How to make Arancini (Risotto Balls)

My favorite Risotto recipe hands down is from Harry’s Bar in Venice Cookbook. I always make a full batch and this time I decided to use half the batch to make Arancini!

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I have made it probably 100 times with variations and it is always delicious!  This particular batch was Risotto Primavera

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So to begin, I  tweaked the recipe and sauteed the balls, not deep fried them.

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The key to any success in the kitchen is Mis En Place.  This french term means to put everything in its place.  As you can see below I am ready to go!

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Step 1.   Scoop a mound of risotto and then place cube of mozzarella in middle of risotto ball004

Step 2. Close risotto ball up with the mozzarella inside, roll in the breadcrumbs and place on cookie sheet lined in parchment or Silpat- that’s what I use.

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I am getting ready to fry these babies up!!

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I was testing these out before the big batch.IMG_2383

The success to sauteeing is to pre heat your pan so it is very hot ,and pre heat the oil.  The rest is patience and timing!

Step 3.  Add oil to a non stick pan and  when hot, place balls in pan and don’t touch!   After a few minutes then flip and brown on other side.  The less you mess with them, the better the browning will turn out!IMG_2384

Voila! This picture unfortunately is not premium, but the Arancini was! !FullSizeRender (5)

Marinara Sauce and fresh grated Parmigiano Reggiano completed the Arancini along with a Green Salad .

Good company and a nice glass of wine made it a lovely dinner!!

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I just discovered the best place to stay in Downtown Phoenix, plus extracurricular activities!!!

Thanks to Hotels.com  the Clarendon popped up as I was searching for a hotel in Phoenix.   My visit specifically was  to see the Gianfranco Ferre Exhibit at the Phoenix Museum of Art.FullSizeRender (12)

The Clarendon surpassed my expectations!!!! IMG_0099

At the special rate of $85.00 per night I decided to book it . The vibe was swank with a comfortable casual feel.  I have stayed at “Swank” in Palm Springs, LA , Chicago and New York, but the Clarendon had a friendly stylish vibe and for a first impression that says “welcome” to me.

As I was handed my key and headed to my room, I was asked if I needed any snacks complimentary – whatever I wanted– What? are you kidding me?  Twix and Cheetos were on the list, Woo hoo!!!  Yes please!  Why not I am on Vacation!!!

Perk #1003My room was spacious, quiet, and the decor was pleasantly modern.  Comfortable, clean and functional. Classical music was dialed in as I entered- NiceIMG_0097

The property had a heated pool convenient  if you visit in the winter , and a huge hot tub. Lots of properties have pools and hot tubs but the design, layout and coolness of the Clarendon’s is what separates them from the average norm! Perk #2007

Perk #3  Rooftop Garden and Bar.FullSizeRender (13)  Great view, Great lounge pads and on Thurs, Fri Jazz complimentary.  I didn’t even have to leave my hotel to listen to good music- Awesome.

Perk #4  Complimentary Wine from 5-6 nightly.  Unfortunately I did not make it in time for “Happy Hour” but I did find a spot at their comfy hotel bar later on and enjoyed a Martini while talking to Falyn, the lovely bartender.  She was not only pleasant to talk to but was a wealth of information on the cool spots to go to.falyn

Falyn’s pics which I will check out next visit : Phoenix Flea Market on Saturdays, Crescent Ballroom, Valley Bar, Hanny’s ( Martini Bar)

I did visit her suggestion Lux CafeFullSizeRender (7)

Lux Cafe was a perfect spot for my 4pm Espresso and I did cave at the temptation of baked goodies.  Great for people watching as well as delicious coffee and treats.

Ready for Jazz!!  The trio was great and to have this little luxury at the push of 4 flights up in the elevator you couldn’t ask for anything better-FullSizeRender (10)

Perk #5  The Clarendon has an awesome restaurant with gourmet food!!   I am so particular  where I eat and what I eat.   Again a luxury I didn’t have to step out of the property to obtain my high standards of dining.  Plus I can’t reiterate the casual vibe and comfort level overall.  I had the Shrimp Sofrito with Garlic Manchego Bread and it was absolutely delicious!shrimp sofritos

Perk #6  If you are a dog lover like me, it is so nice to see dogs welcome at your hotel. Indeed I did!FullSizeRender (9)

Perk #7 Breakfast complimentary in the dining room, and made to order off the menu.   I am sure we have all had the complimentary breakfast at Quality Suites and it passes but at the Clarendon you are enjoying Lux Coffee (local coffee) to start your morning followed by whatever you choose of the menu.  Local ingredients, organic ingredients  result in a great food.  I had Chilaquiles with over easy eggs and it was yummy!  I couldn’t wait till the next  morning!!

