Sweet Corn Risotto with Mascarpone

adapted from Lidia’s Italian American Cookbook:


3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup onion, minced
2 tablespoons shallots, minced
2 cups arborio rice
½ cup white wine, dry
6 cups chicken stock

2/3 cup mascarpone cheese

2 ears of corn, boiled for 3 minutes, then shocked

½ teaspoon salt, or as needed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, freshly grated
freshly ground black pepper

In a heavy, wide 3- to 4-quart casserole or pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and shallots and cook them until golden, stirring often, about 8 minutes. Add the rice and stir to coat with the oil. Toast the rice until the edges become translucent, 1 to 2 minutes.

Pour in the wine and stir well until evaporated. Add 1/2 cup of the hot stock and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. Cook, stirring constantly, until all the stock has been absorbed. Continue to add hot stock in small batches- just enough to completely moisten the rice- and cook until each successive batch has been absorbed. Stir constantly and adjust the level of heat so the rice is simmering very gently while adding the stock until the rice mixture is creamy but al dente. This will take from 16 to 20 minutes from the time the wine was added. In the last 2 minutes of cooking the risotto, add the corn.

Remove the casserole from the heat. Beat in the butter until completely melted, then half of the grated cheese. Add the mascarpone. Adjust the seasoning with salt, if necessary, and pepper.

Top each serving with some of the remaining grated cheese; serve immediately, ladled into warm shallow bowls.

this recipe can be halv ed easily…


Mediterranean Baked Salmon

This dish just screams healthy. Fresh zucchini, cherry tomatoes, chickpeas and salmon all baked together in a tasty little foil pouches, then topped with fresh herbs and feta cheese.

I left the skin on the bottom of the fish, mostly because I was too lazy to remove it, but next time I’ll take it off. It doesn’t hurt to leave it on, but when it’s cooked with the vegetables you don’t want to have to worry about navigating around it, it’s easier to have it gone from the start.

recipe from Clean Eating magazine:

serves 2


  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • 2 4-oz boneless salmon fillets
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/8 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3/4 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 3/4 cup diced zucchini
  • 1/2 cup cooked or BPA-free canned chickpeas
  • 1/4 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp crumbled low-fat feta cheese
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
  1. Preheat oven to 425ºF. Cut 2 14-inch squares of foil and mist tops of each with cooking spray.  Place 1 piece salmon on each piece of foil. (NOTE: If using skin-on fillets, arrange skin side down.) Season salmon with salt and pepper.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine garlic, tomatoes, zucchini, chickpeas, onion and lemon juice. Spoon mixture over salmon, dividing evenly. Bring all sides together over top of salmon and fold over to form a sealed packet.
  3. Transfer packets to a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand for 5 minutes before opening. Carefully open packets. To serve, sprinkle with feta and basil.

Snicker Doodle Bread

The first time my wife baked this, we were leaving on a trip to visit friends in Portland. The bread smelled so incredibly wonderful in the the oven, like Christmas and Thanksgiving rolled into one. When it came out if the oven, I sliced off a little piece to taste test and that was it – instantly in my top 3 baked goods of all time (look for the other two in future blog posts). So moist and cinnemony with a crunchy, sugary top, i was hooked. We wrapped the bread up nice and tight, stuffed it into the luggage and took off for the airport.

Going through security, we hit a snag. TSA stopped us with the “is this your bag?”, holding my wife’s luggage. They started digging through it looking for whatever was concerning them, pulled out a brick-like item wrapped in plastic and aluminum and asked “what’s this”? My wife explained that it was snickerdoodle bread, and I swear by that time I could smell it again the number of TSA agents doubled, until there were about 5 of them and standing around the bread. One of them then (jokingly) informed us that it would need to be confiscated.

They ran it through the x-ray machine to make double sure nothing was inside, then reluctantly gave it back to us and we were on our way.

I guarantee this bread will be a hit for the holidays.

Recipe from Barbara Bakes:


2 1/2 c. all purpose flour
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
2 t. cinnamon
1 cup butter, softened
2 c. sugar
3 eggs
2 t. vanilla
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cup cinnamon chips (1 pkg. Hershey’s)
2 T. flour

2 T. sugar
2 t. cinnamon

Combined 2 1/2 cups flour and baking powder in a bowl. In a separate bowl, cream butter and 2 c. sugar, salt and cinnamon until fluffy, about two minutes. Add eggs one at a time mixing well after each addition. Add vanilla and sour cream and mix to combined. Add flour mixture stirring until just combined. Coat the cinnamon chips with 2 T. flour and stir into batter.

