Category: Gluten-Free

Gluten-Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Biscotti

Here’s a recipe for gluten-free Chocolate Peanut Butter Biscotti. I also want to share my research and solutions to making a great tasting gluten-free biscotti with excellent texture.

Why Gluten Free?

Eating gluten-free eating is having its 15 minutes of fame. With awareness of celiac disease (an autoimmune disorder where ingesting gluten can damage the small intestine) and other gluten allergies and intolerances on the rise, there are more options than ever for those who want to eat gluten-free. There are also many excellent cooking blogs entirely devoted to gluten-free cooking, such as Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef, Elana’s Pantry, and Celiac Chicks.

I became interested in gluten-free baking when I realized I had a family, friends, and colleagues who either suffer from celiac disease or have a low tolerance for gluten. This means they aren’t able to enjoy my biscotti, which lead to a lot of research on how to exchange all-purpose flour for a gluten-free version.

Baking gluten-free presents a challenge. Without gluten as a binding agent, the chances of the cookies breaking and crumbling increases. Despite some early failed attempts, I persisted, thanks to ample encouragement from my friends, who are always on the hunt for high-quality, good-tasting gluten-free treats. I had a handle on the flavor profiles, but the real challenge with gluten-free biscotti is the texture.

Resources

There are a number of gluten-free flours available and I needed to find out how they work and which is best. King Arthur makes an excellent gluten-free multipurpose flour, which uses both white and brown rice as well as tapioca and potato starches. It has a nice texture and a neutral taste.

Bob’s Red Mill also sells a gluten-free all-purpose flour, which is made from garbanzo bean flour, potato starch, tapioca flour, sorghum flour, and fava bean flour. The beans and sorghum have a noticeable flavor, but I’ve found that the two brands work equally well.

To compensate for the loss of gluten, guar gum and/or xanthan gum are used to stabilize the dough. In my experience, without these gums, the log of biscotti easily crumbles. Use an equal mixture of the two for best results. Too much guar gum can produce a stringy dough and too much xanthan gum may create an unappealing gumminess. One-quarter teaspoon each, per cup of flour is sufficient.

If you want to forgo buying the gums separately, Bob’s Red Mill sells a gluten-free 1-to-1 baking flour that contains sweet white-rice flour, whole-grain brown-rice flour, potato starch, whole-grain sweet white-sorghum flour, tapioca flour, and xanthan gum.

My Results

After some initial trial and error, I’ve honed my techniques for delicious gluten-free biscotti with great texture. Less fillings, such as chocolate and nuts, make a difference. The presence of these chunks prevent the dough from staying connected. Of course, there is no guarantee, even with regular biscotti, that a biscotto or two won’t break, but the likelihood of this happening increases with gluten-free versions.

The real key—a shout-out to Shauna Ahern of Gluten-Free Girl for passing this along—is to let the baked biscotti sit until it has cooled completely before cutting. Shauna recommends letting it sit overnight, but if you’re less patient (as I am), two hours is sufficient. Giving your gluten-free biscotti the extra time to cool helps ensure that they’ll hold together as well as those made with wheat flour.

Following is my recipe for the Gluten-Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Biscotti.

 

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Gluten-Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Biscotti

A delicious, gluten-free biscotti with peanut butter and chocolate that won’t disappoint in taste or texture!

  • Author: Trish Lobenfeld
  • Prep Time: 30
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Yield: 2 1/2 dozen 1x
  • Category: Cookies
  • Method: Baking
Scale

Ingredients

Glaze

1 large egg

Biscotti

2 large eggs
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup salted peanuts
3 1/2 to 4  ounces dark chocolate (85% cocoa) or milk chocolate, cut into small chunks
1/2 cup peanut butter, creamy or crunchy
2 1/4 cups King Arthur Gluten-Free Multipurpose Flour, plus more for dusting
1  teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon guar gum

Instructions

Setup
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Beat one egg until frothy and set aside with a pastry brush.
Line a 17- by 10- by 1-inch  baking sheet with parchment paper.

 Method

Beat the eggs, sugars, vanilla extract and salt in an electric mixer, fitted with the beater attachment, on high until thickened, about two minutes. Mix in the peanuts, chocolate and peanut butter. Add the flour, baking powder xanthin gum and guar gum. and beat on low, scraping the sides as needed, until the flour is moist. Scrape sides and beater once more and mix on medium high until the dough is smooth, about ten seconds.

