Chanterelle Risotto

We are closing in on one year. I have posted a recipe every single day since New Years Day, 2012. I have covered a lot of territory and I hope that I have shared some delicious meals with you. I have learned a lot about cooking, eating, writing and myself. It has been quite an experience.

Eating is such an important part of our life. Some might say the most important part. I urge you to keep a good attitude about cooking, eating and the three buzz words of this century: local, organic and sustainable. Eat whole foods, mainly fruits and vegetables and not too much. Drink well and also not too much. Above all, be happy, exercise and you will be healthy. The biggest obstacle between you and good health is between your ears.

We found some great and affordable chanterelles last night and took a break from all of the holiday fare.

Ingredients

  • 4 Cups Chicken Broth
  • 1 Cup Water
  • 1 Cup Arborio Rice
  • 1 Small Onion, chopped
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1/2 Cup White Wine
  • 1 Cup Chanterelles, trimmed and chopped
  • 1/2 Cup Parmesan, coarsely grated
  • 1 Teaspoon Rosemary
  • Salt and Pepper

Tools

  • 2 Large Sauce Pans
  • Wooden Spoon
  • Grater
  • Chef’s Knife
  • Non-stick Pan
  • Ladle
  1. Warm the chicken broth and water in one of the pans. 
  2. In the bottom of the other sauce pan warm the olive oil.
  3. Saute the onion and garlic until translucent.
  4. Stir in the rice so it is well coated in the oil.
  5. Add the wine and let reduce by half. Stir while it reduces.
  6. Add the broth a ladle at a time, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t stick.
  7. Repeat until the rice fluffs up.
  8. In a non stick pan cook the mushrooms with a little salt until they soften. About 10 minutes.
  9. When the rice is fluffy but still a little hard to the tooth add the mushrooms and rosemary.
  10. Continue to cook, adding more broth if needed.
  11. When the rice is al dente, stir in the cheese.

We served this with a couple of scallops and an arugula salad. It was a wonderful post Christmas dinner. One I will remember for a long time thanks to my lovely wife.

Pumpkin Risotto

Rep. Steve King, a Republican from Iowa, is an idiot. So is Rep. Tim Huelskamp from Kansas. They are both playing the worst kind of partisan politics by introducing and supporting a bill called the No Hungry Kids Act, H.R.6418. This is a very clever title for a very seriously misguided, but I am happy to report, sure to fail bill. The bill attempts to repeal the new rules set forth by the USDA, based on five years of research and two Institute of Medicine studies, that set calorie limits on school lunches.

Why is it partisan politics? It turns out that Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture and big supporter of the new rules, has a wife named Christie that is running against King in Iowa’s fourth district. Introducing bills, especially against kids, for your own political gain is despicable. I hope all of my Iowa friends vote against this useless politician.

Back to our celebration of fall. Here is another pumpkin dish. I hope that sugar pumpkins are starting to show up at your market. If not, they will soon.

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup Arborio Rice
  • 4 Cups Chicken Broth
  • 1 White Onion, diced
  • 1 Cup White Wine
  • 1 Cup Roasted Sugar Punplin
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 1/3 Cup Grated Parmesan
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Sage, finely chopped
  • Salt and Pepper

Tools

  • Cookie Sheet
  • Chef’s Knife
  • Paring Knife
  • Grater
  • Med. Sauce Pan
  • Large Sauce Pan
  • Ladle
  • Wooden Spoon
  1. Pre heat the oven to 400.
  2. Peel and cube the pumpkin. You can substitute butternut squash.
  3. Place on cookie sheet and drizzle with olive oil.
  4. Roast for 45 minutes, until the pumpkin is fork soft.
  5. Let cool.
  6. Pour the broth into the medium sauce pan along with about 1/2 cup of water and place over medium heat. I usually place the broth on the back burner, right behind the risotto.
  7. In the larger pan over medium heat, add two tablespoons of olive oil.
  8. Add the onion then the garlic. Sauté until translucent.
  9. Stir in rice slowly, making sure to coat all with oil.
  10. Add the white wine and let reduce by half.
  11. Add a ladle of broth and stir for a few minutes.
  12. Continue to add broth, a little at a time and stir. The idea of stirring is to keep the rice from sticking to the bottom.
  13. Continue the process of adding broth and stirring until the rice is puffy and nearly soft. This should take about 30 minutes.
  14. Add the the pumpkin and stir in. Cook for 5-10 minutes, stirring often.
  15. Turn the heat off and stir in the cheese and sage.
  16. Salt and pepper to taste.

Jambalaya

The recent study released by Stanford that claims that organic food is not necessarily better for you is seriously flawed and should be taken with an organic grain of salt. The process, the data and the studies that the data were derived from were not conclusive and drawing this conclusion was dubious at best. The reporting has even been more fractured and salacious. If you want to read more about why the study was so flawed, here is a report from Consumer Reports that lays it out.

