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  • Red Risotto with Peppers


    Having done Chicken Cacciatore, one must serve over some form of starch. Pasta is traditional, but I do not feel like being traditional. A search for Italian rice dishes, yielded some interesting recipes for Arancini (Rice Balls), and they looked soo good, but not quite what I wanted, (but I WILL do them shortly) I found all kinds of risotto posts, but maybe, maybe not. Then I saw a post for a rice dish using red wine, and roasted red peppers. Quite an idea to play with, perhaps using my standard risotto, but red wine, and the roasted peppers.

    I have some broth / stock / almost gravy from a roast and I have a package of dried porcini, and I’ll steep them in just enough boiling water to cover for 20 minutes or until they’ve expanded. Drain them, reserving the liquid, and mince them. I’ll use the rehydrate as well. I’m looking for a lot of mushroom aroma, and the beef stock will add that umami mouth feel/taste.

    One can use a rich vegetable stock as well, for those with an aversion to meat or meat with dairy.

    Risotto is a class of Italian dishes of rice cooked in broth to a creamy consistency. The broth may be meat-, fish-, or vegetable-based. Many types of risotto contain Parmesan cheese, butter, and onion. It is one of the most common ways of cooking rice in Italy.

    Risotto is normally a primo (first course), served on its own before the main course, but risotto alla milanese, is often served together with ossobuco alla milanese.

    There are many different risotto recipes with different ingredients, but they are all based on rice of an appropriate variety cooked in a standard procedure.
    Grains of Arborio rice

    The rice is first cooked briefly in a soffritto of onion and butter or olive oil to coat each grain in a film of fat, this is called tostatura; white or red wine is added and has to be absorbed by the grains. When it has evaporated, the heat is raised to medium high and very hot stock is gradually added in small amounts while stirring gently, almost constantly: stirring loosens the starch molecules from the outside of the rice grains into the surrounding liquid, creating a smooth creamy-textured liquid. At that point it is taken off the heat for the mantecatura when diced cold butter and finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese are vigorously stirred in to make the texture as creamy and smooth as possible. It may be removed from the heat a few minutes earlier, and left to cook with its residual heat. Seafood risotti generally do not include cheese.

    Properly cooked risotto is rich and creamy but still with some resistance or bite: al dente, and with separate grains. The traditional texture is fairly fluid, or all’onda (“wavy, or flowing in waves”). It is served on flat dishes and it should easily spread out but not have excess watery liquid around the perimeter. It must be eaten at once as it continues to cook in its own heat and can become too dry with the grains too soft.

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  • Chicken Biryani

    In my last post I mentioned Biryani, it happens to be one of my favorite mid-easterd dishes. This is a simple chicken biryani, one can add all sorts of things, lamb, beef, etc, but for a basic fill your stomach meal, this is the one.


    Biryani is a set of rice-based foods made with spices, rice (usually basmati) and [[meat](chicken)]/vegetables. The name is derived from the Persian word beryā(n) which means “fried” or “roasted”.

    Biryani was brought to India and Pakistan by Persian travelers and merchants and local variants of this dish are not only popular in India and Pakistan but also in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and among Muslims in Sri Lanka.

    The spices and condiments used in biryani may include but are not limited to: ghee, peas, beans, cumin, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, bay leaves, coriander and mint leaves, ginger, onions, and garlic. The premium varieties include saffron. For a non-vegetarian biryani, the main ingredient that accompanies the spices is the meat—beef, chicken, goat, lamb, or shrimp. The dish may be served with dahi chutney or Raita, korma, curry, a sour dish of eggplant (brinjal) or a boiled egg.

    The difference between biryani and pullao is that while pullao may be made by cooking the items together, biryani is used to denote a dish where the rice is cooked separately from the other ingredients.

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  • Spicy Dahl


    Ok, it’s windy, chilly, nasty, threatening snow. Almost what you see in all the mountain movies about the Himalayas. Soo, hmm, Himalayas, gurka’s, Dal and rice…. But a soup, with Asian chicken stock, one can forgo the chicken stock and use vegetable stock for a vegetarian twist. But as always, we’ll look at some dried red peppers, or maybe serve with a hot pepper / vinegar finishing sauce on the side…


    Dahl bhat is a traditional South / Central Asian and staple dish which is essentially rice (bhat) and lentil soup (dal). This is a very common food in South Asian countries specially Nepal. In general eaten twice a day with another (usually spicy, maybe hot /sour) dish called tarkari which can be either vegetarian or non-vegetarian..

