Showing posts with label rice. Show all posts
Showing posts with label rice. Show all posts

Friday, February 10, 2017


Catchy title, right?

Yup, that boring white stuff. Add water, cook, eat. Heck, if you buy instant rice, or rice in a bag, I’m not even sure you cook it these days. Maybe trendy home cooks have gotten into the more exotic varieties. I confess, I currently have jasmine, Arborio, Basmati, red, black, and brown rice in my pantry. Yes, I’ve cooked with them all.

But recently I saw a recipe in the New York Times Sunday magazine that surprised me. It seems there is something else you can do with rice. Who knew?

The author presented this in the context of a bigger recipe involving chicken, but it occurred to me that the rice part could stand alone quite nicely as a side dish for any number of other things. So I figured, why not try it? Warning: this is kind of labor-intensive for a side dish (mainly because you spend a lot of time stirring and waiting), especially if you’re in a hurry to get dinner on the table. Maybe you can use it to jazz up some leftovers, if you have the time.

But hey, there's a blizzard today, so I might as well stir!

View from my window

A Different Rice


2 cups jasmine rice (sorry, not just any old rice)
2 Tblsp olive oil
2 Tblsp butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
salt and pepper
6 cups chicken stock


Add the plain rice (not rinsed—it has to be dry for this to work) to a dry sautee pan over medium-high heat and “dry-roast” it, stirring slowly and steadily until the rice turns golden and released a fragrant odor. This will take about 15 minutes (watch it carefully so it doesn’t burn!).

. . . and after
Remove the rice from the heat and let it cool (which will take a while—it’s hot!).

When it has cooled, place it in a food processor and pulse it until the rice is broken up into smaller bits (do not reduce it to powder!). It comes out looking kind of like Irish steel-cut oatmeal (but if you don’t know what that looks like, that won’t help).


. . . and after
In a deep heavy pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil and the butter until the butter is melted. Add the chopped onion and cook slowly until it is translucent. Season it with salt and pepper.

Add the toasted ground rice to the pot and stir until the rice and onion are well mixed. Add enough chicken stock to cover the mixture and cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until the rice is cooked through. (Sounds like risotto, right?) You may need to add more chicken stock along the way, if the mixture becomes too dry before the rice is cooked, but don’t overdo it—you want the rice to be sticky, not soupy. I found this took about twenty minutes.

And then let your imagination take over! It would be good alongside baked or braised chicken. Or toss in some left-over chicken or turkey pieces and heat through. Experiment! Different stocks, maybe? Add a chopped herb at the end?

Despite the work and time involved in making it, I enjoyed the end product. The rice still retained a slightly crunchy texture, and it had a nice nutty flavor. And this recipe makes plenty for left-overs, even though it started with only two cups of rice!

It's fitting to be talking about Cruel Winter while there's a blizzard raging outside...because there's a blizzard in Cruel Winter.

There's something kind of intimate about being trapped with both friends and strangers in a snowstorm--people may say unexpected things. And one of them might be a killer.

Coming March 14th. Available now at Amazon and Barnes and Noble (and still on sale for 1/3 off at both!).

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Learn the Trick to Cutting Up to Half the Calories in Rice via author Cleo Coyle

Last month in Denver, the American Chemical Society announced findings that changed my foodie life. If you haven't heard, I'm happy to share the news AND the culinary trick to cutting up to half of the digestible calories in white rice.

Researchers in Sri Lanka discovered that cooking (non-fortified) white rice with a tiny bit of coconut oil and then chilling it for at least 12 hours will change the rice's chemical properties, effectively cutting its digestible calories up to half (or more) while adding health benefits. And, yes, you can reheat it after the chilling and the calories will stay cut. 

Cleo Coyle has a partner in 
crime-writing—her husband.
Learn about their books
by clicking here or here.

Get the recipe below.

Frankly, I was OVERJOYED by this news because I love FRIED RICE, which requires that day-old rice be used for proper texture. In other words, the overnight chilling required to cut the unhealthful starch and calories in your white rice now serves as a bonus step in making fried rice. (See my fast veggie fried rice recipe below, too.)

Sadly, I never could make a lasting commitment to that other rice. You know (shhh...), brown rice. I tried everything—couple’s therapy, vacations abroad—but I just kept returning for my white rice fix.

Now the guilt is gone, along with much of the bad starch and half the calories...

The return of white rice!

Yeah, Chemistry!

The Recipe for Cutting
Calories in Your Rice 

Click for the free
recipe PDF.
To download this recipe in a free PDF document that you can print, save, or share, click here.

