Sunday, October 30, 2011

Risotto Cakes

Risotto is basically a creamy rice recipe that is made with arborio rice, wine, onion, garlic, chicken stock or broth, and cheese (usually parmigiana cheese) - I used nutritional yeast. Here is a recipe to make your basic risotto. My ratio is 1 cup rice to about 3 cups of warmed stock. I've used either a wide, deep skillet or a large sauce pan - it doesn't matter. If you want to have risotto one night, then make the cakes another night, I suggest doubling the recipe so there is enough.

Usually with leftover risotto, aranchini is made. You basically form the rice into balls, stuff cheese in the middle - then you flour, egg, bread and fry them. I've always wanted to try this, but didn't want to go through the hassle of rolling into balls and doing the whole flour, egg, breading, then frying them (I don't like frying round things).

We had risotto last night and I made extras with the intention of making these patties. The risotto needs to be chilled before you can make the cakes, the chilling helps bind the cakes when they are cold.

First I put some brown rice flour into a pie pan and added some garlic and onion powder and some pepper. I wet my hands, then scooped a fair amount of risotto into my hands and shaped it into a patty. I coated the patty well on both sides with the flour mixture and placed in a non stick skillet with heated olive oil. I let it fry for about 2-3 minutes on each side till it was nicely brown. I made 3 patties to try and only ate 2, I'll save the other for later, toasting to crisp up again.

The risotto cakes were crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle. The only thing I would do next time is add some more nutritional yeast before forming into patties, you could add your cheese of choice. This was very yummy, I love the crunchy/soft texture and I plan to make this again - real soon, tho I am plan on making risotto cakes out of the entire batch of risotto.

So next time you make risotto and have some leftover, try and make some risotto cakes, I bet you'll love them as much as I do.

Happy frying!!

Comments or questions are always welcomed. I would love to hear what you think of this recipe. Thanks!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Port Townsend

Ok, everything's put away and back in their place. We just came back from a camping trip to Port Townsend. We had a great time and Heather was able to come and enjoy some time with us. We like to stay at Point Hudson, it's a marina that's right at the end of town and is a wonderful place to stay. We've been there now about 6 times and each time is better than the last. We love that the RV park is right in town and right on the water. Our RV spot was right by the water - literally 20 feet from the Pacific Ocean, it was great to hear the water lapping on the rocks. Because it's fall, we really weren't sure what the weather was going to be like. We were hoping for very little rain and that's what we got. Apparently, we just missed a small rain and wind storm the night before. The weather for the rest of the days were perfect, and of course, the humidity was high.

There is an awesome restaurant right at the park called T's Restaurant - it's become a favorite for us whenever we are in town. It is casual, fine dining at it's best. The menu is great and because it's right there at the park, you don't really have to dress up. A lot of the patrons are campers, but there are many who come eat there because the food is great - customer service is great too.

You know when you go camping, sometimes, it's either the place that's interesting or the people that are interesting? This time, it was the people. Out of the entire RV park, our side of the park ended up with 4 RV's in one spot. Our neighbors were very nice. Soon after we got settled, we got a neighbor. It was a couple who had 2 cute little pugs. The man's name was Mike and I am sorry to say that we forgot his wife's name. They were very nice people and it turns out that they were on there way back from Oregon. They went to pickup the motor home they were it. We thought they were from Oregon because of the license plate, but they're from Sequim!

We thought this was so cool - after dinner on Tuesday, we went for a walk on the beach. As we're coming back, we meet the campers that are in the 2nd spot next to ours - next to Mike's motor home. Their names are Patty and John. We start chatting about camping, when Patty asked if we were there in May (we were actually, with our oldest daughter Dawn). We told her yes and she said she remembered talking to one of our daughters (it was Dawn). In May, they had a spot that was across from us - this time, they were 2 spots away from us. Turns out Patty and John are from California and they love to come up here, they were going through Oregon after leaving Washington. When they do come here, they don't make a reservation, they just show up and take what they get - how ironic that they were in a spot by us and it May we were both there at the same time also. I didn't remember them, but Jim did - I bet Dawn would remember them. Isn't that neat? We've met so many nice people camping.

On Wednesday, we went to do some downtown shopping. I love going to Wynwood Beads, they have an awesome array of beads and charms - many of my creations have come from this fabulous store. While at Wynwood Beads, Jim starts chatting with the owner. That day, there was a strong odor of sewage permeating the town and Jim was asking what might be causing that odor. The owner said that it was coming from the sea gulls. The sea gulls are a huge problem in town and it get exacerbated by the food businesses who throw out leftover food for the birds to eat, and what goes in has to come out and it causes a large problem, so the food businesses have been told to not throw out their leftover food.

