Home > Cooking school > Knives and Fire IX (Week 3)

Knives and Fire IX (Week 3)

Starch and Grains Day

We made various kinds of rice and bean dishes today, plus more pasta.

We first discussed the test we took last week. (Um. I got 110.) Then we talked about the various types of rice (long grain, short grain, medium grain; white, brown, basmati, arborio; wild (not a rice at all.)) We also talked about legumes – seeds.

These are inexpensive, healthy and tasty ways to add color and flavor to a dish.

We were then assigned teams and dishes to make. S and I were assigned to make escarole and navy beans plus rice pilau. One was a recipe we were going to do by eye, and one was an extra he wasn’t going to do but decided to do anyway. Other people made saffron rice, dhal (a lentil dish), fried rice and risotto, plus another lentil dish and polenta.

We got the navy beans soaking and divided up the mise en place. S cleaned the basil and escarole, and concasséd the tomatoes. I chopped the onions (one fine for the rice pilau, and two larger dice for the other dish), and minced the garlic for the escarole and the ginger for the pilau. S measured the spices and steeped the saffron for the pilau and I toasted the almonds and weighed out the raisins, then chiffonaded the basil. S also cooked the rice (long grain) for the pilau. (In other words, we had an equal amount of work.)

To cook rice for a pilau, you first cook onions in oil or ghee (or clarified margarine) until they’re transparent and then add the spices until they’re fragrant, and then the rice, which you cook until it has absorbed the fat, and then 1.75 water/stock to rice. That gets stirred and brought to a simmer. This we left covered on low because that’s what the recipe said. Otherwise, I’d have put it in the oven. When it was cooked, we added salt, pepper, the toasted almonds and the raisins. It was very, very delicious.

After lunch, and after I got a pot of stock on the stove, we (meaning I) made the escarole and navy bean dish. Chef had started the beans I’d soaked before noon, although they were not fully cooked. I cooked the onions and garlic in a little oil until they were transparent, and then I added half the escarole (about one head) and cooked it until it almost collapsed (like spinach) and then we put in the beans and hot stock to cover, plus some salt and pepper. And we let that simmer for twenty-thirty minutes.

Meanwhile, some people made fresh fettucini, and others made more gnocchi, and I asked what more I could do, seeing as I had nothing else going. And the next thing I knew, I was making dhal. That meant that I was finely slicing an onion and chopping a couple garlic cloves and mincing a bit of ginger, and weighing and washing red lentils. I cooked the onion, garlic and ginger until the onion started to turn brown. Then I put in some tumeric and cooked it further, and then added the lentils and some hot stock. I let that simmer for fifteen minutes and added some garam masala and salt. It could have been cooked further, but it tasted delicious. Meanwhile, I watched Chef grill polenta.

I had some of the escarole dish – YUM. Making that. Although, I might use veg broth so I can use cheese.

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