Wild Rice & Chicken Casserole

I used to make this casserole when we were first married for dinner parties.  It was “cheap and cheerful” as we would say.  Personally, I prefer to use a wild rice blend when making this dish, which does make it cheaper!

Wild rice (also called Canada rice, Indian rice, and water oats) is four species of grasses forming the genus Zizania, and the grain which can be harvested from them.

Almost always sold as a dried whole grain, wild rice is high in protein, the amino acid lysine and dietary fiber, and low in fat. Like true rice, it does not contain gluten. It is also a good source of certain minerals and B vitamins.

Wild Rice & Chicken Casserole

Serves 8

½ cup wild rice, cooked according to instructions
½ cup onion, chopped
½ cup butter
¼ cup flour
6 oz can sliced mushrooms
1 1/3 cup chicken broth
1½ cups light cream or half and half
3 cups cooked chicken, diced
½ cup pimento, sliced
1 tsp salt
2 tsp parsley
¼ tsp black pepper
½ cup blanched, slivered almonds
2 Tbs Sherry

Sauté the onion in butter until soft, remove from heat and stir in the flour.

Drain the mushrooms, reserving the liquid.  Add enough chicken broth to the mushroom liquid to measure 1½ cups.  Gradually stir the liquid into flour mixture, then add the cream.  Cook and stir until thick.  Combine with the wild rice and cooked chicken.  Add salt, pepper, sherry and parsley.  Place in a 13”x 9” casserole and sprinkle with the almonds.

Bake at 350˚ for 25 to 30 minutes.


Creamy Lemon Rice

Yes, it’s another lemony recipe! What can I say? We have a tree that is over loaded with lemons!

Creamy Lemon Rice

Serves 4

2 cups excellent, rich chicken broth
4 large egg yolks
½ cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice
½ cup frozen peas
1 bunch of scallions, sliced to yield a scant
½ cup of rings
2½ cups cooked rice (day-old is more than fine)
2 generous pinches coarse kosher salt, or to taste

Bring the chicken broth to a simmer on the stove top in a stainless-steel pot and keep it simmering as you gather the rest of the ingredients. It will slightly reduce and intensify in these few minutes.

In a stainless-steel or glass heatproof bowl, whisk the egg yolks, then add the lemon juice and whisk until blended.

Add a ladleful of hot stock to the egg-lemon mixture and whisk thoroughly.

While whisking, slowly add the hot egg-lemon mixture into the pot. Stir or whisk gently over medium-low heat while the liquid ever so slightly thickens and changes color from bright to pale yellow, about two minutes. Add the peas and the scallions, which will turn bright green in the first few seconds as they blanch in the hot liquid. Stir gently until the peas are warmed through, then add the cooked rice. Stir thoroughly, then turn off the heat and let rest, covered for a minute or two. Season with salt and pepper as needed.

Shrimp Fried Rice

For my toddlers

When my kids were toddlers (though they still act like toddlers!), I used to make them fried rice for dinner.  I thought it was a great way to get them to eat eggs.  I haven’t made it in a long time and my daughter, Grace, requested it for her birthday dinner.

Shrimp Fried Rice

Serves 4

8 oz small raw shrimp, shelled and deveined
½ tsp kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
½ tsp cornstarch
2 Tbs cooking oil, divided
3 eggs, beaten
2 stalks green onion, minced
4 cups leftover rice, grains separated well
¾ cup frozen peas and carrots, defrosted
1 Tbs soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil

In a bowl, toss the shrimp with the salt, pepper and cornstarch. Let marinate for 10 minutes at room temperature. Heat a wok or large sauté pan on high heat. When the pan is hot enough for a bead of water to instantly sizzle and evaporate, add just 1 tablespoon of the cooking oil and swirl to coat pan.

Add the shrimp, quickly spreading out around the cooking surface area so that they are not overlapping. Let fry, untouched for 30 seconds. Flip over and let the other side fry for 30 seconds, or until about 80% cooked through. Remove the shrimp from the pan onto a plate, leaving as much oil in the pan as possible.

