I know, I’m on a fall dessert kick, first with the last week’s warm Calvados apple galette, and now with a rice pudding! This rice pudding is special—it’s full of pumpkin spice goodness and it’s also ready in 30 minutes! Plus, it’s dairy-free and gluten-free, and doesn’t require the hours of stirring of traditional rice pudding methods. This pumpkin spice rice pudding is creamy, sweet, spiced, finished in a hurry, and absolutely delicious. It’s a dessert to enjoy warm on cold fall evenings!…
It’s still warmish during the mid-days around here, but the mornings and evenings are chilly! And what’s better for chilly evenings than soup? Especially this ultra-flavorful, velvety spiced pumpkin and carrot soup that uses the best of fall’s produce!
When we moved last month, I found the pumpkin puree I made last year from the little sugar pumpkins. I had to use it, but for what? I also had some carrots that needed to be used up, and then the idea popped into my head—soup!
Also, one of my favorite things during the cold months (besides soup) is something with spice in it—it just gives me that warm, cozy feeling, and this soup does just that! It’s absolutely packed full of bright, warm flavors and a little bit of spice to warm you up even on the coldest of days!…
- 6 semi-sweet apples
- 1 cup of granola, either homemade or store-bought
- ½ cup of vanilla yogurt or Greek yogurt
- 1 cup of water
- 2 Tbsp. softened butter
- 1 Tbsp. flour
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- ½ tsp. nutmeg
- ¼ tsp. ginger
- ¼ tsp. nutmeg (You can also use 1 Tbsp. pumpkin pie spice and 1 tsp. cinnamon)
- ¼ tsp. salt
- Heat the oven to 375°.
- Combine the spices in a small bowl.
- Core the apples then set into a baking pan or casserole dish. Sprinkle the spice blend, salt, and vanilla on top of the apples, dot with small bits of butter, then pour the water into the bottom of the pan.
- Place the apples in the oven for half an hour to forty minutes, or until the apples are soft.
- While the apples are cooking, combine the granola with 1 tablespoon of butter and the tablespoon of flour with either a fork or your fingers.
- Take the pan out of the oven. The water will probably have evaporated, but if not, take the apples out and pour out the water. Put the apples back into the pan, fill with the yogurt, and top with the granola crumble mixture.
- Place the apples back into the oven for 10 more minutes, or until the granola crumbled mixture is cooked through (you’re cooking the flour and butter).
- If you’d rather not have the yogurt warmed, you can cook the apples and granola crumble mixture together, then pour the yogurt over top.
When you cook the apples the night before, make the granola crumble, add it and the yogurt to the apples and heat them for ten minuts! You’ll have a fun, decently healthy breakfast on the table in ten to fifteen minutes!
- Instead of apples, you can use pears
- To make this recipe gluten-free, you can use a gluten-free flour and a gluten-free granola.
- To make this recipe paleo-friendly, use a paleo granola and an alternative flour like coconut or cassava (almond flour probably would not work, however), and yogurt made with alternative milks.
- To make this recipe dairy-free, use yogurt made with alternative milks like coconut, almond, or cashew.
So, there you have a delicious fall breakfast or brunch, and the apples in the stores right now are so good and perfect for this recipe—nothing mushy or tasteless.
‘Till next time!
The first time I had Rice-A-Roni® was in high school when I was over a friend’s house for dinner. I didn’t even know what it was, to be honest, but darn it, it was good, especially for a kid who only got “treats” like these when I was over at someone else’s house (I didn’t get to taste Texas toast garlic bread until I was in elementary school and, again, over at a friend’s house). The food at home was wonderful and healthy, but it was fun to eat these types of treats when I was at someone else’s house.
Fast forward to today, and Rice-A-Roni is one of my husband’s comfort foods we buy every once in a while. We’d get it more often, but it has a long list of not-so-healthy ingredients and the salt content is kind of ridiculous. So, loving him as I do, I set out to make a copycat recipe.
