Archive | August, 2010

Mushroom and Balsamic Chicken with Arancini

29 Aug

As much as I love risotto the day of, I absolutely abhor it the day after.  No matter how I try to heat it up (stove top, microwave, oven), it ends up gummy and lackluster.  So, when I heard about arancini, or fried risotto, I was very curious to try it out.  While most of the recipes I came across called for deep fried balls of risotto, I decided to make patties and pan fry them.  I hate to use all of the oil and there’s something about deep frying that makes me recoil.  The end result here was the perfect way to use up leftover risotto, and something I will certainly be repeating.  The outside was crispy, the risotto was creamy, and the enclosed mozzarella was the perfect molten-y goodness.  These were incredibly easy, although ridiculously messy, to make, and would make a perfect appetizer.

The chicken was also moist and tasty.  I love balsamic and it perfectly complemented the umami of the mushrooms while not overwhelming the flavor of the chicken or zucchini.  Paired together with the arancini, this dish was a real winner.

Mushroom and Balsamic Chicken with Arancini

Serves 2

Mushroom and Balsamic Chicken:

3 medium sized boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

1/4 cup button mushrooms, sliced

1/2 cup yellow squash, thinly sliced

1 tbs. olive oil

1/2 tsp. dried thyme

1/2 tsp. dried marjoram

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1 tbs. butter

1 cup homemade chicken stock

Season chicken breasts on both sides with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste.  In a medium sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add chicken breasts and sauté until lightly golden brown on each side (roughly 4 minutes per side).  Add mushrooms, yellow squash, thyme and marjoram to pan.  Continue to sauté until mushrooms are slightly browned and squash is tender.  Add balsamic and chicken stock.  Cover tightly with lid and reduce heat to medium-low.  Simmer for 15 minutes.  Remove cover and remove chicken breasts.  Cover with foil.  Increase heat to medium-high and reduce balsamic/chicken stock mixture by half.  Add tablespoon of butter.  Serve by spooning vegetables and sauce over chicken.

Arancini (Fried Risotto):

1 1/2 cup leftover creamy risotto

1/2 cup jasmine rice, cooked (or an extra 1/2 cup leftover creamy risotto)

2 eggs, beaten, divided

1 oz. mozzarella, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs

2 tbs. canola oil

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

In a medium bowl, combine risotto, jasmine rice and 1 egg, beaten.  Mix together thoroughly.  Form into patties roughly 3 inches across and 1 inch thick.  Insert cube or two of mozzarella into center of patty.

Place flour in a shallow dish.  Place remaining beaten egg in a second shallow dish.  Place breadcrumbs in a third shallow dish.  Coat each patty with flour, followed by egg, followed by bread crumbs.

Heat canola oil in a large sauté pan until shimmering.  Pan fry risotto patties until deep golden brown and mozzarella is melted, roughly 4-5 minutes per side.

Creamy Risotto

27 Aug

Zak and I are both big fans of risotto.  Yes, the process is fairly labor intensive.  Despite that, the final result is well worth standing in front of your stove for forty minutes or so stirring.  I usually stand at the stove with a book and stir when the whim strikes me.  The frequent or constant stirring of the risotto helps to release the starches in the arborio rice, which is what gives risotto the creamy texture that distinguishes from other varietals of rice.  This particular risotto is decadently creamy and delicious.  To be fair, though, I haven’t met a risotto I didn’t like, and ingredients can easily be substituted based on what you have on hand.  I recommend, however, that you use a good stock while making risotto rather than something boxed or simple water.  The rice really draws in the flavor of the stock, and without a decent stock base, the recipe will fall flat.

Creamy Risotto

1 1/2 cups arborio rice

1 large shallot, thinly sliced

1/2 cup sliced button mushrooms

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 tbs. olive oil

3/4 cup dry white wine (I used chardonnay)

6-8 cups homemade chicken stock

1/2 cup chopped fresh basil

3/4 cup freshly grated Jarlsberg cheese

1 tbs. butter

1 tsp. dried parsley, for garnish

Combine homemade chicken stock and basil in a medium stock pot or sauce pan.  Cover and bring to a low simmer.

Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan or skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add sliced shallots, mushrooms and garlic and sauté until mushrooms and garlic are a light golden brown and shallots are slightly caramelized, roughly 10 minutes.  Add arborio rice and sauté until lightly golden brown.  Add white wine to pan, stirring, and simmer until wine is absorbed.  Slowly, one cup at a time, add the simmering stock.  Stir frequently.  As each cup of stock is completely or nearly completely absorbed, add another cup of stock, continuing to stir.  Cook, slowly adding stock and frequently stirring, until rice is al dente or to taste.  This will take roughly 25-35 minutes.  Once final cup of stock is almost totally absorbed, stir in grated Jarlsberg cheese and butter.  Combine thoroughly and serve with dried parsley as garnish.

Ocean Perch with Sweet Pea Pasta

22 Aug

I apologize for the hiatus between posts – we were having some problems with the oven, my first week of school started, and I’ve been having some computer troubles.

Regardless, this dish was absolutely delicious.  The crispy, salty skin of the fish was the perfect offset to the soft, creamy texture of the pasta stars, sweet peas, and cheddar cheese.  Not only was this dish extremely tasty, it was fast and easy as well.

