Archives for posts with tag: rice

Kid got a new camera.

cabbage chop

Photographing food for this blog has been bumming me out for a long time. I cook at night — don’t we all — and the lack of natural light makes for blurry foodstuff or (worse, in my opinion) food lit by the garish point-and-shoot flash.

I have not yet become a master of this device, but suddenly it’s possible to have pictures with a foreground and a background. The next photograph does not feature this distinction, but I like it nevertheless.

place setting

Justin and I got back from our annual convention last week, an event whose encompassing cloud of anxiety we avoided for the most part by staying in Chinatown and escaping to my folks’ house as soon as we could. When we got back to Oakland this recipe had arrived in my inbox; about once a month Vegetarian Times really hits the spot with their courtesy emails, and I recommend this soup highly. It’s like a vegan risotto soup, pretty earthy with the cabbage but creamy because of those little white beans. Very comforting.

Veg Times suggest stirring a mixture of breadcrumbs and pine nuts into the soup. In an effort to one-up them I’ve added capers to the breadcrumb mix, for a little tang, and I served the breadcrumbs on the side for maximum individual control over crunchiness. I know pine nuts cost an arm and a leg but they’re worth it here — no nut is quite as creamy.

warm kitchen

White Bean and Arborio Rice Soup
serves 6
adapted from Vegetarian Times

3 T olive oil, divided
half a large yellow onion, finely chopped
2/3 C Arborio rice
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 t chopped fresh rosemary
8 C vegetable stock
2 C sliced green cabbage
1 bay leaf
1 15.5 oz. can white cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

2 slices country white bread, torn into 1-inch pieces (about a cup)
1/4 C pine nuts
2 t capers, drained

Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a large heavy stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the onions and a pinch of kosher salt. Cook, stirring, until the onions are wilted and translucent, about 6 minutes. Stir in the rice and cook until it’s toasty, about 4 minutes.

Stir in the garlic, rosemary, and cabbage, the add the stock and bay leaf and raise the heat to high. Once the soup boils, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes.

In the meantime, make the breadcrumbs. Pulse the bread, pine nuts, and capers in a food processor until mixed together and chopped. (My bread was the tough and chewy sort, so I ended up with breadcrumbs plus bread chunks–this is just fine.) In a small frypan over medium heat, saute the breadcrumb mixture in the remaining tablespoon of oil for about five minutes until the crumbs are crisp.

Taste the soup. Season with salt if needed, and once the rice is cooked add the beans. Serve, spooning the toasty breadcrumbs over the top.

I made this twice in a week, which is about the highest accolade I can offer a recipe. I ate a plate of it from the pan; I ate several lukewarm bites of it before packing it in the fridge; I ate it cold after a few too many drinks. Then I made it again.

The original recipe is from the same issue of Gourmet that I was riffing on last time. The picture of it is great–cauliflower risotto is pretty hard to photograph in a compelling way–and it features the wooden handle of a fork jumping out of the foreground at you (see?). I need Keats… “see here it is— / I hold it towards you.”

I changed the recipe a bit by roasting only half the cauliflower, in the oven rather than the stovetop, and boiling the other half. I like how the well-cooked cauliflower falls apart in the risotto, very tender and well integrated. The other half of the cauliflower, roasted until caramelized, is gently stirred in at the last minute with some brie and parsley (my herb, not theirs). But this would be great without the cheese, for our dairy-free friends. I’d argue that the roasted almonds are the really significant garnish.

Also, I added some onion at the beginning. I’m pretty sure it’s not cool to make risotto without some onion.

Cauliflower Risotto with Toasted Almonds
adapted from Gourmet
serves 4

4 C vegetable stock
2 C water
1/2 head cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets
2 T olive oil
1/2 large onion, finely chopped
1/2 t kosher salt
1/3 C dry white wine
1 1/2 C arborio rice
4 oz. Brie, rind removed, at room temperature (remove the rind when the cheese is cold)
1/4 C chopped parsley
1/3 C sliced almonds, toasted in a frypan over med-low heat (they’re ready when you see a little color and can smell the nuttiness)

Bring the stock and water to a boil in a medium saucepan and add half the cauliflower florets. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook the cauliflower for 10 minutes, or until it’s quite tender. Scoop it out of the stock, cover the saucepan, and set the cauliflower aside. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400. Toss the other half of the cauliflower with some olive oil (spray can olive oil to the rescue) and dump in a small roasting pan. Roast until tender and caramelized, about 10-15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so. Set aside.

