Last week I virtually attended an event with Minute Rice, hosted by Chef John Higgins, Director of the George Brown Chef School.
Unfortunatly I couldn’t make it in person, but I was able to log in from my desk in my kitchen and follow along with the chef and watch him make some great recipes.
He passed along some helpful tips which I will share here, and at the end of this post you have a chance to win enough Minute Rice to last you a year! There is also a link to a Minute Rice coupon at the end of the post as well.
Some of the Chef’s tips were simple, but were things I hadn’t thought to do myself. Usually when I make rice I’m pretty boring, so a few of these tips will help me spice things up a bit!
1. Boil in broth: When boiling rice, substitute water for broth to add flavour to the rice itself and your dish. Chicken broth, beef broth or vegetable stock are excellent choices. Low-sodium broths add a punch of flavour without the added salt.
2. Try coconut: Cook rice in coconut milk for a mildly sweet flavoured rice which pairs well with curry dishes and other spicy recipes. Coconut flavoured rice with fresh slices of mango or your kids’ favourite fruit can make a fun, healthy dessert option.
3. Think flavour: Add spices to the rice’s cooking liquid for an aromatic and flavourful base to your dish. Star Anise, cilantro and turmeric are good choices, with bold, robust flavours.
4. Season early on: Don’t leave your seasoning until the end. Introduce the flavours of your dish early on. For maximum flavour, add the herbs or spices your recipe calls for into the rice’s cooking water.
5. Add veggies: Enhance your rice dish by adding frozen vegetables. Rather than cooking the vegetables separately, though, condense your cooking time by adding them to boiling water before you begin cooking the rice. Using pre-cut, frozen vegetables is more convenient than cutting fresh vegetables (while still being nutritious), especially when you are pressed for time.
6. Sweeten with fruit: Add dried fruit – such as craisins, raisins, dried blueberries and currents – to your cooking water to draw out the sweet fruit flavours which will infuse your rice with a savoury taste the whole family will enjoy.
7. Try rice for breakfast: Instant rice in particular is quick and easy, making it a convenient and nutritious family option. Add almond or soy milk, or your kids’ favourite flavoured milk, as well as dried fruits or nuts for a complete, oatmeal-like breakfast dish which can be served hot or cold. Prepare the rice the night before to save time in the morning.
8. Steep your rice: Infuse the rice with your favourite flavour of tea for a fragrant, subtle gourmet taste. Steep a pot of tea and use the liquid to cook your rice instead of using plain water. For those less adventurous, start with a more simple flavour such as Earl Grey, English Breakfast or Chamomile tea. For an economical option, use the tea bag left over from your morning cup of tea.
9. Add zing with zest: For a zesty citrus spin on your rice dish, grate lemon, lime or orange zest into the rice’s cooking water as it’s boiling. Be sure to thoroughly wash your fruit with warm, soapy water before grating the zest into the water. For a more gourmet taste sensation, try a combination of citrus fruits in one rice dish.
10. Cut cooking time: Risotto is a wonderful meal or side dish option enjoyed by all ages, but it takes time to make. Using instant rice in a risotto dish can cut in half the time it takes to make traditional risotto.
We also learned how to make some easy but fun recipes with rice. None of the recipes took long at all, and they all looked really easy to execute.
Veggie Rice Lasagna Loaf
Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 20 min
2 cups (500 ml) Minute Rice® Instant Premium Long Grain White Rice
1/4 cup (60 ml) grated Parmesan cheese, good quality, if possible
2 tbsp (30 ml) olive oil
2 bunches green onions, chopped
1 pkg (10 oz/300 g) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed well to remove liquid
2 cloves (5 g) garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups (375 ml) light ricotta or cottage cheese
1 cup (200 g) zucchini, sliced
1 jar (24 oz/700 ml) prepared marinara or home-made pasta sauce
2 cups (500 ml) shredded low fat Mozzarella cheese
2 (145g) tomatoes, sliced
1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Prepare rice according to package
directions. Stir in the parmesan cheese and reserve.
2. Place 15 ml of the olive oil in a warm pan, then add the chopped green onions, followed by the spinach, and season with garlic. Cook for one minute. Add salt and pepper, then
allow to cool. Mix with ricotta cheese until combined.
3. Place the rest of the olive oil in a non-stick pan. Add the sliced zucchini. Cook for 10 seconds on each side. Season to taste. Remove from the pan and place on a paper towel to absorb the oil and allow to cool.
4. Spoon ¼ cup (60 ml) of the marinara sauce into a greased 8-inch (2L) square baking dish. Gently press half of the rice into the baking dish in an even layer; sprinkle with ½ cup (125 ml) mozzarella cheese. Spread half of the spinach mixture over the cheese.
5. Top with half of the tomato and zucchini slices, overlapping as needed. Spoon half of the remaining marinara sauce over the slices. Repeat the layers, ending with the sauce.
6. Sprinkle evenly with the remaining cheese and bake for 20 minutes or until bubbly and golden on top. Let stand for 5 minutes before slicing.
