Risotto alla Funghi Porcini

This dish can be made with dried or fresh wild mushrooms, and the most common is Porcini mushrooms. However, I have made it with fresh morels, chanterelles and it is still wonderful.

If you are using dried mushrooms, then make sure you follow the instructions for reconstituting them and retain the water for mixing into the stock.

Ingredients 

4  to 6 cups of weak Beef or Vegetable Stock with water strained from dried mushrooms added, if available
3 Tbsp. Butter
2 Tbsp. Vegetable Oil, don’t use extra virgin olive oil, the flavor is too strong
2 cups Arborio Rice
3 Tbsp. finely chopped white Onion.
½ cup Parmesan Reggiano
¼ cup of dried reconstituted Mushrooms chopped or 1 cup of fresh wild mushrooms, loosely chopped.
Salt and pepper to taste

Note: Follow the directions on the package to reconstitute the mushrooms and save the water they soaked in and strain it and add to the stock.

Begin by melting 2 Tbsp. of the butter and all the oil in a heavy saucepan. Then sauté the onion until it becomes clear.

Using medium heat, add the rice and stirring constantly, sauté it for 1 min. until it is completely coated with the oil and butter mixture.

Using a ladle, start adding in the simmering stock, ½ to ¾ cup at a time. Stir constantly until the stock is absorbed and then add more. If you are using the dried reconstituted mushrooms, then add them in along with the salt and pepper after 10 min. and continue the cycle until the rice is soft but still “al dente” Normally about 20 minutes, maybe more depending on the rice and temperature.

If you are using fresh mushrooms, then add them in for the last 5 min., of cooking only.

Now, turn off the heat, add the rest of the butter and the Parmesan cheese and serve in individual shallow bowls and serve immediately. You may add additional cheese at the table.

Italian Sausage and Peppers

Since it\’s a bit cloudy today and cool, maybe an Italian sauce would be in order. This sauce is hearty, easy to make and really good for those autumn nights. I will often make this at least once a week, because it is quick and no drama after a long day at work. And…it is great the day after.


If pork doesn’t work for you, this can easily be made with Italian turkey sausage as well. Serve it with rigatoni and lots of Parmesan and/or Romano cheese.

Ingredients

2 lbs of Italian Sausage links, hot or mild, cut into 1-inch pieces.
2 28oz cans of diced or crushed Tomatoes; San Marzano’s are best.
4 Tbsp Garlic, mashed and roughly chopped.
1 Onion, chopped
1 Red Pepper, chopped
4 Anchovy fillets, finely chopped – optional
2 tsp Chili Flakes
2 tsp Sea Salt
1 tsp Freshly ground Black Pepper
½ cup Marsala wine
3 Tbsp Olive Oil
¼ tsp ground Nutmeg

Begin by browning of the sausage pieces in olive oil. Make sure they are cooked well, so the sauce will not be greasy. Then drain in a colander and set aside.

While the sausage is browning, heat your cast iron or heavy gauge sauce pan and add the 3 Tbsp of olive oil and then add the garlic, onions, chili flakes, anchovy filets (if desired) and peppers.

Cook until they are caramelized and soft. Add in your browned and drained sausage. Stir well and add the Marsala wine and cook until reduced slightly. Then add your tomatoes and nutmeg and simmer for 2-3 hours or as long as you like.

Stir occasionally, to keep it from sticking, and add water if it becomes too thick.

Serve with a hearty Italian red, like a Brunello

Meatloaf, Old Fashioned Goodness

As the weather starts to cool and evenings become crisp, I like a simple old-fashioned meatloaf.
This is real comfort food and when served with mashed potatoes and vegetable, it’s a well balanced meal. As an added benefit, this also makes wonderful sandwiches the day after.

Ingredients

2 lbs. of lean ground Beef
2 tbsp. Italian breadcrumbs
1 Egg, beaten
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp. Olive oil
1 small sautéed Onion
2 Tbsp. freshly chopped Parsley
1 Tsp. Salt
Fresh ground Black Pepper

Preheat oven to 325 degrees, and lightly coat the inside of a 9-inch loaf pan with a small amount of olive oil.

In a sauté pan, heat the olive oil and sauté the onion until just translucent.  Then add onion to beef with all of the other ingredients, and mix with your hands until mixed thoroughly.

