Whoever prayed for snow, enough already! Why not bring the much awaited spring to our kitchen by making warm comfy Mushroom Risotto? That's what I did last night.
I had my first taste of risotto when my husband, Anand and I were in Brussels, Belgium during his work stint in Europe in 2001. We had just got married at the beginning of the previous year. So it was just the two of us.
Anyway, we chanced upon this fancy Italian Restaurant while driving around. It was an isolated restaurant in the middle of nowhere and the roads were empty probably because of the weather. I remember the evening clearly - it was a cold Jan evening and while we were sitting in that cosy dimly lit restaurant waiting for our dinner, rain was pouring down from the awning outside...
When the waiter served the steaming Mushroom Risotto on a large white plate it looked similar to a rice porridge. I was skeptical about its taste. Alas, looks can be deceiving. When I savored my first spoonful, it was simply heaven. I loved its creamy rich flavor and when it landed in my tummy it felt so warm and comfortable. How was it that I had not tasted this incredibly delicious food before? We actually ordered the same dish again because it was so delicious! It has become one of my favorite Italian dish ever since.
Mushroom Risotto has a chance of becoming heavy and creamy if the right ingredients and the right techniques are not used. Though it might seem time consuming ( because it requires constant stirring while pouring in the stock), it is well worth the effort and time.
This is the recipe for authentic Italian style Mushroom Risotto cooked skinny.
Ingredients ( Serves 4)
3 tbsps olive oil ( 2 tbsps for cooking the mushrooms and 1 tbsp for cooking the rice)
2 portobello mushrooms, washed and sliced thinly (See Note 1)
8 button mushrooms, washed and sliced thinly
1 medium onion, chopped finely
1.5 cups Arborio Rice (See Note 2)
6 cups Fat Free Vegetable Stock, warmed (See Note 3)
4 tbsps light olive oil butter
1/3 cup Light Parmesan Cheese
Salt for taste
Warm 2 tbsps of olive oil in a big pot and put in all the mushrooms, 2 pinches of salt and sauté for 3-4 minutes. Keep the mushrooms and its liquid aside.
Warm another tbsp of olive oil in the same pot and add in the chopped onions and fry for 2 mins. Put the Arborio rice into the pot and let the oil coat all the rice grains for another 2 mins. Season with salt sparingly (See Note 4)
Start adding in the stock slowly. Only 1/2 cup at a time. Stir constantly tilll the stock is absorbed by the rice grains and then add the next 1/2 cup. It's tedious but the stock has to be absorbed evenly. This whole process of the stock being absorbed will take 20-25 mins. That's right - 25 mins. (I can hear you going 'what?! ')
When the last 1/2 cup has been absorbed, reduce the fire to its lowest. Add in the mushroom and its liquid, light butter and Parmesan. Mix thoroughly. Check for seasonings.
Remove from fire and serve immediately garnished with parsley flakes. Any risotto is best eaten when it has just been cooked. A simple garden salad will suffice as a side dish.
1) You can substitute the mushrooms with asparagus as well.
2) Arboria Rice is the special rice used for cooking risotto. It is readily available in many grocery stores.
3) You can make your own veg stock. Look out for the recipe in my earlier posts.
4)Watch out for salt when adding during the cooking because Parmesan Cheese has sodium as well.
5) Risottos are very suitable for those who have a sensitive tummy( ie nothing fiery) and need to be on a bland diet.
I had button mushrooms leftover after cooking Mushroom Risotto last night. Scoured through my very own Tried and Tested Recipe Book 1 (TTRB1) and came across this easy recipe using leftover rice and mushrooms. It's actually very simple to cook when you are in a hurry.
Ingredients ( Serves 4)
1.5 cups Jasmine Rice cooked rather bitey not overcooked. ( See Note 1)
2 tbsp any good quality veg oil
1 medium onion, chopped finely
8 button mushrooms, washed and sliced thinly.
