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.

September is Whole Grain Month

“Throughout history, grains have played a vital role in the lives of humans. The rye breads of Germany and Russia, the flatbreads of the Mediterranean and Latin America, the baguettes of France and the biscuits of the southern United States are just a few of the examples of baked goods that have cultural significance.” (The Essential Home-Ground Flour Book by Sue Becker)

Whole grains have been considered the “staff of life” throughout the world since the beginning of time. Today, however, because of the disease and obesity causing reputation of the overly processed and highly denatured grain (carbohydrates) products offered on conventional grocery shelves, even real whole grains are considered taboo. The remarkable health improvements achieved when commercially processed breads and grain products are eliminated from the diet, encourages concerned, health- conscious people to throw the “baby (real whole grains) out with the bathwater (commercially processed and usually heavily sweetened bread products)”.

The truth, however, is that real whole grains and bread made from freshly milled whole grain flour is and will continue to be the most nutrient dense foods God has given us. In Genesis 1:29 God said, “Behold, I have given every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of the entire earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you.” Grains (seeds) have more nutrients, ounce for ounce and pound for pound, than any other food, including fruits and vegetables. For example, one study done at Cornell University found that corn had more antioxidant activity than any other grain or vegetable and twice that of apples. (Corn will be one of the first grains we will highlight this month. But this is just one study. Decades of studies continually prove that those who eat the most whole grains have a much lower incidence of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, stroke and obesity.

I’m often asked which grain is the most nutritious, but that is like asking which fruit or vegetable is the most nutritious. While most grains, beans and seeds share a basic nutritional profile, they also have unique features, flavors and nutrients that set them apart. It is important to include a variety of grains in your diet to take advantage of the broad spectrum of nutrients they offer, as well as the variety of flavorful dishes and baked goods that can be enjoyed.

Part of the joy of cooking and baking is in the learning and experimenting. We hope you will join with us this month as we celebrate the goodness of whole grains. Each week we will be highlighting specific grains, offering specials and delicious recipes for you to try and enjoy. So stop buy our store or shop on line to get the grain special of the week.

Be sure to join Sue at the Bread Beckers on Thursday September 13, 2018 at 10 am for our Going with the Grains cooking class. Sue will be highlighting barley, oats, rice, millet, corn and of course wheat.

Menu includes, Orange Cinnamon Amaranth Pancakes, Haitian Oatmeal, Lemon infused Barley with Roasted Lemon Chicken and Cauliflower, Millet “Mac and Cheese”, Millet Spinach Pie, Barley and Turkey Chile over Savory Corn Waffles and last but not least, Rice Pudding with Strawberry and Nectarine Compote.

LOCAL CUSTOMERS – we will be offering specials each week through our FiveStars customer loyalty program.  If you have not yet joined, click here.