Saturday, January 3, 2015

Wild Rice with Greens and Gruyere Cheese Casserole and Salted Nut Bars

John Reul Tolkien was born January 3, 1892 in Bournemouth, England and died September 2, 1973. He was an English writer and scholar who achieved fame with his children's book The Hobbit (1937) and and his richly inventive epic fantasy The Lord of the Rings (1954-1955) He was a professor at England's Oxford University and a respected scholar of medieval literature. His life was rich with many talents, creative pursuits and scholarly endeavors. 
One of the more interesting things I read was that J.R.R.Tolkien was good friends with C.S. Lewis and together they were key members of the ‘Inklings’, an informal Oxford literary club, where writers met together to read out poetry and short stories. Tolkien had a strong Catholic faith throughout his life; he often discussed religion with C.S.Lewis. Lewis later said that his conversations with Tolkien were a key factor in his decision to embrace Christianity. However, their relationship cooled over the years. There was a little friction over C.S.Lewis' relationship with Joy Davidson, but they remained firm friends and C.S.Lewis was always a stout literary defender of Tolkien’s work (though Tolkien was somewhat less enthusiastic about the work of C.S.Lewis).
Wild Rice and Greens Casserole with Gruyere Cheese
Recipe serves 4 and adapted from Southern Living November 2014. Swiss cheese can be substituted for Gruyere. Refer to yesterday's photo of the meal. 
  • ½ LB. fresh kale or other hearty greens (such as spinach) trimmed and coarsely chopped
  • 4-1/2 tsp. olive oil or walnut oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 TB. fresh thyme leaves or 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 4 TB. flour
  • 1 cup 2% milk
  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • 4 cups cooked wild rice
  • ½ cup sun-dried tomatoes, drained and patted dry with a paper towel
  • 2 cups grated Gruyere/Smoked cheese, divided
  • ½ cup slivered almonds

  • Heat oil in a large skillet and saute onions over a medium low heat until golden about 20 minutes.
  • Add in garlic, thyme nutmeg and cook 1 minute.
  • Stir greens in until wilted, add flour and stir 1 minute.
  • Add broth, milk and stir until thickened about 4 minutes.
  • Stir in rice, tomatoes, 1 cup of cheese and salt and pepper to taste.
  • Transfer mixture to a lightly greased 2-1/2 qt. baking dish. Sprinkle with almonds and remaining cheese.
  • Bake uncovered for 20 minutes until bubbly and lightly browned.  

Salted Nut Bars
Cook's Notes: Its buttery, chewy, decadent and the piece de resistance to the meal. 
A 13 x 9 pan was consumed by 4 people in less than 3 days.  
This recipe came from my friend Beth via her Tampa Bay Times December 3, 2014 Holiday Cookie section. It was a Testers Favorite. It claimed being freeze worthy but I guarantee any leftovers will not make it that far. 
  • 3 cups of flour
  • 1-1/2 cups brown sugar, packed
  • 2 sticks of butter ( 1 cup)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup dark Karo syrup
  • 2 TB. butter
  • 1 TB. water
  • 1 TB. flour
  • 2 cups or more salted mixed nuts

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • In a food processor add brown sugar, salt and flour. Blend and then add in butter 1/2 stick at a time. 
  • Place floured mixture in an ungreased 9 x 13 pan and press down. Bake 12 minutes. Cool 10 minutes.
  • In food processor coarsely chop nuts with 1 TB. flour and sprinkle evenly over baked cooled crust. 
  • In a saucepan add Karo syrup, 2 TB. butter, water and butterscotch chips, stirring constantly until chips are melted.
  • Pour syrup over nuts and spread. The syrup will be a little thin.  
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. 
  • Cool completely before cutting.    

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