Fall’s Favorite Fruit: Apples!

 

Autumn is Mother Nature’s last burst of vibrant beauty before falling asleep for the long, cold winter. In autumn, the trees morph from green into hues of deep red, yellow and orange, while the heat of the summer is blown away by crisp breezes and ripening sunsets. Fall is the season of harvest, a time to enjoy the fruits of our labors, especially when one of those fruits is a popular autumn treat — apples.

Warm Up with Apple Dishes that Remind You of Home.

From gooey apple pies to savory cobblers, even just the smell of a baking apple is enough to warm the skin on chilly nights. While our tried and true favorites are cornerstones of autumn traditions, let this fall be your opportunity to explore a little and put some extra spice into your apple recipes:

  • Move over blueberries and bananas! These warm and moist Apple Streusel Muffins will re-energize your morning commute.
  • Green Granny Smiths make these Apple Cream Cheese Scones an irresistible treat for breakfast or dessert. The richness of the cream cheese with warm vanilla notes blend perfectly with the tartness of the apples.
  • Revive your old zucchini bread recipe with this Zucchini Carrot Apple Bread. One slice will never be enough – guaranteed.
  • Add a bit of old European flair to your kitchen with a Hazelnut Almond Linzertorte, filled to the brim with sweet apricot preserves and chopped apples.
  • Time to bring out the main course! Apples add juiciness, flavor and a punch of color to this Apple Roast Chicken.

Think Outside the Pie – Use Apples for Welcoming Décor!

While there are hundreds of ways to bring them into every meal, apples aren’t just for the taste buds. This versatile fruit can be used as both snacks and centerpieces. Eat one apple yourself, then make one of these unique crafts with the other:

  • Using different colored ink, you can create beautiful artwork using halved apples as stamps.
  • Give your fall backyard BBQ a pop of color with floating tea light candleholders made from cored apples.
  • Craft a one-of-a-kind welcoming wreath to hang on your front door with various fall icons, including dried apples.
  • Sip steamy apple cider from a hollowed out bright red apple cup. Soup in a bread bowl has nothing on this combination!

Whether in the kitchen or on the craft table, fall’s favorite fruit has something for everyone. So remember, when life hands you apples, you can make, well, just about anything!

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How to Infuse Maple Syrup

 

Few things are as satisfying as made-from-scratch breakfasts on weekend mornings. A sizzling griddle, the smell of coffee enveloping the kitchen, shamelessly wearing pajamas until noon – what’s not to love? Whether your go-to breakfast is pancakes, waffles, or some sweet, magical hybrid (Handle the Heat combines waffles and doughnuts!), the common ground is passing the maple syrup around the table.

We know it and love it as a sweet and pourable pancake topper, but have you considered getting out the maple syrup bottle past 10 am? The syrup is a surprisingly versatile ingredient, lending itself well to sweet pastries (like these smoked bacon biscuits!), as well as savory main dishes.

We recently caught up with Tim Burton, the mastermind behind the maple syrup production hub, Burton’s Maplewood Farm. The company has given traditional maple syrup a twist that transcends breakfast, encouraging customers to think beyond the waffle. Burton’s method? Aging maple syrup for twelve months in liquor barrels that formerly held whiskey, bourbon, rum and brandy. The company will even partner with bourbon-producing giant Pappy Van Winkle this fall to develop a high-end, unique barrel-aged syrup that whiskey aficionados can’t wait to taste!

We’re taking a hint from Burton’s and trying our hand at homemade maple syrup infusions. You can try it, too! As Burton advises, pick out your favorite herbs, spices, or flavors (think cooked pieces of bacon or chopped rosemary). Put them in a small saucepan, adding however much maple syrup you’d like to infuse. More spice equals more intense flavor. Cook the mixture on medium heat until the desired intensity is achieved. It’s as simple as that!

Try some of these flavor infusions to get started:

  • Bacon – The smoky flavor will enhance the maple, making it an excellent choice for breakfast dishes, BBQ sauces or even atop roasted Brussels sprouts!
  • Dill – Burton recommends finely chopping dill and heating it with maple syrup to glaze both sides of salmon filets before cooking.
  • Citrus – Add orange rind and cinnamon sticks for syrup that’s divine drizzled over cinnamon rolls or peaches for a simple dessert.

