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Preserved Lemon and Spring Vegetable Risotto with Grilled Shrimp

Fall is finally here. And in LA that means the temperature has dropped to below 60 (gasp!) and that there have been some rainy days. Yesterday was a rainy Sunday, so my mom and I decided to take advantage of staying indoors all day and make risotto.

Risotto is time consuming, but SO worth it. You know I love my crockpot wonders, but every once in a while, it’s really nice to spend some serious time in the kitchen. This risotto requires some serious prep work (blanching asparagus, lots of chopping and ingredient prep) and once on the stove, you are stirring like a crazy woman. But the end result is pure heaven.

(Yes, I cook in Q’s big sweatshirt and no make-up… don’t judge) 

I would recommend making this dish for a special occasion or when you have a rainy Sunday afternoon and happen to have all the ingredients in the fridge like we did! This dish is truly exceptional, just make sure to read through those directions a FEW times before embarking on this one!

Preserved Lemon and Spring Vegetable Risotto with Grilled Shrimp

Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients:

Shrimp:

  • 24 to 32 deveined shrimp, shell on
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons Pernod (or another anise aperitif)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
  • Zest of 1/2 large lemon
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped rosemary leaves
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Risotto:

  • 1 bunch asparagus, woody stems removed, cut into 2-inch lengths
  • 6 to 8 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 1 small fennel bulb, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • Fine sea salt
  • 2 cups arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup Pernod, or other anise aperitif
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup mascarpone
  • 2 tablespoons rinsed and finely diced preserved lemon rinds
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped mint leaves
  • 2 cups peas (frozen are fine)
  • Freshly ground white pepper

Directions:

  1. In a shallow dish just large enough to hold the shrimp, mix the shrimp with the olive oil, Pernod, garlic, lemon zest, rosemary, and salt and pepper. Let the shrimp marinate at room temperature while you make the risotto.
  2. Prepare all the risotto ingredients: Blanch the asparagus for 1-2 minutes in salted, boiling water and set aside. Heat the stock in a medium saucepan over low heat. Have everything measured and close at hand by the stove. Once you start stirring the risotto, there’s no stopping.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven (like a Le Creuset). Add the onions, fennel, and garlic and sweat over low heat for about 10 minutes until soft and translucent. Season with salt to taste, about halfway through.
  4. Add the rice and raise the heat to medium-high. Stir to coat and slightly toast the rice, about 3 minutes. You should hear a lively crackling in the pot. The rice will take on a shiny, translucent coat.
  5. Add the Pernod and lemon juice to the rice and continue stirring until the liquid is almost completely absorbed.
  6. Add a ladleful of hot stock to the rice and continue stirring. It’s important to regulate the heat at this point. The rice should neither boil vigorously nor cook too slowly. You’re looking for an even, medium heat that gives the rice a billowy loft and brings some bubbles to the surface.
  7. As the stock is absorbed, continue adding it by ladlefuls and stirring. If you watch carefully, you’ll see that toward the end the rice really gives itself over to the liquid, releasing its starch to make a kind of cream. Stop incorporating stock once the rice is creamy but still al dente, cooked but not too soft. This should take between 20 and 30 minutes, and between 6 and 8 cups of stock. (*Our rice was really dry so it took all 8 cups).
  8. Remove the risotto from the heat and immediately fold in the butter, mascarpone, preserved lemon rind, most of the mint (save some for the garnish), the peas, and several grinds of white pepper. The risotto will cook the peas. Stir slowly to blend, check a final time for seasoning, and carefully fold in the asparagus. Put a lid on the risotto and let it rest while you prepare the shrimp. The risotto will expand slightly in volume, and take on a marvelous sheen.
  9. Grill or broil the shrimp for about 60 seconds on each side, or until the flesh is completely opaque.
  10. Top each serving of the risotto with 4 shrimp, garnish with the remaining mint and a flourish of pepper and serve.

Slightly adapted from The Food52 Cookbook

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Filed under Cooking, Grains, Main Course, Recipe

Deconstructed Spicy Tuna Roll

I feel like lunch is a pretty boring meal…kind of a midday, on-the-run, place holder between breakfast and dinner. This may also be because of my love of breakfast (I could eat it for every meal if I had the chance) and the sociability of dinner (some good food, good wine and friends). But lunch? Just an inbetweener.