Place the dough onto a lightly floured surface and form a thick log. Roll the log back and forth, adding bit of dusting flour as needed, until the log is 18-inches long by 2-inches wide. Cut it in half, place on the prepared sheet tray and gently press the log to about a 1/2-inch thickness. Brush each log with the egg wash, place in the preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack and let sit for at least two hours or overnight.

Cut the log on an angle into 1/2-inch slices and lay flat on the sheet tray and bake for 15 minutes. Cool and store in an airtight container.

Notes

The recipe calls for 3 1/2 to 4 ounces chocolate because not all chocolate manufacturers sell the same size bars. Don’t fret, use whichever brand you like. My preference is primarily Lindt (3 1/2 ounces).

 

 

Chapter 6 – Gluten-Free Biscotti

I learned so much making biscotti, but nothing has been more challenging that learning to bake without gluten. Here are the titles for Chapter 6 Gluten-Free Biscotti. See my post on the quest for good gluten-free flours, including a recipe for gluten-free Chocolate Peanut Butter Biscotti.

CHAPTER 6 – GLUTEN-FREE BISCOTTI

Almond Butter Biscotti
Apple Cranberry Walnut Biscotti
Bourbon Pecan Biscotti
Coconut Candied Lime & White Chocolate Biscotti
Cumin Apricot Biscotti
Fennel Orange Biscotti
Ginger Candied Lemon Peel Biscotti
Honey Sesame Seed Biscotti
Mocha Coffee Biscotti
PB&J Biscotti

Roasted Vegetable and Ham Frittata

What do you do with leftovers? Repurpose them into a Roasted Vegetable and Ham Frittata.

We had leftover roasted vegetables from dinner and leftover ham from the split pea soup I recently made. I tossed the vegetables and ham together and put them in the bottom of a buttered deep-dish pie pan. It took nine well-beaten eggs with to cover this. I didn’t add any salt and pepper to the eggs because the vegetables were well seasoned and the ham salty. It was the right decision, adding any more salt would have been too much.

We had the frittata for dinner with enough leftover for lunch the next day.

Place the vegetables and ham in the bottom of a lightly greased deep-dish pie pan.

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Beat the eggs and dairy until frothy. Pour over the vegetables.

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Bake for one and one-quarter hours or until the frittata is completely set. Test with the blade of a knife. The frittata is done when the knife comes out clean.

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Roasted Vegetable and Ham Frittata

The vegetables I used were well seasoned and I opted not to season the frittata. Be sure to taste your leftovers before seasoning.

  • Author: Trish Lobenfeld
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 85 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
  • Yield: 6 portions 1x
  • Category: Eggs
Scale

Ingredients

  • 2 cups Leftover vegetables
    4 ounces ham, cut into small cubes
    9 large eggs
    1/4 cup milk or half and half
    Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325ºF.
  2. Place the vegetables and ham in the bottom of a lightly greased deep-dish pie pan.
  3. Beat the eggs and milk until frothy.
  4. Pour over the vegetables.
  5. Bake for one and one-quarter hours or until the frittata is completely set.
  6. Test with the blade of a knife. The frittata is done when the knife comes out clean.
  7. Let sit for 10 minutes to solidify.

 

Roasted Vegetables

Roasted vegetables are a delicious side dish. You can mix up a wide variety of vegetables for roasting and use different herbs and spices to flavor them. Roasting intensifies the sweetness of the vegetables and caramelizes the outside. This recipe celery root, red potatoes with the skin on, sweet carrots, shallots, garlic and Brussels sprouts. Each provides a unique texture, flavor and color. Dress them with the vinaigrette right out of the oven so the vegetables soak up the flavors of the lemon and herbs.

Leftovers? Make this recipe for Roasted Vegetable and Ham Frittata.

Root vegetables take a good hour to cook at a relatively high temperature. Add vegetables, such as Brussels sprouts, later otherwise they’re overdone and mushy. The Brussels sprouts I purchased were quite large and took 15 minutes to cook. Adjust time for smaller ones.

