Friday, August 29, 2008

Black Truffle Risotto

After making dinner the other night, I had some black truffles and black truffle cream leftover, so I went with my old standby - risotto. Jon grilled filet mignon and I sauteed spinach to go with it. In my eyes the risotto is the main dish in this meal...steak and spinach were simply sides!

I have a bunch of risotto recipes in my blog. Just click on the tag to the left to see them. I have used black truffle oil before, but never the real thing.

This is my basic risotto recipe with the addition of black truffle cream and black truffles

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 c arborio rice
  • 1/4 c dry white wine
  • 5 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth for a vegetarian version)
  • 1 tbsp black truffle cream (or chopped black truffles)
  • 2 tbsp Parmesan cheese
  • Optional: chopped parsley for some color
  • Chopped/sliced black truffles for garnish


  • Heat olive oil and butter in a large saute pan
  • Add shallots and garlic; stir until tender, about 2 minutes.
  • Add arborio rice and stir until coated
  • Add the white wine and stir until absorbed
  • Add the chicken broth, one ladle at a time, stirring constantly. Add more broth only when all of the broth in the pan has been absorbed by the rice. This entire process takes anywhere from 17 to 25 minutes.
  • About 1/2 to 3/4 of the way through, stir in the black truffle cream and parsley.
  • When you add your final ladle of broth, add the cheese.
  • Serve immediately topped with the chopped or sliced black truffles.

If you purchase a good black truffle oil, you should be able to get pretty good flavor in your dishes. But nothing compares to using the real thing (ok, maybe it would have been better if I had a huge hunk of truffle to shave on top of it, but you get my point).

Enjoy the long weekend! We are off to Vegas so I'll have some restaurant and wine reviews when we return.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Black Truffle Heaven.... Chicken and Linguine in a Black Truffle Cream Sauce

When I was 23, about a year into my first real job, I was at a meeting in Los Angeles. A colleague and I decided to go to Spago in Beverly Hills for dinner. I looked at the menu and wanted to order the risotto, but couldn't picture chocolate in the risotto as the description said that it included black truffles. (stop laughing!!! I have come a long way since that night!!). Yes, I really thought they meant the chocolate type of truffle, not the incredibly amazing and expensive mushroom type. After hearing the explanation from our waiter, and after being extremely embarrassed by the shock on his face, I ordered the risotto and my life was changed forever.

Ten years later, I now adore truffles and will order the dish on the menu containing truffles whenever possible. My dream is to purchase a truffle from our local Wegman's, but at $600 a pound, I need to come up with about 20 recipes to make to justify the cost!!

My sister knows of my love and brought me back a jar of truffles from Spain this past winter.

So for the past several months I have been trying to think of what else to do with them besides using them in risotto. There aren't many recipes using truffles out there!! Then in July I had a dinner meeting at
Ounce Prime Steakhouse in Dallas. One of our sides was a pan seared gnocchi in a black truffle sauce. As soon as I tasted it, I knew that my jar of black truffles would soon become sauce. The chef was nice enough to share the basic recipe with me - deglaze pan with white wine, add cream and simmer, add black truffles and simmer.

Here is where I took that recipe.. but first, look at these beauties on my cutting board:

Chicken in a Black Truffle Cream Sauce over Linguine

Ingredients for the sauce (this made enough for 6-8 servings)

  • 1 small shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 small cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1/3 c dry white wine
  • 1 1/2 c light cream (heavy would also work)
  • 2 tbsp chopped black truffles; I also added 1 tsp of black truffle cream my friend Stasia gave me for my birthday
  • Salt and pepper to taste

All other ingredients

  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed
  • Dried thyme
  • Paprika, salt, pepper
  • Flour
  • Olive oil and butter
  • Linguine