    The recipes vary by locality, ethnic group, family, as well as the season. Dal generally contains lentils (different types are used according to taste), tomatoes, onion, chili and ginger along with herbs and spices such as coriander, garam-masala and turmeric.

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  • Cajun Red Beans and Rice

    As the projects roll on, I need a dish that can cook without a lot of care, I also need a dish that will be hearty and tasty.

    Trolling the panty, I have some “Sangre de Toro”, A classic red bean of Mexico. Whether it’s New Orleans red beans and rice, chili or just a bowl of beans, I think Sangre de Toro (or “Bull’s Blood”) is a tremendous bean. Dense and meaty, it has a good pot liquor and can be used whenever red beans are called for.

    Red beans and rice is an emblematic dish of Louisiana Creole cuisine (not originally of Cajun cuisine) traditionally made on Mondays with red beans,[ vegetables (bell pepper, onion and celery), spices (thyme, cayenne pepper, and bay leaf) and pork bones as left over from Sunday dinner, cooked together slowly in a pot and served over rice. Meats such as ham, sausage (most commonly Andouille), and Tasso ham are also frequently used in the dish. The dish is customary – ham was traditionally a Sunday meal and Monday was washday. A pot of beans could sit on the stove and simmer while the women were busy scrubbing clothes. Similar dishes are common in Latin American cuisine, including moros y cristianos and gallo pinto.

    Red beans and rice is one of the few New Orleans style dishes to be commonly served both in people’s homes and in restaurants. Many neighborhood restaurants continue to offer it as a Monday lunch special, usually with a side order of either smoked sausage or a pork chop. While Monday washdays are largely a thing of the past, red beans remain a staple for large gatherings such as Super Bowl and Mardi Gras parties. Indeed, red beans and rice is very much part of the New Orleans identity. Jazz trumpeter and New Orleanian Louis Armstrong’s favorite food was red beans and rice – the musician would famously sign letters “Red Beans and Ricely Yours, Louis Armstrong”.

    I will break with tradition and use brisket rather than tasso (ham), as I have a half cut that should be used.

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  • Lentils Soup / Stew


    I’ve been recovering from the flu, by pushing on several projects for different clients and as such have not had a lot of time to cook or post. While at lunch yesterday, I happened into a local soup shop. The smells were incredible, but one emerged from the melange or aromas to peak my interest. Smooth, yet with a hint of exotic spice, I did spend some time tasting the various soups to find it was a thick lentil soup, almost a stew. The most amazing thing, no meat. While it was very good, I feel it could be outstanding with the use of homemade chicken ot beef stock..

    Lentils have a short cooking time and a distinctive earthy flavor, used in preparation of inexpensive and nutritious soups and stews all in almost all corners of the planet. They are frequently combined with rice, which has a similar cooking time. A lentil and rice dish is referred to in the Middle East as mujaddara or mejadra, they can be cooked together as khichdi, a popular Indian dish. Lentils are used throughout India, the Mediterranean regions and the Middle East.

    For many vegetarians, lentils have long been part of the diet as a common source of protein. Usually, lentils are boiled to a stew-like consistency with vegetables and then seasoned with a mixture of spices to make many side dishes such as sambar, rasam and dal, which are usually served over rice, or with flatbread.

    To prepare lentils, first one sorts them for damaged lentils, stones and such, rinses them until the water runs through and comes out clear, soak the lentils for an extended time and discard the water. The lentils are then boiled in water or broth. They may be cooked on the stovetop, or in a slow cooker. Cooked lentils will usually require thinning: adding more hot water or broth to the cooked legumes until the desired final consistency is reached.

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  • Fried Rice


    So we did Chinese food several nights ago, and as always we have little white boxes of rice drying out in the fridge. I really need to do something with these. There is too much for one person, but not enough to feed the lair. Perhaps lengthening with veggies and a hint of meat for flavor, and a quick stir fry in the wok.

    The real key to this dish is to fry the rice in the bacon fat. I had intended to use my Caramelized bacon in this dish, but it seems to have disappeared, along with a lot of toothpicks. So I’ll have to use regular bacon. This recipe comes to me from the Japanese American community. It is very simple Japanese / Asian soul food, and in being so simple, it is has a very complex taste. Really not something I’d care to try and describe, but the salt and smoke of the bacon, with the nuttiness from browning the rice, with the sharpness of the scallions and the bite of the chili, all backed by the texture, and culinary chameleoness of the mushrooms, make for a heavenly dish.

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