Also, one of the main aspects of organic growing is sustainability. The cycle of rotating crops, preserving clean ground water and preserving the quality of land provides sustainability of crops. The poisons used by conventional growers also threaten the health of those who work the land. I know farmers who refuse to spray with chemical pesticides and herbicides because of the potential harm to their workers. You may not be increasing nutrients substantially by purchasing organics, but you are saving lives and caring for the planet. The long term effects of pesticides and herbicides are yet to be fully discovered. Would you prefer to take the risk? Not me, thanks.

The good folks of New Orleans and the surrounding area have gone though yet another harrowing hurricane. I hope and pray that everyone comes through this with as little interruption as possible. They have been hit hard by man and nature and deserve a break. To celebrate the spirit of those in the Gulf Region let’s have some Jambalaya and please consider making a donation to one of the Gulf Charities.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb. Adnouille Sausage, cut into coins
  • 1/2 lb.  Ground Pork Sausage
  • 1 lb. Uncooked Shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, cut into pieces
  • 2 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs, cut into pieces
  • 2 Small Onions, diced
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 1/2 Cup Celery, diced
  • 1 Red Pepper, diced
  • 1 Yellow Pepper, diced
  • 1 Cup Rice
  • 2 Cups Chicken Broth
  • 1 Can Tomato Sauce
  • 1 Small Can Tomato Paste
  • 1/2 Cup Olive Oil
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Creole Spice
  • 1 Teaspoon Dried Basil
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Flat Leaf Parsley for Garnish

Tools

  • Large Pot
  • Chef’s Knife
  • Slotted Spoon
  1. Heat the oil in the bottom of the pot.
  2. Brown the sausage then remove with a slotted spoon.
  3. Brown the chicken then remove.
  4. Sauté vegetables for a few minutes.
  5. Add rice and broth and bring to a brief boil.
  6. Add meat back to the pot.
  7. Add tomato sauce, paste, herbs and spices and stir together. If there doesn’t appear to be enough liquid, add a little water.
  8. Simmer for 20-25 minutes.
  9. Taste and adjust seasonings.
  10. Add shrimp and cook until pink.
  11. Serve with parsley garnish and a cold beer.

 

 

 

Summer Squash Risotto

I have to catch a plane in a few minutes so let’s get right to it.

Ingredients

  • 2 Cups Summer Squash, chopped
  • 1 Cup Arborio Rice
  • 4 Cups Chicken Broth (or vegetable)
  • 1 Onion, diced
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 Cup Parmesan, grated
  • 1 Tablespoon Butter
  • 2 Tablespoons + 1 Teaspoon Olive Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Finely Chopped Thyme
  • Salt and Pepper

Tools

  • Chef’s Knife
  • Medium Grater
  • Ovenproof Dish
  • 2 Medium Sauce Pans
  • Sauté Pan
  • Ladle
  • Wooden Spoon
  1. Put squash in ovenproof dish, drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper.
  2. Roast at 400 for 30 minutes.
  3. Pour the chicken (or vegetable) broth into a one of the pans and add about 1/2 cup water. Warm over low flame. I usually put this on the back burner so I can ladle it into the front pan without dripping.
  4. Heat the oil in the other pan.
  5. Add the onion first then the garlic and sauté until the onion is translucent. Add a little salt and pepper.
  6. Slowly add the rice and stir until completely coated with the oil.
  7. Add a couple ladles of broth and stir.
  8. Continue to cook the rice over med. low heat. The concept of having to stir risotto constantly is a myth. The reason for stirring is to expose all of the rice to the broth and keep it from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  9. Continue replenishing the broth as it is absorbed into the rice. Stir each time.
  10. After about 20 minutes, when the rice has started to puff up but is still slightly hard, stir in the squash.
  11. Continue adding the broth until all of the broth is absorbed and the rice has softened. This should take about 25-30 minutes.
  12. Taste the rice. It should be al dente. If it is still a little hard cook for another 5 minutes.
  13. When it is done, turn the heat off and stir in the cheese.
  14. Add the thyme and adjust the salt and pepper.

Wild Rice

Andy Briscoe, president and CEO of the Sugar Association, will not be coming to my dinner table any time soon. In an article on sugar this morning in the L.A. Times, (in reference to Dr. Robert Lustig, professor of clinical pediatrics at U.C. San Francisco who has done extensive studies on sugar) Mr. Briscoe (you notice I said Mister, not doctor) was quoted saying: “Lustig doesn’t know the science”. He also said that we were eating just as much sugar in the early 1970’s “and we didn’t have all these problems with obesity or all this metabolic stuff.” Spoken like a real scientist. Actually, Mr. Briscoe has a Bachelors of Science degree from Texas A.M. But since then the only science he has been practicing is the science of spin. I don’t need to defend Dr. Lustig. He makes his point very clearly and if you haven’t investigated him from mine or others recommendations here is the long but worthwhile clip: “Sugar, The Bitter Truth”.

