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Showing posts with label rice. Show all posts
Showing posts with label rice. Show all posts

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Risotto with Toasted, Crushed Hazelnuts - a Perfect Thanksgiving Side Dish

For Thanksgiving we have a menu we love. Roast turkey, corn bread stuffing with Italian sausage, shiitake mushrooms and Turkish apricots, baked sweet potatoes with butter, cranberry sauce, roasted Brussels sprouts and sautéed string beans with garlic-toasted almonds.

Since I started doing travel writing, I like to include one dish I've learned to make on a trip. Last year, I made Moroccan style pickled vegetables to go with the Kosher dill pickles I've made for years. This year I am going to make risotto with hazelnuts.
On a month long trip in Switzerland, I enjoyed dozens of meals. Since I was researching local Swiss wines, those meals were wine-paired. Needless to say, I had a very good time. At one of the first stops on the trip, our group of six journalists was treated to a dinner at the chef's table at restaurant Le Mont Blanc at Le Crans in Crans-Montana, Switzerland. One of our group was a vegetarian. We always envied her meals, especially that night when she was served risotto with hazelnuts.

That dish made an impression. So, last night I made risotto and hazelnuts. The combination of creamy rice and crunchy nuts is hard to beat. I'm thinking it would be a great Thanksgiving side dish.

Herb Scented Risotto with Toasted, Crushed Hazelnuts

Last night's risotto was made with vegetable stock. Any stock would add to the flavors of the rice, but whatever kind of stock you use, it would improve the dish if you use homemade not store-bought stock. The salt content of processed stock is very high and the flavor is, well, not that great, in my opinion. Making stock is not difficult. Stock freezes so easily if kept in an air-tight container. It will keep for months with no lessening of flavor.

The recipe can be entirely vegetarian or can be adjusted to include meat, poultry and seafood. Adding more vegetables and protein will turn this side dish into an entrée.

If whole, toasted hazelnuts with the skins removed are not available, find whole, raw hazelnuts. Roast in a toaster oven set at 350 F for five minutes. Remove when hot and wrap in a cotton towel. Rub with your hands. The skins will come off. To crush then, place the roasted hazelnuts on a cutting board and press down on the nuts with the flat side of a chefs knife. That will crush them. Use the cutting edge of the knife to more finely chop the nuts. Reserve.

Serves 4

Ingredients

2 cups risotto
4 cups homemade stock (vegetable, chicken, duck, beef, pork or shellfish)
2 cups leafy green (black kale, spinach, Italian parsley) washed, stems removed, finely chopped
1 cup yellow onion, washed, peeled, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, skins and root end removed, finely chopped
5 brown or shiitake mushrooms, washed, pat dried, thinly sliced
1/2 cup whole hazelnuts, toasted, skins removed, crushed
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon sweet butter (optional)
2 cups freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

Directions

Heat a large frying pan with half a tablespoon of olive oil. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Add the leafy greens, onion and garlic. Sauté until lightly browned. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Add the rest of the olive oil and heat over a medium-low flame. Add the risotto and sauté for 3-5 minutes until the rice is translucent. Add back the sautéed vegetables and stir well.

Add half a cup stock, stir well and let the rice absorb the liquid. Add a half of cup of stock as the liquid disappears. Continue stirring and adding stock until the rice is al dente. If you run out of stock, a little bit of water can be used.

Finish the risotto with a tablespoon of sweet butter and adjust the seasoning with sea salt and black pepper.

Top with the crushed hazelnuts. Serve with grated Parmesan or Romano cheese on the side.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Bacon Braised Chicken

Braising is a perfect one-pot, cold weather cooking technique that doesn't take much effort. The resulting meat is fall-off the bone tender. Adding fresh vegetables and herbs completes the dish.

As the braise simmers, the kitchen fills with a warming sweetness, further helping to banish the cold.
Using bacon with it's smoky flavor and good fat content adds even more flavor to the succulent chicken.

