Archive for ‘Rice’

February 11, 2011

Simple Suppers | Hainanese Chicken Rice

This is perhaps one of the simplest recipes I’ve ever posted.  It is one that requires almost no effort when it comes to dinner time.  One that everyone in my family loves.  One that requires only a few ingredients and some spices. (Have you been building your spice cabinet?)  It has taken over as my favorite way to utilize a fresh, locally-raised speckled hen from North Market Poultry and Game.  I will suggest that you get the freshest chicken you can lay your hands on.  Pay a little bit more for the chicken than you think is reasonable.  Trust me that it will make a difference in this dish.  Because chicken rice is about two things: chicken and rice.  They need to be good.

The ease of this recipe is that the chicken is poached and then allowed to cool in the stock over several hours.  It’s also sometimes called white chicken.  Essentially, you cook it for 30 minutes in the morning and then when it’s time for dinner, make a pot of rice and gather some soy, vinegar and spices for your condiments.  Dinner can be on the table in fifteen minutes and is a symphony of Singapore flavors.

Ingredients: Ginger, whole chicken, rice, soy sauce, a green onion, vinegar, a spicy chili, coarse salt, Szechuan peppercorns, fresh cilantro.  Optional lettuce.

For the chicken:

Take a whole chicken, 3 to 4 pounds, and remove the giblets.  In a deep stock pot fill with enough water that will cover the chicken.  Into the water

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January 11, 2011

Winter Kitchen | Roasted Chestnut Risotto with Mushrooms

When the snow is swirling outside and you feel like spending a bit of time in a warm kitchen stirring leisurely, risotto is your answer.

I have a deep love for risottos.   It is an endlessly versatile dish, perfectly at home in any season.  A stock, some aromatics, and a bit of rice transforms into a bowl of comfort.

I have taken risotto on as the meal I would most like to perfect in my life.  Ultimately, I want mine to be able to stand up next to any Italian nonna’s.  Lofty dream, I know.   But it’s a life project.

One of the things that makes me almost endlessly sad is to see recipes for “risotto” that include copious amounts of butter or oil or cream.  Risotto should not be a excessively fatty dish.  It is, as I said, essentially stock and rice.  You add at the end a bit of Parmesan if you like, or alternately, depending on the combination of ingredients, a heaping tablespoon (at most) of perhaps some marscapone cheese (across four servings) .  The creaminess of the dish is almost entirely derived from the grains of rice giving up their starch.

Today’s risotto was a combination of roasted and chopped chestnuts, dried and fresh mushrooms and a lamb stock.  This happy combination was again facilitated by The Flavor Thesaurus.   I had lamb bones in the freezer from a roasted lamb shoulder, so it was easy to toss everything in a pot to simmer a stock in the afternoon.  A bit later on, I set a metal sieve over the pot and soaked some dried chanterelles to rehydrate them and add a further bit of meatiness to the stock.

When it was time for dinner, I sauteed some fresh mushrooms (a combination of oyster, portabella, and cremini) along with the rehydrated chanterelles that I chopped in a very hot pan with some olive oil and salt and pepper, almost like duxelles.  When these were brown, I put them in a bowl for later.  I added a sliced shallot to the pan, reduced the heat to medium and soften it a bit.  Then I added about a cup and a half of rice, cooked it for a minute then deglazed the pan with vermouth.  The rest of the cooking is almost identical to the recipes here and here.  I added in the mushrooms just before the last addition of the lamb stock to rewarm them.  PK tip:  Make sure you add a generous extra ladle full or two of stock just before serving.  You want it almost a bit too loose.  It sets up so quickly as you get it to the table and you want it to be spoon-able, not stiff.  The plate was garnished with a bit of thyme (lots in the stock) and grated Parmesan.

Playlist included Writing to Reach You, by Travis.

November 17, 2010

Rose-scented Basmati Rice Pudding | Ohh, Lah Lah!

It’s a dessert!  Readers with a sweet tooth, rejoice! 

I have yet to put one up on PK, although they’re made around here occasionally.  This one is dead simple.  Mostly because it starts with leftover Indian-spiced Basmati.  If you’ve been around the Kitchen much, you’ll remember how much I love curries.  For the pudding, I used the leftover rice that I had served with a delicate curry I made late last week.  That lovely rice will go with lots of dishes and it smells heavenly.  But really, you could probably use just about any plain-ish leftover rice.   Just don’t go using Uncle Ben’s Mushroom Explosion or anything like that.

