SECRET RECIPE CLUB: GREEN RICE

THREE YEARS AS A MEMBER OF THE SECRET RECIPE CLUB!

Last Monday of the month. You probably expect me to whine about the cold, but guess what?  As you read this post, I should  be far, far away in Brazil, enjoying balmy temperatures, wearing shorts, t-shirts, and recharging my batteries to face the frigid months ahead.  But the last Monday means fun, because it’s Reveal Day for The Secret Recipe Club! I was paired with the blog “A Day in the Life on the Farm“, hosted by Wendy. Her story is fascinating: she and her husband were police officers in a large city (which of course meant a ton of trouble in their hands…), but when they retired they moved to a tiny little town of 4,000 people, and bought a house on 12 acres of land.  They raise meat chickens, turkeys, and pigs, and Wendy – to fight her empty nest syndrome  –  decided to host foreign students in their place.  Now she works part-time for the World Heritage, placing students into homes for a year of schooling here in the US.  Being in academia and therefore often exposed to the troubles that foreign students face (plus, I was one myself), I know how important this type of work can be.  Please, stop by her about page and read more about their life on the farm, and how on top of everything she also takes care of her Mom, who suffers from Alzheimer’s. She actually devotes a section in her blog to talk about it, under Life with Mom. Beautiful, touching, and at times funny.

We had so much going on this past month, that I needed to jump on my assignment right away.  The recipe I set my eyes on was a drool-inducing dessert, a Caramelized Almond Apple Upside Down Cake. But, I decided against it.  Why? With Thanksgiving saying hello, then the holidays, a lot of heavy food will be popping everywhere.  I did not want to start early with the excesses, so this cake shall wait. Sorry, folks, but better safe than sorry.  Then, I almost went with her cute Pretzel Dogs. Finally it was a tough decision between Zucchini Enchiladas, or Green Rice.  As you can see, I went green.  Green is good for you, and this was one of the most flavorful rice dishes I’ve made.

Green Rice

GREEN RICE
(very slightly modified from A Day in the Life on the Farm)

2 poblano chile peppers
1 green pepper (I used half a Serrano)
1 cup long grain rice
1 large bunch of cilantro
1 small bunch of flat leaf parsley
2 cups chicken stock
1/2  teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons olive oil (I used grapeseed)
1 small shallot, minced
Dry roast the peppers in a griddle pan (or on a grill), turning frequently so the skins blacken but the flesh doesn’t burn.  Place in a strong plastic bag, seal and set aside for 20 minutes
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Put the rice in a heat proof bowl, pour in boiling water to cover and let stand 20 minutes.
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Drain the rice, rinse well under cold water and drain again.  Remove the peppers from the bag and peel off the skins.  Remove any stems, then slit the peppers and scrape out seeds with a sharp knife.
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Put the peppers in a food processor, strip the leaves from the cilantro and parsley and add to peppers.  Pour in half the chicken stock and process until smooth.  Add remaining stock and puree again.
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Heat oil in a saucepan, add the rice and minced shallot and fry for 5 minutes over med heat until the rice is golden and the shallot is translucent.  Add the salt, stir in the green puree, lower heat, cover and cook for 25-30 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed  and the rice is just tender. Taste and adjust seasoning, if needed.
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ENJOY!
to print the recipe, click here
 
Comments:  Lately I’ve been quite smitten with poblano peppers.  Very little heat, but so much flavor! Our stove did a great job charring them, I don’t think I was ever able to get such a beautiful blackened skin with almost no effort.   Using a paper towel to remove the charred skin was also a great move, a tip I got from watching Marcela Valladolid in her show Mexican Made Easy.  I never liked the idea of rinsing the peppers because there’s quite a bit of flavor loss if you do that.  The paper towels removed just the skin and I could leave little bits here and there for an extra smoky flavor.   Aren’t they cute?

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Adding boiling water to the rice and waiting for 20 minutes was also something I had never done, and I liked the texture of the finished product.  If you are a cilantro-hater, this rice is not for you, its flavor is obviously very prominent.  You could substitute spinach.

GreenRiceServed
This was a delicious dinner!  Green rice, simple roasted carrots, and for our protein a few slices of center-cut pork chops, cooked sous-vide, and finished off on the grill.   Life is good!

