Where in the Web Are We?

It’s been a busy week for CollazoProjects!

If you’ve missed any of these projects we’ve just finished, just click on over and get caught up!

Why Travel is the Most Patriotic Act You Can Do: In celebration of July 4, Julie reflects upon why she travels to Cuba (hint: it’s not the rum or the sun) and why travel is the most patriotic act an American can make.

From the article:

I believe that the act of traveling and then sharing is the most American, the most patriotic, the most democratic act an ordinary citizen can take.”

On another Cuban note, we want to give you advance notice that Francisco will be teaching a Cuban cooking class at the Whole Foods Culinary Center on Bowery Street in New York City on October 24.

The three hour class (6:30 PM-9:30 PM) promises to be informational, hands-on, fun, and tasty– all in Francisco’s usual signature style! Be sure to keep your eye on the Culinary Center’s calendar and sign up page: tickets are sure to go fast and there are only 12 spots in the class!

Top 10 Tips for Stretching Your Travel Dollar : A two-part series on MatadorPulse with Julie’s suggestions about how you can make your vacation dollar go the extra mile. Part 1 is here; part 2 is here.

Tips for Traveling in “Dangerous” Places: As we get prepared for a Colombia trip and hear “Be careful down there!” one too many times, Julie offers some practical tips for traveling safely in “dangerous” areas… and anywhere, for that matter. From the introduction to the article:

“…our perceptions of what make a place seem dangerous are shaped by many factors—the hyper-dramatic media more interested in getting a quick and juicy story rather than sticking around to figure out the complicated dynamics of a place; government agencies driving their own political and economic agendas; and rumors that have taken on a life of their own. All of these are dubious sources of useful information for the traveler getting ready to depart for a place that’s perceived as having a high danger factor.”

Finally, Julie’s guest blog about living your dream life appeared on Christine Gilbert’s website earlier this week. Be sure to check it out!

Thanks for visiting and have a great week!- Francisco & Julie

Cuba postcard photo: wedgienet
Colombian girl photo: Philip Bouchard

Rice Riot!

Over at MatadorPulse, my buddy and co-editor, Eva Holland, recently posted a collection of photos of Japanese rice field art.

In a matter of hours, Eva’s photo blog attracted more than 50,000 visitors, many of whom have been hotly debating whether the rice fields are a miracle of planters’ hands or the skillful mouse-work of a clever Photoshop user.

Most of the commenters have been dubious that the cool designs could be man-made, citing as evidence that there’s no such thing as black, yellow, or brown rice.

Actually, there are more than 40,000 kinds of rice that are grown on this big blue planet, among them the Bhutanese red, the Japonica black, and Emperor’s Green Rice (yes, the grain is green, and no, it’s not dyed), which I’ve only seen for sale once: at Kalustyan’s in New York City.

In honor of the rice riot over at MatadorPulse, Chef Francisco is sharing one of his favorite rice recipes with you. Read on!

Indian Style Saffron Rice
While saffron is often associated with Spanish style rice dishes, it can also be incorporated quite well into Indian rices. In this recipe, I use saffron in jasmine rice and help the distinct flavors of both pop with some other unexpected ingredients. Since this rice is so flavorful, it’s best to serve it alongside a tamer flavored steamed chicken or fish.

*1 cup jasmine rice
*1/2 teaspoon saffron (threads, not powder) that have been steeped for 5 minutes in 2 tablespoons of boiling water
*2 cups stock (you can use chicken or vegetable)
*6 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
*1/2 cup of red onion, minced
*1 cinnamon stick
*2 cloves (whole)
*1-1/2 tablespoons brown sugar (preferably packed granulated, rather than turbinado or mascarbado)
*1 tablespoon honey
*1 teaspoon salt
*1 pinch of ground coriander
*1 pinch of ground cardamom

1) Place the rice in a colander and run cold water over the rice until the water runs clear. Shake the rice a few times to release the extra water and set aside.
2) Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a heavy-bottom sauce pan (preferably one the size of your burner). Once the oil is hot, add the cinnamon stick and the two cloves and stir them around until they begin to release their aromas. Once you’re smelling the rich spices, add the onions and continue sauteeing until these are soft and golden.
3) Once the onions are ready, add the rice and stir constantly for five minutes using a wooden spoon.
4) Add your stock, brown sugar, honey, salt, coriander, and cardamom. Continue stirring until the sugar and honey are dissolved.
5) Once the sugar and honey are dissolved, bring the rice mixture in your pan to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low and allow the rice to simmer.
6) As the rice begins to simmer, add the saffron (leaving it in the water in which it’s been steeping).
7) Cover your pan with a tight-fitting lid and allow to cook for 25 minutes. Then, test the rice. If it’s tender, remove from the heat and fluff the rice with a fork. If the rice is not tender, simmer a bit more.

Serves 4.

Rice Art Photos: ayuko106 (creative commons)
Saffron Photo: Mar Mar (creative commons)

What’s your favorite rice recipe? Do you have a hard time cooking rice perfectly? Send Francisco a comment and he’ll help you troubleshoot your rice woes!