Thursday, September 8, 2011

French Friday with Dorie: Creamy, Cheesy, Garlicky Rice with Spinach

I decided to have a cook-off between Dorie's French style rice/stuffed peppers and our usual "Spanish" style rice/stuffed peppers. 

Early this morning I went marketing hoping to find fresh vegetable ingredients and the variety of rice suggested by Dorie, Arborio, a risotto rice, that we rarely use.  YIPEE!  The garden fresh fare has finally made it to AZ.  I lugged home a bountiful quantity and variety of fresh fruits and veges, the like's of which I've not seen in months.  Colorado, Utah, and New Mexico produce has finally made it to our area and the quality is instantly appreciated.  This produce looks and smells wonderful and tastes unlike the usual grocery store pickings.  These wonderful foods cannot grow when temps stay in the 116^ range for weeks at a time so we appreciate the growers who ship their wonderful items to us...sometimes overnight so that we here in the desert heat can also enjoy farm fresh produce.
First I cooked the rice in chicken stock while the spinach steamed, and onions with garlic were sauteed in butter.  These ingredients were seasoned  with salt and pepper and when cooked were tossed together in a large pot. After adding the rice,  French style grated cheese was added and then heavy cream was stirred in creating a "Creamy, Cheesy" rice dish that is a perfect contrast to our traditional Spanish style rice.  I added double the cream suggested by the recipe as this rice mixture became too stiff or dry.
Our contrasting rice was made at the same time as the French rice.  Instead of chicken stock, our traditional rice uses a base of fresh tomatoes which are crushed.  Like the French style, this rice also included sauteed olive oil, not butter.  Instead of spinach, cilantro was used.  I had brought home red, green, yellow, and orange peppers which were diced and added to the saute pot with the onions.  And we finally have great corn so I cut the kernels from several cobs and stirred them into the mixture.   Next my precooked long grain rice was added.  Then the tomatoes were combined and this mixture was thoroughly heated.  Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses were grated and then stirred in.  With all these additions the juice from the tomatoes was absorbed and this mixture was just right.   The only seasonings used were salt and pepper.

I  purchased crisp, fresh green peppers for stuffing.  3 were used for the French rice and 3 for the Spanish.  Before stuffing the peppers, I removed the seeds and then quickly blanched the peppers instead of using Dorie's Bonne Idee for oven-cooking the peppers.  My method is quick and the peppers are perfect.  When stuffed they can be baked for a short time just to uniformly heat all the already hot ingredients and melt any cheese added to the top.  Actually at this point, the Spanish peppers can be refrigerated and just microwaved before eating...these peppers will keep well for a few days in the fridge where Dorie suggests that her version should be eaten  "soon after it's made."

Some of my favorite tasters came to stay with me this evening.  3 of my grandkiddies tried both varieties of stuffed peppers.  They were actually excited to do this...they love stuffed peppers!

Penguin:  I love the Spanish style but most of all I like the green pepper. (She enjoyed both varieties of rice and  asked for seconds of the Spanish rice.)

Peacock:  I like them both but I want to eat them cold...please do not warm them up.  (She ate everything on her plate.)

Turkey:  This is a good dinner.  The best part is the green pepper.  I like all the red parts and all the green parts and I like the big green part the most.

There we have it.  The reviews are in.  I was proud of the kids to be excited to try a new flavor and happy all the meal was enjoyed.  I thought it was funny that the best part of the meal was the green pepper that held the rice. All three cleaned their plates and liked both rice flavors.   They were excited to be my judges.

Honey also came later and ate a bowl...she mixed both types together and created her own variety.  She liked it.

For me, this means that when I have extra tomatoes to use, the Spanish style will always be enjoyed, but when I have spinach or want something more creamy...maybe as a side to go with something like chicken, the French variety will also be enjoyed.

And, it was fun to use a stickier rice.  I think this rice would make pretty scoops that would stay in place on a plate, making a fancier dinner side dish.

Note:  Both varieties were re-heated and were good.  I was worried that the French creamy rice would not survive as a leftover due to Dorie's comments that this rice should be eaten soon after making it.  It was, however, really good the next day.

I look forward to seeing my fellow Dorista's experiences with this dish...always great ideas and tips to make my cooking better.