Turn the heat to medium, let the pan heat up again. Add the eggs, stirring in a quick motion to break up and scramble the eggs. When the eggs are almost cooked through (they should still be slightly runny in the middle), dish out of the pan into the same plate as the cooked shrimp.

Use paper towels to wipe the same wok or sauté pan clean and return to high heat with the remaining 1 tablespoon of cooking oil, swirling to coat. When the oil is very hot, add the green onions and fry until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add in the rice and stir well to mix in the green onions throughout. Spread the rice all around the wok surface area and let the rice heat up, untouched until you hear the bottoms of the grains sizzle, about 1-2 minutes. Use the spatula to toss the rice, again spreading the rice out over the surface of wok.

Drizzle the soy sauce all around the rice and toss. Add the peas and carrots, the cooked eggs, shrimp and sesame oil, tossing to mix the rice evenly with all of the ingredients. Let everything heat back up again, until the rice grains are so hot they practically dance! Taste and add an additional 1 teaspoon of soy sauce if needed.

Fast Fried Rice












Have a healthy day!

Here is a fast, low fat dish.  This will put you on the right track to a healthy day.  Notice how I didn’t say healthy life.  That would not be realistic….

Fast Fried Rice

Serves 2

2 tsp oil
1 egg, beaten
2 slices bacon, chopped
6 oz mushrooms, sliced
7 oz frozen peas
1 garlic clove, crushed
1” piece fresh ginger, grated
2 tsp dark soy sauce, plus extra to serve
1 tsp sugar
1 cup cooked basmati rice

Heat the oil in a frying pan, then tip in the egg. Leave to set for 30 seconds-1 minute, swirling every now and again, then tip it out and finely slice. Add bacon and mushrooms to pan, then fry until golden, about 3 minutes. Add peas, garlic and ginger, then cook for 1 minute.

Mix the soy sauce and sugar together. Turn up the heat, add the cooked rice to the pan, heat through, then splash in the sweet soy sauce. Stir through the egg and serve straight away, with more soy sauce if you like.

Red Rice

A Southern style rice

A Southern style rice recipe, similar to a Spanish rice, made with tomatoes, peppers, onion, rice, bacon, and other ingredients.  This side dish is served as an accompaniment to everything from fried chicken to short ribs.

Red Rice

Serves 6 to 8

4 to 6 slices bacon, about 4 oz
1 medium onion, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
1/2 bell pepper, chopped
2 cups uncooked rice
2 (14.5 oz each) cans tomatoes, pureéd
2 tsp salt, or to taste
1/4 tsp pepper
1 scant tsp sugar
3 or 4 drops Tabasco, or to taste

In a large heavy skillet, fry bacon until crisp; remove from pan to paper towels. Drain well then crumble and set aside. Sauté onions, celery, and green pepper in the bacon grease until tender. Add rice, tomatoes, crumbled bacon, and seasonings. Cook on top of the stove for 10 minutes. Pour into a large buttered baking dish; cover tightly and bake at 350° for 1 hour, or until rice is tender.

Porcini Mushroom Risotto


In Italy, rice is to the North as pasta is to the South. It is said that Lombardy’s Milan is where the first classic risotto was prepared. And the most widely known, Risotto alla Milanese, is from here.

Arborio the most widely used rice in the preparation of risotto, as the grains are less likely to break during cooking and the rice absorbs a lot of liquid while retaining a firmness and a bite.

Italian risotto is quite different from rice, as we know it. It is a dish in itself. Rarely served with meat, chicken, pork or fish. An exception, risotto alla Milanese served with osso bucco.

Normally served as a first course, risotto can also be a main course.

Practically any ingredient, meat, fish, fowl, herb, vegetable, cheese, or sausage can be added to a risotto to flavor it. However, the basic method for preparing risotto is the same. To absorb a little broth at a time till is reaches a creamy consistency, tender grains with slight chewiness.

The idea is to “insaporire” the rice, to flavor it with the ingredients of choice.

