Smoked Salmon Risotto

Sometimes I have some ingredients that just need to be used before they go bad, so I put them together in an experimental recipe. This is what happened to the leftover smoked salmon I had here. I was inspired by reading this recipe, but made my own version of it. It’s a pretty easy recipe, but it takes a little time to make sure you reach the perfect level of doneness.

Ingredients: (2 large servings)
1 cup smoked salmon, cut into smaller pieces
1 cup medium grain rice
1/2 bottle of dry white wine (I used pinot grigio)
1 cup vegan stock (this recipe is coming soon!)
1/2 lemon (organic)
1 tbsp chopped dill
1 tbsp chopped curly parsley
1/4 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp tarragon
1/4 tsp turmeric
4 oz. arugula
1 tsp capers
2 tbsp heavy cream
3 oz. cream cheese
1/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1 shallot
1 garlic clove
2-3 mini bell peppers
2 tbsp olive oil
black pepper to taste

1. Sautee the shallot (chopped), bell peppers, and garlic (pressed) in the olive oil over medium heat. Add the rice after about a minute or two and keep stirring for a few minutes.
2. Add half of the wine and vegan stock and keep stirring fairly frequently. When most of the liquid seems to be absorbed (after about 5-10 minutes), add the rest of the wine and vegan stock. Add the herbs and spices at this point as well. Keep stirring frequently and add half of the arugula, capers, and the zest of the lemon plus the juice from it.
3. After about 20 minutes of cooking, add the cream and cream cheese. Keep stirring. If it starts getting dry, add some water and possibly some more lemon juice. Add most of the remaining arugula as well, but save some for decorating the plate.
4. Start checking for doneness a few minutes later. You want the rice to be a little al dente, but not hard or crunchy. If it feels like it is almost ready, add the salmon and parmesan and keep stirring until you reach the optiomal level of doneness.
5. Scoop it up on a plate and serve with some salmon and arugula on top for decor.

Variation with Shrimp

A simpler version of this recipe can be made with frozen peeled shrimp. Just follow the instructions above replacing the salmon with shrimp, but omit the thyme, arugula, capers, cream, cream cheese, and bell peppers. Make sure you thaw the shrimp beforehand and only add them just before serving.

Chimichurri Variation

One of the most delicious things that I have found on my visits to Argentina is the chimichurri that is often served with their steaks. As I was playing around with some herbs from my garden and what happened to be in my fridge, I came up with this variation on the Argentinean classic. It is quick, easy, and tasty! Try it out and play with your own variations on it! Log in and post your results below as well.

1 cup olive oil
3 garlic cloves
½ sweet onion (vidalia)
¼ tsp chili pepper flakes
3-4 mini bell peppers
1/3 cup kalamata olives
3 tbsp chopped parsley leaves
3 tbsp chopped mint leaves
3 tbsp chopped basil leaves
1 tsp dried oregano
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
juice from half a lemon
½ tsp black pepper
½ tsp sea salt

Peel and press the garlic. Chop the onion very finely and cut the leaves of the herbs into razor thin short strips. Mix this together with the chili pepper and vinegar. Add two thirds of the olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Chop the peppers and olives very finely and add to the mix along with the oregano. Stir well and taste it. Does it need more of something? Go ahead and add it according to your taste. Add remaining olive oil until you reach a desired consistency. Enjoy with a steak or fresh bread!

Raspberry Coulis

This delicious easy-to-make sauce pairs very well with many dessert dishes. I like using fresh raspberries that clean and freeze for a day before making this sauce. I don’t know the science behind it, but I get the best flavor and color that way. I like serving it with molten chocolate lava cakes. You can also serve it with ice cream or a sponge cake. Any other ideas? Post your tips below!

1 cup of fresh or frozen raspberries.
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup orange juice or water with a teaspoon of lemon juice
optional: 1 oz. Chambord and/or Triple Sec

Combine sugar and juice or lemon water and heat it gently in a saucepan until it melts and forms a syrup. Add the raspberries to the syrup and heat while stirring. You don’t want to let it boil, but get close to a simmer. After a it heats up, take it off the stove and puree it in a blender or food processor until it becomes smooth. Strain the seeds from the mixture with a fine-mesh strainer. You may need to work the mixture and press it against the strainer to get the juice out. Add the Chambord or Triple Sec to the sauce and it is ready to serve. You can also let it chill in the fridge for a bit before serving it if you want to make it in advance or serve it cold.

Baked Pear with Almond Cream & Brandy Caramel Sauce

This became an instant favorite when I made it the first time. It can be done very simply if you use pre-made ingredients, but require a little more work if you want to do everything from scratch. Nothing about it is difficult, though!

