Sunday, 24 July 2011

Mushroom Brown Rice

As with many Jewish families, we would gather around the family dinner table for Shabbat (Sabbath) dinner every Friday night.  Shabbat dinner was not negotiable; it was family night - the one night each week where we took a break from our hectic schedules, and came together around the table, "Benched Licht" (lit the Shabbat candles and recited the blessings), said the Kiddush (the before meal Grace) and the "Motzi" (blessing over the Challah [egg bread]). 

While it was not open for discussion - you did not miss Shabbat Dinner in our home - it never felt like a chore.  Our friends seemed to like joining us on this evening, partaking in the friendly banter and indulging in the amazing meal my mother would serve.  In fact, if I think back, we usually chose to stay at the table long after we were free to go off on our own.  My parents managed to create a teen-friendly atmosphere that was so welcoming and embracing, our friends would often convince us to forego our original post-Shabbat Dinner plans so we could keep visiting with my family. 

Walking into our home on a Friday afternoon, you would be instantly hit with cooking smells...so tantalizing you could hardly wait for dinner to be served.  Shabbat Dinner was always substantial - with Challah, soup or salad, a tender and juicy entree of either beef or poultry, and scrumptious side dishes – at least 1 starch and 1 vegetable. 

As far back as I can remember, my mother made the most delicious, mushroom brown rice.  It was flavourful, but not overpowering, and so moist - no wonder it was a family favourite!  I could never resist that rice (still can't) and I would sneak a mushroom, or 10, from the casserole dish when my mother wasn't looking.  For those of you who knew my mother, you can imagine her expression when she brought the casserole to the table, lifted the lid, and found all the little mushroom-free depressions in her rice!  On the rare occasions that there were leftovers, David and I always managed to polish them off while watching cartoons, or Much Music the following morning. 

Now I make that same rice dish for my family…in fact, I just made it this past Shabbat.  Of course, I double the recipe so the kids will have leftovers for Saturday morning.  True to form, Sara came downstairs yesterday (between games 1 and 2 of Becca's soccer tourney) and started munching on a bowl of Mushroom Brown Rice!  This is even more amazing because Sara absolutely hates mushrooms…but she loves the rice enough to endure picking them out and leaving them at the side of her plate.  When you think about it, she is the perfect ying to my yang - I don't even have to pick out the mushrooms anymore, I have a daughter to do it for me!

OK…so when David first saw this blog, he told me I needed to blog about Mom's Mushroom Brown Rice.  I told him it would come soon enough, but I am trying to establish a method to my blogging madness, and blog about family recipes I have just made or tried.  Lo and behold, it didn't take very long to get to this recipe! 

When I was trying to sort through Mom's Paper Trail yesterday, I came across the Mushroom Brown Rice recipe, in my Bubbie Lou's handwriting, on a food-stained recipe card.  I guess this is another one of those recipes that has been treasured by at least 3 generations of our family.  I hope you will enjoy it too.  B'Tayavon and Buon Appetito!

PS...In finding Bubbie Lou's recipe card, I discovered that this recipe originated with her sister-in-law, Lil P., who was married to Uncle Harold, Bubbie Lou's brother.  And so my journey has already led to new and unexpected discoveries. 

Bubbie Lou's Original Recipe Card


Mom's (and Bubbie Lou's and Aunt Lil's) Mushroom Brown Rice
 (with my comments in parentheses)
Ingredients:
·         1C Uncle Ben’s Rice
·         ½ package dried onion soup mix (I used Osem brand –2 to 3 tbsp)
·         1 can button mushrooms (I often use sliced – whatever I have in the pantry)

·         ¼ C mushroom juice (reserved when draining the mushrooms
·         2 tbsp soya sauce (low sodium soya sauce works just as well)
·         ¼ C Mazola oil (any oil will work)
·         1 ¾ C cold water

Method: Put into a casserole in the above order, starting with the rice and the water last. Make sure to spread each layer evenly over the last, otherwise the flavouring will not be consistent throughout.  Do not stir, cover. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour, remove from oven and let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

The recipe can be doubled, but will take more than 1 hour.  My grandmother suggests (see original recipe card in photo) that you make it in the morning, bake for 1 hour, then return to the oven for another hour before you plan to serve it.