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:

Continue reading

Chicken with Creamy Chive Sauce and Fake Mashed Potatoes

I’ve made this chicken a few times and it still surprises me how easy it is to throw together. Not only is it satisfying and tasty, but it’s actually healthy too. The sauce adds so much flavor I decided to ditch the real mashed potatoes that usually accompany it in favor of cauliflower “mashed potatoes”. The result is pure low carb deliciousness.

Recipe from Eating Well.

More proof, if any is needed, that any sauce with shallots in it is bound to be a knockout. If you want to know the secret to why restaurant food taste better, it’s shallots. Likewise, if you want your food to taste as good as a restaurant’s…you get the point.

The “mashed potatoes” here are one of the best culinary tricks I’ve ever picked up. I’m a true lover of mashed potatoes and I have no problem substituting these for the real thing. When they’re done right, it’s pretty hard to tell the difference. I discovered these on Steamy Kitchen and I’m so glad I did.


1 head of cauliflower
3 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons light sour cream
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
freshly ground black pepper
snipped chives

Separate the cauliflower into florets and chop the core finely.

Bring about 1 cup of water (or chicken stock) to a simmer in a pot, then add the cauliflower. Cover and turn the heat to medium. Cook the cauliflower for 12-15 minutes or until very tender.

Drain and discard all of the water (the drier the cauliflower is, the better) and add the milk, butter, sour cream, salt and pepper and mash with a masher until it looks like “mashed potatoes.” Top with chives.


  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, (about 1 pound), trimmed of fat
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, divided
  • 3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 large shallots, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 14-ounce can reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup chopped chives, (about 1 bunch)

Place chicken between sheets of plastic wrap and pound with a meat mallet or heavy skillet until flattened to an even thickness, about 1/2 inch. Season both sides of the chicken with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Place 1/4 cup flour in a shallow glass baking dish and dredge the chicken in it. Discard the excess flour.

Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate, cover and keep warm.

Heat the remaining 1 teaspoon oil in the pan over medium-high heat. Add shallots and cook, stirring constantly and scraping up any browned bits, until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon flour; stir to coat. Add wine, broth and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt; bring to a boil, stirring often.

Return the chicken and any accumulated juices to the pan, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook until heated through and no longer pink in the center, about 6 minutes. Stir in sour cream and mustard until smooth; turn the chicken to coat with the sauce. Stir in chives and serve immediately.

Put a huge portion of the “mashed potatoes” on a plate and put the chicken breasts on top. Pour the source over the whole mess and enjoy.


Spaghetti Squash Marinara

Three days in Las Vegas is all that any normal person can take. I pushed the limit last week and spent a record-breaking 6 days gorging on everything from deep fried chorizo at Jaleo


…to spaghetti and meatballs at Rao’s


…to a burger topped with beef brisket at Holstein’s.


It felt like I just finished a series of Man vs. Food challenges and won!

Time to reset the diet. Last night I did that with Spaghetti Squash Marinara. Basically, it’s squash and tomato sauce…that’s it.


A perfect use of the Rao’s marinara sauce, by the way.



1 spaghetti squash, cored and seeds removed

1 small shallot, minced

1 tbsp olive oil

2 cups Rao’s marinara

salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Halve the squash and rub with the olive oil. Place on a baking sheet and sprinkle the shallots on the inside of the squash. Salt and pepper a little on top of the squash. Bake for about 1 hour, or until a knife goes in with little resistance. While the squash is roasting, heat up your marinara. Remove the squash by scraping the inside with a fork. Top with the marinara and shower with grated Parmesan cheese.