Friday, December 31, 2010

Craving things you can't have

Happy Impending New Year from the Overseas Exile blog!

There are plenty of ingredients from the US I can't get over here, though most I don't miss or I have fine substitutes for. One annoyance is canned clams. I always kept a few handy for quick meals but I've never seen them over here. Sometimes, though, it's an end-product and not an ingredient. I don't see Rice-a-Roni on the shelves here in Europe, so I started experimenting and making my own. Shannon lives in Malawi and presumably they don't sell it there, either. She asked for the recipe and I found it in my email, having previously sent it to a friend in the US who refused to by Rice-a-Roni but nonetheless couldn't withstand the cravings.

Rice-A-Phony:

Rice-A-Roni
I miss you!
Photo by S. Fabien Peters
2. Take vermicelli or spaghetti and break it up into small, rice-sized pieces (don't stress if they're too big).
3. Add twice that amount of rice (I use basmati. Your mileage may vary). (i.e., 1/3 pasta, 2/3 rice).
5. Measure 2 1/2 times the amount of rice+paste as water. Heat to boiling (i.e., if you have 1 cup of the rice+pasta mix, you want 2 1/2 cups of water).
7. Mix chicken bullion into that water (I use Knorr) in the proper amount to make it taste like something you're willing to drink (no, not an alcoholic drink, silly).
11. Chop up enough green onions and mushrooms to make you happy.
13. Brown some almond slivers or slices (not too many unless you want too many) in a dry skillet.
17. Saute (on high heat) rice+pasta in one or two tablespoons of butter until golden brown.
19. Stir in chicken water and drown the mushrooms, onions and almonds in it.
23. Cover with lid, reduce to simmer, and simmer for 15 minutes.
29. Remove from heat and let sit for a couple of minutes.
31. Enjoy!

I can't recall why I had numbered those steps with prime numbers, but there you go ... I'm too lazy to change it.

I think this makes a nice side dish to chicken roasted with thyme and lemon.

The above recipe, of course, is only a base. You might want to change the herbs or other things which go in there. I vary this with beef bullion¹ and varying ingredients to play around with it, but it satisfies my cravings and frankly, tastes better than the stuff in the box. I've done this quite a bit with a variety of recipes and I'm definitely not the only expat who does this. Shannon, for example, makes her own marshmallows. I now know there are entire cookbooks dedicated to "copy cat" recipes. I should start buying them (hence the Amazon link on the left).

At this rate I need to start adding a "food" label to posts.



1. For some reason, I find I have to make the beef bullion a lot stronger than the chicken bullion when I make this recipe. Also, my wife hates it. Maybe it's a French thing :)