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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

“Side Dish Seminar, Pt. XVII: Saffron Rice—the Most Expensive Rice Dish in the World—but worth it!”

The Grateful Dead’s thirty-eighth album, “Dick’s Picks Vol. IV—the Fillmore East in New York City, NY February 13-14, 1970,” was released in February 1996 and was another great offering in the Dick’s Picks’ series.  We feel that any album that features Ron “Pigpen” McKernan is a great album, whether it is or not and this is a great one!  We therefore recommend that you buy it and think you will be delighted with it so please take the handy link to Amazon.com, the world’s largest online retailer and get it now! You won’t be disappointed!  Thank you, the Elemental News of the Day.

Here's the countdown to December 21, 2012: from today, we have 443 days to go until the End of Days, the End of Time, Armageddon, and the End of the Mayan Calendar!  Everybody, beware!


                                                   STINKBUG 2011


Chef Charles “the Chuckster” Smithenstein

END Commentary 10-06-2011

Copyright © 2011 by MHB Productions

Word Count: 1,115.



Elemental News of the Day Commentary-Opinion-Sports-Foodservice for Thursday, October 06, 2011 by Chef Charles “the Chuckster” Smithenstein


 Side Dish Seminar, Pt. XVII: Saffron Rice—the Most Expensive Rice Dish in the World—but worth it!

Bakersfield, CA, 10-06-2011 Th: We are going to make our last rice dish today, one that is the most expensive rice dish in the world: Saffron Rice.  Saffron is one of those luxurious herbs/spices that is costly as it takes something like 50,000 flower stamens from the saffron plant to make ONE ounce.  This is a labor-intensive item as you can believe and is primarily grown in the Middle East and is prominent in the cooking of the Israelis and the Arabs.  Besides having a wonderful golden color, it also has a unique taste, something that cannot be duplicated by either turmeric or Mexican saffron, a low-class, cheap and worthless product.  Saffron is not only a beautiful spice but it’s also fragrant and breads, rice dishes, and even potatoes benefit from its inclusion.   I remember, too, that in many of the restaurants in which I worked, saffron was kept under lock and key and doled out by the Executive Chef just like the booze to be used in that night’s cooking.  Back in the 1980’s, if I remember correctly, eight ounces of saffron might cost more than $100 so you can imagine just how closely it was guarded.  If a cook was careless enough to burn the saffron rice, he could find himself in hot water, facing reprimand and rebuke, worse than when Chef Carrick burned the rice at the Stockdale Country Club for a Chinese wedding that had 500 guests.  That’s a funny story, perhaps one of these days when it’s his turn, he will be kind enough to share that story with you.  Believe me, there is no disgrace worse than burning the rice for an oriental party or a Hawaiian one for that matter.  No, that’s pretty shameful!

This rice is also unique in that some of its ingredients differ from what you find in many pilaf dishes and that is what gives it character.  This particular recipe is more or less a Spanish recipe as they were overrun by the Muslims in the Dark Ages and saffron arrived on their shores and became a part of their culture.  Yes, the Iberian Peninsula is big on Middle Eastern cookery and that is where much of the character of their food has its origins.  In fact, much of that cuisine spilled over into the New World with the arrival of the Conquistadores who arrived in the 1400’s. History and food are intertwined in interesting ways.  Can you imagine what it would be like to one day actually journey into space to new worlds and to bring their foods back to earth?  Whatever might come from space one day, hundreds of years from now, would make the Columbian Exchange that took place between Old and New Worlds look like child’s play! Let’s do it:


1. To feed 4-6 / Mis-en-place: about 45-60 minutes:

Chicken stock

Diced carrots

Diced yellow onions

Diced celery

Bay leaf

Saffron threads

Whole thyme


Coil fideo, crumbled by hand

Jasmine rice

Kosher salt

Minced garlic

Black pepper

Yellow food color


1.      Preheat standard oven to 375°F or convection oven to 325°F.

2.      Place the first SEVEN ingredients in a saucepot and place over medium-high flame.

3.      In a second saucepot equipped with a tight-fitting lid (don’t put it on yet) and sprayed with PAM or some such other food release spray, add the butter and place over a medium flame. Heat the oil and add the fideo and brown quickly followed by the rice. Add the seasonings. Cook the rice until it’s somewhat browned and then pour in the boiling liquid and add the food coloring. Bring to a boil and keep there for ONE minute.