Wendy, I hope you had a great time this month with your assignment!  It was wonderful to browse through your site, I read all your posts about your Mom, and am still in awe of your ability to do so much Everyday in your Life on the Farm… 

For my readers: if you want to see what my fellow Secret Friends cooked up this month, give a little click on the blue frog at the end of this post.   Normally Groups C and D would take a break in the month of December, but apparently me and Dorothy from Shockingly Delicious whined so much about withdrawal syndrome, that The Secret Recipe Club will have a little surprise reserved for both groups.  It will be awesome, so stay tuned!

ONE YEAR AGO: Potato-Crusted Italian Mini-Quiches

TWO YEARS AGO: Beetroot Sourdough for the Holidays

THREE YEARS AGO: Cod Filet with Mustard Tarragon Crust

FOUR YEARS AGO: Soba Noodles: Light and Healthy

FIVE YEARS AGO: Potato-Rosemary Bread

MEXICAN RICE & SUPERNOVA

This recipe will always be special for me, because it was the first thing I cooked in our new stove.  I needed to make something simple because the kitchen was still not completely functional: the central countertop was not yet there, the cabinets and pantry were still all empty.   I actually made the prep work a couple of days earlier, as we were not sure when the stove would be installed.  Every day that week we arrived home with fingers crossed, hoping that the big box with our Blue Star would no longer be sitting in the garage.  Finally, on Friday, October 18th the box was gone, and our stove was waiting inside for us, in all its beautiful red glory! Two exact months since the beginning of our kitchen hellnovationRemember?

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MEXICAN RICE
(slightly adapted from Marcela Valladolid)
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3 vine-ripened tomatoes
1 cup chicken broth, plus more as needed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 shallot, chopped
1 carrot, finely diced
1 celery rib, finely diced
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 cup medium-grain rice
1 teaspoon salt
1 bay leaf
1 whole Serrano chile
1/4 cup frozen peas, thawed

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Cut the tomatoes in half, and remove the seeds. Add the tomatoes and 1 cup of broth to a blender and puree. Strain into a bowl and reserve the liquid. Add enough extra broth to make 2 cups of liquid.In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the shallots, carrots, and celery pieces, and saute for about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute longer. Stir in the rice and cook until slightly toasted, stirring constantly. Add the tomato broth mixture, stir and bring to boil. Add the salt, bay leaf, and the Serrano chile. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer until the rice is tender, about 20 minutes. Remove the pan from heat. Scatter the peas over the top of the rice, cover, and let the rice stand 5 minutes. Fluff the rice with a fork, transfer to a serving bowl and serve.
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ENJOY!
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to print the recipe, click here
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Comments: The popularity of electric rice cookers is a clear statement of how tricky cooking rice can be.  During the past year, I attempted to make rice pilaf once on “Poltergeist“, our old electric stove.  Results were just as expected from its nickname:  scary. 👿  I was obviously very anxious to see how the Blue Star would behave, and it did pass with flying colors!  Perfectly cooked rice, not a single bit burned at the bottom, control of the flame was smooth and precise.   As it’s been happening often in the past few days, I did a happy dance around the kitchen, much to the amusement of Oscar, who immediately jumps up and joins me. That little mutt  is super cute, and a great dance partner…
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The recipe, shown recently at Marcela’s show “Mexican Made Easy – Man Food” on FoodTV is simple but delivers a ton of flavor.  In the website they suggest using tomato paste in addition to fresh tomatoes if you want a deeper, more intense red color.  I didn’t. In my opinion, using tomato paste adds a harshness that can only be balanced by long cooking.  Rice cooks too fast, I prefer to have the brighter, lighter flavor of the fresh tomato, even if the resulting red color will be less dramatic. And, speaking of red, our gorgeous Blue Star adds enough red to our culinary environment.  In fact, we named it “Supernova”.   😉

As Marcela mentioned in her show, the Serrano pepper sitting on top of the rice is a real delicacy. Offer it to your guest of honor, or if you are having dinner with your partner, fight hard for it,  cut it in half so that you can both enjoy it.
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Phil’s remark at the end of the meal:  “This was the best Mexican rice I’ve ever had!“.

