Monthly Archives: April 2014

Milanese-Style Risotto with Saffron (Risotto alla Milanese)

Risotto_alla_Milanese2 (1 of 1)For a proper, creamy and delicious risotto, you must be patient — the key is to stir constantly and add liquid gradually, allowing it to absorb each time. When I first made risotto, I didn’t do it right, and the rice ended up gooey and uncooked (had to toss it). I was discouraged and didn’t make it again for several years. I finally tried again, preparing it correctly. I now think a good risotto is one of the simplest and most satisfying dishes to prepare!. Hope you try it!

1/4 tsp saffron threads
1 1/2 Tbsp hot water
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, very finely grated or minced
2 cups arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
6 cups chicken stock
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
1 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus additional for garnish

In a small bowl, combine saffron with hot water. Let steep for at least 20 minutes.

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven (or similar heavy pan) over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute. Add rice and sauté 2 minutes.

Add wine and stir until absorbed. Stir in saffron mixture, and season with the salt and pepper. Add stock very gradually, one ladle at a time, allowing each to Risotto_alla_Milanese1 (1 of 1)be absorbed before proceeding to the next. Stir mixture constantly. This process is key to a rich, creamy risotto, and should take 20 minutes or so. Be patient!

Remove rice from heat. Stir in a couple additional tablespoons of chicken stock, as well as the parmesan cheese. Cover and let stand for about 3 minutes. Divide among 6 serving dishes. Grate plenty of parmesan cheese over each. Serve with crusty, country-style bread and nice glasses of white wine.

Serves 6.

Vietnamese Caramalized Pork Patties

Vietnamese_Caramalized_Pork_Balls1 (1 of 1)These pork patties are spectacular as far as I’m concerned! So full of flavor! Aside from the caramalization and other great ingredients, the sauce has a ton of ground black pepper — this is typical of many Vietnamese sauces, and I think it’s what makes this dish (must be from the French influence in Vietnam). If you like Southeast Asia’s obligatory sweet, hot, sour, salty flavor combo, I think you’ll really like this dish!

3 Tbsp tamarind purée
1/4 cup fish sauce
2 cups finely chopped shallots (about 5 very large Euro-style)
3 red Thai bird chilies, minced
1 Tbsp ground black pepper
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
3 large cloves garlic, very finely shredded or minced
1 1/2 lbs lean ground pork
1/3 (slightly rounded) cup sugar
3 scallions, sliced

In a small bowl, mix together 2 Tbsp fish sauce with 1/2 cup water. Set aside.

In another small bowl, mix together 2/3 cup chopped shallots with half the minced chilies and 1 1/2 tsp ground black pepper. Set aside

Heat 1 Tbsp vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in remaining 1 1/3 cups chopped shallots. Cook for about 2 minutes, until softened. Add remaining minced chilies and garlic. Stir-fry an additional 40 seconds. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine pork, remaining 2 Tbsp fish sauce, remaining 1 1/2 tsp ground black pepper and the cooked shallots. Make 18 small patties (a little less than 1/4 pork mixture, at about 2 1/2 inches each in diameter).

In a skilled large enough to easily fit all patties in a single layer, heat remaining 1 Tbsp oil over medium-high heat. Add patties and brown on each side (about 3 1/2 minutes per side). Turn heat off and remove patties from pan — wipe out pan with a paper towel.

Add 1/3 water and 1/3 sugar to pan over medium heat and swirl gently until sugar is dissolvedVietnamese_Caramalized_Pork_Balls2 (1 of 1) and mixture begins to caramelize (about 12 minutes — you should end up with a nice, copper-colored sugar-water. Remove from heat. Slowly add fish sauce/water mixture to sugar-water. Return to a medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Stir in the uncooked shallot/chili mixture. Cook about 1 1/2 minutes, until shallots have softened. Stir in 3 Tbsp tamarind purée. Add back the pork patties and stir to ensure patties are well covered in the sauce. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes (turning patties after first 10 minutes). Remove lid. Remove patties and set aside. Simmer sauce another couple of minutes until slightly reduced. Remove from heat. Serve patties over steamed jasmine rice, topped with sauce and sliced scallions.

