Carrot Rice Pilaf

This is a very simple, yet delicious side dish. The carrots and celery leaves make it look colorful.

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Carrot Rice Pilaf

Serves 6

1 cup basmati or jasmine rice
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 Tbs butter
1 small sweet onion, finely chopped
2 cups carrots, thinly sliced
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/3 cup celery leaves chopped
1 tsp thyme

Preheat a large skillet that has a lid over medium heat.

Add butter, onions, carrots and celery leaves and sauté for 4 minutes or until the onions start to get soft.

Push the onion mixture to the side of the pan and add rice and sauté stirring frequently until the rice starts to turn a little brown, about 3 minutes.

Add stock, salt and thyme to the hot pan, stir and bring to a boil.

Once you have reached a boil, turn down to a slight simmer and place the lid on and simmer for 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes remove rice from heat and let sit for 10 more minutes.

Remove lid and fluff with fork. Serve immediately.

Haitian Rice and Beans

Yesterday, there was a service learning theme day at The Gooden School in Sierra Madre, which is the school I cook for. Service-Learning, involves hands-on student involvement with vital causes throughout the year at every grade level. Many such opportunities were highlighted on Service-Learning Theme Day (Tuesday, January 14). Student involvement in meaningful local and global causes was demonstrated at four interactive stations on the campus: Homelessness, Endangered Animals, Water Conservation, Haitian arts & culture.

All the students had a “snack” of rice and beans with lemonade, which is a main staple in Haiti. They also attached a note to each of these hand made warm scarves, which will be sent to Friends in Deed in Pasadena for their Bad Weather Shelter program.

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Haiti Project

Haitian Rice and Beans

Serves 6

2 Tbs olive oil
2 cups onions, chopped
1 tsp dried oregano
3 garlic cloves, minced
½ tsp kosher salt
3 cups water
1 1/2 cups uncooked long-grain white rice
15 oz can pinto or red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions, oregano, garlic and kosher salt to pan; cook 12 minutes or until the onions are tender, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Cover and set aside.

Bring 3 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan; add rice. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 18 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat; fluff with a fork. Stir in the beans and onions.

Beef & Broccoli in a Crockpot

I have been really busy lately and needed something to throw in the crockpot. This is so easy and delicious. It gets rave reviews.

I used my new crockpot. The handle broke off my old Rival crockpot. I contacted the company and ask them if I could have a new handle. They said that they would just send you a new one! Talk about customer service!

I could not find beef consommé at the store, so I used beef broth. I googled the difference between the two and this is what came up, which is obnoxious!

The distinctions between stock, broth and consommé are not immediately obvious to the layperson.

Broth is made by simmering vegetables or meat and bones for some time, until the flavor of the simmered food has infused the water. The stock or broth is then usually poured through a strainer to remove most of the particles, bones, skin, and the meat. It’s used this way, with no further processing.

Consommé is cleared by adding a step: after sieving as above, egg whites are added to the hot broth or stock. As the egg whites cook, they precipitate into the stock, and begin to bind with some of the particles in the broth. They then rise to the top, appearing as scum or foam. Once the foam cap has formed, pouring off the broth from below, while leaving the cap undisturbed will produce consommé – a broth as clear of suspended particles as water.

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Beef & Broccoli in a Crockpot

1 lb boneless beef chuck roast, sliced into thin strips
1 cup beef consommé
½ cup soy sauce
⅓ cup brown sugar or honey
1 Tbs sesame oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbs cornstarch
2 Tbs cooled sauce from the crock pot after being cooked

Fresh broccoli florets (as many as desired)
Hot cooked rice

Place beef in a crock pot.

In a small bowl, combine consommé, soy sauce, brown sugar/honey, oil, and garlic. Pour over beef. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

In a cup, stir cornstarch and sauce form the crock pot until smooth. Add to crock pot. Stir well to combine. (If your sauce is not thickening, try bringing your sauce to a boil on the stovetop with the corn starch mixture. Boil until your desired consistency is reached).

Add broccoli to the crock pot. Stir to combine.

Cover and cook an additional 30 minutes on high.

Serve over hot cooked rice.

Butternut Squash Risotto

My brother-in-law, Russell, made this Butternut Squash Risotto for some vegetarian guests. He replaced the chicken stock with vegetable stock.

The rice can be partially cooked in advance and cooled, the finishing process is so precise that the risotto cannot wait for your guests, but rather your guests have to wait for the risotto.

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Butternut Squash Risotto

Serves 4

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 Tbs chopped garlic
2 cups arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine
About 6 cups of hot chicken stock or vegetable stock
1 butternut squash, one half baked in the oven and then pureed; the other half, peeled, cut into small dice, and sautéed in a little oil and butter until tender
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
4 Tbs unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

In a medium-size heavy saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and saute, stirring continuously, just until softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the rice and continue to stir, using a wooden spoon, to coat the rice with the oil.

