Saturday, January 31, 2015

Simple polenta.

Traditional method to make polenta was to get the water boiling and then slowly add in the polenta. That method now seems archaic to me. Just as slowly adding water or liquid to rice.

1 - cup corn meal aka polenta
4 - cups water
plus whatever spices and other ingredients you choose to make it sweet or savory.


Take a large enough sauce pot  and pour in one cup of the polenta.
Add four cups of water.
Stir well till the polenta is absorbed.
Turn the heat on to high. (Watch carefully)
Stir as needed till you get the little volcanoes.
Turn down the heat.
Keep stirring as needed till the polenta thickens up.
Cover and turn off the heat.
Eat when ready.

Note: adding honey can make it sweet and safer than adding sugar.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Simple rice.


1 - cup white rice
2 - cups water
1/2 - teaspoon salt
1 - tablespoon butter or oil (optional)
1 to 2 - tablespoons Parmesan cheese
Tiny bit of pepper helps bring out the flavor in cheese and butter.
A pinch of baking soda can also speed cooking.
Garlic powder

Small (2-quart or so) saucepan with a lid
Stirring spoon.
Measuring cup.


Pre-cooking: It's good practice to rinse your rice in a tight meshed strainer before cooking. This isn't strictly necessary, but it will rinse off any dusty starch on the surface of the rice along with any leftover chaff or stray particles. (Some rices have more starchy coating than others.)

I. Measure the rice and water:
     For most rice, use a 1:2 ratio of one cup of rice to two cups of water. Measure a half cup of uncooked rice per person and scale this ratio up or down depending on how much you're making. Some rice varieties will need a little less or a little more water as it cooks, so check the package for specific instructions.

II. Boil the water:
     Bring the water to boil in a small sauce pan. Rice expands as it cooks, so use a saucepan large enough to accommodate. A 2-quart saucepan for one to two cups of uncooked rice is a good size.

III. Add the rice:
    When the water has come to a boil, stir in the rice, pepper, salt, plus butter and or cheese (if using), and bring it back to a gentle simmer (add the baking soda at this point).

IV. Cover and cook:
     Cover the pot and turn the heat down to low. If you use a good heavy pot or dutch oven, you can just turn off the heat.  Don't take off the lid while the rice is cooking — this lets the steam out and affects the cooking time. Approximate cooking time of white rice: 18 to 25 minutes
Start checking the rice around 18 minutes. When done, the rice will be firm but tender, and no longer crunchy. It is fine if it's slightly sticky but shouldn't be gummy. If there is still water left in the pan when the rice is done, tilt the pan to drain it off.

V.. Turn off the heat and remove the lid.
     When the rice is done, turn off the heat and take off the lid. Fluff the rice with a spoon or a fork, and let it sit for a few moments to "dry out" and lose that wet, just-steamed texture.

Rice keeps well in the fridge for several days (if it lasts that long), so you can make extra ahead to serve later.