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Monday, October 16, 2006

The Most Popular Food In The World

What is the world’s most popular food? If you said pizza, pasta or burgers you would be wrong. The facts speak for themselves and the answer is (drum roll please) RICE. There are just over 40,000 varieties of rice many of which are grown on every continent of the globe except Antarctica. In North America the average consumption is about twenty five pounds of rice per person per year this may seem like a lot of rice but compared to a person in Burma (most likely where cultivated rice began) the average consumption balloons to better than 500 pound per person per year. With fairly recent moves into the culinary worlds of Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and China rice based dishes have seen at sharp increase in popularity. Rice is one of the few foods in the world which is entirely non-allergenic and gluten-free. More than 50% of rice that is cultivated is consumed within 8 miles of where it is grown. (Photo by from WiseGeek)

Toyota means 'bountiful rice field', while Honda means 'the main rice field'. Louis Armstrong signed his autograph "Red beans and Ricely yours..."

Mirin is a sweet Japanese rice wine (saké), sometimes just called rice wine. Mirin is used for cooking, only, mainly in sauces and glazes. It gives a nice glaze to grilled foods.

Most rice is consumed in the country where it is produced. Only 5 percent of the world’s total is exported. Thailand ships the most: about 5 million tons a year. The United States is second with nearly 3 million tons, and Vietnam third, with 2 million tons.

Most common varieties are:

LONG: Long slender kernels which produce light, fluffy rice.
MEDIUM: Short, wide kernels which are moist and tender when cooked.
SHORT: Short, round kernels which are soft and cling together when boiled.
ARBORIO: Large tan grains with white dots in the center, similar in side to medium grain white rice. Arborio is most often used in risotto because of its creamy, chewy texture.
AROMATIC: Medium sized slender grains which often have the aroma and flavor of roasted nuts or popcorn.
WAXY: Also known as "sweet" rice, kernels are short and plump, and produce a thick, starchy product when cooked. Waxy rice is most often used as a binder for gravy, sauces or fillings.

Wild rice is a coarse grass (and not really a true rice) considered a delicacy in many parts of the world. North American Indians are attributed with the introduction of wild rice into mainstream society. Grown in shallow waters, like marshes, man-made paddies, and stream beds in North America, the wild rice plant is 3-10 feet tall, holding the traditional rice flower at its peak. American wild rice is medium to long grained and has a nutty flavour.

Cooking Rice:

ALWAYS measure rice and water and cook according to timed instructions for perfect, non-sticky rice.

COOK rice with a lid on to prevent steam from escaping.

RICE always triples in volume, so be sure to take this into account when choosing an appropriate cooking pot.

WHEN rice is done cooking, fluff with a fork to avoid sticky or hard rice kernels.

IF YOU like non-sticky rice, sauté in a small amount of butter before cooking. Add liquid to sauté pan and cook per instructions.

Rice is high in complex carbohydrates, contains almost no fat, is cholesterol free, and is low in sodium, unless you add salt to the cooking water. Generally all rice - both brown and white - is considered a good source of vitamins and minerals. A half cup of cooked white rice provides 82 calories; an equal amount of brown rice provides 89 calories.


Serving Size: 6

1/4 Cup Olive oil
1 Chicken, Whole, cut up
1 Each Green Pepper, chopped
1 Large Onion, chopped
3 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 Whole Bay Leaf
Salt And Pepper, to taste
5 Threads Saffron
2 1/4 Cups Chicken broth
2 Whole Tomatoes -- chopped
1 Cup Rice
1 Cup Peas --
Pimientos -- garnish

Heat oil and brown chicken on both sides. Add green pepper, onion and garlic, and cook for about 5 minutes, Add tomato, saffron dissolved in chicken broth, bay leaf, salt and pepper to taste. Cover and cook for 20 minutes. Add rice, stir well, cover again and simmer for 20 - 30 minutes longer, or until all liquid has been absorbed and chicken is tender. Garnish with peas and pimientos.

NOTES: Really of Spanish origin, Arroz con Pollo (Rice with Chicken) is a specialty in many Latin American and Caribbean countries, including Cuba.


Makes 10 servings.
1 medium sweet potato or 1 (15 oz.) can* sweet potatoes, drained and diced
1/4 cup water
4 cups cooked rice
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup green onions (scallions)
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 cup chopped fresh pineapple
1/4 cup pineapple juice
2 tbsp. vinegar
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
Dash cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp. chopped peanuts,
optional* Canned sweet potatoes are precooked.