1/2 red bell pepper, sliced into thin short strips ( See Note 2)
1/2 cup baby peas
Light soy sauce and pepper for seasoning
Heat a big pot and start frying the chopped onion in oil.
Add the sliced mushrooms, bell pepper and peas. Let it cook for 5-10mins.
Season with 1 tbsp soy sauce and a dash of pepper.
Put in the rice, let the seasonings coat the rice and vegs.
Check for seasoning and serve hot with a tomato based curry.
1) Basmati Rice can also be substituted with Jssmine Rice. Cook as usual. Leftover rice is even better.
2) Red bell pepper adds color to this dish. But you can use any other color of bell pepper as well.
I absolutely love feta cheese. I like the tartness of this Greek cheese and since we can get the fat free or low fat version nowadays, I use it on everything from salads to omelets to soups and today, cutlets.
Riya, my younger daughter, asked 'Mama you put feta cheese in everything, huh?'
Contrary to popular belief potatoes are not fattening. It becomes fattening only if they are fried or served with butter or a rich sauce. Potatoes are rich in Vitamins C & B6, potassium and other minerals. The skin is a good source of fiber. Potatoes make an inexpensive, filling and nutritious starchy food.
This recipe for feta cheese and potatoes goes back again to Singapore. I am digging up all my fav recipes from the past to share with you. Anand and my girls are having a field day savoring all the different food I am preparing nowadays...
Ingredients (for 18 - 2inch cutlets)
1 large Or 2 medium Russet Potatoes
1/3 cup finely sliced scallions
1 cup low fat or fat free crumbled feta cheese
Salt & pepper to taste.
2 cups breadcrumbs - 1 cup for mixing with potato and another cup for dredging
1/2 cup skim milk
Oil for grilling
First boil the potatoes, remove skin and mash well.
Add the sliced scallions, feta cheese, salt, breadcrumbs and pepper. Mix well. Watch out for salt as feta cheese has quite a bit of sodium.
Shape them into balls and flatten into 2 inch size cutlets. Dredge them in the milk and then the breadcrumbs.
Shallow fry or grill with minimal oil. It's rather delicate so you must handle the turning over carefully.
Once it is golden brown on both sides, remove from pan and serve warm as a snack with tobasco sauce or chilli flakes.
It is rather heavy so I doubt you can eat more than 3 cutlets at one serving. Just for info.
For those who are not really aware of Indian culinary, Gobi Manchurian is the result of adaptation of Chinese cooking and seasoning techniques to suit Indian Tastes. This dish is made of cauliflowers but cooked with Chinese and Indian seasonings. Its taste can vary from mild spicy to hot and fiery based on personal preference. Gobi Manchurian is served as an appetizer, as a snack with beer or as an accompanying dish to mains.
It is a very popular fried dish in India. But it can be made both dry or with gravy. I have prepared the dried version here.
Yet, it is possible to bake Gobi Manchurian. In fact, a lot of food that requires frying can be baked. I attempted this because firstly Anand, my husband, is a health freak so we don't do a lot of deep frying at home. Secondly, I came across another Chef ( I don't want to mention names here) in Google+ who actually deep fried the cauliflower florets twice to make it crispier!! Found it so alarming. What hazardous health is she putting herself, her family and not to mention her followers to!! Of course, if you have an Air Fryer, that makes it all easier since it doesn't require any oil.
Ingredients (serves 3-4 as a side dish)
1 medium cauliflower, cut into small sized florets
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp ginger garlic paste
Salt to season
1 chopped chilli ( reduce if you prefer less spicy)
1 medium onion chopped finely
1 more tsp ginger garlic paste
1 tbsp light soy sauce
2-3 tbsp tomato ketchup ( make sure it doesn't hv High Fructose Corn Syrup - see my post on the dangers of HFCS in Wellness Tip Of The Day )
2 tbsp good quality veg oil
chopped coriander leaves for garnishing
Preheat the oven to 425 deg F ( 220 deg C) and prepare two baking trays. Spray cooking spray or apply veg oil on them and set aside.