  • Heat olive oil and butter in a saute pan
  • Sprinkle chicken with thyme, paprika, salt, pepper. I also seasoned the flour with the same.
  • Lightly coat chicken with the flour mixture and add to pan. Turn heat to medium and cook for about 15 minutes, turning occasionally. If at this point your chicken isn't done, transfer to a baking dish and finish cooking in the oven.
  • In the meantime, cook linguine in pot with olive oil and salt. When pasta is done, pour some olive oil over it to keep it from sticking (we timed it perfectly so everything was done at the exact same time)
  • Add shallots and garlic to the pan the chicken cooked in; saute 1-2 min.
  • Deglaze pan with white wine and let simmer about 3-4 minutes.
  • Add cream and bring to a simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Stir in chopped truffles (and truffle cream) and let simmer another 10 minutes.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper.

The chef at the restaurant told me to strain the sauce before serving. Why would I want to discard all of those truffles!!? The pieces were so tiny and we all loved them being in the sauce.

To plate - Put linguine on a plate. Slice chicken and put it on top of the linguine. Spoon as much sauce as you want over the chicken and pasta. Top with a nice slice or two of black truffle. The finished product -

My parents were here for dinner and my mom was nervous that she wouldn't like this (not a fan of strong mushrooms), but she loved it! Yes truffles are mushrooms, but they don't have the same woody flavor as other mushrooms. They taste earthy and complex, but not in an overpowering way at all.

To my sister - thank you SO much for bringing me those truffles!!! I called her after dinner to tell her just that. And since Stasia bought the truffle cream locally, I'm happy to know that I can easily get my hands on some!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Chicken Cacciatore

Some memories come back to you by something you hear, like a song or an accent from someone talking nearby. Others by a certain scent - cologne, a flower, the smell of a school book. And others by the memory of a taste.

My grandmom on my mom's side made the best homemade sauce (yes, it's sauce, not gravy, in my family). She would cook chicken in the sauce which gave it a flavor so different from sauce cooked with meatballs. I can still remember the exact taste of the sauce, and that memory is what made me want to cook chicken cacciatore.

My friend Stacey was coming over for the night, and she is always so willing to try my new creations. I had never made this dish before, so I read a few recipes. I liked certain parts of
this recipe by Giada, and other parts of this one by Emeril. After reading, analyzing, and thinking about both, I wrote my own. Here is what I did -


  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Spices (I probably used an even amount of each): salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, thyme, garlic powder, paprika
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter (optional; use more oil and omit butter for healthier version)
  • 1/2 c each chopped red and green pepper; I had a tiny bit of yellow pepper left too so I added it
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 14 oz can tomatoes with juice, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 c dry white wine
  • 1/2 c chicken broth
  • Bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp (or more if you love it) fresh basil, chopped


  • Mix flour with the spices
  • Sprinkle both sides of each chicken breast with spices as well
  • Heat olive oil and butter in a large pan or dutch oven over medium-high heat
  • Add chicken to pan and cook for about 4 minutes per side. Remove to a plate.
  • If the pan is very dry, add a touch of olive oil. Add onions, peppers, and garlic and saute 2-3 minutes.
  • Add white wine, simmer until reduced by half
  • Add tomatoes, juice, and broth; bring to a boil
  • Add bay leaf, a touch of oregano, and a touch of dried (or fresh) thyme, and return chicken to pan. Cover most of the way and let simmer for 30 minutes, adding basil about 5 minutes before serving.
  • Remove bay leave and serve chicken over pasta. Garnish with Parmesan cheese.

Stacey will be very, very honest with me about what she likes and what she doesn't. She loved this one so much and even said it smelled and tasted like something from a restaurant. I was equally impressed. The sauce takes on such a unique flavor by cooking chicken in it - it's hard to explain, but maybe rustic is the right word for the flavor. Rustic, comforting, fresh, light, but hearty at the same time. And even better, it smelled like my grandmom's kitchen in my kitchen, and that's a comforting smell.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Mexican Tofu Skillet Dinner

Standing with the door to the fridge wide open, I took an inventory of what I had on hand. I always crave Mexican flavors, so used that to guide me.

