The Gandy Dancer’s Rice Pilaf

I have found a new rice and a delicious recipe to use it in. Parboiled rice was brought to my attention with Chef Larry’s recipe, a former chef at The Gandy Dancer. I did not quite understand what parboiled rice was so once again I searched the internet for answers to my questions. I used the article from for a lot of my information. I was very interested in reading about this.

I absolutely love rice, except for the rice you get in Chinese restaurants and I still struggle with the nuttiness of brown rice.  White basmati rice was my preferred type of rice which has a lower GI value than other varieties of rice. There is also brown basmati rice which can have the same and sometimes lower GI values than white rice and recently I learned of a third; parboiled basmati rice which has variable GI values. What this means is that basmati rice is healthier than other rice. Then I have minute rice and also sushi rice – I mean 5 kinds of rice – no wonder my pantry is full!

Parboiled rice in this sense is not a means of cooking – it is processed quite differently from other types of rice. Because of the special processing, parboiled rice is a better source of fiber, calcium, potasium and vitamin B-6 than regular white rice. It is also called converted rice, made by partially boiling brown rice so that the starchy endosperm (the white rice) absorbs some nutrients like thiamine from the bran and germ.

The brand I bought from Yummy, Pure Indian Basmati Rice is suitable for diabetics due to a low GI Index (between 50 and 70). Glycemic Index  is an index that measures the ability of a food substance to raise blood sugar level.The carbs in parboiled rice do not cause a large spike in blood sugar. It is kosher certified, premium aged Indian Sella rice, low in fat, cholesterol free, gluten free, GMO free and vegan.

After the rice is harvested, its hull is removed to produce brown rice. If there is a second step of processing to remove the bran, it then becomes white rice. The process for parboiled rice begins before the hull is removed. The rice is soaked, steamed and dried, then the hull is removed to make parboiled rice. The process of steaming allows the rice to absorb nutrients and changes the starch so that it cooks into a firmer, less sticky dish of rice than regular white rice. It still needs to be cooked for 12 to 14 minutes.

I have been wanting to try this recipe for some time as there is a mixture of beef and chicken stock, plus a little butter. Butter always makes things a little better! I did not realize I would be learning something new about a different rice. You can see the difference in colors below. White is white, brown is brown and parboiled is yellow.

Parboiled rice is a compromise between  brown and white and I like it a lot. A healthier alternative which is always a good thing. I also would use oil to saute the onions and  would probably forget about the 2 tbsp. of butter on top.

dsc_0028 dsc_0026

Chef Larry also mentions you can add other ingredients such as black or red beans, sauteed squash or peppers, or even 1/2 cup of cracked wheat.

By the way, The Gandy Dancer is a popular restaurant here in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Great seafood, great salads, great everything! Plus, the building was once a train station in my beautiful city before it was transformed into a restaurant.

1-DSC_4572 1-DSC_4577

For other rice recipes on my blog see Rice Pilaf and Ginger and Jasmine Tea Sushi Rice.

The Gandy Dancer's Rice Pilaf

  • 2 tbsp. butter for sautéing, could use oil instead
  • 1/4 cup onions, finely diced (I might be tempted to add another 1/4 cup as I love onions)
  • 1-1/2 cups long grain rice, parboiled (converted)
  • 1-1/2 cups chicken broth (I used low-sodium)
  • 1-1/2 cups beef broth
  • 1/4 tsp. salt (optional)
  • 2 tbsp. cold butter to finish (optional)
  • other ingredients as desired such as veggies

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and saute onions for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the rice and toss to coat until the rice glistens. Add both broths and salt. Bring to a boil and simmer on the lowest flame for 12 to 14 minutes or until the broth is absorbed and the rice is tender.

Immediately place rice in a serving bowl and toss with 2 tbsp. of butter to coat the rice and prevent sticking. Did you know that cold butter halts the cooking process as it coats each grain? Well, you do now!

Recipe by Cooking With Aunt Juju


Isn’t this parboiled rice beautiful? It does not stick together and  is perfect as a side, fried rice or with a stir-fry. The flavor is enhanced in this recipe by using chicken and beef broth and then of course a little butter never hurts.

dsc_0229 dsc_0231

Linking to Fiesta Friday and Antonia and Petra.