This also gave me a chance to use the rest of my special Ohh, Lah Lah from the good folks at Snowville Creamery.  Snowville is working on developing a new product (Ohh, Lah Lah)  that is essentially 2% milk that’s been cold nano-filtered and reduced 2  1/2 times to make it thick and creamy.  It’s low-fat, but you’d never know it, it’s almost like cream.  It’s fabulous and not in stores yet so I squee’d when I got the chance to try it first.  This turned into a perfect use for it.  I ran out and need more already.  I have so many other ideas.  What do you say, Snowville?

And for bonus points, this dessert takes ten minutes, start to finish.

Indian Roses Rice Pudding, serves 6 to 8

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November 10, 2010

Curry for a Lady

I love curries.  Love, love, love.   I love them even more now that I’m a bit more familiar with the cooking techniques and spices that are considered basic.  Anjum Anand had an Indian Food Made Easy series on BBC that was really a great intro to the genre.  You can find it on the Cooking Channel now, which to be honest isn’t really my cup of tea, save for series like hers. 

Tonight, I did a take on her Bengali Butternut Squash recipe, only with the last winter squash we picked up at Rennick’s a few weekends ago.  It was a turban squash that I probably, in hindsight, should have roasted.  Fortunately, Hades was the one that wielded the knife and not me.  And score! no trip to the hospital.  I really recommend this be done with a more manageable squash like a butternut or acorn.  Really.  Your local emergency room will thank you.

A Chelsea Girl’s Curry

2 T vegetable oil

1 bay leaf

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October 26, 2010

The Week of Gourd: Hubbard Squash Risotto

Blue Hubbard

Image by SamH one via Flickr

So the Week of Gourd continues.  They’re all over your grocery store, in season, inexpensive, but perhaps a bit of a mystery.  One of the many varieties to check out is the pretty blue Hubbard squash.  I’ve been told they can grow to enormous sizes, but mine was around three pounds (only?) and I used half for this recipe.   This is a seriously thick-skinned squash, good for keeping over the winter. 

Have a good sharp knife at the ready and some nerves of steel.  As for this one, I got the knife started, it got lodged and I ended up banging the squash on the cutting board to loosen the knife.  Not exactly the super technique, but I’m not the only one who fights with these beasts. (I know Hades is reading this, shaking his head, vowing to not leave me alone next time with a hard winter squash and a butcher knife.)   But I’ve heard of chefs using cleavers and hammers.  Do not be deterred!   I got the knife out, and broke the squash in two, removed the seeds and pulp, rubbed both sides with olive oil, salt and pepper and roasted in a 350 degree oven for an hour while the tornado sirens were going off.  Midwest living!  Persephone 1, squash 0.  When the squash was tender, I let it cool a bit, then took a large spoon and scooped out all the orange flesh from one half.  I’m still pondering what to do with the other half.  I’m sure you’ll hear about it soon enough.  Without further ado, tonight’s recipe:

Roasted Hubbard Squash and Rosemary Risotto

2 T olive oil

1/2 onion, finely chopped

1 sprig rosemary, leaves removed and chopped

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September 13, 2010

Risotto Night | Shrimp and Sea Beans

It happens pretty much once a week.  I love it.  Hades loves it.  Cherub can’t get enough of it.  I love that it’s a versatile dish that takes on whatever flavor or season you throw at it.  I often make it as a vegetarian dish, and we never really miss the meat on those nights.  You can even skip cheese to make a vegan risotto if you top it with a delicious and simple pangrattato (PK tip: whiz up some bread crumbs, garlic, herbs of your choice a pinch of salt and then fry in a bit of olive oil until brown and crispy).  This summer’s versions have included carrot and coriander or the ubiquitous tomato and basil, as well as this week’s fancy-schmancy version: shrimp with sea beans.

I’m not above a bit of theater in the kitchen, and you shouldn’t be either — even on a weeknight.  So gather together a little technique, and a lot of showmanship and style with a risotto.  Here I was inspired by Julia Fischer’s new recording of Niccolo Paganini’s 24 Caprices, out this week.  Signore Paganini was never short of drama, so might he be too much?  Not a bit of it:  Ms. Fischer is, as always, extraordinary.  This brings us to tonight’s risotto.  Think a German brunette can’t handle the Italians?  Think again…

So what is a sea bean you ask?  A delicious little branched green bean looking thing that grows in salt marshes.  A very salty little thing it is, too.  So much so, that you need to blanch them first to get some of the salt out.  Taste-wise, it’s a bit like a tiny asparagus, in the woody sense, but with a burst of saltiness when you bite into it.  Really cool.   I picked these up from the Greener Grocer.  They had a few in as a little treat, but most times, you won’t find much of them unless you live on the coasts.  So if you happen to run across some and they look good, by all means buy them!