I could say thank you, but I think all credit should go to Marcela instead… 😉

Before I leave you, here is a link to Blue Star site, where you can dream about and customize your own Supernova stove….

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ONE YEAR AGO: Jumping on the Biscoff Bandwagon

TWO YEARS AGO:  A Soup with Memories of Los Angeles

THREE YEARS AGO: Sabu’s Spicy Coconut Chicken

FOUR YEARS AGO: Poolish Baguettes

AN ORANGE FRAME OF MIND

Orange food seems to be on everybody’s mind these days, perhaps to match the color of the leaves, with their beautiful shades of red and gold.  Most maple trees in town are already completely red, but from my office’s window on campus, I see a very special tree, one that gets a few more red leaves each day. I like to think it is putting up a special show for me, a newcomer to the Little Apple…  😉   Let me share with you a few recipes to celebrate the season, the first is a new one, and the others come from the Bewitching archives.  An array of golden dishes to hopefully inspire you…

RICE PILAF WITH CARROTS AND PARLSEY
(adapted from  Martha Rose Shulman)

2 tablespoons  olive oil
1 fennel bulb, chopped
4 medium carrots, peeled, thinly sliced
1 cup basmati rice
a pinch of saffron
1  cup water
1 cup vegetable stock
Salt to taste
1/2 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

Rinse the rice well to remove excess starch. Drain well, and reserve.  Heat the water and stock together in a microwave until very hot.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a wide, heavy skillet or saucepan over medium heat and add the carrots, fennel, and salt. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables begin to soften, about 3 minutes, and add the rice and the saffron.  Cook, stirring, until the grains of rice are well coated with oil and beginning to crackle. Add the hot water and stock and bring to a boil. Taste the cooking liquid and adjust salt if necessary. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer 15 minutes, until all of the liquid has been absorbed.

Uncover the rice and place a clean towel over the top of the pan, but don’t let it touch the rice.  Put the lid back, and let the rice sit for 10 minutes.  Add the parsley, fluffy the rice with a fork, and serve.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

This pilaf is extremely delicious and good for you, a combination that is always welcome at our table. Fennel and saffron were not in the original recipe, but I think they worked better with the other flavors than onions would.  Feel free to include onions and garlic,  Phil and I are part of the minority who uses those ingredients quite sparingly.

For some more orange glow on your table….
(click on the title for the original post)

CARROT AND SWEET POTATO PUREE

CARAMELIZED CARROT SOUP

KURI SQUASH SOUP

CHICKPEA SALAD

CARROT NIB ORZO

SWEET ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND GREENS OVER PASTA

PEACH PIE

ONE YEAR AGO:  San Francisco Sourdough

TWO YEARS AGO: A Real Oscar Winner (two years with the sweetest dog in the world!)

THREE YEARS AGO: Pane Siciliano

TWO-STAGE RISOTTO

Risotto is one of my favorite dishes,  but I refrain from making it for dinner parties because it does require some loving attention. No way to entertain your guests when risotto is on the menu, unless they don’t mind standing next to the stove with you, sipping wine and watching the rice gently bubbling away.

I’ve read a few articles describing how restaurants do it, though.  Obviously the customer cannot wait for 30 minutes as the kitchen staff prepares each plate to order, so they resort to a method said to work like a charm: the rice is cooked almost all the way through, then spread on a baking sheet to cool down.  Once the order comes in,  they spoon out a single serving, and finish it quickly on top of the stove.

I would be a bit insecure to try this approach for the first time on guests, but Phil and I were perfect guinea pigs for this experiment.  I  adapted a recipe for pea risotto from a recent issue of Food and Wine, and put the method to test.

TWO-STAGE PEA AND PROSCIUTTO RISOTTO
(adapted from Food and Wine, May 2011)

3 slices of prosciutto, cut in small pieces (use scissors)
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 Tbs olive oil
1 small shallot, finely diced
1 cup arborio rice
1/4 cup dry white wine
4 – 5 cups chicken stock, warm (you won’t use it all)
1 Tbs butter
1/4 cup Parmiggiano cheese
salt and pepper to taste
a nice squeeze of lemon juice
1 cup pea shoots, very loosely packed

Heat the chicken stock in a saucepan, and keep on very low heat. Using a blender or the food processor, puree half the peas in 1/2 cup of chicken stock.  Reserve. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet, cook the prosciutto until it starts to get crisp. Remove the pieces and place over kitchen paper, reserve.

