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Rice-and-beans (#1); a few thoughts on a very humble dish…

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Rice-and-beans (yum!)…what is not to like about this dish. It’s simple to make, it is made using one single pot, it is really inexpensive to produce even large quantities, variations are seemingly endless, and it is really good for you…some say it carries complete nutrition (this is an interesting but brief article at NPR). For many peoples around the globe this is a mainstay in their diet. Indeed, for a brief period way back in the mid-1980’s I pretty much survived on a 99¢ red beans-and-rice lunch special while living a vagabond life in New Orleans. Rice and beans also fits nicely into the Mediterranean diet, which I love and have pretty much eaten for years without trying. Rice dishes and pasta dishes are the two main dishes that I eat at home. And over the years I’ve slowly migrated to using whole wheat pasta and brown rice in the recipes, which of course tastes just as good but are so much better for you. Anyhow, because I eat this dish so often–or variations of it–I thought I’d start recording some of the recipes and sharing them. The recipe below is the basic formula for this recipe and the one on which most of my rice pilafs are based. I used canned beans in this particular recipe–which I sometimes do–but to use dried beans simply soak, then cook and drain, a little more than 1/2 cup dried beans, which will yield about the same as a 15 ounce can. The difference between the recipe below and the one pictured is subtle. I added a half teaspoon of turmeric to the recipe (as I do with most my rice recipes because I like the yellow hue and also because turmeric is so good for you). I also added a diced jalapeno, and a handful of chopped parsley and basil that I had growing in my garden. With meat or without (or even with seafood) this recipe is delicious and really good for you. And leftovers taste really good, too…

Brown Rice-and-Beans
Serves four
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup brown rice
2 ½ cups broth
½ teaspoon salt
1 (15 oz.) can beans, rinsed
Heat the oil in a small sauce pot. Add the onion and sauté for a few minutes, then add the garlic and cook it for another minute or two. Stir in the rice, then the broth and salt. Bring to a boil then lower to a slow simmer. Cover the pot and simmer simmer the rice for about 30 minutes. Add the beans (just lay them on top of the rice; do not stir at this point). If it looks as if too much liquid has evaporated add more. Cover the pot and simmer for another 10 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat—leaving it covered—and allow it to rest for another 5 minutes or so. Remove the lid and gently fold in the beans.

Urban Simplicity.

Arroz con Frijoles y Carnitas

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I made this for dinner tonight…mmm. Easy and delicious. Really delicious (if I do say so myself); I am very full as I type these words. It’s a basic brown rice pilaf recipe (use any of these recipes) with the addition of black beans and carnitas (click here for a recipe and pics).

Urban Simplicity.

Things That Can be Carried on a Bike (#379, 380 & 381)…plus a couple comments and a recipe

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#379 (top photo)…two cardboard boxes containing hundreds of tea sandwiches, which were being transported to a local food pantry.

#380 (middle photo)…a plastic dough rising bucket and a cardboard box containing three large loaves of freshly baked whole-wheat honey-brown rice bread.

#381 (bottom photo)…a Fender Stratocaster guitar.

These photos were all taken today, and they are just another example of how a person can survive (and thrive!) without owning a car. Yesterday, for example, I served a large Victorian Tea Luncheon at work and found myself with a huge amount of sandwiches left over today. After offering them to the staff I boxed them up and carried them over to a food pantry. In the next photo I was on my way home from work…I carried raw dough with me to work (as I often do) and baked it there (as not to heat up my home kitchen) and carried it (the baked bread) home in the afternoon. And tonight–being Thursday–is my son’s guitar lesson, so I meet him with his guitar (after switching bikes to accommodate the guitar), have a beer or two in the bar across the street, then carry it home for him afterwards. All-in-all, I likely pedaled less than ten miles, but it didn’t cost a cent, I burned calories not gas, and I was able to be outside on a beautiful day/evening. Anyhow, here’s a recipe for the bread I made and carried home today; for pictures of it being made see this posting. At the bottom of this post is a picture of one of the hundreds (literally hundreds) of tea sandwiches I carried to the pantry; the one pictured is smoked salmon on marble rye with boursin cheese.