The options are endless! So get in the kitchen and start experimenting with your favorite herbs and spices. If you’re intrigued, but not as confident developing your own combinations yet, then stick to these tried and true maple recipes from Clabber Girl.

Maple Bourbon Pecan Tart

The nuttiness of the pecans, paired with brown sugar, bourbon and sweetness of the maple makes this a winning fall entertaining dessert.

Maple Orange Chicken

Maple syrup, maple vinegar, apricot jam and white pepper form a fresh take on the weeknight chicken breast.

Sweet Potato and Sausage Pancakes

Sweet potato, sausage and syrup IN the pancakes? Hearty enough for breakfast at dinnertime!

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Fried Chicken Conquers Menus Worldwide

 

Who knew that the “it” dish of the past few years would be served in the form of good, old-fashioned fried chicken? From major cities to small towns, from trendy gastropubs to mom-and-pop diners, menus worldwide are featuring some seriously creative combinations of this traditional southern fare.

Fried chicken has a unique history in the U.S. that goes back even before the Civil War. However, it was in the early 1900s that a special blend of herbs and spices revamped the popularity of the dish. It was then that Colonel Sanders, founder of the fast food chain Kentucky Fried Chicken, set his sights on franchising his recipe, putting the spotlight on this age-old comfort food.

While we never need a reason to celebrate food, we figure the Colonel’s birthday is the perfect time to celebrate this southern staple and try out some inventive and, of course, delicious, mouth-watering fried chicken recipes.

Branching out for the first time? Try Chicken and Biscuits: Fried chicken and buttermilk biscuits – comfort food doesn’t get much more comforting than that. Clabber Girl’s Good Ole Fried Chicken recipe is the perfect place to start. Since you already need buttermilk for that recipe, go ahead and pair it with our moist and flaky buttermilk biscuits.

Want something sweet and savory? Try Chicken & Waffles: You absolutely can’t go wrong — crunchy, juicy southern-style fried chicken, with just a hint of spice lingering on your tongue, and fresh baked waffles, all drizzled with warm maple syrup.

Are you a recipe daredevil? Try a Chicken Cronut™ Sandwich: Nothing but glazed will do for this hearty dish. Squeeze a crispy fried chicken breast between two buttery, flakey donuts and feel your taste buds transformed by the ultimate combination of sweet and salty.

Focusing on the chicken? Get creative with the breading: Side dishes come and go, but fried chicken always remains. For many fried chicken connoisseurs, it’s all about the breading. Want to keep the sweet but ditch the doughnut? Pull out the graham crackers and cayenne pepper for our Graham Cracker Fried Chicken.

Clearly, what fried chicken has done for food is what the little black dress has done for date night. It adds a layer of sophistication, without losing its original appeal. With a dash of creativity, you can create succulent versions of this spectacular fare right in your own kitchen!

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Go Bananas on Banana Lover’s Day

 

Americans eat more than three billion pounds of bananas a year, adding up to roughly 300 bananas a second. Soft and sweet, rich in potassium and bursting with fiber, it’s no wonder bananas are hailed as a super food!

  • There are nearly 1,000 different kinds of bananas, but very few of them are actually sold in stores.
  • A banana plant isn’t actually a tree – it’s technically an herb!
  • Some cultures use banana peel fibers to make paper.
  • The banana is a rock star. More songs have been created about it than any other fruit. Check out this playlist of our favorites!
  • The fruit’s combination of tryptophan and vitamin B6 produces the neurochemical serotonin, which can stave off depression and improve overall mental health.
  • Bananas have been recorded as far back as ancient Egypt. There are even bananas depicted in hieroglyphics!

In our bodies, bananas fuel us with energy and nutrients. The potassium wards off muscle cramps and the antioxidants ease stomach ulcers. But bananas are good for more than just banana bread. You can harness the full power of bananas in some very interesting ways, particularly by:

  • Adding bananas to cake batter, resulting in a moister and naturally sweet dessert. We recommend substituting up to half of the oil in the recipe with banana puree. It’s also a delicious addition to pancakes!
  • Putting banana peels in your watering can to create a natural fertilizer for your plants.
  • Placing peels on chicken breasts as they cook to keep them moist and tender.
  • Mashing a banana and using the puree as a face mask. Leave it on for 15-20 minutes for super moist skin!
  • Using the peel to polish silverware and leather.
  • Easing itchy bites and rashes with the inside of the peel.

