“That’s a do over,” my niece said on Christmas Day, nodding at my platter of Wild Rice and Citrus Salad. It looked gorgeous. The glistening swath of shiny black grains was topped with colorful peeled orange and grapefruit sections and dotted with dried cranberries and bits of pecan. I thought it tasted great. It was a do over?
“That’s what we call a new recipe that’s good enough to make again,” Heidi explained.
Oh, yes, I would make this again. Banished were my memories of the chewy, bland black grains I boiled in the 1970s to accompany duckling ala orange. This wild rice was tender and infused with flavor, thanks to fellow food writer Heather McPherson.
Heather, retired from the Orlando Sentinel, wrote about the salad last year in a blog she produces for hypeorlando.com. The recipe in Heather’s Florida Kitchen contains celery and a bed of greens, which I eliminated. I also expanded the directions to explain things some of us Northerners might not know.
For example, Heather called for cooking the wild rice for 20 to 25 minutes. Maybe that’s fine for recently harvested wild rice (I was surprised to learn it grows in Florida swamps), but my bulk-purchased wild rice took a full 60 minutes to tenderize. You’ll know it’s done when most of the black grains have split. If you find the cooked rice is still too chewy after you drain it, just transfer all of it to a bowl, cover and microwave it in one-minute increments until tender.
Although it’s an oxymoron, cultivated wild rice is becoming increasingly available, as the land conducive to growing true wild rice shrinks. Hopefully, the distinctive wild grain (it’s not actually rice) will remain available in the future.
WILD RICE AND CITRUS SALAD
• 4 tbsp. olive oil, divided
• 1/2 cup diced yellow onion
• 2 cups wild rice, uncooked
• 2 cups orange juice
• 2 cups water
• 1 bay leaf
• Fine sea salt to taste
• 2 tbsp. sherry vinegar
• Coarse-ground pepper to taste
• 1/2 cup dried cranberries
• 2 oranges, peeled and cut into segments (see note)
• 1 grapefruit, peeled and cut into segments (see note)
• 1/2 cup toasted, chopped pecans
Place 2 tablespoons olive oil and onions in a medium saucepan; sauté 3 to 4 minutes, until softened. Add wild rice, orange juice, water and bay leaf; season with salt. Cover and cook 20 to 60 minutes, or until rice is tender but not overcooked (most of the rice grains will split open when done). Remove from heat; let stand 5 minutes.
Remove bay leaf from rice and fluff with fork. Transfer to a bowl. Sprinkle with vinegar and remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Toss. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add cranberries and toss again. Cover and refrigerate until chilled. The salad may be made a day ahead to this point. Adding the dressing and cranberries before refrigerating infuses the wild rice with flavor and softens the cranberries.
Just before serving, toss rice well. Mound on a platter. Scatter citrus sections over rice. Scatter chopped pecans over all. Makes 8 or more servings.
Note: To peel citrus segments, first cut off the top and bottom of the orange or grapefruit with a sharp knife. Place the piece of fruit on a cutting board, one flat end down. With the sharp knife, pare the thick peel and pith from the fruit in downward swaths, following the natural shape of the fruit. You will end up with a completely skinned but intact piece of fruit.
With the sharp paring knife, cut the segments from the membranes by slicing downward close beside a membrane and flicking the segment out. Repeat until all of the segments have been freed. Do this over a bowl to catch the juices. Discard the peel and membranes.
What I cooked last week:
Wild rice-citrus salad, potato salad, pickled eggs, Swiss cheese fondue, baked ham with apricot-honey glaze, chocolate-peppermint miniature trifles.
What I ate out last week:
Chicken pad Thai at the Asian restaurant in Giant Eagle Market Place in Cuyahoga Falls; an incredible Forbidden Stir Fry with a gingery-spicy sauce over black rice at the Courthouse Inn and Restaurant in Lisbon; steak burrito bowl at Chipotle; edamame, tuna nigiri and a Jane roll at Sushi Katsu in Akron’s Merriman Valley; mu shu pork from China Express in Wadsworth.
Hold the phone. Scrambled eggs with horseradish? You may be the smartest person I’ve ever encountered. Please let us in on your method! Do you add the horseradish before cooking, after? What kind exactly? I must experience this as soon as possible.
I would like to take credit, but I learned the eggs-and-horseradish thing from my mother. Her method was even stranger than mine. After plating, she would gently prick the yolk of her fried egg and slip in a half-teaspoon or so of prepared horseradish. She gently daubed the yolk mixture with her toast and ate it until gone. Then she would cut up and dispatch the white.
Unlike my gentle mother, I cut up fried eggs, yolks and all, and shovel them into my mouth. But sometimes I remember her fondness for horseradish and slather the stuff (prepared, from a jar) on my plated scrambled eggs. Your email got me thinking, though. The next time I make soft-scrambled eggs, I will stir in a tablespoon of horseradish when they are almost set, dragging my spoon to distribute the horseradish in a thin ribbon through the eggs.
From Sandy D.
For Brad who is looking for foodie culture in the Akron area, I suggest he go to meetup.com. After filling in the parameters, he will find at least two meet ups that I am aware of. I am not part of these groups so I can’t speak to their passion or quality, but Akron Area Dining Out Group and Akron Area Beer Lovers are two that I found after a quick search.
From Francie L.:
For your reader asking about foodie culture how about the Canton Food Tours (http://cantonfoodtours.com/)? We did a cousins’ night out in September and had a great time. They’ve also expanded the tours to Wooster as well.
Dear Sandy and Francie:
Thank you both for excellent ideas. I also found an Akron/Canton Foodies Group on meetup.
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