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Monday, May 13, 2013

Creole Risotto and How Your Christmas Lights Help You Prep Ahead

Finished dish with chicken and peas
I have a new cookbook (my Mother's Day gift to myself)!  It's a vintage cookbook called Scientific Cooking with Scientific Methods by Sarah E. Woodworth Craig, published in 1911 by Ellis Publishing Co (Battle Creek, MI).

It's chock-full of adverts for Vonnegut Hardware in Indianapolis (yes, *that* Vonnegut, though Vonnegut grandpère rather than Vonnegut grand-fils) and "scientific" culinary gems like, "Brain workers want to take easily digested foods, such as eggs, fish, etc. The laborer needs quantity, and can eat of corned beef, cabbage, corn bread and brown bread, and not overtax his digestion..."

As always, I wonder what of our current "known scientific truths" will seem quaint and outmoded in a few decades.

Outmoded though their musings on digestion are, I LOVE recipes from the pre-processed foods era.  In this instance, I'm combining one of the recipes with a previous Mother's Day gift (my rice cooker) and streamlining the recipe.

Rice cooker in foreground,
Christmas lights timer in background
I've been really into using my rice cooker lately as a prep-ahead tool in combination with...wait for it...my Christmas light timer.  Most rice recipes (the vegetarian ones) can sit out at room temp for a few hours before cooking without ill effects, but really can't sit around on "warm" all day without getting burned.  Enter the timer...  Rice cookers will generally cook white rice in 15-20 minutes, plus a few minutes cool-down time or brown rice in about 45 minutes with the same cool-down period.  Count backwards from your preferred meal time, and set your timer to start at the appropriate time.  Don't forget to set the rice cooker itself to "cook" even though it won't be kicking on for awhile.

Now the recipe...the original recipe calls for making a sauce of onions, pepper, mushrooms, sherry and tomatoes separate from the rice.  I sauteed the veg, added a splash of wine and added all this to the rice cooking liquid.  I used all mushrooms rather than a mixture of onion/pepper/mushroom because that's what I had on hand.  Use more veggies, less veggies, whatever works for you.

Also, be sure to use all the liquid called for even if it doesn't seem to jive with the rice cooker's notion of appropriate rice-to-liquid ratio...the volume of the sauteed veggies throws things off.

Creole Risotto
Makes 6 servings

1/4 cup butter
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion + 1/2 cup chopped bell pepper + 1/2 cup chopped mushrooms (or 1 1/2 cups chopped veggies of your choice)
1 cup brown or white uncooked rice
2 tbsp sherry/Marsala/Madeira/vermouth
1 cup tomato juice or V8
3 cups beef or veggie stock
salt and pepper to taste

Sauteed mushrooms and toasted rice
Melt butter and oil over medium-high heat in a large saute pan.  Add veggies and saute until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.  Add rice and saute another 5 minutes, tossing occasionally, until toasted.  Add sherry/wine and scrape up brown bits from bottom of pan.  Fridge now, if desired.

Add rice mixture to rice cooker, if using, and stir in stock and tomato juice (season with salt and pepper, if desired).  Set timer to cook appropriately, depending on type of rice.

If you want to make this on the stovetop, bring juice and stock to a boil.  Add rice-veggie mix and reduce heat to medium-low to simmer.  Cover and simmer 15-20 minutes for white rice, 45-50 minutes for brown rice.

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