Black Rice Risotto with Garlic and Parmesan

I was sitting here, trying to write a lesson plan when my mind kept reliving an incredible dish we had months ago, making it very difficult to focus on learning standards. So, instead I switched gears and decided to try and dissect what we ate from memory and remake it, hoping for the same outcome.

Risotto is not in my wheelhouse. I make it often enough but I use only one recipe, the one that allows me to leave the stove because let’s be real, no one has time to stand, stir and repeat. I took this recipe but used black rice with the addition of some cream, fresh parmesan and garlic at the end.

I’m not going to lie, it was pretty good. Rich and garlicky, probably best alongside a light main dish or a salad.

*recipe adapted from Barefoot Contessa Easy Risotto

Ingredients

5 cups simmering chicken stock, divided.

1½ cups black rice

1/4 cup white wine

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cups heavy cream

Minced fresh garlic, as much as you want.

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place the black rice and 4 cups of the chicken stock in a Dutch oven, or a heavy bottomed stock pan. Cover and bake for 45 minutes, until most of the liquid is absorbed and the rice is al dente aka still a bit chewy.

Remove from the oven, add the remaining cup of chicken stock, the parm, wine, cream and your garlic and stir vigorously for 3 minutes. Taste for salt, add pepper for kicks.

Top with more parm and garlic (if you want to).

Tempura Green Beans with Pepper Jelly Cream Cheese

It’s been awhile since we have eaten something that induces inappropriate public food moaning. You know the food that you keep thinking about days after the fact? It took approximately three of those days until I decided to make it myself. The genius behind paring tempura green beans with pepper jelly cream cheese has gone and stolen our hearts.

Ingredients for Pepper Jelly Cream Cheese

4-6 oz. cream cheese

2-4 Tbs. your favorite pepper Jelly

Ingredients for Tempura Batter

2 cups rice flour

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups cold Pabst Blue Ribbon beer

2 cups cold soda water

Ingredients for Greans Beans

10 oz cleaned green beans

4 quarts vegetable oil or enough to submerge the beans

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Combine the cream cheese and the jelly and set aside.

Combine the flours, then the liquids, and whisk until smooth.

Toss the green beans in the tempura batter, then working in batches fry the green beans in a 350-degree large pot of veg oil for approximately three minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve with the pepper jelly cream cheese on the side.

Prepare to be wowed!

Watermelon Feta Salad

Watermelon feta…high, watermelon feta high. Did Harry Styles just get stuck in your head? You’re welcome.

This salad, you guys, is the epitome of a summer dish. Currently it is 79 and sunny in San Diego and this is all you need for lunch and or dinner, well a body of water and a glass of rosé wouldn’t hurt. It’s a perfect combination of flavors and the fact that you don’t have to turn on the oven, even better.

Just make it and then tell me how right I am.

Just look at all that deliciousness. You can assemble this salad however you like. Its good all chopped up in a bowl, but I was going more for presentation this time.

Recipe adapted from Food and Wine

INGREDIENTS

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil 

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon Tabasco

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

One small seedless watermelon, scooped into balls or cut into 1 inch chunks1 cup Feta, cut into 1 inch chunks or crumbled

1/2 red onion diced

1 cup coarsely chopped mint leaves

salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, tabasco and half of your diced onion, season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add the watermelon and feta into a bowl or arranged on a plate, sprinkled with more red onion, drizzle in the dressing and sprinkle with chopped mint.

Even the girls jumped on the watermelon + feta bandwagon, it’s just too good.

Creamy Eggplant Dip

Sometimes I just need some Middle Eastern slash Mediterranean food. Whether it’s a Gyro, hummus, Tzatziki, falafel or shawarma, or even fruit with cheese and olive oil, the need just hits hard sometimes. My mind went to making Baba ghanoush but I thought if I made it creamy, I could talk the girls into eating it. After a lot of recipe hunting I decided on a creamy eggplant dip using the essential Mediterranean ingredients. Roasted eggplant and garlic blended with Greek yogurt, Feta and some other goodies.

