Brut Risotto, with seasoned chicken

This week, I am visiting my sister, Alysha, in Lexington. She loves mushrooms and my “cheesy rice” (which is her affectionate term for my risottos.)
So I invented a new one for her!

I am going to tell you guys how I made this, but I wanted to add a few notes.
First, halfway through, I decided my approach was wrong. That being said, it turned out DELICIOUS. And that’s in Alysha’s words. And she is one of the pickiest/highest standards eaters I know, so that means alot! So, I am going to describe how I did it. I am sure I could edit the recipe so that it doesn’t abruptly change part way through, but I hesitate to do that without testing it myself.

So, if you decide to attempt this recipe, I recommend reading through the entire risotto process up front so you know what’s going on!

For the Seasoned Chicken, all I did was grease the bottom of a baking dish with olive oil (the kind rated for frying!) and preheat the oven to 350. I rubbed 1 tbspn herbes de provence and 1 tspn rosemary over both sides of the chicken. I let it cook for 12 minutes on each side,and then let it rest for 5 minutes before slicing. The chicken baked while I worked on the risotto.

For the mushrooms, I melted 1 tbspn butter in a small sauce pan, and added 1/2 cup sliced white mushrooms. I let them cook slowly on low heat, and stirred them occasionally while cooking the risotto.

Ingredients: (ingredients listed twice means they are used in different steps and should be separate)
1 tbspn butter
1/2 large yellow onion, diced
1.5 c arborio rice
1/4 c peas
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 tbspn balsamic vinegar
1 cup water
3 cups water
1/8 cup Brut
1 cup Brut
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
juice of half of a lemon

For the risotto, you will need three liquids.
Liquid 1: 1 cup Brut, set aside for later.
Liquid 2: heat broth, balsamic vinegar, 1/8 c brut until warm, but not hot. Keep on low heat.
Liquid 3: 3 cups water, set aside for later.

In a large skillet, melt 1 tbspn butter. Add onions, and cook until very slightly caramelized. Cook slowly so as not to burn the butter.
Once onions are tender, add the arborio rice. Stir for about 2 minutes. Rice grains should look glassy.
Turn up the heat, and add 1 cup brut (liquid 1). It should absorb in a bubbly way. If it isn’t, turn the heat up.
Once it’s absorbed, begin adding liquid 2 one ladleful at a time. Let each ladleful absorb completely, continually stirring the risotto, before adding the next.
Here is where I decided the risotto was off. About 4 ladlefuls in, I decided the broth was a bit too pungent. At this point, I added the juice of half a lemon and the peas. I also switched the liquid three. You can alternate between liquid 2 and liquid 3 as much as you want, tasting between each ladle to decide if the flavor is too weak or too pungent. I used pretty much only liquid 3 from this point on, which,if you remember from above, was plain, room temperature water.
Continue adding liquid a ladleful at a time until rice is cooked. Once rice is cooked, remove from heat and stir in the parmesan cheese.
Serve with sliced chicken and mushrooms.

Kalbi, Warm Fennel Salad, and Rootbeer Risotto

For dinner tonight, I made kalbi, warm fennel salad and a root beer risotto.

For the kalbi, I used a recipe from Food Network which you can find here.

In case you aren’t familiar with kalbi (or galbi), it is a korean barbecued short rib. To really do this right, you would purchase korean cut short ribs. The cut is sometimes called “flanken.” It’s a smaller cut of meat that grills faster. However, I bought American style short ribs and sliced the meat off of the bone. I also bought a small sirloin steak and thin sliced that to see how the two different types of meat fared in this cooking style.

I pretty much followed the food network recipe to a T, except I could not find Mirin in our local grocery store and didn’t feel like hitting an Asian store in the rain today. So I used white cooking wine instead. Also, in hind sight, I would add three times as much green onion as it calls for, and 2/3 as much soy sauce, as I found the marinade to be a bit salty.

Other than that, I thought they turned out delicious!

Kalbi with warm fennel salad

For the side dish, I wanted to create something light, that would compliment the heavy flavors and feeling of the beef main dish. I decided to create a warm fennel salad. While I don’t think the salad is something I would make on its own just for fun, I thought it was an excellent side dish to the kalbi.

It’s also a Sasha-Original-Recipe! ­čÖé

1 bunch fennel, sliced thin
1 stalk celery, sliced into thin half moons
6 baby carrots, sliced into small rounds
1/8 cup cooking wine
1/2 nectarine, diced
1/2 tbspn chili oil (optional, can use any oil)
1 tspn mango vinegar (optional)

Heat a pan with 1/2 tbspn oil. I used chili oil to add flavor, but you can use olive oil, grapeseed oil, or any other anti-stick. Add in fennel, and sautee in the oil for about 1 minute. Add the other vegetables and the cooking wine. Let cook for about 4 minutes. Add in cooking wine, vinegar, and nectarine. Cook until vegetables are slightly tender but still crisp. It’s a warm salad, not a stir fry!

