Archive for category Main Courses
I recently invested in a cool new kitchen tool – a rice cooker. I’ve been making rice for decades, and I consider myself a good cook, but rice is usually hit-and-miss with me. As we eat a fair amount of rice, it seemed like a good investment. As it turns out, the rice cooker does a lot more than cook rice. In fact, I played with my rice cooker for two weeks before I actually tried to cook rice in it!
One of the things that my rice cooker does REALLY WELL is Quinoa. I love Quinoa – it’s healthy, it’s got nice texture, a great nutty flavor and you can do sooooo much with it. When I cook it on the stovetop, it frequenly comes out gummy. However, in the rice cooker (use the white rice setting) it turns out fluffy and light and perfect. The only downside to making Quinoa in my rice cooker is that you need to make at least 2 cups. That is lots of Quinoa. So here’s a great recipe to use up some of your leftover cold Quinoa. This salad is healthy and delicious.
CHICKEN AND QUINOA SPINACH SALAD
1/2 bag of prewashed spinach (or get 1 bunch and wash it really, really well)
1 pear, cored and sliced
1/4 c. dried cranberries
1/4 c. crumbled bleu cheese
1 c. prepared Quinoa, chilled
4 green onions, sliced lengthwise, then crosswise in 1/2″ pieces.
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (steamed in your rice cooker)
2 T olive oil
1 T cider vinegar
1 T Orange juice
1 small dollop of honey (let’s call it 1/2 t.)
Another great use for the rice cooker is steaming - one of my new fave easy meals is to make brown basmati rice in the bottom of the rice cooker while simultaneously steaming salmon filets in Teriyaki sauce in the steamer basket. Wow. More on that later.
Back to this recipe – let’s steam the chicken. Put water, 1 garlic clove and 2 bay leaves in the bottom pot of your rice cooker. Then put the steamer tray in the top. Put the boneless skinless chicken breasts in the steamer tray, sprinkle them with salt and pepper and steam for 18-20 minutes (or however long your rice cooker booklet says). Prewashed spinach is one of those amazing cheats that I don’t feel at all bad about using. Toss the Spinach, Quinoa, bleu cheese, pear slices, green onions and cranberries together in a large bowl. Whisk together the dressing ingredients. Toss the dressing with the salad greens. Put 1/2 the salad on each of 2 dinner plantes. Top each salad with one of the sliced cooked chicken breasts. Sprinkle with a bit more of the crumbled bleu cheese. Yum-o-licious.
Just one of my many, many new obsessions. I love whole grain mustard, but it’s soooooooo expensive. Who’d have thought it was this easy to make. NOTE: for those of us who live on the Central Coast and really don’t have a good gourmet food store, you can get yellow mustard seeds at New Frontiers and brown and black mustard seeds at Amazon.com. Go for bulk sizes – those little tiny spice jars are waaaayyyyy too expensive. Sometimes garden stores will have mustard seeds as they are used for ground cover to keep land from eroding. Make sure the seeds haven’t been treated.
A recipe for easy, easy mustard crusted salmon follows, too.
Make your own YUMMY Whole Grain Mustard:
4 T. Mustard Seeds *
1/3 c. Cider Vinegar **
½ teaspoon each salt and sugar***
Put the mustard seeds in a pint mason jar or big coffee cup. Cover them with the 1/3 c. of vinegar – make sure that the seeds are completely covered- then cover with the cup with Saranwrap or put the lid on the jar. Let the seeds soak on your counter for up to 5 days. Top up the vinegar as needed. The mustard gets spicier the longer the seeds soak – I ‘m a 3-day girl–that’s about all the “spicy” I can handle. Pour off any remaining vinegar and reserve. Using your blender, immersion blender or mini chopper, grind the mustard seeds to your desired level of graininess. Traditionally this is done in a mortar and pestle. You can still do it that way if it floats your boat – but I love technology in the kitchen. Stir in ½ t salt and ½ t sugar. Use a little of the reserved vinegar to thin the mustard as desired. Refrigerate the finished mustard to stop it from getting stronger. The mustard is VERY sharp once you finish grinding it up. It needs to settle for a couple of days in the fridge before you use it.
* The yellow seeds are tangy. The brown seeds are spicy. The black seeds are hot. My favorite blend is 2T yellow and 1 T each of brown and black.
**You can use white wine, red wine or beer instead of vinegar. When you get to the blending stage, add vinegar to taste.
***You can use honey or any other sweetener instead of sugar.
My last batch was Stout and Molasses which I was awesome on mustard glazed salmon (recipe follows).
