Saffron Rice with Golden Raisins and Pine Nuts

Today is one heck of a special day. Like jump up and down, and square dance like you did in high school (or was that just me?) kind of day. My friend Faith Gorsky from An Edible Mosaic just had her first cookbook released: An Edible Mosaic: Middle Eastern Fare with Extraordinary Flair!!

I was so pleased when Faith asked me to be a part of her virtual book launch party and share a recipe from the book with me. The book has over 100 Middle Eastern recipes, with a focus mainly on dishes from the Levant, but also a few recipes from other areas of the Middle East. After hearing Faith’s story, I am dying to go to the Middle East and eat the food. DYING!

Faith spent six months living in the Middle East, and after returning home, couldn’t stop going back to visit making sure to take in the culture and food more and more each time. Recipes in her book are authentic Middle Eastern (taught to Faith mostly by her mother-in-law, Sahar), but made totally easy for the home cook. Faith explains complicated dishes in an approachable, easy-to-follow way. I’m totally buying it, and am heading over to order it on Amazon right now! (you can also get it from Barnes and Noble).

After you check out the recipe for Saffron Rice with Golden Raisins and Pine Nuts, head on over to Faith’s blog to check out her virtual book launch party to see the other bloggers who are participating. Also, as part of her virtual book launch, Faith is hosting a giveaway of a fabulous set of prizes, which you will totally want to enter for! Even I’m entering…because I like free stuff. DUH!

This recipe for Saffron Rice with Golden Raisins and Pine Nuts is perfect for my November vegan month, but it would also be a perfect side dish for you meat eaters out there. Faith recommends serving it with chicken, beef, or lamb (or any curry dish).

Let’s make this, shall we? Soak the rice in tepid water for 10 minutes; drain. While the rice is soaking, put half a kettle of water on to boil.

Add the oil to a medium, thick-bottomed lidded saucepan over medium heat. Add the pine nuts and cook until golden brown, about 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

Transfer the pine nuts to a small bowl and set aside.

Add the onion to the saucepan you cooked the pine nuts in, and cook until softened and just starting to brown, about 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the rice and cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently.

Stir in the sultanas, boiling water, salt, and saffron (or turmeric), turn the heat up to high, and bring it to a rolling boil.

Give the rice a stir, then cover the saucepan, turn the heat down to very low, and cook until tender, about 10 minutes (do not open the lid during this time). Turn the heat off and let the rice sit (covered) 15 minutes, then fluff with a fork.

Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle the toasted pine nuts on top; serve.

Saffron Rice with Golden Raisins and Pine Nuts
“ROZ MLOW’WAN”
Recipe courtesy of An Edible Mosaic: Middle Eastern Fare with Extraordinary Flair by Faith Gorsky (Tuttle Publishing; Nov. 2012); reprinted with permission.
Serves 4 to 6
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes, plus 15 minutes to let the rice sit after cooking

Ingredients:
1½ cups (325 g) basmati rice, rinsed
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons pine nuts
1 onion, finely diced
4 tablespoons sultanas (golden raisins)
1¾ cups (425 ml) boiling water
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon saffron threads (or ½ teaspoon turmeric)

Directions:
1. Soak the rice in tepid water for 10 minutes; drain. While the rice is soaking, put half a kettle of water on to boil.
2. Add the oil to a medium, thick-bottomed lidded saucepan over medium heat. Add the pine nuts and cook until golden brown, about 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Transfer the pine nuts to a small bowl and set aside.
3. Add the onion to the saucepan you cooked the pine nuts in, and cook until softened and just starting to brown, about 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the rice and cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in the sultanas, boiling water, salt, and saffron (or turmeric), turn the heat up to high, and bring it to a rolling boil.
4. Give the rice a stir, then cover the saucepan, turn the heat down to very low, and cook until tender, about 10 minutes (do not open the lid during this time). Turn the heat off and let the rice sit (covered) 15 minutes, then fluff with a fork.
5. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle the toasted pine nuts on top; serve.

OPTIONAL: Add two pods of cardamom, two whole cloves, and one 2-inch (5 cm) piece of cinnamon stick at the same time that you add the rice.

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Gingerbread Granola

As much as I love trying out new things, I know what I like in granola. I like oats (obviously), almonds, honey, and sometimes raisins. It works for me.

But I recently stumbled upon this recipe for gingerbread granola and it caught my eye right away! It packs a spicy punch that reminds of of Christmas morning. Interesting choice with this warm weather we’ve been having, but I knew I needed to try it.

This goes great with plain or vanilla greek yogurt, milk, or ice cream. It’s such a nice switch-up to my regular granola and I love having it as a snack after a run. Speaking of which, I JUST finished a 10 km race! I finished in 46:48 – a personal best for a short 10 km race, so I’m ecstatic!

Anyway, back to granola! To make this whisk together molasses, brown sugar, honey, and oil.

In a separate bowl mix salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, oats, raisins, coconut and nuts until evenly mixed.

Stir in molasses.

Spread onto two large rimmed baking sheets sprayed with baking spray. Bake at 325ºF for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until oats are golden brown (if cooking both sheets at once, swap positions half way through baking time).

Let cool completely before storing in an airtight container, and enjoy!