Porcini Mushroom Risotto

Serves 6

3/4 cup (about 1/3 oz) dried porcini mushrooms
4 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
8 oz bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 medium onion, minced (about 1 cup)
2 1/4 cup (about 1 lb) Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh-ground pepper
Dried bread crumbs

Make the mushroom broth: Bring 4 cups water to a simmer in a medium saucepan, completely submerge the mushrooms, and soak for 25 minutes. Remove the mushrooms with a slotted spoon and slice into 1/2-inch pieces. Strain the water and return it to the saucepan; add the chicken broth, bring to a simmer, and keep warm.

Make the risotto: Cook bacon in a large saucepan until crisp. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside; reserve fat. Sauté onions in 2 tablespoons bacon fat until translucent — about 5 minutes. Add the rice and cook over medium heat until slightly translucent — about 5 minutes. Add the wine and cook until absorbed. Add 1 cup of hot broth, stirring constantly, and cook until absorbed, continue stirring and adding broth by the cupfuls until risotto is creamy and rice is cooked through but slightly al dente — about 25 minutes. Stir in the bacon, Parmesan, salt, and pepper and serve immediately or freeze.

Freeze the leftover risotto: Shape 1/4 cupfuls of cooled risotto into 2-inch patties and coat with bread crumbs. Stack patties between sheets of waxed paper and transfer to an airtight container. Store frozen for up to 2 months. To serve, cook frozen patties in a lightly oiled or buttered skillet for 6 minutes on each side. Drain on paper towels.

Wild Rice with Dried Apricots & Toasted Pecan Salad with Port Vinaigrette

A Lovely Ladies Luncheon…

I catered a party for my absolute favorite ladies yesterday. It’s an annual luncheon and I have done it for about 5 or 6 years. (…but who’s counting!)

Anyway, one of the things I made was a rice salad that had lots of dried and fresh fruit in it.

I changed it a bit – I had no port and used dry sherry instead, which is a fine substitute. I also bought a rice mixture that had several grains – wild rice and regular. I am not a big fan of straight wild rice. Also, I left out the pecans – too many people are allergic to nuts these days.  It turned out very well and a few of the ladies have asked for the recipe – so here it is!

Wild Rice with Dried Apricots & Toasted Pecan Salad with Port Vinaigrette

Serves 8 – 10

1 cup wild rice
4 cups cold water
½ tsp salt
1 cup dried apricots, cut into 1/3” pieces
1 cup dried currants
2/3 cup dried figs, cut into 1/3” pieces
¾ cup ruby port
4 celery ribs, diced
5 green onions, thinly sliced
1 red apple, peeled, cored and diced
½ cup seedless green grapes, cut in half
½ cup pecans, toasted, chopped

Port Vinaigrette:
½ cup reserved ruby port (from soaking dried fruits)
Zest of 2 oranges (about 2 Tbs)
Juice of 1 lemon (about 3 Tbs)
1 Tbs Balsamic vinegar
¾ tsp salt, plus more to taste
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
½ cup olive oil

To prepare the salad: 
Wash the rice in a fine meshed strainer, then place the rice in a bowl.  Pour enough boiling water over the rice to cover.  Soak for 30 minutes to allow the rice to soften.  Drain.

Place the rice in a large saucepan with the cold water and salt.  Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium low.  Cover and simmer until the rice is tender but not mushy, about 25 minutes.  Drain the excess cooking liquid from the rice and set the rice aside to cool.

Meanwhile, combine the apricots, currants, and figs in a medium bowl.  Add the Port and soak for 30 minutes.  Drain well and reserve ½ cup of the Port in a medium bowl for the dressing.  Combine the soaked fruited, wild rice, celery, green onions, apples, grapes, and pecans in another large bowl.

To make the dressing:
Mix the reserved Port, orange zest, lemon juice, vinegar, ¾ tsp of salt, and ½ tsp pepper in a blender. With the blender running, gradually add the oil and blend well.

Toss the rice mixture with enough vinaigrette to moisten and coat.  Season the salad to taste with more salt and pepper, if desired.

