Thursday, April 2, 2009
A Great Way to Recycle Leftover Rice
I'm not an environmentalist but I don't like wasting anything so I'm always looking for new ways to 'recycle' leftover food. The main culprits are usually potatoes and rice because I carefully measure pasta before boiling it - and I have a dozen ways to incorporate these into my meal the next day or the day after, and I'm still looking.
Ilva's Soft Rice Cakes with Onion Goat's Cheese and Thyme is a real winner as far as I'm concerned because I guess this is a quirk of mine, but I like to eat something not Asian after eating something Asian - and rice is likely to be something I have leftover after eating something quite...errr, Asian. So even though I have nothing against fried rice, it's not my idea of a brilliant meal right after I've had Chicken Cashew or Kung Pao Chicken. This is why I've made New Orleans Calas and various types of rice gratin among other things, but I really fell in love with Ilva's soft rice cakes because they were different, and when I made some and tasted them I thought: What a nice way of finishing off leftover rice!
Ilva uses freshly prepared rice in her recipe and some of you might be wondering how you can make these nice flat rice cakes from cold rice. Fear not. All you have to do is put your day old rice inside a microwave proof bowl, cover it with plastic and microwave it for a minute or two and you'll have hot piping manageable soft rice again. I seasoned mine with salt and grated parmesan cheese after doing this. I don't use salt when I cook my rice because I do it the way my grandmother taught me to, so my rice needed a little salt. If you put salt in the water when you make rice, then you don't need to do this.
In the original recipe, Ilva uses a cookie cutter to make these beautifully perfect round cakes, but as I've mentioned before I don't have any - so I just made rice cakes the traditional Japanese way - with my hands.
I brushed my cakes with extra virgin olive oil and baked them in an oven preheated to 225C, and while doing this I braised some leeks I had cut into slices that would fit on top of the cakes with thyme and a little salt. Once the leeks had caramelized a bit, I threw in strips of sundried tomatoes just to soften them a bit and removed my pan from the heat.
After 10 minutes I removed the tray from the oven and put three pieces of leek, two pieces of sundried tomatoes and put slices of Spanish cured cheese because I didn't have any goat's cheese. Then I baked it for another 7 minutes and put a sprig of fresh thyme on top of each one for extra flavor. It was like my day old rice had had a Mediterranean makeover! The results were not disappointing.
Now I'm ready to experiment with my Szechuan peppercorns again this evening. I made Szechuan Peppercorn Salt which I'm going to use on a roasted chicken tonight. The recipe for this flavored salt is from Steamy Kitchen.
Note 1: Even though the presentation of this rice cake looks decidedly 'Asian', let me say that there's nothing Asian about it except for the rice. The juxtaposition of something that looks 'Asian' bursting with the flavors of cheese, sundried tomatoes, thyme and caramelized leeks is divine.
Note 2: Rice is especially a problem because you can't really cook 1 cup of rice and have it turn out perfectly fluffy.