Before we get to the risotto recipe (which is good, scout’s honor) I really should tell you something. Something embarrassing.
I have no idea how to pronounce “risotto” correctly. I flip-flop between riz-O-to and riz-Ah-to constantly, trying to read the reactions of the people around me, to see if one or the other makes people nod and go, “Ah, yes, risotto” or squint their face up and cock their heads and scowl at me then walk away in disappointment. And I’m just left there going, “I said risotto!” like a big idiot.
That revelation probably isn’t going to establish my expertise in the area of risotto recipes and in fact, you’re probably not even reading anymore. But basically, all risotto is is a savory rice pudding. You cook some medium-short grain rice (Arborio — I do know how to pronounce that) by adding hot stock slowly and gradually, stirring all the while the rice grains release their starch and produce their own creamy sauce. Sounds low fat and everything and it is, until you add it a big hunk of butter and a buncha Parmesan cheese. To balance that out, you can add some sauteed vegetables to the basic recipe and viola! Now you have mushroom risotto, asparagus risotto, pumpkin risotto, any number of risottos.
Heat butter and oil in a wide, deep skillet until warm and add onions, salt and pepper. Cook over medium-high heat for a few minutes until softened and translucent.
Add the rice and stir to coat every grain. Cook the rice over medium heat for 3-4 minutes until the grains look more opaque.
Add 1 cup of the simmering stock to the rice and stir constantly until it’s almost absorbed. This will take about 5 minutes.
In 1 cup increments, same as the previous step, add 5 more cups of stock, allowing each cup to absorb before adding the next.
Once 6 cups have been added (this will take 20-30 minutes) taste the rice for salt and texture. Add some salt if necessary. If the rice is still a little too chewy, add another ½ cup of stock. (Note: this is also when you will add optional sauteed vegetables.)
Add the rest of the stock in ½ cup increments, same as before, but this time taste the rice frequently to test for doneness. When it’s properly cooked, the risotto should be tender without being soft, and moist not dry.
Remove from heat and add another tablespoon or two of butter and the Parmesan. Serve right away.
Leftover risotto can be spread into a pan and cooled. Once cool, it will solidify enough to cut into squares and the squares can be fried in butter to reheat and get crispy.
Chicken satay is one of those things I love to order in restaurants, but only recently started making at home. I think because the first time I had it, I was at a restaurant, and pretty young, late teens, and at the time it seemed really exotic and like something I could never replicate at home. But … I was dead wrong. Chicken satay is super easy to make at home and so is the peanut sauce that goes with it.
This recipe serves two as a main dish and can easily be doubled. All you need to add is a salad. Might I suggest this sesame quinoa salad? You can also serve it as an appetizer or party food. I think anything on a stick makes great party food. No plates!
I love roasting vegetables, especially crucifers like cauliflower and broccoli. If you know someone who is averse to these gamey vegetables, try roasting. When you roast them, or any vegetable, it removes some of the liquid, develops the natural sugars, and of course gets toasty brown bits which is always good when food is involved.
Cut the florets into approximately equal sizes. Slice stems appropriately.
Rub the sunflower butter into the crevices and crannies of the florets. Don’t be gentle. Really get them coated, then sprinkle with the crushed red pepper.
When they’re done, the broccoli is cooked but not soft. The sunflower butter is browned. There might be some burny-bits on your baking sheet. Scrape those off and sprinkle them on top. They’re crunchy and good and will make up for the fact that you’re gonna have to scrub-a-dub that baking sheet. Sorry! (Or I guess you can bake the broccoli on some parchment paper if you’re a lil smarter than me!)
DEWDS. I think I’m gettin’ chunky. Well, fine, I know I’ve gained some weight in the last two years. Whether that newly minted weight qualifies me as “chunky” or not, I do know for a fact that some of my dang old summer shorts don’t fit no more!
And, Hell! That ain’t right!
Sewww, that means more vegetables and lean protein for me. And less bread and sugar. And less alcohol. Mostly the alcohol. Oh the price we pay for beauty.
Anyway, for lunch the other day I pulled together this Thai red curry chicken salad with a buncha crisp vegetables, some coconut milk (I used full fat, because let’s be real…) and a spoonful of a homemade Thai red curry paste made by my brother and sister-in-law. I wrapped a few scoops of the chicken salad into fat Napa cabbage leaves and went to town. Meaning, I ate it at my desk while editing on the compooter with Mr. Banjo hounding me for a bite the entire time. A side of spicy kimchi and I was quite satisfied. Recipe below the fold…
My brother’s friend Cameron described to me a fantastical breakfast phenomenon he once imagined, called a “Breakfast Meatloaf”. I took on his dream as if it were my own and created this absolutely GD delicious breakfast meatloaf, using my maple-sage pork sausage recipe, combined with a goodly helping of vegetables, stuffed with hard boiled eggs, and drizzled with a spicy maple glaze. WHAT?
