Monday, May 7, 2012

Whole Grain Rice Salad, 101 Cookbooks, and an artist date

I've been reading Heidi Swanson's blog 101 Cookbooks every week for years now.   I was  excited to get her new book, but the thing is, I don't always make recipes from it because of her abundant use of eggs and dairy.  Milk is fairly easy to replace but eggs can be a challenge if a recipe specifies too many (like 10). Also with eggs from my friends at River Farm running me $7 a carton, we don't eat very many at once.   Anyway, Heidi's blog and cookbook also have many vegan recipes. And I found this inspiring recipe in her book Super Natiural Every Day. I used it as a springboard since sweet cherries aren't in season yet and all I had were frozen pie cherries.  

Well, why not a pie cherry vinaigrette?  That's what I thought and this has got to be one of the best salad dressings I've ever created!

My Cooking Assistant Finn is game for anything as long as he can supervise and clean bowls.  This is his day to post, so I'll let him weave his artist date story for you.

Dreams, Artist Dates and Good Books: A Guest Post by Finn the Cooking Assistant (aka the dog picker)

Memory foam and bits of sun have been calling so I took a brief hiatus.  I can't resist taking time to revive my dream life, catch up on new stuff in the garden and on the street and read some compelling stories.

Seriously, if you can't take time off to smell the flowers, what's the point of anything?  And if you've lost your sense of smell, I'm sorry for you because there is no point, at least not in the canine world.  A dog who can't smell is like a human who can't see.

Our long walks on Sundays are like artist dates, and my lady snaps phots and we stop to sniff everything.  I like it when we visit this semi-abondoned strip mall known as downtown Perrinville. Empty store fronts, huge garbage cans, old cars and even an abondoned garden, tucked away between buildings. 

I don't get why humans don't just turn this empty mall into a farmers market.  This empty "village"   has never had any stores listed on this sign.

And could someone tell me why if there aren't any stores, why is there so much stuff in the garbage?  Where does the furniture come from?

I have to try it out before we leave.   Who knows? It could be better than what we've got at home. 

I poke around but I'm not allowed to take anything in this place.

This car smells a bit like naugahyde seats and ashtrays that were once actually used.  I feel like I'm in some kind of time warp here.  This car might actually be bigger than our house.

Fancy cars and movie stars--you can have them.  Give me a run down building or a plastic pair of lips and I can spin some stories.

Too many stories, still waiting to be told.
If loose lips sink ships, somewhere a ship is going down.

At home I'm captivated by the Hunger Games (though I must say I thought it was about eating and hunger when I first saw the book.)  I've discovered the second installment near the bedside and I've started reading while management is away.  The only downside  is it isn't a scratch and sniff book.  The publishing world is missing an entire marketing segment by not aknowledging our olfactory receptors. When they start producing a canine friendly format,  I'll be the first in line to actually buy a copy.  

Still I can't put it down, and  all I've got to say is who's the clown that lost my place?

You might think a dog reading a book a bit odd.  Kind of like a blind guy flying a plane.

I'm getting back to this book. 

I hope you enjoy this salad, it's a bit different from Heidi's recipe and the pie cherries seemed to make a lot of vinaigrette.  Bon Appetit!  Until next time.

Whole Grain Rice Salad with 
Arugula, Shiitake Mushroom, Pecans and Cherry Vinaigrette
(Serves 6)
Brown rice takes about 45 minutes to cook.  You can plan to eat this salad hot or cold.  But blend the dressing and add arugula to the warm rice so the arugula wilts.   I used pie cherries from my freezer, but you can also use fresh cherries when they're in season, which should be late May or early June in the Northwest.  This salad easily passes for a main dish and leftovers make an easy unique lunch option.

4 shitaki mushrooms, stems removed (composed or saved) and caps roughly chopped
1 tablespoon Mama Lil's peppers, chopped (optional)
2 1/2 cups cooked brown rice
4 handfuls arugula, tough part of stems removed
1 cup tart pie cherries, pitted, chopped and divided 
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup cherry (or red wine) vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar or sweetener of choice to taste
Fine grain sea salt
A few basil leaves, chopped
1 cup chopped toasted pecans

1. Heat a heavy skillet.  Add mushroom and dry fry until they soften.  Blend with Mama Lil's Peppers, if desired, then combine mushrooms with brown rice.  Toss arugula in until it wilts.  Stir in 1/2 cup cherries and set aside.

2. Blend remaining cherries, olive oil, vinegar, sweetener and salt. (Taste as you add the perfect amount of sweetener needed to enhance the tart cherry flavor.)  I use a regular blender, but you an also use a hand blender.   Pour a small amount onto the rice and arugula. Add the mushrooms. Gently toss.  You may not need all of it for your salad and if you add too much, the salad could get saturated and soggy. Garnish with basil leaves and chopped toasted pecans.


Carole said...

Great doggie pics.

Ps Have you thought about turning off the word verification?

Debra Daniels-Zeller said...

Thanks that's a great suggestion, I'll do it!

Joan said...

Hi Debra.
This whole grain salad looks fabulous, it's making my mouth water and wondering what grains I have in my cupboard! Yum!
I just got to your comment on my blog...sorry for the delay. I'm getting over the illness of a lifetime. Hopefully it's the last I'll ever see of it. Cheers!!

Debra Daniels-Zeller said...

Hi Joan, Thanks so much for visiting! I'm so sorry to hear about your illness. It's so hard when life changes. I'm so glad to hear you are doing better. I hope things are better for you for a long time to come!

Miz Helen said...

My dear precious Finn,
You look so cute in that old chair and we call those old cars "boats". I loved your walk and please tell Debra,thank you so much sharing with Full Plate Thursday, your recipes are great!
Hope to see you again soon!
Miz Helen

Debra Daniels-Zeller said...

Hi Miz Helen. Funny, I'd never heard that term. We love sharing and always love checking out your Thursday parties!

Debbie @ Easy Natural Food said...

The cherry vinaigrette you made for this salad sounds amazing! I bet it really sets off the salad perfectly. Thanks for sharing this with Summer Salad Sundays, look forward to seeing you again soon!