Wild Mushroom Arancini with Swiss Chard and Roasted Garlic

A miracle happened at our house recently. We had left over wild mushroom risotto. We have no idea how it happened but it is the only way to get to make arancini.

Mushroom Arancini

Mushroom Arancini

Arancini is made from left over risotto, breaded and sautéed to crispy golden brown.

Arancini 002

Arancini 002 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To go along with the arancini, I “water-sauteed” a bunch of red Swiss chard, added some roasted garlic, salt and pepper and 2 drops of liquid smoke – Yum! A lovely contrast of flavors that blend and contrast amazingly well with the arancini.

Here is how to make Arancini:

Use any left over risotto, in this case we had wild mushroom risotto.

Shape the risotto into equal size balls, flatten sightly and then dip them into a standard breading procedure of flour, egg wash, bread crumbs (or ground nuts, which would be amazing!)

Pan fry the arancini in a small amount of oil. Do this over medium heat so the inside of the arancini can get good and warm.

Once one side is golden brown, flip them over and brown the other side.

English: Swiss chard (Beta vulgaris) with vari...

English: Swiss chard (Beta vulgaris) with variously colored stems on sale at an outdoor farmers’ market in Rochester, Minnesota (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To make the Swiss chard:

Wash the leaves and remove the stems. Reserve the stems for another use.

Chop the chard into 1″ ribbons.

Heat a saute pan to hot, do not add any oil. This is going to be a “water-saute”.

When the pan is hot, add the chard all at once, allowing whatever water still on the leaves to remain. “Water-saute” the chard until it wilts. Turning in the pan as the water evaporates.

Add a heaping spoonful of roasted garlic and a few drops of the garlic oil to the pan, stir gently to incorporate.

Season with fresh ground pepper, salt and 2 drops of liquid smoke (totally optional!)

Once all the liquid has evaporated, you are ready to serve.

Place a mound of the Swiss chard on the plate, place a wild mushroom arancini on the mound, garnish the plate with fresh tomato wedges, sliced fresh mushrooms and roasted garlic.

Simple, elegant and rich in flavors.

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Shrimp and Lobster Bisque

Christmas Eve dinner somehow has become a seafood feast that features ravioli. This year Tyler asked me to make the Shrimp and Lobster Bisque like we used to make in the restaurant. It takes a bit of effort but it sure is an indulgent soup!

Perfect for a special dinner.

So here goes.

Make Shrimp and Lobster Stock

Shrimp and lobster1# fresh wild-caught shrimp, any size (I used 26-30’s for this recipe)

1- 2 ounce lobster tail per person + 1

You can use a whole lobster and use the claws for decoration or you can use frozen lobster meat. Tails were on sale at the grocery so I bought some. Perfect!

1#  thickly sliced carrots

1/2 pound chopped celery

1/2 pound chopped onions

1/4 cup  tomato paste

Sprig of fresh thyme

3 cloves fresh garlic, smashed

1/4 cup brandy, flambeed to remove alcohol

1 gallon water

1 pint heavy cream (later, to finish)

Remove the shells and tails from the shrimp, reserve the shells and tails for making the stock.

Set shrimp aside, keep it cold.

Remove the tail meat from the lobster, run a skewer down the underside of the tail to keep it from curling while cooking. Keep the tails cold.Insert a skewer to prevent curling

Roughly chop the shells with your knife. put the chopped shells and shrimp shells into a 2 gallon stock pot.

Over high heat, saute the shells until they turn red and pink.

Add the chopped carrots, onions, celery, thyme and garlic to the pot and saute the vegetables until they soften a bit.

Saute the shells and vegetables

Saute the shells and vegetables until they turn pink.

Add the tomato paste and stir to coat everything as much as you can with the paste.

Do not allow this to burn. Once you see a bit of color forming on the bottom of the pan, add the 1/4 cup brandy. Since you are working in a stock pot, you will have to ignite the brandy fumes with an extension lighter. Just place the flame over the edge of the pot to ignite the brandy. Let the fire burn until it extinguishes. This burns out the raw alcohol.

Flambe with Brandy

Flambe with Brandy

When the flames go out, stir and then add 1 gallon cold water.

Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and allow this to simmer for at least 1 hour, 2-3 hours is best.

Do not cover the pot, do not boil the pot and do not stir. Doing any of these things will make your stock cloudy.

Strain, reserving the liquid, throw away all of the vegetables and shells. Use a fine screen strainer to ensure all shell fragments are removed from the finished stock.

Cool and reserve for making the bisque.

To Make the Bisque:

Reserve a few shrimp whole for garnish. Roughly chop the remaining shrimp. Season with salt and white pepper.

Season the skewered lobster tails. Trim the bamboo skewers used to keep the lobster straight so they fit into the saute pan.

Saute the tails and shrimp in a small bit of olive oil. Deglaze the pan with the brandy, allow to flambe to cook out the alcohol.

Saute and deglaze the lobster  and shrimp with brandy before adding to the bisque.

Saute and deglaze the lobster and shrimp with brandy before adding to the bisque.

Perfect consistency is when the soup coats the back of a spoon and it stays separated when you draw a line through it with your finger.

Perfect consistency is when the soup coats the back of a spoon and it stays separated when you draw a line through it with your finger.

Mound a bit of the cooked seafood in the bottom of the serving bowl; pour the hot soup over the shrimp and lobster.

Mound a bit of the cooked seafood in the bottom of the serving bowl; pour the hot soup over the shrimp and lobster.

Garnish with sour cream and chives or scallions.

Garnish with sour cream and chives or scallions.

Bring the stock to a boil and add the heavy cream simmer until the consistency coats the back of a spoon. This may take 30-40 minutes, depending on how fast you simmer.

Alternatively, you could use 4-6 ounces of roux to thicken and simmer the stock and cream for 15-20 minutes to cook out the flour taste. I prefer to use the reduction method for better flavor and less fat and flour in the final dish. Using roux is the classic method.

When the stock and cream are at the consistency you desire, add the flambeed shrimp to the soup.

Remove the skewer from the tails and slice each tail into nice neat disks.

Place 3-5 disks of lobster  in the center of the soup bowl and ladle the hot broth over the lobster.

Garnish with a small dollop of sour cream, whipped cream or creme fraiche.

Saute the

Crab Cakes with Leeks and Corn

Crab Cakes with Leeks and Corn

Crab Cakes get so abused. Tender sweet succulent crab; why do so many ruin the delicate flavor by adding red or green peppers to the mix?

When I think of crab cakes, I think of the delicious flavor of crab, not a nasal hit of red or green peppers. While I love peppers, they do have their place. In my opinion, that place is not in a crab cake.

What is the star of your dish? Is it the crab? How much did you pay for the crab? Usually a lot of money or labor if you cleaned your own crabs. Why would you want to hide the star of your dish with the pungent flavor of red or green pepper?

Peppers have a dominate flavor, they overpower everything. Which is why they are the stars in the dishes they are featured. Stuffed peppers, sausage and peppers, red pepper hummus, roasted pepper salads, great dishes with strong dominate flavors.

If you didn’t guess already, adding peppers to delicate crab meat is a pet peeve of mine. I feel strongly about it. If you like peppers in your crab cakes, fine, I’d ask you though if you really know what crab tastes like.

Enough of that rant, on to the crab cakes!

Crab, any kind of crab, has a delicate flavor. Enhance the flavor with a dab of smooth Dijon mustard, sautéed shallot, roasted garlic and sliced scallions or chives and lemon zest. Hold the mix together with an egg and coat the outside of each formed crab cake with a layer of panko bread crumbs and you have an amazing cake for either an appetizer, entrée or salad. How to and the recipe are below.

Crab comes in many forms. You can purchase live blue crabs  or king or queen crab legs and boil your  own for a great outdoor dinner party.

Colossal size crab meat from Blue Swimming Cra...

Colossal size crab meat from Blue Swimming Crab. Courtesy of Newport International. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Crab comes in canned or pasteurized form in addition to fresh. Here is the translation as to what kind of crab you are getting according to classification:

  • Colossal Lump: Very large white, unbroken pieces of crab.
  • Jumbo Lump:  largest white pieces of crab meat from the body portion adjacent to the back fin appendage. may contain broken pieces.
  • Back fin: A blend of large lump pieces and special meat.
  • Special: Flake white meat from the body portion of the crab.
  • Claw: This meat is from the crab claws. It is darker in color but sweeter in flavor.
  • Cocktail Claws: Claw meat intact on the claw with the outer shell removed.

