Friday, June 22, 2012


Last Sunday we invited some friends for dinner, we were to be 4 hungry boys, just off the golf course, and 2 girls.  Sunday is when I like to kick back so to keep it easy I decided to roast a chicken and I threw some potatoes in the same pan to get all golden and yummy(again with the keeping it easy theme).  It takes minutes to prepare, the oven does most of the work;  I get all of the glory!

These are all the ingredients!

First I toss the potatoes in a bowl with some olive oil, thyme and salt and pepper, along with some lemon wedges (‘cause roasted lemons are yummy). 

Then I put them in the roasting pan.  Notice I pushed them to the ends of the pan leaving the center of the pan for the chicken (see picture below, 2nd from the last).   I did this because I like golden, crispy edges on the potatoes.  You could put the potatoes in the center of the pan and the chicken on top and the potatoes will soak up the juices and be tasty, but they won’t be crispy.  How ever you like your potatoes is fine with me.

I used a 7 lb roaster to serve six people, you can use 5 lbs for four people.  A roaster has more fat, making it perfect for roasting so that your chicken will be nice and moist.  

 I like to cut the back out of the chicken because it cooks quicker and more evenly (I put the chicken back in a freezer bag and into the freezer to make stock with later).  Now I know some of y’all are chicken (pun intended) when it comes to cutting up a whole, raw chicken, so you chickens just roast the chicken whole, just add about 30 minutes to your cooking time.

I used my hand to pull the skin away from the flesh start at one side of the breast and carefully pushed my hand all the way back to the drum stick.  Starting at the drum stick, then the thigh and working my way to the breast, I put the thyme under the skin (sometimes I use rosemary, oregano, or marjoram) and the lemons slices on top of the thyme.  Then repeat on the other side.  The lemon juices will drip through and co-mingle with the thyme, the flavors really get into the chicken, and it looks pretty when it comes out of the oven.  

Then I salt and pepper the skin and the underside of the chicken liberally (if you’re leaving the chicken whole, season inside the cavity of the chicken as well).  Coat the skin with olive oil and give the chicken a gentle massage to be sure every bit of skin is covered.  If you have extra lemon and/or thyme, put it in the pan under the chicken (or inside of the whole chicken). 

I fired the chicken and potatoes into a hot oven (I always use a hot oven for chicken) and waited for the aromas to entice those boys in off the golf course (because they could totally smell them all the way from the golf course).

When the chicken was done I let it rest for about 15 minutes. 
Then I cut the chicken; each breast into 3, and separated the thighs and drumsticks.  I spooned off the fat that was floating on the top of the juices.  Put the potatoes and lemon wedges around the outside of my platter, the chicken in the center, and poured the juices over top of the chicken
I served this delectable chicken with some good crusty bread for sopping (don’t let those juices go to waste) and a cool salad of nectarines, corn, tomatoes and feta that I saw on the “What’s Gaby Cooking” blog (her was peaches, corn, tomatoes and buratta cheese). 

Serves 6

8                                             Potatoes, medium size, cut into quarters
2 Tbsp                   Olive oil
1 Tbsp                   Fresh thyme, leaves only, slightly chopped
2                             Lemons, 1 sliced into wedges, 1 sliced into slices
7 lbs                       Chicken, whole Roaster
16                           Fresh thyme sprigs
                               Olive oil
                               Salt and Pepper

