Category: Rice

Zucchini Gratin

zucchini gratin3I’ve never been a fan of zucchini but I somehow got suckered into buying it at the local farmers’ market last weekend. They then languished in the crisper for another 4 days until I could no longer ignore them. Ugh. Stupid beautiful fresh garden vegetables… what the heck am I going to do with you?!?!

I went hunting online for zucchini recipes and found tons for salad (boring), fried (they’ll never become crispy… I don’t believe you), and muffins and breads (but I don’t waaaant to add sugar to vegetables), and then… gratin. Hmmmmm, what do I think about gratin? Add cheese to vegetables, bake until it melts together into dreaminess then top with cheesy, crunchy deliciousness?? SOLD!

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Husband’s Choice: Pulao with Turkey

turkeypulao5This week I experimented with two brand new recipe ideas for dinner. The first was a desperate act to use up the last of the turkey from Easter dinner (I am now referring to this dish as Turkey 4.0 as it was the fourth turkey dish in as many days) and the other was an attempt to get as far away from turkey as possible. Funnily enough, both dishes are Indian in flavour. Go figure.

Husband really loved the Indian pulao (basically a South Asian rice pilaf) to which I added diced leftover turkey (not authentic… don’t judge) and heaped into portobello mushroom caps and baked. My favourite was Indian spiced cauliflower and potatoes (which I will share with you shortly).

I know I just said that Indian pulao is basically Indian rice pilaf, but instead of plain rice I used a mixture of 11 different rices/grains/lentils that I buy at my local grocery store (T&T for anyone who is interested). It’s very healthy and tasty. I like to undercook it slightly so the grains keep some of their nice chewy texture. Your cooking time and amount of liquid may vary depending on what rice or grain you are using. My grains took about 30 minutes and I had to add another 1/2 cup of water. If you are using basmati rice, it should take less than 15 minutes to cook with no extra liquid.

You can easily make this recipe vegetarian by leaving out the turkey of course. If you still want to make a full meal of it, bake it in portobello mushroom caps like I did, or just serve it as a tasty side dish. I love recipes that are adaptable, don’t you?

2 cups of rice (basmati, wild, or a mix of grains, rice, and lentils), rinsed
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 TBS butter
3 TBS chopped almonds
3 TBS golden raisins
glug of oil (vegetable or peanut)
1 large onion, halved and finely sliced
1 cinnamon stick
5 green cardamom pods
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 TBS finely chopped fresh ginger
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup water to deglaze
1/2 cup coconut milk (optional, replace with water if not using)
2 cups of water
1 cup diced turkey or chicken (optional)
1/4 cup frozen peas, thawed
portobello mushroom caps, stem and gills removed (brushed with a mixture of oil and balsamic or soy sauce, optional)

Place a heavy-bottomed frying pan over medium heat and toast cumin seeds until fragrant (about a minute). Remove to side dish.
Add butter to same frying pan and fry almonds and raisins until starting to brown. Remove to separate side dish.
In the same pan, heat the vegetable or peanut oil and add the sliced onions and fry until dark golden brown (about 10 minutes), then remove to side dish with almonds and raisins.



Again, in the same pan (don’t you love that we’re only dirtying one pan?!) add toasted cumin seeds, cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, sugar, turmeric, ginger and salt. Toast, stirring constantly (a minute or so) until aromatic. Deglaze the pan by pouring in 1/2 cup of water and gently scrape up any brown bits stuck to the bottom.



Add the rice and/or grains, coconut milk (if using) and the rest of the water. Cover and gently simmer until the rice and/or grains are cooked to your liking and the water has evaporated. Check as you are cooking to ensure that the filling doesn’t dry out before it’s cooked… this will depend on what you have used for the rice and/or grains. If necessary, add more water a quarter cup at a time until done to your liking (about 15 minutes for white rice, 30 minutes or longer for whole grains/legumes). Add the peas and diced turkey if using. Stir in reserved almonds, raisins and onion. Heat through (2-3 minutes).


You can serve “as is” at this point or if you wish, brush portobello mushroom caps with a mixture of oil and balsamic or soy sauce to increase the flavour, roast cap-side up in a 400F oven for 15 minutes. Remove caps and turn over, spoon in filling, and return to oven for another 15 minutes or until mushroom is roasted and filling is heated through. Enjoy!

Ginger Fried Rice

ginger fried rice finalWell, THAT never happens.

Seriously. As any cook will confirm, you never get it perfect on the first try. You could always add a touch more of this, cook this a little longer, add that at a different time.

It. Is. Never. Perfect.

I have achieved the impossible.


Sorry. Sorry. Perhaps I’m blowing my horn a little too loudly. It’s just that I was imagining a side dish that was subtle, yet not bland (oh, Lordy… there’s that word again), simple and focused, a side dish that didn’t need to overwhelm but simply showed off the ingredients in the best way possible, and I nailed it the first time.

Dinner last night was a Vietnamese beef salad which I do plan to share with you in the future but, case in point, it needs a few more tweaks to make it perfect. I wanted a side dish not just as a filler, but to compliment the salad. Since I was making Vietnamese, rice of course was the perfect choice, but my usual fried rice is Chinese-style with lots of vegetables and flavoured with soy sauce… nope. I searched the internet for a Vietnamese or Thai fried rice but the recipes I found weren’t any different from Chinese-style fried rice. So, a different tact, I searched ginger fried rice. Cha-ching badda-bing, up came what looked like a beautiful fried rice by Jean-Georges Vongerichten, as interpreted by Mark Bittman

The Vongerichten recipe looks lovely as a main dish with a runny yolk fried egg on top and one of these days, that will be dinner, but I took the idea (especially the topping of fried minced ginger and garlic… holy!) and made it my own.