Put into the loaf pan, and at this point you have the option to cover the top of the meatloaf with either ketchup or a mixture of apple sauce with 1 Tbsp of Dijon mustard.

Then put into the preheated oven and cook for 45 to 60 min. The loaf is done, when it separates from the side of the pan. Remove from the oven, and allow to cool slightly before attempting to cut.

The perfect Chili Paste to have with your dumplings.

This is so easy and you can make a fantastic chili paste that is healthy and free of any artificial ingredients. Most store bought brands have preservatives and chemicals. This one is just chili paste and nothing else.


This is a fiery chili paste, which was shared with me from my friends in New Delhi. It is wonderful and a must for chili and garlic lovers.
Ingredients

1 lb. Red Bullet Chilies (Ripe jalapenos), or other hot red chili
2.5  oz. fresh Garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
Juice of two Lemons
2 Tbsp. of Cider Vinegar
1 tsp Salt
1tsp Sugar – Optional
Grind everything together in a food processor and store in the refrigerator in a glass jar. It is better after aging for a few days to a week. It will keep for months.

Chinese Pan Fried Dumplings

I love making these, number one because they are so good and number two because it\’s fun. This would be a great weekend project for the kids.

This recipe is simple, but needs to be followed quite closely. Be sure to arrange all the ingredients, before you begin preparing the dish.


This should allow you to make 15 to 24 dumplings. You may freeze any leftovers that are uncooked, and the skins will keep well in the refrigerator or freezer.

Ingredients


Dumplings:
1 package of Dumpling Skins. Easily found at any Asian market.
½ cup each of fresh Bean Sprouts, Bamboo Shoots and Bok Choy. All finely chopped.
8 oz of Shrimp or Pork, or both, ground
1 inch piece of fresh Ginger, chopped very fine or grated.
½ tsp Sugar
1 Tbsp. Light Soy Sauce
1 Tbsp. Vegetable Oil
1 tsp. Corn Starch

Dipping Sauce:
4 Tbsp. Light Soy Sauce
3 tbsp. Rice Wine Vinegar
1 Tbsp finely chopped Green Onion
2 tsp. Toasted Sesame Oil
Chili Paste, optional

Begin by finely chopping all of the ingredients to stuff the dumplings. The ingredients must be finely chopped so they can cook properly.

Take a dumpling skin and lay it flat, then add about 1-1 1/2 tsp of filling, wet the edges of the skin with water and fold over, crimping with your finger. Set aside and continue. You may also use a dumpling press, which is easy to find at any Asian market. Make as many as you want, as they freeze very well.

After the dumplings are stuffed, heat a non-stick pan with the oil and then add the dumplings to the hot oil, with their flat side down. Put as many in as will fit, leaving a little room for expansion. Brown the bottoms over medium heat, being sure not to burn them. Then carefully pour in 3 to 4 Tbsp. of water, quickly cover and cook on medium/low heat for at least 15 min., or until all the water is absorbed.

Remove carefully and serve with the dipping sauce and hot chili paste if desired.

Makes 15 to 25 dumplings

Moroccan Chicken with Onions and Honey

This is a very favorite dish of mine, which I found in Claudia Roden’s wonderful book, “Arabesque”. It is pure Moroccan simplicity which blends the ingredients to create an end result which is much more than the sum of its parts.  This dish never fails to impress and it makes the entire house smell wonderful and cozy.

Ingredients

1 lb of Shallots or baby Onions. The frozen baby onions work very well, and save you a lot of prep time.
1 Onion, chopped
½ tsp Saffron
1 tsp ground Ginger
½ tsp ground Cinnamon
8 Chicken Thighs, skinless, with bone in
1 ½ Tbsp Honey
4 oz blanched Almonds
Salt and Black Pepper
4 Tbsp Vegetable Oil


Heat the oil in a sturdy iron casserole pot, which has a top, and then sauté chopped onion until it is translucent. Stir in the saffron, ginger and cinnamon. Then add in the chicken, salt and pepper and coat well with the mixture. Allow it to cook slightly but watch it carefully that is doesn’t burn.

Add in one cup of water, the shallot/baby onions, stir and allow to cook covered for 40 minutes.

Remove the chicken pieces and set aside. Add in the honey and add a decent amount of additional black pepper and cook until the water is gone and the mixture is thick and caramelized. Then add back the chicken pieces, cover with the sauce, sprinkle on the almonds and serve with couscous.