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Roast for 45 minutes. Add the Brussels sprouts and roast for another 15 minutes.

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Remove the thyme stems and toss with the lemon-herb vinaigrette.

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Lemon-herb vinaigrette.

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Roasted Vegetables

Root vegetables take a good hour to cook at a relatively high temperature. Add vegetables, such as Brussels sprouts, later otherwise they’re overdone and mushy.

  • Author: Trish Lobenfeld
  • Prep Time: 20
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Yield: 10 portions 1x
  • Category: Vegan/Vegetarian
  • Method: Roasting
Scale

Ingredients

  • Vinaigrette
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
    2 tablespoons lemon juice
    1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
    1 tablespoon minced fresh chives
    1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
    1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
    1 minced clove of garlic
    1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
    1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • Vegetables
  • 1 large celery root
  • 4 medium red potatoes
  • 4 carrots
  • 5 shallots
  • 10 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 small bunch fresh thyme
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 20 trimmed large Brussels sprouts

Instructions

  1. Vinaigrette
  2. Combine the oil, lemon juice, vinegar, chives, thyme, parsley, garlic, salt and pepper in a covered jar and shake well.
  3. Vegetables
  4. Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
  5. Clean, trim and cut the celery root into two-inch cubes. Cut the potatoes, skin on, into two-inch pieces. Cut the carrots on the bias into two-inch pieces. Halve the shallots and garlic. Toss together in a large roasting pan with the oil, thyme, salt and pepper.
  6. Roast for 45 minutes. Add the Brussels sprouts and roast for another 15 minutes.
  7. Remove the thyme stems and toss with the lemon-herb vinaigrette.

 

Warm Cheddar Bacon Dip

Use celery sticks to scoop up this Warm Cheddar Bacon Dip. The cheese needs to be soft enough to blend into the sour cream but not oozing. The contrast of the warm dip and cool celery is pleasant, the aroma of the bacon, cheese and chives enticing, and the crunch of crisp celery completes this snack or appetizer. Don’t wait for a party to serve this; have some ready for the kids when they get home from school!

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Shred the cheese with a hand grater or food processor.IMG_3069

Combine the sour cream, Cheddar cheese, bacon, chives, hot sauce and salt in a medium-size, heatproof bowl. Warm the cheese mixture in the microwave for a few seconds. Just enough to soften the cheese. Stir to combine.

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Cut the celery on the bias.

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Cutting on the bias creates a “scoop” for holding the dip.

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Warm Cheddar Bacon Dip

Use celery sticks to scoop up this Warm Cheddar Bacon Dip. The cheese needs to be soft enough to blend into the sour cream but not oozing.

  • Author: Trish Lobenfeld
  • Prep Time: 20 mins
  • Total Time: 20 mins
  • Yield: 2/3 cup 1x
  • Category: Appetizer
Scale

Ingredients

  • 3 ounces shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 ounce minced crispy bacon (1 thick slice of bacon)
  • 3 tablespoons minced chives
  • several dashes hot sauce, such as Franks Hot Sauce, or Tobasco Sauce
  • pinch of Kosher salt
  • 20 two-inch trimmed and cleaned celery stalks, cut on the bias

Instructions

  1. Combine the cheese, sour cream, bacon, chives, hot sauce and salt in a heat-proof bowl until creamy, about 25 seconds.
  2. Serve with celery.

 

Celery Root and Leek Soup

This quick and easy recipe for Celery Root and Leek Soup is velvety smooth and tasty.

Leeks are in the same family as garlic, onions, shallots, and scallions and look like a giant scallion. The root portion is white with the middle a light green then very dark green up to the top. This is a tightly layered vegetable, cut it in half widthwise and it looks like tree rings. These rings hide the sandy dirt in which leeks are grown and a thorough soak and rinse, or two, are necessary.

I didn’t use the dark green tops, which tend to turn a pale soup green. The cooked leek has a subtle flavor and aroma. The flavor of the leek pairs well with the earthy celery root and for a little contrast a chopped up Honeycrisp apple adds nice balance to the soup. Some heavy cream finishes the soup. Save a few celery leaves for a garnish.