This week’s risotto was born of Rick Stein’s version in Complete Seafood.  He came up with the combo, I did my version of risotto.  If you are just starting out with cooking fish, and feel a bit out of your depth, there’s truly not a better cookbook than this one.  I’ve even seen them on sale at Whole Foods, and it’s really worth it to purchase a copy.

PK tip #2: This is one of those recipes that it’s really important to have all of your mise en place.  All your ducks in a row.  Organize, organize, organize!  Do all your prep first, chop all the carrots, onion, measure out all your rice, have all the pots out that you need (one for the stock, one for the sea beans, one for the risotto).  Have your bowls ready for serving.  Heck, even clean up your prep stuff and shove things in the dishwasher or sink to get things out of the way.  Now, roll up your sleeves.  Pour yourself a glass of wine.   This is gonna be fun.

Risotto with Shrimp and Sea Beans

2 carrots with the tops

1 pound of shrimp, deveined and shells reserved

1 small onion, skins reserved (really!)

1 bay leaf

6 peppercorns

1 small very ripe tomato, quartered (if you’ve got it)

1 stalk of celery with leaves, halved (if you’ve got it)

1 small handful of fresh parsley (if you’ve got it)

8 to 10 c. water

2 T. olive oil

1 1/2 c Arborio rice (Campanini, if you can get it.  I really, really like this rice.  And I’ve tried lots.)

Splash of sake or vermouth

4 oz sea beans, tough ends removed and broken to be about an inch each

Two handfuls of freshly grated parmesan cheese

In a large pot, add one whole carrot broken in half (top included) and the top from the second carrot.  Add in 1/2 of the onion, quartered and all of the papery skins (really!).  Add in the shrimp shells, bay, peppercorns, tomato, celery, and parsley.  Turn heat to high to get the stock up to a simmer, then turn down and keep on a low to medium heat; give it at least 15 minutes to cook before you begin the next steps with the rice.  I usually use this time to clean up the first round of prep, wipe down counters, put things in the dishwasher, sip some wine.

Next, in a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the other 1 half of the onion that’s been minced along with the last carrot which has been minced as well.   Soften the veg for three to five minutes, stirring occasionally.  Tip in the rice, stir to coat with the oil and mix in the carrot and onion.  Cook for one to two minutes, then add in a nice big splash of the sake or whatever you’re using.    This should evaporate pretty quickly, so stir rapidly once the liquid goes in to deglaze the pan a bit.  PK tip: I normally use Noilly Prat in just about every other recipe.

Now start adding in your stock.  I use a ½ cup ladle, a mesh strainer and a wooden spoon.  With the stock pot on simmer on the burner directly behind the pan you are cooking the risotto, (having the pans close together makes this much easier) ladle in two measures of stock through the strainer you hold over the risotto pan (set your wooden spoon down!).  Then using the wooden spoon, stir the risotto to incorporate all the stock, when it’s most all absorbed, add another ladle of stock the same way as before.  Repeat this process until the rice has developed its own lovely starchy sauce, and the rice is tender, but not mushy; usually 20 to 30 minutes of lovingly ladling, stirring and sipping wine.  You’ll go through just about all that stock.

When the rice is almost done, say 18 to 20 minutes in, you’ll need to bring a pan of water up to the boil and blanch the sea beans for one minute.  Drain the beans.  Now add in the shrimp to the hot risotto, along with another ladle of stock for good measure.  Cook two to three minutes, depending on the size of your shrimp.  Add in all but a handful of the beans (you’ll need some to garnish) and the parmesan to the risotto, stir and taste for seasoning.  I found that it just needed the slightest bit of salt.  It’s at this point before serving that I always add an extra ladle or two of stock.  You don’t want it runny, but almost.  The second risotto gets out of the pan and begins to cool, it thickens up.  Always.  Adding that extra stock at the end just ensures you have a lovely creamy bowl of rice, not a lump.  Gross.

I serve it in shallow bowls and garnish with a small pile of the sea beans that you reserved and maybe a drizzle of olive oil.  It’s pretty great stuff.

You must, must, must serve this with a Vinho Verde.  In PK’s opinion, it’s just the most perfect pairing, a bit sparkly, super light, white and refreshing.

Mangia!

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