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As my tummy was happy and quite content I ventured off to the Phoenix Museum to view the GianFranco Ferre Exhibit ” The White Shirt According to me”.  This exhibit was extraordinary.  Phoenix being the only museum in North America to show this, how lucky was I, only 1.5 hours  from Tucson where I live.  The Installation was the exact installation as in Milan and Florence the only two locations to show the exhibit.FullSizeRender (2)Gianfranco Ferre was an Architect before Designer and was hugely popular in the 80’s.  The 24 White shirts exhibited all had a story behind them and were just eye candy by themselves.FullSizeRender (5)FullSizeRender (4)FullSizeRender (3)  The museum also presented  a small collection of his Couture pieces.  My Favorite was the black dress with red roses!FullSizeRender (6)

An interesting current exhibit   was the Zodiac collection . Renowned Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei (b. 1957) took as his inspiration for his twelve Chinese zodiac bronze sculptures from those that once graced the Qing dynasty fountain, in an eighteenth-century imperial retreat outside Beijing. Like other ornate objects, the original pieces were looted by the British and French troops in the Second Opium War in 1860. Viewed as a symbol of “cultural theft”, Weiwei re-created the gold-plated sculptures in 2010 as a subversive commentary on the nature of looting and repatriation.FullSizeRender (8)

Back at the Hotel!  Breakfast # 2 consisted of flapjacks and eggs with local sausage and roasted potatoes.  A sophisticated version of the Grand Slam breakfast we all know at Denny’s!  The flapjacks were the best pancakes I have ever tasted.IMG_0194

Needing a little exercise to burn off my sinful breakfast, I hopped on a cool bike that was complimentary Perk #8012clarendon For two hours I had fun exploring the neighborhoods specifically the Willo and Encanto districts.  Beautiful homes, bungalows, landscaping and the retro mid century era all was visible to me on a quiet Sunday morning.IMG_0210 (1)

IMG_0218IMG_0222I really felt free, peaceful and totally happy!!! Perk #9 that wasn’t in the brochure.

It is amazing what a little get away can do for your spirits and well being.  The Clarendon and Phoenix museum did just that for me!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Turkey Dinner Tips, Leftovers and Dancing thru the process!

So many of my friends and acquaintances are frustrated this time of year because  when it comes to the Turkey Dinner they can’t do GRAVY or STUFFING!!  I hear this all the time and I say : “But it is so easy”!  So this year I decided to unravel the mystery of these basics so everyone can get  these delicacies on the table along with the other components that make a great Thanksgiving Dinner!  Below is my classic Turkey Day Dinner028

1. Stuffing : Cube bread and leave out on counter 1-2 days  to dry out

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Saute onions, celery and add herbs at the end.  Do not rush this process and make sure veggies are soft.  Season with Salt and Pepper007

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Mix cooked veggies with Bread Crumbs and then add Hot Turkey or Chicken Stock.  Mix with your HANDS until moist.  Add more herbs: Sage, Thyme, Rosemary

010 (2)and Flat Leaf Parsley, not Curly– too bitter008 (2)Place finished stuffing in a ovenproof dish and heat thru when ready0122. Mashed Potatoes

Peel and cut  Idaho Potatoes, Boil until soft in Salted Water, Mash, add a little butter and milk until desired consistency, add salt and pepper.  DO NOT PUT IN BLENDER unless you are going for a glue consistency!!!

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0453. Turkey

Rinse and Pat dry your bird.  Truss to keep all the wings and legs close to the body, and baste with butter.  Sprinkle salt pepper and paprika.  Cook desired time depending on the weight of the bird

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Check the temp, my bird which was 12 pounds registered at 160 and it was juicy and delicious017Let your bird rest, and cool down at least 30 minutes before carving013Presentation matters and your guests will appreciate the bird cut up and ready to be plated0364. Green Beans with Caramelized Onions

I wear goggles when I cut onions in large quantities to prevent myself from a crying melt down not worthy of tears.  This is 8 onions that have been roasted and caramelized with a little sugar and Balsamic Vinegar for approximately 3 hours at 350.

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Saute your green beans in batches.  Overcrowding a pan will not allow the beans to cook properly.  Dont over cook your beans, so sample  them during the cooking process0080105. Gravy- The Ultimate Challenge !