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Melt the butter over medium heat in a covered 7-quart Dutch oven or large saucepan. Once the butter foams, stir in the leeks, onion, celery, apple, garlic, salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and sweat for 5 minutes, stirring once. Lower the heat if the vegetables are browning.

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Add in the celery root and water or stock and bring to a boil.

Lower the heat to a gentle boil, cover and continue cooking, stirring occasionally. The soup is done when the vegetables are easily crushed against the side of the pan with a wooden spoon, about 30 minutes. The timing on this will vary depending on the size of the vegetables.

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Puree the soup in a blender, food processor, or with an immersion blender. Please proceed carefully; the soup is hot. Don’t fill processor or blender to capacity; the soup will overflow from the motion of the blade. See our post on how to blend hot ingredients safely.

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Return soup to the pot.

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Stir in the cream and adjust seasonings. Soup freezes well.

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Celery Root and Leek Soup

The celery root and leeks are sweet and the apple provides a little tartness. Apples and celery go well together, think Waldorf salad. A final dollop of cream rounds out the soup nicely.

  • Prep Time: 30 mins
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Yield: 2 quarts 1x
  • Category: Soup
Scale

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 cups cleaned and thinly sliced leeks, no dark green
  • 1 1/2 cups thinly sliced onion
  • 1 cup thinly sliced celery
  • 1 pared and thinly sliced apple, such as Honeycrisp
  • 1 teaspoon mince clove of garlic
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 6 cups pared and cubed celery root
  • 4 cups water or stock
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

Instructions

  1. Melt the butter over medium heat in a covered 7-quart Dutch oven or large saucepan. Once the butter foams, stir in the leeks, onion, celery, apple, garlic, salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and sweat for ten minutes, stirring once.
  2. Add in the celery root and water or stock, bring to a boil, reduce to a gentle boil, cover and continue cooking, stirring occasionally until vegetables are easily crushed against the side of the pan with a wooden spoon, a least 30 minutes. The timing on this will vary depending on the size of the vegetables.
  3. Puree the soup in a blender, food processor, or with an immersion blender. Please proceed carefully; the soup is hot. Don’t fill processor or blender to capacity; the soup will overflow from the motion of the blade.
  4. Return soup to the pot. Stir in the cream and adjust seasonings.
  5. Soup freezes well.

 

Cook Rice Using the Absorbed Method

To cook rice using the absorbed method uses uses a specific ratio of liquid to rice and requires a heavy-bottomed pan with a tight fitting lid. The heavy bottom distributes the heat evenly and prevents a scorched bottom and burned rice. The tight-fitting lid keeps in the steam, essential to infusing the rice with moisture and gelatinizing the starch.

Ratios
  • Most white rice varieties cook perfectly with a ratio of two cups liquid to one cup rice.
  • Basmati rice needs one and three-quarter cups liquid to one cup of rice.
  • Brown rice uses two and one-half cups liquid to one cup rice.

Rice expands to about three times its original size and one cup raw rice makes three cups cooked rice, so select a pan according to the size of the cooked rice.

To use the absorbed method to cook rice, bring the cooking liquid (water or stock) and a pinch of kosher salt to a boil, stir in the rice, return to the boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and cook, without peeking, for the specified time on the package. Because steam is a part of the cooking process, it’s important not to remove the cover until the rice is almost done, check at the minimum cooking time, about 5 minutes before it’s done. Continue cooking a few more minutes if there’s still liquid in the bottom of the pan.

To add flavor to rice cooked with the absorbed method, sauté aromatics in a little oil or butter, add herbs and/or spices and then follow the recipe.

The rice I used for this post is Carolina brown rice, a long-grain rice, which was served with lemon chicken. I made plain rice covered in the flavorful sauce from the chicken.

Lemon Chicken with Brown Rice and Spinach

Lemon Chicken with Brown Rice and Spinach

Bring water and salt to a boil.

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Measure the rice.

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Stir in the rice.

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Return to the boil.

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Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook according to package instructions.

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How To: Cook Rice – Absorbed Method

Steam is an important part of the cooking process, it’s important not to remove the cover until the rice is almost done. Check the rice at the minimum cooking time. Continue cooking a few more minutes if there is still liquid in the bottom of the pan.

