Black Rice

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On our way home last weekend after visiting friends we stopped at Horrocks in Lansing.  I’ve always loved that place!  Their website says they are a Farm Market but they are so much more.  A huge selection of beers and wine, all sorts of packaged products including a lot of organic items, meats, cheeses, and, of course, produce.  Many things that you might not find in your average grocery store.  We were with another couple and my friend Jane and I can both spend a LONG time reading labels and looking for new and unusual items to try.  We met a woman in the rice and pasta aisle who is apparently a kindred spirit.  She  was looking for Forbidden Black Rice.  She said she loves the taste and consistency.  We had never heard of it or seen it.  So naturally, each of us bought a bag.  On the way home we looked up recipes for preparing black rice and found instructions for the pressure cooker.

A little more research told me that black rice is a superfood.  It has more anatioxidants than blueberries.  Its always a bonus when something tastes good and is good for you.  Legend has it that it was grown only for the emperors of ancient China and was called “forbidden” because it was off limits to the general public.

Last Wednesday I cooked my bag of black rice.  I served it with chicken with a mushroom sauce and asparagus.  And we loved it.

Ingredients:

2 cups black rice

2 3/4 cups water

1 T olive oil

1 tsp salt

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The instructions are pretty straight forward.  Combine the rice, water, olive oil and salt in the pressure cooker.  Select high pressure for 22 minutes.

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Allow for 10 minutes of natural pressure release.  After the 10 minutes, release any remaining pressure.  Keep the rice warm until you’re ready to serve.

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Black rice is not as fluffy as white and it has a rich nutty taste and a chewy texture.  We liked it much better than brown rice.  I think it would be excellent in a stir fry or a cold rice salad.  I had quite a bit leftover and took the advice of the lady we met in Horrocks and froze it.  Maybe I’ll use it in soup next.

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The day after I had cooked my black rice I got a picture and a text message from my daughter.  Unbeknownst to me, they had cooked black rice as well.  Great minds apparently think alike.  And from the looks of their dish they liked it as well.

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Thank you Kate.  I’m glad we met you in Horrocks and love that you introduced us to forbidden black rice.

Paella In My Paella

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Paella is a Spanish dish made with rice, and a variety of meat (chicken or rabbit), seafood (shrimp, mussels or a firm fish like cod), and spicy sausage like andouille or chorizo.  It also includes vegetables like green beans or peas and spices like paprika and saffron.  This dish allows for countless variations.  The rice is supposed to be cooked in such a way that it crisps up on the bottom and edges.  It’s frequently prepared over an open fire or a very high burner.  Every summer we attend a music festival in northern lower Michigan where huge iron paella pans are set over an open flame and enough paella is being prepared to feed dozens and dozens.  It’s almost as much fun watching them make it as it is eating it.  They make a vegetarian Paella as well making them a very popular stop.  Paella cooked in this fashion allows for nicely crisped rice.  Personally, I prefer my rice without the crisp so that’s the way I prepare it.

This post, however, is as much about my new pan as it is about the paella.  Interestingly, the word “paella” derives from the Old French word paella for pan which in turn comes from the Latin word patella for pan.  (I didn’t happen to know that off the top of my head but I do know how to access all things Wikipedia.)  I frequently stop and browse in shops that sell  Le Creuset cookware.  Le Creuset is a French company that makes enameled cast iron cookware.  I have several knock-off enameled cast iron pieces which I use all the time but have never purchased a Le Creuset.  Until now.  I am still excited!  My husband gifted it to me so I promised to, appropriately, make paella my first dish in this beautiful 5 quart Braiser aka Paella or Patella.

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A thing of beauty, no?!

This recipe makes a generous amount.  Although the leftovers were great I probably will not  make this again until we have guests.

Ingredients:

Herb Blend

1 cup chopped fresh parsley and cilantro

2 or 3 large cloves of garlic minced

juice of one lemon

1 T olive oil

Paella

1 cup water

1 tsp saffron threads

5 cups chicken broth

1/2 pound unpeeled jumbo shrimp

4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

4 links andouille sausage

3-4 slices of thick bacon cut into 1 inch pieces

2 cups finely chopped onion

1 cup finely chopped red bell pepper

1 cup canned diced tomatoes undrained

1 tsp sweet paprika

3-4 cloves of garlic whole

3 cups Arborio rice

1 cup frozen peas

1 lemon juiced

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Combine the first 4 ingredients and set aside.  Combine the water, broth and saffron in a large saucepan and bring to a simmer.  Do not boil.  Keep warm over low heat.