I learned something really interesting while I was browsing through recipes—the original Rice-A-Roni recipe is based on a recipe for rice pilaf! I was intrigued. According to this NPR article, the creators of Rice-A-Roni, the DiDemenicos, lived next to an Armenian immigrant in San Francisco in the 1940s. Lois DiDemenico, a young immigrant herself, didn’t really know how to cook. Her next door neighbor, Pailadzo Captanian, took her under her wing and taught her several dishes, including a recipe for rice pilaf. The DiDemenico family took the recipe and created the product we know today.
Rice pilaf is an ubiquitous Middle Eastern rice dish—each family, each country, each region has its own variation and there’s no one way to make it. It generally starts with a base of aromatics and results in a deliciously fluffy dish full of savory flavor. The secret to the fluffiness is to dry-cook the rice until it’s lost its translucency and looses some of its starch. This will help the rice absorb more liquid and make it fluffy instead of gummy.
This recipe also include turmeric, just like the original recipe , which is what gives it that brilliant yellow color—plus, turmeric is really good for you.
Armed with that knowledge, and stealing some ingredients from the Rice-A-Roni box, I set out to make a replacement for the boxed version. It’s not as easy as pouring the content of the box into a pan, but it’s still a quick dish to make (on the table in just about half an hour), and I promise it’s completely worth it—it’s husband approved!
- 2 ½ cups of low sodium chicken stock (has to be low sodium!)
- 1 ¼ cup of basmati rice
- 1 serving of vermicelli or other pasta broken in to small bits (I used GF rice pasta)
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 Tbsp. butter
- ½ chicken bouillon cube or ¾ tsp. of Better Than Bullion (you can use less if you want less sodium)
- Italian flat-leaf parsley or 2 Tsp. Italian seasoning
- ½ tsp. turmeric
- Heat olive oil in a sauce pan or pot over medium to medium-low heat until the surface is rippling, then sauté the onion and garlic until fragrant and translucent.
- Melted the butter, then add the dry rice, stirring it around until the rice has become less translucent (not quite so white), but not brown.
- Add in the bullion, turmeric, chicken broth, parsley or Italian seasoning and pasta and stir until fully combined.
- Let the rice cook 15 to 18 minutes, stirring infrequently (you don’t want to agitate the rice and cause it to release too much starch), until all the liquid has been absorbed but before the rice starts to stick to the bottom of the pan or pot.
- Take the pan or pot off the heat, cover, and let sit for five minutes.
- Serve and enjoy!
There you have a delicious copycat side dish, but this time, it’s pretty healthy and comes without all those strange ingredients or the same level of sodium.
‘Till next time!
Salt is important when you’re cooking as I mentioned in last week’s blog of tips for cooking with salt. But there are so many different types of salt, it can be confusing to figure out which one to use. But have no fear! There aren’t too many rules to using salt and one you understand the basics, it’s fun!
Types of Salt
Salt is not just an important part of cooking, is essential in creating certain types of reactions when baking, and it’s even an important part of our diet (too little salt can actually harm your health). Using the right salt at the right time can also change the taste and even texture of your dish. So here’s a small guide to the common types of salt you’ll find in my kitchen:
Kosher salt is a wonderful all-around salt. As the name suggests, this salt is used in koshering meat, which is to sprinkle the salt on meat to draw the blood out. If you do keep kosher, be sure to check the packaging for the correct labeling because not all kosher salt is actually kosher.
When to use it: Kosher salt dissolves easily, so it’s a great salt to use in every-day cooking and baking. I usually use the small-grained kosher salt, however. Large grained salt be problematic, especially if you’re baking and the larger crystals don’t dissolve completely You’ll end up with chunks of salt in your baked goods, and that’s usually not so great (I’ve learned from experience…).
Sea Salt/Flaked Sea Salt
Sea salt is made by the simple process of seawater evaporation. Because it’s a more natural process than, say, table salt, it tends to hang on to more beneficial minerals that are stripped from table salt during processing. It’s also supposed to be more flavorful.
When to use it: Use it as you would kosher or table salt.
Fleur de Sel
Fleur de sel, or “flower of salt”, is salt harvested through a special process of funneling salty water into a pond and letting it evaporate. This leaves a fine layer of salt which is then collected (usually by hand) using special rakes. Much of fleur de sel is harvested in Guérande in Brittany, France and has been since the year 868, although there are several other places in France and Spain where it is harvested as well. Fleur de sel comes in large crystals and has a delicate taste.