  1. What a fun taste test, I also enjoy comparing different recipes and seeing which ones win out. Both of your peppers look very tasty. I too wanted to try stuffed peppers, but bell peppers are one of the few foods which my husband refuses to eat, so I had to come up with something else.

  2. Miss Kris! You rock sista! Linked to you in my corn soup post. Thanks for all the love!

    Love that you made compared recipes with this one. And that you went the extra step in plating with the peppers, so beautiful! Great post!

  3. I'm impressed that you simultaneously cooked two different dishes, with very different components. I'm not that coordinated. If I have more than one thing going on at a time in the kitchen, something WILL burn. Glad all the kiddos had fun!

  4. Sounds like you had fun with your rice challenge, I don't know the Spanish rice with fresh tomatoes and corn(who could resist!) looks pretty good;-)

  5. This rice definitely made great leftovers.
    I have a mental image on how Honey might have made her own variety - it is making me smile :-)
    Love the side by side comparison!

  6. cook two version and I take my hat off for you. Well done ! It looks delicious. I only cook one version...that is Dorie's original one :)

  7. I love the cookoff! Your family sounds so cute - fun for them, too, to try so many different things at your house :)

  8. What fun! Both variations look amazing - sounds like a great dinner to me! :)

  9. How fun & what a great way to compare the two. I think both look very tasty, but I'm drawn to your traditional Spanish-Style!

    I just had a beautiful chile-poblano chicken salad today, so I think you could serve this cold as a salad also!

    Happy French Friday!

  10. Love the side-by-side testing. What a colorful pair! I loved the creamy rice, but your Spanish version looks equally delicious. I also was concerned about leftovers based on Dorie's comments. I thought they were just fine. We actually ate it as a side dish the first night and then I stuffed the leftovers into peppers and baked for the second. Good in all forms.

  11. What a great idea. You definitely went above and beyond this week!

  12. Oh, how cute! You can go wrong with reviews like those! I am so glad you have been able to get fresh produce that you are happy with, Kris. It makes all the difference in the world. Great idea to have a side-by-side comparison. Your Spanish rice version looks similar to my mom's stuffed green pepper recipe.

  13. Very creative!
    Both versions look great!
    I really like the colour in your Spanish version.

  14. Love your post! Great taste test. I agree it's pretty funny that they liked the peppers the most. That would never have been me as a kid! I've wanted to make the peppers but haven't gotten that far yet. Great (!) idea about blanching the peppers, and your Spanish variety looks delicious too!

  15. I love the reviews from your grandchildren...foodies in the making :) Both your versions look great!! I'd love to try the Spanish rice...mmmmmmm.

  16. Man, I should do a cook-off! LOL, but then instead of eating for 4-6, I will be forced to eat for 4-8...!! LOL, maybe when my hubby comes home? Glad you liked this one, I thought it was just as good re-heated the next day too!

  17. Both your variations look wonderful and I love that you start your Spanish version with fresh tomatoes.

  18. Wow, Kris - you went all out on this one! Both versions look delicious & I love that your grandkids like vegetables!

    Thank you so much for your kind words - I truly appreciate your support!

  19. I miss FFwD and I miss you, Miss Krissy:) Both of these dishes look delicious and I am sure that it would be hard to choose.I am partial to Serbian-style stuffed peppers, especially here, where i can find the sweet, elongated, pale-yellow peppers that melt in your mouth. Our version is saucier than both of these and there is ground meat in the stuffing.
    But, I love stuffed peppers of any kind, and once I am back in the US, I'd like to try both yours and Dorie's version.
    Thanks for thinking of me and stopping b y my site. I had to put my blogging life on the back burner, as I am taking care of my mom who is really sick. I am trying to spend as much time with her as I can, knowing that this might be the last visit:(
    Have a great week, and kiss those three little ones for me!

  20. Ooh, love the cook-off! They both look amazing!

  21. Kris, How wonderful to have a taste contest with your grandkids. Love their reviews. I was actually out with my grandkids this past week-end. I wish they all lived much closer! Very nice post...your rice looks great!

  22. Love the head-to-head contest! Seems like it was a tie and that your family members were the real winners. I'm happy you've got access to some farm fresh produce now. Enjoy it while it lasts! I'm getting prepared to be a little jealous of your backyard citrus posts in a few months. :)