Add the white wine and continue cooking, stirring often, until it has been absorbed by the rice. Pour in enough chicken stock to cover the rice completely, about 3 cups, and continue to cook, stirring often, until all the liquid is absorbed.

Pour in 1 cup more of the remaining stock and stir and cook until it has been absorbed. Repeat with 1 more cup. Add the remaining cup and cook, stirring, until the rice is al dente, tender but still very chewy, and most of the liquid has been absorbed.

Stir in the pumpkin puree and the diced pumpkin and reduce the heat to very low so that the risotto doesn’t simmer anymore. Stir in the Parmesan and butter to give the risotto a nice, creamy finish. Spoon it immediately into heated shallow serving bowls.

Arroz Verde (Green Rice)

My new friend, Pat, made this fantastic dinner for us over the summer. One of the things she made was green rice. There are many versions of this delicious Mexican side dish. Unfortunately, I did not take a picture of the final product! I guess I was too busy eating it!

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Arroz Verde (Green Rice)

Serves 8

1/2 cup tightly packed fresh cilantro sprigs (about 1/2 oz)
1 cup tightly packed fresh stemmed spinach leaves (about 1-1/2 oz)
1-1/4 cups homemade or low-salt chicken broth
1-1/4 cups milk
1 tsp kosher salt
1 Tbs olive oil
3 Tbs unsalted butter
1-1/2 cups long-grain rice
1/4 cup finely minced onion
1 clove garlic, minced

Put the cilantro, spinach, and broth in a blender and blend until the vegetables are puréed. Add the milk and salt and blend a bit more until well combined.

In a medium (3-qt.) heavy-based saucepan (with a good lid) over medium heat, heat the olive oil and butter. When the butter is melted, add the rice and sauté, stirring about every 30 seconds, until it just begins to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the onion and garlic and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add the contents of the blender, stir well, turn the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Cover the pan, turn the heat to very low, and cook for 20 minutes. Stir the rice carefully to avoid crushing it, cover, and cook another 5 minutes.

Take the pan off the heat and let the rice steam in the covered pot for 10 minutes. Serve hot.

Farro and Black Rice with Zucchini

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Guest blogger Jessica (Denver, CO) from Beauty Marks again.

Leslie and I met in Paris for our junior year abroad in 19XX, in a dorm, or foyer, in the 14th arrondissement. Another of our best pals from that year, Jody, lives all of a mile and a half from me here in Denver. She and her family have done their best to introduce us to Denver’s fine dining and drinking. We also use each other as guinea pigs in the kitchen. This is a recent impromptu side dish from an impromptu dinner. The verdict: Outstanding.

Farro is a food product composed of the grains of certain wheat species in whole form. There is much confusion or disagreement about exactly what farro is. Emmer, spelt, and einkorn are called farro in Italy, sometimes (but not always) distinguished as farro medio, farro grande, and farro piccolo, respectively. Black rice, also known as purple rice or forbidden rice, is high in nutritional value and contains 18 amino acids, iron, zinc, copper, carotene, and several important vitamins. The grain is similar to brown rice, which has a mild, nutty taste.

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Farro and Black Rice with Zucchini

Serves about 8 as a side dish
1 cup farro
1 cup black rice
½ large onion
extra virgin olive oil
3 medium zucchini, sliced 1/4″ thick
2 Tbs chopped Italian parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook farro and rice according to package directions and set aside.

Heat a good quality of olive oil, then sauté onions until they start to get translucent. Add zucchini and sauté all together for WAY longer than you’d think, till the zucchini and onion are both browned in spots. This took me about 45 minutes last time I did it. Season as desired.

Toss farro and rice in large bowl, and add in parsley. Add zucchini and onions and all the oil they cooked in. Toss again, and season again to taste. Serve warm or cold.

Asparagus Lemon Risotto

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My brother-in-law Russell (Rochester, NY) was staying with friends in Kansas and his hosts Fred and Julia (Lawrence, Kansas) made this risotto —delicious!

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Asparagus Lemon Risotto

Serves 4

Risotto is a great base for all kinds of vegetables. It’s done when it has a loose consistency and ripples when spooned into a bowl.

6 cups vegetable stock, preferably homemade [Russell used chicken stock]
¼ cup olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 cup Arborio or Carnanti rice
½ cup dry white wine
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed, stalks cut into 2-inch lengths
1 cup thawed frozen peas
1 tsp grated lemon zest, plus more for garnish
2 Tbs fresh lemon juice
1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
½ cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

Bring stock to a simmer in a medium saucepan.

Heat 2 Tbs oil over medium heat in another saucepan. Cook onion, stirring frequently, until soft, 6 to 7 minutes. Add rice; cook, stirring, until edges are translucent, 2 to 3 minutes. Add wine; cook, stirring, just until evaporated.