MUSTARD GLAZED SALMON
Serve with Morovino Barbera
4 6-ounce pieces of salmon or steelhead filet, skin on
1/4 cup whole grain mustard
1 T olive oil
1 minced green onion
Salt and Pepper
Set up your oven racks – one rack should be 2nd notch from the bottom and the other should be 2nd notch from the top. Preheat your oven to 400. Take out your rimmed baking sheet and line it with foil. Place the salmon filets on the foil, skin side down. Salt and pepper the fish. Stir the mustard, olive oil and green onion (OK, you could use chives, but I ALWAYS have green onion and I NEVER have chives) together in a little glass bowl. Place 1 big spoonful of mustard on top of each filet and spread it around. Put the baking sheet in the oven on the bottom rack and roast for 6-8 minutes, depending on how thick your filet is. After 6-8 minutes, switch your oven from bake to broil. Let the broiler heat, and move your baking sheet to the top rack until the mustard gets brown and crusty – about 3 more minutes.
FLASH FROM MRS.VINO: Mix 1/4 c. Panko bread crumbs and 2T grated parmesan together, then sprinkle on top of the mustard crusted salmon just before your broil it – it makes an amazingly crunchy crust that really enhances this dish.
Pull the baking sheet out of the oven. Using a spatula, remove the fish from the skin. Somehow, miraculously, the skin sticks to the foil and the fish comes right off – it’s kind of scary how easy it is.
Serve with crusty bread or baby potatoes and your favorite veggie. Delicious and very easy.
We’ve made so very many great friends in the past year or two. We love sharing our passion for food and wine with you. This recipe was inspired by our friends Carlton and JoEllen who gifted us with a most amazing piece of smoked salmon. Thanks, Joey & Carlton!
Lox and Cream Cheese Risotto
Make with Morovino Pinot Grigio/Serve with Morovino Barbera
1 c. Arborio rice
3 c. low fat chicken broth
1T olive oil
1/2 c. Pinot Grigio or other dry white wine
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
4 ounces delicious smoked salmon from Joey & Carlton – or equivalent
1/4 c. reduced fat cream cheese
zest of 1 lime
I like to make Risotto in my non-stick sautese (saute pan with tall sides). It just seems to cook better in there. Put the chicken broth in a 4 cup pyrex measuring cup and heat in the microwave for 3 minutes (or put it in a small saucepan and heat it on the stove on low until it is warm). Heat the oil over medium heat until it starts to shimmer. Add the diced onion (reserve 2 T for garnish) and saute for 4 or 5 minutes until translucent (not browned). Add the Arborio rice and saute for another 2 – 3 minutes until the rice turns opaque. Coincidentally most standard ladles hold 1/2 cup. This comes in very handy when making Risotto as you add the warm broth and wine 1/2 cup at a time. SO, using your ladle, add 1/2 c. Pinot Grigio to the rice and onion. Stir until the wine is absorbed. Then add the broth 1/2 cup (one ladle full) at a time, letting each ladle full absorb before you add the next. It should take you about 25 minutes to add all the broth – if it takes less than that, your heat is turned up too high.
When you get to your last ladle full of broth, add it to the pan. Add the 1/4 cup cream cheese and the lime zest at the same time to finish the risotto. Let the broth absorb and cheese melt for 3-4 minutes. Taste a couple of grains of the rice – they should be al dente – not hard or chewy but still have a bit of texture to them.
While the risotto is finishing, dice the salmon. Put the risotto in 2 pretty bowls. Top each bowl with half the salmon, then 1 T of capers, 1T of red onion. Yes, it’s a large serving of risotto, but it’s relatively healthy and oh, so delicious.
Risotto is my ultimate 30 minute comfort food. And it serves as an amazing canvas for . . . . any flavor. Making it is a minor skill that is totally worth mastering.
Serve with Pinot Grigio
12 green onions, grilled (barbecue, Foreman Grill or under broiler) and chopped
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh Meyer lemon juice (1 large lemon)
2 teaspoons finely chopped Meyer lemon zest (1 large lemon)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 cloves garlic
1 pound soft goat cheese
Grill green onions on your barbecue, Foreman Grill, under your broiler, or on your stove top grill pan. You want the onions soft, and just starting to carmelize (char) a bit. Chop the green onions and place the onions, oil, lemon juice, and zest in a food processor. Process til smooth. Add the goat cheese and garlic and process until combined and smooth.
But now, what do you do with it??? Use it as a dip with cubes of French bread. Toss it with hot pasta, then top with sliced green onions Or, Mrs. Vino’s absolute FAVORITE: use 1/3 cup of it instead of parmesan cheese to finish a risotto. OMG, you can’t believe how good that is. Amp it up a notch by topping the Risotto with shrimp and diced heirloom tomato.