I grabbed a bunch of things, almost Rachael Ray style...a green pepper, red pepper, yellow pepper, Anaheim pepper, a white onion, a block of tofu, 2 tomatoes, a lime, and a bunch of cilantro. From the pantry I pulled out a can of chicken broth (after not finding a can of vegetable broth), flour, a bag of dried ancho chilies, a bag of dried guajillas, 2 cloves of garlic, olive oil, and then from my spice cabinet chose spices to include chili powder, cumin, Mexican oregano, and cayenne pepper as well as the salt.

  • While my tofu was wrapped in paper towels to get the extra water out, I started chopping all of the peppers (except the dried peppers). These colors alone will inspire you to cook -

  • I soaked the dried peppers in water for about 20 minutes, then removed the seeds and finely chopped them.

  • Making things up as I went along, I combined 3 tbsp flour and the spices - about 1.5 tbsp chili powder, 1 tsp cumin, 1/4 tsp cayenne, and 1/4 tsp Mexican oregano.


  • Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet
  • In the meantime, coat the tofu in the flour/spice mixture.

  • Add the chopped, dried chilies to the pan and saute for 1 minute.
  • Move the chilies to the sides of the pan and add the tofu. Turn to brown on all sides.
  • Add 6 oz chicken or vegetable broth along with the peppers, onions, and garlic. Let simmer for 3-4 minutes.
  • Add juice from 1/2 of a lime as well as the cilantro and some salt. Stir and let simmer for a few minutes.
  • Add chopped tomatoes and let simmer until they soften, about 3-4 minutes. Look how gorgeous all of this was while simmering away -

Everything smelled great while cooking, but tasted even better. The dish was so fresh and light, all of the different flavors worked perfectly together, and there wasn't too much heat at all (for me, anyway). Coating the tofu in the flour and spices was a good call - the color was beautiful and it didn't get soggy when simmering in the broth.

This would be a nice dish to serve over rice, but I just ate it plain, so this was a very healthy meal on top of being delicious. After eating a few bites I decided to try something else with it - see my post below for a Tofu Burrito.

Tofu Burrito

After making and sampling some of the Mexican Tofu Skillet Dinner that I made, I decided to make a burrito with it.

I took a corn tortilla and heated it in the microwave for 25 seconds or so, until soft and pliable.

Then I put down a layer of sour cream in the center, followed by some shredded Mexican cheese.

On top of that I spooned a single layer of the tofu mixture along with some more cheese.

After taking that picture, I wrapped it up and ate it. Tofu is something I usually make with Asian ingredients such as Hoison sauce and soy sauce, and I use vegetables like bok choy, green onions, water chestnuts, and peppers. But this Mexican preparation was so nice for a light burrito. I have some of the tofu mixture leftover - I know what I'm having for lunch tomorrow!

Filet Mignon Au Poivre

Filet Mignon Au Poivre - steak with pepper, peppered steak

I have had this dish in restaurants several times, and have seen a few different preparations. Some have featured pepper encrusted steak with a dark brown pan sauce, some have come without sauce (my least favorite), and others a creamy-peppery sauce.

I browsed recipes online until I came across
this one on the Epicurious web site. As soon as I read that it was a recipe that has been Gourmet Magazine's go-to recipe since 1953, I knew it was the one I had to try.

Ingredients (I cut this in half)

  • 4 (3/4- to 1-inch-thick) boneless beef top-loin steaks, 8 to 10 oz each (I used filet mignon)
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped shallots
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
  • 1/2 cup Cognac or other brandy (We didn't have cognac or brandy, so after doing some research on substitutions for cooking, I used white wine)
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream


  • Preheat oven to 200°F. (Since I continued to cook the steaks in the oven, I preheated it to 400)
  • Pat steaks dry and season both sides with kosher salt.
  • Coarsely crush peppercorns in a sealed plastic bag with a meat pounder or bottom of a heavy skillet, then press pepper evenly onto both sides of steaks.
  • Heat a 12-inch heavy skillet (preferably cast-iron) over moderately high heat until hot, about 3 minutes, then add oil, swirling skillet, and sauté steaks in 2 batches, turning over once, about 6 minutes per batch for medium-rare.
  • Transfer steaks as cooked to a heatproof platter and keep warm in oven while making sauce. (I transferred the steaks to another skillet and put them in the oven to continue cooking)
  • Pour off fat from skillet, then add shallots and half of butter (2 tablespoons) to skillet and cook over moderately low heat, stirring and scraping up brown bits, until shallots are well-browned all over, 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Add Cognac (use caution; it may ignite) and boil, stirring, until liquid is reduced to a glaze, 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Add cream and any meat juices accumulated on platter and boil sauce, stirring occasionally, until reduced by half, 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter and cook over low heat, swirling skillet, until butter is incorporated.
  • Serve sauce with steaks. I served them on top of mashed Yukon Gold potatoes and with a side of roasted asparagus.

I could have eaten this sauce on its own!! It was perfectly peppery, creamy, and even sweet from the shallots. The wine we drank with dinner, Corison 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon, also had hints of pepper and was the perfect complement to the steak and sauce.

This dish was also ridiculously easy. It was so easy that I'm not sure I want to pay $35 for it in a restaurant again, and that doesn't even include sides! Filet was on sale at the market this weekend, so for about $20 I was able to make 2 steaks, the sauce, mashed Yukon Gold potatoes, and roasted asparagus.

What I liked most is that it didn't taste like an easy meal - I could definitely fool guests into thinking I spent all day in the kitchen making this one.

Now on to Monday and another work week - have a good one everyone!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Linguine with Butter, Parmesan, Spinach, and Black Pepper

This is my third post in a row where I have followed a recipe - that isn't like me! With work being so crazy (crazy is good), I didn't have the energy or creativity to do my own thing in the kitchen. Following recipes has been good for this week.

Last night I chose a recipe by Giada -
Linguine with Butter, Pecorino, Arugula, and Black Pepper. I didn't have pecorino or arugula, so I replaced them with Parmesan and spinach.

Ingredients (I cut this in half)

  • Salt
  • 1 pound linguine
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups very finely grated Pecorino Romano
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped arugula


  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.
  • Add the linguine and cook until it is al dente, stirring frequently, about 8 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid.
  • Immediately toss the hot pasta in a large bowl with the butter to coat.
  • While tossing the linguine, gradually sprinkle the cheese, pepper, and enough of the reserved cooking liquid evenly over the linguine to moisten.
  • Add the arugula and toss to combine.
  • Season the pasta, to taste, with salt.

I always use olive oil with pasta, never butter, but I loved how it coated the linguine and helped the cheese to stick. Arugula would have given it a nice nutty flavor that would have complemented the black pepper, but spinach was a fine substitute. When I'm looking for something quick and easy again, I would definitely think of this recipe.

Jon made himself some shrimp to go along with the pasta. He was already eating by the time I was looking to snap some pictures, so this is the best I could get -

To cook them, he heated olive oil in a small saute pan, then added 2 large cloves of chopped garlic. Then he added the shrimp, and mixed in some paprika, cayenne, and chili powder. They were such a beautiful color and smelled heavenly - I wish I ate shrimp!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Garlic Vinegar Chicken

I love watching cooking shows on the Food Network and will often keep the channel on all day. Jon and I also watch some shows together at night. Along with Iron Chef and Alton Brown's Good Eats, his favorites are Guy's Big Bite and Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives with Guy Fieri.

I've never made any of Guy's recipes, but saved this one for Garlic Vinegar Chicken a while back. The title of the recipe doesn't sound all that appetizing and I had doubts, but after reading it, I couldn't wait to try it, so last night I did just that.