1. Preheat oven to 375ºF.
2. In a medium bowl, toss the quartered potatoes, lemon wedges, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, fresh thyme leaves, about ½ teaspoon of salt and ¼ teaspoon of pepper.
3. Place the potatoes in a roasting pan, pushing the potatoes out to the sides.
4. Cut the back out of the chicken (optional).
5. Run your hand under the skin of the chicken gently separating the skin from the chicken. Now under the skin, put first the sprigs of thyme, then place the round slices of lemon on top of the thyme.
6. Season the top and underside of the chicken liberally with salt and pepper (if you left the chicken whole then season the cavity of the chicken as well). Coat the skin in olive oil and massage it all over the skin.
7. Lay the chicken flat, tucking the wing tips under, place in the center of the roasting pan that the potatoes are in.
8. Put the chicken on the lower rack in the oven.
9. Baste the chicken and potatoes with the juices from the bottom of the pan, every 30 minutes. Turn the pan halfway through cooking so the chicken will cook evenly.
10. Jiggle the leg to see if the thigh moves freely and the juices run clear. If you have an instant read thermometer, put it in the thickest part of the breast, between the thigh and the breast, without touching bone; when it reads 165ºF the chicken is ready to come out. The chicken will take 1 hour and 10 minutes to 1 hour and 35 minutes (whole chicken will be 1 hour 30 minutes to 2 hours). When it’s done, pull the chicken out of the oven, cover it with foil and let it rest for 10 to15 minutes; the chicken will continue to cook (carry-over cooking) and will reach 175ºF.
11. Remove the potatoes and lemon wedges to a platter, placing them on the perimeter.
12. Carve the chicken and place it in the center of the platter.
13. Skim the fat off the top of the juices, and pour the juices over the chicken.

Check this out at the Weekend Potluck!

Also at Simple Meals Friday!
Mexican Wild Flower

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


It’s corn season where I live in the South East, (sweet, crisp, silks all over the kitchen, stuck in my front teeth corn) we just had Florida corn and now Georgia. When we go on vacation (we visit our families) it will be corn season there (corn, watermelon, tomatoes, and Walla Walla onions).  Our families are in the North West.  My family is in beautiful Victoria, B.C, it’s surrounded by ocean, with the mountains in the distance; yes home of the Parliament buildings, the Empress Hotel, and the Butchart Gardens (which I had never been to until just a few years ago).  Billy’s parents spend the summer in Bigfork MT.  The charming Village on the Bay, of the Flathead Lake.  Summer fun on the lakes and rivers, and of course lots of golf for the guys.  Needless to say, you may see a lot of corn in my recipes over the next few weeks.
This Tomato, Avocado and Corn Salad is versatile. When I have tacos I put the salad right inside the taco. When I want a big salad for dinner I put it over lettuce and add cheese.  Some times I add black beans…I could go on.  It’s a great salad to make when you know the food will be out for a while because it can be served at room temperature, and the lime juice keeps the avocados from turning brown.

                        Serves 4, as a Side Dish
2                      Large sized tomatoes, medium dice
2                      Avocado, medium dice
1 cup                Corn, either 2 cobs of fresh corn, or frozen corn kernels, thawed (not cooked)
½                     Medium sized red onion, medium dice
2 Tbsp             Cilantro chopped


2 Tbsp             Lime juice, fresh squeezed (about ½ lime)
1 tsp                 Honey
1tsp                  Dijon mustard
¼ tsp                Salt
¼ tsp                Pepper
6 Tbsp             Canola oil

1.                  If using fresh corn, blanch the corn for about 1 minute.  Then cut the kernels off the cob.  I find that if I cut the kernels into a bowl I don’t make such a mess.
2.                  Combine all of the ingredients for the salad in a medium sized bowl.
3.                  In a separate small bowl, combine the first 5 ingredients for the dressing, mix. 
4.                  Slowly drizzle the oil into the lime juice mixture, while stirring with a whisk.
5.                  Pour dressing over the salad and toss.
        * Can be made in advance, cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap.  The lime will keep the avocado from turning brown

Monday, June 18, 2012


I was thumbing through Cooking Light magazine and saw a photo of Ricotta and Pea ravioli.  It looked yummo!  I stored the idea and the ingedient list away in the nether regions of my brain, thinking this would be a nice and light dinner one night (‘cause we can’t eat butter and cheese every night….Can we?)(Oops, there is cheese in the ravioli, but it's less fattening cheese.)  This is based on that recipe, with a little tweaking.
I was late getting to the grocery store after spending the afternoon at Ikea.  I always think I’ll only be there an hour, but end up spending hours marveling at the affordable and stylish, ready to assemble rooms.  Since I was running short on time, I needed a quick and easy dinner.  I decided tonight was the night to make the Ricotta and Petite Pea Ravioli, (homemade ravioli, are you impressed?) and I’d pick up the ingredients and a rotisserie chicken (not so impressive).  Did I mention I also had the Apple cake while I was at Ikea…so I felt the need to eat healthy?
The filling is easy, just creamy, tangy ricotta cheese, sweet petite peas, nutty parmesan cheese, an egg yolk for richness, a bit of scallion, a pinch of nutmeg, with just the perfect hint of lemon.  It takes about 2 minutes to throw together.
 I like to keep things simple.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I don’t like to work harder that I have to, so instead of making my own pasta I used wonton wrappers (which are a very thin pasta after all).  This makes life soooo much easier. The wontons make for a delicate pasta, so while the ravioli is satisfying, it doesn’t weigh me down. 