When to use it: Fleur de sel is usually used as a finishing salt, especially because it can be super expensive. Finishing salts are sprinkled on a dish just before serving to add an extra, delicate flavor to dishes like fish or vegetables or sprinkled on top of chocolates, chocolate sauce, or caramel.
Gray Salt/Sel Gris
Gray salt, also known as Sel Gris or Celtic sea salt, is harvested much the same way as fleur de sel. When you take it out of the bag or jar, you can actually feel a bit of the moisture the salt holds on to. It’s also full of minerals.
When to use it: Gray salt has a heavier flavor than fleur de sel, and the crystals are larger. It’s best to use it as a finishing salt for heavier and fattier meats than fleur de sel as well as roasted root vegetables like beets and rutabaga.
Himalayan salt is harvested from a specific mine in Pakistan. It is believed to be a very pure salt, full of minerals, which is why you see it so often in health food recipes and used in spa treatments. You can find it in grinders or shakers, but you can also fine entire hand-cut slabs of Himalayan sea salt.
When to use it: Himalayan salt can be used both as a recipe salt and as a finishing salt. The slabs are used to cook and serve delicate foods like seafood, vegetables, and cheeses to help enhance flavors by gently infusing the flavor of the salt.
Smoked salt is created by smoking salt over a wood fire. The smoking imparts deep flavor.
When to use it: It’s perfect for sprinkling over roasted meats and potatoes.
This is just a small collection of salt types. You can also find pickling salts, rock salt, Hawaiian salts (red and black), and seasoned salt. But these are the salts I have in my kitchen/pantry and I use the most often. But, of course, you absolutely don’t need to have all of these salts in your kitchen.
The thing about salt is that it’s really fun to play with. The results are subtle, but different types of salt can really add to a dish. You can even take a few salts and taste them—it’s not as terrible as it may sound. If you take a small bit, it can be eye-opening to taste the different flavors and strengths.
So there you go—a small primer on the most common types of salt you’ll usually find in a kitchen. If you have any questions, of course, please leave them in the comments below!
‘Till next time!
I don’t know about you but I sometimes struggle with adding salt when I’m cooking—I will freely admit it. My husband and I don’t add a lot of salt to food and that can make what I cook seem a little tasteless to someone who is used to more. Even if you’re following a recipe, it can be tricky to get the salt right because one person’s idea of perfect season can be too much, or too little, for another. But, my readers, the point of this blog is to help you learn how to play around in the kitchen and cook the way you want to. So don’t let this fact be a barrier to cooking—it’s just one more way you can experiment and find what works best for you.
Again, keep in mind that these are tips and guidelines to help you get the right amount of salt as you cook.
- Taste as You Go (Within Reason) and Taste at the End
The best way to judge whether a dish is over- or underseasoned is to taste the food as you go. Ingredients are salty, some dishes intensify in flavor as they cook, and the saltiness can even diminish if it chills for a while. You shouldn’t taste raw food, of course, but when you can, taste whatever you’re cooking.
And then check the taste at the end, before you serve. This is the best time to make sure it tastes good and then adjust if you need to.
- Remember It’s Easy to Add Salt, No So Easy to Take it Away
While it’s important to salt enough so that the food isn’t bland, it’s also important to have a light hand, especially in the beginning. You can always add salt at the end if you need to, but it’s much more difficult to take salt away.
I usually add either the salt called for in the recipe, or, if I’m winging it, I add less than I think I should. I know I can always add salt if I need to.
- Sprinkle Salt from Above
It’s the trick you’ll see professional chefs use. When you’re salting big slabs of meat or fish or anything, really, sprinkle the salt 10 to 12 inches above the food. You’ll get better salt coverage and spread.
- Remember the Salty Foods
If you’re adding bacon to a dish, chances are you’ll need less salt than a dish without bacon. Boxed or canned chicken brother also has sodium, which is why many recipes calls for reduced sodium chicken broth.
Keeping additional salt in mind when you’re cooking, especially when you’re not using a recipe, is important for achieving a perfectly seasoned dish.
- Flavors Intensify as they Cook
As soups cook, they lose moisture through evaporation, reducing the liquid, and the flavors become more intense. And if a dish was already salty, it will only become saltier.
