Boy, did I get risotto wrong for all these years, I am so embarrassed! About a year ago we invited some friends over for dinner and I made the mushroom risotto recipe I have on this site, and just cooked it forever, until it was mush. Luckily the flavors were still good, but the consistency was all wrong — I now know! I always read in recipes here in the US to stir the risotto constantly which also I now know to be untrue. So there I was stirring continuously for what seemed like hours while our guests stood in the kitchen drinking and hungrily watching the risotto that seemed like it would never finish cooking. Not good.
This summer we vacationed in northern Italy and took a cooking class. The chef taught us to make risotto the real way, the Italian way. What a difference. It turns out that risotto is a quick little side dish that requires very little stirring or care! Who knew?
Give this a try. Add whatever vegetables you happen to have on hand, it is a terrific blank canvas for seasonal ingredients.
A simple and basic risotto recipe that can be personalized with vegetables or proteins of your choice.
About 4 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 sweet onion, cut into a small dice
1 pound cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 cup carnaroli or arborio rice
3/4 cup dry white wine
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
10 oz fresh spinach
about a Tablespoon fresh sage, cut in a chiffonade
about a Tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus a little more for garnishing
Warm the broth in either a pot or if you are lazy like me in a glass measuring cup in the microwave (one less pot to clean).
In a large deep dutch oven or skillet heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onions and cook over moderate heat stirring until softened, about 4 minutes.
Add the mushrooms and cook for a few more minutes, until softened.
Add the rice and cook, stirring, until lightly toasted, about 2 minutes. You should see a little white dot in the rice when it has been toasted enough.
Add the wine, give it a little stir and let it cook over medium heat until the wine is absorbed, about 2 or 3 minutes minutes.
Add about 1 cup of the warm stock to the rice mixture, give it a good stir and cook until nearly absorbed (don’t constantly stir while the rice mixture is absorbing the broth). Repeat adding the stock about 1 cup at a time and just giving it one stir after each addition of broth to get the broth and the rice mixed until the liquid is nearly absorbed between additions, for about 12 minutes (you may not use all the stock). Taste the risotto at this point. If it is cooked al dente (fully cooked but still slightly firm to the bite) at this point, you are finished cooking it. If not, add a little more broth and check again after it is absorbed.
Turn off the heat and add fresh spinach, a little black pepper and parmesan. Taste and add salt and more pepper to your liking.
Serve immediately, topping each potion with a sprinkle of parmesan and fresh herbs. Enjoy!
Note: I has some small cherry tomatoes lying around, so I added them half-way during step 6. My husband also sauteed a little lobster tail in olive oil, butter, sage and garlic, and we mixed that in during step 7. Other times we have kept it simple and subbed in some tomato sauce for the last cup of broth. The possibilities are endless.
I went to the farmer’s market this past Sunday and there were piles of beautiful plump english peas. I kept looking and commenting on them even though they were not on my shopping list. Finally my husband suggested I just buy a bag of them and figure out what to do with them in a day or two –what a good idea! Sunday I made the fresh corn soup with crab for my mother-in-law’s birthday because she really likes that soup, therefore Monday was my day to use the peas. I searched the Internet for a good recipe for them but couldn’t find anything. So what to do now….they were calling me, you know? I had two ripe heirloom tomatoes on my counter, and a big bunch of basil from the farmers market as well so I eventually came up with this salad and added some farro to make it a little more filling for my family. We all really enjoyed it, the flavors were just bright, fresh and summery. I hope you enjoy it!
Best of summer's sweet heirloom tomatoes combine with fresh sweet english peas and nutty farro for a filling but healthy summer vegetarian salad
1 cup uncooked farro (whole grain)
1 pound of fresh english peas, shelled (about a cup when shelled)
1/4 cup diced sweet onion
1 clove garlic, minced
2 large heirloom tomatoes, cut into a large chunks
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup of shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus a little more for garnishing
handful of basil leaves, roughly torn
Cook the farro according to the directions on the package.
While the farro cooks, saute the onion and garlic for about 5 minutes in a little olive oil. Add the peas and a couple of tablespoons of water to the pan. Season with salt and pepper and cook for another 5 minutes or until the peas soften and sweeten. (Optional to add a little butter if you want some extra richness. A splash of white wine would probably add some dimension as well).