Ocean Perch with Sweet Pea Pasta

2 ocean perch fillets, defrosted if frozen (I used frozen Bay Prime brand)

1 teaspoon dried dill weed

Kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper

10 whole peppercorns

1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated, plus more for garnish

1/2 cup frozen peas, defrosted

2 tbs. salted butter

1 tbs. olive oil

1-2 tbs. milk or heavy cream

1/2 box Gia Russell star pasta, cooked according to package directions

Season the perch fillets on both sides with salt, freshly cracked black pepper, and dried dill weed.

In a small saucepan, add peppercorns.  Add butter and slowly melt over low heat.  Once melted, add milk or heavy cream and bring to a simmer over low heat.  Simmer 2-3 minutes and remove peppercorns with a fork (I missed a few and they weren’t obtrusive in the end product).  Add peas and continue to simmer.

Meanwhile, in large skillet heat olive oil.  Add seasoned fish, skin side down, and sauté 3-4 minutes until skin is crispy and brown.  Flip and sauté an additional 2 minutes until cooked through.  Set aside.

Drain cooked pasta and toss with pea and butter sauce.  Add shredded cheddar and stir to combine.  Serve perch over pasta with extra cheddar for garnish.

Stuffed Cubanelles with Chipotle Sauce and Creamy Polenta

13 Aug

This meal was absolutely delicious.  The chipotle sauce, which was incredibly spicy, was balanced out perfectly by the richness of the beans and creaminess of the polenta.  If you don’t like your food super hot like Zak and I do, add an extra tomato and remove a chipotle or some adobo sauce from the recipe below.  I thought it was absolutely perfect though, and served this with a large dollop of sour cream and some of Zak’s homemade guacamole.  The quickness and ease of this recipe really belied the huge explosion of flavors in every bite.

Stuffed Cubanelles with Chipotle Sauce and Creamy Polenta

Serves 2


3 medium to large cubanelle peppers

Cooking spray

3/4 cup canned refried beans

2 cups leftover shredded pork

1/4 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend

4-5 small cubes of feta cheese

Preheat broiler.  Cover a baking sheet with tinfoil and spray liberally with cooking spray.  Place cubanelles on baking sheet and spray with cooking spray.  Broil approximately 15 minutes, turning with tongs once or twice to ensure even broiling.

Remove peppers from broiler and place immediately into a plastic zip lock bag to cool.  After cooled, remove seeds and ribs.  If desired, remove charred outer skin.  I left it on because I enjoy the smoky flavor.

Preheat oven to 350°.

Combine shredded pork, refried beans, and Mexican cheese.  Slice cubanelles lengthwise and stuff with shredded pork mixture.  Place seam side down in a casserole dish sprayed with cooking spray.  Smother with chipotle sauce (recipe follows) and cover casserole with tinfoil.

Bake, covered, for 25 minutes.  Remove tinfoil and add feta cheese.  Bake another 15 minutes until heated through.  Meanwhile, make creamy polenta.  Serve cubanelles and chipotle sauce over creamy polenta.

Chipotle Sauce:

1 small Vidalia onion, sliced

1 tbs. olive oil

3 tsp. tomato paste

2-3 chipotle chilies in adobo sauce, seeded, reserving adobo sauce (use less if you don’t like spicy food)

2-3 tsp. adobo sauce (use less if you don’t like spicy food)

1 small tomato, diced

4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped

In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add onion and garlic and sauté until onion is soft and translucent.  Transfer mixture to food processor.  Add tomato paste, chipotles, adobo sauce and tomato.  Pulse until smooth consistency is reached.  Pour over peppers before baking.

Creamy Polenta:

See recipe for Tomato and Wine Braised Short Ribs with Creamy Polenta, “creamy polenta” portion.  For this recipe, I used Homemade Beef Stock.

Panko Crusted Cod with Cucumber Salad

12 Aug

It’s been ridiculously hot here in Cleveland, so I was looking for a quick, simple meal that had at least one cool component to balance out any heat.  This dish satisfied both requirements and ended up fresh, bright, and extremely tasty.

Panko Crusted Cod with Cucumber Salad

Serves 2


2 fillets of cod (I used frozen)

3/4 cup Japanese-style panko bread crumbs

1/2 tsp. dried sweet basil

1/2 tsp. dried dill

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

2-3 tbs. whole grain Dijon mustard

1 tbs. extra virgin olive oil

Cooking spray

Rinse cod fillets and season with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.  Allow the fish to sit in the refrigerator 30 minutes to 1 hour to evaporate any excess moisture.  Combine panko, dried sweet basil, dried dill, garlic powder and crushed red pepper.  Combine Dijon mustard and olive oil.  Roll fish in mustard/olive oil mixture until coated, then roll in panko.

Spray large sauté pan with cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat.  Add fish and sauté 3-4 minutes per side, depending on thickness of fillets, until crust is golden brown and fish is cooked through.

Cucumber Salad:

1 large cucumber, diced

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

10-15 fresh basil leaves, finely chopped

1/2 tsp. dried sweet basil

1/2 tsp. dried parsley

3 tbs. extra virgin olive oil

3 tbs. red wine vinegar

1/4 cup feta cheese, cut into small squares

Combine cucumber, salt, pepper, dried sweet basil and dried parsley.  Whisk together olive oil and red wine vinegar to form a vinaigrette.  Add vinaigrette to cucumber mix and allow to cool in refrigerator 1-2 hours until chilled through and flavors have melded.  Top with squares of feta.

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