 then I just dip my finger in water and wet the four edges of one ravioli,  

then place another wonton on top, pressing down the edges, getting up nice and tight to the filling to remove all the air, then moved on to the next ravioli.

This took about 10 minutes to put all the ravioli together!

In the time it took for the pasta water to simmer I made the sauce.  The sauce is a nice and light broth complimenting the ravioli perfectly.  I used Shitake mushrooms, but you can use whatever kind of mushrooms you like.  I like the slightly minty flavor of basil with peas, but I didn’t want to over power the lemony flavor in the filling, so I put it in the sauce. The pea shoots just add a little freshness (they look like some kind of sprouts, but taste like peas). Don’t panic if you can’t find the pea shoots (pea tendrils) the dish will still be just as pretty and delicious without them. I just happened to see them at Whole Foods, where they keep the herbs and lettuces, and the foodie that takes up a part time residence inside of me made an appearance, telling me she thought they would add a touch of sophistication to the ravioli.
In less than 30 minutes I had homemade ravioli.  Billy was totally impressed, and I have to say that I was impressed with myself! Even the rotisserie chicken became more impressive being served with the sophisticated ravioli!  The filling was a perfect balance of flavors, the pasta nice a tender and the sauce was flavorful but still light.  I had topped mine with more parmesan cheese, but I felt it would have been better without.
Impress your family and friends by making the ravioli in advance and leave them in a single layer on a sheet pan, covered with plastic wrap and cook them right before your ready eat.  They don’t have to know it was easy!

Serves 4, makes 24 generously sized ravioli

1 package        Wonton wrappers


1 cup                Ricotta, whole milk
1                      Egg yolk
2/3 cup             Frozen petite peas, thawed and rough chopped
1/3 cup             Parmesan, freshly grated
2                      Scallions, green part only, finely sliced, you will use the white part in the sauce.
¼ tsp                Salt
¼ tsp                Pepper
Pinch                Nutmeg, freshly grated
½ tsp                Grated lemon rind, from about ½ lemon


2 Tbsp             Olive oil
4                      Scallions, white only, finely sliced                      .
1 cup                Shitake mushrooms, finely sliced          
1 ½ cups          Chicken or vegetable stock, low or no sodium
1/3 cup             Frozen petite peas
2                      Scallions, green only, finely sliced
*1 ½ oz            Pea shoots (optional)
2 Tbsp             Fresh Basil, cut into thin ribbons
                        Salt and pepper to taste

1.                  Put a large pot of water on to bring to a simmer.
2.                  Meanwhile, put all the ingredients for the filling into a medium sized bowl and mix well.  That simple!
3.                  Get yourself a small bowl or cup of water; this will be glue for the wontons. Have a sheet pan ready to lay the filled ravioli onto.
4.                  Lay about 8 wontons onto a clean surface, I prefer a wood cutting board
5.                  Place about a teaspoon of the filling onto each wonton.
6.                  Using your finger, or a pastry brush, moisten the edges of one wonton with the bowl of water you have on the side.  Do this part one at a time. 
7.                  Top with another wonton.
8.                  Press the top edge of the wontons together, and then start to work the air bubbles out as you press the other edges together. Place on a sheet pan, and repeat with the remaining ravioli.
9.                  Cover the sheet pan of ravioli with a clean, lint free kitchen towel and put to the side while you make the sauce.
10.              Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium high heat. 
11.              Add the whites from the scallions, and the mushrooms.
12.              When the mushrooms have a golden color, add the stock.  Taste for seasoning, and add salt if you need to, definitely add some black pepper.
13.              Let the stock simmer and reduce, for about 5 minutes.
14.              Add the peas.
15.              The water for the ravioli should be simmering (not boiling or the raviolis will fall apart), add a generous amount of salt to the water.  Add the ravioli stirring gently.
           * If you won’t be eating all the ravioli, do not cook the ones you won’t be consuming, put the towel back over them, I’ll tell you what to do at the end.
16.              When the ravioli are done they will float to the top of the water.  Remove them to a platter, or individual plates.
17.              Add the green part of the scallions, basil and pea shoots to the sauce, then spoon the sauce over the ravioli.  Top with parmesan cheese if desired.