Warm Fennel Salad shown with kalbi.

And finally, the dessert! I made a root beer float dessert risotto!

A recipe completely of my own making! Here it is:


1 cup arborio rice

Flavoring Liquid:
1.5 bottles of IBC rootbeer (2 cups)

Base for toasting risotto:
1 tbspn butter
1 tbspn brown sugar
1 tspn dark rum

Base Liquid:
3.5 cups 1% milk
5 green cardamom pods
1 stick cinnamon
1 tspn vanilla

2 tbspn marscapone
1 tbspn rootbeer

In a pot, put all of the base liquid ingredients in a pot and heat until warm. Take care not to burn or boil the milk. Keep it handy and on a low boil.

In a skillet, heat the base for toasting risotto. Once the butter is melted and the sugar stirred in, then add the rice. Stir the rice until the grains are glassy. Add in 1 c of rootbeer and stir until it is absorbed. Add in .5 cups of root beer and stir until it is absorbed.

Start adding in the base liquid one ladle full at a time, stirring until it is absorbed. Do not feel like you have to stir in ALL of the milk, but keep adding it in until the risotto is cooked, tender, and creamy. At the end, add in 1/4 cup of root beer to create a delicious frothiness.

Serve warm. Use the remaining rootbeer to top off your risotto root beer float (the warm risotto absorbs it pretty fast). You can add a creamy marscapone topping if you’d like. I stirred the marscapone and rootbeer together and then put a dollop on top.

Ta da!

Sweet Tea Risotto

So, my phone camera does my risotto no justice whatsoever, but here is a pic nonetheless. image


I’ve made a few risottos before, but always from recipes found online. Today, Jonathan and I were trying to decide what to do for lunch, and we had decided on Taco Bell. As the morning progressed, I kept thinking that I just didn’t feel like fast food. I thought of several things I could do, but they all involved going to the store.

So I thought, what I can make with what I have at home? Which made me also think about how I had been pondering how to use the fresh basil left over from the strawberry bruschetta I had made this weekend.


And.. then an idea was born! I would make my VERY OWN risotto. My own recipe. I felt confident that I had the technique down and I felt good about my ability to pair flavors. Being a pseudo southern girl at heart, I chose sweet tea for my flavor liquid, and lemon and basil as complimentary flavors. Then, to avoid a super sweet risotto, I mixed bacon and parmesan cheese to add a more savory note.


So in case you are interested, here is the recipe… 100% my own creation! If you try it, please comment and tell me what you think!!



1.5 c arborio rice

1 cup sweet tea (I used Gold Peak) .. warmed to room temperature (you can microwave it).

3 tbspn salted butter

1 teaspoon olive oil

4 fresh basil leaves

1/2 lemon

3 cups chicken broth

1/2 onion

1/4 yellow pepper

3 slices bacon

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

The most important thing about risotto is getting your mis en place… which is a french term that means “put in place.” Basically get very organized and get everything measured and ready BEFORE you start! And clear two stove burners and have two medium pots and one small frying pan handy!

Step 1: Chop the onion, pepper, and basil into fine pieces.

Step 2: Chop the bacon into small bits.

Step Three: Grate the cheese

Step 4: In one medium pot, melt the butter, add the olive oil, and then pour in your onions, peppers, and basil and cook until tender.

Step 5: While the veggies are getting soft, in the other pot, start warming the chicken broth and 1/2 cup of the sweet tea. Add a squeeze of lemon juice (not the entire half lemon!) to the broth.

Step 6: Once the veggies are tender, pour in the arborio rice.  Heat the rice until the grains are glossy and mostly see through, stirring frequently.

Step 7:While the rice is glossing, move the chicken broth/tea mixture off of the burner, and put the small pan on. Start frying your bacon bits. Keep the broth handy, though! And keep an eye on the bacon and remove it from the heat as soon as its crispy.

Step 8: As soon as the rice is glossy, pour the other 1/2 cup of sweet tea into the rice, and let the rice absorb the tea.

Step 9 : Once the rice has absorbed the tea, using a soup ladel, ladel in one ladel of the brothy mixture into the rice pot. Stir until its absorbed.

Step 10: Repeat step 9 until the rice is cooked. (So this involves frequent tasting!) You do not necessarily need to use all the broth. Everytime you ladel in broth, it will look mushy and soupy. Add a new ladel of broth whenever it starts to look like rice again.

Step 11:  Stir in the bacon bits and the parmesan cheese and salt and pepper to taste.

Step 12: Finish with lemon zest sprinkled lightly on top.