Romano Cheese Risotto with Pan-seared Veggies

January 14, 2012 § Leave a comment

Ah risotto. Fancy. Creamy. Buttery and cheesy.

It can either be delicious or taste like crunchy, hard, glue.

Let’s avoid the latter.

How to Not Suck at Making Risotto

  • Please use the right type of rice. If you use just your regular rice, this project is doomed from the start. Good types include: Arborio, Carnaroli, and Vialone Nano.
  • Do not wash your rice. You need starch to get that creaminess.
  • Toast your rice. Cooking the rice in hot butter for about 2 minutes helps it to absorb liquid better.
  • Use good quality wine and broth. Remember it is going to be concentrated, so if you can’t even take a sip of that wine, you don’t want it in your risotto.
  • USE HOT BROTH! Ok no one told me this, and I was wondering why my risotto was so hard. By using cold broth, you are lowering the temperature of the risotto and making it more difficult to absorb. You and to keep the temperature constant, so simmer your broth in a pot next to your cooking risotto.
  • A little at a time. Add about 1 ladle of liquid into the risotto at a time.
  • Keep stirring. That helps to release the starch from the rice.
  • Ignore most time estimations. It really depends on the freshness of your risotto, your wine, your broth, your stove, etc. Do what feels right. If it is hard, it still needs cooking.
  • Risotto should be creamy, not dry, stick to your spoon, and al dente instead of mushy or hard.


  • 20 stalks asparagus
  • 1/4 onion or a few small shallots
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 bunch broccoli
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 6 tbsp butter
  • 1 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 1/2 cup risotto rice (I used
  • 4 cups broth
  • 3/4 cups Romano Cheese


  1. Cut up asparagus, carrots, broccoli, and peas.
  2. Place veggies into a pan with some olive oil and sauté for 3 minutes. Allow sear for another 3 minutes.
  3. Cut up onion and place into pan where you will cook risotto. Add 3 tbsp butter.
  4. Cook onion until it is translucent and soft.
  5. Add rice, toast for 2 minutes, coating it in the butter.
  6. Put your broth to heat.
  7. Begin adding wine, a little at a time. Stir until absorbed.
  8. After wine is absorbed, begin adding hot broth a ladle at a time until all is absorbed. This will take a while. Your risotto should not be swimming in liquid at the end.
  9. Once broth is absorbed, remove from head (to prevent overcooking) and add in 3 tbsp butter and the Romano cheese.
  10. Stir butter and cheese vigorously into the risotto to make it creamy.
  11. Once butter and cheese are totally mixed in, add seared vegetables.
  12. Best eaten hot out of the pot!

For a nice example of how your risotto should look in various stages, see FlourishingFoodie’s great tutorial!


Chicken Noodle Soup for Your Sniffly Nose

January 12, 2012 § Leave a comment

I am sick.

I woke up a few days ago and I had a runny nose, congestion in my chest and my sinuses, lethargy, a sore throat, the whole nine-yards.

So for me, that normally means a couple of things. First, my chest gets slathered in copious amounts of Vicks Vapor rub. Second, I up my vitamin c and zinc supplement intake. Then, third, I drink a delicious mixture (not really delicious but it helps with the sore throat) of lemon, Angostura bitters, salt, and honey. Down the hatch!

Now, the sore throat made it difficult to want to eat, since every time I opened my mouth I felt pain. Eating literally gave me a headache. So, it became clear that it was time for some soup, and what better soup to soothe an aching body than some home made chicken noodle soup?

Chicken noodle soup is scientifically proven to be awesome for colds! Drinking the warm fluid and the steam that rises from it helps to thin mucus, along with the soup’s cycteines.¹ It is also anti-inflammatory, which helps to shorten the duration and lessen the symptoms of colds and upper respiratory tract infections.² Of course, if your culture is one where your mom use to serve you this when you were sick, the psychological benefits of warm soup are multiplied. Finally, most of the veggies and herbs traditionally in chicken noodle soup are beneficial to our health, and the complete soup gives us carbs, protein, and veggies all on one delicious bowl!