My mom and I made this deconstructed spicy tuna roll over the weekend for lunch and it was the best meal I had all day (and pretty much all week). It really put my “lunch as a place holder” theory to the test, since I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

The bowl is a combination of all things spicy tuna (rice, tuna, avocado, spicy mayo, seaweed with the addition of some tomatoes). I love how this bowl turned out in texture and flavor and would make this again and again to “spice up lunch” (I couldn’t help it with the pun there).

Deconstructed Spicy Tuna Roll

Serves 2

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cooking Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cooked white or brown rice
  • 2 Japanese cucumbers (or 1/2 an English cucumber deseeded), cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 10 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 pound sushi grade tuna, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 avocado, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons Spicy Mayonnaise (recipe below)
  • Roasted Seaweed Pieces, shredded
  • Soy Sauce (for drizzling)
  • Wasabi, to taste

Directions:

  1. Divide the rice between two bowls.
  2. Make a bed of cucumbers and tomatoes in a flat circle on the rice. Set the tuna cubes on the cucumbers and tomatoes.
  3. Combine the avocado, lemon juice and salt in a bowl and mix gently. Arrange the avocado on top of the tuna.
  4. Place a dollop of the Spicy Mayonnaise dressing in the center of the tuna with a dab of wasabi.
  5. Sprinkle on roasted seaweed shreds and add. Serve with soy sauce and wasabi.

Spicy Mayonnaise

Makes 1/2 cup

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2-3 teaspoons Sriracha (or spicy chili oil)
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce, preferably low sodium

Directions:

  1. Combine the ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk together. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Adapted from My Japanese Table

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Filed under Cooking, Fish, Grains, Recipe, Sauces/Dips

Halloween Coconut Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing

Top 4 Reasons Why I Love Halloween:

1. Dogs in costumes.

2. Guilt free unlimited candy consumption.

3. It’s my birthday. As a kid this was awesome since trick or treating at the neighbors’ houses resulted in extra treats for the birthday girl. Now, it is an excellent excuse to have a Halloween party.

4. My mom makes me a dessert of my choosing for the big day. This year, I opted for coconut cupcakes (my absolute favorite kind).

My mom makes the BEST cupcakes I’ve ever had. They are fluffy, moist, flavorful and perfectly frosted and covered in sprinkles. This recipe has been one we go back to often since it has never done us wrong. One word of caution with this one: don’t be afraid of the massive quantity of butter used… just close your eyes and pretend it’s healthy.

This year, we decided to make our cupcakes a little Halloweeny by adding some fun sprinkles on top. I got a big case of Halloween sprinkles from Target and went to town. It gave them a fun little touch and ensured that no cupcake looked the same.

Last Halloween thought of the day – in New York, how do kids trick or treat? Apartment door to apartment door? Do they go out to the suburbs? In LA, I used to do a quick trick or treat around my small neighborhood early and then my parents would drive me to Hancock Park to meet up with my friends and do a full 2-hour door-to-door trick or treat marathon.

Halloween Coconut Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing

Makes 18 to 20 large cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 pound unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 5 extra-large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure almond extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 14 ounces sweetened, shredded coconut
  • Cream Cheese Icing (directions below)
  • Sprinkles (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minues. With the mixer running on low, add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix well.
  3. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In three parts, alternately add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk to the batter, beginning and ending with the dry. Mix until just combined. Fold in 7 ounces of coconut.
  4. Line a muffin pan with paper liners. FIll each cup to the top with batter. Bake for 25-35 minutes, until the tops are brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove to a baking rack and cool completely. Frost with cream cheese icing and sprinkle with remaining coconut and sprinkles.

Cream Cheese Icing

For 18 to 20 large cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound cream cheese at room temperature
  • 3/4 pound unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 1 1/2 pounds confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Directions:

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, blend together the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla and almond extracts. Add the confectioners’ sugar and mix until smooth.

Recipe from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook 

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Filed under Baking, Cupcakes, Recipe

Southwestern Chicken Tortilla Soup

I’ve been down in Palm Springs for work the past couple of days and something about being in the desert makes me want southwestern food. One of my favorite dishes is tortilla soup, I love all of the veggies and spices packed into a soup.

