Tag Archives: Rice

Puerto Rican Christmas Recipe Roundup

Puerto Rico

I think I have quizzed you on this important fact.  What country celebrates the longest holiday season?

If you answered anything other than a rousing “Puerto Rico!”, click here for my original tutorial on Puerto Rican Christmas.  One sentence summary?  Puerto Rican Christmas stretches from the day after Thanksgiving to mid January.  That gives you plenty of time to enjoy the delicacies of the season, cleanse your palate from the overdose of lechón, arroz con gandules, and coconut sweets, and then do it all over again before it is time for la Calle San Sebastián.

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Arroz con Maiz – Puerto Rican Style Rice with Corn

Arroz con maíz puerto rican style

On the blog’s homepage mini slide show, you may have noticed a new tag floating with the pictures of the recent posts.  Domingo Criollo is a new section I am developing to share some of my favorite Puerto Rican or Puerto Rico influenced recipes.  These recipes are easy and a great introduction to the flavors of the island.  Truth be told, you can add sofrito to many of your own favorites soups and stews and they will instantly warm up with that touch of onion, garlic, peppers, cilantro and recap that’s so distinctive to the island’s cooking.  Puerto Rican food is not spicy, but rather savory and bursting with the taste of all those delicious aromatics. Read More…

Kale Sofrito Risotto

kale sofrito risotto

I don’t consider myself a slave to fashion and trends.  My favorite pair of jeans is a faded, soft as sweatpants boot cut I bought ten years ago.  I have never made a cake pop.  It takes us a while to actually visit new ‘it’ restaurants. Eating healthily should never be considered a trend, however, I’ve fallen deep and hard into the kale love train.

Kale chips

Kale smoothies

Kale pestos

Stir-fried kale

Kale, kale, kale. Read More…

Recipe Roundup: Carb-Loading Edition

I will be running my first half-marathon on Sunday, November 13th and can’t wait to start carb-loading.  Carb-loading involves consuming large amounts of carbohydrates to provide extra energy during physically demanding exercise.  Endurance athletes typically increase their intake to 2 to 5 grams of carbohydrates per pound of body weight (or roughly 70% of their food consumption) in the three days leading up to their event.  I’m only planning on doing it for the two days before the race, because it’s just a half-marathon.  I pulled off my 12-mile practice run with one day of carb-loading, so I’m just adding an extra one to be on the safe side.

To start celebrating this accomplishment, I’m rounding up a few favorite carb-rich, healthy meals that I should definitely look into making in the next couple of days.

Quinoa, Fruit, and Nut Salad with Chicken Read More…

Eduardo’s Paella

I can count with one hand the times I’ve lit the charcoal grill by myself. The outdoor kitchen – er, grill and a small adjacent table – are definitely my husband’s realm. It was his idea to buy a paella pan to use outside, and after a practice run (and a bit of coaching from the neighbors last Sunday), the man can make a mean paella. I love his grilling face – he not only looks physically hot and sweaty from working, his brown furrows in concentration, his eyes narrow for a few seconds, but then he breaks into a smile. “Yeah… this looks good”.  So do you, babe. Read More…

French Fridays with Dorie – Creamy Cheesy Garlicky Rice with Spinach

Last night, I went in autopilot while doing the  prep work for this week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe.  All week long, I had rationalized the recipe as “risotto with a splash of cream”.  Chicken stock fortified with vegetable bouillon simmered in the back burner, onions and garlic sautéed  in a large shallow pan… and then I decided to look at the recipe. Read More…

Saffron and Seafood Risotto

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I struggled to name this dish.  When I made it, I thought of calling it “Paella Risotto” – it combines the flavors associated to paellas with Arborio rice in the foolproof risotto cooking technique.  Shushing my (not so inner) etymology nerd, I decided against it because paella refers to the actual pan where the rice is cooked and the dish is traditionally referred to as ‘arroz a la paella’.  After listening to Annie Siboney, the hostess of Cooking Channel’s “From Spain with Love”, say that authentic paella does not have chorizo I opted for the alliteration filled saffron and seafood risotto.  As some British dude wrote once: “What’s in a name…”  I will be working on a “real” paella soon, though.  DH ordered our first pan to use it on top of our charcoal grill after considering it for a few weeks.

