Category Archives: Rice

Good gluten-free bread machine results

(As usual, you can click through for a larger version of any photo.)

I was reminded again today, baking another loaf of bread, that I hadn’t yet gotten this posted. I’m still having problems with the osteomalacia, and have been running into some symptoms of the vitamin D deficiency (and hypocalcemia) again this winter in spite of supplementation, including the low energy and fatigue. So I haven’t been able to post as much lately as I’d like. There are a lot of step-by-step recipe photos waiting for writeups. *wry smile*

But, it took me a while to figure out a consistently good bread machine recipe and techniques for basic sandwich-type bread, and I thought I should share what’s been working well here.

I lost the first recipe I was getting consistently good results from, and haven’t been able to find it again online. But, I was glad to try this one: Finally, Really Good Sandwich Bread: Our Favorite Gluten Free Bread Recipe, from Gluten Free Cooking School.

That looks to be a good basic recipe (with no dairy, and the option of egg replacement), but of course I had to fiddle with it. 😉 Here’s the version I’ve been using:

  • 1.5 packages of fast-acting yeast, or roughly 1 tablespoon
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 0.5 c./about 125mL water a bit over body temperature. As long as it’s not hot enough to burn your skin, it’s OK.

Mix that up in a coffee mug, and set it aside for the yeast to proof while you get everything else ready.

In another bowl (I just use a handy British pint measuring cup), mix the dry ingredients together:

  • 2.5 cups/British pint/roughly 600mL flour blend (I’ve been using roughly a third each of chickpea flour/besan, brown rice or sorghum flour, and finely ground white rice flour)
  • 2 teaspoons xanthan gum
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or more to taste, since this makes a fairly hefty loaf and I like salt 😉

In the bread machine loaf pan, combine:

  • 2-3 lightly beaten eggs, preferably at room temperature
  • 1 c./250mL kefir, buttermilk, or yogurt warmed to about body temperature (a good use for any that’s gone very sour!)
  • 2 tablespoons oil or melted butter

By this time, the yeast should be threatening to foam out of the cup, and we’re ready to go. 🙂

As with most baking, the behavior here will vary depending on your ingredients, the weather, and especially your particular bread machine. But, this is what works best with mine: a circa 2004-vintage Kenwood model, which helpfully came with a GF cycle I didn’t even know I needed then! If yours doesn’t have that, the cake setting is supposed to work pretty well. A GF dough doesn’t want more than one rising period, so the regular bread cycles don’t work as well.

I didn’t think to get photos before everything was mixed up in the pan, either when I took these photos or today.

But, add the proofed yeast into the pan with the other liquid ingredients. I have found that it works best to start the cycle before beginning to add the dry ingredients gradually and carefully, so it doesn’t throw flour all over the place. Especially with the xanthan gum in there, it tends to glump up and need more stirring to mix up properly if you just dump all the flour in there before turning the machine on.

It still takes more attention during the mixing and kneading stage than a wheat flour bread would, because the dough needs to be wetter and doesn’t move around the pan as freely. A rubber spatula is your friend, with a table knife to scrape the sticky dough off it back into the pan. 🙂 You’ll need to scrape the sides of the pan down, and make sure it all gets properly mixed. I usually fold the dough over with a spatula a few times later on during the mixing/kneading process, just to make sure it’s uniform.

The dough consistency should be kind of like a thick br0wnie batter starting out; it also takes a while for rice and bean flours to absorb liquid, so hold off on adjusting the consistency for at least five minutes after it’s thoroughly mixed up.

It’s hard to get decent photos inside a working bread machine, so this is what we end up with instead. 😉

Dough near the end of the kneading time. This loaf still turned out a little moist and dense, but that’s better than dry and sandy end results!

At the end of the kneading cycle. As you can see, it tends to get a big air bubble around the paddle, at the bottom of the pan. I’m knocking that out with the spatula, and about to smooth the top of the loaf.

As smooth as it’s going to get! It’s hard to get all the gooey dough scraped down off the sides, but that’s good enough.

Even starting out with warm liquid ingredients, the rising time on my machine is still not long enough. I usually have to switch the machine off and let it sit for an extra hour or so, then use the “bake only” cycle.

