Cooking rice is somehow perceived to be an Eastern thing. You have it in your kitchen, but it is always at the back of the farthest shelf; when you actually get down to cooking rice, it gets pushed to the back of the plate. It does not have to be that way though. Aromatic basmati can fill your kitchen and sometimes a whole street with an aroma that’s irresistible. For recipes that will really shine up your culinary reputation, here is a sophisticated way to start. But be warned, this one can be a great way to get your kids hooked on vegetarianism.
Let’s call this the spinach and Swiss chard basmati. This is a fantastic way to start cooking rice for kids, because it tastes and smells almost as good even when it is cold in the lunch box. Here’s what you will need :
A pound of Swiss chard, and half as much spinach. You will need a bit of extra virgin olive oil, an onion, three eggs, thyme, Rosemary, garlic, Gruyère cheese, and of course, you’ll need a cup of brown basmati rice. We begin by getting the rice ready. If you’ve a rice cooker, cooking rice becomes really easy. If you don’t, you could just steam it in boiling water.
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Begin with the Swiss chard. Cut off the stems, and strip out all the leaves. These leaves are what you will need. Put a large pot of water on the stove, put in say, a tablespoon full of salt, and boil the chard leaves in it. It’ll take about two minutes to tenderize the leaves this way. Take them out with a strainer right away, and cool them down in ordinary water. You could then chop them up to use later.
Next comes the part where you begin cooking the chard stalks in the oven. Get the oven ready by pre-heating it to 375 degrees. The chard stalks you got when you stripped out the leaves, you need to dice up. You need to stirfry them. But first, chop up an onion, and stirfry it in a heavy skillet for a few minutes. Add in the chard that you just diced, and throw in a teaspoon of chopped-up Rosemary, and a half teaspoon of dried thyme. Stirfry the whole thing for another five minutes, and then add in the garlic. Keep it going until the garlic is all nice and fragrant.
Now this is when you bring in the chard leaves and the spinach. Put that in along with the steamed rice and cheese. Stir in a little salt and pepper, and you’re done for now. This recipe requires cooking rice in an oven. Transfer everything you just stirfried to a baking dish, add in the three eggs all nicely beaten, sprinkle a little olive oil on it all, and put it in to bake. It should bake long enough to get firm and all nicely browned. It should take about 40 minutes.
This really is a recipe of its times. It does really well with advanced preparation methods. For instance, all that chopping and the boiling can be done up to two days before you actually intend to make the recipe. And once you have cooked it, it’ll keep in the fridge for about four days.
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pappadam and brown rice
Image by Toastwife Christmas Eve lunch on Lake Vembanad, near Kumarakom, near Cochin, Kerala. For Christmas 2010.
Brown Rice Breakfast Bowl
Image by Jon Canady
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