Serve with a dry Sancerre or Chablis.

Fettuccine with Chicken Florentine

Florentine means to be served with spinach, and its name would imply that it’s from Florence, yet I’ve never seen it in any restaurant in my travels in Italy.


I would guess it is a variation on Fettuccine Alfredo, which is a wonderful dish. I like the freshness of the spinach and feel it adds an interesting contrast to the cream.

This perfectly blends the cream, butter and freshness of the spinach to create a wonderful meal.


Ingredients

2 Chicken Breasts, boneless
2 cups of loosely torn fresh Spinach
8 oz of Heavy Cream
2 Tbsp Butter
1 green onion finely chopped
Parmesan Cheese
1/2 lb Fettuccine

Prepare the fettuccine as directed, but make sure it’s leaning towards very al dente. Drain pasta add a little butter, mix and set aside.

Melt the butter in a large sauté pan and when hot, add the chicken and green onions and sauté until almost done. Add the spinach and wilt it for a few minutes and then add cream and bring to a boil until it thickens.

Add in the cooked fettuccine, Parmesan cheese. Toss thoroughly and serve immediately.

This would be perfect served with a Sauvignon Blanc.
Prep Time: 20 Minutes

Import Food – Great Source for Thai and Asian Groceries

I love this website. They are a great source for Thai and other Asian groceries and the most amazing thing is they have videos of the food being prepared on the street by vendors in Thailand. How cool is that?

If you sign up on their site, they will send you occasional emails with the links. Here is my most recent one. Enjoy!

Here\’s a Thai recipe you thought you had to go to Thailand to enjoy, not seen in local restaurants. Chicken in Pandan Leaves. We show how to fold the leaves, steam and cook the chicken, and the succulent dipping sauce.

Come see it all at this link:
http://importfood.com/current091311.html

Street Vendor Video:
Gai Haw Bai Toey

http://importfood.com/current091311.html

Perfect Roasted Chicken

This could not be easier and you will have perfect chicken every time. The key is to not overcook the breasts and make sure you tent them after roasting to maintain the moisture.


Ingredients

6 Chicken Breasts with skin on and bone in
5 stalks of Celery, sliced in half
½ bunch of Italian Parsley
1 Onion sliced thinly. I find a mandoline makes this simple.
1 Lemon
Fresh Tarragon
4 Bay Leaves
Salt and Pepper
Olive Oil

Arrange the celery on a foil lined baking sheet, and then lie on the onions, tarragon, parsley and bay leaves.

Lay the chicken on top of the mixture and squeeze the juice of the lemon over the breast and on both sides. Pour on a small amount of olive oil, then salt and pepper well and cook skin side up in a preheated 375 degree oven for 45 minutes.

Remove and tent for at least 15 minutes and serve. Or if using the chicken for another dish, allow to cool and remove from bone and prepare as needed. I find that these will store for three days in the refrigerator without any ill effects.

Szechwan Chicken

This is a wonderful spicy dish and tastes better than much of the Chinese you order in. The key is to have everything prepared prior to starting, as once you start the cooking there is no time to be chasing down ingredients.


Ingredients 

4 boneless Chicken Breasts, cut into ½ inch cubes

Sauce for chicken:

2 Tbsp Light Soy Sauce
1 Tbsp Dry Sherry
2 Tbsp Cornstarch

Sauce to finish dish:

2 Tbsp Dry Sherry
1 Tbsp Brown Sugar
1 Tbsp Toasted Sesame Oil
2 Tbsp Dark Soy Sauce
2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 Tbsp Water
1 Tbsp Cornstarch
1 Tbsp Chili and Garlic Paste, Red Rooster is best.
2 Tbsp Vegetable Oil

Garnish:
1 Red Pepper, chopped into 1 inch pieces
½ cup Green Onion, chopped
½ Cup Peanuts, optional


Take cubed chicken breasts and mix with first sauce, and put in refrigerator.

Combine the finishing sauce and set aside. Chop up the green onions, red pepper and prepare peanuts.

Heat your pan until very hot, then add vegetable oil and heat until just starting to smoke. Carefully add chicken mixture, stir and cook for approx 2 minutes, add the red pepper and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes or until cooked through, but not overcooked.

Then add finishing sauce and cook until it thickens. This will be maybe 1-2 minutes max. Then toss with green onions and peanuts, if desired and serve immediately.