Whole Wheat Brown Rice Bread
Makes 3 loaves
1 cup (6.6oz/187g) brown rice
3 quarts (96floz/2.83L) water
____________
cooked rice
2/3 cup (5.3 oz/157ml) cooking liquid
2 cups (11oz/312g) whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons (.2oz/5.6g) instant yeast
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4 cups (21oz/595.3g) whole wheat flour
3 tablespoons (.75oz/21g) vital wheat gluten
2 cups (16fl oz/.47L) cooking liquid
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1/4 cup (2fl oz/59.1ml) honey
1/4 cup (2fl oz/59.1ml) olive oil
3 teaspoons (.3oz/8.5g) instant yeast
3 teaspoons (.5oz/14.1g) kosher salt
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Combine the grain and water in a medium pot and bring to a boil; lower the heat to simmer and cook the rice for about 45 minutes or until very soft. As the grain cooks add more water to the pot as necessary because the cooking liquid, which is full of nutrients, will become part of the recipe. After the grains are cooked allow them to cool in the liquid to room temperature, refrigerating if necessary. Then drain it, squeezing it with your hands or the back of a spoon, reserving the cooking liquid.
Place two bowls side-by-side; one will hold the pre-ferment, the other autolyse. In one bowl combine the cooked and drained 7-grains with 2/3 cup (5.3 oz/157ml) of the cooking liquid, 2 cups (11oz/312g) whole wheat flour, 2 tablespoons (.5oz/14g) vital wheat gluten, and 2 teaspoons (.2oz/5.6g) instant yeast. Stir just until combined then cover it with plastic wrap. In the other bowl combine 4 cups (21oz/595.3g) whole wheat flour and 1 1/3 cups (10.5fl oz/315ml) cooking liquid; stir just until combined then cover it with plastic wrap (take care not to get yeast into this bowl). Allow the bowls to rest at room temperature for about an hour, during which time the preferment will begin it’s job multiplying yeast and fermenting flour, and the autolyse will soak liquid, swelling the gluten. After an hour or so, combine the ingredients from both bowls into the bowl of an upright mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the honey, olive oil, salt, and 3 teaspoons (.3oz/8.5g) of yeast (add the yeast and salt on opposite sides of the bowl). Knead the dough on medium speed for about 8 minutes. Place the dough in a lightly oiled container, cover it loosely, and allow to ferment for 1-2 hours, or until doubled in bulk. Deflate the dough and allow it to ferment an additional 30 minutes. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and cut it into 3 pieces. Shape into loaves and place into lightly oiled pans. Loosely cover the loaves with plastic wrap and allow to ferment for 30-60 minutes, or until double in size and when gently touched with a fingertip an indentation remains. Preheat an oven to 450f (232.2C). Bake the breads for about 30-40 minutes, adding steam to the oven a few times (either with ice cubes or a spray bottle) and rotating the breads every ten minutes. The breads are done when they are dark brown and sound hollow when tapped upon. Remove the breads from their pans and allow them to cook on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes before slicing.
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Urban Simplicity.

Middle Eastern Brown Rice with Lamb and Vermacelli

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This is a variation of my recipe for Lebanese Chicken and Rice. In this version I replace the chicken with lamb and use brown rice instead of white. Beef or pork can replace the lamb but it’s not quite the same. The aroma this dish (or any of it’s variations) will permeate the house with the sweet smell of broth and spices simmering.

For additional Lebanese inspired recipes, click here.

