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Ask Carb Diva: Questions & Answers About Food, Cooking, & Recipes #73

Updated on February 25, 2019
Carb Diva profile image

Exploring food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes, one ingredient at a time.

The Silence

Have you ever noticed the "sound" of a snowfall?" No, I'm not speaking of the noise made by snowflakes (they're silent, of course), but there is a quiet that descends upon the landscape when all is blanketed in white. Traffic sounds cease, conversations move indoors, and all of nature stops and holds its breath. It's a special beauty, the sounds of silence.

We live on the edge of a forest; I've always assumed that we have nocturnal visitors, but I had no idea how many until I looked out the morning after the snowfall.


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Let's Warm Up by the Stove

If you're an old friend, you already know how this column works. But, if this is your first visit, let me introduce you to the rest of the group. Each week I receive questions about food ingredients, cooking or baking terms or methods, requests for recipes, and queries about nutrition. Just about anything goes.

Want to join in the fun? You can leave your question in the comments below, and next week the answer will be right here. It's that easy. Let's get started with a question from Bill Holland (aka billybuc).

A Good Brown Rice Casserole Recipe Please

I love rice; not so much quiche. I'm just a brown rice kind of guy, I guess...throw in a baked potato....casseroles.....if you would like to share a rice casserole recipe I'm all ears. :)

Bill, I've had this one in my card file (yes, being old-school I still have one of those) for decades and have no idea of its origin. This is a savory, hearty side dish, really good with roast chicken.

Mixed-Grain Pilaf

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup chopped nuts (walnuts or almonds)
  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup carrot, shredded
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/3 cup barley (not instant)
  • 1/3 cup brown rice
  • 1/3 cup bulgur wheat (or if you don't like bulgur wheat use 1/2 cup each barley and brown rice)
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano

Instructions

  1. Melt the butter in a 3-quart saucepan of medium heat. Add the nuts and stir until lightly toasted; lift out with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  2. Increase the heat to medium-high and add the onion, carrot, garlic, and parsley. Cook, stirring frequently, until the carrots and onions begin to become limp. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat and cover. Simmer until tender, about 45 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and let sit, covered, 10 minutes. Taste for seasoning. Fluff with a fork and garnish with the toasted nuts.

Makes 6 servings

And, another question about rice, this one from Mary (Blond Logic).

Arborio Rice Pudding

I have a question for an upcoming Q & A. My husband wants rice pudding. He refuses to eat tapioca even though I bought a small type. Too many bad memories of school dinner.

Can I use arborio rice instead of a pudding rice? Are they basically the same?

rice pudding with berries
rice pudding with berries | Source

Mary, arborio rice is actually quite different from regular medium- or long-grain rice and that's what makes it so special. Arborio is starchier and it's the starchiness that creates the creamy texture that we love in risotto, and in rice pudding.

Can arborio rice be used for dessert? Absolutely, but you will not be able to use your traditional rice pudding recipes. Since the rices are different, the techniques used to cook them are different also. David Lieberman made a vanilla arborio pudding in which he precooked the rice grains in water and then finished the still-quite-al dente rice in simmering milk and sugar. If you use his recipe, here are a few suggestions:

  • Increase the butter from 1/2 tablespoon to 1 tablespoon.
  • Don't be concerned if the finished product looks thin; it will thicken after it chills a while in the refrigerator.
  • David doesn't mention this in his instructions, but several commenters said that when cooking the rice in water, the pot should be covered with a lid.

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I originally shared this recipe in my article on risotto (who knew you could make chocolate risotto??!!). It is rich, luxurious, and decadent. Jennifer's approach is more time-consuming that David's (she cooks the rice from start to finish in simmering heavy cream and half-and-half). If your husband loves chocolate half as much as I do, you might want to give this a try.

Home Made Sausage and/or Hot Dogs

We have a bit of a problem Linda. We just love our hot dogs but we never eat them because of the yuk stuff. I can do the chili and sauerkraut ok and get cool bread. But I just can't cotton that meat stuff. Gabe and I need to make our own sausages/hot dogs. I can cook a wallet to taste like a Porterhouse, but the ground stuff still baffles me. Lean me (get it?) in the right direction.

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Eric, I think you deserve some sort of prize, an award for stumping the chef. Last year there was a tie (Mary for asking about cooking slab bacon with teets and Flourish for her query about roast guinea pig).

I have NEVER in my life made my own sausage. The hot dog is another story within a story. Once, years ago when I was flying from Menlo Park to SeaTac the movie du jour was entitled something like "The Life of the Hot Dog." Ever since witnessing exactly how hot dogs are made (and being trapped in that tin can 35,000 feet in the air there was NO escape) I have never, and I mean NEVER consumed another hot dog.

Sausage? I could possibly do that if I took the time to source imitation casings (I'm sorry, I can't do the real thing—I know where it comes from and that mental image cannot be erased).

