily consist of cheesy bread, cheese sauce, cheese cubes, and cheesecake. I love cheese! But moderation is key, and I take pride in the fact that every time I go to the doctor, they tell me I have impeccable blood pressure. I don't want to ruin my track record. ] And bastardized versions of "ethnic" cuisine, because I get so annoyed when people try and mess with Lebanese food.

Anyway, this recipe includes all three, but it came together so magically,I just had to post about it. My sister, between rushing from pastry school to her job at an asbestos law firm, made a quick lunch of Campbell's tomato soup and a grilled cream cheese sandwich. She left about a half of cup of tomato soup sitting in the pot, and I, feeling both resistant to throwing it out or keeping it, decided to jazz it up into something special.

With literally three flicks of the wrist, I ended up with a vaguely-Indian inspired tomato rice pea cheese risotto thing. And it was delicious! Requiring virtually nothing in the way of preparation, I chucked it on the stove, cleaned the rest of the kitchen, organized my hallway closet and when I came back, lunch was ready. It was perfectly sweet and salty and spicy, with the consistency of homemade mac and cheese, and smelling like an Indian buffet in an Ohio strip mall. Delightful!

It was as simple as heating the cold and rapidly congealing leftover soup, adding 1/2 cup of milk, a bit of water, a generous hunk of butter, a bit of flour and about 1/4 of a package of cream cheese, cubed, bringing it all to boil and then simmering for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once it was starting to look melty and saucy, I stirred in a can of sweet peas and about a 1/4 cup of rice. Rooted in my spice drawer and came up with cumin, cayanne, and tumeric [I almost added saffron but decided it would add unnecessary elegance]. No salt, cause I figured that my boy Campbell probably had enough sodium to give Lance Armstrong a heart attack. I brung it all to a boil and let simmer for 20 minutes or so and I had my Cheesy Peas and Rice [I wouldn't dare call it Mutter Paneer, but it is certainly where I owe my inspiration].

What I wished I would have done:
  • Added the flour and cheese slower...I did end up with some clumps and I really wanted a smooth, creamy sauce.

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