We also found out that back in the day, Port Townsend was designated to be the original Seattle. There is an underground, but not the kind of underground that we think of. Port Townsend is one of several towns on the Pacific Northwest to have Shanghai Tunnels. Now I've heard of the term "shanghai" and I've known it to mean to get taken by someone. Well it's true, it was called shanghaiing back in the 1800's where men were "taken" from saloons forcefully and forced to work on ships. That's why a lot of saloons back then had trap doors. These doors led to tunnels built to take kidnapped men to ships and they were forced to become part of the ship's crew. Here is a pic and history of shanghai tunnels. Here is a another pic of a larger tunnel in Tacoma.

Apparently, the tunnels under Port Townsend flood frequently and river otters travel through them to come and land and have their babies. River otters are said to be the the size of a medium-sized dog and can be seen coming onto land.

So, that was our adventure in Port Townsend. We go every year and we always learn something new - this time, we learned about some of its past history. Next time you go vacationing, ask about the area you are visiting and you might learn something you never knew before.

Thanks for reading!!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Peppers Casserole Recipe

Stuffed Peppers is a great dish that Jim and I both love to eat, but I didn't like that the stuffing fell out each time I went to cut the pepper - I like a mix of everything in one bite. Then I thought, "why not put the peppers in the casserole, then there's no problem of the stuffing falling out." I still get peppers in my meal and nothing falls out - genius!

Peppers Casserole

2 large green or red bell peppers, sliced thin. I've been using frozen peppers in a  
        bag, it's cheaper, plus you get 3 colors in the bag - very colorful
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, sliced thin
1 clove of garlic, chopped
1 lb. of lean ground beef
1 cup of cooked rice
1 cup chopped tomatoes, fresh, canned or roasted
1 tbsp. chopped fresh oregano or 1 tsp of dried oregano
Salt & pepper
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 tsp of worcestershire sauce
Dash of tabasco sauce or other hot sauce
Cheddar cheese (optional)

Sauté ground beef in oil, drain and remove to pie pan or plate.

In the same pan, sauté peppers and onions in oil for several minutes till slightly soft, but still crunchy. Add cooked ground beef then salt, pepper, rice, tomatoes and oregano - mix well. Cook until heated thru.

Combine ketchup, worcestershire sauce, hot sauce and pour on top of meat mixture. Can mix sauce in or leave as a topping (the original recipe uses it as a topping, but I mix it in as the flavors mixed together is very yummy). Sprinkle on cheese, cover and let sit for 5 minutes. Serve with a nice green salad.


Saturday, October 8, 2011

Meeting The Galloping Gourmet, Graham Kerr

Port Angeles, Washington is having their annual Dungeness Crab Festival this weekend and Graham Kerr, The Galloping Gourmet, was invited to be the main speaker. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go because I knew it would probably be crowded and me being short, I probably wouldn’t be able to see him.

Taken from my cell phone - blurry!
I ended up going and it wasn’t as crowded as I thought, but I was having a hard time seeing the front. Graham was going to be on stage, but the early speakers were on the floor, which was hard to see. As I’m waiting and trying to find a good spot, I noticed some people had 2 of Graham’s books. I thought to myself that I wouldn’t buy them because they’re probably too pricey. I ended up finding a great spot off to the side of the stage and was able to see him - I couldn’t see him doing things on the table, but generally, I could see him, and that was all that mattered to me.

He talked about his wife Treena and how he helped her after she had a heart attack and a stroke. He totally revamped his way of cooking to benefit her and he said that there is no way she can get another heart attack or stroke with the way he’s been cooking for her. He started to grow his own foods and talked about eating more whole foods. "Eat more plants, grow more plants, share with others . . . gather with your neighbors." He also said, "We need to do less harm to our soils and water." He talked about “not putting all your eggs into one basket because they will break  keep them in an egg carton. They can bounce all around in the egg carton and they will not break.”

His mantra is: Eat, Grow, Gather, Share

The first letters in each of those words spell EGGS. In January, he is going to start an Egg Carton Club. It’ll be an online site where people like us can go and share things about food.

He promoted his books for sale. It is normally $27, but for today, it was by one get one free for $20. I figured that this was a once in a lifetime chance for me and the price was pretty reasonable for TWO books, so I went and purchased them. The lady that helped me said that Graham would be signing the books after he was done on stage.

When cooking, he said that if you take something out (like fat), put flavor in - lots of flavor. He likes to use olive oil I Can’t Believe it’s Not Butter - it is a very healthy replacement for butter or other spreads.

He made for us a sauce with some parsnips. He used parsnips, evaporated milk, some water and a little salt. He chopped the parsnips and boiled them, put them in a blender with the milk, added a touch of water and the salt. He let that puree for 3-4 minutes. He told us that he created this sauce by accident while talking to a friend on the phone. Just as he turned on the blender, his phone rang. He left the kitchen and closed the door so he could hear. After 4 minutes of talking to his friend, he remembered his sauce and told his friend that he had to go because he had something he had to tend to and when he went back to his sauce, it was smooth and glossy - how sauces are supposed be.