For Zesterdaily, I wrote a recipe for Bacon Braised Chicken that is perfect any time of the year, but especially on those cold and damp days when nothing gets you warm.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Tempura Vegetables and Shrimp Congee

Congee is rice served "wet" in a broth with vegetables, tofu, meat, seafood, or poultry.

Congee is the Asian equivalent of Jewish chicken soup, perfect when the weather is cold and damp or you're fighting off a cold.  Served in a variety of ways, depending on the country of origin or what's in season, the basic dish is made with cooked rice, a liquid, and flavorings.
You'll find dozens of authentic, regional recipes in cookbooks and online, but in our kitchen "congee" is another way of saying repurposed deliciousness.

Whatever we don't eat at a Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, or Thai restaurant we bring home. Invariably, a container of rice is included along with the kung pao chicken, tempera shrimp and vegetables, stir fried beef with broccoli, or sweet and sour pork that we couldn't finish. 

Reheating these dishes at home is one option, but transforming them into congee is better.  For example, converting vegetable and shrimp tempura into an aromatic, deeply satisfying and delicious congee is one way this simple technique can turn left-overs into the best comfort food you've ever eaten. 

Tempura Vegetable and Shrimp Congee

Serves 2

Time 30 minutes

Ingredients

2 tempura shrimp, tail removed
4-6 pieces tempura vegetables
1 cup cooked rice
1 garlic clove, skin removed, finely chopped
4 cups spinach leaves, washed to remove grit, stems and leaves finely chopped
4 shiitake mushrooms, washed, tips of the stems removed, thinly sliced
1/2 cup corn kernels, fresh or from a can
2 cups water or miso soup or a combination of both
1 tablespoon olive or sesame oil
Sea salt and pepper to taste

Method

Cut the shrimp and tempura vegetables into bite-sized pieces and set aside.  Saute on a medium-low flame the garlic, shiitake mushrooms, and corn kernels until lightly browned. 

Add the cut up spinach and water or a mix of miso soup and water. Raise the flame and simmer 10 minutes.

Add the cut up tempura vegetables and shrimp to the broth. Stir well and simmer 10 minutes.

Add the cooked rice, stir well and simmer a final 5 minutes.


Serve hot.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Risotto with Farmers' Market Fresh Squash Blossoms and Baby Zucchini

Risotto scared me at first. My son Franklin brought a box home from a trip to Italy and it sat in the pantry for years. I had the same fear of risotto I had about cooking a duck. Both seemed to require a skill set that was beyond me.

After much hesitation, I finally took the plunge and you know what I discovered, making risotto is easy, requiring only a little more skill than making pasta.

In fact, think of risotto and pasta as two sisters. The key to both is what goes on top.

Just about everything you like with pasta will work with risotto. Most vegetables, meat, poultry, seafood, and fresh herbs if sauteed first can be added to risotto just the way you'd add them to cooked pasta. And both like a bit of freshly grated cheese on top.

This past Sunday at the Pacific Palisades Farmers' Market, I could have chosen any number of fresh vegetables to use for the risotto: corn, tomatoes, asparagus, peppers--red, yellow, orange, or green--carrots, onions, Italian parsley, kale, or spinach. I settled on squash blossoms with baby zucchini because one of my favorite farmers, John Sweredoski insisted that I had to get them, they were that fresh, that good.

He was right.

Risotto with Farmers' Market Fresh Squash Blossoms and Baby Zucchini

Yield 4 servings

Time 30 minutes

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups Arborio, Carnaroli, or Vialone Nano rice
10 squash blossoms
6 baby zucchinis, washed, ends trimmed, cut into thin rounds
4 garlic cloves, peeled, finely chopped
6 shiitake or brown mushrooms, washed, thinly sliced and roughly chopped
1/2 yellow onion, peeled, finely chopped
4 cups broth, vegetable, chicken, or beef, preferably home made
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon sweet butter
Sea salt and pepper

Method

Slice open each squash blossom. Cut off the stem and pistil and discard. Flatten the blossoms on a cutting board and cut length-wise into thin strips. In a large saute pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil and saute all the vegetables until lightly browned. Remove and set aside.