Mix the whole wheat flour, ginger garlic paste, cornstarch and salt in a mixing bowl. Watch out for the salt because you will be adding light soy sauce later!
Dredge the florets in this mix and place it on the baking tray. Bake for 25 mins or until cauliflower florets are browned and cooked.
Remove from oven and let it cool.
Pour the oil in a saucepan and fry chopped chilli and onion till light brown.
Then add in the ginger garlic paste and fry further.
In the meantime, mix the soy sauce and tomato ketchup in a separate bowl.
Pour this mix into sauce pan and let it simmer for 2 minutes.
The baked florets will stick to the tray. Scrape all of them and then add them to the saucepan.
Let the seasonings coat the florets for a few minutes.
Serve hot with any Indian dishes garnished with coriander leaves or as a snack.
Do post comments or pictures if you hv tried the recipes:))
Full of flavor and bursting with nutrition, these energy bites will keep you going throughout your day.
Ingredients ( Makes 25 of 1.5 inch bites)
1 cup oats, ground
1/2 cup flaxseed toasted and ground
1/2 cup Peanut Butter, any variety
1/3 cup honey
1 tsp Vanilla Essence
Choc Chips for garnishing
Put everything in a mixing bowl and combine with fingers for better mixing.
Then take s small amount, roll into a ball and flatten the bite on your palm.
Place it on a baking tray and garnish with Choc chip in the center.
Make the rest of the dough in the same way. It turns out rather gooey not like a crisp cookie.
I am just experimenting on this, so I am not sure how long they will last in room temperature. Will update you soon!
I am using a whole wheat base here for the pizza. You can buy a ready made one from your grocery store but if you are not hot about the preservatives, you can create your own base using the recipe below. This pizza requires a bit more effort and time but I assure you it is all worth every effort you put in. The recipe below yields a 12 inch round pizza.
WHOLE WHEAT PIZZA DOUGH
Ingredients ( Pizza Dough)
1/2 tsp white sugar
3/4 cup warm water ( 110 deg F or 45 deg C)
1/2 tbsp active dry yeast
1/2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all purpose flour
Some extra all purpose flour for dusting rolling board
Method ( Pizza Dough)
Place the warm water in a bowl and dissolve the sugar in it.
Then sprinkle the yeast on the top but do not stir. Leave it to get foamy for about 10 mins.
After 10 mins, add in the salt and olive oil and stir.
Add in both the flour and mix for a few minutes. You would have got a ball of dough by now.
Remove this dough and place it on a floured rolling board. Knead to form a smooth dough. Add in a little olive oil or extra flour to help.
Place the dough in a well oiled bowl, cover with a loose towel and let it rise for around 2 hours near a warm place.
In the meantime, prepare the toppings.
BOSCAIOLA PIZZA TOPPINGS
Ingredients ( Toppings)
2 tbsp Olive Oil
4 cloves Garlic, minced
5 cups Spinach, washed
4/5 button mushrooms, washed, dried and then sliced
Salt to season
75 g Fontina Cheese, sliced thinly ( Provolone will do too)
Powdered Parmesan Cheese for garnish
Method ( Toppings)
Take a sauce pan and heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in it. Fry 2 minced garlic cloves till slightly brown, put in the spinach , add a pinch of salt and cook till it wilts. Set aside.
Take the same saucepan and heat the other tbsp of olive oil in it. Fry the other 2 minced garlic cloves again till slightly brown and then put the sliced mushrooms, a pinch of salt and fry till the mushroom slices are cooked and water has all evaporated. Set aside.
Slice the Fontina cheese and set aside.
After 2 hours, preheat the oven to 425 deg F or 220 deg C.
Roll out the dough on a floured board till it stretches very thin. Then, arrange the cooked spinach and mushrooms till it covers the entire base.