This "skinny" rice recipe
yields 1-1/2 cups of cooked rice.

(1) Add 1 teaspoon coconut oil
to rapidly boiling water.

(I use 1-1/4 cups water.)

(2) Stir in 1/2 cup of uncooked white rice
(non-fortified/non-enriched rice).

(3) Turn down the heat to a simmer,
cover with a lid, and cook for at least
20 minutes or up to 40 (until done). 

(The 20 minute minimum ensures the
chemical process will take place.)

(4) Chill for at least 12 hours.
(You cannot skip the chilling step.)

That's it!

You can reheat this rice
via microwave or stove, as in
my easy veggie fried rice recipe
below, and it will retain its lower
digestible calorie profile.

Some Q & As...

Can you double the recipe? Yes, that's what I do. For a yield of 3 cups of cooked white rice, melt 2 teaspoons of coconut oil into about 2-1/2 cups of rapidly boiling water. Stir in 1 cup of uncooked (non-fortified) white rice. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover with a lid, and cook for at least 20 minutes. Stir the rice at that point to prevent sticking, and continue cooking until the water is absorbed by the rice. 

COOKING TIPS: Here's a good trick to prevent burning. Turn off the heat when the cooking process is nearly through. Allow the hot pan to sit on the warm burner and continue cooking the rice until the water is completely absorbed and the rice is cooked.

Will you taste the flavor of coconut? Yes. And I find it delicious. If you're not a fan of the flavor, no worries. Using the rice in other recipes (like my veggie fried rice below) the coconut flavor is diluted against the other flavors in the recipe.

Won't the coconut oil add calories? At the American Chemical Society press conference in Denver, the scientist who presented these results basically said that if you stick to the amounts in the recipe (no more and no less), the chemical process will effectively nullify these calories.

Health benefits: According to the researchers, rice cooked this way may give you a healthier gut. The transformed starch in the reduced-calorie rice provides a potent energy source to the "good bacteria" in the human body. Coconut oil is also incredibly good for you. It helps prevent infections; it curbs obesity by increasing energy; and it boosts brain function. Learn more about coconut oil's many health benefits by clicking here

What kind of coconut oil? Look for unrefined, cold pressed coconut oil, ideally virgin. Some brands are better than others. To learn more, visit one of my favorite old recipe posts for Chocolate Ricotta Muffins, where I shared my favorite brand of coconut oil and a link for more suggestions. Click here for the chocolate muffin recipe.

In the video below, you can see one of the chemists who
made this discovery give his original 
Press Conference
Presentation at the 2015 American Chemical Society
meeting in Denver.


If you do not see the video above,
click here to view it on YouTube.


Guess what his next project is?

Cutting the digestible calories
in potatoes and (yes!) pasta.

Read the Washington Post 
article on this discovery here.

Cleo Coyle's Fast
Veggie Fried Rice

As I mentioned above, I love fried rice, which requires that day-old rice be used for proper texture. In other words, the overnight chilling required to cut the calories and unhealthful starch in your white rice now serves as a bonus step in making fried rice. Here's how I make mine...

Yields around 5 to 6 cups 

Warm a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add a generous splash of neutral oil (vegetable or canola). When hot, add chopped onion (1 medium yellow or whatever you have on hand). Saute until translucent and toss in finely chopped garlic and big chunks of peeled ginger (these big chunks are there to flavor the oil and should be removed before serving). Finally, add a generous splash of sesame oil.

Stir and cook until the onions are light brown (and caramelized) and the oil is infused with the ginger and garlic. Now carefully add your frozen veggies. Add them carefully because frozen water crystals will sputter and jump when they hit the hot oil in the pan. Take care not to get burned. What veggies you use are your choice. I like to add frozen peas, carrots, and sweet corn for a total of about 2 cups. Stir them up to coat with the delicious flavored oil then cover the pan for 1 minute. Lift the lid, stir again then cover for another 30 seconds or so. This should cook them through fairly well. 

Now add your day-old chilled "skinny" rice (add 3 cups, made as directed above) and stir until heated through and lightly coated with the flavored oil. Push everything to one side and add 2 large eggs (lightly whisked with a fork) to the hot bottom of the pan. Stir quickly as you would scrambled eggs and (before they are completely cooked and hard) fold into the rice and veggies. Finish by pouring on a mixture of soy sauce, rice vinegar, and white pepper. (Mix before pouring. I use 75/25 soy sauce and vinegar with a generous sprinkling of white pepper, but the ratio and amounts should be to your own taste.) Taste test and add more of this mixture if you'd like a more powerful flavor. Garnish with chopped green onions. 

