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Posts tagged ‘wild rice’

Cumin Scented Sweet Potatoes & Wild Rice


We have had an abundance of sweet potatoes this winter.  I’m okay with this.  I love sweet potatoes.

Usually, we poke them with a fork, and throw them in the microwave until they are ‘baked’ and cut a cross in the top, pinch the sides, mush up a bit with a fork and then top with salt, a pat of butter, and maybe some chives or other fresh herbs.  Nothing more is necessary.  I decided to mix things up a bit.

Dice the sweet potato into ½ inch cubes.   A simple way to get an (almost) perfect dice is to start with peeled potatoes, slice them lengthwise, then lay flat to cut strips.  Rotate 90º, and cut into small cubes.

Next, slice up some onions.  Now, usually, I’m a believer in cutting ingredients in a dish into similar sizes – this can be important for cooking times, texturally important and visually important as well.  Except, there are always exceptions.  I sliced the onions (rather than a dice) for all of the same reasons mentioned above.  With such a simple recipe…the difference in texture and variety of size does more for the dish.

Toss it all in a sauté pan with a fat of your choosing (bacon fat, olive oil, butter…it’s up to you) and shake to coat.  You want the sweet potato to brown, and then onion to soften so keep the heat on medium.  If it’s browning too much, but the veggies are not tender, add a little broth or water to help steam and let it evaporate to bring back some of the caramelized goodness!

Season well with salt and pepper.  Now it’s time for the cumin, one of my all time favorite spices.  Sprinkle in up to a teaspoon of ground cumin…the aroma should soon fill your kitchen.  I added a twinge of oregano as well.

In the meantime, or the day before, or whenever.  Cook up some wild rice.  I’m lucky enough to have a Minnesota source for real wild rice…and let me tell you…it is worth the extra effort and the extra cost to find the real, true WILD rice.  The wild rice grain comes from a long-stemmed grass that grows in shallow lake waters or slow-moving streams and was/is typically harvested by Native Americans in canoes by bending the stocks over an open canoe and whacking the grass to knock the grain out.  It can take close to an hour to cook, and if added to a soup will continue to soak up liquid…the next day, you might look in the fridge for leftovers, and be confused when instead you find a thick and hearty stew.  Not to worry, a little stock or milk will thin it right down.  Soaking up liquid isn’t an issue for this dish, but you will want to make sure that you have cooked the rice to your liking.  I like it a little toothy still.

Throw it all in one big bowl together…and mix well.  Make sure to taste for seasoning again…adding all that rice will require some additional salt and pepper, and maybe a bit more cumin.

This was one of many dishes (our contribution to a potluck) that we enjoyed alongside a wild-shot, home-smoked and roasted goose.  Delicious all around!

Bon Appétit!

Pheasant, Partridge & Wild Rice Soup


This is Cleo – our French Pointer – a bird dog – she’s vicious…not really…she’ll lick your face off, nibble your nose and crawl in your lap.

Cleo

I know…why is our dog making an appearance on our ‘food blog’…because she is an important part of our lives…and important in the grand scheme of things.  I realize that whether she howls in the morning when I’m trying to put pants on is not affecting world peace…however…her role as a bird dog is important in participating in (as much as we can, as an urban LA couple) where our food and meat comes from.

I did not grow up hunting…in fact…I don’t recall seeing a real gun…never mind touching or shooting one, until college for a women’s studies class – a whole other story entirely.  Anyway, guns, hunting, bird dogs…all of these are a bit foreign to me.  But knowing where my food comes from, being capable of participating in the collection of food items (not just veggies…but the animals…and the meat they provide), and preparing them in all different manner; all of these things are very important to me, to us.  Don’t get me wrong…I had my vegetarian years, when my mother insisted I felt bad for the cows; and they may have coincided with my women’s studies years…but I do love me some bacon and it doesn’t get much better than duck fat, so I think I should know, actually I think we all should know, and have an appreciation for, not only where our food comes from but what it takes to get that food from the earth/farm/wilderness/etc. to our table.

Ready for Birds

Over the holidays, we visited my family in Utah and brought Cleo along, my parents cats were nonplussed.  Understanding that we live in LA county, Cleo does not get much of a chance to exercise her little bird-hunting brain very often…although Woody tries hard.  So we made sure to get a day of pheasant hunting in, even if it was a crazy snowy day with very cold and blustery winds; even if I forgot to pack my long underwear because I worked up until a few hours before we packed the car to drive to Utah, and even if, I was sick.

We headed out hoping to get some pheasant and Hungarian partridge…planning on using everything and anything we shot in a delicious soup adapted from a recipe from Woody’s dad, Dennis.  First off, Cleo needed no assistance in bringing in the first of the pheasant’s.  No shots were fired…I repeat, no shots were fired.

It went like this:  a pheasant flies out of a bush…continues to fly out into a field and land about 300 yards away (they don’t like to fly in bad weather…just like Delta’s pilots…they prefer to hunker down); Cleo watches this happen and as soon as the pheasant lands…takes off, bounding and leaping through 2-3 feet of deep snow.  At this particular moment, I was not sure a) what would happen when she got there; b) if she’d be too tired to get back to us; and c) what we were going to do with a live pheasant in Cleo’s mouth.  Oh, but not to worry…a) she pounced and nipped at the pheasant she had a good hold of it; b) Woody met her halfway as he pictured her passing out from exhaustion; and c) no need to worry about c) since Cleo rung the pheasant’s neck all by herself and the pheasant was as dead as a doornail.  So let’s recap – we went hunting with our bird dog who is supposed to POINT at birds she smells…then scare them up out of the bushes, so we can shoot them…and then retrieve them for us…and instead – we went hunting, didn’t fire a single shot, Cleo chased, killed, and retrieved a pheasant and we had at least 1 bird in the bag for our soup.  Luckily, Woody’s a good shot and with some help from Cleo we were able to get a few more…otherwise, it would have been ‘soup for one’…maybe two with small portions.  Here is our final take:  5 Pheasants and 3 Hungarian Partridge!

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Okay…on to the actual cooking part.  The birds were cleaned for us…is a shockingly quick manner, might I add (perhaps a little too graphic this early in the life of this blog…details to come).  All that was left to do was to give ‘em a quick rinse and once over to make sure we removed any shot that could be embedded in the meat.

please excuse the pink plastic cutting board...

We roasted the meat after seasoning it liberally with salt and pepper and giving it a few aromatic herbs.

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I cut up a standard french mirepoix of onions, carrots and celery.Then we cubed the pheasant and partridge, sweat all the veggies, cooked the wild rice in a separate pot until it was al dente…and then the soup really comes together.  I love this soup for many reasons.  It is a great creamy comforting dinner, it gets better the next day and even the day after…and 1 recipe makes a large quantity of soup…it’s like a never-ending soup bowl as the wild rice continues to soak up moisture, so when reheating, it is easy to heat on the stove and add broth to thin it back down to soup consistency.

Sweat the veggies, season, all the cubed partridge and pheasant, combine, season again, add broth and cooked wild rice…add a touch of cream…and Voila!

simple mirepoix, meat, broth and rice

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Puff Pastry and Kale Chips

Pheasant, Partridge and Wild Rice Soup

We topped it with a square of golden puff pastry and kale chips (aka oiled and salted kale leaves that have been roasted until crisp).

the final dish

and those who enjoyed it!

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