Easy Shortening Bread

 

With just 4 ingredients this recipe is so easy to make. Soft wheat flour may be used, but rice flour gives this bar an even “shorter” texture.

  • 2 cups freshly milled brown rice flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup sucanat
  • 1 cup chilled salted butter

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a large bowl, combine flour, salt and sucanat. Cut in butter until crumbly. Press into a 9 x 9 inch pan. Prick with a fork. Bake in preheated oven for 20 – 25 minutes. Cut into squares while warm.

Coconut Rice Pudding with Strawberry-Nectarine Compote

Adapted from Southern Living Magazine April 2018

I don’t believe that rice pudding is particularly a southern dish. In fact its origins come from the royalties of England when rice was expensive and could only be enjoyed by the elite. But today, rice puddings are becoming quite popular. This version is equally delicious served warm or chilled.

  • 2 cups cooked basmati rice
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup coconut milk (I use 1 Tablespoon Coconut butter blended with 1 cup water)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cups honey granules
  • 1 ½ cups of heavy cream, divided
  • 1 large egg

Compote

  • 3 cups quartered strawberries (about 1 quart)
  • 2 cups nectarine wedges, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 2 Tablespoons butter, melted
  • ¼ cup honey granules

 

Finely chopped unsalted pistachios, optional

Prepare the pudding: In a large sauté or deep skillet, stir together the cooked rice and whole milk. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until mixture comes to a boil, about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to low; simmer, stirring often, until mixture begins to thicken, about 10 minutes.

Increase heat to medium; stir in prepared coconut milk, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, honey granules and 1 cup of the heavy cream. Cook, stirring often, until the mixture begins to bubble. Reduce heat to medium low; cook, stirring often, until mixture thickens, about 20 minutes.

Whisk together egg and remaining ½ cup heavy cream. Gradually whisk about ½ cup hot rice mixture into cream mixture; gradually whisk tempered cream mixture into the rest of the rice mixture and cook stirring constantly, until thickened and creamy, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

 

Prepare the compote: Preheat oven to 4000 F. In a large bowl, stir together strawberries, nectarines, melted butter and ¼ cup honey granules. Spread mixture in an even layer on a lightly greased, rimmed baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven until strawberries and nectarines are soft, about 15 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes.

To serve – spoon about 3 Tablespoons Compote into each of 8 serving glasses. Top each with about 2/3 cups of pudding. Top each with the additional Compote. Serve warm or chilled. Serve with finely chopped unsalted pistachios if desired.

 

To cook brown rice:

Pressure Cooker

In 4 qt pressure cooker over high heat, combine 1 cup brown rice with 2 cups water and ½ teaspoon salt. Lock lid in place. Bring pressure to second ring on the pressure indicator. Reduce heat to maintain pressure. Cook for 20 minutes. Let pressure naturally release.

Conventional

In 4 qt saucepan over high heat, combine 1 cup brown rice with 2 cups water and ½ teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Cover and cook undisturbed for 50-60 minutes. Remove from heat. Set aside for 5-10 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

1 cup of dry uncooked rice yields about 2 cups cooked rice.

Going With the Grains – Rice

Rice is grown worldwide in more than 100 countries and on every continent except Antarctica. It is consumed by more people in the world than any other grain. Rice, like wheat and barley, belongs to the grass family of grains but unlike wheat and barley, it does not contain gluten forming proteins, making rice naturally gluten-free.

Rice is also unique in its structure. Like most grains, the rice kernel has 3 main sections, the husk, bran and embryo. Most of the nutrients, oils and fiber are concentrated in the bran. Unlike other grains, where the oils are concentrated in the germ, in rice the oils are found in the bran. Therefore once the protective husk is removed, the oils in the bran layer are exposed to air and oxidation and rancidity begin. For this reason brown rice cannot be stored indefinitely. Stored in a cool, dry place, brown rice can be stored for 6 months to 1 year. Contrary to some beliefs, white rice is not a whole grain, as the highly nutritious bran layer is removed by polishing. The oil laden bran is removed to prevent spoilage, but this refinement comes at great nutritional cost.

Know Your Rice

Rice is often characterized as one of three varieties – long grain, medium grain, or short grain rice. These varieties refer to the length and shape of the grain. Simply speaking, long grain rice will have a longer cylindrical shape, whereas short grain rice will be shorter and wider. When cooking rice dishes, you’ll want to think about the desired texture of the rice. The starch content varies from rice type to rice type. A shorter, plumper kernel contains more starch. It will affect whether rice is sticky or light and fluffy.

Long Grain Rice – This rice has milled grains that are at least three to four times as long as they are wide. Due to its starch composition, it is separate, light and fluffy when cooked.

Medium Grain Rice – When compared to long grain rice, medium grain rice has a shorter, wider kernel. Since the cooked grains are more moist and tender than long grain rice, the rice has a greater tendency to stick together.

Short Grain Rice – As its name indicates this rice is the shortest of the three varieties with a kernel that is nearly twice as wide as it is long. This rice is short and best for sushi. It has a sticky texture when cooked.

Sticky Rice – Also known as sweet rice, is a short grain rice and is used in many traditional Asian dishes, desserts, and sweets. When cooked, sticky rice is especially sticky and is often ground into rice flour.

