Sunday, August 22, 2010

Another batch of recipes...

We're due for another catch up post as I try to work through a small mountain of recipes we've already prepared in these past few weeks. This pile sits next to me, whispering daily, wondering why they are being ignored... at least that's what it feels like as the pile gets larger, instead of smaller!

When it was practically at a boil outside a few days ago (which, thankfully, seems to have subsided! Woo!), turning on the oven for dinner was definitely not on the menu. With a pound of ground turkey in the fridge thawing, these Stir-Fried Turkey in Lettuce Wraps were definitely the right way to go!

Fish sauce, soy sauce and sugar is used not only to moisten the chicken as it cooks, but it also made for a pungent, sweet drizzle over the top of the assembled wraps! Flavored with fresh ginger, garlic and a small serrano chile (seeded or not, your call), feel free to swap out the meat if turkey isn't on your radar - try pork, beef or even ground chicken. Crisp lettuce cups worked well for us as a lighter option, but this would also make a dynamite sandwich filling stuffed into a hallowed-out baguette!

While that stir-fry was light, this next dish, Barley Risotto with Garlic, Spinach and Mascarpone, was decidedly more in line with a heavier, comfort food-type meal. I guess this should be labeled "risotto-style" or maybe even "barotto" as regular risotto is usually made with starchy arborio rice - however, you can still replicate the process using whole-grains too, like barley, farro or even steel-cut oats with success!

Jeff and I both loved the lemon zest in this - it came across exceptionally bright, breaking through the richness with its clean zip. You do still get the cheesy bite you expect in risotto from the Parmigiano-Reggiano used, but what makes this dish exceptionally creamy is a generous dollop of mascarpone cheese. This triple-cream chesse is mellow, with a luscious, buttery tone, and makes this just that more special - you could probably get away with cream cheese in a pinch, but mascarpone is worth seeking out.

We made this next recipe, Spinach, Rice and Ham Casserole, in individual baking dishes, but you could also toss it into a single pan to bake. Use white rice if you like, but since I keep bags of already cooked brown rice in the freezer, we used a couple cups worth of that. I like to make big pots on the weekend using our favorite no-fuss method, then freeze them in portions to pull out when needed - little things like this make life much easier on busy nights! There was nothing exceptional to shout out about this, besides the nutty Gruyére cheese that is, but it was a breeze to make and since we both enjoyed it, I would make it again.



  1. I didn't know you could freeze rice! So you fully cook it, first, right? Then to reheat it, do you have to add a bit of water?

  2. Great stuff - good luck with clearing your backlog!
    @ Angela - simply cook rice, cool it and then freeze it. If you portion it using clingfilm it is much easier to reheat the right amount, and you can simply microwave the portions as you need them. You don't need any water, just microwave them in the clingfilm and serve!

  3. I've been reading your blog and enjoying your food entries since before you moved to Charlotte. Just about everything you cook makes me want to come through the computer screen and have a taste (or two)! From the looks of your profile picture, you seem to be a slender man. I say that to ask this, do you and your partner follow a strict excercise program or were you just blessed with good genes? There only seems to be two of you in your household, so do you guys end up giving away the sweets away to friends/neighbors? I'm just curious because I tend to gain weight just from looking at food. I hope you guys are enjoying the South so far.

    Columbia, SC

  4. I love the lettuce wraps!!! Also had no idea that freezing rice works. Thanks for the tip

  5. Angela - I don't use any extra water... just a gentle reheat it. I guess it would depend on how you end up using the rice, but in general, I fully cook it.

    Calvin - Maybe a little of both? I'm fairly active and do cardio/strength training 5 or 6 days a week. We do freeze a lot and share when we can!