Lemon-Lavender Brioche French Toast

It’s the middle of November and my lavender still looks pretty good, even though it is the second flowering of the year which always means reduced flowers. The smell and taste is just as wonderful as it was in the summer. With 15 plants I am very happy this is a perennial in Michigan. One good thing about lavender you can harvest the flowers, dry them and use them all winter long and they smell and taste just as good as if they were fresh. The picture below was taken on Nov. 16, 2016 – you can see there are lots of flowers, they just are not as stunning as they were in early summer.


This recipe was on my “to make list” since July actually when Chef Mimi introduced me to Food with Friends: The Art of Simple Gatherings by Leela Cyd. If you would like to see what Chef Mimi made from this delightful book go here

I enjoy reading fellow bloggers posts because of their recipes or maybe they are a gardener or dog lover but I also appreciate those who have a love for cookbooks like I do. Some cookbooks I might never have known about; you know they are not famous Food Network Chefs or well-known in the culinary community like David Lebovitz or Yotan Ottolenghi.

Even though I enjoy my computer to occasionally look for recipes I prefer to sit down and browse through my many cookbooks or magazines. With Leela’s cookbook I was drawn to this lavender French toast; mainly because of the lavender as I already have a few recipes for French toast.  Then a light went on and I thought to myself why not make my own brioche too since I have never made it before.

I went to my trusted source for bread baking, King Arthur Flour (KAF) and used their recipe for brioche. Yes, it does look like their bread except they braided it and there was more  of a dome on the bread. This is classic brioche dough (so tasty) but it is denser and more cake-like than typical brioche, not making it a good choice for French toast. It’s definitely a delicious pound cake though; the flavor is there but not the texture. Julia Child has a lighter recipe that I will use the next time. I should have done my homework a little more thoroughly!

I did buy a Brioche loaf from Whole Foods (they did not make it) and used that as well.

dsc_0162 dsc_0166

Lemon-Lavender Brioche French Toast

  • 3/4″ thick slices of brioche bread
  • unsalted butter for greasing the baking dish
  • 1 cup whole milk (I did use 2%)
  • 1/2 cup  heavy whipping cream
  • 1 whole vanilla bean, halved lengthwise (this and the extract add such great flavor)
  • 1/2 to 1 tbsp. dried lavender flowers (the author listed 10 flowers and I added more)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp. lemon zest, grated
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

You want to use stale bread so either leave it on the counter for a day or toast each side for about a minute. I made my own brioche and it was sturdy enough that it did not need to be toasted. I also bought some bread from Whole Foods (they did not make it) and it was very light and I let it get stale. The recipe is for 10 slices of bread from a big loaf.

Preheat the oven to 375°F and butter an 11×14-inch casserole.

In a saucepan, heat the milk and cream almost to a boil, then scrape the vanilla seeds into the pot. Add the vanilla pods too and the lavender flowers, cover, and turn off the heat. Let this mixture steep for 10 minutes, then strain the liquid through a sieve and remove the solids.

In a bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, salt, nutmeg, lemon zest and vanilla extract until combined. Add a little of this mixture into the warm milk with a whisk, then add the rest of the egg mixture, whisking constantly so nothing curdles.

Dip each piece of brioche into the custard and arrange in the buttered dish. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Very buttery and very eggy – yum! Both breads not only tasted delicious but the aroma when my homemade bread was baking was heavenly!

Serve with maple syrup, a fruit syrup or try the syrup below which came with the recipe:


  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tbsp. lemon zest, grated
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • pinch of fine sea salt

Mix the above ingredients and serve with the French toast if desired.

Recipe by

dsc_0192 dsc_0193

dsc_0195 dsc_0207dsc_0204 dsc_0196

Brioche from Whole Food on the left and KAF’s Brioche on the right dsc_0211


I’m sharing this delicious French toast with Fiesta Friday and the two co-hosts Petra and Antonia.


I loved baking and eating this butter and egg-rich bread. My kitchen smelled so good and my tummy was very happy just eating a sliced piece.  This is a classic brioche dough in taste but it is denser and more cake-like than the typical brioche. Actually, it was closer to a pound cake texture – not quite what I expected to make French toast!  My bread did look like KAF’s except they braided theirs.

For French toast I would use another recipe such as Julia Child’s recipe from her book “Baking with Julia” which is lighter and would have a more authentic shape. I found there are lots of recipes to choose from to get a more appropriate bread for French toast.