In the same pan add the other tablespoon of olive oil. Season with sea salt and pepper. Add the risotto and saute on a medium flame, turning frequently, until the grains start to be translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add 1/2 cup of broth, deglazing the pan and stirring the grains with the liquid until the broth is absorbed. Continue adding the broth, 1/2 cup at a time, allowing the rice to absorb the liquid. Keep stirring.

After 10 minutes, add back the sauteed vegetables and mix together with the rice.

After another 5 minutes, add the butter and stir well, continuing to add 1/2 cup of broth at a time. Season with sea salt and pepper. From this point on, start tasting the rice.

When the risotto is done to your taste, Make sure you have enough liquid because a good risotto has a nice amount of gravy.

Serve immediately because the rice will continue to absorb the liquid even after you've taken the pan off the burner. Sprinkle freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese on top.

Variations

Add a roasted tomato, skin removed, roughly torn apart, with its juice

Saute the kernels from one ear of corn with the other vegetables

Saute 1/2 cup finely chopped Italian parsley with the other vegetables

Add 1/2 cup sauteed diced sausage pieces

Add 2 pounds fresh butter clams, cooked in 1/4 cup water for 5 minutes covered over high heat, add the opened clams and broth at the same time you return the sauteed vegetables to the pan

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Summer Vegetable Risotto

With summer vegetables appearing in the farmers' markets, a vegetable risotto is a perfect way to feature the bounty of the garden.

This past Sunday at the Palisades Farmers' Market, we picked up several ears of fresh corn and some baby zucchini. We also bought carrots, spinach, Italian parsley, scallions, green garlic, squash, asparagus, English peas, spinach, and broccoli, any of which would be good in the risotto.

To make risotto requires a variety of rice--Carnaroli, Violone or Arborio-- with a high starch content, the source of risotto's distinctive creamy quality.

For the liquid, you have a lot of choices: vegetable, chicken, meat, or fish stock, wine, even water with a pat of butter added for flavor. You'll achieve the best results if you use homemade stock with its fresher taste and lower sodium content.

Risotto likes a steady hand, stirring frequently for 18-20 minutes. Because the rice both releases starches into and absorbs the stock, there is a window of a few minutes when the rice is simultaneously al dente and the broth creamy. Past that point, the grains bond together, becoming gummy like porridge, which still tastes good but isn't risotto.

Those last moments are crucial and the rice wants all your attention. Whatever you want to add to the risotto should either cook in a few minutes like spinach or be prepared ahead and added in those last moments.

Serve immediately because the rice will keep absorbing the broth even after you've removed the risotto from the stove.

Risotto with Farmers' Market Fresh Vegetables

Yield: 4 servings
Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients

1 large tomato, washed
1 small yellow onion, peeled, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled, finely chopped
1 ear of corn, shucked, kernels removed
4 baby zucchini, washed, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups risotto
3 1/2 cups homemade stock, vegetable, chicken, fish, meat, or wine
2 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt and pepper
1 teaspoon sweet butter (optional)

Method

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut out the stem part of the tomato. Put the tomato on an aluminum foil covered cookie sheet, drizzle with olive oil and roast for 30 minutes. Remove, let cool to the touch, peel off the skin and discard, tear apart and reserve the pulp and juice in a bowl. The tomato can be roasted ahead and frozen. That way it is ready and waiting whenever you need it to spice up a sauce or stew or, in this case, a risotto.

Drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil into a frying pan. On a medium flame, saute the onions, garlic, and corn kernels until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Remove and set aside.

Drizzle the 2nd tablespoon of olive oil in the pan, season with sea salt and pepper, add the rice, stir and cook for 2 minutes, then add 1/2 cup of stock. The stock will deglaze the pan, adding the caramelized flavors of the vegetables to the rice.

