All recipes paired with wine, Poultry, Recipes with leftovers

Delicious dinner ready in 15 minutes? No problem!

In Czech we have this saying: Blacksmith’s (farrier’s) horse goes barefoot. Or plumber’s faucet at home is leaking. You’ve got the message. I cook for a living. I love it, and I cook variety of different recipes to please my unique clientele’s palate. Every day it’s something different I cook. But when it comes to prepare quick dinner at home, that’s usually the last thing on my list (unless I have time or we expect a company).

Why? Well, when I am not cooking, I have a  business to run. Emails to respond, menus to create, paperwork that must be done. I didn’t have time to grocery shop just for us, and I am looking for easy (but tasty) solutions. This past week I had to cancel everything because my husband was seriously hurt and needed my help. How blessed I felt that I have the freedom of being entrepreneur to do so. We were in emergency room, then going to neurologist another day, having MRI done, then back to the original doctor …. You got the drill. The last thing on my mind was to be concerned about the food.

But we still needed to eat. Ok, I have a favorite places where I can get a nice sandwich for a lunch, or favorite Chinese restaurant I call for delivery. I had a large pot of soup cooked for us so it’s not like we were starving. But today, I opened a fridge when it was time to prepare something quick for dinner, and there was little bit of few leftover things, not enough for two – and a box of leftover rice from the Chinese takeout.

I quickly took virtual inventory about what else I have in the fridge that I can whip some meal with. For emergencies like this, I have a box of Applegate Naturals Southwestern-Style Grilled Chicken Breast Strips purchased at Whole Foods. I always have some vegetables and of course, tons of seasoning to choose from.

Chinese take out rice

Great! I could make fajitas with those chicken strips! I love it and it would be easy to make. But the box of unused rice called for something like fried rice. Or….. I can make Rizoto. No, that’s not misspelled Italian Risotto. I am talking about a dish we used to make in my home country, everything- but- sink kind of quick and tasty dish made from leftovers. Something like Czech version of paella, jambalaya, or fried rice.

You see, I recently started to cook for a new customer, whose parents came from Slovakia (part of former Czechoslovakia). She asked me if I knew how to prepare Ludash. It was supposed to be a traditional dish that her mom used to make when my client was little. Her parents came to USA sometimes in 1930ties, so I have never heard of it. When I asked her what was in it, she described something that sounded close to description of my familiar Rizoto.

Rizoto alias Ludash
Rizoto alias Ludash

I have some artists-friends on Facebook from Slovakia so I posted the question on their wall if anybody ever heard of Ludash? I love social media! Shortly after my post, few kind souls sent me a different links to some recipes and I was actually right, it was basically how I would prepare Czech Rizoto. So I made it for her. She loved it!!! Said her mom made it without the vegetables, but she liked it better the way I made it. And it was much tastier than she remembers. I was really happy it worked out for her, with all that help I got from total strangers on Facebook.

So, starring at the box of rice, and with this story freshly in my memory, I made Rizoto (or Ludash) . I used vegetables I had in fridge (optional). It took exactly 15 minutes from when I started to when we sat down to eat. Yes, I used semi-cooking method, but it could be easily done within that time frame with freshly sautéed chicken breasts. You want to try it? Here is the recipe!

All recipes paired with wine, Poultry, Recipes with leftovers

Ludash, Rizoto or Chicken and Rice Casserole

Vera’s Rizoto

How this dish started? If you really want to know, you can read about it here, so this post wouldn’t be too long.

Quick leftover transformation – or call it dinner in 15 minutes. When you need to do something tasty, yet healthy fast – this is a super easy recipe that you may enjoy. As a traditional Czech dish called Rizoto (not to be confused with Italian Risotto), it could be called a variation to Spanish Paella, Louisiana’s Jambalaya, or perhaps  Chinese fried rice. Ever country have their own versions of dishes made with rice. This is mine:

Rizoto or Ludash
Rizoto or Ludash

Serving: 4 people

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of cooked rice
  • ¼ red pepper, diced
  • ¼ green pepper, diced
  • 2 carrots diced
  • ¼ white onion, minced
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 stalks of celery, diced
  • 1 table spoon of organic Better than bouillon chicken base (reduced sodium) – my shortcut, you can use a cup of chicken broth, if you have it
  • Chicken Breast Strips or 1 large chicken breast or 4 boneless chicken thighs, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 cup water (only if using chicken base instead of broth)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • Red crushed pepper for heat (totally optional)
  • Saffron (few strings)
  • 1 table spoon of organic butter
  • Olive or coconut oil

 How to:

Heat oil in larger heavy bottom pot. Add minced onion and sauté until translucent not brown, about 1 minute on medium heat. Add diced garlic and keep stirring – because garlic gets easily burned.