Colossal Lump is typically the most expensive. If you think of the labor that goes into cleaning a crab, you would understand why.

Cocktail Claw crab meat from Blue Swimming Crab.

Cocktail Claw crab meat from Blue Swimming Crab. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The other night there was a pasteurized can of jumbo lump in my fridge. We had crab in salads and make crab cakes.

There were leeks and corn in the fridge too so I sautéed a nice side to go with the crab cakes.

Leek and Corn Saute

2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil

1 shallot, sliced

1 clove garlic, minced fine

1 leek, washed and sliced thin

1 cup frozen corn or cut fresh corn from 2 ears

1/2 cup dry white wine or chicken stock

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat a saute pan over medium heat, add oil, shallot and garlic, stir.

Saute leeks and corn

Add rinsed leeks and corn, saute 2-3 minutes, add white wine and simmer until the pan is nearly dry. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Set aside and keep warm.

Crab Cakes

1/2 pound jumbo lump crab meat (or any market form you like but cocktail claws)

1 egg

1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest and juice from 1 lemon

1 tablespoon minced shallots

2 scallions thinly sliced, white and green part

1 teaspoon minced roasted garlic

1 teaspoon old Bay Seasoning

Salt and pepper to taste

Optional: 1 tablespoon capers

To remove any cartilage that may still be in the crab meat, place the meat on a parchment lined sheet pan, place it in a 350°F oven for 2-3 minutes. Any cartilage will turn bright white or red and can easily be picked out.

Working in a restaurant, the sheet pan method is used to quickly identify any unwanted cartilage. This method also preserves the shape of the meat if using precious lump meat. High volumes of crab meat can be processed quickly this way.

Combine everything in a large bowl except the crab,  add the crab meat last so it does not get broken up too much.

Carefully, take a small handful and shape the crab cake between your thumb and forefinger as if you are making a hand gesture to say OK. This makes the sides and size consistent.

Roll each cake carefully in breadcrumbs.

Heat a saute pan with 2 tablespoons of oil. Cook the crab cakes until golden brown on each side. If you move them very little while cooking they won’t fall apart.

Serve with lemon, sautéed leeks and corn on the side.

Crab cakes with leek and corn

Mushroom Risotto

I made mushroom risotto just to see if there could be any left over to make the risotto balls Frugal Feeding made. Only he called them Rosemary and Garlic Arancini. I suppose that is the correct Italian name for them more than “risotto balls.”

By any other name they are still just as good.

Let’s make  Mushroom Risotto and if you have any left, you can hop over to Frugals site and make the Arancini.

But first a note on how to clean mushrooms:

Think of them like little sponges. if you run them under water or (horrors!) soak them in a bowl of water to ‘clean’ them, you are water logging the poor little mushroom. The mushroom will release that water while you cook, you will not get a good color on them when cooking. Instead of saute, you will be braising them.

Instead, wipe them with a clean towel, trim the tough part of the stem (shiitake – remove the entire stem, it is tough) your are ready to go.

Portobello mushrooms can be ‘peeled’ to create a prettier mushroom. Use a spoon to scrape out the gills and then peel the lip of the mushroom to remove the top layer, peeling towards the top middle of the mushroom cap.

Save the scraps for flavoring stocks for soup or sauces.

Peeling a Portobello

Use a spoon to scrape out the gills

1 peeled Portobello and 1 not peeled ; see the difference?
Save those scraps! Freeze them.

Mushroom Risotto

1 cup arborio rice

2 tablespoons finely minced shallots

1 tablespoon  fresh minced garlic

1 cup cleaned and sliced fresh mushrooms of your choice

White button and shiitake mushrooms

If you use Portobello mushrooms, be sure to clean the gills out from under the cap. They turn everything a dark, almost black color.


1 up to 1 quart of warm chicken stock

If you use a stock that has salt in it, adjust your salt flavor at the end. Salt concentrates as liquids evaporate.