3-5 Pears (depending on size)
2 tbsp Brown sugar
2 tbsp Butter (unsalted)
2 tbsp Almond paste*
¼ tsp Cardamom seeds (crushed)
1/8 tsp Anise seeds (crushed)
1/8 tsp Cinnamon
¼ cup Sliced almonds
1 ½ oz. Brandy
Caramel Sauce*

Mix the sugar, butter, almond paste, and a little more than 1 oz. brandy in a bowl. Add the anise and cinnamon after crushing them with pestle and mortar or other method.
Cut the pears in half length-wise and scoop out the center with a melon-baller or spoon. Cut a thin slice off the bottom to create a flat surface. Place the pears in a deep dish with the centers facing up.
Distribute the mixture to the center holes of the pears and sprinkle cinnamon on top. Last, add the sliced almonds on top of it all. Put a half tbsp of butter at the bottom of the dish.
Bake 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees.
Serve with almond infused whipped cream and a drizzle of caramel sauce.

*These items can easily be made at home (recipes below) or purchased pre-made.

Almond Paste Recipe:
4 oz. almonds
2 bitter almonds or 2 drops of bitter almond extract
3 oz. powdered sugar
1/2 egg white (optional)

Blanch the almonds by putting them in boiling water for about 1-2 minutes. Let them dry on a paper towel and then remove the skins.
Grind the almonds finely and mix with the other ingredients until you have a smooth paste and then roll it up in some wax paper. Store in the refrigerator.

Caramel Sauce Recipe:
1 cup Brown Sugar
1/2 cup Butter (unsalted, room temperature)
1/2 cup Heavy Cream
Splash of Brandy

Place the sugar in a thick-bottomed sauce pan

and heat over medium heat while stirring. When it starts becoming clear and amber-like in color, add the butter and stir until melted. Then add the cream and allow it to boil for 2 minutes. Add a splash of brandy and stir again. Let sit and cool for 10 minutes before serving.

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Molten Chocolate Lava Cake

Just thinking about this dessert reminds me of orgasms in my mouth. When it comes out just right, there is simply no other way of describing it. What’s even better is that it is so easy to make and can be prepped in advance. This is another item where you pretty much mix it up and toss it in the oven!

½ cup unsalted butter
4 oz. dark (unsweetened or semisweet) chocolate
4 eggs
¼ cup sugar
2 tsp flour
1 tbsp cocoa powder

1. Melt the butter in a bowl. Using a microwave works great.
2. Chop up the chocolate and stir into the butter. Microwave for a few extra seconds if needed
3. In a separate bowl, crack 2 eggs and add 2 additional egg yolks (save the extra egg whites for an omelet or scramble!). Add the sugar and beat it until it becomes a light, thick, fluffy foam.
4. Add the egg mixture to the chocolate-butter mix with the flour and beat until smooth.
5. Grease up 4 ramekinsBellemain Porcelain Ramekins, set of 6 (4 oz, White)""“> with butter, making sure you cover the surface completely. Dust the cocoa powder on top. (You can mix it with a little flour if needed or substitute flour altogether for the cocoa.)
6. Pour the batter into the ramekins. At this point you can just cover them and place them in the fridge until you are ready to bake them.
7. When you are ready to bake them, heat the over to 450°F. Place the ramekins on a baking sheet. (I like to cover them with aluminum foil as I put them in the fridge beforehand and then I use that foil to place underneath the ramekins to catch any potential overflow. Bake for about 8 minutes, making sure you don’t overbake them. It is fine for them to be a bit loose and jiggly!
8. After you take them out of the oven, let them sit for about a minute. Then place the plate that you are going to serve them on upside down on top of the ramekin and flip them over. Wait a few seconds before removing the ramekin so that the cake settles a little bit. Serve immediately!

I like adding some whipped cream with this. A few drops of vanilla extract in the cream makes it even yummier! I also like to serve it with a raspberry coulis, but you may have even more ideas. I would love to hear about them.
Enjoy and please post your results below!

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Burrata with Cucumber Mint Salad

Tonight’s appetizer was born out of the philosophy of creating with what’s at hand. I only had one small heirloom tomato left and was making dinner for three people so after diving into the fridge I came up with this recipe, which ended up being a big hit.

Chop up some hot house cucumber with fresh mint leaves and add some finely chopped leek and shallot. Toss with a little salt and pepper, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil. Then chop up some kalamata olives and heirloom tomato and add to the mix. Place a bed of the mix on a plate and place some room temperature burrata cheese on top. Decorate with fresh mint leaves and serve. Let me know how it turned out for you after you try it!

Lemon Cake

Simple, quick, and easy! And delicious!! Whipping up a lemon cake is something anyone can do, even without much baking skills. You can make all sorts of variations on it as well. For example, you can make into a chocolate cake or a coconut cake. Feel free to experiment with this recipe and post your results below!

Sprinkle some lemon zest on top as a quick and easy decoration!

