Culinary Bucket List { Asparagus Risotto }

I almost fell off the culinary bucket list wagon. Luckily I got my shit together 3 days before June, phew.

I have not been in any mood or have had the energy or the desire for that matter to do any cooking. It’s been all Lean Cuisine and take out dreams baby.

After a sleepless night I got the hankering, scratch that, that is a horrible word. I got a craving yearning a want for a roast chicken, the roast chicken made me think of risotto and I have no idea why.  I have only made risotto a handful of times and it’s been the easy way, you know throw ingredients into a dutch oven, stir and slide it into the oven.

The classical way wants you to stir, stir and wait and stir like you are an executive chef in a fancy restaurant, risotto rubbing it’s fanciness all in your face. But since this is a bucket list I thought I would suck it up and try the fancy risotto.

I remembered a recipe my mom sent me years ago, it’s just been sitting on my computer waiting to be used. I followed it exactly plus 2 more cups of chicken broth, and it turned out goooood. Gordon Ramsey would SO not yell at me for this risotto. It kept me on my feet longer than I should have been, contraction, stir, contraction, sit down, stir. But it was well worth it!

So if you feel up to making risotto the fancy way give this recipe a try, if you don’t have the patience, try Ina’s.

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1 pound fresh asparagus
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
¼ cup (1/2 stick) butter
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
1 cup uncooked Arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons whipping cream
½ cup Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Optional garnish: chopped tomato

1. Remove tough ends of asparagus. Reserve tips for later use in recipe. Finely chop the stalks and leave the tips in one inch pieces.

2. Bring broth to boil in a medium saucepan, then reduce to a simmer.

3. In a larger saucepan, melt butter; add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is transparent. But not brown. Add rice and stir rapidly to coat with butter, Add asparagus stalks and wine, allow wine to evaporate.

4. Add ½ to 1 cup broth, so that the rice is barely covered with liquid. Stir frequently to allow broth to be absorbed. Don’t let rice go completely dry. Repeat, adding broth in ½ cup measurements, until 1 cup remains to be added.

5. Add asparagus tips and finish adding broth ½ cup at a time. When all is absorbed, remove pan form heat. Immediately stir in cream and Parmesan cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste. If desired, garnish with chopped tomato.

Serves 4 to 5

Halibut with Caper Butter and Kale {Culinary Bucket List-March)

I don’t know when I decided that I liked capers but it must have happened somewhere in my 20s. Now, I like them in all the food. I had them for the first time in a chicken salad sandwich with grapes, brilliant idea.

I struggled with what to make this month. Not that I can’t come up with a delicious recipe I haven’t tried, that is not a problem. I wanted one  that wouldn’t have me  in the kitchen all day or packing on the LBs. I figured I should throw in some healthier recipes every few months as I’m not getting any skinnier here in the next 5 months…know what I’m saying?

Since it’s now summer in San Diego I decided on a fish dish, a sweet and salty fish dish. I came across this recipe when I googled “halibut recipes”, wow she is so clever. I followed the recipe more for the ingredients and used my own sense of time. I find that when cooking fish it’s best to trust your own knowledge rather than some stranger on the internet.

This dish was really good and it will now go on rotation.


Halibut with Caper Butter and Kale

2 Halibut steaks

Olive oil

1 Tbs. Butter

2 onions, sliced

2 garlic cloves, diced

1 Tbs. sherry vinegar

1 head kale, chopped

2 Tbs. Capers

Season the halibut with a little salt and cook in a hot oiled pan. Cook quickly until golden brown on each side, but do not cook it all the way through. Add a little more oil if necessary.

Once the fish is cooked on each side, turn off the heat and add butter. While it finishes cooking in the residual heat of the pan, baste the fish every now and again with the melted butter.

Put the onions and garlic in an oiled pan over a medium heat. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and cook until golden and caramelized. Pour in the sherry vinegar and cook for 30 seconds.

Stir the kale into the onions, add a splash of water to help it steam and cook until wilted, adding a little more water if necessary.

