Apparently, this week is National Rice Week (yep, there is a week for almost everything nowadays!), but it reminded me just how useful rice is as a store cupboard standby. The Rice Association is inviting everyone to Rice Up Your Life and with so many different kinds of rice to choose from including basmati, long-grain, fragrant, risotto and pudding, there are almost endless ways to enjoy this nutritious and versatile grain.
I always like to keep a few of those pouches of ready-cooked Pilau or other types of rice handy. They are so quick and you can use them for speedy paella (as highlighted by Jo Pratt in her lovely book The Flexible Pescatarian, which I reviewed in my column in April). These pouches keep for yonks and are often on special offer in the supermarket.
Here are a couple of recipes from The Rice Association that I thought ideal for this time of year. A simple risotto (check out the range at Paul Cooper’s) and a rather yummy sounding dessert, but I wouldn’t serve them at the same meal!
Easy-Peasy Mushroom Risotto
Prep: 25 minutes, Cook: 30-35 minutes, Serves 4
30g dried porcini mushrooms
2 shallots, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
250g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
250g arborio risotto rice
100ml dry sherry
500ml vegetable stock
To serve: grated Parmigiano Reggiano and chopped parsley
Preheat the oven to 160oC, gas mark 3.
Soak the dried porcini mushrooms in 400ml boiling water for 15 minutes, drain reserving the juice and chop.
Melt the butter in a large frying pan and fry the shallots, garlic and both mushrooms for 3-4 minutes. Add the rice and stir to coat in the buttery juices. Stir in the sherry and reduce by half then add the stock and reserved porcini liquid. Bring to the boil and transfer to a casserole dish.
Cover and bake for 30-35 minutes until the rice is tender, but there is still some free sauce. Serve scattered with cheese and parsley.
Old Fashioned Clotted Cream Rice Pudding Squares
Prep: 10 minutes, Cook: 1½ hours, Serves 8
25g butter + extra for greasing
150g short-grain pudding rice
100g caster sugar
227g tub of clotted cream
2 medium eggs
700ml whole milk
½ tsp grated nutmeg
Preheat the oven to 160oC, gas mark 3. Butter a 2 litre ovenproof rectangular dish.
Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the rice, sugar, and raisins. Stir in the clotted cream until it has melted. Whisk the eggs and milk together and add to the pan. Bring to just below boiling, stirring.
Transfer to the serving dish making sure the rice is evenly distributed on the base of the dish, sprinkle with nutmeg and bake for 1½ hours. Allow to cool slightly before cutting into squares and serving with extra clotted cream.
Cooks tip: Great served with clotted cream ice cream. Swap the raisins for your favourite dried fruit such as cranberries, cherries or sultanas.
Cover and bake for 30-35 minutes until the rice is tender, but there is still some free sauce.