I was afraid this would collapse if I let it go much longer. You can see how the top is starting to crack, with bubbles visible. That’s a better indication that it’s risen enough than the common “doubled in the pan” standard, in my experience.

And, finally, a finished loaf of bread! This one did turn out a bit denser than I’d wanted, from slightly too-moist dough, but it was still delicious.

Carefully pulling the very hot paddle out of the bottom of the very hot bread with a chopstick! It tends to stick.

This basic dough has also worked well for pizza crust, BTW. You can make the dough a bit stiffer, but this still won’t roll out well. Best just to plonk it onto a well-oiled pan with a good sprinkling of corn meal, and spread it out with your hands. Smoothing it down with slightly wet hands works better for a xanthan gum dough than flouring it for ease of handling, IME.

Country Pie

A slice of cheesy meat-and-rice pie on a plate

I have no idea why this dish is called “country pie”, but that’s what my mom always called it. And, from a quick search, she wasn’t alone. Since most of the versions I’m running across call for instant rice, I’d guess it’s one of those ubiquitous ’70s casserole recipes.

We got a lot of one-dish meat and rice dishes when I was growing up, since it’s fairly quick and easy–and filling on a tight budget. This is a slight twist, involving a rice mixture cooked in a meat crust.

It’s also a great way of using up leftover rice. The one time I tried jasmine rice in this, it turned into an unpleasant-textured solid lump, so I wouldn’t suggest that. Leftover basmati tends to disintegrate when used like this (including brown basmati). Plain long grain rice or medium/long grain brown rice works pretty well. For this batch, I cooked some converted and wild rice we had lurking in the cupboard; sort of like with a red jambalaya, cooking with a tomato sauce like this is what converted rice is good for. 🙂 It keeps a good texture, and there’s enough seasoning that the rather bland taste doesn’t matter.

For a vegetarian version, I have used various veggie loaf mixtures for the crust; my favorite is a lentil loaf similar to this gluten-free one.  As long as you pre-bake the crust until it starts to brown and let it cool to set up a bit before you add the rice filling, it works really well. You can also make up a double batch of the loaf mixture and refrigerate or freeze half of it for later use, to save time.

Country Pie

Meat crust mixture:

  • 1.5 lb. (700g) ground meat — for this, I used the 400g of lean beef we had, bulked out with half a coffee mug of TVP reconstituted with 3/4 of the same cup full of veggie broth with a slug of GF soy sauce thrown in for extra flavor>
  • 1/2 a medium onion, chopped fine
  • 1/4 – 1/2 a sweet pepper, also chopped fine
  • 1 -2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. seasoned salt
  • 1 tsp. mixed herbs / Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp. ground pepper
  • 1 tsp. paprika (optional, but nice flavor)
  • 1/3 c. (75-100 mL) rolled oats — if you can’t tolerate oats, use about 1/2 c. (125 mL) GF breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg
  • A little water if the mixture is dry when you try to mix the oats in

Basically, you’re making a fairly plain meatloaf mixture.

Chopped veggies, largely because they struck me as pretty. 🙂

The reconstituted TVP, mixed up in the baking dish.

All the crust ingredients in the baking dish

Ready to mix!

Mix it all together, spread it evenly in the dish, and let it sit 20 minutes or so for the oats to rehydrate while you mix up the rice filling.

Preheat the oven to 350°F / 180°C.

Meat mixture spread into a crust in the baking dish

Rice filling

  • 3 c. (750 mL) cooked rice — I cooked a cup (250 mL) of dry for this, with a beef stock cube and some onion (very optional, but nice extra flavor)
  • The other half of the onion, sautéed — That was in the rice here
  • About 1.5- 2 c. (350 – 500 mL) herbed tomato sauce — Spaghetti sauce from a jar is pretty good, but I mixed up my own quick version in a bowl
  • 1/4 tsp. ground pepper
  • Extra mixed herbs/Italian seasoning if required
  • Extra salt, if your rice wasn’t salted
  • About 1.5 – 2 c. (350 – 500 mL) grated cheese — I used a mix of medium Cheddar and Red Leicester

The bowl of tomato sauce and grated cheese on a plate

Mix the sauce into the rice, with the extra seasonings as required. Then stir in the cheese, and try to get it distributed fairly evenly.

