Tag Archives: rice

Risi e bisi (Rice and Peas)

Risi e bisi

It’s been a while since I’ve made an Italian dish that didn’t contain tomatoes and/or capers within it’s ingredient list. When it comes to Italian cooking at home, I’ve learned to play to the crowd.

That being said, when I decided to research peas, this was the first recipe on my list. The primary reason has more to do with the name than the dish’s reputation. This is the way my mind works at times, where I’m drawn to a recipe based on it’s name more than what the recipe actually entails.

When approaching Risi e bisi, the basic image that should be in your head is thus – A soupy risotto. Not overly soupy mind you, but it should be far more “wet” than your typical Italian rice dish.

As with most Italian recipes, this is not the defining recipe for risi e bisi, as it lends itself to many interpretations. For example, if I were to make this again, I’d probably add a touch of saffron, or go a bit heavier on the ground pepper. But this recipe below is a good starting point.

One last point…For the peas- Frozen peas are okay I suppose, but fresh peas from the pod is where it’s at. As an added bonus, the pea pods can be thrown into a veggie stock which you can use in the risi e bisi.

If you believe you can make a decent dish with canned peas, then you are the walking definition of the word “optimist”.

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil or butter
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 3 ounces pancetta, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
  • 6 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 1/2 cups peas
  • 1/2 cup parsley, minced
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Green onions, for garnish

Place a large skillet over medium heat, and place in the oil, onions, garlic and pancetta. Cook until the onion starts to turn tranlucent, between 8-10 minutes.

Add the rice and 1 cup of the veggie stock. Allow the stock to come to a boil and then be absorbed by the rice. Once absorbed, add one ladle of stock. Repeat this process until you get the consistency you wish, noting that it’s likely that you won’t use all of the veggie stock.

When the risi e bisi finally gets to the consistency you wish, complete the dish by adding the parmesan cheese and butter.

Serves 6 – 8

Technorati Tags: Recipe, Rice, peas, risi e bisiItalian Food

When the rice is half done, add the peas with the minced parsley.

Torta di Riso e Spinaci

Or as it’s known here in the States, rice and spinach cake. Well, maybe the phrase “known here” is a bit optimistic.

This is another dish that requires a little prep work, but not a lot. This can be easily be made on a weeknight, and will most likely be wonderful tomorrow when it’s cold. Plan on having this dish for left overs.

One should not be stingy with the parmesan cheese in this dish. I topped the cake with about a 1/4 cup the cheese and it created a very nice crust. If you are one who likes to takes risks, frying up two slices of pancetta, chopping them up and stirring them into the “batter” would also work very well.

Alas, I didn’t realize this until afterwards. Ah well. Next time. Next time.

  • 1 lb fresh spinach
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 4 tablespoons grated parmesan
  • Pepper, to taste
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan, to top

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.

Cook the de-stemmed spinach until soft. I used a steamer, but hey, I’m a rebel. Drain the water from the spinach and chop coarsely.

In a medium soup pan, boil 2 cups of salted water. Once the water has reached its boil, add the rice and cook for 10 minutes. Add the spinach, mix well and drain immediately. Place in a large mixing bowl and set aside.

In a skillet, fry an onion in oil only golden. When ready, add to spinach and rice. Mix well, and add butter, eggss, 4 Tablespoons of cheese, pepper and nutmeg. Mix well until butter has melted and eggs and cheese have been thoroughly incorporated. Press into a buttered 9 inch cake pan. Top with 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese. Place in oven and bake for 25 minutes.

Remove from oven and allow to set for 5-10 minutes. Serve hot or store it overnight in the refrigerator to eat cold.

Serves 8

Technorati Tags: Food & Drink, Recipes, Italian Food, Spinach, Rice

We get Letters – v. 8: How do Rice Cakes hold together

I got a short, but sweet e-mail in my inbox this morning, that I thought I would address.

Why does the rice used in rice cakes stick together?