I have included the recipe for making 2 small loaves but if you want the recipe to make 1 large brioche or 12 mini brioches go here:

To make this bread, King Arthur Flour (KAF) recommends using a stand mixer or bread machine. The bread kneads for 15-20 minutes and would not be easy to do this by hand.


  • 2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup Baker’s Special Dry Milk (you can buy this from KAF) or 1/2 cup nonfat dry milk
  • 3 tbsp. sugar
  • 1-1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp. instant yeast
  • 3 large eggs + 1 egg yolk (optional) so you can use the white to brush on the loaves before baking
  • 1/4 cup lukewarm water
  • 10 tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 tbsp. milk plus 1 large egg white combined and sprinkled with sparkling sugar

In my stand mixer I combined all of the above ingredients and with my dough hook kneaded it for 15 minutes. It starts out sticky and then becomes smooth.

Form the dough into a ball, place in a greased bowl, cover it and let rise for 1 hour. The dough doubled in that time. Then refrigerate the dough for several hours or overnight. This will slow the fermentation and chill the butter, making it easier to shape.

I decided to make two small loaves and I was going to braid them and at the last minute decided against it since I was using it for French toast and you would not be able to appreciate the pretty shape of braiding.

I divided the dough and placed each half in each greased pan and tried to shape it. Cover and let rise for 3 hours, maybe less or maybe more. You want it to double and look very puffy. Once again the dough doubled and reached the rim of the pan but I was a little heavy-handed when I brushed the tops with the milk mixture and the bread collapsed a little. I did enjoy the sugar topping but I could have eliminated this step because I used the bread for French toast.

Bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 40 to 45 minutes, tenting with foil after 15 minutes. The loaves should register 205°F. This bread does tend to brown too quickly so keep an eye on it. It also browned a little too much when I baked it for French toast.

Recipe by


dsc_0153 dsc_0162 dsc_0166 Store-bought on the left and my homemade brioche on the right.dsc_0211

I’m sharing this brioche bread with Fiesta Friday and the two co-hosts Antonia and Petra.

Shrimp, Chicken and Prosciutto Rosemary-Lemon Skewers

It’s the middle of November and I am still grilling outside as the temperatures have been so mild here in Michigan. However, it’s dark by 6:00 P.M. but because I have an electric grill that I use in my garage I was able to grill these delicious skewers without any problem.

dsc_0176 dsc_0177

One of my rosemary plants really did well this year considering it is an annual and does not grow into a shrub like in the warmer climates. What I would give to have a perennial rosemary especially when I enjoy using the stems as skewers for grilling – I just love this herb!

Shrimp, Chicken and Prosciutto Rosemary-Lemon Skewers

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1 tbsp. fresh lemon zest, grated
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 tbsp. fresh garlic, chopped
  • jumbo shrimp if you can buy it (this time I had to use smaller sized shrimp)
  • zucchini, sliced 2-inches thick
  • red pepper, cut in chunks
  • onion, cut in chunks
  • lemons, cut in wedges
  • fresh rosemary sprigs
  • chicken tenders
  • thin slices of prosciutto

Combine the first six ingredients in a small bowl. This was plenty for 8 rosemary skewers. Strip your rosemary sprigs of their leaves except for the very top. Assemble the shrimp skewers; shrimp, zucchini, red pepper, onion, shrimp and finish with a lemon wedge.

Trim the prosciutto of the outside fat. Wrap a piece of prosciutto around each chicken tender. Secure with a rosemary skewer.

Brush some of the marinade over all of the skewers and marinate for an hour before grilling.

Prepare your grill – I heat mine on high for 15 minutes and brush the grate with oil before grilling.  Place a piece of foil on the grate where the top of the rosemary skewers will lay so as not to burn the leaves.

Grill about 5 minutes per side  and continue to brush with the marinade.

Serve over rice and bon appetit!

Recipe by

dsc_0168 dsc_0172 dsc_0179


Linking this delicious grilled shrimp and chicken/prosciutto rosemary skewers with Fiesta Friday.

Cauliflower and Pasta Shells in a Fontina Cheese Sauce

I recently received Ina Garten’s latest cookbook, “Cooking for Jeffrey”. I mean how sweet is this to publish recipes she cooks for Jeffrey and  their friends.  Now why didn’t I think of that – “Cooking for Gene” hmmmm🙂

This is Ina’s 10th cookbook and yes I have the other 9. She is a New York Times bestselling author and has won three Emmy Awards. I have been a big fan of Ina’s for a very long time. I love her story of meeting Jeffrey when she was 15 and what a wonderful and special life they have had together for so many years. Ina includes stories from their 48 years together with the recipes which became the basis for her successful food career. Did  you know she once had a job at the White House before becoming the Barefoot Contessa?