To begin, I made the rice my usual way by first sauteing it in a bit of butter to coat the grains and added a tablespoon of coconut cream powder (basically, dehydrated coconut), while cooking the rice. This doesn’t make the rice taste like coconut, I think it simply boosts the flavour of jasmine rice when making Thai or Vietnamese dishes. If you skip this step it likely won’t make much of a difference in the end. I also used the trick of a friend (thank you, Jay) who makes the best Chinese fried rice; when preparing the eggs, separate the yolks from the whites, mix the yolks in with the pre-cooked rice so each grain gets a lovely yolky coating before stir-frying, and fry the egg whites in the wok beside the veggies. Adding the yolks to the rice elevates the flavour of the rice, and the entire dish.

Then, with the recipe as a general guide, I replaced the leeks with onion, added fresh ginger to give even more flavour the rice while stir-frying, added thinly sliced snap peas for colour, texture and sweetness, and replaced the soy sauce at the end with fish sauce to make it less Chinese, more Vietnamese.

Finally, it IS best if you cook the rice the day before and store it in the fridge, but I cooked mine in the morning and let it cool for an hour before putting it in the fridge for about 6 hours and it worked fine.

It sounds like a lot of steps for fried rice, and it is. But it’s worth it. If you try it, please let me know what you think!

For the rice:
a couple pats of butter
1 cup uncooked jasmine rice (to make 3 cups cooked rice)
1 TBS coconut cream powder (optional)
1 1/4 cups of water
1/4 tsp salt

For the topping:
3 TBS minced ginger
3 TBS minced garlic
3 TBS peanut oil

For the veggies:
1 cup diced onion
1 cup snow or snap peas, cut into 1/4″ pieces on the diagonal
1 TBS minced ginger
2 eggs, yolks and whites separated (yolks will be mixed with the rice before frying)
peanut oil

For the sauce:
1 TBS (or more) fish sauce
1 tsp sesame oil

Rinse rice. Melt butter in pot until foamy. Add rice and stir to coat the grains with butter. Add water, salt, and coconut powder (if using) and simmer until the water has been absorbed. Remove from heat and let cool. Store in the fridge overnight. When cooking any white rice, I always saute in a bit of butter first and use 1:1 rice to water ratio, plus 1/4 cup for the pot. It always turns out perfectly.

About 1/2 hour before you start dinner, remove the rice from the fridge. Separate the egg whites and yolks. Add the yolks to the rice and gently fold until all the grains are coated. Set aside.

In a wok or large heavy-bottomed skillet, heat 3 TBS peanut oil over medium heat. Add garlic and ginger and fry, stirring occasionally, until brown and just starting to crisp. With a slotted spoon, transfer the ginger and garlic to paper towels and salt lightly.

ginger fried rice topping

Using the oil left in the wok which has now been flavoured with garlic and ginger, turn the heat up to medium-high and add the onions frying until just starting to turn golden, about 5-6 minutes. Add the peas and minced ginger. Continue to fry until the peas are tender-crisp, about 3 more minutes.

ginger fried rice veggies

Add more oil to the wok if necessary, push the veggies to the side and add the egg whites, stirring until almost set. Stir the veggies and egg together. Add the rice to the wok, and quickly stir-fry until the rice is hot and starting to pick up some colour. Mix fish sauce and sesame oil together. Drizzle over rice and toss to distribute the flavour. Taste and add more fish sauce to your liking. Sprinkle with fried garlic and ginger.

If you are so inclined, you could fry an egg until the whites are set but the yolk is still runny, and place on top of the rice. That’s dinner… maybe tomorrow. :)

ginger fried rice fry

Curried Chicken and Wild Rice Strudel

strudel finishedI have been making a version of this recipe for a long time. I first found it in a cooking magazine (I think it was Food and Wine) almost 20 years ago and it was one of Husband’s favourites. About 10 years ago, I lost that magazine when I took it to my sister’s to make dinner for family. That dinner was a bit of a disaster in any case because the brush I used to butter the phyllo was defective and we spent the entire meal picking out teeny tiny little bristles from within the cooked pastry. I promptly forgot about the dish until about a year ago when Husband requested it. The magazine was long gone but I found a similar recipe on Epicurious here I’m not sure if this is the exact recipe I used all those years ago, but close enough. I’ve made it a few times in the past year and it’s a very nice, satisfying meal when served with a simple salad (last night it was arugula and thinly sliced apple with a lemon vinaigrette and some grated pecorino pepato).

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Chicken with Rice

DSC_4243Ok, this is much more than just chicken with rice.  It’s aromatic, it’s crispy, it’s exotic!  It’s Ottolenghi… another favourite chef.  I’m not a fan of chicken.  I avoided both eating and cooking it for years… too many dinners of hard, tasteless, overcooked chicken breasts smothered in BBQ sauce… like, really?!?!  I just started cooking chicken again a couple years ago, but only whole chickens (where I hoard the dark meat for myself) or thighs.  Thighs are the perfect solution to dry chicken.  When not overcooked, the meat is moist, silky, and tastes more chicken-y than any chicken breast I’ve ever eaten.

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