Ultimately, however, even with these inventive uses, we can all admit that the best part of a banana is its flavor. To keep your bananas from browning too quickly, wrap the stems in plastic wrap to lock in the ethylene gas, keeping them yellow for days. Or find another use for them this National Banana Lover’s Day (that’s today!) by putting on your banana mask, polishing your silverware and cooking up one of these delicious banana recipes:

Fresh Fruit Pizza: This simple dessert pizza starts with a crust made from brown sugar and walnuts. It’s topped with cream cheese and a variety of fruits, including, of course, bananas.

Sunrise Muffins with Honey Butter: Combining buttermilk and cinnamon with pineapples and carrots gives these muffins a delectable and savory flavor. Ripened bananas make these muffins moist and sweet.

Chill Out Banana Coffee Cream Pie: Who needs an afternoon coffee break when this recipe exists? Vanilla wafer cookies, coffee extract and bananas give this dish a creamy, sweet flavor.

Banana Maple Beignets: This French pastry mixes banana chips and maple syrup together for an extraordinary breakfast experience.

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Best Fair Food of 2014

 

Who doesn’t love the excitement of the State Fair? For many of us, as kids we walked the midway, chewing on roasted corn dripping with butter and licking sticky cotton candy off of our fingers. Those were the simple days of fair foods. Nowadays, fair food is less of a tasty treat and more of a mouth-watering art. Amid an array of fried candy bars and bacon-covered everything, states are taking their fair food to a whole new level. Here are just a few treats we’d like to snag. And devour.

Deep-Fried Texas Bluebonnet: “A blueberry muffin, scone-style batter that is stuffed with cream cheese, blueberries and sweet morsels of white chocolate” is this concoction’s description at the Texas State Fair. A finalist in the Big Tex Choice Awards, this fried goodness is topped with whipped cream, powdered sugar, more fresh blueberries and a special glaze. Seriously yum!

Funnel Cake Sticks: Ah, a classic fair indulgence. Well, sort of. At the Iowa State Fair, fair-goers had their choice of vanilla, chocolate or strawberry batter deep fried and topped with a smooth icing. It’s everything we love about traditional funnel cakes without all the mess.

Making your own funnel cake is not near as daunting as you may think. This simple Clabber Girl recipe makes it easy. 

Chicken-n-Waffle Cone: Despite original cream puffs being the oldest food tradition and crowning glory of the Wisconsin State Fair, we just had to know more about this dish. A finalist in the “Golden Spork Awards,” this fair treat boasts a rosemary cornmeal waffle cone stuffed with Cajun buttermilk fried chicken, blue cheese coleslaw, honey lager maple syrup and beer candied bacon. We didn’t make that up (though we wish we did!).

Fruit Twister Shake-up: This year, our home state of Indiana flaunted the Fruit Twister Shake-up. The refreshing thirst-quencher has long been an Indiana tradition, and the new spin includes lemons, oranges, pineapple, strawberries, sugar, ice and water.

Don’t let summer go by without trying out a few new drinks. Start with Clabber Girl’s Watermelon Lemonade – perfect for sitting on the porch, flipping a few burgers or after mowing the lawn.

All of these creative recipes were worthy of treks to the State Fair. With all the delicious and innovative choices, we can’t help but wonder what the imagination will cook up next year!

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Happy Zucchini Day!

 

Happy Zucchini Day! If you’re looking for a way to celebrate this versatile, nutrient veggie, how about cooking or baking with it? Sweet or savory, main dish or dessert, light or hearty…whatever you crave, we’ve got you covered.  So go forth and celebrate summer!

Sides and Salads:

Making a zucchini dish for lunch or as an accompaniment to dinner couldn’t be easier. For a quick side dish, cut zucchini into coins, sauté in a little olive oil and top with melted mozzarella. You could also cut the zucchini length-wise and throw them on the grill. From ratatouille to shish kebabs, here are some of our favorite sides.

