Fearless hips

We eat dinner at about 7:00 pm.  I decide what to make for dinner at about 6:15 pm.  The night before last, I had this idea that it would help me relax about making dinner for guests if I didn’t worry about what I was going to make–not even decide on what to make until 45 minutes before show time.

At 5:00 pm I noticed that it was hard to focus on what people were saying.  At 6:00 I was sweating, and seeing only cereal when I opened up my dry goods drawer.  Time pressure can be a good thing, if you are happy to not care what happens once you start cooking–it’s a lot like the Samba class I took last night–there is the option of sitting in the corner, snapping to the beat, studying the moves and going home to practice, or just swinging your butt from side to side on the count of “and ONE!” and hoping it lands somewhere that it’s supposed to.  (Back at the ranch) I chopped up and onion because you can never go wrong with a delicious onion, and cooked it up with olive oil, a sprig of thyme, a sprig of parsely, a bay leaf and a few cloves of garlic.  I threw in some smashed cumin, a piece of tomato, and once all of that was sizzling and a little bit caramelized, I added chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (these things will kill you with the heat if you dump in the whole can; just add a teaspoon and freeze the rest.)  I rinsed off the (cooked) black beans and added those, with a small pour of red vinegar and a pour of water.

In another pan, I started a red sauce.  A spill of olive oil, then 2 cloves of whole garlic, uncut, then a good handful of whole fresh basil leaves.  When the garlic is nearly golden and the the basil has gone dark green (not at all brownn,) hand crushed San Marzano tomatoes, add them to the pot, and let it simmer for about 15 minutes.  This is a technique from my living idol–Lidia Bastianich–making a red sauce to cook corn on the cob.  I tasted it for salt, and then added five ears of fresh corn and the cover.  In another pan I mixed up 1 cup of jasmati rice with a spill of olive oil, twice the amount of water as rice, a bay leaf, and salt.  On the side, I cut up an avocado and a fresh tomato, and sprinkled them with lime juice, olive oil and salt.  When everything was done, I mixed together the rice with the beans, spooned them onto a platter with a generous grating of cheddar over the top and a few cilantro leaves, and (after 5-6 minutes of cooking) I cut the corn into 2 inch pieces and arranged them around the rice and beans.  (Keep the sauce to make gazpacho tomorrow.)  On the side, green salad and that salad of tomatoes and avocados (I like them separate.)  This is really good with homemade Sangria, or limeade, but we had no time to make Sangria or limeade before we sat down because I had already pushed the envelope of time to the busting point.

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