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Heat 1 T of olive oil in large heavy skillet over medium high heat.  Add the chicken pieces and saute 2-3 minutes per side.  Remove them from the skillet and set aside.  Add the sausage and bacon to the skillet and saute 3-4 minutes.  Remove them from the skillet.

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Reduce the heat to medium low and add the onion and bell pepper.  Saute for approximately 15 minutes stirring occasionally.

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Add the tomatoes, paprika and garlic and cook for 5 more minutes.

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Add the rice and cook for 1 minute stirring constantly.  Stir in the herb blend and the peas.

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Add the broth mixture, chicken, and sausage mixture and bring to a low boil.  Cook 15 minutes, stirring frequently.

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Once the meat is added this 5 quart pan is VERY full.  Be careful.

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Add the shrimp and cook 5 more minutes.  Most of the liquid should be absorbed.  Remove from the heat, sprinkle with the juice from one lemon, cover, and allow the paella to sit for 10 minutes.  If your skillet doesn’t have a lid cover the paella with a clean dish towel.

Serve with lemon wedges.

NOTE:  Like I mentioned earlier, this recipe is perfect for modifying based on personal tastes.  I would love to use mussels but availability is an issue.  I may try this next with strictly seafood and substitute seafood broth for the chicken broth.  My husband likes foods kicked up and he added hot sauce to his.

 

 

 

 

Poached Cod with Tomato and White Beans

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I haven’t been blogging for a few days but I have been cooking.  A couple of nights ago I made poached cod.  We love fish and tomato dishes and this fits the bill for both.  Cod is a mild fish available in most grocery stores.  In the fish counter or the freezer.  Either will work fine for this dish.  Unless I have fish that was just caught, cleaned and ready for cooking I soak my fish in milk for at least 30 minutes.

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I am convinced that this takes away the fishy smell that turns some people off to eating fish.  Making sure you don’t over cook your fish also keeps the fish odors to a minimum.  I know people who absolutely refuse to cook fish at home because of the smell.  When I make this dish people walking into my house are more likely to say they smell onion and garlic.  Everyone loves the smell of onion and garlic!

Ingredients:

1 cod filet (approximately one pound)

2 T olive oil

1 medium yellow onion diced

3 or 4 cloves of garlic sliced

1 pint diced tomatoes

1 cup chicken broth

1 can tomato sauce

1/4 cup capers drained

1/4 cup kalamata olives sliced

1 can cannelloni beans

salt and pepper to taste

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Heat the oil in a skillet over medium high heat.  Cook the onions until they are tender but not browned.  Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute until the garlic is fragrant.

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Reduce the heat and stir in the tomatoes and the chicken broth.  Add the tomato sauce and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes.

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Stir in the capers and olives.  Drain and rinse the beans and add those.  Simmer for another 10 minutes.

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Pat the fish that you’ve soaked in milk dry. Cut it into serving size pieces and immerse the fish in the tomato broth.  Cover the pan and allow it to simmer for 5-10 minutes until the fish is cooked through and flakes.  Remove from the heat.  Serve the fish, along with the broth and beans, over rice.

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One of my favorite fish dishes.

NOTE:  You could also add the cooked rice to the tomato broth, break up the fish pieces and serve this as a soup.  However you choose to serve it I think you will find it homey and very satisfying.

If you like kicked up favors you could add some red pepper flakes and/or cayenne pepper when you add the olives and capers.

Stuffed Peppers

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Stuffed peppers are a perfect winter supper.  A meal in themselves.  Just add a salad and some good crusty bread and serve.   If you look up recipes for stuffed peppers there are all sorts of ethnic variations.  A Spanish stuffed pepper with Manchego cheese, cod and a béchamel sauce. An Indian stuffed pepper with meat, potato, onion, turmeric and coriander.  A Mexican pepper stuffed with cheese, covered in an egg batter and deep fried.  A Finnish stuffed pepper with rice and lamb,  finished with some heavy cream.   The pepper itself is the vehicle and almost any combination of protein, carb, and seasoning can be stuffed inside.  Today I made my peppers with lots of tomato, rice and ground pork.