Remove the peas and set the pea mixture aside. Add a little more oil to the pan and turn the heat to low. Add the tomatoes and a little salt and pepper and just warm them up a bit. A few minutes and a stir or two will do. Turn off the heat, add the basil and stir.
When farro is cooked add a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, 1/2 cup of the parmesan and salt and pepper to taste. Stir well.
Spoon a layer of the farro on a plate and top with tomatoes and then the pea mixture. Garnish with a little cheese. Enjoy!
My family and I love, love, love potstickers! Unfortunately in restaurants they are often made with pork, and I don’t eat pork, and they can be very greasy. I have been trying to make them periodically since we moved back from Hong Kong almost 10 years ago, often without much success. I have followed many recipes and they have all stuck to the pan and were always a disaster. Then a friend’s nanny gave me a cooking lesson on how to make them and that greatly improved my luck with them, so only about half the time they stuck to the pan and fell apart…some work still needed to be done. She also didn’t have a written recipe for me to follow, leading to mixed flavor results as well. A year or two later I had a breakthrough, I bought a non-stick Scan Pan (no they are not paying me…but can if they want to 🙂 ). Finally the potstickers don’t stick to the pan and fall apart, but the flavor and texture of the filling was not great yet…
Recently I found a terrific recipe from The Woks of Life. I have seriously loved every recipe I have tried from that site! A big thing I learned from this recipe is to stir the chicken and vegetables together with chopsticks until it forms a paste. Bingo! That makes the texture of the filling perfect! I also really like their simple dough recipe. I add a little salt to it since that is the way my friend’s nanny taught me, but otherwise follow their dough recipe. I upped the veggies in the recipe, but otherwise it is pretty true to their recipe.
4 Tablespoons vegetable oil (I used safflower and olive oil) divided
1 small onion, cut into a small dice
2 large carrots, cut into a small dice
6 large shiitake mushrooms, cut into a small dice
6 dried shiitake mushrooms, reconstituted and cut into a small dice
2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
1 pound ground chicken breast
2 teaspoons sesame oil
3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar of choice (probably fine without if you want to avoid added sugar…but it is a small amount)
2 Tablespoons Shaoxing wine or dry cooking sherry (or use 2 T of the dried mushroom liquid if you don’t want to use anything alcoholic)
Fresh ground pepper
Mix 1 Tablespoon of salt with the 1 cup of hot water. Set aside.
Put the flour in a large mixing bowl. Gradually add the hot water while mixing it. Turn dough out onto a large cutting board and knead for about 10 minutes or until dough is smooth and not sticky. Add additional water or flour as needed. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and a damp towel. Set aside in a warm part of the kitchen to rest for an hour.
In a large pan heat some oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté for about 5 minutes or until beginning to soften. Add the carrot and continue to sauté for another 3 minutes or so. Add the mushrooms and continue to cook for another 5 minutes or so and lastly add the spinach and cook until spinach is wilted. Remove from heat and let cool a bit.
Add the chicken to a medium bowl along with the sesame oil, soy sauce, sugar, shaoxing wine, several turns of the pepper mill, and 2 more Tablespoons of vegetable oil. Add the slightly cooled vegetables and mix vigorously with two chopsticks until the mixture forms a paste. (A spoon really doesn’t do the trick) Cover the chicken mixture and refrigerate for a bit while you wait for the dough to finish resting.
Divide the dough into three equal parts. Work with one part at a time, keeping the rest covered, and roll the dough into a log. Cut the log into equal pieces.
Roll each piece of dough into a rough circle about 3 1/2 inches in diameter. We often have one person rolling the dough and one filling them with the chicken mixture so the dough doesn’t sit out too long and dry out.
Drop about 2 Tablespoons of the chicken mixture in the middle of each dough circle, rub a little water around the perimeter of the dough, then fold dough in half and pleat the potsticker to ensure it is completely sealed. Dust bottom with a little flour and set on a parchment or silpat lined tray (something that will fit in your freezer if you plan on freezing some). Don’t let the potstickers touch each other. Here is a video on different ways to fold the wrapper.
Repeat steps 6 and 7 until all the dough and/or filling is used up. Now you can either cook them or freeze them raw to use at a later date. If you freeze them lay them single layer in the freezer for a few hours and when frozen transfer to a ziplock freezer bag. I usually freeze some and cook some.