Warning: this soup will take a long time if you include the time to make the broth. However, it is super easy and most of that time does not require your interaction at all. That’s how I was able to make it because, remember, I am sick. So if I can do it, you can too.

Broth Ingredients

  • Whole 5 lb Roaster Chicken (I don’t use giblets etc.)
  • 3 Celery ribs
  • 2 Carrots
  • 2 Potatoes
  • 1 Onion
  • 5 Cloves Garlic
  • 1 tbsp Parsley
  • 1/2 tbsp Pepper
  • 4 Bay leaves
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • Smalle piece Ginger
  • 10-20 Coriander seeds

Broth Directions

  1. Clean your chicken and put it in your pot. Ok I put it in the whole chicken because I am lazy. You could debone it now, or wait until later, when the meat will be falling off of the bone anyway.
  2. Add enough cold water to cover your chicken. It is important to use cold water to help extract collagen, which is part of what helps chicken soup alleviate cold symptoms. While the chicken begins cooking, you can skim off the “scum” that rises to get a clearer stock, if you are into that sort of thing.
  3. Cut celery, carrots, potatoes, and onion very roughly. Not too small.
  4. Add veggies to pot, along with garlic, parsley, bay leaves, cumin, cayenne pepper, ginger, and coriander.
  5. Stir to incorporate all parts.
  6. Bring broth to a simmer, not a boil. It is important not to boil broth, particularly with celery (which is prone to becoming bitter) because it can cause the soup to become cloudy and bitter. (Also, look at how upset Tampopo is that she let the soup boil. You don’t want to upset Tampopo do you?)
  7. Cover the pot. Lower the temperature of the stove and leave to cook for 4 hours. Don’t be tempted to peek and stir, because stirring helps to break down the veggies and make a cloudy broth.
  8. After 4 hours, remove cooked chick and separate meat from bones. Put meat aside for soup.
  9. Strain broth through sieve and cheesecloth. You can use the leftover veggies by pureeing them with broth for some soup later.
  10. Broth can be stored in the fridge for about a week, and longer in the freezer. If you want a low fat broth, skim off the fat once it has congealed after cooling in the fridge.

Soup Ingredients

  • 2 Potatoes
  • 3 Ribs of celery
  • 3-4 Leaves of kale
  • Onion
  • 2 Carrots
  • Whole wheat fettuccine
  • Chicken, from broth
  • Broth
  • 1 tbsp Parsley
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 tbsp Butter

Soup Directions

  1. Cut all veggies into bite sized pieces.
  2. Shred chicken.
  3. Heat pan and add 2 tbsp butter. Melt butter.
  4. Once butter is melted, add onions. Cook until soft, about 3 minutes.
  5. Add kale, potatoes, celery, and carrots. Cook 4-5 minutes.
  6. Add broth to desired amount.
  7. Add desired amount of pasta. I added a ton because I’m not a fan of watery soups, being Trini. Actually I wanted to add dumplings, but decided that was too much of an undertaking for a sick person.
  8. Add desired amount of chicken.
  9. Cook broth for the amount of time required to cook pasta.

Enjoy, and get better!

Chicken Soup Inhibits Neutrophil Chemotaxis In Vitro

Apple Pie

January 10, 2012 § Leave a comment

Continuing in the holiday food that I should have posted about earlier series…

I’m sure many have a deep and abiding love for apple pie. Actually, for a long time apple pie was the only type of pie that i could stand to eat. Most commercial pumpkin pies taste too much like baby food, and even our state’s famous key lime pie was too artificially enhanced for my liking.

On the other hand there was apple pie. I guess the thing is, apples are so abundant and so resistant to spoilage there isn’t much of a point in trying to use “apple flavoring.” Also, once the pie crust is cooked, there is not much left to making an apple pie except throwing some apples in there. Perhaps that is why even McDonald’s apple pies held an allure for me (not anymore though, too sweet!).