*          Now, leave the ravioli on the sheet pan and put in the freezer for about 11/2 hours.   Put the frozen ravioli into a freezer bag and store them for a couple of months. To cook, put the frozen ravioli into simmering water.  They will float to the top when they’re done.

In assembly line fashion, I layed out 12  wontons at a time, and put a teaspoon of filling onto each,

Thursday, June 14, 2012


This delectable dish was created with Dads in mind. 
We women folk feel the need to do something fancy for special occasions, but the men folk don’t necessarily appreciate fancy.
 I plotted and schemed about how I could get the men folk to accept and even love a fancy stuffed French toast.  Stuff it with BACON!!!  It’s madness, madness you say.  Just wait, it gets better.  Okay, so I’m gonna stuff it with salty, smoky bacon.  It’s gonna need tangy cream cheese to hold the filling together.  It needs something else…with salty you gotta have sweet.  Love maple bacon, so maple syrup makes perfect sense in my crazy little mind.  To top it off, more maple syrup, and I think blue berries add that slight bit of tartness, and even more bacon.
I couldn’t wait to put my preposterous plan into action.  Last night I made the filling so that it could get firm, and not run out all over the pan when the French toast cooks.  This morning I assembled and cooked the Bacon and Maple Stuffed French Toast.  I took a bite and could hardly restrain myself; it was the perfect smoky, salty, tangy, sweet and sour bite!  I called Billy in and sat him at the kitchen island. He eyed it at first with suspicion, but then he noticed the bacon, looks good.  Then he took a bite and a big grin came on his handsome face as he told me, I’m a lucky man!
All that plotting and scheming, and my plan worked.  I got to make a fancy stuffed French toast, and my husband not only accepted it, he loved it!

Bacon and Maple stuffed French Toast
Serves 4

1  8 oz. block               Cream cheese, room temperature
12 oz.                           Bacon, cooked crisp
½ cup                           Maple syrup
3                                  Eggs
½ cup                           Whole milk
¼ cup                           Heavy cream
1 tsp                             Vanilla extract
Pinch                            Salt
4 slices                         Challah bread or brioche, sliced to about 1 1/2 to 2 inches thick
2/3 cup                         Maple syrup
1 cup                            Fresh blueberries
                                    Butter for the pan

1.                  Chop about 2/3 of the bacon quite fine, and the other 1/3 crumble into about ½” pieces, put the ½ “ crumbled bacon pieces to the side to use for garnish.
2.                  Do this part at least 2 hours before, or the night before to allow the filling to firm up so that it will not run straight out of the nice little pocket you’re going to make in the bread.  Into a medium bowl put the finely chopped bacon, the softened cream cheese and the ½ cup of maple syrup and mix well, until the ingredients are incorporated.  Cover and refrigerate.
3.                  When you are ready to make your French toast, get a shallow dish, whisk together the eggs, milk, heavy cream, vanilla, and salt.
4.                  Using a pointed knife, make a slit into the bottom of the bread creating a pocket; be sure not to cut all the way through.
5.                  Use a sandwich spreader, or butter knife to gently put about ¼ of the filling into each piece of bread.
6.                  Place the filled bread pockets into the dish with the egg mixture. Let sit 2 minutes.

7.                  Heat the skillet or griddle to between medium and medium high heat.
8.                  After the bread has been soaking 2 minutes turn it over for another 2 minutes or until your pan is hot.
9.                  Heat your 2/3 cup maple syrup in a small pan, or in the microwave.  When the syrup is hot add the blueberries, and turn the heat off.
10.              Melt a little butter in your skillet or griddle, gently put the French toast into the pan and cook until golden on both sides.