This recipe comes from David Tanis’ food column in the New York Times. At one time he was the head chef at Alice Waters’s restaurant Chez Panisse and now writes cookbooks and a food column.

As always there are a number of recipes in this new cookbook I would like to try.  If I want something special, or just every day food, her recipes have never failed me and I mean never! I decided to make the one whose main ingredient is one of my favorite veggies, cauliflower. There’s crispy pasta shells, cheesy sauce using Fontina, Pecorino and ricotta, fresh sage, garlic and capers. Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?

This fabulous recipe has a lot of ingredients but all of this can be prepared ahead of time. Just refrigerate, bring to room temperature and bake as directed.


Cauliflower and Pasta Shells in a Fontina Cheese Sauce, Adapted

  • 3/4 lb. medium shells
  • kosher salt (see comment below)
  • olive oil
  • 1 large cauliflower, about 2 lbs.,  cut into small florets
  • 3 tbsp. fresh sage leaves, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp. capers, drained and chopped
  • 1 tbsp. fresh garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. lemon zest, grated
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper (optional – you can taste the heat and I like it)
  • 2 cups fontina cheese, grated (I used a Michigan fontina but Ina recommends Italian Fontina Val d’Aosta), lightly packed
  • 1 cup fresh ricotta
  • 1/2 cup panko bread flakes
  • 6 tbsp. Pecorino cheese, grated
  • 2 tbsp. fresh parsley, minced

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Fill a large saucepan with water, add 2 tbsp. salt and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Do not overcook it as you will bake it later. Drain and pour into a large bowl.

Heat 3 tbsp. olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat, add half of the cauliflower in one layer. Saute for about 5 to 6 minutes, until the florets are lightly browned. Pour it into the bowl with the pasta. Add 3 more tbsp. olive oil and repeat.

Add the sage, capers, garlic, lemon zest, red pepper, 2 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. black pepper and combine. Stir in the Fontina. Transfer half of the mixture to a 10×13-inch baking dish. Spoon rounded tbsp. of ricotta on the pasta and spread out;  spoon the remaining pasta mixture on top.

Combine the panko, Pecorino, parsley and 1 tbsp. olive oil in a small bowl and sprinkle it evenly over the top. Bake for 30 minutes or so, until browned and crusty on top.

Comment: I usually cut back the amount of salt by half. Personally, I don’t need so much. When I can I also cut back on the oil as I did when cooking the cauliflower.

Recipe by cooking with aunt juju


dsc_0139 dsc_0138 dsc_0140

I am linking this flavorful cauliflower recipe to Fiesta Friday.

Cinnamon-Pear Balsamic Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Pears

Finally I made a recipe using pears and it’s a good one too. It’s easy to make and with just a few ingredients which include a delicious Cinnamon Pear Balsamic Vinegar and fresh herbs. Yes, it’s early November and I can still pick my thyme and sage. It got up to 78 on November 1st which is hard to believe for Michigan.

I am lucky to have one of Fustini’s stores here in my hometown who sells many varieties of balsamic vinegar, a few vinegars and some olive oils. This is a Michigan company with stores in various parts of the state. They have published 5 cookbooks with recipes using their many products  and offer cooking classes too.


Cinnamon-Pear Balsamic Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Pears

  • unsalted butter
  • 2-4 pears, slightly unripe – I chose D’Anjou as they looked the best; peeled, halved and cored
  • pork tenderloin (s)
  • 1-1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. ground red pepper
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup Cinnamon Pear Balsamic Vinegar
  • fresh sage, finely chopped
  • fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • fresh sage leaves and thyme sprigs for garnish
  • edible flowers for garnish

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Spray a 9×13-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

In a large skillet, melt just enough butter to cook the pears cut side down until lightly browned; remove the pears and set aside.

Season the pork with salt and the two peppers; add the pork to the skillet and cook until browned on all sides for about 5 minutes.

Place pears cut side down and the pork tenderloin (s) alongside them in your prepared baking dish ; generously brush with the Cinnamon Pear Balsamic Vinegar. Add some minced sage and thyme. Cut some butter into small pieces and sprinkle over the pork and pears.

