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September is National Rice Month! I thought I would take the opportunity Rice Month affords to promote a true canadian food that is grown in my home province of Saskatchewan: wild rice.
Wild rice (also called Canada rice, Indian rice, and water oats) is really the seeds of a grass which historically grew in north america and in small areas of asia (the grain is no longer eaten in China, where the plant’s stem is used as a vegetable). Wild rice is not directly related to Asian rice. Wild rice is high in protein (double that of brown rice) and dietary fiber, and low in fat. Like true rice, it does not contain gluten. Unlike much of the cultivated or paddy-grown American wild rice, Canadian harvests focus on rice grown organically in natural bodies of water. Wild rice is a challenging crop to grow and is not suitable for large-scale production….which sadly makes it one of the most expensive types of rice.
Wild rice starts out as a short thin glossy grain dark brown to black in colour, which like traditional rice will puff and expand to 3-4 times its size when boiled. Wild rice doesn’t get as soft as traditional rices, but rather has a nice chewy texture. The taste is a mildly smokey – nutty.
To celebrate the day, my mom and I made a simple wild rice pilaf to go with some excellent BBQed ribs we were cooking. First we tossed some mixed veggies (baby squash, shallots, mushrooms, peppers, etc.) in a little olive oil, balsamic and rosemary, and then grilled them on the BBQ. While they were cooking, the wild rice was cooking in 1/2 water, 1/2 beef stock. Wild rice is prepared just like regular rice – though wild rice will not soak up as much water as traditional rice, so you may want to put in 1.5 units of liquid for each unit of dry rice. The rice took about 45-50 minutes to cook on a soft simmer.
Once the rice is done, drain any excess water/broth. Heat a knob of butter in a big frying pan, then toss in the veggies and the rice. Saute until everything is hot, and give a liberal once over with salt and pepper. Serve immediately, with a nice red wine and those ribs.
p s- while this might not effect your choice to eat wild rice, I thought you might get a kick out this video. Wild rice is not cut to harvest the seeds, but rather the seeds are knocked off into a flat bottomed “airboats” that skims over the water (and the grass). It’s a weird looking contraption, but it works!
I just returned home from my French class and am thinking lovingly of the chive and cheddar biscuits we had for supper. By “thinking lovingly”, I mean I am eating another one. There is only flaw with these yummy savory treats – they are at their best when straight out of the oven. But that obviously does not stop me.
What is a biscuit you say? You want to know where they originated from? I don’t. I think it might be the spring fever everyone has out here on the prairies but right now I just want to plant my garden and eat all the bounty. I keep on reading all these cookbooks I haven’t seen since last summer and reading seed catalogues to see what should be planted. I don’t really care about the history. I must be that sense of urgency flatlanders have when finally feeling the sunshine on one’s skin and quickly realizing there is only four months left before the snow flies.
If you must know about the history of biscuits read this:
“What’s the difference between biscuits & cookies?
Excellent question! The answer is an interesting buffet of linguistics, history, and technology. The original term “biscuit” derives from the Latin “bis coctus,” or “twice baked.” Ancient Roman armies were issued biscuits as part of their rations. Hardtack, ships biscuit, rusk and mandelbrot descend from this culinary lineage. Advances in technology permitted a wider range of biscuit products. Small cakes and delicate wafers were gradually added to the family of biscuits. In most English-speaking countries, the traditional definition of biscuit remains. In the United States the term “biscuit” was reassigned to denote a small, soft, quick-leavened bread product served piping hot. It generally accompanied meals in lieu of bread. “
I make biscuits quite often as they are a very quick baked good and we love them. Ignore the amount of butter. They are worth it! The following biscuits are from an unknown source and as you can see, the recipe (scribbled by my Mom) is now very thorough. I’ll walk you through it, no worries!
Cheddar and Chive Biscuits
Preheat oven to 425F. Parchment paper on the cookie sheet is a good idea!
In a bowl mix the dry ingredients:
3 c of flour (I used about half whole wheat flour)
1 tbsp sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
Grate about a cup of cheddar cheese. I also grated some pecorino romano (it never hurts) and finely chop some chives.
As you can see, the chives are the only thing in the garden, so let’s eat some bounty!
Spring on a cutting board!
Cut 3/4c of cold butter into cubes and add to the dry ingredients. Using a pastry cutter, cut in the butter until it is the size of peas. Sprinkle the cheese and chives over the bowl and pour in 1 3/4c of buttermilk. Mix with a spoon until just combined. This recipe makes “drop” biscuits and not the traditional biscuits that are rolled out and cut into shapes. This is much quicker and a lot less messy.
Drop by spoonfuls onto the baking sheet. I ended up with 10 biscuits. Bake for about 15 minutes until they are golden brown.
In they go!
À la table, mes enfants!
A simple post for a simple dessert. What could be easier for a Sunday dinner?
Let’s get out of those rosy, freckled, shiny skins into something fragrant . . . .
It looks like some form of torture might have been involved, mais non. Just a warm dip in a clove, cinnamon, orange
and lemon infused bath.
They look happy. All steamy and plump.
A glossy chocolate ganache of dark chocolate, sour cream and a few tablespoons of pear bath water. C’est fini!
Snuggle up each pretty with a dollop of whipped cream and the ganache. Perhaps a little salty pistachio to garnish?
I think so, don’t you?
To all my lovelies reading this sunny spring morning – enjoy. A beautiful dessert named after a beautiful opera.