Arrange the sliced Fontina Cheese systemically. Sprinkle a little powdered Parmesan Cheese on the top and bake on a well oiled pizza tray for 15-20 mins till the cheese melts and the dough browns at the edges.
Enjoy warm with red chilli flakes or on its own.
In Singapore, we frequent a restaurant called Lemongrass Thai Restaurant. I have a long history with this restaurant because when I was expecting Ranya, my 12 year old, I had cravings for spicy sour food. This restaurant was my savior. I was there every other week in 2002!
Anyway, they serve this dish Spicy Beancurd with Thai Basil Leaves. It has a nice balance of spice, sweet and salt. decided to recreate it at home. It is not too bad. Anand, my husband, says it is an exact copy! I made it once for a friend in Spore. She loved it too.
Ingredients ( serves 4 as a side dish )
2 cups Thai Basil leaves
3 Small firm tofus cut in triangle shape and shallow fried or air fried
2 tbsp good quality veg oil
4-5 Garlic cloves, minced
1 Red chilli sliced at an angle
1 tbsp Light soy sauce
1 tbsp Sugar
1.5 tbsp Vegetarian mushroom sauce
1/3 cup Roasted cashew nuts for garnish and crunch
Heat oil in a pot and fry garlic till light brown.
Mix the sauces and the sugar in a separate bowl.
Pour this sauce mix into the pot.
Add in the chilli and the basil leaves and fry for 3 minutes.
Add in the grilled tofus and roasted cashew nuts. Mix well.
Remove from heat and serve hot with Jasmine Rice.
This dish is always well received in my household. Hope it does in yours too!
This super easy dish of asparagus is sure to guarantee thumbs up from your family members.
I added mango to tomatoes to give the regular bruschetta a tropical twist. I liked the sweet flavor but you be the judge when you make them on your own.
Ingredients ( 8 slices)
1/2 baguette (multi grain or wholemeal is preferred)
3 tomatoes, deseeded and diced
1 cup diced peach/mango/pineapple
4 basil leaves, rolled and sliced finely /half a tsp dried basil
2 garlic cloves, peeled & sliced
EVOO for drizzling
Salt for seasoning
Slice baguette and toast till light brown.
In the meantime, combine tomato cubes, fruits and basil leaves in a bowl. Season with salt
Remove Baguette slices from toaster and rub garlic cloves onto them.
Drizzle with olive oil.
Spoon the mango tomato mixture onto the baguette slices. You can even add fat free feta cheese crumbles for extra flavor.
Serve warm with a nourishing soup.
Packed with health benefits, broccoli is one of the vegetables you should be eating on a regular basis. I don't think I have to vouch for broccoli. I am sure we know a lot about this great vegetable. They don't call it a superfood for no reason.
Here I have come up with a low fat broccoli soup to nourish our body while laying off the fats.
Ingredients (Serves 2)
2 tbsps EVOO
1 medium onion chopped finely
2 garlic cloves minced
3 cups fat free veg stock
5 cups broccoli florets
1 potato, scrubbed, eyes removed and cubed small
1 cup skim milk
Salt & Pepper to season
EVOO for swirling and low fat Feta cheese crumbles for garnish and for that mmmm.... flavor
Heat a soup pot with EVOO and then add the chopped onions.
Fry the onion till it becomes translucent, not brown.
Then, add the minced garlic and again fry till translucent only.
Season with salt & pepper.
Add in the veg stock and let it come to a rapid boil.
Toss in the broccoli florets and potato cubes.
Let it cook on low heat for 5-10 mins with the pot covered.
Once the vegetables are cooked, blend the mixture till smooth and creamy.
Return to pan and add in the skim milk.
Let it boil once more and check for seasoning.
Serve hot in a soup bowl garnished with fat free feta cheese crumbles and a swirl of olive oil. Marries well with any bread dish - bruschetta / garlic bread.
Light delicious wholesome dinner.