Thank you


Thank you for the terse e-mail Lowside. I am envious of people who can get directly to the point in their missives. It’s a talent that I obviously lack. For example, it’s taken me 40 words to simply say “Thanks”.

And oddly enough, you’re not the first “lowside” I’ve ever thanked in my life. But that’s a story for another post.

Ahhh… Rice Cakes The ubiquitous product for dieters across the country. Personally, I enjoy mine with several dollops of whipped cream and a bit of caramel sauce.

To answer your question, there’s basically two answers.

Firstly, Many varieties of rice are naturally glutinous. This does not mean they contain ‘gluten’ but rather that they are, by their nature, sticky. More specifically, they have a chemical component known as amylopectin, a naturally occurring polymer. For those of you who may have fallen asleep in Chemistry, polymers are long molecules consisting of structural units and repeating units strung together through chemical bonds.

Puff the rice correctly, and they’ll hold their cohesiveness naturally…excepting for those rice cakes that may need a little help in sticking together. This leads to the second way rice cakes are held together…

…through science! Or, more specifically, through the use of a carbohydrate called maltodextrin. Maltodextrin is a moderately sweet polysaccharide produced from corn starch and is usually found as a creamy white hygroscopic powder. It’s a member of the Dextrin family, which are used as water soluble glues, as thickening agents, and as binding agents.

To answer your question, rice cakes are held together naturally, except for when they are not. When they are not, they are held together through maltodextrin.

You can see examples of both of these by checking the ingredient lists of the rice cakes found on the Quaker Rice Cake web page, once again proving that you can find anything on the Internet.

As always, if you have a question you would like answered, e-mail me at kate AT accidentalhedonist DOT com.

Chickpeas and Potatoes over Rice

Chickpeas and Potatoes over Rice

Every once in while, while perusing the many, high quality food blogs out there in the world, you may come along an entry that states how disappointed the writer was in the recipe.

This is one of those posts.

What I was trying to make was Aloo Chole. What I got was a distant relative of Aloo Chole.

The fault lies both at my feet and at the product clerk at Larry’s.

My fault was in picking a starchy potato, better designed for baking than cooking in a skillet.

The Produce clerk’s issue was recommending a tomato that had absolutely no taste at all. Okay…that’s more my fault for believing him.

I’m recording this recipe here for posterity, rather than recommendation. Expect a “version 2″ of this recipe in the near future.

  • 2 medium sized ripe tomatoes- seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 tsp Black Pepper
  • salt (to taste)
  • 2 tsp Coriander Powder
  • 1 small slice of ginger (about the size of a quarter)
  • 2 small jalapeno peppers – seeded chopped
  • 3 Tablespoons Vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp Mustard seeds
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 medium-sized Potato – diced into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 16 oz can of chickpeas

In a food processor or blender, combine tomatoes, pepper, salt, coriander powder, ginger and jalapeno peppers. Puree until well emulisfied. Set aside.

In a large skillet, heat vegetable oil over medium heat. Add mustard seeds and allow to flower in oil for about a minute. Add onions, and cook until translucent, about 10-12 minutes.

To the onions, add the potato, chickpeas and pre-made sauce. Cook over medium low heat for 15 minutes, stirring every five minutes to prevent sticking.

Serve over rice.

Serves 4

Risotto alla Milanese

Risotto alla Milanese

Risotto. Grana Cheese. Saffron.

Let’s call this a very special holy trinity.

Edouard de Pomain, a French docotor of the Pasteur Institute said of Risotto alla Milanese “The national dish of Lombardy” and claimed each grain of the rice “gilded” with gold.

This is a beef risotto, typically made with Grana cheese, rather than Parmesan, the dish will typically have beef marrow as well. If you so desire, mushrooms would also work quite well.

  • 5 cups beef consomme or broth
  • 1 oz beef marrow, chopped (optional)
  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium yellow onion, sliced
  • 12 oz Arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (pinot grigio or orvieto will work nicley)
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 6 Tablespoons Grana Padano cheese (Parmigiano Reggiano will work, but you will end up with a saltier dish)
  • Italian Parsley, for garnish

In a medium sauce pan, heat the beef consomme to a simmer.