About a month ago, maybe a little longer, I got a care package in the mail from a couple in Vermont, Randy and Merrilou. I’ve never met this couple. They only know me through the show. They took it upon themselves to send me a Vermont care package, just because. It was extremely humbling. In the HUGE box, they stuffed 2 half-gallon jugs of maple syrup, 2 local microbrew beers to try, some King Arthur flour, a maple recipes booklet, some amazing maple butter (this was new to me, and it is FANTASTIC on toast, if you ever get a chance) and a maple syrup grading pack.
These raspberries look cute, but some more maple syrup drizzled on top would also look pretty cute.
Never in my life have I been in possession of so much maple syrup! It was exciting, but also, you know that feeling you get when you finally get your hands on a precious thing and part of you wants to just hide it and hoard it and never use it or let it see the light of day? That’s kind of how I felt about this maple syrup. I have a little bit of a complex about “expensive” things. But I gotta get over it.
I put three spoons out for kicks, but you and I both know this is a single serving, right?
The concept of maple ice cream existed in my head somewhere; I don’t know where I’d heard of it, I’d certainly never had it, but it seemed like one of those romatic things people in New England get to eat. But ice cream — real, egg custard-based ice cream — takes a little bit of time to make. And I ain’t got time for that! So I came up with this super-snappy maple frozen yogurt recipe and it is killer. Ever had Pinkberry? Well, this is like that, but naturally sweetened with pure maple syrup. The nonfat Greek yogurt keeps it fairly low in calories and adds that distinct tang; the heavy cream ensures some creaminess; the rum (or bourbon or orange liqueur) lowers the freezing point of the business to keep it scoopable when frozen. You could omit that if you’re against booze in frozen yogurt recipes. ‘Sup to you.
Now that it’s beginning to warm up, I’ve started thinking more about main dish salads, which I’ve said before are the perfect cure for the lazy cook. Quinoa salad is one of the greatest, in my opinion, because it have protein and carbohydrates built right in, then you just add whatever vegetables you want, any cheese or nuts or extra whatever, and blammo. Dinner is served. For the next week. Your ratio of cooking to eating has just drastically plummeted to almost zero!
This is what I talk about.
The last quinoa salad I made had a kind of Mexican twist, and it is damn good. But I wanted to make something different, something maybe Asian-y, plus I had these two shriveled eggplants in the fridge that needed to get cooked before they molded to the refrigerator shelf.
Maybe they don’t look SO bad…
So this is a little baba ganoush-y, a little sushi bar-y, and generally just really good. It keeps in the refrigerator (minus the almonds; add those right before serving to keep their crunch) for 5 days, hanging out and being yummy until you’re ready to eat it. I find a bowl of this salad fixes me up for an instant breakfast or lunch anytime.
Use toasted sesame oil for maximum sesame-ness
This is what it should look like: soft and black, like my heart?
2 small Japanese eggplants or one small globe (Italian) eggplant
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup diced cucumber
½ cup diced red, yellow, or orange bell pepper
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
½ teaspoon fresh grated ginger
½ teaspoon fresh grated garlic (or finely minced)
½ teaspoon brown sugar
¼ cup toasted, slivered almonds
Toasted sesame seeds (use white ones with red quinoa or black ones with white quinoa for a pretty color contrast)
Optional garnish: thinly sliced mango
Stem the eggplants and cut lengthwise. Brush cut surfaces with sesame oil and sprinkle with the salt. Broil for about 4 minutes, cut side up, just until beginning to brown. Turn and broil an additional 5 minutes. They should be very soft and roasted. Let cool.
Toss quinoa with other vegetables.
Cut eggplant into cubes (remove the peel first for a more delicate salad).
Whisk together dressing ingredients and pour over quinoa. Gently toss to mix. Add in eggplant last carefully so it doesn’t break up too much.
Garnish with almonds and sesame seeds right before serving to retain their crunch.
I create short-form, educational, and occasionally hilarious cooking videos geared towards beginner and intermediate cooks, as well as people who are just looking for simple, low-cost recipes. Everything is made from scratch, people!