2 cups Flour
2 cups Sugar
3 Eggs
6 oz. Butter
Zest from one Lemon (Approx. 2 tbsp)
Juice from one large lemon (¼ – ½ cup)
½ cup Sour Cream
½ cup Milk
1 tbsp Poppy Seeds
½ tsp Baking Soda
½ tsp Baking Powder
¼ tsp Vanilla Extract
¼ tsp Salt
½ tsp Ginger
1 tbsp Bread Crumbs or Pank

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Rub some softened butter to cover a bundt pan in a thin layer of butter and sprinkle the panko or bread crumbs on top. Spin it around until even distributed and the whole pan is covered. Turn it over quickly to release any extra crumbs.
3. Mix the sugar, butter and eggs with the lemon zest, until light and fluffy.
4. Add lemon juice, vanilla, milk, sour cream, poppy seeds, and ginger and mix it in well.
5. Mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl before adding it gradually to the mix while stirring it on a low setting. Once it is all mixed together, pour it into the bundt pan and place in the oven for about 50 minutes until a test skewer comes out dry.


Lemon Blueberry Cake

In this version I held back on adding the lemon juice and zest. Once everything else was mixed, I split the batter into two batches and put the lemon flavors in one, while adding a cup of blueberries to the other along with a tablespoon of red wine. I then poured the lemon flavored batter first and then the blueberry batter on top. I added an extra tablespoon of flour to the blueberry mix as well as the blueberries appeared to provide a little more liquid than the lemons did.

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Mango-Cherry Crisp

While cherries and mangoes are still in season, I love making this delicious dessert for a summer night dinner. It’s easy and simple to make! You can of course make variations using different fruits, but I find that this flavor combination works quite well. You don’t need to use both red and rainier cherries. It works well using one or the other. I have not tried this using frozen fruit, but there is no reason why that would not work well also.
Try it out and let me know how yours turned out in the comments below!

Some pistachios on top and it will be ready to serve

Here is the recipe. It makes 4 servings.

1 mango (sweet yellow is best, but any mango works)
12-15 sweet red cherries
4-8 Rainier cherries
3 oz. Aperol liquor
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp sugar
½ tsp corn starch
½ cup rolled oats
¼ cup butter (Don’t skimp on this!)
1 tbsp all purpose flour
3 tbsp shelled roasted pistachios (unsalted)
¼ tsp cinnamon

1. Peel and cut the mango into cubes. Remove the pits from the cherries and place it all in a bowl with 2 oz. Aperol and stir before letting it sit for about an hour.
2. Mix oats, butter, flour, honey, 1 tbsp pistachios, and sugar into a paste.
3. Mix 1 oz of Aperol with ¼ – ½ tsp corn starch. Heat the fruit mixture in a sauce pan on medium heat with the Aperol corn starch mix while simmering until you get a slightly creamy consistency. About 4-5 min. Add 1 tbsp pistachios and the maple syrup to the mix and stir.
4. Rub a thin layer of butter on the bottom and sides of four 6 oz. ramekins (or a larger bowl if you prefer making one big dish). Portion the fruit mix into the ramekins, making sure there is some space at the top. Roll the oatmeal/butter paste into small chunks/balls and place on top of the fruit mix in a thin layer, allowing some space for the fruit to “breathe”. Bake for about 15 minutes in 350 degrees until the top looks crispy. If you are making a larger dish, let it bake for 20-25 minutes to get the right crispiness.
5. Let cool for 5 minutes and then add a scoop of vanilla ice cream and decorate with pitted Rainier cherries. You can also add some whipped cream on top of the ice cream or just substitute it for the ice cream. Drizzle Aperol and the remaining pistachios on top. (Tip: You can boil the Aperol to remove the alcohol before adding it. Just make sure it cools off before serving it.)

– Add some pineapple chunks to the fruit mix for a sweeter flavor!

Banana Bread

Delicious banana bread is a fun and easy thing to bake. Here is my recipe. Try it out and let me know how you like it!

3 very ripe bananas
4 oz. butter (soft, room temperature) (115 g.)
2 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour (0.5 L)
¾ cup brown sugar (2 dl)
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp salt
½ – ¾ cup walnuts (optional) (1½ dl)
½ cup sour cream or plain greek yoghurt (optional) (1 dl)

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees (= 175˚C). Line a standard 9 x 5 inch bread pan with parchment paper and cover with a thin layer of butter or cooking spray.

2. Mix the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon and set to the side.

3. Mix the butter with the sugar and vanilla extract using a hand mixer until it is smooth and blended. Add the eggs and continue mixing while adding the peeled and crushed bananas and the sour cream. Add the flour mix and keep mixing at low speed. Add the nuts and stir it up before pouring it into the baking pan.

4. Bake for about one hour until a toothpick in the center part comes out dry.

5. Let it cool off on a cooling rack for 10 minutes before lifting the entire loaf out of the pan, using the parchment paper. After it has cooled off, store it in plastic. It will keep longer in the fridge than in room temperature, but it will taste so good that it is not likely to last long wherever you store it!