Assembly

Bake the meat crust for about 10 minutes, to make sure it gets thoroughly cooked in the middle.

Prebaked meat crust

Fill it with the rice mixture.

Rice filling is now in the meat crust

Cover the dish and let it bake for 25 minutes (35 if your rice was cold starting out). Then, remove the lid, spread an additional 1.5 c. (350mL) of grated cheese on the top, and bake it uncovered for another 10-15 minutes until the cheese starts browning. When it’s done, let it sit and cool for 10-15 minutes, and enjoy with a salad!

Finished casserole

“Indian” Rice Pudding with maple, ginger, and sour cream

An individual bowl of rice pudding, sprinkled with allspice and cinnamon

With the bone-chillingly damp cold weather setting in, I’ve had an urge lately for both “Indian Pudding” and stovetop rice pudding. Since I don’t really need lots of sweet, starchy pudding, I got the idea of combining the two.

Before I moved to the UK, I’d never made anything but the baked custard type of rice pudding, usually as a way of using up leftover rice. That’s still what I think of as rice pudding, but the simmered kind is both satisfying and easy to make.

What I did last night was to use flavors I associate with “Indian Pudding” in the rice, and it worked well. Maple syrup is the main sweetener, which also gives lots of extra flavor for the amount of sweetness. Maple syrup and some honey* used to be the only sweeteners available back home, and figured in a lot of dishes. (Along with at least one rather amusing story, in which a mythological character fills up the trees with water so that people won’t just lazily lie around under the trees and let syrup drip into their mouths. *g*) Usually when people think of maple syrup, they think of Canada or maybe Vermont, but sugar maples (among other colder-climate things) grow well all down the Appalachian chain, and back in Virginia, I preferred to buy locally-made syrup and sugar when I could find it. Here, I can find good Canadian syrup more cheaply than back in the US, so that’s what I’m using.

Fake maple-flavored syrup is an abomination, and I don’t say that about many foods! I don’t even consider that to qualify as food. Please don’t pour it into your pudding.

The other main flavor note: ginger. This is also a long-time classic seasoning, with wild ginger (Asarum canadense) growing all over the place back home. (It’s a lot quicker and easier to buy the Asian kind than to go and grub it up, though! Not that many people do anymore.) I was going to use some crystallized ginger in this, but couldn’t find the bag I thought we had, so ended up finely mincing some fresh stuff and supplementing it with dried powder when it wasn’t gingery enough. Cinnamon is a particularly yummy introduced spice, but there is also wild similar-to-allspice back home.

I’d imagine that the “Indian Pudding” started out as a cluster of sweetened and spiced  kanuchi-type dishes, sort of like strawberry shortcake with its original corn base and hickory nut “cream”. People were definitely sweetening mush with maple syrup. I’ve yet to try anything like this made with a rich nut milk, but it sounds delicious!

A note on suitable rice: Pretty much like the recent “risotto”, any kind of shorter-grain rice should work fine here, including the inexpensive Mexican medium-grain rice readily available in the US (which, not surprisingly, looks suspiciously like Spanish paella rice). Japanese/Korean rice also works well. Here in the UK, they sell bags of “pudding rice” labelled as such (which is also good for “risotto” or sushi), but I used some Arborio we had on hand.

For the lactose intolerant: Simmering the milk may or may not help break down the lactose, but it does seem to help make it more digestible for both Mr. Sweden (who can handle smaller quantities than I can!) and me. I still try not to eat more than about a cup of something like this at a time.  YMMV; if you can’t tolerate much lactose, you may want to try using homemade or commercial nut milk or coconut milk (yum!) instead. Soy milk just tastes wrong to me in cooked desserts, in a bitter and unpleasantly beany way.