So, while Thanksgiving and Christmas normally only brings thoughts of Christmas Cake to my mind, I realized for many other people in the US apple pie was the thing to bake.

Oven Temperature: 425 F
Yield: 1 pie


  • 7 Apples
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp clove
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp cardamom


  1. Make pie crust according to this post.
  2. In a bowl, peel, core. and slice apples
  3. Cover apples with lemon juice, sugar, flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, ginger, and cardamom. Mix.
  4. Set aside for about an hour, this helps the flavors to mix
  5. Place filling in crust
  6. Cover with either a plain crust with holes poked in or a lattice (tutorial!) crust.
  7. Brush the top crust with egg white and sprinkle on some sugar for style
  8. Bake for 15 minutes at 425, reduce temperature to 350 and bake for another 30 minutes. It should be nice and bubbly.
  9. Let pie cool completely about an hour before serving.

Nothing to it!

By the way, check out this gorgeous pie from Parade! Doesn’t it look scrumptious?

Pie crust for Newbs

January 6, 2012 § 1 Comment

Ok, so making pie crust isn’t that hard.

It just takes patience and lots of cool dough.

What is difficult is making croissants, which makes me think of how insane people must have been when croissants were invents because of the copious amounts of butter it involves. Seriously, what kind of food requires you to “laminate” it in butter? Of course it is totally worth it, but that is some unhealthy indulgence right there.

Anyway, making a pie crust isn’t like that. It is relatively simple, and just requires a lot of patience and cool dough.

I know this because I made my first pies this holiday season and they came out light, and flakey, and just perfectly saturated with the pie filing. So since I don’t consider myself a master chef, I know that you too can be good at pie making.

Oven Temperature: 450
Yield: 2 crusts


  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter


  1. Place 1 cup of water into the freezer just before beginning your pie
  2. Mix together flour, sugar, and salt
  3. Cut up butter into small pieces and add to the flour-mixture
  4. Using a pastry blender, two knives, two forks, or your hands, cut the butter into the flour. This means you are mixing the butter into the flour until the butter pieces are the size of peas and the mixture is very shaggy and crumbly. The mixture should not be totally even, but make sure to turn the mixture over as you cut the butter. I use my hands because I don’t own a pastry blender and I learned the old school way from my mom, but if you don’t have experience with cutting butter this way you can end up melting all of your butter. You want your butter super cold and visible, melted butter leads to a tough pie crust.
  5. Take your water out of the freezer, and make sure there is no ice in it. Drizzle 1/2 cup over the butter and flour.
  6. Begin gathering the dough together (preferably not with your hands, remember we want to warm it up as little as possible, plus that water is cold!) and add small amounts of water as needed to help the dough stick together.
  7. Divide the dough in half and wrap each in plastic wrap.
  8. Chill dough for 2 hours or overnight.
  9. Flour your surface and your pin.
  10. Take out your chilled dough and flour that too. Don’t skimp or it will stick and oh man you don’t want a broken pie crust. If it does stick, use a dough scraper or a metal spatula to scrape it off of your rolling surface.
  11. Roll your dough slowly and gently. Roll out a few times, lift up the dough, and then turn it 90 degrees. Add flour. Repeat. This will take a while. If you are a weakling like me, your arms will hurt and you will wonder why you needed to make so many pies. Endure and think of the deliciousness your oven will deliver you.
  12. To trim the dough, I use a pizza cutter and add about 2-3 inches to the circumference of my pie pan.
  13. Let crust rest for 10 minutes before baking to help prevent shrinkage.
  14. To transfer, fold the pie dough into quarters loosely but first folding in half and then folding that in half again. Let it loose in your pan!
  15. Press the dough gently into the bottom of the pan, centering the dough as you go.
  16. There should be some overhang of dough over the edge of the pan. This will be your pie crust. If this is a single crust pie (like pumpkin pie) you will crimp the edges by pushing the dough into the knuckle of your pointer finger on one hand, with the thumb and pointer knuckle of the other hand, If it is a double crust, you put the top layer on after filling and crimp it then with an egg wash to help it stick.
  17. Let crust rest in the fridge 20 minutes before baking.