11.              Top the French toast with the syrup and blueberries, and some crumbled bacon.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2012


Father’s Day is this Sunday!  Thought I had another week.  I wanted to get a breakfast recipe in for Dad, so we had breakfast for dinner tonight, so that I could try this out.  We love breakfast for dinner at this house!
Keeping Dad in mind I wanted a manly breakfast.  What’s manly? What do men love?  Why, meat and potatoes of course! 
There is so much meat in this dish that I thought I could sneak in a few veggies without Dad noticing.  If you think you can get away with it you might add the whole bag of spinach…
I’m a little lazy, so I like to use the waxy potatoes with the thin skin, such as Yukon Gold, or a Red Bliss.  I just give them a little scrub and dice them up.  To help the potatoes get a head start, you could put them (whole not diced) into the microwave for about 3 minutes.  They won’t be soft, but they will cook a lot quicker on the stove now.

Serves 4

      3 Tbsp       Canola oil
4               Medium sized potatoes, large dice, unpeeled (like a Yukon gold, or a Red       Bliss)
½               Large onion, large dice
½ tsp          Seasoned salt
1 tsp           Herb de Provence or Italian herbs
3/4 tsp        Paprika
½ tsp          Black pepper
1.                  Red or green bell pepper, or even poblano, large dice
½               Bag of baby spinach (my bag is 9 oz)
1 cup          Pepper Jack cheese
8                                Slices of bacon
8                                Breakfast sausages
8                                Slices of ham or Canadian bacon, large dice
4 to 8         Eggs (depends if each person wants 1 or 2 eggs).
2                Tomatoes cut into wedges
      1.         Preheat oven to 225 degrees.
      2.         Heat the oil over medium high heat in a large, heavy skillet or griddle.  Add the potatoes.
      3.          When the potatoes are brown on 3 sides, add the onion, seasoned salt, herb de Provence, paprika, and black pepper.  Cook about 3 minutes, until the onions begin to soften.
4.         Add the bell pepper.  Cook about 3 minutes until the peppers are softened.
      5.         Add the spinach, add a sprinkle of salt to the spinach, stir, and remove to an oven proof dish.         
      6.        Sprinkle the cheese over the top and leave the potatoes in the oven to stay warm while you finish the dish.  This will allow the spinach to wilt and the cheese to melt.
      7.       In the same pan, cook the bacon, then sausage and then ham, (if you have a big griddle cook it all at the same time) remove when done to some paper towel.
      8.      I like everything the same size, so I cut the bacon and sausage into about 1 inch pieces.
      9.     Get your toast done now; get your bowls set up, because this is the critical part. (Don’t like overdone eggs!)
     10.    Prepare your eggs however you like; scrambled, over easy, poached…
     11.    Layer in a bowl first the potatoes and veggies, then the meat, then top with eggs, and a couple of wedges of tomato.

Monday, June 11, 2012


I love the tang and spice of hot wing sauce, but don’t like the mess of hot wings them selves.  I was going to make a Buffalo Chicken sandwich, I had set my mind to it, and then I looked in my fridge and saw the corn tortillas I needed to use up.  A thought just popped it my head, Buffalo Chicken Tostadas!?  A crunchy tostada, creamy beans,  vinegary and spicy chicken, topped with a refreshing salad and tangy cheese this might be genius or it might be terrible, but I was willing to take the risk. 
It was deliciouso!  I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of it before!
I fried my own tortillas, then I used the same pan and oil to fry the potatoes, and some cubes of silken tofu, then I dumped out most of the oil leaving about 1 tablespoon of oil in the pan to sauté the chicken. Why do more dishes than I have to?(Actually my husband does the dishes, so I was thinking of him).
Of course you can put whatever toppings you like, but this is a tasty combination.
I made these with cubes of fried tofu tossed in the hot wing sauce and Jack cheese for me, and chicken with blue cheese for my husband.  Either way, we both loved it!

