Tag Archive: risotto

corn_poster_ThanksgivingHappy Thanksgiving! Wait, did I miss it?! It’s been a little while since my last post so I thought I’d do something fantastical, something fresh and flavorful in this frigid month of November. Entrer: the roasted chicken.

Chicken, you say — what about Turkey? Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE, miss, dream about turkey, but a cook should not underestimate the goodness & divine simplicity of a roasted chicken. My reasons? First of all, it’s cheap, ahem–cheaper. Secondly, it’s smaller. I WISH I had the time, a big enough oven, and actual guests to make a 20 pound turkey, but I don’t 😀 Third, a chicken cooks much faster because yeah, it’s smaller, and I can’t even begin to point out the delicious possibilities that emerge with all that the leftover chicken. Roasted/rotisserie chicken makes the best sandwiches…assuming there are leftovers. After mulling over my Thanksgiving plans I decided yes, a roasted chicken is just what was needed for our little celebration.

My secret ingredient? The dry rub. Okay, so this is like 6 ingredients, but it’s pure magic. I saw this particular dry rub recipe in this month’s Bon Appetit (see the photo below, that’s what caught my attention FIRST). It’s probably one of the more colorful rubs I’ve ever seen (thank you pink peppercorns) — and emphasis on easy! One of my favorite spices in the world is coriander so any recipe that uses coriander seeds tends to seize One-Hour-Roasted-Chickenme by the taste buds 😛 It takes only 7 hours to cure a chicken covered in dry rub (vs. 2-3 days to brine one), so I was sold from the start. The apartment still smells like roasting peppercorns and oranges..

Since posting just one Thanksgiving recipe seems absurd, I posted the menu that I ended up making on our rainy, foggy evening. It includes a tomato-basil risotto that has corn, white wine, and lots of garlic & onions. Mmm, so glad I found another excuse to make risotto! This risotto recipe is from Fine Cooking; coming across it, I initially thought “wow, all my favorite ingredients in one risotto recipe..” I took it as a sign 🙂

Peppered Citrus Dry Rub


1 whole chicken (or turkey, or duck..)

2 Tbs. black peppercorns

2 Tbs. pink peppercorns

2 Tbs. coriander seeds

1 tsp. white peppercorns

6 bay leaves

3 lemons, zested

1 orange, zesteddry-brine

1 dl (or 1/4 cup) coarse sea salt

2 Tbs. brown sugar

cooking twine


(1) In a small saucepan, combine all of the peppercorns, coriander, and bay leaves. Toast on medium heat until fragrant, less than 5 minutes. Remove from heat & let cool. Put these spices in a spice grinder or blender (…or a plastic bag that you seal & beat with a rolling pin:-)) and grind until the peppercorns & seeds are coarsely broken up. Add the salt, lemon & orange zest, and brown sugar; mix. Tada! Dry rub. (2) Wash the bird and dry with paper towels. Place with the breast facing up on a large plate or dish. Cross & tie the legs together with kitchen twine. When the bird is dry, massage the dry rub into the skin and everywhere else it sticks until you’ve used all of the dry rub. Chill the chicken, uncovered in the fridge to brine, approx. 6 hours. (3) Preheat oven to 220 degrees Celsius (430 degrees Fahrenheit). Remove the chicken from fridge and drain any liquid. Rinse off the dry rub and pat dry. Transfer to an oven pan lined with foil and put on the top rack in oven. Let the skin crisp 10-15 minutes. (4) Turn the heat down to 180 degrees Celsius (360 degrees Fahrenheit) and cook the bird about 20 minutes per pound of poultry (or 1/2 kg). (5) Remove bird from oven and loosely cover with foil. Check temperature with a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh, should register at least 85 degrees Celsius (185 degrees Fahrenheit). Let sit 10 minutes before carving. Serve sliced or in pieces with warm buttered rolls.