*Recipe adapted from here

INGREDIENTS

3 medium sized eggplants

olive oil

5 cloves of garlic

2 lemons juiced

1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt

2 Tbs tahini

1/3 cup feta cheese (I used sheep’s milk feta)

1/3 cup  milk

1 tsp paprika 

1/2 tsp cayenne (use 1/4 tsp if you don’t like spicy)

1/4 tsp red chili flakes 

2 tsp Kosher salt or more to taste

1 tsp Black pepper 

Sumac for garnish

Fresh parsley for garnish

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cut eggplant long ways down the middle. Brush with olive oil and season with salt & pepper. I stuck the garlic cloves into the eggplant to roast. You can add the garlic raw, totally up to you.

Bake for 30 minutes and leave out to cool for another 30 min.

Once cool enough to handle, scoop out the roasted eggplant into a strainer to drain the excess liquid.

Add the eggplant into a blender with olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, yogurt, tahini, feta, milk and spices. Blend on high until smooth. Add more of whatever seasonings to taste.

Drizzle with your best olive oil, sprinkle some sumac and fresh Italian parsley to garnish. Service with fresh pita, roasted chicken and veggies.

You don’t even have to tell the kids that this is an eggplant dip, they will be none the wiser!

Mushroom Stroganoff

What do you call a mushroom in a fable?

The morel of the story. Ha ha ha…ha.

I didn’t know mushroom stroganoff was a thing. I thought I invented it in my head one morning but when I started Googling, it saddened me to find that once again, I was not the only one with that idea.

Back when we were store hopping for the Indian Chaat ingredients, we picked up a bag of egg Cavatappi at the International market. It worked perfectly for this dish.

Meanwhile as I was making dinner, one of the girls came in and asked to have a snack.

And then when the youngest beast is fed…..

Apparently she’s been raised in said prison….sigh.

Back to dinner. Creamy mushrooms over pasta, how good does that sound?

INGREDIENTS

*Recipe adapted from https://damndelicious.net/2019/02/06/creamy-mushroom-stroganoff/

8 ounces egg noodles of your choice

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 1/2 pounds cremini mushrooms, sliced

2 large shallots, diced

Salt and pepper, to taste

3 cloves garlic, minced

4 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme

2 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 cups beef stock

1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard (less is more)

3/4 cup sour cream

2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Crushed red chili flakes, to taste

DIRECTIONS

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions; drain well.

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add mushrooms and shallots, and cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are tender and browned, about 5-7 minutes or looks like this.

Season with salt and pepper, you can even add your crushed pepper now, if you like heat.

Stir in garlic and thyme until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Whisk in flour until lightly browned, about 1 minute

Gradually whisk in beef stock and Dijon. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until reduced and slightly thickened, about 4-5 minutes.

Stir in pasta and sour cream until heated through, about 1-2 minutes. 

Stir in Parmesan until melted, about 1 minute.

Serve immediately but not to the children who will whine about mushrooms. Leave them with their Nutella while you enjoy this delicious meal with a cold glass of Chardonnay!

Turning 7! Part 1

Between attempting to get the family together mixed with the fourth of July and summer camp turned Averi’s 7th birthday into a two part series.

Part 1-The Lion King.

Averi’s latest obsession is all things Lion King. After hours on Pinterest, I finally had a vision for the cake.

We got all of this from Party city and Amazon. Shawna’s talented fondant work made this cake. I am digging the ombre frosting look, I thought it worked great for the African sunset and the sky. I think It turned out pretty good.

How cute is this dress?

We have a tradition where the girls are NOT allowed into the kitchen and especially the fridge when we are making their birthday cakes. So it’s always a fun surprise.

Once the sugar went down we set up the slip n’ slide for the kids. Then we moved on to footy golf, which Casey dominated and Kaili didn’t do half bad.

A full day of too much sugar and over stimulation. I found Averi hiding out in the pantry.

Kaili ended up with a sour stomach and this is what I walked into when I checked on her that night.

Part II consists of more cake, more presents and the best part…. Great Wolf Lodge!

