My first blog. Wow! Yep… My good friend, Tom, has an old T-shirt that says, “Nobody cares about your stupid blog”. So naturally I have been putting it off. Regardless, I continue…
One of my favorite things to do is update a classic dish from my childhood. I, like most people, have so many fond food memories and I find that recreating a nostalgic dish is always a great cooking experience.
My mom used to make one of my favorite side dishes in the 70s and I have given it many makeovers over the years that still preserve the vibe of the dish, only with upgrades and twists that make it even better – no offense Mom, Love You.
So the original dish, if memory serves me correctly, was on the back of a box of Minute Rice. That’s right. You combine the cooked rice with cooked, chopped spinach (from the frozen box of course), eggs, shredded mild cheddar cheese and some cream. You bake this mixture and it puffs up into a kind of quasi soufflé. It makes a great side dish and the leftovers are perfectly serviceable for a Tuesday night, even cold.
So how do I mutate this to reflect a 2019 culinary mindset?
Let’s go ingredient by ingredient:
Instead of boxed Minute Rice, I would either use brown basmati rice, or perhaps something more exotic like a red Bhutanese rice, or a green jade rice, or quinoa or, (if you prefer a Keto or Paleo approach) you can use riced cauliflower – very popular these days and quite good. Cook any of these in homemade bone broth and always add a knob of butter.
Instead of spinach (nothing wrong with spinach but…..), explore other leafy greens like rainbow chard, collards, rocket, and of course kale because everyone still seems obsessed with kale.
Instead of cheddar cheese (nothing wrong with cheddar but…..) in France they enjoy around 400 different types of cheese. Just think about it. Go crazy with more than one kind of your favorite cheeses.
This is the Wild Wild West!
Instead of eggs (nothing wrong with eggs but…..) there is no substitute for eggs, so we’re keeping the eggs in there! Eggs are super.
Instead of the cream (nothing wrong with cream but…..) you could use a homemade unsweetened almond or cashew “cream” (see Lizette’s recipe from last week’s blog)
So there is no specific recipe but here is approximately what I do to make this for four to six servings:
- 4 cups cooked rice
- 2 cups cooked greens, chopped well
- 1 cup shredded cheese
- 3 eggs
- 3/4 cup cream
Depending on which ingredients you are swapping out, obviously you will have to adjust the mixture to the consistency of a thick cake batter to get it to “puff”. I know you can do it!
Also, I will often add either leeks or shallots sautéed in butter and white wine to this because then, everything becomes quite serious. Seriously.
If you crumble a little crispy bacon into the mix you may make some new friends.
Season with something like Herbs de Provence and then sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste.
Mix in a bowl and pour into a good sized baking dish that has been brushed liberally with melted butter.
Bake in a pre-heated oven at 300 F for an hour or until you see it “puff up” and get bubbly and a little golden brown around the edges. Remove and let cool for a bit before serving.
You can also bake this in individual ramekins which will elevate the plating of a perfectly seared steak or piece of roast chicken, etc.
Have fun with different combinations of all the possible components I mentioned above, or dream big and send in your own versions (with pictures) in the comments section below.
Thanks for reading this.
BTW, two hours after this first posted I already had over 1,000,000 likes!
I LOVE my fans.