Corn and Poblano Risotto

It’s a wild guess, but having spent a little bit of time in Italy over the years, I don’t think you’d find Corn and Poblano Risotto on any menu there. A red or yellow pepper (peperone) risotto or rice with peas (Risi e Bisi), of course, but probably not corn or mild poblanos. Corn is reserved mostly for polenta and, loving polenta the way I do, I get that. Many peppers are cultivated in Italy (see photo below), but I don’t think poblanos are among them. Rightly or wrongly, we Americans have sort of taken risotto under our proverbial cooking wings and made it our own using favorite local ingredients. In this case, I had arborio rice; I had corn and poblanos. A meal needed to be made for good friends whose dinner with us had been delayed throughout Covid-Tide and here’s what transpired — a least a part of it. Perdonami (sorry), but I’m sincerely hoping any Nonna might forgive me for doing just as she does — using what’s available for dinner. On second thought, perhaps this is just a twist on our rice sopa seca (Mexican-style rice–literally “dry soup”), which traveled north to us along with many other wondrous meals. I like that idea but however it came to be, I’m overly glad it did.

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Best Summer Sides from More Time at the Table

Grilled Zucchini and Corn Salad

This week marks the beginning of weekend picnics, warm holiday get togethers, nights in the backyard, weeks at the beach, days at the cabin, and all kinds of thrilling grilling on your balcony or patio!  For fun, I ran through my TOP FAVORITE original summer sides on More Time at Table and brought them all together in one place just before Memorial Day.  I’ll keep perusing my files and as I find other luscious things I think you’d like, I’ll stick them in.  Be cool!

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Easy Chicken Enchiladas with Instant Pot Bacon Pintos, Abuelita’s Rice, and Avocado Salad

When it comes to Cinco de Mayo cooking, I’ve got these things going for me:

  1. I lived in way southern Texas (San Antonio) for four years. Hot is my only comment.
  2. Southern Colorado has been our home for most of twenty-two years.
  3. I’ve studied cooking more than a few times at the Santa Fe School of Cooking.
  4. My late dear friend and brother-in-law, Alfred Barrionuevo, was from Mexico and began his professional career as a chef. If you were in the kitchen with him, he was the teacher, and he had extraordinary passion for his cooking. Not only that, his much-loved mother–fondly called “Abelita”–passed on her simplest and best “Mexican” rice recipe to my sister, who then gave it me –nothing written down, you know. My version is in this post.

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Shrimp on Tomato Risotto with Kale Salad

Out of all the things folks say to me about making dinner, the most common might be, “I never know what to fix.” It occurs to me that while those are the words coming out of their mouths, the problem might not be that exactly. It might be a question of, “I know how to make tacos, but not enchiladas, so I buy the ingredients and cook tacos. A lot. I don’t have the time to learn enchiladas. Other days I make grilled boneless chicken breasts, salad, chili, mac and cheese, and hamburgers because I don’t need a recipe.”  Or…could be they didn’t plan a week’s meals and shop for the plan. We’ve all been there.

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Red Beans and Rice–More Time Style

Food-Beans-Red Beans and Rice whole bowl

I grew up with a dad who was born in 1907 out on a Mount Herman farm an hour and a half north of New Orleans. You didn’t have to live right in the city proper to be steeped in its deep, full, and varied food culture. His family was champion at cooking and eating together.  And whatever was available just might be on that stove. Insert turn of the century poor farm folk imagination here.

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BBQ Chicken-Grilled Veggie Stack with Southwestern Rice Salad

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Recipe created in honor of Rev. Benjamin Broadbent and his lovely family.

While the old deck disappears and the new one is added, our summer dinner spot is gone.  This seems to be a theme in our lives lately. (Change is in the air.) Outdoor tables and chairs are stored in the garage; patio candles sit awkwardly in a living room corner. Cushions and pillows are propped up next to the piano or rest at odd angles under sofa tables in the family room.  We have cabin fever this year in the summer because from May – September, we do not eat indoors unless there’s a horrific storm or we’re in a restaurant.  Our life, from 5:00 on — when sun is on the western side of our house — is outdoors.  But not, sadly, for two weeks. Continue reading

Apple-Cranberry Hoisin Chicken Thighs and Rice with Sautéed Spinach, Asparagus, and Tomatoes

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As summer very, very slowly wanes away, there are days when it’s cool enough to turn on the oven. My oven hasn’t been on in months with the exception of absolutely necessary baking (read birthday cakes), which is done before the sun rises lest the house take on one extra degree of warmth.  Last Friday, as Dave flew in from Bogota, Columbia, I wanted to have a dinner ready for which he didn’t have to grill one single item.  Enter SIMPLY MING ONE POT MEALS.  (Aside: I am not in the business of selling any cookbooks except my own, but Truth in Recipes requires I note this simple dish’s provenance.)