“Indian” Rice Pudding with maple, ginger, and sour cream

  • 4 c. (1L) milk, preferably whole milk — I started out with 3 c., but needed to add more
  • 1/2 c. (100mL) maple syrup — I tried using half that, but it needed more for flavor
  • Dash of salt
  • 1 tbsp. finely minced ginger plus a little dried — you could just use about 1/2 – 1 tsp. dried, but the little texture contrast with a ginger burst is interesting
  • 3/4 c. (180mL) rice
  • Dash of cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1/2 c. (100mL) sour cream
  • Extra sweetener, to taste — I put in another tbsp. of granulated Splenda

Combine the milk, maple syrup, seasonings, and rice in a heavy pan. (The sour cream and extra sweetener if needed doesn’t go in until the end.) Carefully bring it to just below a boil so the milk doesn’t curdle, and gently simmer it over the coolest burner you have, stirring every few minutes.

A heat-diffusing tile might be handy; I wished I’d gone ahead and bought one, dealing with our newish stove which has higher gas flow than the previous one, even on the simmering burner! With an electric stove, you might want to use a double boiler.

It will need more attention and more frequent stirring after 10-15 minutes, when the rice starch really starts thickening the milk. Simmer it until the rice is cooked through to your taste, which took me a little longer than the usual rice-cooking time with the lower heat and stirring.

If it starts looking too thick, add more milk. It will thicken and set up more as it cools, and I prefer more creamy pudding base instead of just a big glob of sweet rice.

A pot of almost-cooked rice pudding that's too thick

Time to add more milk! This will set up into a solid mass when it cools, as is.

When it’s done, take it off the heat and stir in the sour cream for extra richness, and taste it for sweetness. It will also taste less sweet after it cools down. Sprinkle the top with more cinnamon and allspice, and enjoy it either warm or cool! I also drizzled a little more maple syrup on top of mine.

Next time I might also add some chopped-up dried apricots when I take it off the heat. We didn’t have any last night. If you don’t mind the texture contrast, I bet some chopped pecans or walnuts would also work really well on top.

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* The official story is that honey came with introduced European honeybees, but I know there are also hiving “black bees” which produce (less) honey and don’t look much like European honeybees. (With all the bee species out there, I haven’t figured out which they might be.) They are enough more aggressive that I only know of one beekeeping acquaintance who hunts down the wild honey from them because the flavor is so good, but he doesn’t even try to keep hives of them! There are also a number of old stories involving honey trees, so overall I would take the “no honey” thing with several grains of salt.

Sausage and tomato “risotto”, and chunky mixed salad with feta

This is a quick supper I made over the weekend, but didn’t get posted earlier.

I really, really like one-pot rice dishes with meat and/or beans and veggies worked in, so you’ll probably be seeing more along those lines here. 🙂 It’s fairly quick and easy and very filling–and you can at least plausibly pretend that it’s balanced. That basic combo is one of my fallback “don’t really feel like cooking” meals. Lately, I’ve been trying to hold back on the rice to some extent, but sometimes I can’t resist.

The “risotto” is in quotes because I just haven’t gotten the hang of the classic open-pan, gradually adding liquid risotto cooking method. The texture just turns out odd, in a way that’s more gluey than creamy; I suspect that stirring it too much, out of fear of sticking and burning, doesn’t help at all. Plus, I was tired on a Friday evening, and didn’t feel like messing with it. So, I’ll call it “risotto”. It was really tasty, anyway.

This one is actually based on a ground meat and veggie, long-grain rice “risotto” my mom turned out more than occasionally with an ever-changing assortment of vegetables when I was growing up, from an actually rather good mid-’70s cookbook that’s since been lost in a house fire.  I can see the cookbook in my head, but don’t remember the title, or I’d be tempted to track down another copy! Its approach to international fare was, erm, very ’70s, but the results were usually good if rarely anywhere in the neighborhood of authentic.