Serves 4

Tomato-Basil Risotto with White Wine, Sweet Corn, & Garlic


2 cups arborio rice

2 onions, peeled & chopped

7 garlic cloves, peeled & chopped

5-6 cups broth or reconstituted bullion

4 tomatoes, chopped

1 cup white wine (like chardonnay)

1 bunch of fresh Basil, chopped

1/2 cup (just over 1 dl) of shredded cheese, pref. Parmesan

3 Tbs. butterrisotto cooking

olive oil

sea salt

cracked pepper

(1) In a large pot, melt the butter over medium heat. When hot, add onions & garlic; let cook, stirring, until translucent, about 10 minutes. In a separate bowl, mix together tomatoes, basil, and 2 Tbs. olive oil. Set aside. (2) Add the rice to the pot and, stirring often, let it crisp slightly. Next add the wine and corn and cook until liquid has absorbed. (3) Continue cooking the risotto over medium heat, adding broth 1/2 cup at a time, and stirring often to prevent sticking, until liquid absorbs. This means you should be adding more wine/broth to the pot every 5-7 minutes or so. (4) Taste test the risotto after you’ve used up all the broth; cooked risotto rice should have slight texture to bite, but not be crunchy. (5) Add the tomato basil mixture and turn off heat. Let the risotto stand covered 3-4 minutes. Fold in the shredded cheese, season with salt and pepper, and serve.

Serves 4

chicken_horrorI know risotto is not the traditional dish to serve during this delicious holiday, but it beats trying to concoct stuffing without breadcrumbs, pecans, or cranberries 😦 My next post will be on the lighter side of things as I travel to Indonesia and get to try Bali cuisine. I have a feeling it’s going to blow my mind.. 😀

My question: What is one (non traditional) dish you’ve made for Thanksgiving and really loved?



Revisiting Risotto

Champagne_PaintingAhh so yes, I am a fan of risotto. Way back when in bitching kitchen times, I even made coffee caper risotto and it was very good, despite the ridiculous combination. Now, I know risotto is fattening, alas…especially with all that wine and butter 😀 but frankly, the taste makes up for it! And you do have to baby it – stand there, stirring it, adding the perfect amount of liquid, constantly and vigilantly making sure it doesn’t stick too much, or harden in places, or god forbid burn 😦 Best be careful and very serious when making risotto to be sure, but remember that like any recipe, there IS room for modification, variation, and flexibility. And you don’t have to be a skilled chef to make it either, you just have to devote yourself to the task of making it. And leftovers? Nothing’s better than risotto the next day, still packed with flavor and just as cheesy as the night before. Cold pizza? Chewy and unappetizing. Cold risotto? Layered with flavors, filling, and subtly sophisticated.

After researching some of the more common risotto recipes, I settled on mushroom risotto because there’s something about the richness of mushrooms that goes very well in/with risotto. It’s been a while since I made this high-maintenance dish (yeah I said it) but I remembered: prepare accordingly. This particular recipe is from Food & Wine in a section entitled “Scratch Italian” 🙂 simply ’cause, sometimes from scratch is best! Goat cheese is the main reason I chose this version because I was looking for that little something that would up the ante a bit on the normal mushroom risotto recipe. Goat cheese, when melted into something asdried_mushrooms rich and wonderful as risotto, adds a smooth quality and in no way overpowers the dish’s other flavors, which is what I was watching for. I substituted vermouth for the typical white wine because that’s what I had in my fridge and just like sherry, it compliments mushrooms unlike any of the other ingredients. I’ll admit it though, if I could have gotten my hands on some sherry, this would have been better, if not minutely 8) Next time..

The star ingredient in this dish was of course the dried mushrooms because: A) they don’t go bad like, ever B) they pack a lot of flavor and smell really nice; and C) mushrooms go so well with alcohol, it’s not even funny. To be sure, I won’t be cooking this every night, but it was the night of my birthday when I chose to make it so I guess it was sort of a tribute to myself, or at the very least, a tribute to what I think my tastes are 😉 This type of food is so awesome it can be served by itself, no meat or other main course necessary. A good friend was telling me how silly it is that risotto is often served as an appetizer and yeah, that is pretty silly – because risotto’s got some mad main dish skills 😀