Ingredients:

5-6 red, yellow or orange peppers

1 pound ground pork (or pork sausage)

2 pints of tomatoes

1 cup beef or chicken broth

2 cups rice (cooked)

1 cup red onion diced

1 cup celery diced

tops of peppers diced

2 T olive oil

4-5 cloves of garlic minced

1/2 lemon juiced

1 T oregano

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (or more to taste)

1 cup grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese

1/2  cup fresh parsley

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Preheat your oven to 375.

Cut the tops off of the peppers and reserve to use in the filling.  Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the peppers for 5-6 minutes until tender.  Drain on a clean kitchen towel and set aside.

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Dice the pepper caps, onion, and celery.  Heat 2 T of olive oil in a heavy skillet and sauté the vegetables over medium heat until tender.  Add the garlic and cook another minute.

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Set aside 1/2 of the vegetable mixture to use for the sauce.  Add the ground meat to the skillet and cook until the meat is no longer pink.  After the meat has cooked I put it in a strainer to drain off the fat and then return it to the skillet.

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Add one pint of tomatoes, 1/2 cup of broth, and oregano and cayenne to the meat mixture.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

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Transfer the meat mixture to a large bowl.  (Or if you are into less dishes use the kettle you parboiled the peppers in.)  Add the 2 cups of rice, 1 cup of cheese, and parsley and stir to combine.  If you feel the mixture needs more moisture add a little more broth.  Set aside while you make the gravy.

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In the skillet combine the reserved vegetables, one pint of tomatoes, 1/2 cup of broth, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste.  Bring to a boil and simmer until the sauce is reduced and thickens.  Tranfer the sauce to a food processor or blender and purée.

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Now it’s time to assemble the peppers.  Fill each pepper with the meat and rice mixture and stand up in a casserole dish.  Once you’ve filled the peppers pour the gravy over the top and bake for 45 minutes.

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Serve with  extra grated cheese and some good bread.  Enjoy!

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NOTE:  Cooking is limited only by one’s imagination.  This recipe is a perfect example of an opportunity to substitute ingredients based on your family’s personal tastes.  Beef, lamb, turkey or pork.  Rice, quinoa, potato or orzo.  Parsley, basil, cilantro or mint.

 

 

Andouille Sausage, Tomatoes and Rice

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Andouilli is a smoked sausage made from pork and seasoned with garlic, peppers, onion, and seasonings.  A little spicy.   It’s very common in Louisiana Creole cuisine.  The organic meat market where I purchase all of my meat makes an especially good andouilli.

One pot dishes are always a treat after a long day when you don’t have a lot of time to put a homemade meal on the table.  This is a tasty dish that’s a little kicked up (you can kick it up a little more if you’d like).  Some of the kick comes from the andouilli sausage.  You can prep and cook this dish in less than an hour.  A little bit of New Orleans on your table and only one pan to wash.

Ingredients:

1 T olive oil

1 medium onion rough chopped

1 cup rough chopped pepper (I used an orange bell pepper and a poblano)

3-4 cloves of garlic minced

4 links adouille sausage (a little under one pound)

1 cup long grain rice, uncooked

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp coarse ground black  pepper

1 tsp oregano

1 bay leaf

2 1/2 cups chicken broth

1 pint diced tomatoes

1 T tomato pastee

1 T Franks Hot Sauce

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Heat the olive oil in a heavy fry pan or Dutch oven.  Dice the onion and peppers, mince the garlic and slice the sausage links.  Saute for about 5 minutes.

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Measure out the spices and add to the sausage and vegetables along with the rice.

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Stir and saute for 1-2 minutes.  Add the chicken broth, tomato paste, tomatoes and Franks.

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Stir and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 25 minutes.  Remove from the heat and allow the pan to stand, covered, for 5 minutes.  Stir and serve.

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I served it with some steamed asparagus and a wedge of buttermilk cornbread.  I’ve always been a little wimpy about spice but my palate is adjusting.  I loved this dish.

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If you’d like, you can add some shrimp to this dish.  After the first 20 minutes of simmering, stir in the shrimp, cover, and continue cooking for 5 more minutes.

NOTE:  I have mentioned this before but recipes always call for one or two tablespoons of tomato paste.  I open both ends of a small can of tomato paste and put the can in the freezer for an hour or so.  Once the paste has firmed up push it out of the can, slice it and freeze individual slices in snack bags.  You always have just the right amount of tomato paste at the ready.

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