Two Cookbooks for Hardy/Hearty Winter Meals: Part Two

Note: Here is the link for Part One, The Miso Cookbook:

The Big Beautiful Brown Rice Cookbook:
The World’s Best Brown Rice Recipes

By Wendy Esko

Aveline Kushi, one of the earliest macrobiotics “transplants” from Japan, is the inspiration for this wonderful book on rice in all its glory. The author, Wendy Esko, grew up in New York’s Finger Lakes and growing up near farmlands, she loved grains, especially rice.  Her love of this ancient grain is obvious in the book, starting with the brown rice basics (varieties of rice as well as other whole grains buying an storing grains, and a wonderful glossary or dictionary of various products used with different rices such as beans, seaweeds, and soyfoods such as tofu and tempeh. Because the author is a macrobiotic cook, the glossary is filled with the kinds of foods that macrobiotics favor, such as squash, kombu kelp, and daikon radish.

On page 19 is a chart of all the different types of rice, and there are about 25 listed, so you could make many different dishes with different flavors by mixing and matching the rices with the veggies, seaweeds and flavor enhancers.

One of the interesting parts of the book are the little rice trivia that Esko inserts periodically, such as: “Rice is the highest yielding grain: one seed yields over 3,000 grains.” These little tidbits helps readers know more about rice without overwhelming them with facts.

After explaining basic cooking methods for rice: 1) stove top; 2) pressure cooking; and 3) using a rice cooker, the author launches into the more than140 kitchen-tested recipes with many variations, or as she says: For a Change…. From Breakfast Dishes to Desserts and Treats, this book is filled with interesting and tempting dishes using rice with many different kinds of accompaniments. Sometimes rice is center stage, while other times it acts in a supporting role. Either way, the dishes recipes will be interesting to try.

Because I love mochi, which the author explains as a food made from cooked sweet rice (brown or white) that is pounded into dense cakes, which can be cut into smaller pieces and baked into “puffs. (I buy brown rice flavored mochi in a flat slab from a health food store and then place it in the refrigerator. When I cut it with a very sharp knife and bake it into little puff squares, I rename it Asian Popcorn-es.)

Sweet ‘n Nutty Mochi Squares
Yield: 6 squares

Rich and chewy, this popular Japanese treat is really easy to make.  It’s always welcomed in my home. (Author’s notes)

10.5-ounce package dried brown rice mochi
¼ cup brown rice syrup, maple syrup, or honey
1/3 cup finely chopped roasted walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, or almonds

1. Cut the mochi into 6 pieces (2-inch squares). Set aside.
2. Heat a medium –size skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mochi, cover, and cook another 5 minutes or until the mochi puffs up and is slightly browned. Be careful not to burn.
3. While the mochi is cooking, heat the syrup in a small saucepan and keep hot.
4. Dip each piece of mochi in the hot syrup, then roll in the chopped nuts to completely coat.  Serve immediately, as mochi tends to become hard shortly after ir is cooked.

For a Change….

· Use fresh mochi (about 5 to 6 ounces) instead of dried.
· Instead of nuts, roll the mochi in toasted whole or ground sesame seeds or gomasio ( a mixture of sea salt and sesame seeds available commercially-es).
· For a more savory version, eliminate the syrup and nuts, and wrap the cooked mochi in pieces of toasted nori (seaweed sheets used in making sushi –es). Dip into shoyu soy sauce before eating.
· Oven bake the mochi at 350 degrees F for 7 to 10 minutes or until puffed up and lightly browned.

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