Gingerbread Granola
Makes 10 servings
Recipe lightly adapted from Kitchen Simplicity

Ingredients:
1/3 cup molasses
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/4 cup brown sugar (optional for extra sweetness)
1/4 cup honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3 cups rolled oats
1 cup pecans (or walnuts), chopped
1/2 cup raisins

Directions:
Whisk together molasses, brown sugar, honey, and oil.

In a separate bowl mix salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, oats, raisins, coconut and nuts until evenly mixed. Stir in molasses.

Spread onto two large rimmed baking sheets sprayed with baking spray. Bake at 325ºF for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until oats are golden brown (if cooking both sheets at once, swap positions half way through baking time).

Let cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

Classic Rice Pudding

I’m a town-y. I grew up in this cute little town in Ontario, Canada, where my soccer team played right along the river, weekends were spent on the beach, and we would go for rollerblades or bike rides in the evening. Being a teenager was easy, fun, and I hardly had any real worries besides thinking my mother was going to ruin my life…but what teenage girl doesn’t think that?! I genuinely thought that my friends and I would just be able to drink Coca-cola and be happy in this little place forever. Parent free!

Of course I grew up. University came, and I was exposed to the big city. The big, complicated city. I now had bills and boys to deal with and things were annoyingly different. I now missed my family, the same family who I thought was so obnoxious earlier! I missed simple.

This is how I think of this rice pudding. It’s like home. Plain, pretty, and simple. It makes me happy, and is not too complicated to on the palate or to make! Let’s get cookin’ shall we? In a heavy 4-quart pot, combine the milk and cream.

Bring the mixture just to a boil over medium-high heat (small bubbles will appear around the edge of the pan), stirring frequently.

Stir the rice, sugar, raisins, and butter together.

Add to cream mixture. Bring the mixture to a boil again, then reduce the heat. Cover and simmer, stirring frequently, until the rice is tender, about 1 hour.

Beat the eggs in a bowl until light. Add cinnamon.

Temper the eggs by combining 1/4 cup of the cooked rice mixture with the eggs, stirring quickly.

Add the egg-rice mixture back into the pot and incorporate with the rest of the rice. Stir constantly over low heat until the pudding thickens, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat.

Serve nice and hot right out of the pot, or keep covered and cool before serving. Spoon the pudding into dessert dishes and sprinkle with additional cinnamon.

The pudding will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 days. I prefer it cold :)

Classic Rice Pudding
Recipe slightly adapted from Daydreamer Desserts
Serves: 12-14

Ingredients:
7 cups whole milk
2 cup heavy cream or soy cream (I used this)
1 1/3 cups long grain rice
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup unsalted butter
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, for garnish

Directions:
In a heavy 4-quart pot, combine the milk and heavy cream. Bring the mixture just to a boil over medium-high heat (small bubbles will appear around the edge of the pan), stirring frequently.

Stir in the rice, sugar, raisins, and butter. Bring the mixture to a boil again, then reduce the heat. Cover and simmer, stirring frequently, until the rice is tender, about 1 hour. Beat the eggs in a bowl until light.

Temper the eggs by combining 1/4 cup of the cooked rice mixture with the eggs, stirring quickly. Add the egg-rice mixture back into the pot and incorporate with the rest of the rice. Stir constantly over low heat until the pudding thickens, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat.

Serve nice and hot right out of the pot, or keep covered and cool before serving. I personally like it cold!

Spoon the pudding into dessert dishes and sprinkle with cinnamon.

The pudding will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 days.

Energy-Packed Granola Bars

Guess what? I’m going skiing today! Not downhill, or mogul jumping or anything like that, but wholesome cross-country skiing. Excited? I am! It’s just like any other day though. Why? It’s morning, and I’m about to bake. No surprise. The difference with today is that I need to bake something that I can have to snack on while skiing. So, what better than energy-packed granola bars?

Granola bars are great because you can cater them to your own wants and needs. Like cranberries, pumpkin seeds, maple syrup and almonds. Or how about peanut butter, cashews, and chocolate? Or coconut, golden raisons, honey and sesame seeds? Holy variety! I’m a vegetarian, and because of this my cupboards are FILLED to the brim with various nuts, seeds, oats and dried fruit…the perfect ingredients for granola bars! Today I’m going to go with oats, nuts, seeds, honey and dried fruit.

You’ll never buy granola bars again. These are preservative free, and full of ingredients that you KNOW. Heck, you’re going to make them, so pack them full with ingredients you like!

This recipe was adapted from the Golden Book of Baking.

Ingredients:
1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup raw sugar
1 1/2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup of nuts (I used a mix of roasted redskin peanuts, cashews, and roasted almonds)
1/2 cup dried fruit (I used a mix of sultana raisins, dried cranberries, and dried papaya)
1/2 cup seeds (I used a mix of sunflower seeds and raw hulled pumpkin seeds)
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375F, and butter an 11 x 7 inch baking pan.
2. Melt the butter with the honey and raw sugar in a large saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly. Bring to a boil and simmer until the sugar has dissolved completely.


3. Remove from heat and stir in the oats, nuts, dried fruit, seeds, cinnamon and salt.
4. Spoon the mixture evenly into prepared pan and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until just golden.
5. Cool completely before cutting into bars.