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French Fridays with Dorie – Cardamom Rice Pilaf

There are no quotes floating around the Internet about cardamom, other than trade quotes for its price in the commodity markets.  I hesitated before plunking down over twelve dollars for an ounce of green cardamom pods because I have ground cardamom in my cupboard.  After making this rice pilaf, I decided that the expense was worth it, even if the specialty food store took quite a premium on my purchase.  That’s the laws of supply and demand for you… limited supply, higher prices!  I might be able to recoup my initial investment as soon as I find a good chai recipe.

(I will remove my Finance person hat before you start missing my writer’s block from last week.)

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Jambalaya Risotto

“Well I’m going to New Orleans, I’m going to see the Mardi Gras” – Professor Longhair

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This is the float in my parade, and while it doesn’t go down Orleans, or St. Charles, or Canal Street, it definitely takes me back there.  I’m throwing beads at it instead of the other way around!  Read More…

Risotto with Arugula and Pine Nuts

Have you ever been tempted to skip out on cooking because you don’t want to make a mess?  Every other Wednesday I sigh as I walk into a freshly cleaned house and wonder how can I get around making a good meal and maintaining the kitchen, especially the glass-top stove,  as spotless as possible.  Takeout isn’t an option – most of the time.  
 
Quick look at the freezer…. I don’t feel like defrosting anything.  
Opening up the pantry… a half-full bag of arborio rice?  Chicken stock?
Mmmh… risotto.   

Risotto

 
I like risotto because in spite of its fancy-pants reputation, it is practically foul-proof.  You can flavor it as you like (variety of stocks and seasonings), with whatever aromatics you have on hand.  It does take a bit of common kitchen sense as to proportions – how much oil is enough for sauteeing the aromatics, how much liquid should be used for the rice, how much cheese is too much cheese…  but once you master a basic recipe, you can improvise and play!  (This is my third post on risotto out of… not that many. I rest my case).

This is all there is to risotto, whether it is a regular Milanese, jambalaya, con gandules…

  • Warm up cooking liquid and enhance flavor with spices or aromatics.  
  • Cook aromatics until soft in a large, shallow pan
  • Add rice and cook for a couple of minutes with the oil
  • Deglace the pan with wine (if you are using) or with stock
  • Add liquid by the ladlefulls stir, leave alone until most of the liquid is absorbed, and stir again.  Repeat until rice is cooked.
  • Add butter, cheese, and/or flavored oil, stir and serve quickly.

I ended up making a basic parmesan risotto with arugula and pine nuts (for texture).  One cup of uncooked arborio rice yielded for three main course servings or four to six side portions.  

The cooking liquid for this risotto consisted of one can of chicken stock, reinforced with a chicken bouillon cube with an extra three cups of water (for a total of four cups for one cup of arborio rice).  I “doctored” it with a bit of fresh  thyme.  I did have some leftover liquid but it was definitely less than half a cup.

While the stock warms up, chop half onion (mine was a left over from a previous recipe) and a shallot or a couple of cloves of garlic.  Sautée in a large, shallow pan with a tablespoon or two of olive oil over medium heat until soft.  Add the rice, a bit of extra oil if your pan/onions look dry, and stir it until the grains start looking brighter and shiny.  There will be some brown bits stuck to the bottom of your pan.  If you have wine, add a ladlefull and scrap them all away.  I usually have cheap but drinkable Chilean Sauvignon Blanc on hand for these purposes (and to drink while I cook).  If you don’t have wine or don’t want to open a bottle for just a bit, just take from your chicken stock – what matters is getting that browned veggie flavor into the risotto.

A common myth related to risotto is that you have to stay in front of the stove for half an hour stirring every minute.  That’s just not correct.  It is important to stir once stock is added and when the risotto looks like it needs more liquid.  In the meantime, it can be leftt alone for three/four minutes while doing other prep.  I used these time pockets to wash and chop arugula (about two cups – it wilts into very small amounts) and toast pine nuts in the tray of the toaster oven.  If you cover the tray with aluminum foil and there will be no need for extra cleanup.

