Wild Rice and Pecan Pancakes

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Savory pancakes are something I really enjoy creating, not just because they are so delicious, but more because you can incorporate just about anything and everything into the batter.

Just on this blog I’ve offered potato and halloumi pancakes, butternut squash and bacon pancakes, zucchini pancakes, and squash and corn pancakes. All different, all wonderfully satisfying.

My secret if to use very little flour; it’s all about the main ingredients. Sometimes it’s vegetables with herbs, sometimes vegetables and nuts, sometimes I mix in grains, cooked or not, for texture.

These pancakes are an autumnal offering, using wild rice and toasted pecans. If you are serving a Mexican or Southwestern-inspired meal, include cilantro in the pancakes, plus some ground cumin and dried oregano. If you want a more generic pancake, stick with some parsley for a fresh flavor, like I did here.

Wild rice is actually a seed, not a grain, and it can taste and feel like little sticks, so I prefer a mixture of rice, brown or white, and wild rice.

These can be served with any kind of protein, from a pork chop to salmon. They’re quite versatile.

Wild rice and Pecan Pancakes
Makes 15 pancakes

2 ounces pecans
4 ounces wild rice
1 cup cooked white or brown rice, cooled
2 eggs
4 ounces 1/2 & 1/2, evaporated milk, or other
1 teaspoon garlic pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
Approximately 1/4 finely chopped onions or shallots
Approximately 1/4 chopped parsley
1/2 cup flour plus a little more
Butter or olive oil

Toast the pecans in a cast-iron skillet and let cool.

Meanwhile, cook the wild rice in 2 cups of water just as you would rice, for about 50 minutes. You actually have the option to cook less or more, depending on how you like your wild rice. It softens more with more cooking, obviously, which is how I prefer it. If there’s leftover water in the pot you can drain it.

Place the leftover cooked white rice in a small bowl, then add the cooked wild rice and let cool.

In a larger bowl, combine the eggs and 1/2 & 1/2 and stir well. Add the garlic pepper and salt.

When the rice has cooled, add to the egg and milk mixture. Stir well, then add the onions and parsley.

When you are ready to cook the pancakes, add the pecans and stir in the flour.

When you stir the batter, you shouldn’t see any liquid (the egg and milk mixture). If you do, sprinkle a little more flour over the batter, only about one tablespoon at a time. If you add too much flour, the pancakes will be stiff and dry.

I used a large non-stick skillet to cook the pancakes. Start over medium-high heat. Add some butter to the skillet, and when it melts, add a spoonful of batter carefully, pressing it down to form a pancake.

After a minute, turn down the heat and let the pancakes cook for a few minutes. Turn them over carefully, and continue to cook a few more minutes. If you want more browning on the second side, raise the heat a bit.

Repeat with the remaining batter. Take your time, these are a bit more delicate than potato pancakes. The rices are cooked, but you still have to cook the batter slowly but thoroughly.

I served the pancakes as a side to a filet mignon.

I think a vegetarian would enjoy them as a meal, because they’re pretty hearty.

Speaking of non-vegetarians, these would also be good made with bacon.

If you feel extra decadent, serve sour cream with the pancakes.

 

 

Green Rice with Corn

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For Cinco de Mayo 2017, I made a Mexican-inspired meal, not surprisingly. Mexican and Southwestern foods are some of our favorites, and any excuse to cook a bunch of delicious food and include friends work for us!

For the main course, I served buffalo fajitas along with sautéed vegetables, plus I made refried black beans and what I called “green rice”.

The rice is green from green chiles and an abundance of cilantro. (Don’t read on if you dislike cilantro!)

Okay, so what’s the big deal? Rice with cilantro? I don’t know, but it was everybody’s favorite dish. I mean, over the queso, the guacamole, and the chipotle shrimp, the green rice was the bomb.

The next morning I heated some up and plopped a fried egg on top. It was just that delicious.

This rice is more of a pilaf, with all of the goodies I included. The green chiles, cilantro, and seasoning turn it into one that’s Mexican-inspired and delicious.

Green Rice with Corn

2 cobs of corn
Olive oil, about 2 tablespoons
1 onion, finely chopped
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
Rice of choice, about 1 1/3 cups
Chicken broth, about 3 cups
2 – 4.5 ounce cans chopped green chiles
Lots of chopped cilantro
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper, optional

Cook the corn cobs in boiling water until they’re done, about 15 minutes. Drain and let cool.

Add the olive oil to a large pot and heat over medium. Add the onion and sauté for about 5 minutes.

Stir in the garlic and rice, and stir for about 30 seconds, then add the broth.

Bring the rice to a boil, cover, then turn down the heat. Cooking time depends on the kind of rice you use.

Once the rice is about cooked, remove the lid and stir in the remaining ingredients.

Cut the corn from the cobs. Break the corn up into neat pieces and stir into the rice gently.

I like to put the lid on and without heat, let the pot sit at the end of the cooking time. This step encourages more liquid absorption.

You can sprinkle on some cilantro leaves if you wish.

Fancy? Not at all. And just the same amount of time to make any pilaf.

And don’t forget to have the green rice with an egg the next morning!

Note: When I cook at home I always use brown rice, because it’s not processed. It takes a little more cooking time and a little more liquid, typically. White rice can certainly be substituted, and would actually look prettier. It’s just a personal call.

