Malcolm McDowell Woods
Pantry Raid

Who knew rice was this good?

By - Oct 1st, 2009 09:51 am
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Who knew rice was this good?
We’ve made a lot of fun discoveries over the last several months being “professional” pantry raiders. Turns out, folks keep some really interesting stuff in their pantries. Yes, interesting indeed. But through all these exotic adventures into culinary crevices, there’s pretty much always been one ingredient that we’ve met on every shelf and in every cupboard corner — our old friend, rice.
From the heat-in-your-microwave stuff (which we’ll begrudgingly count as rice) to Jade Pearl and Forbidden Black (we said exotic, right?) to your standard white medium grain, there’s hardly a pantry around that doesn’t have some order of rice hiding somewhere in its depths. In fact, there exist more than 7,000 varieties of this tasty genus, each with its own distinct characteristics to meld into some great concoction or to simply eat just buttered with some garlic perhaps — rice is just that delicious and we’re just that easy.
Given the variety, we see no reason not to have some of this incredibly versatile and valuable staple on hand all the darn time! But then again, we eat a lot of rice. A lot of the time. Carrie eats most meals from a bowl and rice is a pretty awesome medium for a meal in a bowl; Diana’s kid doesn’t eat wheat so her rice cooker rarely gets a rest from the jasmine, brown, red or purple rices on rotation in her kitchen. And bet your bottom dollar that when Indian, Chinese or Mexican food falls from our pantries, rice is falling out of there, too.
Aside from delectable flavors and aromas, when you invite rice to your table, expect to welcome the amino acid lysine, a decent dollop of protein and very little fat and few calories. Rice is also said to calm the nervous system and strengthen internal organs and we’re thinkin’ we could all use a little help in both of those areas. Each type of rice has its own nutritional values but as a general rule, choose the less-processed and more colorful varieties for optimal vitamin and nutrient content. Brown rice, for instance, is the whole rice kernel with only the inedible outer husk removed and is the only form that contains vitamin E and retains most of its B vitamins.
Talking about coaxing you to cook rice reminded us of one of our favorite Chinese sayings: (we’ve eaten a fair amount of fortune cookies together) “Talk does not make rice.” Sure it made us feel guilty for ordering take-out in the first place, but the proverb came in handy the next time we thought we were too tired to open the pantry doors at dinner time. Too many times we all talk about the virtues of making food at home but grab the take-out menu instead. This is the reason we started writing Pantry Raid in the first place – dinner can indeed fall from your pantries with a little planning and a little doing. You can apply this trusty fortune cookie proverb to anything you like – but we hope from time to time it’ll get you to swing open the pantry to put dinner (and rice!) on the table.
Cooking Rice
Once your rice and water have joined up in the pot and have come to a boil, cover, simmer on low heat and leave it alone!!! Stirring your cooking rice releases starches and makes for sticky, gloopy results. So really, don’t pop that lid until the kitchen timer dings. (Or buy a rice cooker and skip setting a timer altogether.) Next time you’re wandering the Outpost bulk aisle, look for our handy brochure that lists many rices and their cooking times, as well as valuable nutritional information. How to cook some of our favorite rice:
(rice:water)
White medium & long grain 1:1 ½  15 minutes
Jasmine 1:1.5  15 minutes
Basmati rice 1: 1 ½  20 minutes
Forbidden Black 1:3  30 minutes
Red Wehani 1:2  45 minutes
Brown Jasmine & brown long grain 1:2  45 minutes
Jade Pearl 1:2  45 minutes
Sweet Brown 1:2  45 minutes
Wild Rice 1:2 1/3  45 minutes
It’s REALLY purple!
The very first time we had purple rice was from Rice Palace on 37th and National Avenue here in Milwaukee. If you haven’t been to Rice Palace, go now. Their Tom Ka soup and Rice Palace Curry are the best dishes for their purple sticky rice. We looooved it so much and were sad we couldn’t get it at the co-op. One year later, WHAM, the purple stuff landed on the grocery shelf by Alter-Eco and in our bulk aisle by way of Lundberg Rice company. It has an earthy, slightly sweet flavor to it with quite literally a purple hue. We have it whenever we make red curry & coconut milk. Look for Forbidden Black in the bulk aisle or Purple Jasmine by Alter Eco on the grocery shelf.
Rice’s “wild” friend
Wild rice is cooked and eaten as a grain but is actually the seed of an aquatic grass. Almost half of the harvesting is still done by Native Americans using canoes and traditional paddles, which we think is pretty awesome. In addition, wild rice has two times the iron and protein of brown rice and tons of soluble fiber. Mmmmm, fiber.
Boil 1 cup of wild rice with 2 1/3 cups liquid, simmer for 45 minutes covered. Wild Rice Mix from Outpost’s bulk section is a nice combination of our favorites, including the wild stuff – brown rice, sweet brown sticky rice and wild and red Wehani rice are all in there! (Cook just like brown rice.)
Lemon Rice Pudding
Serves 6-8
Supremely easy and delicious! A beautifully simple dessert all on its own; it’s even better with fresh raspberries, pineapple or little chunks of kiwi. Chop up some pistachios and we won’t judge you for eating this at breakfast. If you haven’t caught on that we’re crazy about coconut milk by now, well…
4 cups coconut milk
2 cups water
1 cup Arborio rice
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or one whole vanilla bean
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
In a medium saucepan or Dutch oven, combine coconut milk, water, rice, sugar, salt and vanilla. If using a whole bean, split lengthwise, scrap the paste into the pot and add the bean as well.
Bring to a boil over high heat then reduce heat to low and simmer about 40 minutes, stirring enough to prevent sticking on the bottom.
Remove and discard vanilla bean if used. Stir in lemon juice and zest.
Best if chilled for one hour before serving – but we have been known to eat a couple of servings, warm, right from the saucepan. Top with fruit or nuts just before your spoon hits the rice.
Red Wehani Rice with Cashews
Serves 4
Wehani Rice or brown rice are interchangeable in this recipe. When dinner needs to be simple (but nutritious), this is a great recipe to reach for. The cashews and red or brown rice is protein-packed so a simple sauté of vegetables (might we suggest zucchini, red pepper, garlic and spinach?) is all you’ll need to call this done. We also love this rice for soups or stuffing. Yes it takes 45 minutes to cook the rice, get that started before you kick off your shoes and it won’t seem as long as it sounds.
1 1/2 tablespoons oil
1 small onion, finely diced
1 cup long grain brown rice (brown jasmine is a favorite)
1 cup raw cashew pieces
1 bay leaf (optional)
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
2 cups water, vegetable or chicken stock
1. In a large heavy pan which has a tight fitting lid, sauté onion in oil until softened. Add rice and sauté for two minutes, stirring so it does not get too brown. Add coarsely chopped cashews and sauté for one minute. Add herbs, salt, pepper, and water or stock and bring to a boil. (Using stock will yield more luscious rice.)
2. Turn heat to low, cover and simmer for about 45-50 minutes. After 45 minutes, check rice. It should be slightly chewy with all the liquid absorbed when it’s done. Turn off heat and let stand 10 minutes. Serve hot with sautéed vegetables for a fantastic meal in a bowl.
Rice is nice, and that's why The Pantry Raid columnists find it in every pantry they raid.