Place sweet potatoes and water in microwave-safe dish, covered, and microwave for about 3 to 4 minutes until done. Drain and dice. In a large bowl, combine cooked rice, sweet potatoes, green onions, red bell pepper, and pineapple. In a small bowl, whisk together pineapple juice, vinegar, olive oil, ginger, cayenne, salt and pepper. Carefully toss with rice mixture; sprinkle with peanuts, if desired. Refrigerate until serving

The national dish of Spain literally means "for her".

1 pound extra-large shrimp (21 to 25 per pound), peeled and deveined
Salt and ground black pepper
Olive oil
8-9 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press (2 generous tablespoons)
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, each thigh trimmed of excess fat and halved crosswise
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut pole to pole into 1/2-inch-wide strips
8 ounces Spanish chorizo, sliced 1/2 inch thick on the bias
1 medium onion, chopped fine (about 1 cup)
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained, minced, and drained again
2 cups Valencia or Arborio rice
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled
1 dried bay leaf
1 dozen mussels, scrubbed and de-bearded
1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 lemon, cut into wedges, for serving

Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position; heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Toss the shrimp, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, 1 tablespoon oil, and 1 teaspoon of the garlic in a medium bowl; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed.

Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper; set aside.

Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add the pepper strips and cook, stirring occasionally, until the skin begins to blister and turn spotty black, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the pepper to a small plate and set aside.

Add 1 teaspoon oil to the now-empty Dutch oven; heat the oil until shimmering but not smoking. Add the chicken pieces in a single layer; cook, without moving the pieces, until browned, about 3 minutes. Turn the pieces and brown on the second side, about 3 minutes longer; transfer the chicken to a medium bowl. Reduce the heat to medium and add the chorizo to the pot; cook, stirring frequently, until deeply browned and the fat begins to render, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer the chorizo to a bowl with the chicken and set aside.

Add enough oil to the fat in the Dutch oven to equal 2 tablespoons; heat over medium heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 3 minutes; stir in the remaining garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the tomatoes; cook until the mixture begins to darken and thicken slightly, about 3 minutes. Stir in the rice and cook until the grains are well coated with the tomato mixture, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the chicken broth, wine, saffron, bay leaf, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Return the chicken and chorizo to the pot, increase the heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil, uncovered, stirring occasionally. Cover the pot and transfer it to the oven; cook until the rice absorbs almost all of the liquid, about 15 minutes. Remove the pot from the oven (close the oven door to retain heat). Uncover the pot; scatter the shrimp over the rice, insert the mussels hinged-side down into the rice (so they stand upright), arrange the bell pepper strips in a pinwheel pattern, and scatter the peas over the top. Cover and return to the oven; cook until the shrimp are opaque and the mussels have opened, 10 to 12 minutes.

When  soccarat is desired, set the Dutch oven, uncovered, over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, rotating the pot 180 degrees after about 2 minutes for even browning. (Soccarat, a layer of crusty browned rice that forms on the bottom of the pan, is a traditional part of paella.)

Let the paella stand, covered, about 5 minutes. Discard any mussels that have not opened and the bay leaf, if it can be easily removed. Sprinkle with the parsley and serve, passing the lemon wedges separately.

In Louisiana the Monday dinner is always what Louis Armstrong signed his autograph with: 
"Ricely Yours"

Red Beans N Rice

1 pound spicy smoked sausage

1 large onion, diced 
2 celery ribs, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced 
2 teaspoons Chef K Cajun seasoning, divided 
2 cups uncooked long-grain rice 
3 1/2 cups chicken broth 
2 (15-ounce) cans kidney beans, rinsed and drained 
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes 
2 bay leaves object
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley 
Hot sauce (optional) 

Cut smoked sausage into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Cook in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat 8 to 10 minutes or until slices are browned. Remove sausage, and drain on paper towels, reserving 1 teaspoon drippings in pan.

Sauté onion and celery in hot drippings in Dutch oven over medium-high heat 4 to 5 minutes; stir in garlic, 1/2 teaspoon Cajun seasoning, and rice; sauté 3 minutes. Stir in broth, next 3 ingredients, and remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove from heat; stir in sausage and parsley; let stand, covered, 10 more minutes or until rice is tender. Serve with hot sauce, if desired.


1/2 cup long grain rice 
1 1/2 cups water 
1 lemon peel 
1 cinnamon stick 
1 quart milk 
3/4 cup sugar 
1/4 tsp salt 
1 tsp vanilla 
powdered cinnamon 

Using a 3-quart pot, boil rice, cinnamon stick and the lemon peel in cold water at medium high heat. Continue to cook until rice is soft and most of the water has evaporated. Remove the cinnamon stick. Add the milk, sugar, salt and vanilla extract. Continue cooking at medium low heat, stirring often until it reaches your desired thickness. Remove the lemon peel.

Serve in 8 dessert dishes, sprinkle with powdered cinnamon when serving.

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