Wednesday, May 7, 2008


Last night I had such a lovely little dinner party. Good friends, good wine, good food. I remember when I first started cooking entire meals (when I was ten) and could never get the timing right. Now I'm older and wiser and realize that as long as there is something to munch on and wine flowing, you can keep the hungry guests at bay while you coordinate all the items and emerge from the kitchen with seemingly no stress or chaos. Another trick is to have everything baking simultaneously with little attention needed in the process.

Here is one of my favorite examples of a grain dish that can cook right along with your meat or veggie dish. Yesterday I served this with roast pork loin that had been cooked on a bed of apples and butternut squash. I adapted this recipe from a Williams-Sonoma recipe to suit the contents of my pantry.

Baked Brown Rice Pilaf

4 cups organic chicken or vegetable stock

2 Tbs. unsalted butter

1 Tbs. canola oil

1 large shallot, minced

2 cups short-grain brown rice

1 bay leaf

2 fresh thyme sprigs or 1/4 tsp. dried thyme,

sea salt


2 T slivered sun dried tomatoes

1/2 cup mix of sunflower seeds, pepitas, slivered almonds (toasted) or pecans or some other crunchy nut (Trader Joe's Such & Such mix works perfectly)

1/4 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley (or 1 T dry)

Preheat an oven to 375°F. In a saucepan over medium-low heat, bring the stock to a simmer.

In a heavy 2-qt. flameproof casserole over medium heat, melt the butter with the oil. Add the shallots and sauté until translucent, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the rice and stir until the grains are well coated, about 3 minutes. Stir in the simmering stock, dried cranberries, bay leaf, thyme, the sea salt and the pepper. Bring to a simmer, stir and cover. Transfer the casserole to the oven and bake for 20 minutes, remove, stir in sun dried tomatoes, return to oven to bake until all the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is tender, for another 25 minutes. Removing the cover the last 10 minutes of baking gives the top layer a nice toasty crunch.

Remove from the oven. Remove and discard the bay leaf and the thyme sprigs, if used. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Stir in the nut mix and parsley. Serve hot or warm. Serves 8 to 10.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I would like to add that the meal was delicious, but that may also because BJW made it.

Who makes entire meals when they're 10? I don't even do it now.