Blind Baking

Blind baking a pie is when you baker the pie crust before putting in the filling. Why would you do that? Well, it is mainly done when you are going to make a pie with a liquid filling that might make the crust too soggy, like pumpkin pie. You can also do it just to store the crust for later.

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Use a fork to prick the bottom of the pie. Try to get an even distribution since this helps prevent the bottom from poofing up.
  3. Weigh the pie done with pie weights. Some people use commercial pie weights, some people use beans or pennies (ewwww). I used rice since it was what I had on hand. I put wax paper over the crust and then poured in rice. This is now my pie baking rice and it is chilling in the freezer.
  4. Bake pie for 30 minutes, until the crust is a light brown.
  5. If you are worried about burning the crust when baking the filling, use a pie shield or cover the crust in foil to protect it.

Woo, that was a long post!

Relax and enjoy your pie! You deserve it!

P.S. Check out Smitten Kitchen’s Pie Tutorial for awesome pictures and step by step help!

Green kale smoothie

December 21, 2011 § Leave a comment

As promised here is a heart-healthy recipe for a green kale smoothie!


  • 2 Kiwi
  • Banana
  • 10 ml milk
  • 3 tbsp yogurt
  • 1 tbsp flaxseed oil
  • 1 large branch kale


  1. Roughly cut up kale and place in blending container with milk.
  2. Blend kale and milk about 1 minute, until desired consistency
  3. Add other ingredients
  4. Blend until smooth


Ingredient Spotlight: Kale

December 20, 2011 § 2 Comments

Kale! Kale!Kale!

It was once a lowly common ground shrub, and now whole cultures of foodies and health-nuts have embraced it as a superfood.

So, what is so amazing about kale? Everything, basically.


Kale is high in beta carotine, vitamin K, calcium, potassium and many other vitamin and minerals. It even has several chemicals that have been found to fight cancer and help repair the body’s cells and DNA.

How to Cook

In order to preserve the vitamins, minerals, and other benefits of kale, it should not be boiled. Steaming or lightly stir frying is the way to go.

Ways to Eat

While I haven’t had it, everyone seems to rave about kale chips. It is on my list of things to do!
On the other hand, I love a green smoothie with a healthy amount of kale. Recipe coming up soon!


December 2, 2011 § Leave a comment

What is sorrel?

You probably know the plant as hibiscus. What Trinis call sorrel is not the sorrel plant, but a drink which is produced from steeped hibiscus fruit or flowers and spices.

The drink is a brilliant red color,sour, sweet, and spiced. Also, it will stain anything forever.

For Trinis, it isn’t Christmas without sorrel! I can’t remember a year without it. When I was little I couldn’t wait to smell sorrel on the stove and drink some Poncha de crème with my Christmas Cake.

We are lucky enough to have a West Indian market nearby so that we can pick up sorrel whenever we want, but during this season, the shelves are empty. I know that in nearly every West Indian house nearby someone is getting out the big sorrel pot and steeping some flowers.

Obviously, that’s what’s going on at my house.


  • 10z dried Sorrel (if you don’t have a West Indian market you can get it here, or if you prefer organic, here
  • 330oz Water
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 6 cloves
  • 1 piece of ginger
  • 5lbs granuated sugar
  • 5 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 1/4 liter Strawberry syrup


  1. Boil water in large pot
  2. Remove pot from heat and add dried sorrel, cinnamon, and clove
  3. Cover and leave overnight
  4. The next day, add sugar, bitters, and syrup to pot
  5. Stir to mix
  6. Strain sorrel and pour into container
  7. (optional) Flavor with rum for an alcoholic kick

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