Per serving (1/6 of recipe): 430 calories, 18g fat, 40mg cholesterol, 770mg sodium, 45g carbohydrate, 5g fibre, 9g sugars, 23g protein
One-Pan Taco Dinner
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
2 cups (500 ml) Minute Rice® Instant Premium Long Grain White Rice
1lb (500 g) lean ground beef
1 pkg (35 g) taco seasoning mix
2 cups (500 ml) water
1 cup (250 ml) mild salsa
1 cup (250 ml) shredded Cheddar cheese
2 cups (500 ml) shredded lettuce
1 large tomato, chopped
additional mild salsa (optional)
sour cream (optional)
1. Spray a large nonstick skillet with nonstick cooking spray; set over medium-high heat. Crumble in ground beef; cook for 5 minutes or until browned. Drain off excess fat.
2. Add taco seasoning mix and water; stir. Bring to a boil. Stir in rice. Spread salsa evenly over the rice and sprinkle with cheese.
3. Cover and reduce heat to low; simmer for 5 minutes. Uncover and top with lettuce and tomato just before serving. Serve with additional salsa and sour cream (if using).
· No need for utensils; serve with tortilla chips instead of forks.
· Try using 3 tbsp (45 ml) Tex Mex Seasoning blend instead of the taco seasoning.
Per Serving (1/4 of recipe): 570 Calories, 21 g fat, 35 g protein, 60 g carbohydrate, 1330 mg sodium
Wheat-free Rice Crust Pizza
Prep Time: 15 min
Cook Time: 30 min
Total Time: 65 min (including cooling and standing time)
2 cups (500 ml) Minute Rice® Instant Whole Grain Brown Rice
3/4 tsp (4 ml) salt
2 eggs, beaten
2 1/2 cups (625 ml) shredded Mozzarella cheese
1/2 tsp (2 ml) each dried basil and oregano leaves (optional)
2 tsp (10 ml) fine cornmeal (optional)
1 cup (250 ml) pizza sauce
1/2 cup (125 ml) each chopped pepperoni, sweet green pepper and mushrooms
1. Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C). Prepare rice according to package directions. Season with salt; let cool to room temperature.
2. Stir in the eggs, 1 cup (250 mL) of the cheese, and herbs (if using).
3. Spray a 12-inch (30 cm) pizza pan with cooking spray; sprinkle evenly with cornmeal (if using).
4. Firmly and evenly press the rice mixture into the prepared pan.
5. Cook the crust on the lowest rack in oven for 10 minutes. Remove from oven; spread evenly with the pizza sauce.
6. Sprinkle half of the remaining cheese over the sauce. Scatter the pepperoni, green pepper and mushrooms evenly over top. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
7. Bake for 15 minutes or until bottom is golden and cheese is melted. Let stand for 5 minutes before slicing into wedges.
· Substitute the pizza toppings in this recipe for any of your own favourites.
· Reduce fat content by using low fat Mozzarella cheese
Per serving: 674 calories, 27 g fat, 30 g protein, 78 g carbohydrates,1,253 mg sodium. Excellent source of riboflavin, vitamin B12, calcium, phosphorus and zinc.
Pear and Cranberry Rice Pudding with Chocolate Crunchies
Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 10 min
3/4 cup (175 ml) uncooked Minute Rice® Instant Premium Long Grain White Rice
2 tbsp (30 ml) dark or milk chocolate, chopped
2 tbsp (30 ml) Rice Chex cereal
2 tsp (10 ml) butter
1 tbsp (15 g) dried cranberries
4 tbsp (60 ml) sugar
1 can (175 ml) coconut milk
1 tbsp orange zest
pinch of salt
1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla
1 orange, diced
1. Melt chocolate in the microwave, using a ceramic or glass bowl, for 20 seconds. Mix in the Rice Chex cereal and stir to coat with chocolate. Transfer to a tray lined with wax paper, separating pieces to dry and cool down. (Place in refrigerator or freezer to cool quickly).
2. Dice pear into even pieces.
3. In a hot non-stick pan, cook the butter and diced pear for 5 minutes. Add 1 tbsp of sugar, followed by cranberries. Set aside and allow to cool.
4. In a large saucepan, over medium-high heat, combine the coconut milk and rice, then add the 3 tbsp sugar and salt; bring to a boil. Add the orange zest, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring often for 10 minutes.
5. In a bowl, beat the egg with the vanilla. Stir some of the hot rice mixture into the egg; then beat the warmed egg mixture back into the remaining rice mixture. Cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Remove from heat.
6. Place equal amounts of the pear mixture in the bottom of each serving dish, top with rice pudding, and then with mini marshmallows, chocolate-coated cereal, followed with the diced orange.
Tip: For a more gourmet presentation, top with additional pear cut into strips and fresh sprigs of mint.
Per serving (1/4 of recipe): 320 calories, 14g fat, 55mg cholesterol, 120mg sodium, 44g carbohydrate,
3g fibre, 24g sugars, 5g protein
Finally – the giveaway!
Enter to win 12 boxes of Minute Rice® 100% Natural Instant Rice ($60 value) – one box for each month of the year!
The contest is open to Canadian residents only, and you can enter via the Rafflecopter application below.
To print off a coupon you can use towards your own Minute Rice purchase, click here.
More information and recipes can be found at www.minuterice.ca.