Bake until the pork registers 145°F and pears are tender when pierced with a knife. This should take about 15 minutes or so, depending on the size of your pork tenderloins. Cover and let stand 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with sage leaves and thyme sprigs. I always forget to add some edible flowers too – just to give some bright color to a recipe.

Recipe by cooking with aunt juju

I’m linking this seasonal pork and pear recipe to Fiesta Friday and the two co-hosts Margy and Suzanne.

dsc_0099 dsc_0106   dsc_0110dsc_0112

A Fall Ritual – Making Grandma’s Applesauce

Grandma’s applesauce has been a part of my “cooking life” for a very long time and she always used Cortland apples to make this special treat. Some of the favorite ways we enjoyed it when I was younger was as a dip for danish or cinnamon rolls. There is nothing better than a buttered piece of toast followed with a generous layer of applesauce.


2016 canned applesauce: 1 bushel = 18 pints and 4 quarts – I know Grandma would be pleased that I have been making her applesauce for so many years and that so many people (especially the guys for some reason) have enjoyed her simple, but delicious recipe.

The color comes from the apples’ skin and the long and slow cooking process. There are no spices and  no added sugar besides the apples’ natural sweetness. It may have the color of apple butter but typically apple butter has sugar and other spices added to it. Funny, when I made apple butter once no one cared for it.


Nowadays, people don’t seem to spend time on canning but if you have a big garden like I use to have I don’t know how I could have preserved all those veggies having only a freezer. At one time I had an upright freezer and two small freezers in my two refrigerators and still did a lot of canning and other means of preserving my garden’s goodies.

I have been known to order Cortlands from New York (once or twice) when they were not available here in Michigan due to the weather – I never substitute not with my applesauce! Now, apple desserts are another thing as I prefer Northern Spy but you can only get them a certain time during the Fall so substitutions such as Granny Smith are always a good alternative.

Cortlands are a beautiful apple; juicy, red and big like the 9 oz. one below. It has a sweet-tart flavor and is an older American variety.  It was one of the first varieties developed from the popular McIntosh and Ben Davis apples. When there was a big demand (gifts and such) I processed 2 bushels; but for a number of years now I am down to 1 bushel which is still quite a lot. The applesauce does keep for as long as two years when it has been canned.

dsc_0056 dsc_0054

Be aware though that making this special applesauce requires a couple of days; processing, cooking and finally canning in my pressure cooker. If I do not have enough to make a full load (7 quarts or  pints) I will freeze some. My kitchen is always a disaster with sticky dishes, counter tops, stove, floors and even me! I do my best to be neat but there is always a big clean up.

I use my applesauce not only just to eat alone as a side dish with pork or ham, or spread on toast, but in many recipes. As it is unsweetened and no spices added to it this applesauce is very healthy and adds great flavor and moisture. The apples are delicious eaten fresh, paired with cheese and always good in a salad. I also love to make cinnamon ornaments but I have to admit I don’t use my homemade applesauce. Search applesauce for recipes…


DSC_1287 DSC_1198


See Applesauce From Scratch and Grandma’s Applesauce for more information.

I quarter and core each apple and place them in my largest saucepans. I barely submerge them with water, while pressing them down, and cook until they are soft and mushy, turning and stirring the apples occasionally so they all cook the same.

dsc_0057 dsc_0061

Once they are soft I process them through my old Victoria Strainer (water and all) – this piece of equipment is essential to have. They do make a motorized version but I like the exercise LOL! The main parts are the body including clamp assembly; hopper (big white cupped thing fits into the top of the body) where the softened apples go and you use a wooden plunger to push the apples through while you are turning the handle; a spiral which fits into the screen assembly and where the apples come through; the peels one way and the yummy apple flesh another.


I process the peels through the screen assembly, maybe 3 times to get that “pink” color from the skins. There is very little waste…

dsc_0065 dsc_0066

A bushel of apples is simmering in my largest saucepans for 6+ hours, stirring frequently to prevent the bottoms from scorching.

dsc_0068 dsc_0060 dsc_0087 dsc_0085

I am sharing my Grandma’s recipe with everyone at Fiesta Friday #143 hosted by Angie. Please stop by and say hello to Maggie @ who is one of the co-hosts this week as well as myself, Judi