To cook the potstickers, whether fresh or frozen, it is really important to use a non-stick pan. Add a little oil to the pan and heat it on medium high heat. Add the potstickers to the pan so that they are not touching each other. Allow to fre for a few minutes, or until the bottoms become lightly golden brown.
Add warm water to the pan, about a 1/4 inch up the side of the pan. Cover the pan until the water is nearly steamed off. Uncover and allow the potstickers to continue cooking and browning on the bottom. When all the water is gone and the bottoms are crispy remove from the pan.
Serve with dipping sauce and Enjoy! Here is a really good dipping sauce from The Woks of Life.
I don’t post many side dishes but I thought this one was interesting. I made salmon yesterday and was trying to come up with a different side that my whole family would eat and that was healthy. My teenage son will eat salad, but he always complains and I often serve salmon with a salad and rice, so I combined my vegetables with farro, a healthy whole grain. The result was pretty good. I think tomorrow I will eat the farro vegetable mix by itself with some added spinach and melted cheese for lunch!
Farro with Roasted Mushrooms, Corn and Cauliflower
About 2 cups of thinly sliced mixed mushrooms (today I used 8 shiitakes and 4 big white button mushrooms)
1 small shallot thinly sliced
2 ears of corn, cooked and sliced off the cob
1 cup cauliflower, cut into small pieces
Extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon dry oregano
1 teaspoon dry thyme
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
While oven is heating boil water in a medium pot. Add salt if desired.
When water boils add farro and boil for 20 minutes, or until farro is soft, but firm in the middle, al dente (like pasta).
While farro cooks, spread mushrooms and shallots on a large baking pan. Drizzle olive oil and toss the vegetables. Add salt, pepper, oregano and thyme to the vegetables. Roast for 15 minutes, stirring once.
Add the cauliflower with a little more olive oil and salt and pepper. Roast another 15 minutes or until vegetable are soft and slightly browned.
In a large bowl combine farro with all the cooked vegetables. Add salt and pepper if desired. Enjoy!
Tonight my daughter and I made miso soup with homemade dashi. Usually when we make miso soup we cheat and just use some store-bought chicken or vegetable broth and add miso, figuring it was good enough, but wow, this was so much better! There is so much complexity to this soup now that it has the smell of the ocean from the kombu and bonito flakes and the salty/savory flavor from the miso. So Delicious! The added bonus is that we don’t feel like we just ate a salt bomb as we often do after eating miso soup at a restaurant. I think the sodium levels are pretty moderate in this version. Unfortunately I didn’t get pictures, so will have to add them next time I make this.
2 – 6 x 5 inch pieces dried Kombu (a type of seaweed)
1 1/2 ounces bonito flakes (about 3 cups)
8 cups of Dashi
1/2 cup dried wakame (a type of seaweed)
1/3 cup white miso
1/2 pound tofu (I like firm tofu), drained and cut into small cubes
1/4 cup thinly cut scallions
Pour water into a large saucepan. Add kombu and let sit until kombu softens, about 30 minutes.
Bring water and kombu mixture to a slight boil and immediately remove from the heat. Discard the kombu.
Add the bonito flakes and carefully stir once to submerge them. The broth will be clearer if you don’t vigorously stir it. Return to a gentle boil, then reduce the heat and simmer gently for five minutes, skimming off any foam that might form.
Strain the dashi (broth). You can let it cool and store it in the fridge for a couple of days or use it now to make the miso soup.
Miso Soup Instructions:
Pour the dashi into a medium pot and mix in the wakame.
Heat the dashi mixture over moderately high heat until hot. While the dashi is heating up remove about 1/2 cup of it and whisk it in a separate bowl with the miso until well combined.
Add the tofu and scallions to the broth (dashi). Cook one minute. Turn off the heat.
Mix the miso mixture into the soup and serve immediately. Enjoy!
Pretty warm day here in the Bay Area. I decided I would make crab cakes Crab Cakes and a tomato, corn and avocado salad. This was based on what looked fresh at the grocery store today. Just a quick salad that I threw together, no actual recipe, but I tried to capture it the best I could in the recipe below. Enjoy!
Tomato, Corn and Avocado Salad with Ricotta Salata
1 1/2 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced in half or quarters depending on size
1 avocado, diced and soaked in lime juice
1 tablespoon lime juice (approx)
2 ears of fresh corn, cooked and sliced off the cobb
2 tablespoons ricotta salata cheese, very small dice
freshly ground pepper
extra virgin olive oil
Combine the tomatoes, avocado with lime juice, corn and ricotta in a medium bowl. Try to add the corn while it is still hot or warm, it warms up the rest of the salad and makes the flavor more intense. Mix well.