When the risotto reaches the al’dente point – it’s still chewy, but not quite undercooked, stir in the arugula (which will wilt quickly) a teaspoon of butter and a third of a cup grated Parmesan cheese.  Once you are ready to serve, add in the toasted pine nuts and if you are feeling like you need further spoiling, a quick drizzle of truffle oil.  I got a relatively inexpensive bottle at the HomeGoods gourmet section – it helps elevate any meal from the weeknight rotation into an indulgence.  I know a lot of the truffle oils out in the market are not the real thing -just olive oils with ‘flavor’ – but they work out just fine for me.

Total cleanup tally – one cutting board, a colander, one wooden spoon, one ladle, one medium saucepan, one larger saucepan, two bowls and forks. Mission accomplished.

 

Green Pigeon Pea Risotto

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Today many Christians around the world celebrate the Epiphany day, when the Baby Jesus was revealed to the humanity as the Christ to the Magii, and thus, the world.  It marks the end of Christmas (the Twelfth Night), and the start of the Carnival season (bring out the king cake!). Read More…

Arroz con Calamares – Rice with Squid

Arroz con Calamares

Last week, I visited a couple of co-workers that have been ‘exiled’ to an off-facility trailer to work on a very cool special project.  As it usually happens between girlfriends, we started talking about food and trading tips on everyday cooking.  While talking about Puerto Rican childhood classics like
arroz con salchichas, I mentioned that I make most of my rice dishes in a little $10 rice cooker when cooking for DH and me.  One recipe/method I keep coming back to is arroz con calamares, or rice with squid.   Canned squid from Spain is inexpensive, readily available in all local supermarkets, and one of those items I always keep in my pantry.    A warm bowl of rice with squid makes the perfect lazy New Year’s Day lunch – quick, hot, and very satisfying.

 

Mise en place for the rice with squid

 

These are the ingredients for the arroz:

  • 1 1/2 cups of short grain (pearl) rice.  If you are using a longer grain, adjust the cooking liquid proportion accordingly.  The longer the grain, the longer cooking time.  
  • 2 4-ounce cans of squid in its ink.  Look at the side of the label for what additional seasonings it may have so you can adjust accordingly.  The brand I use is infused with oil, tomato, onion, spices, and includes the dark tasty ink that imparts that peculiar color.
  • 1 1/2 cups of cooking liquid.  I almost always use chicken stock because I usually have it on hand. Tastewise, clam juice works best to bring out the seafood flavors, and in a pinch, half a chicken or veggie bouillon cube will do if you are out of any stock.  A splash of dry white wine would be awesome too. (A glass of Sauvignon Blanc or a young Ribera del Duero red with the finished rice would be even better).
  • 2 tablespoons sofrito/recaito. Mama’s or the plaza del mercado are the freshest and tastiest.  Sofrito is a puréed blend of cubanelle peppers, cilantro, small sweet and spicy peppers known as ajicitos, onions, garlic and recao.  Everyone’s sofrito recipe is different; feel free to add any of these items to taste to the rice if your sofrito doesn’t include them.
  • About half an onion, chopped.  I like soft sauteéd onions in my rice dishes.  
  • 2 cloves of garlic
I love the color of the squid oil! Just in case, that’s not even half of the ink that comes with the squid.

 

Place the insert of the rice cooker in your stove top and empty the oil/liquid of one of the cans of squid (use a medium saucepan/pot if you don’t have a rice cooker). Over medium heat, sauteé together the onions, garlic and sofrito until the onions are soft and the mixture is fragrant.  Add the squid and ink from the two cans – there might be too much oil depending on your taste, so hold back when adding it to the mixture if you see it fit.  Stir and make sure all the rice is coated with the mixture before adding the cooking liquids.  After adding the liquid, taste and adjust salt and pepper to taste.  From there, just hit ‘Cook’ and you are good to go!  Otherwise, bring the mixture to a boil, cover it, and turn down the heat to low.  The 1 1/2 cups of rice should be ready in about twenty minutes.  

 

You can serve this with tostones and a side salad to make a complete meal, but for us it was just fine on its own.  The recipe yields for two generous main course portions.
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