Mango Dessert Risotto

Mango RisottoThis rice dessert is great served warm or cooled, and can be made with flavours other than mango. Just swap out the diced mango and juice and substitute with peaches, or cherries or raspberries. The possibilities are endless and will most definitely impress! If you find that your fruit is not sweet enough, you can always add a bit a sugar. If it’s too sweet, you can cut it with a dash of lemon juice. This recipe will serve 6 for dessert.

Ingredients:

1 cup Arborio rice
3 cups water
3 cups mango nectar or juice
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups of fresh mango, diced
optional garnishes: toasted coconut, dried fruit, nuts or mint

Directions:

Heat water, mango nectar, nutmeg and cinnamon in a sauce pan to simmer. In another large saucepan, set on medium/high heat, measure out 1 cup Arborio rice and add one cup of the hot water/mango mixture, stirring constantly until all the liquid is absorbed. Continue adding the water/mango mixture one cup at a time until all the liquid is used and rice is tender. (If texture is too firm, add ½ cup additional water.) The rice should take about 25 minutes to cook, and still have some sauce left. Fold in the diced mango. Garnish with toasted coconut, nuts, dried fruit or mint.

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Spanish Paella

PaellaSo how can you have a week dedicated to rice and not touch on paella? Originating in the Valencia region on the east coast of Spain, paella is widely regarded as Spain’s national dish, as well as the identifying symbol of the Valencians. The three best known types of paella are Valencian paella, seafood paella, and mixed paella, but there are many others as well. Valencian paella is believed to be the original recipe and consists of white rice, green beans, meat (chicken and rabbit), white beans, snails, and seasoning such as saffron and rosemary. Another very common but seasonal ingredient is artichoke. Seafood paella replaces meats with seafood and omits beans and green vegetables. Mixed paella is a free-style combination of land animals, seafood, vegetables, and sometimes beans.

The dish earned it’s name from the pan in which it is prepared. Derived from the Old French word paelle for pan, which in turn comes from the Latin word patella for pan as well. Valencians use the word paella for all pans, including the specialized shallow pan used for cooking paellas. Paelleras are traditionally round, shallow and made of polished steel with two handles. As most North American home kitchens don’t have paelleras hanging around, a large, oven proof skillet will do as a replacement.

The recipe below is a bit of a twist on a traditional paella, as there is chicken and sausage, but no fish or shellfish. A key ingredient that is present though is saffron. It adds an essential taste and colour to the dish that is a must! Due to the high cost of saffron, you can use Mexican saffron rather than Spanish or European, as it tends to be cheaper. Just note that you need to use a bit more, as the flavours are not as intense. If you can’t find kosher chorizo sausage, you can use a substitute such as a smoked paprika or spiced sausage. The recipe below will serve 8 very happy people.

Ingredients:

Chicken:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon smoked sweet paprika
2 teaspoons dried oregano
salt and black pepper to taste
2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 2 inch pieces

Rice:
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
2 cups uncooked short-grain white rice
1 large pinch saffron threads
1 bay leaf
½ bunch Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped*
1 litre chicken stock
1 (398ml) can of diced tomatoes
2 lemons, zested**

Sausage & Vegetables:
½ tablespoon olive oil
1 pound chorizo sausage, casings removed and sliced/diced
1 large Spanish onion, diced
1 large red bell pepper, diced
½ cup frozen green peas

* Click here to learn how to properly clean parsley.
** Click here for tips on zesting.

Directions:

In a medium bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons olive oil, paprika, oregano, and salt and pepper. Stir in chicken pieces to coat. Cover, and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet or paella pan over medium heat. Stir in garlic, red pepper flakes, and rice. Cook, stirring, to coat rice with oil, about 3 minutes. Stir in saffron threads, bay leaf, parsley, chicken stock, diced tomatoes and lemon zest. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to low. Simmer 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat ½ tablespoon olive oil in a separate skillet over medium heat. Add the cut up sausage to the skillet and saute until the fat begins to render from the meat. Once the sausage is cooked/heated through, using a slotted spoon, remove it from the pan, but keep the majority of the fat/drippings in the pan. Return the pan to the heat, and add the marinated chicken and onion, cooking for 5-7 minutes. Add the bell pepper and cook for another 5 minutes. Once the chicken is almost fully cooked, return the sausage to the skillet, along with the peas, and mix to incorporate.