Serves 4                      
8                                                        Tostada shells, ready to eat or make you own (recipe follows)
1                            15 oz can refried beans, or make your own (recipe follows)
1/2 cup                   Hot wing sauce
2 Tablespoons        Butter, melted
1 lb                        Boneless, skinless chicken breast, pounded out evenly, about ½ inch thick.
1 Tablespoon         Canola oil
                              Salt & Pepper
½ cup                     Fresh corn, cooked, or frozen corn thawed
½ cup                     Diced tomatoes
1 cup                      Fried potatoes, medium dice
3                            Scallions, sliced
2 cups                    Lettuce, (whatever you have)
Ranch dressing                        
1 cup                      Blue cheese crumbled, or shredded Jack cheese
2                            Avocados, sliced

  1. If you’re making your own tostadas do so first.
  2. Prepare your beans.
  3. If you haven’t done so, fry the potatoes now.
  4. Heat canola oil in a large sauté pan to medium high.
  5. Season the chicken with salt and pepper.
  6. Cook the chicken a couple minutes on each side until golden, then turn the chicken down to medium heat. Cook until done, about 5 to 7 minutes.
  7. In a medium sized bowl add the hot wing sauce to the melted butter.
  8. Slice the cooked chicken into strips.
  9. Toss with the bowl with the hot wing sauce.
  10. Toss the lettuce with a little ranch dressing.
  11. Assemble tostadas by topping each tostada shells with beans, potatoes, chicken, lettuce, tomatoes, corn, scallions, cheese and avocado.                    

For the Tostada Shells

8                            Corn Tortillas
                                    Canola or corn oil

1.      Heat the oil (the oil should be at least ¾” deep) in a large sauté pan over medium high heat.
2.      When the oil is hot (about 375 degrees) gently put one or two tortillas, depending on the size of your pan, into the hot oil.  Turn the tortilla over when it is golden.
3.      Remove to a paper towel lined platter. 
4.      Sprinkle lightly with salt while the tortilla is still hot.
5.      Repeat with the remaining tortillas.

For the Beans

1 Tablespoon         Olive oil
1                            Small shallot, minced
1                            Clove garlic, minced
1                            15 oz. can pinto beans, drained
½ cup                     Water
1                                Bayleaf
½ teaspoon            Salt

1.      In a medium sauce pan, add the olive oil, and shallots.  Cook 2-3 minutes over medium high heat.
2.      When the shallots are translucent add the garlic.  Cook about 1 minute.
3.      Add the drained beans, water, bay leaf and salt.  Bring to a simmer, and then lower the heat to medium low.  Cook about 15 minutes.
4.      Remove the bay leaf, and mash the beans, leaving a little texture.
5.      If the beans have too much liquid, cook a little longer until your desired consistency.



      Check out this recipe and a whole lot more at the                 Weekend Potluck. 

Friday, June 8, 2012


My husband gave my neighbors tickets to a hockey game this season.  They took their 17 year old grandson and, I guess he became hooked.  His Grandma credits/blames us for his new obsession.  We invited him over to watch a playoff game with us, giving his grand parents and the dog, a reprieve from the hooting and hollering that he makes during the game. 
I wanted to make our guest feel special.  I decided to make him something.  What do teens like?  Of course this is while I am perusing the isles of my favorite grocery store, yes I like grocery stores.  I saw the marshmallows, remembering I have a coupon (I love coupons), remembering how I loved Rice Krispie Treats  in my childhood and teen years(ooey, gooey, goodness), I put the marshmallows in my cart. I’m thinking Rice Krispie Treats; I probably haven’t made them since high school.  Now I’m thinking of marshmallows and crispy cereal as a blank canvas all kinds of flavors!  That night I added Peanut Butter and chocolate chips to my treats.  Sooo yummy!
Now I’m hooked on Rice Krispie Treats!  There are oodles of flavor combos to try.   I was inspired by the Mounds candy bar for this recipe.

