Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Brown Rice and Goat Cheese Cakes

You know you've been memorable when your husband lovingly refers to a dinner as those "cakes that looked like pressed cow turds." I countered with the fact that they didn't seem dark enough for that, so maybe sun-bleached ones. Sorry, moving on. :)

When I get the cooties, all I can manage to eat is rice, so I make a lot of rice. Like, a lot. Usually brown, and since it takes so long to make, I tend to make way more than I need, because I def. don't want to mind a pot of rice for 50 minutes any more than I have to. Now, this has led to a herd of extra baggies of rice in my freezer. You'd think that when I get sick, I would just reach into the freezer for a bag, but I don't. I make more. You cannot argue with a sick person.

This meal wasn't intended to use them up, because like I said, I practically forget that rice is in there - until it drops on my foot - but it worked out that way. I was hungry for these, but not in the mood for the 50-minute rice action, and that much-underused light-bulb flickered on... "no need to worry, dearie, you have rice already!" Rad. (This is a wonderful thing, too, because I almost always have goat cheese and pecans at home, too, so I'll be able to throw these together in a pinch!)

I probably over-did it with the food processor, because the mix wasn't so much on the grainy side, but that didn't seem to matter. Formed, fried, and baked and they were quite tasty. Dave made the comment that these would make great veggie-burgers, and I have to agree. The rice gives it a nice chew, but the goat cheese kept them moist.

I served these with our new favorite salad. Let me tell you how we came upon it.

Dave and I visited with his parents in Phoenix in December. We went to Quiessence Restaurant & Wine Bar, located at The Farm at South Mountain. We'd arrived early and had a chance to tour the property. I was just smitten with row after row of vegetables, the noisy chickens, the citrus trees, heavy with fruit. The farm seemed to be a little piece of heaven, right there in an active and bustling city. Quiessence prides itself on its use of local, sustainable ingredients, and it shows. The meal we shared there was the best meal of my life. Seriously. The attention to detail, the marriage of flavors without complication... I cannot wait to go back.

Dave and I each had their root vegetable salad. It consisted of many varieties of sliced radish, carrot, and arugula, all tossed in a light vinaigrette. We asked the server to find out what was in it, and she listed radishes we'd never heard of: Easter Egg, French Breakfast, Icicle, Watermelon... I knew then that we'd have to find them.

I was able to find the Easter Egg radishes and some very colorful carrots to pull this together at home. (My favorite are the purple carrots - they're green in the middle!!) Topped with a little olive oil and a splash of whichever O Vinegar we're in the mood for, and we're happy salad eaters.

I've never grown radishes, carrots, or arugula at home, but this summer, I'm going to try. :)

Brown Rice and Goat Cheese Cakes
c/o Eating Well Magazine, April 2008

Medium-grain brown rice has a toothsome texture and nutty flavor that complement creamy, earthy goat cheese in these elegant cakes. Serve over salad greens as a main course.

Makes 6 servings

3/4 cup medium-grain brown rice
1 1/2 cups water
4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
6 medium shallots, chopped
2 medium carrots, shredded using the large holes of a box grater
1/2 cup toasted pecans (see Tip)
3 ounces goat cheese
1 large egg white
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Bring rice and water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer at the lowest bubble until the water is absorbed and the rice is tender, 30 to 50 minutes (see Test Kitchen Note). Remove from the heat and let stand, covered, for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add shallots; cook, stirring often, until soft, 2 to 3 minutes. Add carrots, reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring often, until softened and the shallots are lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Transfer the cooked vegetables and rice to a large food processor. Add pecans, goat cheese, egg white, thyme, salt and pepper. Pulse until well blended but still a little coarse. Scrape into a large bowl. With wet hands, form the mixture into six 3-inch patties (about 1/2 cup each).

Heat the remaining 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the patties and cook until well browned, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a baking sheet and bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the middle registers at least 160°F, 10 to 15 minutes.

TIP: Tip: Spread pecans on a baking sheet and bake at 350°F, stirring once, until fragrant, 7 to 9 minutes.

Test Kitchen Note: Perfectly cooked rice is not simple. In fact, it’s something that we struggle with occasionally in the Test Kitchen. To have the most success cooking whole-grain rice, we recommend using a pan with a tight-fitting lid, cooking on your coolest (or simmer) burner and making sure the rice is simmering at the “lowest bubble.” While testing the recipes that use less than 1 cup of dry rice, we found that the cooking time varied greatly depending on what stove we used. Although whole-grain rice usually requires 50 minutes of cooking, we found smaller volumes of rice were sometimes done in as little as 30 minutes (and burned at 50 minutes). So, when cooking a small batch of rice, start checking it after 30 minutes to make sure it doesn’t burn.

Make ahead tip: Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Serve cold or reheat.

Per serving: 250 calories; 14 g fat (3 g sat, 7 g mono); 7 mg cholesterol; 26 g carbohydrate; 7 g protein; 3 g fiber; 274 mg sodium; 250 mg potassium.

1 comment:

JLPhoenix said...

Quiessence Restaurant and Wine Bar is my utmost favorite restaurant. I am glad you loved it too. The drive thru the Farm at South Mountain is enchanting. The food at Quiessence is simply delicious. The menu changes pretty much every day depending on what is in season. They prepare local, fresh, organic food and it’s simply delicious. The chef there is a pure genius!

You should go to Vote for Q in AZ restaurants!


You can find me on www.bitelclub.com/jlphoenix

I love to talk food. :.)