Baked vegetable and cheese polenta
Braised summer vegetables
Caponata
Cheese-fried zucchini
Garden ratatouille
Grilled potato salad
Grilled ratatouille salad
Roasted Mediterranean vegetables
Farmers market shish kebobs
Spinach zucchini soufflé

Main Dishes:

Zucchini works as an excellent, nutritious replacement for grains and meat in many dishes! For a low-carb, low(er)-fat main dish, try layering thin slices of zucchini as you would noodles in lasagna. It’s also a fabulous addition to quiches and frittatas!

Garden-fresh zucchini lasagne
Turkey vegetable meatloaf
Vegetarian “meatloaf”
Zucchini pizza
Zucchini quiche

Soups and Stews:

A vegetable like zucchini holds up well in warm, hearty soups. Make it the star of your chili, or add it in with other veggies in classic minestrone.

Beefy minestrone
Beef stew with cheese dumplings
Italian sausage soup
Zucchini chili

Breads and Muffins:

Isn’t zucchini bread everyone’s number one way to use up all that summer squash? Shred it up very fine for a moist bread that could pass as veggie-free. Hint: making a chocolate version hides it from the kids even more!

Chocolate zucchini bread
Chocolate zucchini muffins
Pineapple zucchini bread
Savory zucchini parmesan bread
Zucchini bread
Zucchini carrot apple bread

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Top 3 Biscuit Mistakes

 

It’s almost Sunday morning – time for biscuits! The mouth-watering smell of rising dough fills the house. Every second the aroma strengthens, enticing you to nibble on that flaky, buttery goodness. The timer goes off and you eagerly open the oven door, only to feel your mitt-clad hand lower and your mouth dry up. The dough is all spread out and hard as a rock, not to mention the burnt bottoms. Something obviously went wrong, but you followed the recipe to the letter. So what happened?

Even the best cooks have their moments. Environment and equipment play just as important of a role as ingredients and recipes. That’s why the baking experts here at Clabber Girl have come up with some clever solutions to the most common biscuit-baking mistakes.

1. I could build a house with my biscuits! They’re just too hard.

Overcooking or high oven temperatures yield brick-like biscuits that can appear to look just fine on the outside. Sometimes, using too many dry ingredients can harden the dough, too.

Solution: Lining your tray with parchment paper can help reduce the hardness. Also think about reducing the heat or cooking time. If this is a repeat offense, your oven is likely the culprit. Placing a thermometer inside will reveal if your oven needs calibrating. Try tweaking your process with these delectable biscuits overflowing with a sweet apricot filling.

2. My entire baking tray morphed into one giant, shallow biscuit. How do I keep my biscuits from spreading?

Using too much butter or hot baking trays can cause the dough to glide across the pan like molten lava. Overeager cooks too impatient to let the oven adequately preheat can also incur the dreaded biscuit spread.

Solution: Let the dough cool in the fridge for about 20 minutes before baking and make sure your baking pan is cool or, at least, room temperature. Try your new techniques on these savory cheese and garlic drop biscuits, the perfect companion for Italian night. If your biscuits still spread, try substituting half the butter with shortening. They’ll have the same rich flavor, minus the soft spreading agent.

3. My biscuits have the perfect shimmer of light brown on top, but the bottoms are burnt to a crisp.

If your oven is too hot or you’ve placed the tray too close to the heating element, your biscuits can look golden on top, but black on the bottom.

Solution: If your oven doesn’t heat evenly, try turning the tray at the halfway point and also place it on the middle rack, not the bottom. Parchment paper can also help prevent burnt bottoms. Pick up a roll as you grab the ingredients for Clabber Girl’s incredible smoked bacon biscuits.

Biscuits are a food that should make you just as happy baking as eating. Few things are as disappointing as a baking disaster. Making these few simple adjustments can turn your biscuit breakdown into a kitchen conquest!

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Bakers’ Basics: A New Column with Marcy Goldman

 

We’re excited to introduce a new blog series to you called Bakers’ Basics with Marcy Goldman! Marcy is a professional pastry chef and master baker. She’s authored several books and hosts the popular baking magazine Better Baking. Marcy will be sharing her tricks and techniques via recipes and special baking tips every other month in this space. We hope you’ll find it helpful and entertaining! Here’s Marcy:

Welcome to Bakers’ Basics! In this new bi-monthly column, I will provide a mini baking lesson and some especially created recipes to go with the lesson.