Continue stirring. Add another 1/2 cup of stock as the rice absorbs the stock. Continue adding a 1/2 cup of stock at a time, stirring, and adding more stock. Do this for 18-20 minutes until the rice is al dente.

When the rice is almost cooked, add back the sauteed vegetables and roasted tomato pulp. Stir well, taste and adjust the seasoning with sea salt and pepper, a drizzle of olive oil or a pat of butter.

Serve with grated Parmesan or Romano cheese.

Variations

To the saute add 4 mushrooms, brown or shiitake, washed, dried, thinly sliced

To the saute add 1/2 cup finely chopped Italian parsley leaves

Add 1 cup grilled chicken breast, cut into small pieces

Add 1 cup asparagus cut into 1/2" pieces to the saute

Add 1 cup grilled Italian sausage, cut into small pieces

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

An Oklahoma Road Trip: Chicken Soup and Apple Pie

On a trip through Oklahoma, I was reminded again how deliciously satisfying homemade food can be in restaurants off the beaten path.

We had traveled north from Tulsa, stopping in Pawhuska to visit Ryan Red Corn whose t-shirt company Demockratees is an internet sensation.

Ryan's politically savvy t-shirt designs speak to his reaction to the Bush administration's policies. With Barack Obama's election, Ryan has the opportunity to use his considerable talent to create more inspirational designs.

For breakfast Ryan and his dad, Raymond, took us to a local institution, Sally's Cafe. With a long counter out front and an over-sized table behind the kitchen, Sally's is an authentic diner from the 1930's.

Sitting at a table in the back where Sally was making pies, we had a country breakfast that was as good as it gets; farm fresh eggs, potatoes browned in butter, and home cured ham that was a perfect balance of sweet and salty. For dessert we had a piece of Sally's fresh apple pie, the crust perfectly flaky, the apples soft and tart with just a hint of cinnamon.

Heading south-west, we drove to Pawnee on our way back to Tulsa, passing through countryside that varied from open pasture land to starkly beautiful, wooded hill country. After the long drive we were definitely ready for a big lunch.

Just off Highway 64 in Pawnee, we stopped at Click's Steakhouse. Soup and salad were included in the lunch specials. Everything we ordered (steak, baked potatoes, fried okra, and a hamburger steak) was good, but the homemade soup revived us after so many hours on the road. I couldn't get Click's recipe so I'm offering up my own that adheres to Click's reliance on fresh ingredients.

Chicken Soup With Mushrooms & Rice

Yield: 4 servings
Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

6 cups chicken stock (preferably homemade)
1/2 cup cooked rice (wild, Japanese, or Chinese)
1/2 cup brown mushrooms (washed, thinly sliced)
1/2 cup cooked chicken breast (shredded into bite sized pieces)
1/4 cup celery (washed, finely diced)
1/4 cup yellow onion (washed, peeled, finely diced)
1 tablespoon Italian parsley (washed, leaves only, finely chopped)
1 teaspoon olive oil
Sea salt and pepper

Method

Heat the olive oil and lightly brown the mushrooms, celery, onions, and parsley. Add the chicken breast and stock. Simmer for 15 minutes, taste and adjust the seasoning with sea salt and pepper.

Before serving, add the rice and simmer for 10 minutes. Serve with bread, rolls, or croutons.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Loteria! Grill Hollywood

Growing up in LA, you eat a lot of Mexican food. For the most part the standard fare of tacos, enchiladas, burritos, tostadas, toquitos, and quesadillas are enjoyable but not always memorable.

Once in awhile there's a standout. When I first ate at the Loteria! Grill, the mole was a revelation.

Just about everyone we know has eaten at the original Loteria! Grill at the Farmers Market. Located in the geographic center of the Market, there is always a line waiting to order. The lunch time crowd tends to be tourists and people who work in the area. At night families have dinner before they go to the multiplex at the Grove.