4.      Clamp on the lid and insert the pot inside your preheated oven and bake there for 20-25 minutes or until the rice has absorbed the liquid. 

5.      At that point, remove the rice from the oven and fluff with a fork.  Allow the steam to escape for a couple of minutes and then fluff again and serve. If you have leftovers, allow them to cool before refrigerating.

This is fancy yet simple rice that can be made in no more than 35 minutes for a quick meal.  Accompany with entrees like roasted lamb or chicken, beef, or pork and enjoy. You will use this recipe time and time again.

As I mentioned yesterday, I have had a great time today and as always enjoy my opportunities to write for the Elemental News of the Day. We urge our readership to write to us and leave comments and if there are any of you, who would care to write an article for us, please get in touch via Magnolia Hilltop Brewers, P.O. Box 20669, Bakersfield, CA 93390-0669.  We obviously don’t pay anything but you will be given a full byline and that’s worth its weight in gold.  We want as many people who want to write to be able to do so and we believe that by presenting a forum for our fellow chefs, we are doing something for our beloved industry.  We love diversity and hope to add new and different authors to our pantheon of chefs, food and beverage directors, and culinary professionals.  Come on and join us, it’ll be fun!

Please remember to avoid doing business with AARC Technology in Bakersfield, CA.  These people don’t care about the small customer anymore but instead put all of their attentions onto their corporate customers. It’s sad to not remember why one has the success they do or from where it came.

The rice we did today is an exceptional dish which everyone in your family should enjoy.  As I explained, saffron is an expensive spice but it’s worth buying to make certain things.  It’s not something you would put into every single recipe but instead is saved for fashion statement you wish to make with certain people.  For those easily impressed by the cost of different things, tell them how much saffron used and how much you spent and they will be impressed.  Some people are so status-conscious that they will be impressed for the rest of their lives.  And, for those people, that is exactly what we want! LOL.  Anyhow, please leave some comments and/or become a follower and why not spend some money and purchase an album by the Grateful Dead and/or buy a cookbook from Amazon.com.  We are allied with them and are pleased to market their merchandise! See you next time around! Bye!    

Thank you!

Charles “the Chuckster” Smithenstein

The Chuckster
Restaurant Manager, Mixologist, Foodserver, and Cook

This is a photo of me back in 1973 while being the Food and Beverage Director at one of the hotels in Bakersfield, CA, located on Union Avenue. I was in my late 30's at the time.


END Commentary for Thursday, October 06, 2011 by Chef Charles “the Chuckster” Smithenstein

Please note that everyone who writes for the Elemental News of the Day is their own person entitled to their own opinions, attitudes, and insanity so does not necessarily speak for all of us.  Thanks, Stinkbug.


This original essay was authored by the one-and-only Chef Charles “the Chuckster” Smithenstein

Recipes created by Chef Charles “the Chuckster” Smithenstein on January 12, 2001 in Visalia, CA.



“Stinky” of the Elemental News of the Day for the best of the news, politics, sports, foodservice, hotel and restaurant business, the end times, the end of days, the apocalypse, armageddon, and whatever else happens to pop up!




This is #734, a 30” x 40" original oil painting by Beverly Carrick entitled, “Golden Pool." It's among her more beautiful works and is available for sale. You can see much more of her work at her Website, located at http://www.beverlycarrick.com or at Brian Carrick's Facebook page. At her Website, you will see not only more original oil paintings but also lithographs, giclees, prints, miniatures, photographs, and even her award-winning instructional video entitled, "Painting the Southwest with Beverly Carrick." Beverly has been painting for more than 60 years and is known around the world. Her work hangs in private and public galleries and is followed by a great many fans that circle the globe. We urge you to go to her Website NOW and view her work. It's possible that you will find something you like and will want to buy it for yourself, a friend, a loved one, or a neighbor! You will not be disappointed so please: do yourself a favor and go there IMMEDIATELY! Thank you, the Elemental News of the Day!

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