Bakers’ Basics is your place; a cozy and floury oasis where you’ll be learning the unique joys of both classic and contemporary American baking. We’ll be chatting about recipes that are seasonal, traditional, and trending, as well as foundational, teaching recipes. It’s all geared to help you improve your baking skills.

I’ll be sharing my expertise as well as my own passion for this wonder ingredient, Clabber Girl baking powder, while you hone your home baking craftsmanship.

Despite the plethora of great free recipes, food sites and blogs, and expert videos on baking, many professional techniques are omitted. Consequently, home bakers don’t always have the advantage of recipes that are designed to make them shine, along with the insider’s tips to help them improve. Nor do they get to appreciate the low-down on baking powder baking, which is, in essence, the full spectrum of American baking.  Want the techniques and tricks only the pros know? Here’s the place to find out about them and once you do, just watch your baking soar!

A Baking Powder Primer

As familiar as our modern baking powder is now, there once was a time when the sole baking leaveners were wild yeasts and sour dough starters, frothy mounted egg whites, or the somewhat unpalatable and unreliable early baking sodas of yesteryear, also known as saleratus. This gravelly, early sodium bicarbonate had to be used in conjunction with an acid ingredient, usually sour milk or buttermilk. It was unreliable, and oftentimes baked goods had that unmistakable yucky taste of soda in them.

When commercial double-acting baking powder was first introduced around 1855 (just before the Civil War!), it offered home bakers a reliable, consistent leavener that already had its acid component (cream of tartar, phosphate or alum powders) mixed in with the alkali ingredient, namely soda. Homemakers no longer had to labour at the butter churn to produce some extra buttermilk needed to make their soda active.

As city life evolved and homemakers no longer predictably had access to farm-churned buttermilk, this attribute of the new “yeast powder,” aka baking powder, had huge appeal. In fact, the first baking powders were known as “Yeast Powders” to somewhat dupe or appease the consumer into thinking this was a derivative yeast product.

Some home bakers (as well as pros) bemoaned the new product, concerned it would see the disappearance of old-fashioned yeast bakery. But what did come to pass, and what we can all appreciate, is that modern baking powder gave rise to a whole new spectrum of totally fabulous baking, from quick breads to cupcakes, muffins, scones, biscotti, pancakes and tender layer cakes. It’s hard to think of any great baking, aside from yeasted breads, that doesn’t begin with a can of Clabber Girl Baking Power, who by the way, has been here from the beginning of this baking journey. To read more on Clabber Girl’s own special history, check out http://www.clabbergirl.com/history.php/

Now you know just what a wonder product baking powder is and how integral it is to American baking. Knowing Clabber Girl is perfectly formulated and recipe-tested to be the best, you can join me on this very special baking adventure.

To start us off this month, I’ve included a trio of recipes that are quintessentially summery and showcase Clabber Girl’s baking powder in three very delectable ways. They are also blue ribbon examples of baking powder-based baking that kitchens have enjoyed for generations.

Enjoy!

Blueberry Raspberry Buckle
Buckles, grunts, crisps, pandowdy’s and deep dish fruity things are both summery easy and a perfect lesson in seeing how baking powder and some pantry ingredients make for as sumptuous dessert. This is a golden, fruity buckle with an addictive streusel topping. Dense with deep berry freshness and flavor, it slices easily, making it oh-so-easy to serve. This is summery country elegance in its finest hour and no wonder!  A ton of extra testing and perfecting went into this quintessential buckle recipe. It’s not too cakey nor gummy; it’s neither muffin, nor a quick bread, and too unique to be just a coffee cake. It’s just the best buckle possible and a wonderful example of the marvels of the broad realm of baking powder baking.

1860 Secret Trick Baking Powder Biscuits
Pioneer cooks being baking savvy knew to rely on farm fresh buttermilk for extra light biscuits. The acid in the buttermilk makes the biscuits especially high-risin’. My extra trick is to add soured (lemon juice helps do that) whipping cream for an especially high, baking powder biscuit that is both tender and crusty. This is an all-butter biscuit; if you prefer shortening, use the new non trans fat one.

Caramel Sticky Pudding
This is a rustic but still decadent dessert that’s whipped together in minutes. A simple cake batter gets spooned into a pan, doused with brown sugar and maple concoction. The magic of the oven (and baking powder) transforms it into a golden brown cake atop a luscious sticky syrup bottom.