TO BE CONTINUED

A Way of Life-Chaat

You guys, our libraries are OPEN. I must say the book pick-up process has been pretty user friendly for the past year but I was so excited when I pulled up and saw the “we are open!” sign.

There was quite the wait list for Maneet Chauhan’s lastest cookbook Chaat, so when I finally got it, I couldn’t wait to dig in. After choosing a few recipes to try, then came the hunt for the ingredients. Not wanting to go to all of the stores looking for a few key ingredients, I improvised.

But first. Gouda turned 3 years old on July 4th. Part sweetheart part asshole, she didn’t even say thank meow.

Back to Chaat. I didn’t even know what chaat was, I just knew that there were different varieties out there, such as Paneer chaat and Aloo chaat. I found that the word describes a way of Indian life, more than just street food snacks. After more reading I learned that there are many regional variations of chaat but all of them have one thing in common. Each recipe of chaat has a combo of five essential components; the base, the sauce, the crunch, the vegetables and the umami. After that, the creative mashup is up to you.

We chose to make the Tabakh Maaz (twice-cooked caramelized ribs) and the Gajar ka Halwa (carrot pudding with pistachios and saffron). And obviously I would also make the cilantro-mint chutney because that is always a must at every Indian meal.

Back to the ingredient hunting. You guys, we have international markets on every corner but I could not find Paneer and I could not find lamb ribs. Turns out that paneer is easy enough to make and pork ribs would be a quick pinch substitute that would end in an abundance of food moaning.

I took an entire afternoon to make this meal, dipping into the sun every so often.

First up, make the cheese. Paneer, a farmer’s cheese made with milk, lemon and salt. That’s it, that’s the recipe.

Next was the carrot pudding, although the final product tasted amazing, the end result did not turn out how the cookbook promised. And no, it was not user error. Somehow grated carrot boiled in saffron, cardamom and milk was supposed to turn into a velvety pudding consistency. This did not happen and I even let it simmer for a lot longer than suggested. This picture is what I had after the recommended 30 minutes.

Nothing like pudding. I even used the emersion blender at the end but still no avail. This recipe just didn’t work, although it sure did taste good.

The cilantro-mint chutney came together in under five minutes, however I didn’t seed all five of the serrano’s because I like to live on the edge of pain.

Then we have the ribs. You guys, these are ridiculous. Once I got over the fact that I wasn’t making lamb, sigh, I went in open minded. These ribs are simmered in water with the addition of milk with a handful of spices; cardamom’s, cinnamon, tumeric, fennel seeds and of course garlic. Once they were “fall off the bone” tender. I let them rest until I admitted to myself that the carrot pudding was not going to in fact be “pudding”.

I heated a cast iron pan, added some ghee, and lightly sprinkled some cane sugar over the ribs (not in the recipe) and fried them until perfectly caramelized.

And then……

So now I have a new way of cooking ribs. I can’t wait to make this for friends and family, it’s that good. Next time I would like to make pork and lamb side by side. And the chutney, just smother it on the ribs or eat it by the spoonful.

This is a cookbook that I could definitely cook my way through, so many good looking recipes, even if the carrot pudding recipe was a lie. Ha!

Nerve Endings

It’s been over a year of not going to a park, playground or anywhere inside for that matter. Spending most warm weekends at the beach, the girls have finally realized that when we tell them that the ocean water is cold, they tend to believe us. Our pool finally opened and although we warned them that the water is going to be ice, they wanted to go with the boogie boards instead of the beach. Fast forward an hour, both Kaili and Averi were shivering while Shayne was still swimming and at that moment we wished for a playmate that also didn’t have nerve endings.

April 12th will go down in the books as the best day of 2021 as all of the girls finally went back on to campus for school. Almost 400 days you guys, sigh!

We celebrated back to school night with a mushroom galette and sticky rice with mango.

If you are one of those “I don’t like mushrooms” then I am sorry because this recipe was so DELICIOUS.

For dessert, I made sticky rice with mango. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like this dish, do you?