Serve with Morovino dry Pinot Grigio or Barbera.
Super easy and super delicious. Also a great multi tasker. You can use fresh roasted pumpkin, but I actually like the texture better when you use canned!
2 T. Tahini (sesame seed paste-find it in the Asian Food Isle)
2 T. fresh lemon juice
1 t. ground cumin
1 t. olive oil
3/4 t. salt or to taste
1/8 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
1 15-ounce can pumpkin (NOT pie filling)
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 T. fresh parsley, chopped
Add these ingredients (except Parsley) to your food processor and whirl around until smooth. Then add parsley and pulse a couple of times to incorporate. I put this in a pretty fall bowl and sprinkle toasted pumpkin seeds on top of it. If you bought the roasted pumpkin seed oil for the Stilton and Pear Bruscetta, drizzle a bit on the top of this, too. Serve with Pita chips.
I usually double this recipe! It’s Second Chance Cuisine option is to use it to finish a risotto. Just make your risotto as you normally do (recipes on this site). Then, instead of finishing with parmesan cheese, just before serving the risotto, add the 1/4 c. of pumpkin hummus and stir until incorporated. Top the risotto with toasted pumpkin seeds. This dish has a Third Chance Cuisine Option, too. Use your favorite premade cheese ravioli and use the pumpkin hummus as a sauce. Just heat the hummus in a saucepan with a little milk or chicken broth to thin it. Add a little fresh or dried sage for extra credit. It’s kind of like an inside-out pumpkin ravioli. De. Lish. Us.
This dish is so easy and delicious that Mrs. Vino realized she was preparing it once a week for an 8 week period. It’s great for busy evenings and I do it for holidays as it is virtually impossible to overcook the salmon when preparing it this way.
Make and serve with Pinot Grigio – any of them!
1 filet of salmon (about 2 lbs), skin on or off, your choice
½ c. Morovino Pinot Grigio or other white wine (could also use chicken broth)
1 clove of garlic crushed
2T soy sauce
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Thinly slice ½ the lemon. Put the wine/broth, the juice of the other half of the lemon, garlic and soy in a 9 x 12 baking dish. Put the salmon in the baking dish. If it has skin, it should be skin side down. Top the salmon with the slices of lemon. Cover with foil and put in the oven for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes remove from oven, and remove the skin. For gourmet bonus points, drizzle it with Black Truffle Oil (available at Von’s, online and at specialty food stores). Serve with a green salad and mushroom risotto.
I have had so very many comments on this recipe – it is easy, delicious and relatively healthy. I hope you try it soon!
Make and serve with 2009 Barbera.
2 Large bonelss, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 ½ lbs)
1 C. Morovino Barbera
1 Small onion, chopped
4 Cloves garlic, minced
½ package of mushrooms, sliced
1 small can sliced olives, drained
1 14 oz. Can diced tomatoes, undrained
2 T. olive oil
¼ C. shredded basil leaves
4 thin slices of prosciutto or pancetta
Add the oil to a saute pan and brown the chicken breast on both sides over medium heat (about 5 minutes). Remove the chicken breasts and put them in the oven to keep warm. Use the same pan to brown the onions, garlic and mushrooms over medium high heat (about 3 minutes). Add the Barbera to deglaze the pan and allow it to reduce by half. Add the tomatoes and the olives and let the juices reduce a bit more. Add the chicken breasts back to the pan and top with 2 slices of pancetta or prosciutto. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Uncover, add the shredded basil leaves and let simmer for 3-4 more minutes. You can top this with shredded parmesan, if you like it. This is great served with any type of pasta. Ooooohhhh. Mrs. Vino is getting hungry as she types this
(a Twist on a recipe by Rachel Ray)
No wine in this one. Serve with 2010 or 2011 Pinot Grigio Rose.
DON’T PANIC – THIS LOOKS MORE COMPLICATED THAN IT IS!
4 C. chicken or veggie stock
1 bay leaf
2 C uncooked brown rice (yes, white will work too)
2 large red or green bell peppers
6 ears of corn on the cob, or 3 C. frozen corn kernels
3 T vegetable oil (not olive oil)
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded, membranes removed, and chopped
4 cloves garlic, or 2 heaping spoonsful of crushed garlic from a jar
1 ½ t. ground cumin
½ t. dried oregano
¼ C-ish of fire roasted tomato salsa
1 small handful (about ½ C.) cilantro leaves—or use flat leaf parsley
1 bag of baby spinach leaves—or, if you insist, ½ lb of spinach leaves that you have to carefully clean yourself!
