Help! Send Me a Photo of My Any-Night Baked Rice...and You'll Be Rewarded

Great recipe. Horrible photo. Please help!

Great recipe. Horrible photo. Please help!

Readers of this blog have probably noted that photography is not my strong suit. In fact, when working as a food editor, the thing I liked least was overseeing food photo shoots.

In the dark and airless basement photo studio, the food stylists, prop stylists, art directors, and photographers could spend HOURS deciding whether a strand of spaghetti needed to be over here or over there on a plate. Meanwhile, I’d be pulling my hair out, thinking, “IT’S FINE! JUST SHOOT THE DAMNED THING AND LET ME GET BACK TO WRITING.”

Of course, great food photography takes time and patience. Yet while I’ll willingly focus a couple of hours to get a paragraph polished to perfection, I just can’t stay with one photograph that long. And frankly, it probably shows on this blog. I’m not saying my photos are out-and-out awful, but let’s face it: They’re not my strong suit.

Which is why I often have my good friend Richard Swearinger take photos for me. He was the senior food editor at Better Homes and Gardens Magazine, and he’s also a great photographer. And he does have patience for the craft.

But today, I thought I’d give Richard some time off and ask you, dear readers, for some help.

No. I did not take this photograph. Richard Swearinger did.

No. I did not take this photograph. Richard Swearinger did.

It’s about my Any-Night Baked Rice. This recipe is handily one of the most popular recipes on my blog. People often write and tell me they love it.

And yet, my photo of it just doesn’t do it justice, does it?  Right? It’s ugly.

So, here’s your chance to help me out. Make this recipe (I guarantee you’ll like it!). Then, shoot a photo of it, either in the pan, or on a plate with a side dish—or any way you can make it look as luscious and good as it is.

What’s in it for you?

If I choose your photo to replace the ugly photo I took, I’ll send you a signed copy of the Bonne Femme Cookbook. What? You already own a copy of my book? Imagine what a nice gift the signed book—personalized as you request—would make for Christmas for your favorite cook!

And if your recipe isn’t chosen? You can still win! For the first 10 people who send me their photo, I’ll send you a free copy of my e-book, The French Pasta Cookbook: 25 délicieuse recipes from bistros, cafés, and home kitchens.

And if you aren’t among the first 10 people? Let me tell you: I think you still win. Just by trying this rice, you’re going to discover a recipe you’ll serve again and again. It really is the perfect side dish.

PS: Of course, if you’re a food blogger—or any kind of blogger–I’ll link back to your blog.

All you have to do:

1. Make the rice (recipe below).

2. Snap a photo of it. Really–even if you don’t think you’re a great photographer, I bet you can do better–immensely better!–than the photo I took above. If you don’t have a fancy camera, use your I-Pad, I-Phone…..whatever!

3. Upload the photo to this post on my Facebook page. (Of course, I’d be grateful if you “liked” my facebook page, too, but that’s not required to be chosen).

ENTRY DEADLINE: NOVEMBER 15, 2014. So get cooking!

That’s it. Good luck. And THANK YOU.

Any-Night Baked Rice

From The Bonne Femme Cookbook: Simple, Splendid Food That French Women Cook Every Day.

Make this recipe once, and I’d be willing to bet you will make it again and again for the rest of your life. It is the perfect way to make a moist (but never sticky), buttery (but not cloying), flavorful (but goes-with-anything) rice. It’s infinitely easier than risotto, and much, much better than boiled rice.

I adapted this from a recipe by Pierre Franey, the French-born chef who wrote the “60-Minute Gourmet” column in the New York Times in the 1970s and ’80s. I’ve probably made it more than a thousand times in my life. The basic ingredients are butter, onions, garlic, rice, chicken stock, and thyme. You can vary the seasonings and ingredients, just as Franey did: He’d toss in apple and curry for a Riz à l’Indienne, turmeric for Riz à Tumerique, pimiento or roasted red pepper for Riz aux Piments,Parmesan (after the rice is cooked) for Riz à Parmesan, and pine nuts (after cooking) for Riz avec Pignolats. You get the idea—though the basic recipe is exquisite in itself.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

1            tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4        cup finely chopped onion
1            garlic clove, minced
1            cup long-grain rice
1/4        teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
1 1/2     cups low-sodium chicken broth
1            bay leaf

Preheat oven to 425°F. Melt the butter in a medium flameproof, ovenproof pot with a heavy lid (I use the Le Creuset Signature Enameled Cast-Iron 2-Quart Round French (Dutch) Oven) over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until tender but not brown, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the rice and thyme; cook and stir about 1 minute more (grains should start to cook a bit but not brown, and should glisten with butter). Add the chicken stock and then the bay leaf; stir to break up any clumps of rice. Bring to a boil.

Cover the casserole tightly and slide it into the oven. Bake the rice for 15 minutes. Remove from oven; let stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Serve immediately or let stand, covered, in a warm place (such as on an unheated back burner) for up to 20 minutes more. Remove bay leaf and stir with a fork before serving.

Enjoy. And don’t forget to enter your photo.


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