  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 3 cups 1x
  • Category: Rice
  • Method: Absorbed Method
Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 cup rice
  • 2 cups cooking liquid
  • pinch Kosher salt

Instructions

  1. Bring water and salt to a boil.
  2. Stir in the rice.
  3. Return to the boil.
  4. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook according to package instructions.

Multi-grain Rice Pilaf

Whole Foods sells a wonderful wild blend rice mixture in the bulk food aisle that consists of long-grain brown rice, sweet brown rice, wild rice bits, Wehani brown rice and black Japonica brown rice, which make a most interesting Rice Pilaf.

The different types of rice give this rice pilaf complex and nutty flavors and a range of textures, from al dente to soft. If you prefer to use only one type of rice or can’t find a multi-grain blend, substitute a long-grain rice.

Rice pilaf starts on the stovetop and finishes in the oven. The aromatics are sautéed first and then the rice is added and browned in the oil for a few of minutes until fragrant. Finally stir in a flavorful liquid and bring to a boil. Pop this into the oven and bake, until the liquid has been absorbed, about 45 minutes; don’t uncover before then or you release the steam needed to cook the rice.

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Heat the oil in a medium-sized covered, ovenproof pan over medium heat. Stir in the onions and salt, cover and sweat for five minutes, stirring once.

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Stir in the garlic and herbes de Provence and continue cooking 30 seconds.

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Add the rice, stir to combine, and continue cooking and stirring until fragrant, about two minutes.

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Add cooking liquid and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.

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Cover and bake until the liquid is absorbed, about 45 minutes; don’t uncover before then or you release the steam needed to cook the rice. Stir and let sit five minutes in the oven, heat off.

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Multi-grain Rice Pilaf

Whole Foods sells a wonderful wild blend rice mixture in the bulk food aisle that consists of long-grain brown rice, sweet brown rice, wild rice bits, Wehani brown rice and black Japonica brown rice, which make a most interesting Rice Pilaf.

  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 65 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hour 20 mins
  • Yield: 1 quart 1x
  • Category: Side Dish
Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 2 teaspoons herbes de Provence
  • 1 cup multi-grain rice
  • 2 cups water or stock

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
  2. Heat the oil in a medium-sized covered, ovenproof pan over medium heat. Stir in the onions and salt, cover and sweat for five minutes, stirring once.
  3. Stir in the garlic and herbes de Provence and continue cooking 30 seconds. Add the rice, stir to combine, and continue cooking and stirring until fragrant, about 3 minutes.
  4. Add cooking liquid and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
  5. Cover and bake until the liquid is absorbed, about 45 minutes; don’t uncover before then or you release the steam needed to cook the rice.
  6. Stir and let sit five minutes in the oven, heat off.

Notes

If you prefer to use only one type of rice or can’t find a multi-grain blend, substitute a long-grain rice.

 

 

Curried Butternut Squash Soup with Chicken, Rice and Spinach

My pilates instructor and I talk about food quite a bit during our workout. It sounds funny, but when you get two people together who love food, it’s inevitable.We were talking about butternut squash last
fall, which lead to my making a curried butternut squash soup. By the next session we had both made the soup and she had the great idea of adding chicken and rice to the soup. I told her I was stealing her idea and went home and made curried butternut squash soup with chicken, rice and spinach.

I didn’t want to roast or poach a chicken, so I bought a store-roasted chicken and chopped up the meat.

Four cups chopped roasted chicken

Four cups chopped roasted chicken

I used the pasta method to cook one cup of rice, which yielded three cooked cups.

Three cups cooked basmati rice

Three cups cooked basmati rice

Finally I  tossed in ten ounces of fresh baby spinach.

Ten ounces fresh baby spinach

Ten ounces fresh baby spinach

This butternut squash soup with chicken, rice and spinach is a hearty meal and it always nice to repurpose a recipe.

Happy National Soup Month!

 

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Curried Butternut Squash, Chicken, Rice & Spinach Soup

Add these three ingredients to the Curried Butternut Squash Soup recipe for a hearty main-course dish.

Scale

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Stir in the chicken, rice and spinach. Cook until heated through.
  2. Freezes well.

 

Cooking Rice Using the Pasta Method

Cooking rice using the pasta method is a fool-proof way to cook rice and you don’t need to worry about scorching or burning it or the pan. It’s an effective method to use when a recipe calls for cooked rice or you want to serve plain rice as a side.

