Week 8, we did starches.
We first went over potatoes, which can be broken down into high starch or high water potatoes.
- High starch potatoes are the big ones like russets, and are perfect for frying and mashing. These potatoes need a lot of fat for cooking (unless of course, you’re boiling them).
- High water potatoes are babies or fingerlings, which are more suited for roasting and composed salads. They keep their shape well, so they’re great in soups and stews too.
Then we went over grain-based starches.
- Rice – All rice, except for arborio, needs to be washed. Some notes on rice:
White rice is brown rice minus the bran. Cook at 1 to 1.5 ratio (rice to water).
Brown rice uses a lot more water because you need to soften the bran. Cook at 1 to 3 ratio.
Quinoa isn’t rice, but can be cooked like brown rice. Needs soaking.
Arborio rice is a species that’s endemic to northern Italy, and absorbs a lot of water without losing their shape – hence, they are used in risottos. (Ah-ha! region specificity and endemics!)
- Legumes – Anything that grows in a pod. Generally eaten fresh in the spring, and dried the rest of the year.
Most beans (except for lentils, they’re too tiny) should be soaked in water overnight so that they retain their shape during cooking.
- Pasta – made of durum semolina wheat dough.
“Made in Italy” means 100% durum (by Italian law! who knew?).
“Enriched” means “contains eggs”. Usually served with thick sauces.
- Dried corn – polenta or corn meal.
Polenta is a species of corn, not a type of dish. Generally sweeter and smaller than regular corn.
Mosey on to see what we made that day!
Yoda whipped up some risotto with some parmesan and chicken stock. Risotto is supposed to be light, not cheese laden. We tend to throw in cheese so that it holds longer, but risotto should be made on-order, she sayz.
And then we made fresh, enriched pasta. Half durum and half whole wheat flour, because we are n00bs and n00bs can’t roll rigid durum dough.
That eventually became a butternut squash lasagna.
Shoe string fries. Soak in acidulated water (vinegar or lemon juice), drain, fry at 350 F.
Slow fried plantains and black beans. SO SWEET and LUSCIOUS and all sorts of AWESOMESAUCE. Basically let the plantains fry in peanut oil over low heat for 20 minutes or something.
Polenta with Caramelized Red Onion and Gorgonzola.
Quinoa salad with dried fruits and pine nuts.
Moroccan Rice Pilaf. Pilaf is basically cooking rinsed rice in a hot liquid, instead of boiling rice from cold water.
Speaking of which, rice should be cooked as follows:
At home, I eat a lot of rice (that kinda happens if you’re Asian). White short grain rice, brown short grain rice, sweet (mochi) rice, you name it. So for homework, I decided to try a grain that I haven’t really played with.
Korean people eat a lot of mixed grains, so I waltzed into my neighborhood Korean market and into their rice section. You can buy mixed grains (it has wheat and purple rice and beans and millet and all sorts of fun stuff in it), or specific grains by the bag. So I picked up a bag of barley because… it looked the least scary.
Cooking instructions were in Korean, so I did what I usually do with mixed grains: add 2 tbsp of grains to 2 cups of white rice and cook normally in the rice cooker. It cooks fine, and has a nice bouncy bite to it. I think I’m gonna try buckwheat next time.
Also, it’s great in soups. Here’s a Vietnamese-ish beef and barley soup (a.k.a. clean out your fridge soup) recipe for you:
Beef & Barley Soup
makes 6 servings
6 cups beef stock*
1 tbsp canola oil
3 small onions/ 1 cup sliced onions
1/2 star anise, or 1 tsp
3-4 pieces cloves
1 1-inch piece of ginger
3 stalks leafy celery/ 1 cup chopped celery
1 cup kale (or mustard or collard greens) stems, cut in diagonal slices
1/4 cup dried barley, rinsed
salt & pepper
1. Caramelize onions in oil over low to medium heat, about 40 minutes.
2. Add spices, ginger, celery and kale, and continue cooking until celery turns clear, about 2 minutes.
3. Add stock, bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and let simmer for 30 minutes, or until kale stems becomes soft.
4. Add rinsed barley, cover and continue to simmer until thoroughly cooked, about 40 minutes.
5. Adjust flavor with salt and pepper. Serve with chopped parsley.
* Make your own beef stock or buy low-sodium beef broth.