Rice is nice, and that’s why Pantry Raid columnists’ Diana Sieger and Carrie Rowe find it in every pantry they raid.

We’ve made a lot of fun discoveries over the last several months being “professional” pantry raiders. Turns out, folks keep some really interesting stuff in their pantries. Yes, interesting indeed. But through all these exotic adventures into culinary crevices, there’s pretty much always been one ingredient that we’ve met on every shelf and in every cupboard corner — our old friend, rice.

From the heat-in-your-microwave stuff (which we’ll begrudgingly count as rice) to Jade Pearl and Forbidden Black (we said exotic, right?) to your standard white medium grain, there’s hardly a pantry around that doesn’t have some order of rice hiding somewhere in its depths. In fact, there exist more than 7,000 varieties of this tasty genus, each with its own distinct characteristics to meld into some great concoction or to simply eat just buttered with some garlic perhaps — rice is just that delicious and we’re just that easy.

Given the variety, we see no reason not to have some of this incredibly versatile and valuable staple on hand all the darn time! But then again, we eat a lot of rice. A lot of the time. Carrie eats most meals from a bowl and rice is a pretty awesome medium for a meal in a bowl; Diana’s kid doesn’t eat wheat so her rice cooker rarely gets a rest from the jasmine, brown, red or purple rices on rotation in her kitchen. And bet your bottom dollar that when Indian, Chinese or Mexican food falls from our pantries, rice is falling out of there, too.

Aside from delectable flavors and aromas, when you invite rice to your table, expect to welcome the amino acid lysine, a decent dollop of protein and very little fat and few calories. Rice is also said to calm the nervous system and strengthen internal organs and we’re thinkin’ we could all use a little help in both of those areas. Each type of rice has its own nutritional values but as a general rule, choose the less-processed and more colorful varieties for optimal vitamin and nutrient content. Brown rice, for instance, is the whole rice kernel with only the inedible outer husk removed and is the only form that contains vitamin E and retains most of its B vitamins.