*Variation: On days when I'd like a little spice in the mix, I add a chopped jalapeno with the garlic and ginger. (Be sure to remove the seeds and white membrane before chopping.) 

Click here for the free
recipe PDF, and...

Stay Cozy!

~ Cleo Coyle

New York Times bestselling author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries 

Friend me on facebook here. * Follow me on twitter here
Learn about my books here

The Coffeehouse Mysteries are bestselling
works of amateur sleuth fiction set in a landmark
Greenwich Village coffeehouse, and each of the
14 titles includes the added bonus of recipes. 

* * *

Once Upon a Grind:
A Coffeehouse Mystery

* A Best Book of the Year
Reviewer's Pick -
King's River Life

* Top Pick! ~ RT Book Reviews

* Fresh Pick ~ Fresh Fiction

* A Mystery Guild Selection

Delicious recipes are also featured in my 14th 
culinary mystery, Once Upon a Grind, including...

* Black Forest Brownies 
* Cappuccino Blondies 
* Shrimp Kiev 
* Dr Pepper Glazed Chicken
* Silver Dollar Chocolate Chip Cookies
* "Fryer Tuck's" Ale-Battered Onion Rings
* Poor Man's Caviar 
* Caramel-Dipped Meltaways

...and many more recipes, including
a guide to reading coffee grinds...

See the book's
Recipe Guide (free PDF)

* * * 

Marc and I also write
The Haunted Bookshop

Get a free title checklist,
with mini plot summaries, 

by clicking here. 

Or learn more about the
books and meet Jack Shepard,
our PI ghost 
by clicking here. 

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Friday, November 7, 2014

Roasted Stuffed Squash

by Sheila Connolly

Halloween is behind us, and the Thanksgiving holiday looms. I live only a few miles from Plymouth, so I can’t escape it. Whatever piffle we were handed in elementary school about the happy Native Americans bringing bounteous dishes to the hungry Pilgrims has been toned down to a more realistic story; most likely the colonists and the Wampanoags (the local Indians, who are still around and trying to open casinos) shared whatever they had, and that probably included squash.

Of that first meal Yankee Magazine tells us: “…venison was a major ingredient, as well as fowl, but that likely included pheasants, geese, and duck. Turkeys are a possibility, but were not a common food in that time. Pilgrims grew onions and herbs. Cranberries and currants would have been growing wild in the area, and watercress may have still been available if the hard frosts had held off, but there’s no record of them having been served. In fact, the meal was probably quite meat-heavy. Likewise, walnuts, chestnuts, and beechnuts were abundant, as were sunchokes. Shellfish were common, so they probably played a part, as did beans, pumpkins, squashes, and corn (served in the form of bread or porridge), thanks to the Wampanoags.”

There’s that squash. The problem is, I really don’t like squash.

My mother used to serve acorn squash, using a very simple recipe: slice in half, scoop out seeds, fill the center with brown sugar and lots of butter, bake. In my mother’s defense, Paula Deen and Martha Stewart are still pushing the same recipe. I couldn’t stand it. I admit that makes no sense, because I love all things sweet—except vegetables and starches. But my blacklist includes: sweet potatoes, yams, beets, and baked beans. Most of them make me gag.

But I am a foodie! And most fresh vegetables are now being shipped from Guatemala or Mexico, so mainly it’s squash that is available locally. And the little ones are kinda cute (like kittens and puppies, right?). So I was determined to find a recipe for baby acorn squashes that didn’t involve brown sugar, that I might actually enjoy.

And I did, or actually I found two which I kind of combined (I vetoed the one with chopped dried cherries).

Roasted Acorn Squash with Black Rice

2 small acorn squashes
2 Tblsp vegetable oil
1 cup pecan pieces, chopped

1 1/2 cups black rice aka Forbidden Rice (you may substitute wild rice, brown rice, or even white rice)
2 Tblsp butter
2 shallots, chopped
2 Tblsp fresh thyme leaves
Salt and pepper to taste

Slice the acorn squashes lengthwise, and set one aside.  Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. 

Squash halves (by the way, they're a lot
easier to slice and clean than butternut squash)

Peel and dice one of the acorn squashes. In a bowl, toss the pieces with the vegetable oil, to coat. Spread them on a baking sheet (preferably one with a rim). Roast in the oven for 15 minutes, then turn and spread out again and roast for another 10 minutes. Two to three minutes before the squash is done, sprinkle the pecan pieces over the top so they can roast.