Serves 6.





Khmer-Style Chicken Curry

Khmer_Chicken_Curry3 (1 of 1)This very flavorful curry dish is served in Cambodia, where it is called samlá. I believe the original version would use a ton of fresh galangal — ginger works fine, as well. I added a touch of galangal (Laos) powder (which I keep in the pantry) to add that woody delicious aroma of galangal. I prefer this curry rather fiery, but if you like it milder, you can cut down on the Thai chilies. If you like curry, you must try this dish and let me know what you think!

4 inches fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced cross-wise
3 stalks lemongrass, outer leaves removed, bottom 6 inches finely chopped
2 – 4 dried Thai chilies, soaked in hot water 20 minutes, then finely chopped
1/2 tsp Thai shrimp paste
1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tsp grated lime rind
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp Laos powder (dried, ground galangal)
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
5 garlic cloves, peeled and coarsely chopped
4 shallots or 1 medium onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed and cut into bite-size pieces
1 14.5 oz can coconut milk
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp fresh lime juice

Combine first 11 ingredients (through shallots) in a food processor. Process into a smooth paste.

Heat oil over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven. Add ginger mixture and stir-fry 1 minute. Add Khmer_Chicken_Curry2 (1 of 1)chicken and brown on all sides, about 4 minutes. Add coconut milk and sugar. Deglaze pan while bringing mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer 25 minutes. Remove lid and let simmer an additional 5 minutes, until sauce is slightly thickened. Stir in lime juice and season with additional salt and/or sugar if desired. Serve over steamed jasmine rice.

Serves 4.


Stuffed Veal Scaloppine Simmered in a Red Wine-Tomato Sauce

Stuffed_Veal_Scallopini1 (1 of 1)Some people have issues with veal — I don’t. I’m not a big fan of sitting down to a veal shank (I may change my mind someday about that), but I love lean, thin cuts of veal (costoletta di vitello alla milanese, with  or without bone is one of my favorite dishes!). This dish is a bit more involved (say, Sunday afternoon) than some of my other posts, but it is well worth the effort — very delicious and elegant!. Once again, the ingredients a simple, and come together very well. Hope you give it a try!

12 veal scaloppine slices (about 1 1/2 lbs, no more than 1/4 inch thick), cut into roughly 4-inch x 4-inch squares, very lightly salted on both sides
1/2 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup yellow raisins, soaked in 3/4 cup hot red wine for 10 minutes; drained
1 cup grated pecorino romano cheese
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
3 oz thick prosciutto from butcher, diced
1/3 cup coarsely chopped parsley
3 large cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 large egg
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 oz pancetta, minced
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 28-oz can tomato puree
1 1/2 cups red wine
1/2 cup beef broth
1 tsp salt

In a medium bowl, combine pine nuts, raisins, cheese and black pepper.

In the bowl of a food processor, add the prosciutto, parsley and garlic. Pulse a few times until a paste forms (don’t over process). Add the paste to the pine nut mixture together with the egg. Combine well.

On a nice, clean spot on your counter, lay out the 12 scaloppine pieces. Place a good-sized spoonful of the prosciutto mixture on each piece of veal. Gently roll up each veal piece (stretch meat if necessary), and secure with three pieces of butcher’s twine.

In a large, shallow sauce pan (or something similar, that will easily fit all scallopini in a single layer), heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the pancetta and saute 2 minutes. Add onion and saute another 3 minutes. Remove pancetta and onion with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Add the stuffed scaloppine and brown on all sides (about 8 minutes). Remove and set aside.

Add tomato puree, red wine, beef stock and salt to the pan. Bring to a boil, while deglazing at the same time. Reduce heat to medium and cook about a minute. Add back the stuffed scaloppine, onions and pancetta. Gently ensure that the scallopini are well-covered in the sauce. Cover. Reduce heat to very low and simmer gently for 1 hour. Remove from heat and let sit, covered, for an additional hour (very important step!). Remove butcher’s twine from scaloppine. Serve over orecchiette that have been tossed in a bit of olive oil and a hint of salt.

Serves 4.