And a last thought: if you have guests and they still add salt or believe the dish is a little too salty, don’t worry, especially if it was perfect for you. Everyone is different so just go with what you like. (That’s why you put salt and pepper on the table anyway).
Next Friday I’ll be talking about the most common kinds of cooking salt as well as how and when to use them (like, what exactly is a “finishing salt”?.
‘Till next time!
Yes, Thanksgiving and turkey season may be over, but pumpkin season isn’t! December (can you believe it’s December?!) is the month of desserts! My husband created this recipe and made it for Thanksgiving, but it’s the dessert perfect for any holiday or dinner party. No-bake means it’s simple to make and it incorporates the sweet, comforting tastes of the season with pumpkin cookie butter, all in a silky, luscious, cheesecake!
The holidays are stressful enough, which is what makes this such a wonderful dessert. You can easily make it a day or three ahead of time, leaving you plenty of time to cook or do any of the hundreds of other things you have to do at this time of year. And because it’s no-bake, there are no eggs, no need to use the oven or a pan of water that leaks through. Just beat all the ingredients into submission, put them into a crust, and you’re done!
You only need a handful of ingredients for this recipe, one of which is Cool Whip® or another type of non-dairy whip. It adds the light creaminess needed for cheesecake and takes the places of the eggs (which keep everything together).
Another note: honestly, the only place I can find this pumpkin cookie butter is Trader Joe’s, and it’s a seasonal item. I’m not entirely sure where else to find this type of cookie butter, but please let me know if you find one! However, if you can’t find cookie butter, increase the pumpkin by half a cup and the pumpkin pie spice by a teaspoon.
- 1 tub of Cool Whip®
- 12 oz. of cream cheese
- ½ C. of pumpkin cookie butter
- ½ C. of pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
- 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
- 1 tsp. of vanilla
- 1 tsp. or pumpkin pie spice
- 1 crust (either made or store bought)
- Combine the cream cheese, butter, pumpkin puree, pumpkin cookie butter, vanilla, and pumpkin pie spice in the bowl of a stand mixer, or a regular bowl if you only have a hand mixer.
- Beat on high speed until the mixture is light and fluffy and fully combined.
- Mix in the Cool Whip®, or beat on low speed, until fully combined.
- Pour mixture into the pie crust.
- Allow to sit in the fridge for at least two hours, then serve (and enjoy)!
‘Till next time!
Excuse the mess! As you may have noticed, Flurries of Flour is going through a bit of a fall cleaning. And as I’m one person who is definitely not a programmer, it’s taking a while. I’m very excited about the new theme, however. What do you all think? I’ll be adding (and probably subtracting) over the next week or so. Please let me know if you notice anything strange or any broken links that need attention-I would be grateful if you would let me know.
Anyway, on to the actual post!
When it comes to questions about cooking, I get this a lot: “what exactly is a pinch? How much of (insert ingredient here) should I use?”
You can easily measure a cup of whipped cream, a teaspoon of chocolate, or a liter of soup stock, but there are some strange measurements out there for which there usually aren’t measurements.
Why is it Called a “Pinch”
A pinch is called a pinch because it was exactly that: “an amount that can be taken between the thumb and forefinger”. Historically, there wasn’t anything more specific than that. More recently, the measuring spoons and cups measured above have specified that a pinch is equal to 1/16 of a teaspoon.
The Actual Measurements
I’ve put together a chart that shows strange measurements and their measurable counterparts:
|Pinch||1/16 of a teaspoon|
|Dash||1/8 of a teaspoon|
If you don’t have an 1/8 measurement, in a pinch (see what I did there?) you can make a cupping motion out of one hand and pour the ingredient into the very center of your palm. It’s a technique I was taught in culinary school, of all places.
You can also use your teaspoon and eyeball an 1/8th and a 1/16th. Just remember that it’s okay to be slightly off with your measurements. It’s a small enough measurement that it won’t affect the outcome of whatever you’re making. Plus, pinches have always been an inexact science if you think about their origin.
So I hope that answers your questions about “pinches” and “dashes”. Now you know what to do when they come up in recipes.