Earthy Mushroom Risotto with Goat Cheese and Vermouth


2 cups arborio ricecheese_goat

1 cup dried mushrooms, mixed

1 large onion, chopped

8 cloves of garlic, chopped

2 cups chicken broth

1 1/2 cups dry vermouth

3 Tbs. buttermushroom_risotto_0

1/4 cup milk

3 oz goat cheese, crumbled

rapeseed oil

salt & cracked pepper

(1) Put the dried mushrooms into a bowl. Boil some water and pour over the mushrooms. Let sit and soak for 20 minutes or until mushrooms are soft. Remove mushrooms from the water and chop. (2) In a large pot, heat 3 Tbs. oil over medium-low heat until hot; add the chopped garlic, onions, and a pinch of salt and cook until soft and translucent, 5-7 minutes. (3) In a separate saucepan, heat the broth over low heat and keep covered; add what’s left of the mushroom water to it (but not the thick stuff sitting at the bottom). Oh and take the bottle of vermouth out of the fridge and let it sit on the counter. Have a glass with ice and some club soda while you cook too. (4) Add the rice and mushrooms to the big pot and cook, stirring often, until the rice turns opaque, 3-4 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of broth and 1/2 cup of vermouth and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is absorbed. Keep up this process, adding 1/2 cup of broth and cooking about 5 minutes (until absorbed) and then adding 1/2 cup of vermouth and cooking 5 minutes or so, until liquid is absorbed into the risotto. When you’ve added a total of 1 1/2 cups vermouth, then continue this process using what’s left of the broth. You may need more or less, depending on the risotto, but it will be done when it stops absorbing most of the liquid and is soft in texture upon tastimushroom_sketchng (versus sticky or slightly crunchy), cooking about 35-40 minutes total. (5) Remove the pot from heat, cover, and let rest 5 minutes. When ready to serve, stir in butter, milk, and goat cheese until melted and combined; season risotto to taste with salt and pepper.

Serves 4

I wonder how many different risottos exist, that is – how many kinds there are. I wonder how long it would take me to cook them all :9 Might be worth a try sometime, as long as I proceed with caution 😉

My question: What is your favorite risotto?

Mine is a toss-up between red wine risotto and champagne risotto. Yes, it’s a theme with me 😀


Wine, Greens, and Sea Bass

I thought I’d simplify the title in an effort to sum up what I made for dinner tonight. While simplicity may not have been the process of making it, but it was definitely evident in the result. I only started eating seafood last year, so even this endeavor was rather audacious of me. But, since I wish to relish on the tastier aspects of moving closer to the sea, I thought I’d cook a clean, light, white-fleshed fish. And besides, I love these ingredients: fresh mint, white wine, and plenty of butter…it’s like they were meant for fish all along 🙂

This recipe is from Fine Cooking and it originally called for Flounder, which, undeniably, would have been a delicious choice, but Alas among the seafood selection at Whole Foods…Flounder was nowhere to be found. Neither was RockFish, or Red Snapper which both would have served as good substitutes. When I asked the butcher if Halibut would work, he assured me I wouldn’t find it very tasty and one glance at it assured me the same. After purveying my remaining options, I opted for his recommendation, Sea Bass. So, at least the man has taste 😉 Poaching fish is really a nice technique, I wonder why I haven’t come across it more in other recipes. This version involves slicing the fish into strips and then rolling them into little bundles to secure with toothpicks. I’m not going to lie, it was kind of fun positioning things with toothpicks and it sure looked pretty. Steaming the fish in wine and a little bit of water makes it tender and lets it cook completely in under ten minutes.

I served the Poached Sea Bass with White Wine Asparagus Risotto and believe me, I could go on about this process, detail all the steps, seasoning, and stirring it requires but I’ll spare you the reading. What made this dish good is the same thing that mes the sauce good: wine and butter. Simplicity. Adding some Parmesan and Rosemary made this risotto perfectly flavorful for me 🙂 As far as I see it, all risotto recipes are the same and they involve very similar ingredients, and…eventually, they all end up tasting delicious, despite all that stirring and bubbling on the stove.

As for our veggies, I concocted a cold salad from leftover roasted broccoli, peppers, and carrots and added lemon juice and peppered broccoli sprouts. Yes, broccoli sprouts exist. They taste like broccoli, only lighter and fresher. And I’m all about the light and fresh these days, because after all, it’s almost Spring! And with springtime comes new vegetables in season: artichokes, asparagus, beets, and all the peas and tendrils you can think of }:) I bought enough to have a plentiful selection, but I remain a fool for these crunchy, cold sprouts.