Chicken Biryani

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It’s funny how you can forget about certain recipes, even when they’re fabulous. But I had forgotten about an Indian recipe called biryani until I came across egg biryani on a blog, which sadly I can’t locate to share.

So I dug out an old standby Indian cookbook to check out my recipe from way back when. Although I have newer, more well-known Indian cookbooks, this is one cookbook I still refer to on occasion because these tried-and-true recipes can’t be beat.

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Chicken biryani is a lovely combination of spiced rice and chicken. The wonderful thing about a biryani is that you can use leftover chicken. Heck, you can use leftover rice also. Here is a photo from the recipe page from that cookbook.
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According to the author, Khalid Aziz, “When the great Mogul emperors wanted to put on a really lavish feast, great plates of Biryani, sometimes requiring two people to carry them, would be the centerpiece of the feast.”

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So even though this Indian dish utilizes leftovers, it’s still a dish of emperors!

Chicken Biryani
Murgh Biryani

1 pound chicken leftovers*
8 ounces Basmati rice (I used brown Basmati)
1 pint chicken stock
1 small onion
2 ounces ghee
1 clove garlic
2 teaspoons chilli powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons garam masala
1 teaspoon salt
2 ounces sultanas
2 ounces blanched almonds
Orange food coloring, optional
2 hard-boiled eggs, optional
2 tomatoes, optional
1 green pepper, optional

Here is what the author says about the chicken: Separate the chicken meat from any bones and remove any fat or skin. Break the chicken up into fairly large chunks; I say break rather than cut – the idea is that the pieces should be large enough to still be recognizable as chicken by the time the cooking process is over.
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I don’t think I’ve ever read such a detailed description before, but I get it!

Wash the rice well and drain. Put it in a saucepan and pour over the chicken stock, leaving to one side 2 tablespoons of stock for use later.
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Boil the rice for about 20 minutes until it is al dente. (This will really depend on what kind of rice you use, so make sure it’s cooked before you follow through with this dish.)

Meanwhile, peel and slice the onion thinly. Fry it gently in the ghee in a large frying pan. Peel and slice the garlic and add that to the onion and cook for a further 2 minutes or so.
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Now add the spices – the chilli powder, cumin, garam masala and salt – and stir in well.


Add the chicken to the curry sauce and stir well so that it is well coated. Now pour in the remaining chicken stock and bring the mixture to a simmer.

The next stage involves combining the rice with the chicken and the sultanas and almonds. Once the two are combined, add a little orange food coloring to turn the whole mixture a bright orange. (I did not do this.)

Place the Biryani on a large dish.

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Garnish with slices of hard boiled egg, tomato and green pepper.

Serve immediately.

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As you can well imagine, biryani reheats well in the microwave or on the stove with a little bit of broth.
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* Alternatively, you could always buy a rotisserie chicken if you don’t have leftovers.

Spring Pilaf

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A long time ago, when I catered for an American Heart Association charity dinner, I made this pilaf. I don’t really remember what inspired me to make it, except that I know it was part of a spring menu featuring beef as the protein. Fortunately it went over very well.

As some of you might know, when you cook for the public, you have to be careful. You really can’t make anything too “crazy” or it will turn people off, no matter how gourmet or trendy the ingredients might be. But make everything too bland and blah, and no one will ever hire you for your catering services. So there exists a fine line.

Honestly, I discovered long ago when I cooked for various charities, that the less people knew, the better off they were. If I put out tent cards with a descriptive menu, I would hear lots of “EEEWWWWWWSSS,” or “I’m not eating thats” before anyone even saw their meal! So I learned to keep things to myself, and tentative diners ended up enjoying their food much more!

I’ve been wanting to repeat this pilaf for a long time now, because it was really good and unique as well. There are two main flavors in the pilaf – orange and leeks. For the orange, I used orange oil – that is, orange-infused oil.
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For the rice, I used long-grained brown in this recipe, which I don’t love, but I needed to use it up. Short-grained rice, which I prefer, hulled barley, or even kamut could be substituted, with some extra cooking time.

So here’s my recipe for my spring-inspired rice pilaf. It is good with just about any protein, from beef to scallops.

Spring Pilaf

1/4 cup orange-infused olive oil*
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 small leeks, cleaned, sliced crosswise
1 cup long-grained brown rice
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1 cup frozen petite peas, slightly thawed

Place the oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and leeks.
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Sauté for a few minutes; a little caramelization is okay.

Pour in the rice and stir it into the onion-leek mixture until all the grains are coated with oil.
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Add the chicken broth, the salt, and the pepper.
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Bring the liquid to a boil, then cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and turn the burner down to the lowest setting. Let the rice cook for 35 minutes. Then turn off the stove, but leave the lid on for about 15 minutes more.

Remove the lid, then stir in the peas. Gently mix everything together.
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Serve hot with your desired protein. I served this pilaf with an Asian-marinated venison short loin. Asian flavors and orange really compliment each other.
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If you love parsley, add some chopped parsley over the pilaf, or a few finely chopped chives.

If you want the pilaf even more citrusy, add some grated orange or lemon rind.

* I highly recommend using an orange-infused oil in this recipe, but if you can’t find it, try adding some orange zest to the pilaf right before serving. Or use a few drops of sweet orange oil.
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note: Depending on the rice or other grain you use, cooking times will differ, as well as the amount of liquid necessary in which to cook it. Read the package directions so you get the grain-to-liquid ratio correct.