After removing your bird from the roasting pan pour all the drippings into a gravy seperator

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Let cool for a few minutes049Pour about a 1/2 cup of the fat that is on the top in the roasting pan, the good stuff is on the bottom- no fat.
053Add flour to your roasting pan054Now pour all the good juices into a bowl and leave the remaining fat liquid in the container.  YOU DON’T NEED ALL THAT FAT!  Save the extra  calories for the pecan pie!
059Whisk it all together in the roasting pan, this is called a ROUX060Add Turkey Stock, Trader Joes had it seasonally065Continue Stirring067070Use what you need, freeze the rest for a rainy day!0806.Pecan Pie  Sorry I only have a picture of the finished pie.

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This was a brief teaser on the dinner.  My suggestion is googling, read cookbooks, and Magazines to get recipes that attract you and go from there.  This blog was about little details that are missed and seem to be a mystery that prevents us to even attempting the cooking process.  Never say never and go for it!!

Dancing and Cooking makes everything taste better !  Yes I love to cook and I love to dance.  They seem to compliment one another in the kitchen and I like to have as much fun as possible.

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032Leftovers My favorite!!!

1. Turkey Pot PIe

Prep veggies, and cut up left over Turkey into cubes

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Make a Veloute which is back to the Gravy principle.  Make a roux of fat (butter) and flour and then add Turkey or Chicken Stock..  No Cream or Milk is necessary.  so many people think Pot Pies are in a cream sauce.  Not true 008Roll out  tthawedpastry, I used frozen– Cheating014I also was in a hurry and did not do a stellar job, but pieced it all together.  I guess I got exhausted with my dancing!016Not my best presentation, but it tasted delicious!!!!0182.  Turkey Avocado and Sprout Sandwich

Mash Avocados, add the turkey, and sprouts and load it up on Sourdough Bread! This is a tie of my other favorite sandwich a BLT!

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Bon Appetit!!!!

Cooking with a Purpose Continues…..

As I continue to cook up a storm and will continue to do so here are my latest triumphs.  Lots of salads with protein, and I experimented with desserts and some Agua Frescas.

Pork Hollywood Salad with Thai dipping sauce: I love this salad and wish I had a personal assistant in the kitchen who would chop everything for me!  Labor of love!

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Corn, Pepper, Tomato Chopped Salad- More chopping- but worth it! I grilled all the veggies first.

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Beef Tenderloin Thai Spinach Salad

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Asian Turkey Burgers  with Bok Choy and  Cilantro Vegetable Salad – Gwyneth’s Recipe

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Watermelon Agua Fresca – Gwyneth’s recipe

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Nectarine, Honey and Mint Agua Fresca – Gwyneth’s Recipe

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Vegetable Lasagna with Kale, Peppers, and Eggplant with Gluten Free Noodles.  With all the Lasagnas I have made, I no longer need any recipe for Lasagna -I just go with what I have in the fridge and layer!

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Grilled Chicken on Spinach- My favorite stand by for chicken- Home Chef Recipe

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Peanut Butter Cookies- Gwyneth’s recipe. I substituted Peanut butter for Almond butter

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Brownies- My husband loved these – again Gwyneth’s recipe

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Cooking with a Purpose Continued

Lots of new recipes and very happy with the results.  I broke down and bought Gwyneth Paltrow’s cook book – it includes  gluten free and vegan recipes.  I also am using the Gourmet Prescription cookbook which has been a staple in the kitchen for years.  Julia Child Master Volumes are on the sidelines at the moment.020

Eggplant (from my garden) and Red Pepper Ragu over Polenta. No recipe, just made it up.  In lieu of the normal  polenta additions of butter, pepper, parmesan, milk, I added olive oil, herbs, cayenne pepper  instead and it was still delicious.  These changes give me hope that recipes can be tweaked from their classic state and still be delicious.025

Seared Salmon over Sauteed Spinach with Cumin Scented Quinoa and Black Rice.  This was absolutely satisfying and delicious.  Easy to make as well005

007I made Mojo Rojo last week, so I made Mojo Verde this week.  Lots of cilantro and I accidently over salted so I added another bunch of cilantro to over compensate the error.  I am currently a little heavy handed with the salt these days because the pepper has been removed from my diet.  NO more Ying and Yang— just Ying!  I have been using the Mojo Verde on everything!  Tortillas, Rice, eggs, sandwiches .  Yum yum- another home run.003