Sprinkle with the salt, pepper and olive oil and mix well.
So easy and so delicious! I got the recipe from Feed Me Phoebe and I have made it several times. The first couple of times I used Great Northern beans instead of Garbanzo beans and I have also used marinated artichokes instead of water-packed artichokes, but I think it is healthier with the water-packed artichokes. I have also added a couple of handfuls of fresh spinach in the past, which I would have done today, but I am out of spinach! The hummus is great any of these ways. Below is the basic recipe, pretty much unchanged from Phoebe Lapine’s recipe.
I originally made this in the fall after going to the Farmer’s Market where I saw this very fresh and beautiful Fennel bulb that I had to buy as well as some super fresh assorted baby lettuces. These are still available and looking pretty good at Whole Foods, so I thought I would make it tonight. My recipe is inspired by Food and Wine’s Spinach and Fennel Salad with Candied Bacon . The F&W recipe uses A LOT of bacon and sugar, so I lightened the recipe by adding more vegetables, cutting out the “candied” part of the bacon and using 75% less bacon. I feel that just a little bacon adds a lot of punch, no need to go overboard. Yum! I really like the combination of the slightly sweet dressing with the very savory bacon and feta. Try it out and let me know what you think.
1 medium sized fennel bulb. Halved, cored and sliced very thinly
2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil (for the dressing plus some extra for drizzling on the fennel)
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard
1 ½ tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
1 ½ tablespoons white balsamic vinegar (this is very different from regular balsamic vinegar — I like it in this dressing because it is slightly sweet to contrast with the savory bacon and feta –if you don’t have any use a white wine vinegar and add a little more honey)
½–1 teaspoon of honey
~8 oz. mixed baby lettuce
1 large heirloom tomato (or whatever is available), cubed
4 radishes, thinly sliced
Fresh feta cheese to sprinkle over the top
2 tablespoons of pine nuts, lightly toasted
Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees
Cook 2 pieces of bacon on a foil-lined baking sheet for 15 minutes or until desired doneness (I often cook more pieces and put some of it into my son’s lunch box that week). Lay cooked bacon on a plate with several paper towels to absorb as much grease as possible. Let the bacon cool and then chop into small pieces.
At the same time, lightly spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray. Add sliced fennel and lightly drizzle a little olive oil onto the fennel and season with a little salt and pepper. Bake for 20 minutes or until soft and starting to brown a bit. Remove from oven and let cool.
In a small container whisk the Dijon mustard, fresh lemon juice, white balsamic vinegar, honey, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, a sprinkle of kosher salt and a several grinds of fresh black pepper. Set aside.
Combine the tomato, radishes, lettuce, fennel, bacon, feta and pine nuts. Toss with the reserved dressing and serve.
Pairs nicely with an unoaked Chardonnay or Chablis
What a wonderfully warming and hearty Winter dish, that truly exceeded my expectations (and I think my husband’s as well)! I haven’t attempted risotto in years, but I came across a roasted butternut squash risotto recipe and decided that it would be a fun project to make today. Be warned, this takes time, but not the traditional standing over the pot and stirring for hours kind of time. For much of the time the dish was minding itself in the oven baking, which is not too bad for risotto! I based this off of a recipe by Cookie and Kate, but I made a few changes: I added a little more water, I added shiitake and cremini mushrooms in the risotto, added crispy mushrooms as a garnish and I skipped the butter. I also roasted the squash whole before cutting it because I really dislike cutting into hard squash – so worried about cutting off a limb! Risotto with only a cup of cheese and no butter, as well as brown rice for added nutrition! Pretty healthy and still so creamy and comforting.
Roasted Butternut Squash and Wild Mushroom Brown Rice Risotto
5 large cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced (plus 2 more below for the garnish)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 cups of vegetable broth, divided
2 cups water, divided
1 ½ cups brown arborio or short-grain brown rice
1/2 cup dry white wine (optional)
1 cup of freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese
1 tablespoon thyme
Crispy Mushrooms and Crispy Sage
2 cremini mushrooms, paper thin slices (if you are short on time skip this, it will still be delicious)
20 sage leaves
freshly ground pepper
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F.