4 green onions, chopped
1 C. shredded reduced-fat (Mrs. Vino is trying to watch her girlish figure) Monterey Jack cheese
FIRST: Heat 3 ½ C. stock in a sauce pan with the bay leaf until it boils. Add rice, cover pot and reduce heat to simmer. Let simmer for the amount of time listed on the package (it will vary for white or brown rice) MINUS 5 minutes.
THEN: preheat your oven to bake, 350 degrees.
NEXT: Remove corn from cobs. OR, microwave frozen corn, then dry it on a clean kitchen towel. Chop onion and Jalapeno. Zest limes. Remove top, seeds and membranes from the 2 large bell peppers. Heat 2T of vegetable oil (Olive oil won’t get hot enough) in a sauce pan over high heat. When oil begins to ripple a bit and smoke a tiny bit, dump in the onion, jalapeno and corn. BE CAREFUL, the oil is hot and if the corn is still damp, it will spit. That’s why you need to dry it well. Stir occasionally, but not too much, you want the veggies to brown. It will take about 4-5 minutes. Add the cumin, oregano and salt and pepper to taste. Cook another minute, then take the pan off the heat. Add the salsa and sprinkle the lime juice over the corn.
AFTER THAT: Put the cilantro, spinach, scallions, lime zest, ½ C of stock and 1T of oil in a food processor and whirl it until it is a gooey green paste. NOW: Fill the bell peppers half full with the corn mixture. Add a sprinkle of cheese. More filling and top with cheese. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30-35 minutes.
FINALLY: When the rice is 5 minutes from being done, add the gooey green herb paste and stir. Let rice cook the remaining 5 minutes. When the stuffed bell pepper is ready, the sides of the pepper will be crisp/soft. Serve with rice. Top with another spoonful of salsa or your favorite enchilada sauce, if desired.
Note, the Green rice is also fabulous as a side without the stuffed peppers. Serve it with barbecued chicken or grilled fish!
Make with . . . sorry – serve with 2009 Dolcetto
1/3 C. of your favorite steak sauce
1/3 C. mild Jalapeno jelly
2 T Worcestershire Sauce
1 t. granulated garlic
4 skinless, boneless breast halves
OK, how easy is this!! In a microwave safe bowl, melt the Jalapeno jelly for 30 seconds. Give it a minute to cool. Then add the steak sauce, Jalapeno jelly, Worcestershire Sauce and Garlic powder to the bowl and mix well (use a whisk for best exercise and results). Pour the marinade in a large ziploc bag, reserving about ¼ C. to use while cooking (DO NOT cook with the marinade the chicken has been sitting in—Mrs. Vino does NOT want you to have a close encounter with Sam & Ella). Add chicken breasts to bag. Seal the bag and let refrigerate overnight. Coat your grill rack with cooking spray. Remove the chicken from the marinade and place on the grill rack. Grill about 8 minutes per side, or until done. Use the reserved marinade to brush on the grilling chicken, if you like. Want to serve this in winter? It works just fine under the broiler or on your Foreman Grill (Mrs. Vino does love her Foreman Grill!!)
Make with . . .no wine, or add 1 C. of Morovino 09 Barbera instead of 1 C. water. Serve with Morovino Sangiovese
1 lb dried black beans
2 C. water
2 C organic vegetable broth (vegetarians) or chicken broth (carnivores)
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, chopped (or, if red peppers are too expensive, double up on green peppers!)
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
2 T olive oil
3 t. salt
2 t. fennel seeds
2 t. ground coriander
2 t. ground cumin
2 t. dried oregano
2 T red wine vinegar (or balsamic, or white . . . you get the picture)
2 14-ounce cans of diced tomatoes with green chiles, drained (you must find the ones with chilis, my dears—or use plain canned tomatoes and add a small can of medium heat green chilis)
5 C. cooked rice (Mrs. Vino prefers brown Jasmine rice, but any brown rice will do. White rice only if you must!)
Hot Sauce (optional)
1 Ham hock or 1C. diced sausage or Canadian bacon (carnivores only–vegetarians, it’s fine without)
Sort and wash beans, place in a large bowl covered with water and soak overnight. Combine the beans, 2 cups water and ingredients through Oregano in your slow cooker. Carnivores, add ham hock, sausage or Canadian bacon—Vegetarians, it’s fantastic without the meat, too. Cover and cook on high for 5 hours, or until you get home from work. Carnivores who used ham hocks—remove ham hock from beans, pull meat from bone and dice, then add meat back to beans. Everyone—add tomatoes/chiles and vinegar (don’t skip this step, it makes the dish). Serve over rice. Add a couple of dashes of hot sauce—taste it first, of course! Serve with a big green salad and you have a FABULOUS easy nutritious, cheap meal.