Almost any rice variety can be cooked using this method; I’m using basmati rice today, which will go into a soup.

Be sure to stir frequently the first minute or two after adding the rice to the boiling water to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Cooking time can vary depending on the final use. If the cooked rice is cooked further in another recipe, opt for a shorter cooking time by two or three minutes.

This recipe yields 3 cups of cooked rice

6 cups cold water
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1 cup rice

Raw basmati rice.

Bring the water and salt to a boil in a medium-size saucepan, stir in the rice and cook for the time listed on the package. Drain.

Cooking rice with the pasta method.

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Cooking Rice Using the Pasta Method

Here’s a fool-proof method to cook rice. Use for stir fries or any dish that has plain rice on the side. Or, sauté some minced shallots or onions, a couple of minced cloves of garlic in olive oil and the rice and peas to the onions, season and serve.

  • Author: Trish Lobenfeld
  • Prep Time: 5
  • Cook Time: see package instructions
  • Total Time: 49 minute
  • Yield: 3 cups
  • Category: Rice

Ingredients

6 cups cold water
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup rice

Instructions

Bring the water and salt to a boil in a medium-size saucepan, stir in the rice and cook for the time indicated on the package. Drain.

Keywords: cooking rice, pasta method, boiling rice

 

Rice Primer

Everyone is familiar with rice, but we are seeing more and more brown and multi-grain varieties on grocery shelves these days and it’s understandable if you’re confused about what they are and how to cook them. We’ve put together a rice primer to answer some of your questions.

Rice Primer

There are three varieties of rice: short grain, medium grain and long grain. Each has unique properties that result in a degree of stickiness (short- and medium-grain rice) to fluffy separate grains (long-grain rice). Use aromatics, spices, herbs and flavorful cooking liquids to make rice. Combine with meat, fish, poultry and/or vegetables to make a one-dish meal. Cook rice with milk, eggs, sugar and flavorings to make a delicious rice pudding. The possibilities are endless.

Brown vs. White Rice

Brown rice retains the bran, full of fiber, vitamins and minerals and the germ. Brown rice contains some fat, which makes it more perishable than white rice. Always store in an air-tight container in a cool dry place. Not all brown rice is brown, however, there are purple, black and red varieties, all equally delicious.

White rice is washed to remove the bran and most of the germ and then polished, which removes vitamins and minerals; it is then fortified to replace those lost nutrients. Some recipes call for washing rice before cooking, but in general white rice shouldn’t be rinsed because it removes the restored nutrients. Parboiled rice has been processed to gelatinize the starch in each grain. Converted rice is further cooked for “instant-cooking” rice and has the least amount of flavor.

Brown rice is an excellent overall choice because it is a whole grain and has a complex flavor and texture.

Wild rice is a misnomer. It is a long-grain marsh grass with a nutty flavor and contrasting textures, firm outside and soft inside when cooked. It’s often included in rice blends.

Rice Varieties

There are thousands of varieties of rice within each of the grain types and the ones referenced here are commonly available, but barely scratch the surface.

Short-grain rice, also known as sticky rice, sweet rice or waxy rice, is twice as long as it is wide and glutinous. Uses include sushi, paella, puddings and rice molds. Look for Calasparra rice, Japonica rice or Chinese sweet rice.

Calasparra short-grain rice.

Calasparra short-grain rice.

Medium-grain rice is also a sticky rice, though slightly less sticky than short-grain rice and is a little less than three times as long as it is wide. Use in paella, risotto or substitute for any short-grain recipe. Look for Valencia or granza for paella, arborio, or carnaroli for risotto, Thai sticky rice or Chinese black rice.

Arborio rice.

Arborio rice.

Long-grain rice cooks up fluffy and separate and is at least three times as long as it is wide. Use in main-course dishes. Look for basmati, jasmine or Texmati®, these all have a characteristic popcorn-like aroma and taste, Carolina or Wehani® a honey-red rice or Himalayan red rice both with a nutty flavor.

Carolina long-grain brown rice.

Carolina long-grain brown rice.

Use moist-heat cooking methods to cook rice: boiling, simmering, steaming, or baking.