Place washed whole butternut squash on a baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes, or until skin starts to brown and shrivel. Turn once or twice while baking. Let cool until you can touch it long enough to peel it.
While squash is baking, heat a large dutch oven or pot on medium heat with some olive oil. Add chopped onions and cook for about 5 minutes or until they begin to soften. Add sliced mushrooms and cook for 5 more minutes or until mushrooms begin to shrink and soften. Add some salt and pepper while cooking. Add garlic and cook for 2 more minutes or until garlic is fragrant.
Add 3 cups of broth and 1 cup of water to the onion mix, cover, and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the rice. Cover the pot and bake in the 375 degree oven for 60 minutes. It may seem pretty dry when you remove the lid but don’t worry you will add more liquid soon!
While the risotto is baking peel the cooked squash, scoop out the seeds and cut into a small dice. Place the diced squash on a parchment-lined baking sheet and sprinkle with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and bake for another 20 or 30 minutes or until the squash begins to brown around the sides. Remove the squash from the oven and set aside.
To make the crispy mushrooms and sage place the paper thin slices of mushroom and the sage leaves on a baking sheet sprinkled with olive oil and a little salt. Bake the sage for 5 minutes or less, you just want them a little crumbly. Bake the paper thin mushrooms for around 30 minutes, turning once, until they become crispy but not burned. Check them often. When crispy remove from oven and set aside.
Remove the risotto from the oven after one hour and place on the stovetop over medium heat. Pour in the wine and stir for 2 minutes. Add the remaining 1 cup of broth, thyme and parmesan and stir vigorously for 3 minutes. Add more water if needed. You can keep it on low heat at this point if not ready to serve, adding water periodically to keep it from drying out and to keep the consistency creamy.
Serve in shallow bowls with a pinch of cheese, crispy mushrooms and sage. Tastes great with a dry chablis.
Note: This is actually an older post from my original Medium Blog site.
My daughter has gone back to boarding school and my husband has a work dinner, so tonight I am cooking for just my son and myself. I wandered up and down the aisles of Whole Foods for a while drawing a blank. I almost never go to the store without a list or at least a plan in my head for what I need. Today was different for some reason, I was just completely drawing a blank! After running into a friend who suggested I grab something in the meat department that is half-way prepared since there are only two of us (great idea!) I settled on a lemon-herb marinated piece of salmon (the hubby is not really a fish fan so this is a good thing to eat without him) and some really big and beautiful looking organic Lacinato Kale (a.k.a. Dinosaur or Tuscan Kale). I decided I will also make some plain jasmine rice in my rice maker, to make things easy.
Below is the recipe for kale chips that I made out of the kale. They are a really yummy way to eat kale and my kids love them (but another thing my husband doesn’t care for). They are crunchy, a bit salty (depending on how salty you like them) and tangy from the vinegar. Yum, flavor explosion! Sometimes they are almost gone before the rest of dinner is made (but I have no idea where they go?).
Such an incredible crunchy way to eat kale. Delicious and healthy alternative to a potato chip when you are craving some crunch and savory flavors.
1 large bunch of Lacianto Kale (aka Dinosaur Kale or Tuscan Kale)
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1-2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 lemon, juiced (Recently I have been leaving this out)
Kosher salt or sea salt to taste
Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees.
Wash kale thoroughly and pat dry. Remove the center ribs so you just have the dark green leafy part. Slice the kale leaves in half.
Place sliced kale leaves in a large bowl. Add enough olive oil, vinegar and lemon juice to coat the leaves. Add the salt and using your hands massage the ingredients into the leaves so they are all covered.
Spread the coated kale leaves in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for 7 minutes to start. I often use a silicon baking mat (Silpat) to bake these on.
After 7 minutes check to see if any leaves have become crispy (but still GREEN), if so remove them from the baking sheet and put in a serving bowl. Turn over the leaves that are still wet (most will still be wet) and return them to the oven and cook for a few more minutes.
Every 3 minutes (or so) re-check for crispy pieces, removing them from the baking sheet and putting the rest back into the oven. This may seem tedious, but the kale can burn quickly and then it is ruined (even slightly brown kale tastes burnt), it took me a few tries before I understood I needed to keep the heat LOW and check on the kale constantly so I don’t burn any of it. When it is all crispy you are finished!
May be served warm from the oven or at room temperature, but don’t make it too far ahead of time as it may lose its crispiness over time.