Do ahead:
The salad can be prepared the day ahead, then covered and refrigerate.  Bring to room temperature and season with salt and pepper before serving.

Hatch Green Chile Rice

Ahh, The Searing Aroma

We had a wonderful time this year picking up our Hatch chiles, because we included some friends that are equally obsessed with these New Mexican gems. One of my favorite “side effects” of excursion is that the seared chile aroma lingers in my car for about a week. They should sell one of those car freshener trees in Roasted Hatch Chile scent.

I am now a lot calmer knowing that I have 40 individual baggies of chiles in my freezer waiting for some culinary inspiration to hit me.

Hatch Green Chile Rice

Serves 6 to 8

2 cups sour cream
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 tsp salt
1 cup Hatch green chiles, seeds and stem removed, chopped
2 cups water, salted
1 cup long grain white rice
1 cup Monterey Jack cheese, cubed

Bring salted water to a boil in a medium-sized saucepan over high heat. Add rice, stir once, cover and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes without stirring. Mix the sour cream, cheese, chiles, garlic, salt and pepper together in a large bowl. Add the cooked rice and mix together by turning. Place in a greased 2-quart casserole dish and bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes. Serve as a side dish.

Baked Risotto Casserole with Artichokes

Recipe Rescue!

I can’t tell you how many times I try a new recipe and think it sounds absolutely fantastic and the result is a complete failure. I almost always change recipes, but, according to my husband, one should make it the first time as it is written.

Last night’s dinner was an example of this. I made an Artichoke Risotto. Anything with artichokes in it I will make. It did not turn out, so I put it in the fridge for the next day. I made risotto “patties”, dredged them in flour, egg and bread crumbs and sautéed them in oil. Then I put them in the oven for 25 minutes. Phew! They were delicious!

Baked Risotto Casserole with Artichokes

Serves 4 – 6

1 (1 oz) package dried porcini mushrooms (about 1 cup)
1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 cups thinly sliced leeks
1 Tbs finely chopped garlic
2 tsp finely chopped rosemary
1 (15 oz) can water-packed artichokes, drained and chopped
1 cup uncooked arborio rice
1/4 to 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 cups mushroom or chicken broth
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Pour 2 cups boiling water over mushrooms in a medium heatproof bowl; set aside to let soak for 35 minutes. Drain mushrooms, pressing out as much water as possible, then chop and set aside. Discard soaking liquid.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Heat oil in a large, ovenproof skillet. Add leeks, garlic, rosemary and reserved mushrooms and cook, stirring often, until until leeks are limp, 7 to 8 minutes. Stir in artichokes, rice and cheese. Add wine and broth, cover and bake until rice is just tender and liquid is absorbed, 35 to 45 minutes.

Drizzle rice with more oil, if you like, garnish with parsley and serve.


I think I’m turning Japanese, I really think so……

Mochi is a Japanese sticky rice cake and  is an important food in Japanese culture. For example, people eat zoni (rice cake soup) during Japanese New Year’s holidays.

Mochi is traditionally made on New Year’s Day for luck. This style of mochi preparation includes roasting the mochi over a fire or stove, and then dipping it into a mixture of soy sauce, water and sugar, before finally briefly coating it in kinako (soy flour).

Fresh mochi is soft, but it hardens quickly.

I buy the prepacked mochi blocks, which are flattened and cut into square pieces or shaped into rounds are available at Asian grocery stores.

Hard mochi pieces can be grilled, deep-fried, boiled, and sautéd. Cooked mochi is very sticky, so be careful not to choke it. It’s important to take a small bite at a time.

My daughter, Grace, loves mochi.  She likes to put it in the toaster oven until it gets puffed up and brown.

We went to a friend’s house for dinner last night and had a wonderful Japanese meal of miso soup, sushi, sashimi and mochi ice cream.    My friend said that her favorite way to eat mocha is sautéd in butter and then coated in sugar.  We made some for Grace at lunch and we heard screams of delight coming from the kitchen.

By the way, whatever happened to The Vapors?