I cut this in half

  • 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 medium yellow onions, julienned
  • 2 Anaheim chiles, cleaned and julienned
  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (I used 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts)
  • 3/4 cup minced garlic, divided
  • 8 ounces beer
  • 8 ounces chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons green onions, sliced (I forgot these)


  • In large saute pan over medium heat add 2 tablespoons oil, onions, chiles and saute for 3 minutes until translucent.
  • Add chicken thighs and lightly brown.
  • Add 1/4 cup garlic and saute.
  • Deglaze with beer and chicken stock.
  • Cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until chicken is 3/4 of the way cooked. Remove chicken from saute pan, and let cool, reserve pan and braising broth.
  • In a separate medium saute pan heat another 2 tablespoons olive oil and lightly caramelize remaining 1/2 cup garlic. When done, remove from pan, and let cool; keep the pan and all of the oil left in it. (Since this step takes a while, I did it as I was prepping everything else for my menu - chopping onions and peppers, slicing potatoes, and washing/prepping asparagus. Also, to caramelize the garlic, I cooked it over low heat for about 15-20 minutes until it was soft and golden brown. Be very careful not to let it burn.)
  • In medium mixing bowl, combine, flour, salt and pepper, oregano, paprika, and chili powder. Combine thoroughly, add cooked garlic and mix into a paste.
  • Take cooled, cooked chicken and press paste on to the chicken.
  • Using the pan the garlic was cooked in, heat remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in garlic pan, and gently place chicken in the pan. Lightly brown chicken on both sides.
  • In the other pan, simmer reserved braising broth and add red wine vinegar.
  • When chicken is cooked on both sides, pour vinegar broth over chicken and let simmer for 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Garnish with green onions (forgot to do this!).

Mmm, my dad is lucky getting these leftovers for lunch today!! I loved this dish. I think I used a little less vinegar than the recipe called for, and that's a good thing. Otherwise I think it would have been to vinegar-y (making up words..). It was sweet and garlicky, and the sauce was a great accent to my roasted potatoes.

I would definitely make this again, and I'd recommend it to anyone who loves garlic and is looking for a new chicken dish.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Filet Mignon with Three-Chile Butter

Surprise - another Mexican post! But this post features what I was hoping to find in Mexican cooking - something other than what you see at your typical Americanized Mexican restaurant. Something other than what most people think of when they describe Mexican food.

I was browsing the Mexican section on the Epicurious a few weeks ago when I came across
this recipe for Beef with Three-Chile Butter. I saved it to my recipe box until last night.

The recipe called for dried ancho chilies and dried guajillo chilies, which I found in a Mexican market. In the picture below, the ancho, a dried poblano, is on top, and the guajillo is on the bottom.

This recipe was based on using a beef tenderloin roast. Since it was just the two of us, I used 2 filet mignons and cut the recipe for the sauce in half.


  • 2 dried guajillo chiles, stemmed, seeded, thinly sliced
  • 2 dried ancho chiles, stemmed, seeded, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 3 shallots, chopped
  • 2 whole chipotle chiles (from can), drained, stemmed, seeded, sliced
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives


  • Heat large skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Add guajillo and ancho chile slices. Toast until fragrant and beginning to darken, stirring often, about 30 seconds.
  • Add butter, shallots, and chipotle chiles. Stir just until chiles are coated with butter and shallots begin to soften, about 2 minutes.
  • Add 1 cup water and simmer until dried chiles are soft and all water has evaporated, about 15 minutes.
  • Mix in chives; season with salt.
  • Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Rewarm before using. (I just gave my leftover sauce to my dad to pour over his London Broil tonight - we'll see how well it reheats, but I'm guessing it will be fine based on how it looked this morning)

While cooking, the sauce smelled like bacon from the smokiness of the chipotles. Here is how it looked when it had just about thickened in the pan:

Due to the nasty storms, we had to cook the filet mignon in the oven instead of on the grill. We drizzled each one with some olive oil, salt, and pepper, then seared them in a pan on the stove before finishing them in the oven on 450. I sliced my filet and topped it with the sauce -

This has to be one of the best recipes I have tried recently. The sauce was not spicy at all - it had depth and fullness but did not overpower the filet (sounds like I am describing a wine!). And for how simple it was to make, I was extremely impressed.