Talking about coaxing you to cook rice reminded us of one of our favorite Chinese sayings: (we’ve eaten a fair amount of fortune cookies together) “Talk does not make rice.” Sure it made us feel guilty for ordering take-out in the first place, but the proverb came in handy the next time we thought we were too tired to open the pantry doors at dinner time. Too many times we all talk about the virtues of making food at home but grab the take-out menu instead. This is the reason we started writing Pantry Raid in the first place – dinner can indeed fall from your pantries with a little planning and a little doing. You can apply this trusty fortune cookie proverb to anything you like – but we hope from time to time it’ll get you to swing open the pantry to put dinner (and rice!) on the table.

Cooking Rice

Once your rice and water have joined up in the pot and have come to a boil, cover, simmer on low heat and leave it alone!!! Stirring your cooking rice releases starches and makes for sticky, gloopy results. So really, don’t pop that lid until the kitchen timer dings. (Or buy a rice cooker and skip setting a timer altogether.) Next time you’re wandering the Outpost bulk aisle, look for our handy brochure that lists many rices and their cooking times, as well as valuable nutritional information.

How to cook some of our favorite rice: (Rice to Water ratios)

White medium & long grain: (1:1 ½)
Cooking time: 15 minutes

Jasmine: (1:1 ½)
Cooking time: 15 minutes

Basmati rice: (1: 1 ½)
Cooking time: 20 minutes

Forbidden Black: (1:3)
Cooking time: 30 minutes

Red Wehani: (1:2)
Cooking time: 45 minutes

Brown Jasmine & brown long grain: (1:2)
Cooking time: 45 minutes

Jade Pearl: (1:2)
Cooking time: 45 minutes

Sweet Brown: (1:2)
Cooking time: 45 minutes

Wild Rice: (1:2 ¹⁄3)
Cooking time: 45 minutes

 

Rice’s “wild” friend

Wild rice is cooked and eaten as a grain but is actually the seed of an aquatic grass. Almost half of the harvesting is still done by Native Americans using canoes and traditional paddles, which we think is pretty awesome. In addition, wild rice has two times the iron and protein of brown rice and tons of soluble fiber. Mmmmm, fiber.

Boil 1 cup of wild rice with 2 ¹⁄3 cups liquid, simmer for 45 minutes covered. Wild Rice Mix from Outpost’s bulk section is a nice combination of our favorites, including the wild stuff – brown rice, sweet brown sticky rice and wild and red Wehani rice are all in there! (Cook just like brown rice.)

Lemon Rice Pudding

Serves 6-8

Supremely easy and delicious! A beautifully simple dessert all on its own; it’s even better with fresh raspberries, pineapple or little chunks of kiwi. Chop up some pistachios and we won’t judge you for eating this at breakfast. If you haven’t caught on that we’re crazy about coconut milk by now, well…

4 cups coconut milk
2 cups water
1 cup Arborio rice
1 cup sugar
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or one whole vanilla bean
½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest

1. In a medium saucepan or Dutch oven, combine coconut milk, water, rice, sugar, salt and vanilla. If using a whole bean, split lengthwise, scrap the paste into the pot and add the bean as well.

2. Bring to a boil over high heat then reduce heat to low and simmer about 40 minutes, stirring enough to prevent sticking on the bottom.

3. Remove and discard vanilla bean if used. Stir in lemon juice and zest.

Best if chilled for one hour before serving — but we have been known to eat a couple of servings, warm, right from the saucepan. Top with fruit or nuts just before your spoon hits the rice.

Red Wehani Rice with Cashews

Serves 4

Wehani Rice or brown rice are interchangeable in this recipe. When dinner needs to be simple (but nutritious), this is a great recipe to reach for. The cashews and red or brown rice is protein-packed so a simple sauté of vegetables (might we suggest zucchini, red pepper, garlic and spinach?) is all you’ll need to call this done. We also love this rice for soups or stuffing. Yes it takes 45 minutes to cook the rice, get that started before you kick off your shoes and it won’t seem as long as it sounds.

1 ½ tablespoons oil
1 small onion, finely diced
1 cup long grain brown rice (brown jasmine is a favorite)
1 cup raw cashew pieces
1 bay leaf (optional)
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
2 cups water, vegetable or chicken stock
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

1. In a large heavy pan which has a tight fitting lid, sauté onion in oil until softened. Add rice and sauté for two minutes, stirring so it does not get too brown. Add coarsely chopped cashews and sauté for one minute. Add herbs, salt, pepper, and water or stock and bring to a boil. (Using stock will yield more luscious rice.)

2. Turn heat to low, cover and simmer for about 45-50 minutes. After 45 minutes, check rice. It should be slightly chewy with all the liquid absorbed when it’s done. Turn off heat and let stand 10 minutes. Serve hot with sautéed vegetables for a fantastic meal in a bowl.

—Diana Sieger & Carrie Rowe

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