My mom and I recently tried this recipe which comes from Miraval, a destination retreat and spa in Arizona. Although I’ve never been, I’ve always wanted to to go (they have wonderful classes/activities/spa treatments). A friend who recently went for a weekend came back raving about the food and passed along this recipe for us to try.

I love this recipe since it is so easy and healthy (only 130 calories per serving), but is still spicy and filling. I hate when low fat soups lack flavor and are mainly broth in the effort to save a few calories, not to worry this one doesn’t do either. And my favorite part of the soup… the tortilla strips!

Southwestern Chicken Tortilla Soup

Makes 2 1/2 quarts (10 servings)

Ingredients: 

For Soup:

  • 1/8 teaspoon canola oil spray
  • 1 poblano chili, roasted and diced
  • 1 red pepper, roasted and diced
  • 1/2 cup red onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup celery, diced
  • 1/2 cup carrots, diced
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoons chile powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • pinch of cayenne
  • 2 quarts chicken stock (we used homemade)
  • 1 cup tomato, chopped
  • 2 cups chicken breast, grilled and julienned
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
For Garnish (serve each bowl with):
  • 1 teaspoon avocado, finely diced
  • 1 teaspoon pepper jack cheese, grated
  • 1 teaspoon brown rice, cooked
  • 1 lime wedge
  • 1 teaspoon fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon green onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon of baked tortilla strips per bowl (directions below)
Directions:
For Soup:
  1. Heat a large stockpot over medium high heat. Lightly spray pot with canola oil.
  2. Add the poblano chile, vegetables, garlic, oregano, cumin, paprika, chile powder, thyme, and cayenne. Saute while stirring to soften the onions, approximately 2 minutes.
  3. Add chicken stock, tomato, and julienned chicken. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Add garnish and serve.
For tortilla strips:
  1. Slice 3 corn tortillas into thin strips using a knife.
  2. On a baking sheet covered in a paper towel, lay tortilla strips across and spray or lightly brush them with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes or until crisp, but not burnt. Remove from oven.

Recipe adapted from Miraval 

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Filed under Cooking, Soups & Chilis

Pomegranate Vinaigrette

I love a good salad dressing, well actually I love a good vinaigrette. Now that I have mastered the basic vinaigrette (olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, salt and pepper), I am always looking for new variations.

Last week I posted the recipe for these Coriander Chicken Patties, which we served on a bed of lettuce topped with this Pomegranate Vinaigrette. After finishing the chicken and the salad, we were left with almost 3/4 cup of this dressing (the recipe makes a LOT). For the next week, I had it every night and I enjoyed it more and more each time.

(The Pour)

The dressing has a great fruity, but not too sweet flavor that works well over any type of salad. I had it over plain mixed greens as well as a few fancier salads (pomegranate seeds and pistachios/ dried cranberries, goat cheese, and pecans) and it worked well with both. This recipe makes a lot of dressing, I recommend using a mason jar to make it and storing that in the fridge for future use.

Pomegranate Vinaigrette

Makes 1 Cup

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup pomegranate molasses (like this)
  • 1 tablespoon fruit flavored vinegar or balsamic (we used Cherry Balsamic Vinegar)
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 small shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Directions:

  1. In a smal mason jar with a lid, combine ingredients and shake well.
  2. Serve at room temperature. (If you refrigerate the vinaigrette, make sure to stir it with a whisk before serving as the molasses will thicken and separate in the fridge. With a little stir, the dressing mixes. If still too thick, add a little more olive oil and stir).

Adapted from 2BeSatisfied

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Filed under Cooking, Dressing, Recipe

Red Lentil Stew with Caramelized Onions

Doesn’t it feel like Monday today? Something about Columbus Day and my whole travel schedule has thrown me off. When my mom and I discussed what to make for dinner last night, she suggested going with the whole “Meatless Monday” idea we have been doing lately. I was really confused thinking it was Sunday (haha)…but in the end we decided to go with one of my favorite vegetarian dishes, this Red Lentil Stew with Caramelized Onions. 

This meal has been a favorite in our house for a few years now. The lentils are filling and delicious, but it is the sweetness of the caramelized onions that really pulls the dish together. We like to serve ours over white Jasmine rice to really create a dinner out of it and since there are only 3 of us, we usually eat leftovers the next day for lunch (always a plus).