Combine the meat/vegetable mixture with the semi-cooked rice, and place in the preheated oven for 10-20 minutes, until the rice has completely finished cooking and has begun to get a bit crispy. Serve hot!

Corn, Rice, Tomato & Arugula Salad

Corn, Rice, Tomato & Arugala Salad

This is a great light salad that is even better the second day, as the flavours have had a chance to meld. If you can find fresh corn, it’s definitely worth it! This recipe will serve 6.

Ingredients:

1 cup rice
4 ears of fresh corn, husked & silks removed (or one 341ml can of corn niblets)
2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes cut in half
1 cup fresh arugula leaves or spinach*
1 fresh jalapeño, seeded and thinly sliced (optional)
1 cup red onion, cut into thin slices (approximately ½ small red onion)

For Dressing:

4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

* Click here to learn how to clean arugula and spinach.

Directions:

Prepare the rice according to package directions and cool. Cook corn in boiling water for 3 minutes. Drain. Let ears cool, and then trim the corn off the cob by cutting closely to the cob in long strips. Carefully lay aside. Combine cooled rice, halved tomatoes, onion, jalapeño and arugula in a serving bowl. Carefully arrange corn strips on top of rice mixture and drizzle the salad dressing over all. Refrigerate at least an hour before serving.

Rice Stuffed Bell Peppers with Feta Cheese

Stuffed PeppersThis is a great dish for a weeknight, and will make those in your household that don’t eat meat very happy! Here’s a tip, when selecting bell peppers, choose those with 4 bumps or “legs” on the bottom to cook and select those with 3 or less bumps or “legs” to eat raw. This recipe will serve 6.

Ingredients:

1 cup wild rice blend
6 large bell peppers, tops trimmed off about ½ inch, cored and seeded
1 (341 ml) can of corn niblets
½ cup feta cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped*
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped*
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
4-5 Kalamata olives, minced (optional)
1 ½ cups of your favourite tomato sauce
2 green onions, sliced*
Salt and Pepper to taste
Garnish with 2 sliced green onions, and remaining warmed tomato sauce, if desired.

* Click here to learn how to properly clean these herbs.

Directions:

Cook the rice according to package directions. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat a large pot of water to boiling and par-boil prepared green bell peppers for 5-10 minutes, depending on the thickness of the pepper. They should be softened but not cooked through. Drain and place in shallow baking dish coated with non-stick spray.

Stir feta cheese, corn, herbs, garlic, olives, green onions and salt and pepper to taste into cooked rice. Divide the mixture among the bell peppers and top with 1 cup of the tomato sauce. Bake until heated through, about 30 minutes. (May take longer according to the size of peppers. Insert a knife into the middle of the rice mixture and leave for a few seconds. Remove the knife and touch to see if it is hot. The knife should be hot to touch if the peppers are completely heated through.)

Garnish with additional sliced green onions and remaining warmed tomato sauce.

Salmon & Brown Rice Potstickers

Salmon & Rice PotstickersRice is nice! And this recipe makes a great appetizer, or if you’re like me, and get addicted, can easily wind up making a meal out of them! In this recipe I’ve called for Salmon, but you can easily substitute with a different fish, or different protein all together. They would be equally as good with chicken or tofu. This recipe will make about 24 potstickers.

Ingredients:

¾ cup of long grain brown rice, fully cooked
1 package wonton wrappers
¾ pound salmon (or other protein)
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce**
1 cup fresh parsley leaves, loosely packed*
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1-2 tablespoons of ginger, finely chopped
½ tsp black pepper or chili flakes (optional)
½ cup grated carrots
½ cup minced water chestnuts
2 tablespoons vegetable oil for cooking
water, for steaming the potstickers
garnish: toasted sesame seeds and sliced green onions*

* Click here to learn how to properly clean fresh parsley and green onions.
** If using meat instead of fish or tofu, please click here to learn about the use of Worcestershire Sauce with meat products.

Directions:

Add salmon, oil, sugar, Worcestershire sauce, parsley, garlic, ginger and pepper or chili flakes into food processor and pulse to make a chunky paste. In a bowl, mix together the salmon paste, carrots, water chestnuts and cooked rice. Fill the wonton wrappers as directed on package sealing the edge with a dab of water on your finger.