If you can, I suggest trying New York Times recipe but they are picky with what content they give out without an account…sigh. Otherwise, just grab a recipe and make sure you have ripe mango’s, coconut milk and the right glutinous rice. Then you are set!

I am currently simmering a Tikka Masala, stay tuned!

You guys….homeschooling was not part of my birth plan.

Aside from working, school, homeschooling, refereeing, cooking, working out and binging Bon Appétit, I took time to open a few of my cookbooks while I rearranged them.

Scallop Linguine

Parmesan Eggs

Seared Duck Breast with Orange Glaze

The first two recipes are from Chrissy Teigen and I love her palate but….Unless you are Keto, the parm eggs are very rich. Very good but you wouldn’t want to eat it with carbs unless you are super hungover, you know what I am saying? Her scallop linguine was so good, but another recipe where I wouldn’t necessarily bread scallops, sometimes less is more.

We did discover, late I am sure, the produce market to the local chefs. It was there that I decided you can lay my ashes once I pass. They had IT ALL. It was like a Farm Fresh box but literally the entire building. I discovered types of citrus I didn’t know existed and mushrooms I have never seen. They also had pantry items such as high end olive oils, all sorts of curry pastes and they also had meat, duck, waygu beef and lamb. Literally mind blowing. That is where we got the duck breasts, I pan seared it and then made an orange glaze along side and served it with roasted acorn squash. Now I am thinking that I could have found my curry leaves there, shit, I will have to go back and check.

Chili Peanut Rice

After countless hours of watching the Bon Appetit Test Kitchen I finally decided to make one of the recipes that caught my eye. I ordered Priya’s cookbook Indian(-ish), mostly to just browse through since we can find all of the BA recipes off of their website. She has a lot of recipes worth trying but this one is a crowd pleaser. I struggled to find a couple of the ingredients. I dragged the girls through HMart looking for fresh curry leaves and black mustard seed with no luck but I did grab some fresh lime leaves as a back up. Then I dragged them through an international market which is stocked mostly with Mediterranean items but I did find the mustard seeds there. I used the lime leaves in place of the curry leaves and also added some fresh basil to try and mimic the same flavor. Next time I need to locate all of the ingredients without children.

This is a perfect recipe for leftover rice if that happens at your home. Our rice gets eaten up by children so I don’t normally have leftover rice, but if I did. Next time I make this I will use more spice, my serranos were very mild. This is a really good dish and will go so well with BA’s crispy honey garlic chicken thighs, or tandoori chicken, or palak paneer and naan, actually anything or nothing.

*recipe from Bon Appétit

INGREDIENTS

3cups cooked basmati rice (from about 1 cup dry rice)

2Tbsp. (or more) fresh lime juice (from about 1 lime)

1tsp. (or more) kosher salt

½cup ghee or extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1Tbsp. black mustard seeds

10fresh curry leaves

1cup roasted, unsalted peanuts

1medium onion, sliced into thin strips

2small Indian green chiles or serrano chiles, halved lengthwise (no need to stem them)

2Tbsp. chopped cilantro leaves with tender stems

Combine rice, lime juice, and salt in a large bowl; set aside.

Heat ¼ cup ghee in a shallow medium pan over medium. Once ghee melts (or oil begins to shimmer), add mustard seeds. As soon as they begin to pop and dance around in the ghee, which should be within seconds, remove pan from heat. Add curry leaves, making sure they get fully coated in ghee (there may be more popping and splattering, and that’s okay!). The leaves should immediately crisp up in the residual heat.

Return pan to medium-low heat and add peanuts. Cook, stirring, until peanuts turn a medium shade of brown and become fragrant, 5–8 minutes. Pour peanut mixture over reserved rice mixture and toss gently to

Heat remaining ¼ cup ghee in same pan over medium. Once ghee melts (or oil begins to shimmer), add onion and chiles, spreading in an even layer, and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is lightly browned and starting to caramelize, 5–7 minutes. Stir onion mixture into rice. Taste and add more salt and lime juice, if needed. Garnish with cilantro before serving.