Alyce-Aspen kitchens signing books

I’ve owned this book not since in came out in 2010, but maybe since a year or two after that when a good friend mentioned she was cooking something from it.  The book sounded entertaining (it is) and helpful (also true). Who doesn’t want a new spin on one-dish or one-pot meals?  I made a few dishes from it and back it went on the shelf. If I’m not terribly intentional about looking at and using all of my cookbooks, they may sit a while before I drag them out to the kitchen again.  The quality of the book may have nothing to do with it; I cook out of my head a lot. (Why did I leave this sit all this time?)

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 SIMPLY MING: ONE-POT MEALS

Something drew me to the Ming book last week, and with a few very small changes, I rustled up this one-pot meal very quickly; I think you could, too.

This plate full of goodness is based on a simple happy formula many Americans swear by:  chicken and rice in the oven. Ming’s version has a bit of an Asian twist.  What better, less expensive, easier dinner might you have other than sandwiches?  The bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs are sautéed, removed from the pan, where garlic, green onions and next rice are tossed in and cooked briefly. My pot includes a crisp, off-sweet chopped apple. Hoisin sauce is the secret weapon ingredient!  Wine and broth are added; the chicken goes back in. The whole shezaam is covered and carefully stowed in the oven for just 20-30 minutes or so.

You can see and read about the recipe here. I’m not fond of printing recipes that are available in books (as Ming says–cookbook authors need to send their kids to college), but this one has been made available in several places on the internet; have at it.

Changes/additions I made were these:

  1. I added crushed red pepper to the seasoning of the chicken as it browned.
  2. With no fresh cranberries available in September here in Colorado, I substituted a peeled and diced Granny Smith apple along with a handful of dried cranberries. I didn’t want to use all dried cranberries as I thought it might sweeten the dish too much. I also knew the fresh cranberries would give off liquid and felt the apple would mimic that.
  3. I seasoned both the onions and garlic as well as the rice itself with a little salt and pepper.

The pot:  I used a 5.5 quart covered, oven-safe sauté pan for this dish. If you don’t have such a large skillet, brown the chicken in batches in a smaller skillet.  Remove the chicken, add the vegetables and rice, and then add them to a greased very large casserole dish. Cover tightly with foil and bake as the recipe directs.

A couple of other things:  A meal good enough for company, this dish contains a lot of rice. You’ll likely have rice leftover that you can take to work for lunch even if four people have already had their way with it. There are 8 thighs, so the dish will serve 4 or 6 depending on hunger.

While dishes like these are touted as a whole meal–and they are– I’m always in need of some greenery on the table and on the plate. While the chicken and rice baked, I sautéed chopped asparagus, spinach, and tomatoes in grape seed oil with minced ginger, garlic, salt, and crushed red pepper.

IMG_0042In the meantime,  Rosie enjoyed the late afternoon…

IMG_0037Sing a new song; try Ming!

Alyce

Grilled Tuna with Rice Salad and Shared Spicy+Garlicky Vinaigrette for Memorial Day

IMG_5766While it would be lovely if posts like this appeared out of whole cloth on the day needed, unfortunately I have to work ahead.  Cook ahead.  Shop ahead.  Think ahead.  Write ahead.  However you want to look at it; I rarely think of it as work–maybe you’d like to know that.  I happened to make this meal on a day when the wind whipped up like “The Wizard of Oz” and the hail beat down on our house, deck, cars, and garden with a vengeance typically saved for sledge hammering a wall you need to come down.  The fury and noise were enough to send the dogs and me scurrying down into the basement leaving flowers and pots and cars outdoors without further thought.  Dave, just home from a trip to Lincoln, Nebraska, blithely stayed upstairs.

Here’s the eastern deck afterward:
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Miss Gab’s been sick —we think an awful reaction to her Leptospirosis vaccine–but we’re still unsure.  She’s getting MUCH better, but the deck full of hail and leaves was a shock to us all–Miss Gab included.  Within an hour, however, the sun came out, Dave grilled the tuna for the meal on the gas grill, and we ate on the deck! Continue reading