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded, not graded

1 tablespoon butter

Salt and pepper to taste

Cook the mushrooms first in the same pan you will cook the risotto. This allows the mushrooms to develop that deep flavor for which mushrooms are so famous.

Sautéed Mushrooms

  • 1 pound mushrooms of your choice, cleaned and sliced
  • 2 tablespoons oil or clarified butter
  • 1 shallot sliced
  • 2 clove fresh garlic smashed and minced
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste

Heat the pan over high heat, add oil.

Add mushrooms sliced shallots, garlic saute until they begin to develop color and start to release their juices. Add white wine to deglaze and cook until the pan is nearly dry.

Now add the rice and continue with the risotto recipe below.

Note: This is a great way to saute mushrooms for any other way you want to eat mushrooms, steak, Quiche, soup

  • Heat the chicken stock in a pot and have it nearby with a ladle.
  • In the same pan you cooked the mushrooms above, add the rice.
  • Saute for 2 minutes. Stir to coat the rice with the mushroom goodness in the pan.
  • Ladle about 8 ounces of warm stock into the rice pan.
  • Stir to combine and continue stirring until the stock has been absorbed.
  • Repeat 3 more times.
  • Taste the rice, there should be a slight bite to the grain, known as “al-dente.”
  • The last addition will be 1/2 cup white wine, stir until the wine has been absorbed.
  • Stir in the Parmesan cheese and the butter.
  • Adjust seasonings and serve.

Warm chicken stock, have a ladle handy

Saute the mushrooms, shallots, garlic, thyme and wine to develop flavor in the mushrooms before adding rice. Cook down to nearly dry again.

Add rice, saute to coat the rice with oil and mushroom jus

Add warm stock and stir until absorbed

Stir until all stock has been absorbed; add more stock

Add more stock and keep stirring

I learned to make risotto the old-fashioned way; by stirring a lot. Stirring makes it creamy. There are some methods where you cook it much like you do plain rice. I don’t find the results as creamy as the stir-like-a-madman method.

Besides, it gives your arms a decent work out.

If you want to make risotto and hold it for serving later, take it only half way through the steps of adding stock. Cool it down.

When you are ready to finish, heat more stock, add the rice and finish the cooking process.

Serve immediately as risotto can get quite gluey as it cools down after it finishes cooking.

I made enough to have some leftover for the Arancini but when I went to make them, there was no leftover risotto.

So the myth continues, there is no such thing as leftover risotto.

I haven’t seen much leftover wine either.

Why is that?

Robert said to just make more risotto and make the Arancini immediately.

I think he just wants more risotto.

Mushroom Risotto

Chicken Piccata

This is a simple delicious recipe for Chicken Piccata. It is fresh and light and cooks quickly.

Boil the water and cook pasta while making the piccata.

You can choose to use tofu or fish or scaloppini of veal instead of chicken. We like them all!

Chicken Piccata

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Chicken Piccata

Serves 2

  • 2 chicken breasts, sliced into 2-3 thin slices each
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • zest and juice from 1 large lemon
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 1 clove fresh garlic, minced fine
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons cold butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Garnish with:

  • Fresh flat leaf parsley and lemon slices
  • Shaved Parmesan cheese

Place the sliced chicken breasts into a plastic bag, a piece at a time, and lightly pound to make the breast pieces flat and even.

Season with a sprinkling of salt and pepper.

Heat a saute pan over medium high heat, when hot add the oil.

Saute until golden brown

Dredge the pounded chicken breasts in flour.

Saute in a hot saute pan until golden brown on both sides.

Remove the chicken from the pan and keep warm while you make the sauce.

Add the shallots and garlic, stir, being careful not to  burn the garlic or shallots.

De-glaze the pan with white wine. When the wine is nearly gone, add the lemon zest and juice, capers and chicken stock.

Bring to a boil. Simmer for 2-3 minutes.

Finished Sauce

Whisk in the butter and serve.

Do not boil the sauce after adding the butter to avoid ‘breaking’ the sauce.

Serve with spaghetti, linguine or rice, if you prefer.

A fresh green salad and crusty bread are great sides.

Enjoy!

Chicken Piccata