Add ½ cup hot stock; cook, stirring, until almost absorbed. Continue adding ½ stock in this manner until liquid is creamy and rice is al dente, about 20 minutes total (you may not need to add all the stock). Add asparagus with the last addition of stock, and the peas about 1 minutes before risotto is done.

Remove from heat; stir in lemon zest and juice, parsley, cheese, and remaining 2 Tbs oil. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately with additional cheese and lemon zest.

Herbed Steamed Rice

Every time I make something with tarragon, it’s like I’ve used a mystery herb. Tarragon was very popular in the late 70s early 80s, but isn’t really used much now. It really adds a wonderful bright note to this rice. This rice pairs well with Lyonnaise Chicken with Vinegar Sauce.

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Herbed Steamed Rice

Serves 4

3 Tbs unsalted butter
1 medium onion, diced
1 cup long-grain white rice, rinsed and drained
1 garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 cups water
Kosher salt
1/4 cup chopped mixed herbs, such as parsley, chives and tarragon

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Add the onion, cover and cook over low heat until translucent, 5 minutes. Stir in the rice and garlic. Add the water and 1 teaspoon of salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover and cook over moderately low heat for 10 minutes.

Replace the lid on the rice with a clean kitchen towel and remove from the heat. Let the rice stand, covered, for 5 minutes until tender. Using 2 forks, lightly fluff the rice. Gently stir in the herbs, season with salt, cover with the towel and the lid and let stand for up to 30 minutes before serving.

Chicken with Saffron and Rice

Last week I tried this recipe from Williams Sonoma. It was very good, though I made adjustments by cutting the quantity of rice in half. It’s a traditional Spanish dish of chicken and rice that is seasoned with saffron. The saffron makes this dish. Saffron is a spice derived from the flower of the Crocus. It’s one of the world’s most expensive spices by weight.

Chicken with Saffron and Rice

Serves 6 – 8

3 1/2 lb chicken thighs and drumsticks
Salt, to taste, plus 1 1/4 tsp
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 Tbs olive oil
1 yellow onion, finely diced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
1/4 tsp crumbled saffron
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
5 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup dry sherry
2 1/4 cups chicken broth
2 cans (14 1/2 oz) diced tomatoes with juices
1 1/2 cups medium-grain rice
1/2 cup green olives, pitted and halved
1 Tbs minced fresh flat-leaf parsley

Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 350°F.

Season the chicken with salt and black pepper. In a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, warm 1 Tbs of the olive oil. Working in batches, brown the chicken on all sides, 7 to 8 minutes per batch. Transfer to a plate. Discard the fat in the pot, then wipe out the pot with paper towels.

In the same pot over medium heat, warm the remaining 1 Tbs. olive oil. Add the onion, bell pepper, saffron and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds. Add the sherry and cook until slightly reduced, about 1 minute. Add the chicken, broth, tomatoes and their juices and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and cook for 20 minutes.

Stir in the rice, olives, the 1 1/4 tsp salt and black pepper. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer. Cover the pot, transfer to the oven and bake for 30 minutes, stirring once halfway through the cooking time.

Remove the pot from the oven and let stand for 10 minutes. Sprinkle the chicken with the parsley and serve immediately.

Wild Mushroom Risotto

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Last week a friend of mine asked for a risotto recipe that you don’t have to laboriously stir. I make this all the time.

Risotto is a class of Italian dishes of rice cooked in broth to a creamy consistency. The broth may be meat-, fish-, or vegetable-based. Many types of risotto contain Parmesan cheese, butter, and onion. It is one of the most common ways of cooking rice in Italy.  Properly cooked risotto is rich and creamy but still with some resistance or bite: al dente, and with separate grains. The traditional texture is fairly fluid. It is served on flat dishes and it should easily spread out but not have excess watery liquid around the perimeter. It must be eaten at once as it continues to cook in its own heat and can become too dry with the grains too soft.

Wild Mushroom Risotto

Serves 8

1 lb Porccini mushrooms
2 Tbs butter
1/3 cup onion, finely chopped
2 lbs Arborio rice
½ cup dry white wine
10 cups low-sodium chicken stock – simmering
4 Tbs olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 bay leaves
salt & pepper to taste
2 tsp flat leaf parsley
grated parmesan

Preheat oven to 500°.

Cut mushrooms – 1 “ cubes, 4 – 5 cups, set aside.

Heat butter and onion in oven proof dish until wilted, add rice and stir.  Add wine – cook 2 minutes until wine is absorbed.  Add 10 cups of broth and cook over moderate heat – briefly.  Place in oven to cook for 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a skillet, add garlic and bay leaves and cook briefly, then add mushrooms – cook 2 minutes, add salt, pepper and parsley.  Cook 1 minute.  Remove garlic and bay leaves.

Remove rice from oven, and add mushrooms with a slotted spoon to rice.  Continue to cook rice on stove for 2 – 5 minutes.  Serve with Parmesan cheese.