Left over brown rice becomes amazing dinner rolls

I’m sitting here munching on the subject of my photo, thinking about how happy I am that I took on the challenge of nurturing a sourdough starter and subsequently learning enough about baking with it that I can pretty much be as creative as I want to be with my bread.

I avidly read about bread and one thing I notice is that many bakers like to drop some cooked or soaked whole grains into their bread. Lately, we’ve had plenty of brown rice in the house. Oatmeal has never agreed with my boyfriend and recently, he discovered that he can have hot cereal in the morning if he cooks up a pot of short grain brown rice. He adds raisins, walnuts and rice dream to it and he loves it. He makes a big pot at a time and I’ve been quite the opportunist, grabbing some for snacks or a side dish… and now for my sourdough.

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been playing with this recipe. The person who posted it, said it was full-proof, but following his instructions, I ended up with a brick! (A very tasty brick, however so I knew I just needed to try it again). This week, I added extra water and starter. The dough was way too dry last time and it is so much harder to hydrate a dry dough than dry up a wet dough.  I decided to err on the side of moisture. Since the dough was really wet, I just added more flour a little at a time until I liked the consistency of the dough. I also added a lot of brown rice and some sesame seeds for extra flavor. The result was terrific! I ended up making rolls instead of a loaf this time and the rolls baked up with a crisp crust, a dense soft crumb and a wonderful chewy texture thanks to the rice. The only problem I had was that I forgot to slash the rolls and they exploded. I took a picture of their photogenic side.  😉

These yummy rolls will be on YeastSpotting this week. Please click the link to see other wonderful yeasty concoctions!

Whole Wheat and Brown Rice Rolls

1 cup water

1 cup active 100% hydration sourdough starter

2 ½ tbsp olive oil

1 ½ tbsp honey

1 ¼ tsp salt

2 2/3 cups whole wheat flour + a little over 1/3 more as needed

1 ½ cups cooked short grain brown rice

2 tbsp raw sesame seeds

Cornmeal for dusting your peel

In a large bowl, mix together water, starter, olive oil, honey and salt. Add 2 2/3 cups flour, rice and sesame seeds. Mix until well combined. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and begin to knead. The dough will be wet. Start adding the additional 1/3 cup flour a little at a time, kneading well after each addition. You may have to add a little more than a third of a cup until you have a dough that is still moist but not sticky. Knead for 15 minutes until you can stretch the dough without breaking it (windowpane test). Form the dough into a tight ball and transfer it to a large greased bowl. Cover with a kitchen towel. Allow the dough to rise until it is doubled in bulk, 1 ½ – 2 ½ hours.

Flatten the dough gently and fold it. Form it into a ball again and place it back in the bowl. Allow it to rise again, covered, for up to 2 ½ hours until it is doubled in bulk.

Divide the dough into 13 equal pieces and form into little balls. Arrange on a cornmeal covered peel. Cover with a dish towel and allow the dough to rise until puffy, up to another 2 hours.

When you are getting ready to bake, place a baking stone in the oven and preheat your oven to 375 degrees, F. Slash the rolls and then transfer them to the hot oven. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes until they reach an internal temperature of 190 degrees, F. and they sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Cool completely before serving unless you can’t help yourself. If you can’t help yourself, make sure you are armed with butter.


A pie that cannot be ignored

Around twenty five years ago, I acquired the Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen. I loved that book and her next book, The Enchanted Broccoli Forest. The books look like they are written by hand and Mollie illustrated the cute drawings herself. The recipes are simple, easy to make, homey, comforting and delicious. The recipes are also quite healthy, relying on fruits, vegetables, grains, eggs and dairy. Armed with these cookbooks, I had no problem sticking to a healthy diet back then. But something happened to me. I found other cookbooks I loved. Magazines also provided me with inspiration for cooking and then the Internet happened. My beloved old cookbooks began to seriously gather dust.

Earlier this week, I initiated a conversation on a friend’s blog that resulted in scanning and emailing him a couple of recipes from these early Katzen books. While I was at it, I started paging through the books. There are so many recipes I never tried! To be honest, some of them just never looked appealing to me back then. The recipe I am about to tell you about is something I passed over time and time again. It did not look special. Who knew that as written, it was probably amazing. With a special crust and some honey and spices added to the apple filling it is sublime!

Mollie wrote this about the recipe: “ ~ easy and wonderful”. I’ve made it a tiny bit more complicated. You could use a store bought frozen pie crust for this, but trust me, the variation on Best All Purpose Pie crust in the Moosewood Book of Desserts is what you need here (you really do and it is worth the extra effort). The crust is called sweet lemon crust. I love this crust whenever I want to give a pie extra zing and richness. This time I used a little maple syrup for the granulated sugar (Bloggers beware: Do not print controversial posts like the sugar is bad for you post if you know that family members such as boyfriends are reading your blog, you’ll never be able to get away with murder again!). I also wanted the apples to have a good apple pie sort of flavor so I rolled them around in honey and spices. It worked! Each bite of apple is so flavorful! Mollie highly recommended walnuts or almonds for the optional nuts. I’m sorry, walnuts are mandatory and I am talking to you Miss I live in Oregon and hazelnuts are local! I know your native California roots and I won’t stand for it!! Mollie says you can replace the apples with cherries or peach slices. I may try that this summer but first, I’ll have to have this version of the pie a hundred more times.