Spoon batter into four/five greased mini loaf pans (5 3/4 x 3 1/4 x 2 1/4. Don’t fill more than 2/3 full.) Combined 2 T. sugar and 2 t. cinnamon and sprinkle over the top of batter in the pans. Bake at 350º for 35 to 40 minutes until a toothpick inserted into a crack in the center of the loaf comes clean. Remove from oven and let cool 5 minutes before removing from pan.

Note: You can also make this in two 9×5 loaf pans. Bake at 350º for 60 to 70 minutes until a toothpick inserted into a crack in the center of the loaf comes clean.

Mushroom Risotto

Sometimes we’ll go to the Ferry Building farmer’s market on Saturday in San Francisco just to eat lunch. They’ve steadily added more and more restaurants over the years and it’s now such a popular food destination on its own, they could nix the farmer’s market and I don’t know if the throngs of tourists would even notice. Locals would never stand for that, though.

The market on the pier just outside the Ferry Building has become part of the whole San Francisco experience. As much a part of it as driving down Lombard Street or eating a bowl of cioppino at the Wharf. I do enjoy wandering through the market. This trip, like many many others, ended with us eating oysters and clam chowder at Hog Island Oyster Co.

I always tell myself when I go to the Ferry Building that I’ll just pick up whatever looks fresh and I’ll figure out what to make with it later when I get back home. This time it was shiitake mushrooms and here it is: mushroom risotto.

Mushrooms at a blowout a price, I might add ($4), how could I pass that up?


  • 1 oz dried porcinis
  • 6 oz fresh mushrooms (any will do, I chose shiitake), sliced thin
  • 1 quart vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tbsp butter, separated
  • 1 shallot, finely finely chopped
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup dry Sherry
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves chopped to about 2 tablespoons
  • 3/4 cup grated parmigiano-reggiano
  • Coarse salt and pepper

Place dried porcinis and stock saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer.

In a large skillet, heat oil and butter over medium-high heat. Add the onions and shallots and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add arborio rice and saute, 2-3 minutes more. Add Sherry and cook until the liquid is completely absorbed. Add a few ladles of the hot vegetable stock, then reduce heat slightly and simmer, stirring constantly,  until almost all the liquid is absorbed.

Remove porcini mushrooms from water and place onto a cutting board. Reserve the cooking liquid. Coarsely chop the porcinis and add them to the pot with the rice. Continue to ladle broth into arborio rice, half the remaining amount at a time. Stir mixture each time you add more broth and take it off the heat when the rice is cooked to al dente, usually around 20 minutes.

While the rice is cooking and you’re stirring constantly, here’s one more thing for you to do: heat 1 tbsp butter and 1 tbsp olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. When the butter is melted, add the sliced shiitake mushrooms and 1 tbsp thyme, and 1 tsp salt and stir, coating all the mushrooms with the oil/butter. Saute the mushrooms for about 4 minutes, or until they start to brown slightly. Take off the heat but leave them in the pan.

Stir in 1 tsp thyme and a few handfuls of grated cheese. Season your risotto with salt and pepper to your taste. Serve creamy mushroom risotto from the hot pan topped with a few spoonfuls of the shiitakes and sprinkled with parmesan cheese.

Spinach Ricotta Ravioli

It’s about the same time every year I feel compelled to use up the last of my basil plants before it’s too late. About another week or so from now it’ll get just cold enough at night that the basil gives up for the season and dies off. So inevitably there’s a decent amount of Italian food coming out of this kitchen from now until the basil’s gone. Things like tomato basil marinara sauce, delicious basil pesto, eggplant caponata with basil.

Don’t let yourself be intimidated by the prospect of making fresh pasta dough. I’ve found it gets easier and easier every time I do it and even though the first few attempts weren’t perfect, it still resulted in something close enough to call a success (hint: imperfect ravioli taste just as good as picture-perfect ones under enough pasta sauce).

To make the pasta dough:

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