If you’re not making the potstickers right away, refrigerate or freeze them on a baking sheet lined with parchment until ready to use.

Heat a small amount of oil in a sauté pan, and lightly brown filled potstickers on one side. Flip, and add water to cover bottom of pan. Cover and steam about 4-5 minutes. Top with sesame seeds and green onion and serve with your favourite dipping sauce.

Dirty Rice

Dirty RiceNo, before you get all worried, I’m not suggesting you eat the rice that you swept up as part of your Passover cleaning! Dirty rice is a traditional Creole dish made from white rice which gets a “dirty” colour from being cooked with small pieces of chicken liver or giblets, green bell pepper, celery, and onion, and spiced with cayenne and black pepper. Parsley and/or chopped green onions are common garnishes. Dirty rice is most common in the Creole regions of southern Louisiana; however, it can also be found in other areas of the American South. This recipe will serve 6 as a side dish, and 4 as a main.

Ingredients:

2 cups uncooked rice
4 cups chicken stock
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium/large onions, diced (about 1½ cups total)
2 medium green bell peppers, diced (about 1 cup total)
2 stalks celery, diced (about 1 cup total)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ pound ground beef
½ pound chicken giblets or livers**
2 bunches green onions, chopped*

* Click here to learn how to clean green onions.
** If you are using livers instead of giblets, please ensure to following the directions found in this article on how to Kasher your raw liver.

Directions:

If using Giblets:
Place the giblets in a pot, and cover with water, bring to a simmer for 30 minutes with 1 bunch of green onions, salt and pepper.

If using Liver:
If using raw liver, please Kasher it according to the instructions provided in the link above. Once the liver is cooked (either purchased cooked or cooked through the Kashering process), follow the same steps as the giblets, however only simmer until warmed through, not for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a colander, rinse rice several times until water runs clear. Place rice in a large pot and add chicken stock. Bring to a boil then cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Do not overcook.

In a pan, sauté the garlic, onions, bell peppers and celery in vegetable oil until soft for about 10-15 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, thyme, bay leaf and cayenne and add to rice. Cook the ground beef in a sauté pan and add to rice.

Finally, let the giblets cool enough to chop into small dice then add to rice mixture. Mix rice well and let simmer on lowest heat for an additional 30 minutes, stirring continuously, until flavors meld. Serve hot garnished with the second bunch of green onions.

Sausage & Chicken Jambalaya

Sausage & Chicken JambalayaThis one dish meal is great for a weeknight, and can be made as spicy or mild as you like. You can use any type of sausage that you like, though if using a raw one, I suggest either completely removing it from the casing and cooking it up like ground meat, or cooking it whole with the casing still on, then slicing it up thick and adding it to the pot later. Just be careful when stirring the dish later that if you’ve cut up the sausage that it doesn’t crumble and break up too much! This recipe will makes 6 servings.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons oil, divided
1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
¾ pound sausage, sliced into rounds
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 onion, diced
1 small green bell pepper, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (398ml) can crushed Italian tomatoes
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon hot pepper sauce
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon dried oregano
1 ¼ cups uncooked white rice
3 cups chicken broth

Directions:

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large heavy Dutch oven over medium heat. Season the sausage and chicken pieces with Cajun seasoning. Sauté sausage until browned. Remove with slotted spoon, and set aside. A lot of oil will naturally render when you are cooking the sausage, so you can use this very flavourful oil to now cook the chicken pieces in. If you find that you don’t have enough oil from cooking the sausages, you can always add a bit more oil to the pan. Add the chicken pieces to the pan and sauté them until lightly browned on all sides. Remove with a slotted spoon, and set aside.

In the same pot, sauté onion, bell pepper, celery and garlic until tender. Stir in crushed tomatoes, and season with red pepper, black pepper, salt, hot pepper sauce, thyme, basil and oregano. Stir in chicken and sausage. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the rice and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed. Serve hot!

Spicy Black Beans and Yellow Rice

beans and riceIngredients:

For Beans:
2 cups (about 1 pound) dried black beans, picked over, soaked overnight
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ medium onion, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, deseeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 bay leaf
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

For Rice:
2 cups long-grain rice
4 cups water
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 tablespoon turmeric
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 bay leaf

Directions:

For the beans:
In a large pot, soak beans overnight covered in water by 2 inches. Drain and set aside.