Lebanese Lamb-and-Rice
Makes 4 servings
3 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound lamb, diced
4 ounces diced onion
2 ounces vermicelli, broken into pieces
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
3/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups long grain brown rice
3-4 cups hot chicken broth
2 tablespoons minced parsley

Heat the olive oil over high heat in a heavy-bottomed pan. Sauté the lamb then remove it from the pan and set aside. Add the onion and vermicelli to the pan and cook until golden, then add the garlic and cook another minute or two. Add the cinnamon, cumin, allspice, and salt; sauté two minutes while stirring. Add the onions and pasta back to the pan along with the rice, stirring to fully coat it with with the oil and spices. Then add the lamb back to the pan along with the broth. Cover the pot with a lid. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for about 35 minutes, or until the rice is tender. Remove the pot from the stove and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with minced parsley.



Urban Simplicity.

100% Whole Wheat Bread

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This recipe is the not only the basic recipe I use for all of my whole wheat breads, it is the base of all my whole wheat bread recipes…if you master this recipe the variations from this are nearly limitless. This is also an excellent example of artisan bread being made with only whole wheat flour. I use a few more ingredients in this recipe than in the most basic of them all–four ingredient bread–but I prefer this one. And while the Ezekiel Bread recipe and Brown Rice bread may have more substance to them, they also require more time and a bit more effort…this bread, on the other hand, is simple to make (but not simple in flavor). This recipe is also an excellent example of my theory that bread nearly makes itself…we–the bakers–simply combine the ingredients and guide them along. This can be baked free-form (as pictured in this post) or in loaf pans for a more traditional sandwich bread.

100%Whole Wheat Bread
Makes2 loaves
6cups whole wheat flour, divided
2tablespoons vital wheat gluten
3cups water, divided
4teaspoons instant yeast, divided
2teaspoons kosher salt
1/4cup olive oil
1/4cup honey
Separatethe ingredients in two bowls using this ratio: In one bowl combine 4cups of flour, the vital wheat gluten, and 2 cups of water. Stir itjust until combined; cover with plastic wrap and set aside. In asecond bowl, combine the remaining 2 cups flour and 1 cup water and 2teaspoons of yeast. Stir it just until combined; cover with plasticwrap and set aside. Allow the bowls to rest for at least an hour.After the ingredients have rested and have begun to ferment, combinethe contents of both bowls to an upright mixer that is fitted with adough hook. Also add the remaining ingredients: the salt,olive oil, honey, and remaining two teaspoons yeast. Knead the dough onmedium speed for about 8 minutes, then cover with plastic wrap andallow to rise for one hour. Transfer the dough to a work surface, cutit into two pieces, gently shape it into loaves, and place themeither on a baking sheet or in loaf pans. Cover with plastic wrap andallow to rise for 45 minutes. Preheat an oven to 425F/218C. If makingfree-form loaves, slash them with a razor just before they go intothe oven. Bake the bread for about 30 minutes, or until golden brownand sounds hollow when tapped on. As the bread bakes roate the loavesin the oven once or twice to ensure even baking. Remove the breadfrom their pans and allow to cool for 10 minutes before slicing.

Spiced Brown Rice with Shrimp and Broccoli

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This is another example of how changing a few ingredients–but using the same basic method–can create an entirely new dish (click here). I seasoned this with somewhat Mexican or South West spices, but even this could be altered…changing the spices to curry or Mediterranean herbs would create an entirely new dish. Anyhow, this is how to make it.

Make a sort of sofrito by sauteing onion, green pepper, lots of garlic, and spices in olive oil  (I used crushed hot pepper, smoked paprika, chili powder, cumin, and turmeric). Them mix in brown rice and coat it with the oil and spices. Add simmering chicken broth (3 cups broth for every cup of brown rice) and season it with kosher or sea salt. Cover the pot and simmer the rice for about 30 minutes. Then lay shrimp (or other protein, such as fish or chicken) on top of the rice, and broccoli florets on top of this (continued below).

Cover the pot again and cook the rice/shrimp for another 5 or 10 minutes. Then check the rice and shrimp to make sure that it is cooked. Remove the pot for the heat and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving. This is easy to prepare and super delicious and nutritious. In the picture below you can see that I also loaded my plate with Sriracha hot sauce (mmm…). Click any photo for a large view.

Urban Simplicity.