Ways to Eat Rice and Potatoes

by Mary Bailey

Cilantro Risotto

This recipe was inspired by a recipe for bacon-wrapped Maine monkfish stuffed with lobster and avocado from the Boulevard Cookbook (Ten Speed Press). In that recipe you butterfly a monkfish, stuff it with chunks of lobster and silky avocado, wrap the whole thing in salty streaky bacon, brown, then roast the fish, cut in half, and serve on top of the vibrantly green risotto with green almonds and fried coriander leaves. It’s an all-out dinner party dish. Alone, the risotto is simplicity itself. You can serve it with roast chicken, grilled salmon, or braised pork. The colour is a glorious harbinger of spring.

1 c fresh flat leaf parsley

3 T finely sliced fresh chives (about one bunch)

2 c fresh cilantro leaves (aboutone bunch)

Blanch parsley and chives for one minute in boiling water. Add coriander leaves and cook for 30 seconds longer. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of blanching liquid. Place the blanched herbs in a blender and puree until smooth using just enough water to allow that to happen. Perfectionists could push the mixture through a chinois for an absolutely silky puree. Reserve.

4 c chicken or vegetable stock

2 t olive oil

1 c finely diced onion

1 c arborio or carnaroli rice

1 c white wine (or water) warmed

2 T unsalted butter

sea salt and freshly-cracked black pepper

Heat the stock and keep hot.

To serve: divide the risotto between four warmed dinner plates. Serves 4

Best right out of the pan – a deliciously decadent treat.

duck fat (canola oil if duck fat is not available)

2 large russet potatoes, peeled

sea salt

Preheat the oven to 350.F. Pour at least 1-inch of oil into a deep pot and heat it to 350.F.Slice the potatoes into thin matchsticks (1/8-inch thick) with a vegetable slicer or mandoline, dropping them into a bowl of cold water as you cut. Drain the potatoes and dry them thoroughly with paper towels. Drop the potatoes in batches into the hot oil and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until golden brown. Be careful, use a splatter guard and wear gloves. Remove from the pot with a wire basket skimmer or slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Salt generously, place on a baking sheet and keep warm in the oven while you cook the rest.

Make this satisfying soup on the raw days. Like most soups this can be made the day before and reheated. It also freezes well, just add a bit more stock or water upon thawing.

2 lbs potatoes (about 6-8 large potatoes, russets, Yukon golds, reds all work well) peeled and rough chopped

4 leeks, trimmed and cleaned, roughly chopped

1 shallot, thinly sliced

1/4 c canola or extra virgin olive oil

sea salt and freshly-cracked black pepper

6 c chicken or vegetable stock

1 c white wine

cre`me fraiche, yogurt, cream or sour cream for garnish

2-3 slices mild pancetta (or 2-3 rashers bacon)

1 bunch kale, washed, ribs removed, and torn into small pieces.

Preheat the oven to 375.F.

Toss vegetables with oil and seasoning in a large bowl, then place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast for 40 to 45 minutes, turning occasionally until tender and slightly browned.

To serve: Ladle hot soup into bowls. Drizzle a spoonful of the cre`me fraiche, plain yogurt, cream or sour cream on soup. Place crispy kale and crumbled bacon on top. Serves 6

2 T mirin (rice wine), or rice vinegar

1 T miso

1 t wasabi paste

1 t tamari sauce

zest of 1/2 small lemon

1 small piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced

1 t fish sauce

Whisk all ingredients together and brush on the meat or tofu. Marinate in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes while you prepare the other ingredients.

wild salmon in two 3-4 inch pieces (or so), or pork, duck, or tofu

1-2 c hot cooked brown rice

1 c green vegetable – shelled edamame, asparagus or broccoli stem cut in small pieces.

3 t toasted sesame seed

1-2 t sesame oil

2-3 green onions, sliced on the diagonal

sliced cucumber, pickled

ginger for garnish

Take the fish out of the marinade and place in a hot pan, skin side down. Cook until the fish is opaque, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, bring the marinade to a boil then take off heat. Reserve. Divide the rice between two bowls and top with green vegetables. Place a piece of fish on the rice and pour marinade over. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, green onion and drizzle with sesame oil. Garnish with cucumber and pickled ginger if so desired. Serves 2

Miso, a fermented soybean paste, adds a creamy texture and savoury taste to any dish. It’s also chock full of B vitamins. A very good artisan miso is made on Denman Island and is available at Planet Organic, 7917 104 Street.

Duck fat keeps well in the refrigerator, and it’s worth keeping it around. It’s available from Greens Eggs and Ham at the Alberta Avenue Market on Thursday evenings or throughout the year at Ocean Odyssey Inland, 10027 167 Street.

Arborio and carnaroli are two short grain rice from northern Italy. Find the best selection at The Italian Centre Shops 10878-95 Street, 5028 104A Street, and Zenaris, 10180 101 Street (main floor Manulife).

Edamame are available frozen at most larger grocery stores such as Superstore.