In the same pot, heat the olive oil. Add the onion, jalapeno pepper, garlic, and bay leaf and cook until the vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the beans and cover with water by about 1-inch. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 1 to 1 ½ hours, or until the beans are tender. Remove the bay leaf and discard. Taste the beans and season with salt and pepper.

For the rice:
Put all the ingredients into a heavy-bottomed pot, stir well, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook over low heat until the rice has absorbed the water, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and let sit, covered, for 5 minutes. Discard the garlic and bay leaf, fluff with a fork, and serve.

Risotto Milanese

Risotto

While risotto can be labour intensive, with all the stirring involved, the end dish is so worth it! This is a classic recipe in the Milanese style, calling for the use of Saffron. Saffron for those who are not familiar with it is the stigma from the crocus flower. It is pollinated and harvested by hand, making it one of the most expensive ingredients in the world. Luckily, a little goes a long way.  Saffron lends a distinctive taste and colour to this dish, and in my mind, is worth the price. This recipe makes 4-6 servings, as a side dish.

Ingredients:

extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, cut into ¼ inch dice
2 cloves of garlic, minced
kosher salt
2 cups Arborio rice
2 large pinches saffron
3 to 4 cups vegetable stock, kept HOT
1 to 1 ½ cups dry white wine
2 tablespoons butter
½ to ¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Coat a large saucepan generously with olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic and salt and sweat them until translucent, about 5 minutes. Bring the pan to a medium-high heat. Add the rice and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, letting the rice slightly stick to the bottom of the pan and scraping it off. It should also sound crackly. Add the saffron to the hot stock; the stock should turn bright yellow. Add the wine to the pan until it covers the surface of the rice. Season with salt and cook over a medium-high heat, stirring continuously until the wine has absorbed into the rice. Add the saffron stock to the pan until it covers the rice. Cook over a medium-high heat, stirring continuously until the stock has absorbed into the rice. Repeat this process two more times with the hot saffron stock. When the third addition of the stock has absorbed and the rice is very creamy, bite a couple grains of rice to be sure it is cooked perfectly. If it is still a little crunchy, add a little more stock and cook the rice for another couple of minutes. When the rice is cooked perfectly, remove it from the heat. Toss in the butter and cheese and “whip the heck out of it.” The rice should be creamy but still flow and hold its own shape.

Tre Formaggio Arancini (Three Cheese Rice Balls)

Arancini

This recipe may seem a little labour intensive, but trust me, the end result is worth it!! Of course, it’s always easier if you just happen to have left over risotto sitting around your kitchen :). For those of us that don’t though, you’ll find this a very easy recipe as it does not involve the time consuming process that a regular risotto does. Buon appetito!

Ingredients:

2 ½ cups low-sodium vegetable broth
½ cup dry white wine
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup arborio rice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese (2 ounces)
½ cup shredded fontina cheese (2 ounces)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 large eggs
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
1 ½ cups breadcrumbs, divided
vegetable oil, for frying

Directions:

Bring the broth and ¼ teaspoon salt to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in the rice, garlic and onion, and then reduce the heat to low and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Spread on a parchment-lined baking sheet and let cool completely (if you’re in a hurry, try sticking the sheet in the fridge or freezer!). Combine the pine nuts, mozzarella, fontina and parsley in a bowl and set aside. Beat the eggs in a large bowl, then stir in the cooled rice mixture, the parmesan and ⅔ cup of the breadcrumbs. Shape the mixture into sixteen 1 ½ -inch balls. Put the remaining breadcrumbs in a shallow bowl. Press your finger into the centre of each rice ball, and insert 2 teaspoons of the cheese mixture, then pinch the rice around the filling to seal. Roll the balls in the breadcrumbs and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Loosely cover and refrigerate, at least 1 hour or overnight. (If refrigerating overnight, roll in more breadcrumbs before frying). Heat ½ inch vegetable oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 350 degrees F. Working in batches, fry the rice balls, turning, until golden brown on all sides, about 4 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels; season with salt. Enjoy hot with marinara sauce or plain!