Add the capers to the buttery juices in the pan of fish.

To serve, plate the kale and onions and top with the halibut steak. Spoon over the caper and parsley butter sauce and serve immediately.

Recipe adapted from Good Food Channel

Molten Lava Cakes {Culinary Bucket List #2 February}

The infamous molten chocolate lava cake, foodie trend and a recipe that is now on every restaurants menu. Supposedly these miniature cakes were invented when Michelin star and James Beard award winner chef Jean Georges accidentally undercooked  a batch of mini  chocolate cakes back in the 80’s. We thank you chef Georges.

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Making these was a no brainer. Shane loves them + Valentine’s day = dessert. Although we stuffed ourselves with king crab legs, there is always room for chocolate right? Actually that is not true. As good as these were I couldn’t eat much of mine, between the baby and crustacean legs I didn’t have room left. Don’t worry, we got a gym sesh in that morning.

Luckily the recipe makes four of these babies. I kept the batter in the fridge for the next day. Winning!

I never realized how easy the recipe for these were and I had all the ingredients at home, you probably do too. The only mistake I made, was using flour to dust the ramekins with instead of cocoa powder. Sorry Martha Stewart.

I used this recipe from Food and Wine and didn’t change a thing.

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Grilled Fish Tacos {Culinary Bucket List February}

I know my way around a fish taco, chances are if they are on the menu I will order them. Unless it’s made with tuna, that is not the right fish for a taco people. So why haven’t I made them before? I don’t know, maybe because Shane isn’t a fan and it always seemed like a lot of work for myself. That was closed minded. These were easy and so good.

The other night we wanted to have fish for dinner. We all know we shouldn’t be eating farm raised fish, so finding a good fresh piece of wild caught fish for a price that doesn’t resemble a price tag at Tiffany’s isn’t the easiest, cha-ching. We came across some wild sole at Costco which worked out perfect. I could make sole piccata one night and have leftovers for the tacos. Damn I’m brilliant.

fish taco

I marinated the fish in a little of this and a little of that. Olive oil, lime juice, cumin, chili powder, diced jalapeño, salt and pepper. While that was hanging out I made the white sauce. This is where I took a small short cut. I had some some habanero salsa left over so I mixed that with sour cream, lime juice and salt to taste. That’s it.
I threw the fish on the grill and warmed the tortillas. Once the fish was done I smeared some white sauce on a tortilla, topped with fish, then with cabbage, drizzled with lime and Tapatio of course. Then I shoveled it in my face. Delicious.

*Recipe adapted from Bobby Flay Cooking Light.

Culinary Bucket List {January}

Our Chinese New Year dinner party was a perfect excuse for me to kick off my culinary bucket list. I have only made a few Chinese dishes in my life and I won’t lie, it was hard to find a couple recipes that weren’t longer then the Cheesecake Factory menu.

Friends don’t let friends eat at chain restaurants.

I decided on Chow Fun noodles and Yang Yang crispy beef. They both turned out great and I can foresee making the noodles again and but as good beef was, it was fried and I don’t do fried foods. Don’t get me wrong they are D-E-licious to eat but I don’t dig having grease splattered along my counter top. Then you have to figure out what to do with a pot of used oil, gross.

I made sure to have all my ingredients prepped and ready to go.

Mise en place

Chow Fun

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I left them meatless and it was just fine. I found all the ingredients at Ranch 99 market, although it took me awhile wandering around the store. I boiled the fresh noodles for about 2 minutes and then drained them before adding them to the wok. Next time I would use a tad less ginger and add some sambal {spicy chili paste}.

The beef was pretty easy to cook, cutting the meat took all the time.

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The only thing I can suggest is if you go to all the work to make these dishes, serve them right away. Taking Chinese food to a dinner party isn’t the best way to go about it.

Getting enough to eat at our dinner parties is never a problem. I didn’t get all the dishes but here is a glimpse of what we devoured.

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Amazing handmade wontons.
baked egg rolls
baked egg rolls
Buddha's Delight.
Buddha’s Delight.
Fried rice
Fried rice