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Celebrate Bastille Day – With Dessert!

 

Still relishing those mid-summer Fourth of July festivities? Lucky for you, today marks another celebration of freedom – Bastille Day! Much like Independence Day to Americans, Bastille Day commemorates the start of the French Revolution, when unarmed peasants stormed the Bastille prison and armory. What better way to commemorate their victory than to pop open some champagne, pull out the Bocce set and whip up a few delectable French desserts the whole family will love?

A French Celebration

Dessert in France is as much a part of the country’s heritage as Bastille Day. On July 14, flags line the Champs-Elysees, fireworks light up the Eiffel Tower and families gather with friends to honor the establishment of their first constitution. Needless to say, the celebration includes tremendous amounts of wine, cheese and, of course, chocolate.

From chocolate mousse to crème brûlée, French desserts are the Audrey Hepburn of baking; they have an elegance all their own. There is as much sophistication as there is sweetness in every bite. In this culture, food is to be savored, and each meal is planned with intention, creativity and attitude.

French Dessert Characteristics

In fact, the French consider cooking to be as artistic as painting, and it isn’t all about taste. While it’s true, the French have panache for pairing the richness of crème with the bittersweet tang of dark chocolate, the aroma and the presentation are equally as important. That’s what makes French food, especially desserts, so luscious– they appeal to all the senses. Traditional French desserts have several distinct qualities:

Create Your Own!

On Bastille Day, transform yourself into a French pastry chef and kick-start your celebration with Clabber Girl’s mouth-watering Crepes Chantilly. This extra special treat is a delicate and delicious French-style pancake filled with sweet fruit and decadent crème. The thin cake is dressed up with strawberries and layered with whipped topping, creating a flavorful treat perfect for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Another sweet filling of choice is peanut butter and banana slices – maybe even with a drizzle of chocolate!

For a twist, experiment with savory flavor combinations like sun-dried tomato and pesto with grilled chicken, or spinach, bacon and mushroom. With a little creativity and practice, you’ll develop crepe-making skills that everyone in the family will appreciate.

So do as the French do, and bon appétit!

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Get to Know the Grain: Rice 101

 

Rice is a versatile pantry staple that is equally at home in a variety of cuisines from around the world. Years ago, American households were typically only familiar with American long-grain white rice. Who can forget those cheesy chicken and rice casseroles at the dinner table?

But as ethnic foods have gained popularity, Americans have embraced a variety of rice, from Arborio to sushi rice and everything in between. Let’s take a look at some of our favorite examples of this satisfying starch.

American long-grain white rice is the all-American staple. Cooked on the stove top, the rice has a dry, fluffy texture with distinct grains. Its counterpart is American long-grain brown rice, which is simply the whole-grain version, before the bran and germ layers have been removed. Chewier than white rice, it has a nutty flavor and more nutrients.

For authentic risotto, Arborio rice is a must-have ingredient. Its characteristic plump grains have more starch than other kinds of rice, which helps give risotto the creamy stick-to-your-ribs texture for which it is known.

Basmati rice is often used in Indian dishes, where it is commonly seasoned with spices like cumin and cardamom. The grains are longer, slender, and the rice has a nutty flavor and fragrance. Basmati rice should be soaked in cold water for an hour or more before cooking for best results.

Japanese-style rice or sushi rice is firm yet slightly sticky when cooked. It is often used for sushi, but is also served alongside a meal, as well.

Hailing from Thailand, Jasmine rice has long, translucent grains which when cooked, have an aroma similar to popcorn. Jasmine rice should be rinsed thoroughly prior to cooking to remove excess starch.

Like Arborio, short-grain brown rice has a higher level of the starch, amylopectin, which makes it a bit stickier than other rice. As with the American brown rice, the grain’s outer-layer of bran gives it a hearty, chewy texture.

By the way, wild rice really isn’t rice at all. Rather, it is a seed of a native North American grass variety. Often paired with long-grain brown rice, it is chewy and adds color and texture to other rice dishes.

For a quick rice side dish, we like this Toasted Rice, Almond and Cranberry Pilaf. Dotted with colorful cranberries and crunchy almond slivers, it looks fancy, but comes together in about 20 minutes. Enjoy!

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