In a large skillet, melt the marrow with the butter. When the butter is completely liquid, add the onions, and saute until just browned (about 10-12 minutes).

Add the rice to the skillet, and pour in the wine, allowing it to evaporate while you stir it into the rice. Using a ladle, pour 1/2 cup of the consomme into the rice, stirring and allowing the liquid to evaporate. Continue this process until you have one ladle of broth left. By this time your risotto should be creamy and al dente.

As you pour in the last ladle of broth, add the saffron. Cook and stir, again allowing the liquid to evaporate as best as possible. At the very end, add the cheese and stir in thoroughly.

Place in a bowl, and serve (eating with a spoon in the traditional Milanese style)

Serves 4-6

Crawfish Risotto

crawfish risotto

This is an okay recipe. I made it last night based on a suggestion from our fearless tech diva, Tara. She thought the dish was wonderful, I thought good, but not “oh-my-god-I’m-weeping-with-pleasure” good. Perhaps my standards are a bit too high. Or perhaps I’m too self-critical. Probably both.

At any rate, the key to a good risotto is to NEVER WALK AWAY FROM IT. Let’s call this “Kate’s Law for a Good Risotto”. You laugh, but the more attention you pay to it, and the slower you add the liquid, the creamier your risotto will be. trust me on this.

The crawfish worked quite nicely, but if none are available in your area, you can use crab or even lobster. Or you can order crawfish from Seattle’s own Exotic Meat market, who deliver, but at a cost.

  • 3 Tablespoons Olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 1 cup dry white wine (using a sweet white is redundant since crawfish meat is sweet by nature)
  • 2 – 2 1/2 cup chicken stock (or fish stock, if you have it)
  • 2 cups crawfish meat
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • parsley, chopped (for garnish)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook until nearly translucent. Add rice and stir in thoroughly.

Allow the rice to cook in the oil for 30 seconds or so. Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the wine. Lower the heat just a tad, and stir the rice with a heat resistant spatula into the evaporating wine. When liquid has completely evaporated, add another 1/4 cup of wine. Repeat the “stir, evaporate, add wine” steps, until you’ve used all the wine.

Once the wine is used, you will start using the chicken stock as the evaporating liquid. Add 1/4 – 1/2 cup of chicken stock. Now repeat the “stir, evaporate, add wine” steps, until you’ve used all the stock, with the following two additions.

When you’ve used half of your stock, add the crawfish meat.

When you’ve used 3/4 of your stock, add your peas. Salt and pepper to taste.

This whole process of “”stir, evaporate, add liquid” should take between 35-45 minutes. If it’s quicker than that, you may have crunchy risotto, which is not a good thing. Taste test often until you get the texture you like.

Plate and top with parsley.

Serves 4

Soylent Rice is PEOPLE!!

Well…not really…but kind of….well, it’s not like you can taste any human while eating the rice.

What the hell am I talking about? It seems that Japanese researchers have inserted a gene from the human liver into rice to enable it to digest pesticides and industrial chemicals. The thinking being that this rice might be able to be planted on land previously unusable due to pollution.

Personally, I’m not repulsed by the idea of this, at least in regards to cannibalism, although admittedly, I’m particularly bemused on how many people are defining cannibalism. Apparently for some, eating an enzyme is sufficient. This makes me wonder about other practices in which human detritus is consumed (think sex acts) and whether or not that constitutes the ulitmate taboo.

But I digress.

My concern, as always when it comes to genetically modified food, is regulation. Who knows how this new breed of rice would react if it happened to get out into the wild. Professor Richard Meilan of Purdue University has the same concern:

But he and other scientists caution that if the gene were to escape to wild relatives of the rice it could create particularly vicious superweeds that were resistant to a wide range of herbicides.

Ah.. superweeds. All in the name of progress.