RICE IS NICE!
Hello my Foodie Friends! Is rice one of the staple foods in your home? This past week our daughter returned back to graduate school to continue her vigorous studies. Many of you may have met her during the holiday break. One of her favorite foods is rice. However, it has to be cooked perfectly. If it’s not right, she will not eat it.
Our daughter has become a very good cook. Along with her interest in creating dishes with rice, has been her discovery of the many benefits of rice. Here are some fun facts about rice:
- Rice is a menu staple for half the world’s population
- It is the most versatile grain. It is a perfect ingredient for a wide range of styles of cooking
- Rice offers healthy benefits depending on the type you choose
- Rice is a complex carbohydrate that can boost mental and muscular functions
- Rice is low in fat
- Rice can make your happier! It can trigger the production of serotonin in your brain
The adventure of getting the rice to be perfect can be daunting especially when you find you are high fiving each other because the rice finally came out right.
There is nothing like hot fluffy rice that has just been cooked. Especially when the rice is not too smushy or firm and the natural sweetness of the rice comes through with each bit. However, the task of cooking perfect rice has not been easy. When I was learning to cook rice, it never came out the same. In short, rice is fussy. The type of rice, heat, and cooking vessel can make a big difference in how your rice comes out.
The rice cooker makes it easy to enjoy eating perfectly steamed rice. It is as easy as pushing a button. The benefits of a rice cooker includes; never burning your rice, takes the guesswork out of making rice, and allows for uniform cooking. It is a perfect solution for the rice connoisseur. At Compliments to the Chef, we carry the Zojirushi Rice Cooker. The Zojirushi rice cookeris a pressurized system that elevates cooking temperatures to high levels allowing for a rice cooking process that does all of the work for you. It has a keep-warm function. It is also rated one of the best rice cookers on the market.
Here is a recipe that we enjoy to making:
Asparagus Rice with Seared Scallops
Ingredients (serves 4-6):
To Cook in the Rice Cooker:
· 1 cup (rice measuring cup) long grain white rice
· 1-1/4 cups (rice measuring cup) water
For Blanching Asparagus:
· 2 quarts water
· 1 Tbsp. salt for blanching water
· 12 oz. fresh asparagus
· 1 clove garlic, peeled
· 1 whole fresh shallot, peeled
· 2 quarts ice water to chill
To Add to Blender:
· 2 Tbsp. whole butter at room temperature
· 1/2 tsp. salt
· Blanching water as needed
· 1/2 lb. large sea scallops
· 1/2 tsp. salt
· 2 tsp. canola or other neutral flavored vegetable oil
Measure rice accurately using the measuring cup that came with your rice cooker. Rinse rice quickly once, drain and place in the inner cooking pan. Add water and cook the rice using the “Mixed Rice” setting.
While the rice is cooking, blanch the asparagus. Boil the water in a saucepan and add 1 Tbsp. of salt. Also prepare 2 quarts ice water. Cut off the hard ends of the asparagus and discard. Cut the tips off the asparagus, about 2 inches, and reserve separately. Chop the remainder of the stalks into short, even pieces.
Add the chopped asparagus stalks (but not the tips), garlic and shallot to boiling water and blanch for 1 minute. Remove from boiling water and plunge into ice water to chill thoroughly.
Remove chilled asparagus from ice water and place in a blender with salt and softened butter. Puree until mixture is smooth – use a small amount of the blanching water to facilitate smooth blending if needed.
Repeat blanching and chilling procedure with asparagus tips; hold tips separately for garnishing.
Place oil in a small sauté pan (6-8” diameter) and heat until quite hot, almost smoking. Sprinkle scallops with salt and sear until lightly browned. When scallops are cooked, remove from the pan.
Add asparagus tips to the hot pan and toss quickly to heat through.
When rice completes cooking, gently fold in the asparagus puree.
Serve in bowls and garnish each serving with the scallops and asparagus tips.
Have fun making rice. Rice can be nice!! Don’t let it become a frustrating task. The rice cooker could be a great Valentine’s Day gift for that special person in your life who loves rice. Come visit us at Compliments to the Chef located at 46 Marion Avenue in Saratoga Springs to assist you with some of those Valentine ideas.
Remember my Food Friends; “Life Happens in the Kitchen”. Take care. John and Paula