For Jimmy Shaw, the chef-owner, Loteria! Grill is a passion project. Born into a family of cooks, trained by his mother in their Mexico City home, Jimmy opened the Grill because so many of his friends missed the taste of authentic Mexican food. An instant success, the Farmers' Market Loteria! Grill was the talk of LA.

Looking to the east Jimmy has opened Loteria! Grill Hollywood, a restaurant-bar in the heart of Hollywood (6627 Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood 90028, 323/465-2500) next door to Geisha House.

With an open space and high ceiling, the interior has the feeling of a modern cantina. Jimmy held onto the favorites from the Farmers' Market menu: his incomparable mole sauce, the comforting tortilla soup, the perfectly seasoned black beans...

There are so many great dishes, a first-timer can get an overview by circumnavigating the menu with the Probaditas Sampler and its dozen mini tacos on hand-made tortillas. Sit at the bar, order an ice cold margarita, and you'll be happy for the rest of the evening.

We were part of a lucky group invited to a preview dinner. Served practically every dish on the menu, our favorites were the Mole Poblano con Pollo (of course), the Sopa de Tortilla (ditto), the Champinones con Epazote (mushrooms with Eeazote), the Albondigas En Chipotle (meatballs in a tomato and chipolte Sauce), the Enchiladas de Mole (with chicken), the Summer Salad, the Guacamole y Chips, the Aguas Frescas (watermelon, lemonade, horchata)... I'm probably giving away the fact that we enjoyed every dish.

Jimmy was so generous in letting us sample the menu that we found ourselves with food to spare. Not one to waste food I braved the embarrassment of carrying out to-go containers and took home some of the Carnitas en salsa Morita (pork in a spicy sauce), the black beans, and rice. The next day I was happy to have such terrific ingredients and made a delicious soup. Our friends Ron and Annette came over for our weekly Sunday dinner and we served the soup as the main course. We raised our glasses to toast Jimmy Shaw, to thank his mother for teaching him how to cook, and to our returning to Loteria! Grill Hollywood.

Black Beans, Farmers' Market Vegetables, and Spicy Pork Soup

Yield: 4 servings

Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

1 cup cooked black beans
1 cup cooked pork
1 small onion, washed, peeled, finely chopped
1 slice of bacon, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled, finely chopped
1 ear of corn, washed, kernels cut off the cob
1 carrot, washed, peeled, finely chopped
1/2 cup Italian parsley, washed, leaves only, finely chopped
4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 cup cooked rice
Olive oil
Pepper

Method

In a large sauce pan sauté the onions, garlic, bacon, corn, carrots, and parsley in the olive oil until lightly browned. Shred the meat and add to the sauté. If you are using pork, chicken, or beef that is already seasoned, then you may not need to add any heat. Taste and add Tabasco or taco sauce as needed.

Add the black beans and chicken stock. Simmer for 30 minutes. Just before serving reheat the rice in a microwave oven. Put 1/4 cup of rice in the bottom of each soup bowl, then ladle in the hot soup.

Variations

For a vegetarian version, don't use the meat, bacon, or chicken stock (use 4 cups water + 1 tablespoon butter instead).

Use cilantro instead of Italian parsley

Substitute cooked chicken or beef for the pork

Add 3 cups of spinach leaves (washed, stems removed, roughly chopped) to the sauté

Add 1 cup chopped raw shrimp (washed, deveined) to the sauté

Add 1 cup grilled sausage rounds

Top with homemade croutons and shredded cheddar cheese when serving

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Dim Sum at Din Tai Fung and Ginger Chicken with Sushi Rice at Home

Today started out as a really bad day. I had an important business meeting, but it...canceled. I was supposed to meet a friend for lunch, but he...rescheduled. A day that looked incredibly full was now...completely empty.

I checked the TiVo in the bedroom and watched the Chocolate Battle on Iron Chef America (Bobby Flay v. Graham Bowles). Since I had nothing better to do, it seemed as if it was time to finally clean off my desk. That's when I found a review I'd cut out from the Los Angeles Times by Susan LaTempa about Din Tai Fung, in Arcadia. She made their dumplings sound amazing, but Arcadia?