I don’t feel like my pictures did this pie justice. The custard made a gorgeous golden crust on the top with apples and walnuts poking through the surface. The pie crust turned out rustic and pretty. Sliced, the pie was layered with crust, fruit and custard. At room temperature, after baking, it was delicious. The next day when it was chilled, the pie was outrageously delicious! This is an elegant pie that you will be proud to serve to dinner guests. Which came as such a surprise, since I had ignored this recipe for two and a half decades because I couldn’t imagine it being special. I’m happy I gave this recipe the chance that it deserves. I’m equally happy to encourage you to make one for yourself, and soon.

Apple – Honey Custard Pie

Crust adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Book of Desserts, Pie Adapted from The Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen


1 ½ cups unbleached white flour

½ tsp kosher salt

Zest from one lemon

½ cup chilled unsalted butter

1 tbsp grade B maple syrup

2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

2 – 4 tbsp ice water


2 cups peeled, cored and sliced apples

1 tbsp honey

1 tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp ground ginger


4 large eggs

¾ cup honey

1 cup plain yogurt (I used nonfat with good results)

1 tsp vanilla

½ heaping tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp salt

2 generous handfuls raw walnuts

Preheat oven to 375 degrees, F.

Make crust: Butter a nine inch pie pan, set aside. Combine flour, zest and salt in a large bowl. Work butter into flour with a pastry cutter until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add maple syrup, lemon juice and a couple of tablespoons ice water. Push the flour into the wet ingredients, mixing until combined, if it is too dry to form a ball, keep adding ice water a tablespoon at a time until you can form a ball, being careful not to over work the dough or make it too wet. Transfer the dough ball to a floured surface. Roll it out into a round large enough to overhang a nine inch pie pan by at least an inch. Carefully transfer dough to pie pan. Fold overhanging dough under itself to form a crust. Pinch the crust to form a slight fluted shape to the crust. Store dough in the fridge until ready.

Make filling: Place apple slices in a bowl. Add honey and spices. Mix until all ingredients are well combined. Place apple mixture in the pie crust, making sure it covers the bottom of the crust evenly.

Make custard: Place eggs, honey, yogurt, vanilla, cinnamon and salt into a blender. Run the blender on a high speed (puree) for several seconds until the ingredients are well blended. Be careful not to overdo it. Pour custard into pie crust. Toss in walnuts evenly over the custard, they’ll sink into the custard which is fine, you don’t want them to burn! Bake the pie for 40 – 45 minutes or until it is solid when you jiggle it.

Cool the pie to at least room temperature before cutting into it. If eaten at room temperature, the custard will have an odd texture, like ricotta cheese. I recommend chilling the pie, the texture was much better cold. It was sinfully delicious either way.


I hate Frankenfoods. They get stuck in my teeth.

India rejected the nation’s first genetically modified food after their farmers protested. Good for them! Genetically modified food has not been tested on humans. Well…unless… you count the fact that in the U.S., we’ve been tested on for years without our knowledge. “Huh?” you say? According to this Wikipedia article, GM foods have been available to the processed food industry since the 1990s and 75% of all processed food contains at least one GM ingredient. Yep. I never signed on to be a lab rat and neither did you, but sometimes our rights as citizens are benignly neglected for a few dollars in the right pockets.

Now, let’s ignore the fact that we are lab rats for a minute and think about the other implications of genetic engineering. Companies are allowed to patent their GM seeds. Already, there are legal battles going on between corporations and farmers over the simple act of saving seeds for the next years crops. Farmers don’t own the patented seeds, Corporations do. Farmers are required to buy the seeds each time they want to grow a crop, they cannot save seed for this purpose as Farmers have for millennia. If Farmer’s can’t save patented seed, neither can we. Our basic right as humans to feed ourselves in a self-sufficient manner is being removed.

A friend of mine let me know about this documentary on Hulu.com (Thanks R.!). It is called The Future of Food and it runs about an hour and a half with short commercial breaks. If you have time, I encourage you to watch it.

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I have been following this issue for years. For me, I try to avoid most processed foods unless they are made of mostly organic ingredients. I eat organics as much as I can and buy locally from farmers who use organic or sustainable practices and grow heirloom varieties of food. I have even gone so far as to seek out organic canola oil that has been tested for GMOs since canola has had problems with contamination in the past. It’s difficult and I don’t do a great job (I have a bit of a restaurant addiction) but I think it’s important to limit my exposure to GMOs as much as I can.