006Veggie Burger???  How can they call this a veggie burger when it is a black bean and rice burger? 005 There are no veggies in it?  In spite of the title it is delicious and I have decided to continue my search to make the best veggie burger ever–with veggies.! 017 I paired the veggie (black bean) burger with a Fried Egg, Spinach, Tortilla and  Mojo Verde Sauce and Romesco sauce. (recipe follows)007  Breakfast on the Patio with Steve and Bernadette after a Spin Class and Swim was the perfect Sunday morning.004

023Back in the day when I catered, I made so many Paella Valenciana’s for party’s along with Romesco Sauce and Roasted Potatoes.  I always used my trustee recipe from Cesar in  Berkeley which is mind blowing delicious, but with not as much time I tried a new recipe and it wasn’t as good, but still worthy of the table. 003 I remember when I catered for Elevations in Menlo Park a favorite sandwich I made was Grilled Eggplant, Mozzarella and Romesco on Francese Roll.  Never were there leftovers!

Shaved Asparagus- Good but I would never make again.  Vegetable Peeler and lots of  time!008  I paired it with two dishes:

Roast Chicken w/Kimchi Smashed Potatoes.  I normally don’t roast chicken or cut up a whole chicken but here we go with both tasks!  The chicken came out delicious, tender and juicy.   Kimchi is fermented cabbage with spices and apparently on the hot list of healthy upcoming must have  ingredients. It was so tasty and added a punch to the potatoes.  Smashing the potatoes and letting the chicken, and kimchi juices absorb in the potatoes made it hard not to have seconds.  My husband could not stop saying how great it was!010

024Brown Rice Pasta with Shaved Asparagus, Peas ,Endive, Parsley, with Goat Cheese and Prosciutto. (made it up)  First time having a Gluten free pasta and it was hard to tell the difference.  What a relief since I love pasta.  The dish was great!  This Gluten Free Diet isn’t so bad after all.014

Cooking with a new purpose

Many hours  of The Sole of Ten Outfits  (moi)  is spent in the kitchen!  When I was a child I watched Julia Child every Saturday morning on KQED and I told myself I was going to cook like her someday.  I attended  Home Chef Cooking School in Palo Alto , ended up working there as a Kitchen Manager, and an Instructor. I also worked at Sunset Magazine in Menlo Park  thus hours and hours of being in the kitchen, resulted in being a good chef! Repetition is what makes perfection and to this day I owe all those hours and still counting to being the cook I am today.  A damn good one!  I always say to my clients at Ten Outfits you have to know the rules first before you can break them.  This is the same with cooking; understand the basics then start tweeking and evolving in the kitchen in the direction you want to head.

My direction these days is in healthy, gluten free, dairy free cooking. I was tested for   food allergies and my list of restrictions was loud and clear.  I had to change a few habits. Unfortunately I have had digestive issues my entire life and two weeks ago I decided to investigate and then resolve my problem areas.

On that note my blog post is going to concentrate on my love for cooking for today, and sharing recipes,

I always have a strategic force behind cooking and the first step is going thru all my torn out recipes from Gourmet, Food and Wine, and Bon Appetit and then all my cooking books and tag what I want to try.  Second I write out the “wish list” and ingredients so I am prepared for the grocery shopping trip.003

This particular trip consists of Lee’s International Market , Whole Foods, and Trader Joes in Tucson.  So far 2 out of 3, I will go to the fabulous Whole Foods on Tuesday.  It is so new and fresh it feels “cool to be there and of course I will be meeting a friend for lunch. So many choices from the prepared food section how can I go wrong?020

Lee’s International Market is so fun I give myself an hour to walk down every aisle.  I see food products that are mysterious and can’t imagine what I would do with them. Such as the picture below :Jackfruit”018 I am glad I have a specific list, otherwise it would be like an Ikea visit without a purpose – Fun but if you don’t go home with anything you feel disappointed.021

I feel a surge of excitement trying new recipes, I always try to challenge myself with something out of my comfort zone.  This week it consisted of Chickpea Panelles, 014 Mojo Rojo Sauce,Banana Ice Cream with Salty Almonds

016 012and a Simple Syrup for my Vodka. Yes all Wine, Beer and Spirits are off the list with the exception of Vodka. Vodka has never  been my favorite, but I am one to try anything at least once. I wasn’t pleased with the Lemon, Rosemary Infused Vodka Martini, It tasted like a cough drop. I also didn’t like the Chickpea Panelles, the texture was odd,and the taste bland, The Mojo Rojo Sauce is to die for and so is the Banana Ice Cream with Nuts.  Until the next recipe unfolds…005

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