1 Tbls               Butter, softened, for greasing the pan
¼ cup               Butter
1, 10 oz bag     Marshmallows (I use miniatures because they’re easier to work with)
4 ½ cups          Cocoa Krispies
1 cup                Sliced, blanched almonds
1 ½ cups          Shredded, sweetened coconut
1 cup                Semi-sweet chocolate chips

1.                  Grease a 13x 9 inch pan with 1 tbsp of softened butter.
2.                  Melt the butter either, in the top of a double boiler, or in a microwave safe bowl in the microwave for about 45 seconds.
3.                  When the butter has melted add the marshmallows and stir.  If using the microwave, return to the microwave for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring after 45 seconds.
4.                  In the mean time add the Cocoa Krispies, almonds and coconut to a large bowl. Don’t add the chocolate chips yet.
5.                  Add the melted marshmallow to the bowl of Cocoa Krispies, mix really well.
6.                  When the marshmallows and cereal are mixed well, add the chocolate chips, mix quickly, if mixed too much the chocolate chips will melt in, and it’s really better if there are little chocolaty surprises.
7.                  Press the mixture into the greased pan, and allow to cool.  I usually only make it about 15 minutes, but 30 or more is better.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


Ristotto so comforting, satisfying.  You see it on the menu at our favorite Italian restaurant and you coo "Ooh I'm having the risotto.  It's $18, but I could never make this so it's totally worth it!" It comes to the table, you get giddy.  Everyone else at the table eyes your bowl with envy, wishing they had ordered the risotto.  Dude you paid $18 for a bowl of Italian rice.  
To say "rice", not a big deal, say "risotto",  just got mysterious. 
All risottos are made with: butter, onion, arborio rice, wine, stock, and cheese. 
You say "That's not so mysterious.  Kinda like a rice pilaf".  Exactly!  Instead of adding all the liquid at once, you add it a little at a time while you stir, and add cheese at the end.
Now that you know basic risotto, you can change it up.  Mushrooms and aspargus in the spring, butternut squash in the winter.
It's an extra step, but I prefer to roast the asparagus over sauteing.  I find the roasting gives more depth of flavor to the dish.  If I am feeling lazy, I will skip the oven and throw the asparagus in the pan with the mushrooms and shallots.  It's still yummy.
This recipe may take about 45 minutes to prepare, start to finish, and that's being generous. 
Now the mystery has been solved, you'll be saying "$18 for risotto!  I can totally make that at home!"

Serves 4 to 6

4 cups              Vegi or chicken stock, low or no sodium
2 cups              Water
¼ cup               Dried mushrooms, chopped small (I use a blend of wild mushrooms)
2 cups              Asparagus cut to about 1” pieces
2 Tbsp             Olive oil, divided
3 Tbsp             Butter, divided
1                      Leek, diced small, white part only
1                      Shallot, minced
8 oz                  Button mushrooms, quartered
½ tsp                Dried rosemary
2 cups              Arborio rice
½ cup               Dry white wine
2 Tbsp             Butter
¼ cup               Heavy cream
½ cup               Parmesan cheese, grated
¼ cup               Fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped
*1- 2 tsp          Truffle oil (optional)

1.                  Pre heat oven to 425.
2.                  Add the stock, water and dried mushrooms into a medium sauce pan, over medium low heat.  Taste the liquid to see if it needs salt, this will flavor the rice, no flavor in the liquid, means no flavor in the risotto!
3.                  On a sheet pan, put the asparagus pieces, with 1 Tbsp of olive oil, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.  Roast 12 to 15 minutes. 
4.                  Mean while, in a large heavy bottomed skillet, add 1 Tbsp olive oil, 1 Tbsp butter, leeks, shallots, button mushrooms, rosemary and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Cook over medium heat, until the shallots are translucent and the mushrooms have a little golden color.
5.                  Add the rice, cook stirring 1-2 minutes, until all the rice is coated in oil and begin to become translucent.
6.                  Add the white wine. Cook stirring until the wine is absorbed into the rice.
7.                  Now the fun part, this takes about 20 minutes.  Start with adding two ladles of warm stock to the rice. Stir continually and gently.  If you need to step away from the stove for a moment, like to remove the asparagus from the oven, or answer the cordless phone, the rice will survive.
8.                  When the liquid is mostly absorbed add one more ladle of stock (don’t forget those dried mushrooms), and continue stirring.  Repeat.  Taste the risotto, the grains should be slightly firm (al dente), not mushy, but if it’s too firm add another ladle. 
9.                  When the last ladle of liquid is about half absorbed, add the butter, cream, parmesan, parsley, pepper, salt if needed, and optional truffle oil. Some truffle oils are less potent than others, so you need to taste it, start with about a tsp, and go from there.