Poached Sea Bass with Mint Beurre Blanc Sauce


(for fish)

1/2 lb. fresh Sea Bass

1 Ts. ground ginger

2 Tbs. fresh Mint, chopped

sea salt & cracked pepper

(for sauce)

4 shallots, finely chopped

1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped

1/2 cup white wine

1/4 cup cream (or half & half)

4 Tbs. butter


(1) Wash the Sea Bass and pat dry. Using a sharp knife, slice into thin strips and lay all pieces flat on a plate. (2) In a small bowl, mix together the ground ginger, fresh mint, sea salt, & cracked pepper. Season both sides of fish with the mixture. Starting from the thicker end, roll the fish up into a tight coil and secure with a toothpick through the thin end and out the other side. (3) Spread the shallots evenly across a medium pan; arrange the fish around the center and add the wine and 1/4 cup water. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-high heat. (4) Moderating the temperature all the while, cover the pan and poach the fish on a low simmer until cooked, 5-7 minutes. Remove the fish from the pan and wrap in foil, setting aside until ready to serve. (5) Boil the remaining liquid in the pan over high heat until reduced by half, add the cream and let boil for half a minute. Turn the heat to low and whisk in the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time. Add the remaining mint and stir with a whisk until thickened, about 2 minutes. Season the sauce with salt and pepper and remove the toothpicks from the fish before serving. Serve with greens and toasted bread.

Serves 4

…It tasted like the ocean, apart from wine and butter of course 🙂 I like meat you don’t need a knife to eat; but hey, you didn’t really need a fork either, I barely chewed. Perhaps I was savoring it, or trying to eat slowly in an attempt to make it last. That’s always the thing about seafood…once you cook some, you kind of want to cook more!

My question this week: what is the lightest-tasting fish you’ve ever eaten?


Entertaining Risotto

I cannot accurately describe my aversion to attempting risotto in my own kitchen, but I can say it owes a lot to the fact that it burns easily and cooks slowly and since I have such a talent for overcooking rice 😦  I generally avoid it. However, yesterday found myself staying the night with my mom up in the family house in the mountains. Luckily for me the kitchen is well-equipped so I felt sufficiently brave enough to try making my own risotto.

I picked a recipe from the latest issue of Food & Wine, and it was an unusual mix (if I might say so myself) of ingredients. While my results pleased my culinary tastes, it did happen to disappoint my younger brother, couldn’t quite establish why, but he doesn’t like anything anyway. Their version of this dish was a bit complicated and a tad bit inaccurate for our altitude so I adjusted this recipe to reflect cooking at high altitude (above 4,000 ft). I renamed it too, because it really ought to be more descriptive 😉 I hope it serves as an interesting example–if not an intricate one–of the many variations you can create with simple risotto dishes like this one.

White Wine Risotto with Coffee Reduction & Capers


3 Tbs. capers, chopped

1 cup brewed coffee

8 cups chicken broth

2 Tbs. olive oil

1 yellow onion, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 3/4 cups Arborio rice

1 cup dry white wine (like Pinot Grigio)

2 Tbs. butter, softened

1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Sea salt & cracked pepper

(1) Put the chicken broth in a glass bowl and microwave it 2-3 minutes or until hot. Cover and keep warm until needed. (2) Next, in a large saucepan heat the olive oil and cook the minced garlic and onion until it is tender, 5-6 minutes.

(3) Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, heat the coffee over medium-high heat until it is reduced to about 5 Tbs; this should take about 10-15 minutes depending, stir occasionally.

(4) Add the rice to the large saucepan and cook, stirring constantly, until the rice turns translucent through and through and begins to stick to the bottom of the pan, about 3-4 minutes (add more garlic, if lacking 🙂 (4) Add 1/2 cup of the white wine and simmer for 2 minutes.

(5) Every five minutes, add 1 cup of the warmed chicken broth, stirring constantly until it is all absorbed; keep doing this until all of the chicken broth is used. Remember, this may take some time (up to 1 hour, sadly no joke) and it will require patience as well as constant stirring, but eventually, all will be absorbed until the rice is just al dente (sticky as opposed to crunchy between the teeth) and almost ready.

(6) Remove the pot from heat; add the remaining wine, softened butter, chopped capers, Parmesan cheese, and all of the coffee reduction, stirring thoroughly. Season with salt & pepper as needed and serve immediately; garnish with grated Parmesan and cracked pepper. Enjoy!

So that was my experience with risotto! Thank god my mother was there to guide me through this experience, I certainly had a wonderful time cooking with her 🙂 and cannot wait for our next challenge!

I love you, mom

I was wondering, does anyone have any risotto horror stories? I know I came close to ruining the dish several times…