I grew up in the 1970’s and Mr. Briscoe’s point is both inaccurate and incriminating. In the 1970’s there were no Big Gulps, no “Supersize Me”, no large candy bars and McDonalds was a treat, not a meal. People did not drink soda with their dinners, schools did not have vending machines and most parents regulated the amount of “sweet treats” that their children ingested.  Sure, kids ate sweets but it was never considered food or “good for you”.

The restructuring of the federal farm subsidies program did not happen until the early 70’s (Thanks to Earl Butz) and therefore did not gain momentum, providing subsidized, cheap corn to manufacture High Fructose Corp Syrup (HFCS) until well into the 80’s. In other words, we did NOT consume the same amount of sugar (s) as we do now. From all of the studies and graphs I have found, it seems that the total sugar intake has just about doubled since the 70’s.

Added sugar has no nutritional benefit whatsoever. The claim that the Sugar Association makes that sugar is natural and therefore not harmful is true. Sugar occurs naturally in fruits and vegetables, but not without all of the other nutrients and substances such as fiber. Added sugar, or sugar on it’s own has none of the benefits of a piece of fruit, and all of the negative aspects. I’m afraid it’s not Dr. Lustig, with his years of research and clinical studies that doesn’t know. I think that “Briscoe doesn’t know the science.”

Ingredients

  • 2 Cups Wild Rice
  • 1 Onion, diced
  • 1/4 Cup Pine Nuts
  • 1/4 Cup Golden Raisins (or dried Cranberries)
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper

Tools

  • Large Saute Pan
  • Large Pan
  • Chef’s Knife
  1. Rinse wild rice. Wild rice is actually not rice, but a grain from grasses.
  2. Follow instructions on packet for cooking rice. It usually takes twice as much water and needs to cook for around 45 minutes, until the liquid is gone. 
  3. When the rice is nearly done, in the saute pan, add a good amount of olive oil to cover bottom. 
  4. Saute the onion until translucent.
  5. Add the cooked rice to the onion.
  6. Add the pine nuts and raisins. Combine well. This should take a few minutes to allow the dish to come together. 
  7. Salt and pepper to taste.
Serve this with tomorrow’s special treat.
(Note: If you read: “on today’s date”, you would have noticed that Grapes of Wrath was released on this day in 1939. My wife pointed out to me that many things have changed since then: women’s rights, gay rights, civil rights. Much progress has been made. But not much has changed when it comes to hunger and poverty. A billion people in this world do not have enough to eat each day.)

Mushroom Risotto

Risotto is one of those dishes that has nearly as much unfounded fear associated with it as soufflé. My first memory of friends attempting this threatening dish was years ago at a dinner party. I thought it ironic that the trepidation in the air was shared with a party of 12. One would have imagined that such an experiment might be first attempted on a smaller contingent. That would have been too practical for my friends who have together and separately: met while sailing on different boats across the Atlantic, managed rock stars and studios, ran cable networks, made documentaries and now run a successful bed and breakfast, restaurant and award winning winery in Mexico. Clearly, risotto might have been new for them but a challenge it was not.

There is nothing to risotto. I explain in my book that once you learn to make plain risotto, the variations are only limited by your imagination.

Ingredients

  • 2 Cups Mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 Cup Arborio Rice
  • 4 Cups Chicken Broth
  • 1 Small White Onion, diced
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 Cup Parmesan, grated
  • 1 Tablespoon Butter
  • 2 Tablespoons + 1 Teaspoon Olive Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Finely Chopped Rosemary
  • Salt and Pepper

Tools

  • Chef’s Knife
  • Medium Grater
  • 2 Medium Sauce Pans
  • Sauté Pan
  • Ladle
  • Wooden Spoon
  1. Pour the chicken (or vegetable) broth into a one of the pans and add about 1/2 cup water. Warm over low flame. I usually put this on the back burner so I can ladle it into the front pan without dripping.
  2. Heat the oil in the other pan.
  3. Add the onion first then the garlic and sauté until the onion is translucent. Add a little salt and pepper.
  4. Slowly add the rice and stir until completely coated with the oil.
  5. Add a couple ladles of broth and stir.
  6. Continue to cook the rice over med. low heat. The concept of having to stir risotto constantly is a myth. The reason for stirring is to expose all of the rice to the broth and keep it from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  7. Continue replenishing the broth as it is absorbed into the rice. Stir each time.
  8. In a sauté pan, melt the butter and a teaspoon of olive oil.
  9. Sauté the mushrooms. You can use whatever mushrooms you like. I usually buy crimini but any mushroom will work.
  10. After about 20 minutes, when the rice has started to puff up but is still slightly hard, stir in the cooked mushrooms.
  11. Continue adding the broth until all of the broth is absorbed and the rice has softened. This should take about 25-30 minutes.
  12. Taste the rice. It should be al dente. If it is still a little hard cook for another 5 minutes.
  13. When it is done, turn the heat off and stir in the cheese.
  14. Add the rosemary and adjust the salt and pepper.