In the same skillet, cook the shallots seasoned lightly with salt and pepper, until soft and fragrant.  If necessary, add a little more oil, then the rice and cook stirring often until all grains are well coated.  Add the wine and simmer until absorbed, about 3 minutes.

Add enough hot chicken stock to cover the rice, and cook over medium heat, stirring often.  Keep adding stock, one ladle at a time,  until the rice is about 75% cooked through (taste it, it should feel still hard at the center; it took me about 25 minutes).  Remove from the stove and immediately transfer it to a baking sheet in a layer.   Place it in the fridge until time to serve the dish (several hours won’t harm it).

When it’s time to finish the risotto, heat 1 cup of the remaining chicken stock in  the skillet, add the rice, cook for a couple of minutes, then add the reserved pea puree (warm it briefly in the microwave).  When the rice is done, nicely al dente, add the peas, the prosciutto, the  grated cheese, the butter, and a squeeze of lemon juice.  Season with salt and pepper, add the pea shoots right before serving, and

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: This is definitely the solution to the “risotto for guests”  puzzle.  It tastes exactly as if it was prepared all the way through, and it takes literally minutes to serve.  The other detail in this recipe that won me over: the pea puree.  I’ve made plenty of pea risottos before, they are always delicious, but turning part of the pea in a puree raises the dish to a new high.  I think many types of risotto will benefit from this approach, so that’s something to experiment with in the future.    My husband suggested  the addition of chevre cheese instead of Parmiggiano, and I bet it will be a  delicious variation.

Remember: if you love risotto and want to include it in your next dinner party menu, don’t be afraid of the two-stage method!

ONE YEAR AGO: Life is a matter of taste (a small tribute to David Rosengarten)

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MAHI-MAHI

I fall in love with words quite easily.  Mahi-mahi…. is just one of the many beautiful Hawaiian words.  When we visited Oahu I found it fascinating to  read the street names, which for the most part were quite hard for a foreigner to remember: Kamehameha, Mamalahoa, Kealakehe, Hualalai. They all seemed so…. musical!

It turns out that the Hawaiian alphabet lacks a few consonants:  C, J, Q, and X. It also makes no distinction between K and T.   When the complexity of a language decreases at one level, it often compensates on another.  The fewer consonants probably explains why so many Hawaiian words have duplicated syllables, giving the spoken language a playful component that’s quite pleasing.  But, I digress…  mahi-mahi (by the way, “mahi” means “strong”) is one of my favorite fish, at the top with striped sea bass.  It has a mild, but definitely not bland flavor, and a meaty texture that’s perfect for grilling, as this recipe (another gem I got from my friend Heather) will convince you.

GRILLED MAHI-MAHI WITH CITRUS MARINADE
(from  Heather’s kitchen)

2 filets of mahi-mahi (may substitute other firm-fleshed fish)
for the marinade:
2 T fresh lime juice
3 T rice vinegar
1 T finely chopped ginger
1 T finely chopped scallions
3 T mild vegetable oil (I used grapeseed)
1 T soy sayce
1/2 t Asian chili sauce (optional)
freshly ground black pepper to taste
Prepare a marinade by whisking all ingredients together. Marinate the fish for 30 minutes to 2 hours in the fridge.  Grill until cooked through. 

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: This was one of the tastiest dinners in the past few weeks.  A fish like mahi-mahi is delicious on its own, so the less you mess with it, the better it is.  This preparation was perfect: a hint of lemon,  a little heat, and nothing else.  No elaborate toppings, crusts, or sauces.  A simple, delicious meal, as healthy as it gets.

We loved it with roasted asparagus, and with a mixture of white rice and wheat berries that, all modesty aside, was a spur of the moment inspiration that had me patting myself on the back.   I spotted some white rice in the fridge and some cooked wheat berries that I was saving for a salad.   I just mixed them and warmed them in the microwave. It was an absolutely delicious combination that will be a regular production in the Bewitching Kitchen.

ONE YEAR AGO: Memories of Pasteis

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