After making the sauce and telling us the story, he demo’d how to make an omelet. He used 2 oz. of Southwest Egg Beaters and 1 whole egg, put it in a pan and moved it around with a fork. When it was still slightly runny, he added his filling - peas and some parm cheese. He was given some lavender pepper last night from someone local and was very pleased with it and he used that in the omelet. He showed us how to get the omelet out of the pan and poured his parsnip sauce over the top and added some smoke paprika and more cheese. He had someone from the audience who’s never made an omelet before come up to the stage and he walked her thru making an omelet. The omelets were passed around, but I didn’t get any - they passed out forks while I went to purchase the books, I missed out.

At the end, he talked about spending less time watching TV and more time with our families and neighbors. He closed by teaching us sing a song - I don’t remember the words, but it was a great way for him to close the show. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to stay for the signing because it was already 12:30, I hadn’t eaten lunch, and I didn’t go to the Farmer’s Market. But as I passed the line for signing, it wasn’t that long, so I decided to wait. The line went pretty fast and when it was my turn, he started chatting with Treena, his wife so I didn't get his full attention. I was kind of bummed, but he did say that he liked my name and after signing both of my books  I asked if I could take his picture and Treena said, “Let me take both your pictures.” She had a hard time with my cell phone camera and I had to help her out. After taking our picture, I said it was nice to meet him and I left. I wanted to say more, but his attention was with Treena.

It was very cold and after standing in the outdoors for an hour, my teeth were chattering while walking back to the car. I did go home for a quick bite to eat, then I rushed to the Farmer’s Market which closed at 2pm and it was already after 1. But, despite being cold, it was a rather nice day - I got my shopping done, I got to learn how to make a new sauce, and I got to meet a celebrity chef - how cool is that?

2018 update: Sadly, Treena Kerr died in 2015. Graham Kerr still comes up here for appearances.

Thanks for reading!!!


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Roasting Tomatoes

Why roast a tomato? Well, roasting tomatoes or any kind of vegetables intensifies their flavor and brings out their natural sweetness. It gives them a different texture from steaming or sauteeing and so much can be done with them after they are roasted. You can eat them as is or include them in your favorite recipe. The roastedness of the veggies just adds great flavor to any dish, in my opinion. When eating veggies as a side dish, I prefer to eat them roasted - they taste nutty and a little crunchy. For added flavor, top with some parmesean cheese and you have a fantastic side dish.

I roast tomatoes to include it in other recipes, I just love the intenseness of the flavor. My husband, Jim, doesn't care to much for tomato sauce, so I get that great tomato flavor by using a some roasted tomatoes in my recipes.

This is so easy to do. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Take however much roma tomatoes you want to roast, I've also used cherry or grape tomatoes - I also include some garlic.

Using a steak knife, remove the core from the tomato. Smash the garlic, remove the skins and place on your baking sheet (lined with foil for easy clean up) .

Slice the tomatoes - I like to slice it in half first, then hold the flat side (for more control) and slice from there.

Lay the tomatoes on your baking sheet and pour olive oil over it and the garlic. If I wasn't baking whole garlic cloves, I would've added chopped garlic. I also sprinkle on salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder - mix it up and spread out on pan. You can add herbs of your choice if you like. 

**Sorry - I missed taking this pic**

Bake in your oven for 25 minutes. Your house will smell like a gourmet kitchen - it was awesome!

The garlic got crunchy and real sweet - the flavor was different than roasting a whole bulb of garlic.

After it cools, use as desired. I made my Peppers Casserole with this - you will have to come back for that recipe, I'll have it up this weekend.

Happy Roasting!!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Orlando’s Gorgonzola Schmear

Jim’s dad's name was Orlando and he used to make this concoction that they would schmear all over steaks. He made it using roquefort cheese, but we use gorgonzola – roquefort is too costly, plus you can get gorgonzola in convenient tubs. There are really no measurements to this recipe - you make it according to taste. This has that strong blue cheese bite and is really good on any kind of meat, especially steaks - tonight we had it on hamburgers. Jim really loves this and he can eat it straight up like peanut butter on a spoon - he frequently does. He calls it Gorgonzola Schmutz - I can't say schmutz so I call it a schmear (schmearing sounds better than schmutzing to me).

I have to tell you how much of a fan Jim is of this. As he was getting ready to make this, he noticed that we were all out of olive oil. I said to try and sub canola oil for this and he started to get upset and said, "No, I'd rather use nothing!" I thought I was in for it as I forgot I had used up all the oil earlier in the day. All was well tho, my daughter - Heather, was coming to do her laundry so I called and asked her to bring some. A crisis was averted and Jim was happy, and so was I.

Orlando's Gorgonzola Schmear

Gorgonzola cheese (I buy this one), you can buy the block, but this is so convenient 
Granulated garlic (you can use real garlic, 1 small clove since it can be overpowering)  
White wine
Extra virgin olive oil

Put enough of each to form a thick, chunky paste (might need to microwave it to soften some) – taste and adjust ingredients. Great accompaniment to go with any kind of meat. Store leftovers in the frig, but if you’re a fan like Jim, there won’t be much leftover for long.

Happy Schmearing!!