September 29, 2010

How to make perfect Brown Rice

This recipe has been conceived and perfected by the mind and hands of none other than renowned chef, author and food critic Muhlio Muhlev.

It is a straightforward and reliable way to cook brown rice at home, without a rice cooker, using a pot, tin (aluminum) foil, and your ability to follow simple instructions. The water to rice ratio has been optimized for absolute perfection. This recipe represents the preferred method of cooking brown rice in the rarefied strata of the culinary elite.

Before you start, determine how much brown rice you want. A cup of uncooked (raw) brown rice contains around 650-700 calories. If you are cooking dinner, it would not be unreasonable to have about 1/2 to 3/4 cups of raw rice per person.  Adjust as needed if you are pigging out,  dieting, or want to have rice left over.

The whole process will take slightly less than an hour.

Things you need:
  • a boiling pot.
  • aluminum foil
  • brown rice
  • olive oil
  • salt
  1. Add olive oil to  pot (1-2 tablespoons per cup of rice, or whatever you want.)
  2. Add raw rice to the pot once the oil is hot.
  3. Add salt (1/2 teaspoon per cup)
  4. Stir the rice over the hot olive oil, so that it doesn't burn, but gets cooked slightly for 1-2 minutes.
  5. Add 1.5 cups of water per cup of brown rice.
  6. Once the water is boiling (this should happen very quickly since the rice and oil are hot),  reduce the stove top heat to low/medium. (settings 4 out of 9)
  7. Cover the boiling pot with a square piece of aluminum foil (big enough to cover it completely and stick out) , and place the pot lid on top of the foil.
  8. Wait 45 minutes.  There is no need to disturb the rice while it is cooking.
  9. Remove the lid and foil, and leave uncovered, so that the moisture/vapor can escape completely.
  10. Fluff with a fork.
That's it. If you wish, you can skip the olive oil, but you would sacrifice a lot of flavor in a misunderstood quest to reduce calories.

If you found this recipe useful,  use the comments area to pass your praise and adulation to Muhlio.

September 18, 2010

ETL: Easy Breezy Tortilla Soup

If you feel under the weather with stuffy nose and scratchy throat like me the only thing you'd need to get better is a hot and spicy soup. I hesitated between a Pho take-out from a near by vegan restaurant and a home made tortilla soup. The tortilla soup won. It took me 15 minutes to cook it and the result was superb. I used a Vitamix blender to cook, but I am sure it can be done with any blender, using some additional prep work and small adjustments.

This is what you need:
  • 2 cups vegetable broth, hot
  • 1 large Roma tomato or two small, halved
  • 3 small carrots
  • 1/2 stalk celery
  • 1 thin slice red onion
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper
  • 1/2 jalapeno pepper
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn
  • 1 can beens, rinsed. It's best to use home cooked, but since I did not plan to cook this soup, I used a can of black beens.
  • 1 tsp tortilla soup or taco seasoning. With the taco seasoning you may need to add a dash of cumin and black pepper.
  • 1/4 of avocado

Boil two cups of hot water to speed up the process.

Place the tomatoes, carrots, peppers, onions, garlic, and celery in the blander.

Pour the hot broth and blend quickly to Variable 10 and then High for 3-4 minutes if you are using Vitamix.

When the mix is steaming, add the avocado, beans, frozen corn, the cilantro and spices. Blend to 10-20 sec on very low speed (2 for Vitamix). The goal is to keep the beans and corn almost intact for texture.

Optionally you can add cooked chicken breast, pitted olives and serve with tortilla chips.
Delicious! :)

September 07, 2010

ETL: Bulgarian style vegan dolmas ( sarmi )

This is a vegan version of one of the most popular Bulgarian dishes. The original dish is cooked with white rice and ground pork, substituted here with brown basmati rice and meatless ground for all fellow vegetarians

This is what you need for ~ 70-80 dolmas:

  • 1 jar of Mediterranean grape leaves, sold at Persian markets like International Food Bazaar
  • 1 lb meatless ground from Trader Joe's (optional )
  • 2 cups brown basmati rice, soaked
  • 1 big onion, chopped
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 5-6 mushrooms, white, baby bella or crimini, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp cumini
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • salt to taste, about 1 full tsp
  • 1 tbsp mint
  • 1 tbsp savory (chubritza )
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1/3 tsp hot paper flakes
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

How to cook them:

Saute the onions with the garlic in a large pan until the onions start to brown. Add all the spices, and the carrots and saute for 2-3 minutes to allow all the spices to heat up and release their flavors. Stir the veggies with a spoon to prevent burning.
Add the mushrooms and cook for 2-3 minutes, before adding the meatless ground. Cook for 3 more minutes and add the tomatoes and the rice. After 5 minutes turn off the heat and cover the pan with a lid. Let it stay for 30-45 minutes for the rice to absorb all the liquid from the mushrooms and tomatoes.
Meanwhile soak the grape leaves in hot boiling water to make them softer and take out the extra soduim.
Wrap a tablespoon of the mixture with a grape leaf and arrange the dolmas in a big casserole. Add 5-6 cups of water and bake the dolmas in a covered casserole for about an hour at 450F.
Serve the dolmas hot with yogurt and side tomatoes and cucumber salad as a main dish, or cold as an appetizer.

ETL: Mushroom bourguignon

Yes, yes, you are right, this is a remake of the Julia Child’s famous recipe, but without the beef. If you are vegetarian and still crave the luxurious and perfectly balanced taste of beef, mushrooms, onions, carrots, butter, and wine, I promise you this vegan version of the recipe will make you happy :)

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds portobello mushrooms, in 1/4-inch slices
  • 2 carrots, chopped in 1/3 inch slices
  • 1 shallot, finely diced,
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cups full-bodied red wine,
  • 2-3 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 bay leaf, crumbled
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons whole wheat/all purpose flour
  • 1 lb pearl onions, peeled (thawed if frozen)
  • parsley sprigs
  1. Preheat the oven at 450F.
  2. Heat half of the olive oil  in a heavy sauce pan over high heat. Sear the mushrooms until they begin to darken. Remove them from pan.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium, add the rest of the oil and toss the carrots, onions, thyme, salt and black pepper into the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned.
  4. Add the garlic and the wine to the pot, then turn the heat all the way up and reduce it by half.
  5. Stir in the tomato paste and the broth.
  6. Add back the mushrooms with any juices that have collected.  
  7. Cover the casserole and set in lower third of the preheated oven. Regulate the heat so the dish simmer and cook for 20 minutes until the juices are reduced and the mushrooms are tender.
  8. Sprinkle the flour, add the pearl onions, , and toss the vegetables. Cook for 10 more minutes.
  9. When ready decorate with parsley, and serve with baked potatoes, rice or pasta.