Peel and chop your carrots and celery (I happen to like it mined into really small cubes, it also speeds up the cooking time). When prepared, add to the onions. Stir and let cook on medium low heat. Season with salt and pepper.

Diced carrots

In the meantime, clean and chop your peppers (they take shorter time to cook), and when ready, add to the pot. Keep steering so everything combines well. When the vegetables start to soften, add tablespoon of chicken base – or chicken stock. Mix well to combine and add water (if using chicken broth base). Add red crushed pepper if using, and saffron. Mix into the broth well.

Throw all the leftover rice into the pot and stir with vegetables. Let the rice cook with vegetables and chop your chicken – if using already grilled stripes, just cut into bite pieces and add them to the mix. If you have chicken breasts raw, cut into small pieces, and quickly sauté on frying pan, with little bit of olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper for few minutes, until cooked through.

Rizoto or Ludash
Rizoto or Ludash

When the meat is in, mix everything together and add more water /chicken stock, if too dry. Let the meat warm up in the rice (I love that the Southwestern-Style Grilled Chicken Breast Strips gave it another dimension with the spicy seasoning) and frozen peas. Cover and let cook little more on low heat. At the end, right before the serving, add tablespoon of butter. Do not skip this step, organic butter is good for you and this little bit makes huge difference in flavor! Let the butter melt in the rice, mix well and serve. You can sprinkle with fresh parsley or chives (I was too hungry to bother).,

Bon Apetite!

Oh, and for a wine pairing, I opened a bottle of Aveleda Vinho Verde, a very refreshing, mineral and crisp white wine from Portugal. It worked together perfectly. So much so, that I had to pour myself another glass ♥

All recipes paired with wine, Sweets

Rhubarb Bubble Cake

Rhubarb Bubble Cake

I don’t usually post many recipes for sweets. As a matter of fact, it is quite possible that I didn’t post any so far. Probably because sweets don’t pair that well with my wine. And, I would trade dessert for a piece of delicious cheese any time.  But this is so simple, so delicious , quick and versatile that I believe I must share it with you! It’s our family recipe, and it’s not very sweet (you can decrease the amount of sugar or substitute sugar with agave nectar. Lately I just used Pure Organic Stevia Vanilla to make it super light and flavorful).

Blueberry Bubble Cake variation
Blueberry Bubble Cake variation

As you can see, most of the time I make this same recipe with blueberries and for lack of other ideas, I call it my “Blueberry Bubble Cake”. (it would be the raw translation of its Czech name). But this time I found rhubarb in the store, and it reminded me of a rhubarb cake, I used to love when I was little. That combination of sweet and sour was always my favorite thing.

So here it goes:

Rhubarb Bubble Cake

Rhubarb Bubble Cake

Ingredients:

2 cups of VONDRA flour

¾ cup of sugar (or substitute)

1 table spoon of baking powder

1 cup of lukewarm milk

2 eggs

½ cup of butter (warmed up to liquid)

Grated zest of ½ not chemically treated lemon

2-3 sticks of rhubarb

Table spoon of butter to cover the baking dish

½ cup of plain breadcrumbs

How to:

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Peel outer stringy skin of rhubarb, wash and cut into similar pieces (half-moons). Set aside. Warm up the butter and set aside so it’s not hot when you add it to the batter.

Mix baking powder with flour and sugar in a large bowl. In small bowl whisk 2 whole eggs with the lukewarm milk and add it to the flour. Add warm butter, lemon zest (sometimes I add few drops of aromatic rum as well). That’s your batter – no whisking, super quick.

Spray a baking pan (about 12”x9”) with butter spray (or spread a small piece of warmed butter to cover the entire inside of the dish), and sprinkle with breadcrumbs in. Keep moving the pan until the whole bottom and sides are covered with breadcrumbs (it will prevent your cake from sticking to the pan). Discard any leftover breadcrumbs.

Pour batter into the baking pan and cover with pieces of rhubarb. I laid them pretty close because I love a lot of fruit in my cake. Some will sink into the dough as it rises, some will remain on top of the cake. If you like your cake sweeter, you will have to sprinkle sugar on top of it when it’s baked.

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Place your dish in the preheated oven and bake for about 45 min – 1 hour, when the top gets golden color, and if you test the batter with the wooden skewer, it comes out clean. Take out of the oven, cut square or whatever shape you like, and serve with little bit of whipped cream or crème fraiche. Enjoy!!!