But, enough about me. You wanted a recipe for making your own sausage. I've not seen your kitchen, but I will assume that you do NOT own a sausage-stuffer. With that in mind, plus my own emotional issues when it comes to "natural" casings, let's look for a recipe that creates a skinless sausage. I found one at the website Foodie Baker. Jasline relied on my friend Kenji for her recipe and methodology. She takes us step-by-step through the process and provides suggestions on how to adapt the ingredients to come up with the flavors you want.

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This soup recipe is a departure from my usual "the soup is the meal" offering. This is a light dish, to be served as an introduction, an appetizer perhaps, to the main course. I created this several years ago for our wedding anniversary, so when my husband sees this on the table, he knows that a larger, decadent meal is waiting in the wings.

Ingredients

  • 1 small lemon
  • 3 cups good quality chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • Garnish—2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley
  • salt and white pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Cut two 2-inch strips of lemon peel from the lemon. (Use the zest only—not the white pith which is bitter). Place those lemon strips in a medium saucepan. Don't toss out the lemon; we'll be using that at the end of the recipe.
  2. Add broth to the saucepan. Cover and simmer over medium heat about 20 minutes. Remove lemon strips.
  3. In a second saucepan heat the butter over low heat; when the foam subsides, stir in the flour. Cook, stirring constantly, for two minutes; gradually add warm stock and cream, whisking constantly, until soup is thickened, 3 to 5 minutes.
  4. Squeeze one teaspoon of lemon juice from the lemon; stir into the soup.
  5. Add garnish and salt and pepper to taste.


We're Organized

Did you know that there is a Table of Contents for this series? I have created an article that provides a detailed listing of each question I've received. It's broken down by category, and within each category, the questions are listed alphabetically. Each question is actually a hotlink back to the original post.

The alphabetical soups are listed there as well.

Here's a link to that Table of Contents.

If you like this series, you'll love this! Consider it my gift to you.

Source

My hope is that we can continue share in this food journey together. If you have questions about foods, cooking techniques, or nutrition you can ask them here. If you are in search of an old recipe or need ideas on how to improve an existing one I can help you. If you want to learn more, let's do it together. Present your questions, your ideas, your comments below. Or, you can write to me personally at this email address: lindalum52@gmail.com.

And, I promise that there will always be at least one photo of a kitty in every Monday post.

© 2019 Linda Lum

Comments

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    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 

      5 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Linda

      I've not heard of a rice pud with Arborio rice before! Still, sounded like an interesting challenge.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      6 months ago from Central Florida

      I love rice pudding. My mom used to make it all the time when we were growing up. I'll have to see if I have her recipe.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      6 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Linda, pardon my rudeness, my mom taught me better. I came buy but did not leave a note. Rice puddings are on the list.

      I'm a figuring sausage might just be fine without the shape.

      I am also figuring we need to have just a little less fun -- the "no fun" police may come around with a warrant and cease and desist order.

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 

      6 months ago from Brazil

      I imagine that is exciting. Here all night long we have limpkins making a racket just over the wall. Not a pretty sound at all. More of a honking and squawking sound. I think it is mating season for them.

      I have a question for a future Q&A. Is it possible to make a version of Rice Krispies at home? We can't get them here and when I looked on Youtube at a Kelloggs Rice Krispies promo video, it was not actually how they are made. (Not the truth anyway).

      The comments were rather nasty as well.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      6 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Mary, the sun is shining and the snowfall is nothing more than a memory.

      By the way, a pair of travelers stopped by our house a week ago, and they are still here, entertaining us each evening. Great horned owls begin hooting when the sun goes down. It's an amazing sound.

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 

      6 months ago from Brazil

      Hi Linda,

      Thanks for that recipe for rice pudding. Hopefully I can find the rice to make it.

      We have been thinking of making our own sausages as well, so that was useful.

      Thanks again, have a wonderful week.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      6 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Bill, lovely to look at but I can't say that I'm sorry it has left. We have friends who live in Las Vegas and even THEY were hit with 4 inches of snow. Climate change.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      6 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Good morning Flourish. I'd love some of that rice pudding too. Unfortunately the rice pudding fairy didn't visit my house last night. You and I, like Anne (with an E) of Green Gables are indeed kindred spirits.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      6 months ago from Olympia, WA

      If it's in your card files, Linda, then it's good enough for me. Thank you for answering my question...and I love that wall of silence after it snows..and I love the noise after it finally melts. lol

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      6 months ago from USA

      I have a vivid imagination and I’ve grown faint from that discussion of natural hotdog and sausage making. I can identify with that lovely orange tabby who is sitting up like a purrson. (He looks like my darling Simon who wakes me daily by 4:10.) That rice pudding sounds good about now. Wish I had it right now!

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