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!

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!

Who Does the Shopping for that Bunny?

For Peeps sake, the bunny that walks on two legs and lays Easter eggs overdid it on the girls baskets this year.


But it didn’t did leave any actual Peeps, or Reeses eggs, what gives? Who does the shopping for that bunny?

The girls had an abundance of sugar, new masks plus water balloons which made for a fun evening on a warm day.

I was in a bakey mood so I attempted a shot at a butterfly cake. It wont win any awards but the girls said it was “the best cake EVER” so I won no matter what.

The water balloons were put to good use, there may have been some tears, not mine but they did manage to get me soaked.

An anonymous neighbor leave three wooden bunnies for the girls to paint for Easter.

So we most definitely had our Easter art displayed.

Some Bunny Loves You!

Last but definitely not least, we made another 5 star Bon Appétit recipe.

Ramen Noodle with Spring Onions and Garlic Crisp

There is a bit of prep but it comes together quickly. I found the fresh noodles at the Ranch 99 market. In addition to the ingredients listed, I also added some toasted sesame oil (about 1 tsp.) and a dash of Shaoxing (Chinese cooking wine) to give it a little more Asian flare. We mayyybe went overboard on the serrano, it was spiiicy, but so good!

Jerk Shrimp with Coconut Rice and Mango Salsa

We had a few days of nice weather where we took advantage of the beach with and without the girls.

The warm weather brought on thoughts of traveling and eating seafood by the water. Instead I made this this delicious dinner and we ate it watching our guilty pleasure reality show.

INGREDIENTS FOR SHRIMP

  • 1 Pound raw shrimp, cleaned and deveined
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil

INGREDIENTS FOR MARINADE

1 Tbsp lime juice

1 Tbsp Olive Oil

1 Tbsp soy sauce

1 Tbsp honey

1 Tbsp ketchup

1 tsp each paprika, chili powder

1/2 tsp each garlic powder, onion powder, all spice, cayenne pepper

1/4 tsp each ground ginger, dried thyme, salt

Pinch cinnamon and nutmeg

DIRECTIONS

Add marinade ingredients to a freezer bag or medium bowl and whisk to combine. Add shrimp and marinate at room temperature for 15-30 minutes or in the refrigerator for up to 60 minutes.

Heat one tablespoon olive oil over medium high heat in a large skillet. Add shrimp and marinade and cook approximately 3 minutes per side, or just until opaque and cooked through.

INGREDIENTS FOR COCONUT RICE

2 cups Jasmine Rice

1 can coconut milk

1 + 1/2 cups water

1 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

In a medium sized pot, rinse the jasmine rice several times until the water runs clear. Drain any excess water and add the coconut milk, water, salt and sugar.

On high heat, allow the mixture to boil. Once it starts to boil, turn the heat down to low and cook covered for 20 minutes.

Uncover and continue to cook for 5 minutes. Fluff and serve.

INGREDIENTS FOR MANGO SALSA

1 ripe mango, peeled, pitted, and finely chopped

2 Tbsp finely chopped red onion

1/2 jalapeño chile, minced  (or more depending on how hot the chile is)

 3 Tbsp fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

3 Tbsp fresh lime juice

Garlic salt to taste

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and season with garlic salt to taste. The longer it hangs out the better it gets.

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.