Originally associated in this country with traditional rice pudding, the economical versatility of rice is being recognized and it is now used in many exciting and popular dishes.
Long grain rice originates from many countries, but look for patna and basmatti rice from India, and long grain rice from the USA. Use in savoury dishes. During cooking the long grains become fluffy and separate.
If you buy it pre-packed, it may be described as ‘easy cook’, ‘separate grain’, ‘pre-fluffed’, ‘specially processed’ or ‘non-stick’, which indicates that the rice has been subjected to steam treatment before milling to increase retention of food value.
‘Pre-cooked’, ‘instant’, ‘quick-cook’ and ‘express’, are names found on packaging, which indicate that the rice has been pre-cooked and dehydrated, and so requires soaking before cooking according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Short or round-grain rice Many brands sold here come from China and Australia, Use for rice puddings and other sweet rice dishes, The grains tend to become sticky on cooking.
Brown rice has increased in popularity, because its unmilled state results in the increased retention of vitamins and minerals. Used in savoury dishes, it has a distinct, nutty flavour.
Wild rice Used in savoury dishes. This is not a true rice but the seed of a wild grass from the USA and Canada.
Cooking rice Remember that raw rice will treble in weight after cooking. For perfect, fluffy rice, simmer in a covered pan for about 15 minutes, with about twice its own volume of water.
Allow 50 g (2 oz) dry rice per person, and about 40 minutes cooking time if you’re using brown rice. Alternatively cook in a covered dish, with the correct proportion of water, at 180°C (350°F) Gas Mark 4, for about 40 minutes. If necessary, keep hot in a sieve over water.
For fried rice, use well-drained boiled rice which is slightly undercooked. Rice can be flavoured with stock cubes, dried soup mixes, tomato juice or herbs during the cooking process. If too much rice has been cooked, use to make a tasty rice salad with chopped tomatoes, peppers and celery. Rice will freeze successfully for up to six months in a sealed container.
For a rice pudding use 50 g (2 oz) short grain rice with 575/600 ml (1 pint) milk and 25 g (1 oz) sugar and bake at 150°C (300°F) Gas Mark 2 for 2-2½ hours.
Pasta is dough: hard (durum) wheat and water, commercially processed is the most familiar, but it is possible to make at home. There are hundreds of different shapes: spaghetti and macaroni are most familiar, but look for noodles — tagliatelle or fettuccine; pasta shaped in shells and bows, and flat sheets (lasagne). Quite often, spinach is added for colour: look for verdi’ on the packet.
Pasta is often served with a tomato, beef or cheese sauce before the main course of a meal but it can be the main dish, served with butter, freshly ground black pepper and lashings of grated Parmesan cheese.
Cooking pasta Allow 75- 125 g (3-4 oz) pasta per person, and cook in a large quantity of boiling salted
water for 8-15 minutes, depending on the size and thickness of the pasta, or according to packet instructions. Usually allow 575- 600 ml (1 pint) water and 1 level teaspoon of salt for every 50 g (2 oz) pasta, and take care not to overcook or it will become sticky. Cook spaghetti in whole strands by holding it at one end and letting it slowly sink into the boiling water. Drain, rinse well with hot water, re-heat with a little butter over a low heat and serve.
Pasta comes in a variety of shapes.
1 Tort ellini tiny ‘little hats’ filled with meat or cheese. Cook and serve Ovith a sauce
2 wholemeal tagliatelle 3grossorigata, usually cooked and then stuffed
6 tagliatelle verdi, coloured with spinach
7 egg-enriched tagliatelle
8 anellini, tiny soup shapes
9 tortiglioni, spirals
10 capellii 11 farfalle, shaped like bows or butterflies
12 freshly made tagliatelle
13 ravioli, small cushions of pasta filled with meat or cheese
15 stelline, star-shaped pasta for soups 16 conchigliette, small shell shapes
17 lasagne verdi, used in baked dishes with layers of meat in a tomato sauce and topped with a white sauce and cheese
18 conchiglie, large shell shapes, cooked and served with a rich tomato or meat sauce
19 granigna rigata
20 cannelloni, cook, then fill with a meat or cheese stuffing and serve with a sauce
23 nocchette, another pasta for soup