Bowl of risotto

Sausage and tomato “risotto”

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 lb. (400-500g) sausage — I used the Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Sicilian mentioned elsewhere
  • Large onion, chopped
  • Stalk of celery, chopped
  • Half a sweet red pepper, chopped (I like fairly big pieces)
  • 2 carrots, shredded — I used the mandoline again, but a grater works fine
  • Bay leaf
  • 3 cloves garlic, halved and sliced

Heat the oil on medium in the ever-useful deep skillet with a tight-fitting lid. Squeeze the sausage out of the casings in lumps, into the pan. Add the vegetables other than garlic and the bay leaf. Fry it until the onions and meat start browning, then throw in the garlic and bay leaf for a couple more minutes’ cooking. Chop up the sausage some as you go, if needed; mine was half-frozen going in, so it came out in pretty huge chunks!

  • 1-1.5 c. (250-350mL) medium-grain rice (I had half a British pint–10 fl. oz.–of paella rice left in a bag, so that was an easy choice 🙂 ) — if you can get it readily, medium-grain Mexican rice is great for this (and cheap!)
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp. coarsely ground pepper
  • 1/4-1/2  tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 14 oz. (400g) can of chopped tomatoes
  • 1/4 c. (50mL) red wine
  • Enough chicken broth to make 2-3 c. (500-750mL) of total liquid, depending on the amount of rice
  • Salt to taste, depending on how salty your broth is
  • 2 tsp. Herbes de Provence or Italian seasoning
  • Optional: 2 or 3 zucchini/courgettes and/or yellow squash, cut into bite-sized cubes, or about a cup (250mL) if frozen peas — we didn’t have either, but it’s a nice addition
  • Grated Parmegiano or Romano to put on top

Throw the rice in with the frying meat and veggies, and sauté it for a few minutes. (Since I was using paella or risotto rice, I didn’t rinse it as usual; the extra starch is not a drawback here.) When that’s almost done, throw in the seasonings. In the meantime, drain as much juice as you can off the tomatoes into a measuring cup. (A can works a lot better for this than the Tetra Pak we had, since you can use the lid as a plunger instead of messing around with a spoon!) Pour the wine into the same measuring cup; it doesn’t have to be precise. Add enough chicken broth to make up twice the volume of liquid as the amount of rice you’re using.

Carefully pour the liquid into the pan–it will spatter at first, hitting the hot rice–and add the drained tomatoes. If you’re using the squash or peas, put it in the top of the pan; it’ll steam nicely as the rice cooks. Bring it to a boil, then cover the pan and reduce the heat to simmer for a few minutes more than you normally would for rice.  The acid in the tomato makes the rice cook more slowly. (Here, I added 5 minutes and let it cook for 25; back home, at higher elevation, I’d let it go for probably 45.) If it still looks very wet when the time is up, put the lid back on and cook it for another 5 or 10 minutes. As you can tell from the photo, it should be a little moist and not very fluffy.

When it’s done, remove the lid and let it steam out for 15 minutes with a dish towel or other cloth on top of the pan. Fluff and distribute the ingredients with a fork, and you’re ready to eat. You could mix some Parmegiano or Romano into the rice, but everybody here likes different amounts, so we usually just add it by the serving.

Chunky mixed salad with feta

Chunky mixed salad with feta

The taste and texture contrast is nice anyway, but since this batch of rice didn’t have much in the way of vegetables, adding some kind of salad was an extra-good idea. 😉 This was definitely another “what veggies do we have?” dish. I hadn’t tried putting daikon in this kind of salad before, but it worked well. The dressing and other flavors even perked up the pretty sad-looking winter tomatoes.

  • Half an English cucumber
  • Half a daikon/mooli radish
  • Half an onion
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 smallish tomatoes (Mr. Sweden picked up a big bag in the reduced section!)
  • About 100g (close enough to 4 oz.) feta, cubed
  • About 1/3 c. vinaigrette (we had that much Zesty Italian from a mix left in the fridge)
  • Some pepper, dried oregano, and parsley to make things a little more interesting

Again, this looks more complicated than it is. Peel and chop all the veggies, and put everything but the tomatoes together in a bowl. Salt them and stir them around to distribute it well, then let them sit for 20 minutes or half an hour; I put this together while the sausage and veggies for the rice were frying. Drain them in a colander or sieve, and gently squeeze more liquid out. Put them back in the bowl, and add everything else. Adjust seasoning to taste, and let it sit for another 20 minutes or half an hour in the fridge if possible.