Red Lentil Stew with Caramelized Onions

Serves 6

Ingredients:

For Lentils:

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups small red lentils (picked over and rinsed)
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 to 3 cups boiling water
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

For Caramelized Onions:

  • 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 medium onions, halved through the root and thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper

For Serving:

  • 6 cups cooked white Jasmine rice
  • Coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
  • Plain or Greek yogurt

Directions:

For Lentils:

  1. In a large heavy saucepan (we used our Le Creuset), combine the oil, onion, bay leaves and cinnamon stick over moderately low heat, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens, 4 to 5 minutes. Uncover, increase the heat to moderately high, and add the ginger, garlic and cayenne. Cook, stirring until the garlic and ginger are soft, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add the lentils and cook, stirring, until they are coated with the oil, about 3 minutes. Add 2 cups of the broth and 2 cups of the boiling water and bring to a boil. Reduce the head and simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. Squeeze the juice of the lemon through a strainer into the lentils. Add the lemon halves, salt, and the remaining 1 cup broth. Cover and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the lentils have broken down into  a thick puree, 40 minutes. They should be soupy; if they get too thick, add more boiling water as necessary, 1/4 cup at a time.

For Caramelized Onions:

  1. About 45-60 minutes before serving, prepare the caramelized onions. In a large nonstick skillet, combine the butter, oil, sugar and onions. Cook over low heat until the onions are browned and form a small pile (they will be very soft and have cooked down a lot). Stir the onions every 5 minutes to ensure all pieces are browning evenly. The process should take about 45-60 minutes (onions can be removed earlier, but will not be as sweet and caramelized). After cooking, season with salt and pepper to taste.

For Serving:

  1. Discard the lemon halves and cinnamon from the lentils and season with the salt and pepper to taste. Serve the lentils in bowls over white rice, topped with the caramelized onions, cilantro and yogurt.

Adapted from A New Way to Cook 

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Filed under Cooking, Grains, Recipe, Vegetarian

Caramel Chocolate Nut Ice Cream

Midway through October, my mom and I decided to do the most logical thing possible…we bought an ice cream maker. We had been holding on to one that was 10 years old and was a LOT of work to manuever and we weren’t using it at all. So we upgraded to this snazzy Cuisinart one ($50 and totally worth it).

Living in LA means you really can eat ice cream all year long. And we have taken this to heart. Our first homemade ice cream of the season happened this past weekend (yes, the first weekend in October) and it was to die for.

This Caramel Chocolate Nut Ice Cream melts in your mouth. You can serve it on it’s own or on top of a sugar cone (my personal favorite). It is so rich with flavor and truly one of the best ice creams I’ve ever had. Homemade ice cream is like nothing you’ve ever tasted before, creamier, richer, just better.


For storage, we purchased pint and quart containers from Smart & Final and put our ice cream in them with a seal of wax paper and a lid. They make great hostess gifts (who doesn’t like homemade ice cream?).

Caramel Chocolate Nut Ice Cream

Makes 2 Quarts

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 6 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups pecan halves
  • 7 ounces of best-quality dark chocolate, diced

Directions:

  1. Place 1/2 cup water and the sugar in a large, heavy bottomed saucepan, and cook over low heat, without stirring, until the sugar is dissolved. Increase the heat to high and boil until the sugar turns into a warm mahogany or caramel color, 3 to 5 minutes. Do not stir, but swirl the pan occasionally so the caramel cooks evenly.
  2. Remove the caramel from the heat and carefully pour in the cream. The caramel is very hot, and the mixture will bubble up violently, then slidify. Don’t worry. Return it to low heat and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the caramel dissolves, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the vanilla. Pour into a container and refrigerate until very cold.
  3. Roast the pecans in a toaster oven (or regular oven) for 8 minutes at 350 degrees, until crisp. Cool, chop, mix with the diced chocolate, and store in freezer until ready to use.
  4. Freeze the caramel mixture in an ice cream freezer according to the manufacturer’s directions. (It may take several batches). When it is frozen, add cold chopped pecans and chocolate and mix in completely. Transfer to quart containers and store in the freezer until ready to serve.

Recipe from Barefoot Contessa Parties

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Filed under Entertaining, Ice Cream, Recipe