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Friday, February 24, 2012

Rice is nice!

Did you know rice is the 2nd most cultivated grain in the world after corn? I love rice, and make it often for a side dish as well as a dessert.  Rice tends to be long or short grain, white or brown ( or black or red)  and varieties have been bred depending on the rice's end use. 
Here are some rice facts taken from* The Real Food Companion

Basamati~ The famed fragrant , long-grain rice of the Indian subcontinent. It is said to be better with age and the Pakistani version is most prised. Always eaten as white rice it tends to be loose when cooked,
Calasparra~A rice grown  in Murcia Province in Spain, calasparra (and another rice called bomba) is a very dry rice ideal for paella. It is said  to expand in width, not length. You can substitute risotto rice as the next best thing.
 Jasmine~The long-grain white rice of South East Asia. It gets its name from the hint oj Jasmine in the fragrance and is a particularly specialty of Thai cuisine. It needs slightly more water to cook  than basamati rice and the grains aren't quite as long and stick together just a bit more.
Red Rice~ Several countries have red rice, including France Spain and Bhutan. The color is from the outer husk and these rices are unpolished and therefore need more cooking time.
Rissoto Rice~ ( Arborio, Carnaroli, Vialone nano) The medium to short -grained white rice used by Italians to make risotto because the rice releases starch when stirred during cooking. Arborio is usually the cheaper. Aarnatoli and Vialone nano tend to stay firmer in the center when cooked , so you can be a bit more relaxed with cooking times.
Sticky rice~ Other wise known as glutinous rice, sticky rice is popular in South East Asian Countries and  comes in two varieties, white and black. Black sticky rice is an unpolished rice that takes about 25 minutes to cook. White sticky rice can be soaked and steamed. Both rices ma be used for sweet or savory purposes.
Sushi Rice~ A short-grain rice that tends to stick together when cooked. It isn't however sticky rice.
Wild Rice~  Not a true rice, but a very long rice like grain gathered from swamp plants here in North America. Most is now cultivated, despite the "wild" term. Very flavorsome , but usually cooked in small amounts with other things to flavor white rice.
I bet you never knew so much about rice did you? So lets continue... 
How to wash rice: 
Some rice needs washing before being used. such as those for pilaf and sushi or if you want a good steamed rice. Put the rice in a bowl or pan it will be cooked in. Add just enough  slightly tepid water to wet the rice, but not soupy. Gently with your hands rub the rice together. The friction helps to free  some of the loose starch. The starch dissolves in the water  to create the milky white colored liquid that comes off. Drain the rice well and repeat until the water  runs fairly clear. The Japanese may this up to 10 times but 2 or 3 times is usually enough.
Now the rice is ready to cook.

I have given you one of the easy rice pudding recipes my mom used to make when I was a child. I think you will enjoy it. (You can add raisins and cinnamon or even chocolate pieces.. get creative with this basic recipe).

Creamy Rice Pudding
2 eggs
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 tbsp salt
2 1/4 c. sweet milk
1 tsp. vanilla
2 c. cooked rice
dash of nutmeg
Separate eggs, beat yolks, add sugar, salt, milk, and vanilla and combine with the cooked rice. Beat the egg whites stiffly, and fold into mixture. Turn into a buttered baking dish and sprinkle with nutmeg. Bake 350° 30 min. Serves 6.

Now You're Cookin~

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