...and after (with pecans added)
Diced squash: before...

On a second cookie sheet, oil the sheet lightly and place the two remaining halves of acorn squash face down. Cover the sheet tightly with aluminum foil. Roast until tender. Note: acorn squashes vary in size from a large lemon to a small football, so adjust your cooking time as needed. The littlest ones take only half an hour at most, while the big (tougher) ones might take 40-45 minutes.

Lots of shallots!
In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, melt the butter and sauté the chopped shallots for about 2 minutes. Add liquid according to the rice package instructions (the amount will vary depending on which type of rice you use; you may use water or stock). Add salt, and bring to a boil. 

Once boiling, lower the heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer gently until the rice is cooked through (check the package for timing!). This may take anywhere from 15 to 25 minutes.

The mysterious Forbidden Rice
(is that a rainbow in the steam?)

When the rice and the chopped squash are both ready, toss them together with the thyme and the chopped pecans. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed.

Place the roasted squash halves on individual flat bowls or plates, and season the inside with salt and pepper. Mound the stuffing into the halves. Serve warm.

I liked the recipe. The nuts add both a little crunch and flavor. I should add that this amount of stuffing will fill far more than two halves of a small squash, so if you want to serve more people, just roast more squashes. Or eat it on its own.

The latest Orchard Mystery, Picked to Die, which takes place during the apple harvest in Granford.

For some reason I'm humming the old song that starts "Come, ye thankful people, come" which celebrates the harvest. It's that time of year.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Thai Rice Pudding

by Sheila Connolly

The English author A. A. Milne once wrote: 

What is the matter with Mary Jane?
She’s perfectly well and she hasn’t a pain
And it’s lovely rice pudding for dinner again!
What is the matter with Mary Jane?

Easy: she doesn’t like rice pudding. I do. (BTW, A. A. Milne—yes, the Winnie the Pooh one—also wrote a mystery called The Red House Mystery. Even though it was successful, he never wrote another.) 

I did not grow up eating rice pudding. When I was in high school, somehow my mother stumbled on a recipe—I think in a Swedish cookbook—that was about as simple as it could be (put milk, cream, sugar and rice in a casserole, stir, and cook for a few hours), so that became a sort of staple, and I still make it.  

There are less simple variations. Noted chef Marco Pierre White has a signature rice pudding that is delightful (I tried it in Dublin), but I think he sneaks some white chocolate in there. Not a bad idea. The raspberry garnish is nice too. 
On another note, I collect exotic and obscure ingredients. I may never use all those ingredients, but it gives me great comfort to know that they’re there waiting for me, should I be struck by sudden inspiration or a craving for galangal or achiote. Amongst those ingredients are at least five varieties of rice: jasmine, Arborio, brown, black (also called Forbidden Rice), and the latest addition, sweet rice, also known as sticky rice, Thai rice, sushi rice or glutinous rice. Hey, I’ll try anything once! 

So here I am with a pristine unopened package of sweet rice, on a sub-freezing March day—what shall I do? Make rice pudding! Okay, I could try the old faithful recipe but substitute sweet rice, but where’s the fun in that? So I’m taking on something new: Thai Rice Pudding. (Yes, I have coconut milk in my larder too.) 

For this one, first you make the rice: 

2 cups sweet rice
3-1/2 cups water
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sugar (white or brown—your choice)
1 can coconut milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
Place the rice in a large pot and add 2 cups of water.  Let the rice soak for at least 10 minutes. Longer is fine. 
Rice soaking
Add the rest of the water plus the salt and stir well.  Place the pan over high heat and bring to a bubbling boil. Then reduce the heat to medium low. Partially cover with a lid (allow enough room for steam to escape). 

Boil gently for 15-20 minutes, or until all the water has been absorbed. Turn off the heat, place the lid on tightly, and let the rice “steam” for 5-10 minutes. There’s no need to hurry—you do want the rice grains to soften completely. 
Rice cooked
Remove the lid and add the coconut milk, stirring until it is incorporated (it won’t take long).  Turn the heat on low and add the sugar and spices.  The rice will slowly absorb the coconut milk, and the result will be very thick. (And it gets thicker the longer it sits.) 

Rice with coconut milk added

You can experiment with this rice—try different spices, or none at all. Add some shredded coconut, or maybe raisins or candied fruit. Have fun with it! If there’s any left over, you’ll probably have to dilute it to serve it—it lives up to the name “sticky”!


The latest County Cork Mystery--and they do serve rice in Ireland!