Here are links to posts with information on cooking various rices.

Cook Rice Using the Absorbed Method

Multi-Grain Rice Pilaf

Cooking Rice Using the Pasta Method

 

Mashed Potatoes

There is nothing as simple, yet comforting, as mashed potatoes. I like to use all kinds of potatoes for mashing, but Russet or Idaho potatoes are best when you want the fluffiest potatoes. Russet potatoes also do a great job absorbing gravy, another bonus.

Mashing Tools
  • There are a few ways to mash potatoes.
  • A traditional potato masher, my favorite, which allows me to leave little lumps.
  • The potato ricer for smooth mashed potatoes.
  • An electric mixer, which makes smooth mashed potatoes, but because of the high starch content of potatoes, Russets in particular,  the electric mixer quickly breaks down the starch makes the potatoes  pasty. Use carefully.

 

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Substitutions

Keep it light with skim milk, or use regular milk or half and half. Substitute olive oil or margarine for butter. Substitute stock or plain soy or almond milk for dairy. If serving gravy, reduce the mashing liquid by one-third to let the potatoes absorb gravy and not get too thin.

Variations

A couple of variations for mashed potatoes include eliminating the butter and substituting a cup of shredded sharp Cheddar cheese for a cheesy mashed dish. Or, substitute 1 pound of potatoes for another root vegetable, such as carrots, turnips, celery root or parsnips.

Seasoning

Taste the final mashed potatoes to decide if they need more salt, and taste the gravy  to determine seasonings. It’s unlikely the cheesy mash requires any more salt, but a healthy dose of freshly ground pepper complements the cheese nicely. I prefer black pepper with mashed potatoes, but there is the option of white pepper to keep them all white.

 

Method

Put the mashing liquid and butter in a small sauce pan or a microwaveable bowl. Heat to melt the butter while the potatoes are cooking.

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Peel the potatoes and cut lengthwise into three pieces.

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Turn and cut the potatoes into similarly sized pieces.

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Place the potatoes and salt in a covered, medium-size pot and add enough water to exceed the potatoes by two inches. Cover and bring to a boil.

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Tilt the cover and lower the heat a little and continue cooking, until very tender, about seven minutes. Drain.

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Potato Masher Version: Add the potatoes back to the pot and coarsely mash.

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Pour the warm mashing liquid over the potatoes and mash to your preferred consistency. Season with salt and pepper to your taste.

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Potato Ricer Version: Place the potatoes in batches in the ricer and press into the pot. Pour the warm mashing liquid over the potatoes and mash to your preferred consistency. Season with salt and pepper to your taste.

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How To: Mashed Potatoes

There is nothing as simple, yet comforting, as mashed potatoes. I like to use all kinds of potatoes for mashing, but Russet or Idaho potatoes are best when you want the fluffiest potatoes. Russet potatoes also do a great job absorbing gravy, another bonus.

  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 25 mins
  • Total Time: 35 mins
  • Yield: 4 - 6 portions 1x
Scale

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds Russet or Idaho potatoes, trimmed and cut into small cubes
  • Cold water
  • 1 tablespoon Kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup mashing liquid (dairy, stock, soy or almond milk)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Place the potatoes and salt in a covered, 4-quart covered pot and add enough cold water to cover the vegetables by two inches.
  2. Cover and bring to a boil.
  3. Tilt the cover and lower the heat a little and continue cooking, until very tender, about seven minutes.
  4. While the potatoes are cooking, heat the mashing liquid and butter in a small saucepan or a microwaveable bowl until the butter is melted.
  5. Drain the potatoes.
  6. Potato Masher Version: Add the potatoes back to the pot and coarsely mash. Pour the warm mashing liquid over the potatoes and mash to your preferred consistency. Season with salt and pepper to your taste.
  7. Potato Ricer Version: Place the potatoes in batches in the ricer and press into the pot. Pour the warm mashing liquid over the potatoes and stir to combine.
  8. Electric Mixer Version: Place the potatoes in the mixing bowl and beat on low to break them up. Add butter and half the liquid and combine. Scrape the sides of the bowl and beater and add the rest of the liquid. Beat just until smooth.
  9. Season with salt and pepper to your taste.