In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and the salt and saute for 5 minutes, until the onions are soft and translucent. Add the rice and turn the heat to medium-high. Stir for a minute, then add the wine. Stir some more, until the wine has been absorbed, about 1 minute. Add 1/2 C of hot broth from your other saucepan, as well as your boiled cauliflower florets. Stir occasionally and simmer until the broth has been absorbed. Repeat this process, adding broth and stirring, until the rice is just tender (after 15 minutes I start tasting it pretty frequently). Gourmet says this will take 18-22 minutes but the key is to start paying close attention at the 15 minute mark and turn off the heat as soon as the rice is as chewy as you like it.

Stir in the roasted cauliflower, Brie, and parsley. Taste the risotto for salt. At this point it should be pretty loose–when you plate it the risotto should spread out. So if it’s become too stiff with these additions, add more hot broth 1/4 C at a time. Serve topped with toasted almonds.

Every time I move I wonder if I really need to keep my back issues of Gourmet. I own a lot of books. Magazines are maybe even heavier than books? And publicly bemoaning the loss of Gourmet is one of those nostalgic foodie activities that makes me feel sort of self-conscious.

But man…that mag had some RECIPES. In a rut, such as the one I experienced recently that revolved (i.e. continues to revolve) around tofurkey sandwiches, Gourmet makes me excited about foods again. My holiday plans now involve this elaborate mushroom and farro pie that’s encased in puff pastry–doesn’t that sound awesome? And my first post-thanksgiving cooking expedition had me rolling (yes, more) mushrooms in delicate blanched collard leaves and toasting a festival of nuts and seeds in olive oil.

An assortment of the nicest mushrooms you can find ends up super-buttery with the addition of some aromatics, wine, thyme, and a little champagne vinegar (some of which are in the original recipe, some of which I added). The collards, however delicate, still taste like collards, so if you’re looking for something milder you might try cabbage. I’ve never made any such bundles–we weren’t a stuffed cabbage family, and I’ve made the conscious decision to leave dolmas to the professionals–but I found it very soothing to roll up these little fat envelopes, patching them as needed, overlapping the stem seams, folding in the edges like a burrito.

The nutty rice is a straightforward winner. If you don’t do nuts, seeds would be awesome–sesame, pumpkin, sunflower. Maybe even some soynuts. They end up toasty and crunchy and did I mention oily? But oily in the best way, in the way that white basmati rice with butter tasted at other folks’ homes when I was growing up.

Wild Mushroom Bundles with Nutty Brown Rice
adapted from a couple recipes from Gourmet
serves 4, at least

1 bunch of collard greens (you only need 8 leaves, but it’s good to have the extras for emergency patching)
2 T olive oil
3 T finely chopped shallot
1 t kosher salt
1 clove garlic, minced
1 lb. wild mushrooms, sliced (I used hen of the woods, oyster, and crimini)
1/2 t dried thyme leaves
1/4 C dry vermouth
1/4 C white wine
1/4 C finely chopped parsley
1 t champagne vinegar

Remove the stems and thick center ribs from the collards. They’ll now be split much of the way down the middle but this is fine. Cook the collard leaves (all of them) in a pot of salted water for 6 minutes. Drain, and lay out the leaves in a single layer on a kitchen towel to dry.

Heat a frypan over medium heat and add the olive oil, shallots, and salt. Saute until the shallots soften a bit, about 3-4 minutes, then add the garlic. Saute one minute and add the mushrooms and thyme. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are tender and their liquids have evaporated. Add the vermouth and white wine and simmer until the liquid is almost gone. Take the frypan off the heat and stir in the parsley and vinegar.

Preheat the oven to 450.

Working on your kitchen towel, lay out a collard leaf. The big ones are easiest to work with. That split down the middle? Overlap the cut edges so that it disappears. Spoon an eighth of the mushroom mixture (about 1/4 C) into the center of the leaf and roll up like a burrito–fold over one edge, fold in the sides, and roll. Place in a greased 8×8 baking dish (any 2 qt. baking dish will do). Repeat with the rest of the bundles.

Drizzle a little more olive oil over the top of the collards, and sprinkle with any nice big-grained salt you have on hand. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 20 minutes.

Nutty Brown Rice

4 C water
1.5 C short-grain brown rice
1/2 t kosher salt
1.25 C mixed nuts chopped (I used pecans, almonds, and pepitas)
3 T olive oil

Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan and add the rice and salt. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 40 minutes. Drain the rice.

Heat the olive oil in a large frypan (the one you used for the mushrooms works really excellently) and add the nuts. Stir and saute until the nuts are golden, about 4-6 minutes. Dump in the rice, stir it up, and serve. A little chopped parsley on top looks pretty.