I sauteed veggies to have with our steaks. Simple and colorful - 1 red pepper, 1 orange pepper, and 1/2 bag of frozen succotash (corn and lima beans). After heating 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a pan I added the peppers and some Kosher salt. 5 minutes later I added the frozen corn and lima beans and sauteed for 2 minutes. Aren't they so pretty? I love adding color to my plate.

Jalapeno Poppers

Last week Emeril co-hosted with Kelly Ripa on Live with Regis and Kelly, and he was talking about how he can't find any hot jalapeno peppers. All of the peppers he has been getting are mild. Well Emeril, come on over to my garden! I've got the hottest peppers in town.

This is the first year that I have grown jalapenos, and I didn't realize just how many each plant would produce. I had a few sitting around that needed to be used up, so I decided to make an appetizer - Jalapeno Poppers.

I knew basically what to do and wasn't planning on using a recipe, but after reading
this recipe on the Epicurious web site, decided to follow it.

Ingredients (I cut this in half)

  • 12 fresh jalapeños
  • 3 ounces coarsely grated Cheddar (1 cup) and 3 ounces coarsely grated Monterey Jack (1 cup) (I used a Mexican blend)
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup plain fine dry bread crumbs
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano (I used Mexican oregano)
  • About 4 cups vegetable oil (I used about 1 cup - just enough to give me about 1/2 inch of oil in my pan. It worked perfectly by cooking the peppers on one side and then the other, with a bit of overlap in the middle)
  • Cut a lengthwise slit from stem to bottom of each chile. Make a crosswise incision at stem end, forming a T. Pry open enough to hold back long cuts (to expose ribs and seeds), then devein and seed using tip of a paring knife and kitchen shears.
  • Stir together cheeses, hot sauce, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and 3/4 teaspoon salt.
  • Fill chiles with cheese mixture, pressing seams closed after filling, so that cheese is compacted and chile retains its shape.
  • Lightly beat eggs in a small shallow bowl. Stir together bread crumbs, oregano, and 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper in another shallow bowl.
  • Dip chiles in egg, letting excess drip off, then coat with bread crumbs, transferring to a work surface. Repeat coating with egg and crumbs to form a second layer. (This step is key to getting a nice, thick, crispy coating)
  • Heat 2 inches oil to 325°F in a medium saucepan. Fry chiles in 3 batches, stirring occasionally, until golden brown all over, 5 to 6 minutes per batch. Transfer to several layers of paper towels to drain. Return oil to 325°F between batches.
So simple, and so much better than the frozen jalapeno poppers you can buy in the store. My mouth was on fire for about an hour, but I still ate 4 of them!!

Double-dipping the pepper in the egg and breadcrumbs was the perfect tip in this recipe. The first time I dipped, a lot of the egg slide off and therefore the breadcrumbs didn't stick. But by the second dip in each, I could tell the coating would be perfectly thick and crispy, and it was.

I'd make these again, but would change just one thing. I don't think the hot-sauce was needed in the cheese mixture at all.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Mexican Stir Fry

I know, I know... you know that I love Mexican flavors. Is every other post in this blog inspired by Mexican ingredients and flavors? Maybe, but there's nothing wrong with that.
I had several peppers to use up as well as some chicken, so instead of doing a stir fry with Asian spices and flavors, I decided to make this one Mexican. I made it up as I went along.
Marinate the Chicken
Mix the following ingredients and pour over chicken. I sliced my chicken into strips before marinating, and it marinated in the fridge for about 8 hours before cooking. For three breasts:
  • 1/2 c olive oil
  • 1 handful fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1 hour before cooking - add 1 or 2 tbsp lime juice