Aroma is another factor to consider when cooking with rice. Certain rice varieties, jasmine and basmati, give off pleasing fragrances while being cooked.

Basmati Rice – Basmati rice is a type of long-grain rice. When cooked brown basmati rice imparts a subtle nutty or popcorn-like flavor and aroma.

Jasmine Rice – Jasmine rice, sometimes known as Thai fragrant rice, is a type of long grain rice with a long kernel and slightly sticky texture that imparts a subtle jasmine flavor and aroma when cooked.

Rice flour has gained in popularity with the increased interest in gluten-free baking. As with other whole grains, once brown rice is milled into flour, the oils and nutrients quickly oxidize, not only reducing nutritional value but also causing off flavors. There is simply no comparison, in both texture and flavor, between using freshly ground brown rice flour for baking and the premade gluten-free mixes on the market. Most gluten free mixes and prepared products use white rice with addition of simple starches and sugars.

Freshly milled long and medium grain brown rice flour is better for baking than short grain rice. Rice flour is best when finely ground and used for quick breads, such as muffins or pancakes, or to give a ”short” texture to cookies. The addition of starch and xanthan gum is necessary when using rice flour for yeast breads.

Recipes this week:

Coconut Rice Pudding with Strawberry and Nectarine Compote

Rice Flour Shortening Bread

Millet “Mac and Cheese”

 

Simple but oh so delicious dish. Served hot from the oven, everyone who tasted it thought it was the traditional pasta mac and cheese.

8 x 10 baking dish

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ medium onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
  • 1 cup hulled millet
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 ½ cups water*
  • 1 – 8 oz block of cream cheese, softened
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 8-10 ounces shredded medium cheddar cheese
  • Bread crumbs if desired

In a large skillet pressure cooker, over medium high heat, sauté onions in olive oil and cook until lightly browned. Add oregano and millet and cook 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly until millet is fragrant and lightly toasted.

Add water and salt. Stir. Increase heat to high. Lock pressure lid into place. Bring pressure up to 2nd ring. Reduce heat to maintain pressure. Cook for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let pressure naturally release.

Meanwhile preheat oven to 375F.

Once pressure is released, open lid. Add cream cheese and stir until completely melted and incorporated. Add salt and pepper to taste. Spread half of the millet mixture into baking dish. Sprinkle with half of the grated cheese. Spread with the remaining millet mixture and top with the remaining grated cheese. Sprinkle with bread crumbs if desired.

Bake about 15-20 minutes until heated throughout and cheese is melted and bubbly.

Citrus Infused Barley

 

When boiled, barley becomes plump and tender. Adding the peel of any citrus fruit to the water while cooking lends a subtle flavor to the slight nuttiness of the barley.

Makes about 2 ½ cups cooked barley

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • Peel of 1 large lemon, lime or orange, cut in several thin strips
  • 1 cup hulled barley
  • 2 ½ cups water
  • 1 bay leaf, optional
  • ½ – 1 teaspoon salt

In saucepan, over high heat, add olive oil. Add the citrus slices and stir just until fragrant. Stir in barley and cook 1-2 minutes to slightly toast. Stir in water, bay leaf and salt. Bring to boil. Reduce heat. Cover and cook for about 1 hour. Remove from heat and let sit for about 10-15 minutes to steam. Fluff with a fork and remove any peels.

Drain any excess liquid. Serve or refrigerate for later use. You may want to leave the bay leaves and citrus peels in the barley until ready for use as the flavors will continue to meld and intensify.

Pressure cooker method:

I prefer to use a pressure cooker when cooking grains as it cuts the cooking time down considerably.

In  a 4 or 6 qt pressure cooker, over high heat, add olive oil. Add the citrus slices and stir just until fragrant. Stir in barley and cook 1-2 minutes to slightly toast. Stir in water, bay leaf and salt. Lock pressure lid into place. Bring pressure up to the second indicator ring. Reduce heat to maintain pressure. Cook for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let pressure naturally release. Remove lid. Fluff with a fork and remove bay leaf and citrus peels if desired.

Enjoy.

Haitian Oatmeal

 

There is oatmeal and then there is Haitian Oatmeal. The smooth, creamy texture and unique flavor of Haitian oatmeal is more like vanilla pudding than a hot breakfast cereal. It was love at first bite when I was served this special treat on one of my visits to Haiti.  So I made a deal with the cooks. I taught them to make bread; they taught me to make Haitian Oatmeal. Enjoy!

Makes 3-4 servings

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 4 cups water
  • 4 Tablespoons honey granules
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 ½ cups whole milk
  • 2 star anise, optional*
  • Butter, optional

In a large blender, blend oats and water for about 2 minutes.

Place saucepan on medium heat and allow to get hot. Pour blended oats in to hot pot stirring constantly. Stir in honey granules, cinnamon, salt, vanilla, almond extract and milk. Continue stirring for about 5 minutes and until desired thickness. Stir in butter.

Serve immediately with fresh fruit if desired. Enjoy.

*Some recipes call for star anise. If you want to use star anise. Heat it on low heat in the milk for about 15 minutes. Strain before adding the milk to the above mixture. May also use cinnamon sticks in place of ground cinnamon and heat with the milk.