That's miles away from where we live. Besides which, how accurate a review is depends on the taste of the writer. I hadn't read her reviews before, so she was an unknown quantity. But I love dumplings and, if they were as good as she said they were, maybe it was worth the drive.

From where we live near the beach in Pacific Palisades, Arcadia is on the far, eastern edge of LA, a good 40+ miles by freeway, taking me east across the LA Basin, north through Downtown, then across Pasadena, and finally east again into the San Gabriel Valley.

The review had predicted there'd be a long line out in front. She was certainly accurate about that. I joined the queue and waited 45 minutes before I got a table. With some friendly advice from the waitress and guided by the review, I spent the next hour enjoying the highlights of the menu: a mound of sautéed garlic-string beans, 10 pork/crab dim dumplings, a large steamer filled with pork shumai topped with whole shrimp, and stir fried noodles with shrimp and spinach. One of the condiments that came with the lunch was a small bowl of finely shredded fresh ginger. Adding soy sauce into the bowl with the ginger made a dipping sauce that added the right amount of edge to the sweet dumplings.

Susan LaTempa's review accurately reported about the special qualities of dishes like the pork/crab dumplings: usually a Chinese dumpling has a stuffing of meat and some vegetables, but here the dumplings had an added "spoonful of fragrant broth in each".

Happily, the meal put me in a very different frame of mind. More than an enjoyable lunch, Din Tai Fung's dumplings made me want to go home and cook. The julienned ginger and soy sauce combination had given me an idea.

Passing through Downtown, I made a quick stop in Chinatown to pick up ingredients. An odd fact about Chinatown is that virtually all the large Chinese supermarkets are gone. What's left are mom-and-pop style stores like the Far East Supermarket at 758 new High Street. Although small, the market has a good collection of Chinese vegetables, fresh fish, and meats. I decided on deboned chicken legs, a nice piece of fresh ginger, baby bok choy, and some shiitake mushrooms.

Ginger Chicken with Italian Sausage and Bok Choy

You can use breast meat, but dark meat holds up better and won't dry out as easily. Asian markets sell deboned leg meat very inexpensively. If you're buying chicken legs from the local supermarket, cutting the meat off the bone isn't difficult. Combining the chicken and Italian sausage with the ginger and soy sauce puts an edge on the sweet and savory meats. You can serve plain, steamed rice, but using sushi rice adds another layer of tartness. The generous amount of broth holds all the flavors together.

Yield: 4 servings

Time: 60 minutes.

Ingredients

2 pounds deboned, skinned, chicken leg meat, washed, cut into 1" pieces
4 garlic cloves, peeled, finely chopped
1" piece of ginger, peeled, julienned
2 Italian sweet sausages, cut into 1" rounds
1 bunch baby bok choy, ends trimmed, quartered length-wise
6 shiitake mushrooms, washed, thinly sliced
2 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 cups Japanese rice
2 ½ cups water
2 tablespoons Japanese rice vinegar
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper

Method

In a wok or chef's pan, brown the sausage rounds in the olive oil then remove, drain on a paper towel, and set aside. Sauté the chicken meat, shiitake mushrooms, ginger, and garlic until lightly browned. Add the chicken stock, soy sauce, and the sausage. Simmer for 20 minutes, then add the bok choy, lightly cover with a sheet of tin foil, and simmer for another 15 minutes.

Making the rice: I have to confess I have used a rice cooker for so many years, I couldn't begin to tell you how to make Japanese rice without it. With the rice cooker, add the rice and water, cover, push the button, wait for the button to pop up, use chop sticks to fluff the rice, put the cover back on, and leave alone for 5 minutes. Put the cooked rice into a large metal bowl, add the Japanese rice vinegar and sugar and toss well. Cover the rice to keep it hot.

Put a large spoonful of the sushi rice in the middle of a bowl. Ladle the chicken, sausage, and bok choy with plenty of liquid over the rice.