Mexican Stir Fry


  • Marinated chicken
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 1/4 c chunky salsa1 each different color peppers, sliced. I used yellow, orange, red, and green.
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 3/4 c chicken broth
  • Extra spices, if desired - chili powder, cumin, cayenne (just a few dashes of each)
  • Small handful fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tbsp lime juice


  • Heat olive oil in a pan
  • Add onions and garlic, saute 1 min and push to sides of pan.
  • Add chicken and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side
  • Add salsa, stir.
  • Add all of the peppers and let cook for about 5 minutes.
  • Add chicken broth, cilantro, spices (if desired), lower heat and cover. Let simmer for about 10 minutes.
  • Stir in lime juice.
  • Serve over rice. This would also be good in a tortilla!

This smelled so fragrant while cooking! And look at the beautiful color of all of those peppers -

Cilantro is one of my favorite herbs and I enjoy finding different uses for it. Although this dish had some kick from all of the spices and jalapenos, the addition of cilantro and lime juice gave it a cool, fresh taste that evened out the heat. Jon loved this - he had two plates. I loved it as well - it's light and fresh tasting, healthy (in my opinion), so easy to make, and the aromas alone during cooking make it worth making!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Risotto with Roasted Red Peppers and Spinach (and risotto balls with the leftovers!)

In my opinion, nothing goes better with grilled filet mignon than risotto. And I don't care how hot it is outside - as long as my air is on, I'll make risotto.

This is probably my tenth risotto in this blog as I love trying new ingredients and flavors. On Sunday night I was inspired by the one, lonely red pepper sitting in my fridge along with half of a bag of baby spinach.


  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Optional: a few dashes of red pepper flakes
  • 1 c arborio rice
  • 1/4 c dry white wine
  • 5 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth for a vegetarian version)
  • 1 roasted red pepper, chopped (to roast, put over an open flame until all of the skin is charred. Put in a bowl covered with plastic to sweat the skin off. After 10 minutes, peel the skin to reveal your beautiful roasted red pepper)
  • 1 c fresh baby spinach
  • 3 tbsp Parmesan cheese


  • Heat olive oil and butter in a large saute pan
  • Add shallots and garlic (and red pepper flakes); stir until tender, about 2 minutes.
  • Add arborio rice and stir until coated
  • Add the white wine and stir until absorbed
  • Add the chicken broth, one ladle at a time, stirring constantly. Add more broth only when all of the broth in the pan has been absorbed by the rice. This entire process takes anywhere from 17 to 25 minutes.
  • Near the end, stir in the spinach and red peppers.
  • When you add your final ladle of broth, add the cheese.
  • Serve immediately.

Sweet but savory at the same time - I loved it. And something about the flavor of roasted red peppers along with the grilled flavor of a filet mignon is just perfect together.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

So what to do with leftover risotto besides reheating it and eating it as is? Risotto balls, formally known as Arancini. I haven't made these in a while only because I will eat all of them!

  • Cold, leftover risotto
  • 1/2 c flour
  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • 3/4 c bread crumbs
  • 3/4 c oil for frying


  • Heat oil in a pot/pan
  • With wet hands (much easier to work with risotto), take about a tablespoon of risotto and form into balls. Optional: insert a small piece of mozzarella in the middle.
  • Roll the ball in flour, dip in egg, then coat with bread crumbs.
  • Drop into the oil and cook about 2-3 minutes on each side until golden brown.
  • Transfer to paper towels to drain, then serve immediately.

In the past I have made dipping sauces. Marinara is a good sauce, but if you want something different, here is a recipe for a garlic aioli, and here is one for a grilled tomato and garlic aioli.

Every time I have made these I have rolled them into ball shapes, but last night I made two flatter cakes as well. These would be great plated with a serving of meat and covered in a bit of sauce.

Risotto balls and risotto cakes are things seen very often on restaurant menus, but can easily be created at home. Give it a try!!