For a Valentine’s Day, I cut out hearts for my sweetheart. Hope you enjoy this recipe and please share your favorite Rhubarb recipes with me in the comments.

All recipes paired with wine, Lamb

Perfect lamb chops – always

I have tried several different recipes and methods to prepare perfect lamb chops or rack of lamb – marinating it, searing it, baking it – and by far, this recipe is the closest to perfect in my book. Perfecting this dish was important for me, as I never touched lamb when I was young. Have you ever had overcooked, dried out, tasteless or stinky, fatty lamb chops? Then you know what I am talking about.

If you like your lamb chops as they are supposed to be: medium to medium rare, follow this recipe to the letter. It will reward you with super juicy, soft, great tasting  chops. I elevate the taste even more by adding Chimichuri sauce for serving. Divine!!!!

 

Perfect Lamb chops with chimichuri sauce
Perfect Lamb chops with chimichuri sauce

 Perfect lamb chops

Ingredients:

1-2 racks of lamb
2 tablespoons Panko crumbs
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon chopped rosemary
4 cloves garlic
Salt and pepper

For Chimichuri sauce:
Handful of fresh parsley
Handful of cilantro
4 cloves of garlic roughly chopped
Salt & freshly grated pepper
Red pepper flakes (about ½ teaspoon – the amount is optional)
½ cup of red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons of olive oil

Clean lamb chops of excess fat, wash under running water, pat dry with paper towel and season with salt and pepper.  Preheat oven to 350°F.

Heat your heavy iron skillet on top of the stove, high heat, until it reaches almost smoking point. Without using any oil, carefully sear rack of lamb in hot pan on each side (about 1-2 minute per side) and set aside.

Combine Panko crumbs with finely chopped garlic and rosemary and spread on your cutting board. This part is the best to work with your hands, so wash your hands, take off rings and generously spread Dijon mustard on rack of lamb,  both sides. While holding the rack by bone, dig the chops, already smeared with mustard, in the mixture of Panko, garlic and rosemary. Stick on more with your hand if it’s falling off.

Perfect Lamb Chops
Perfect Lamb Chops

Place rack of lamb into small sheet or baking dish, and put in the oven for exactly 20 minutes. Just as they are, no fat or water needed. During that time, prepare your favorite side dishes and Chimichuri sauce, if desired.

Place all the ingredients for Chimichuri sauce into your food processor and pulse until well combined. You can also chop the herbs and garlic by hand if you so choose, and then mix it with liquids.

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When 20 minutes are up, take out the chops and let them rest on the cutting board for another 10 minutes.  Then cut individual chops in between the bones and serve. I love my chops over seared asparagus or oven roasted root vegetables and wedged potatoes. Don’t forget to sprinkle each chop with Chimichuri sauce. I hope you enjoy it!!!

Perfect lamb chops

Suggested wine pairing:

I loved my lamb chops with great Castello di Monsanto Chianti Classico Riserva – it was big enough wine to Monsanto chianti classico1stand to the rich flavor of the chops, yet acidic enough not to conflict with Chimichuri Sauce. I guess your favorite Cabernet Sauvignon, quality Bordeaux blend, Malbec or Tempranillo would go great with this dish.

If you are generous with Chinichuri sauce as I am, I would stick with European style reds as they are generally more acidic than Californian reds, and therefore more food friendly. Before I set off some oenophiles – yes, I am aware that this is  general statement and there are exceptions to the rule. But if you want to be safe, in this case stick with the old world reds. Can’t make mistake 🙂

 

 

 

All recipes paired with wine, Healthy and tasty condiments, Salads, Veggies based & Vegetarian

Guacamole and salsa, or let’s call it Gualsa!

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On Sunday, I posted this  picture on Facebook ans asked my friends to guess what I was making. And yes, it totally looked like guacamole – and/or salsa. I lately decided to save some time and combined the two  – because what’s better than getting all the guacamole and tomato salsa on the chip at the same time, right? Ever since, that’s the only way I am making it. Who has time to make guacamole, and then tomato salsa to go with it?

I call it my “Gualsa”. If you want to try it, here is the recipe (the amounts of each ingredient are flexible, it all depends on your personal taste, and how many people you want to serve). Down side: just like guacamole or salsa, it doesn’t keep well, so it’s better to make less and make a fresh one again soon!

Vera’s Gualsa

Ingredients:

4 ripe tomatoes (I like campari tomatoes, they seem to have the most flavor)
1/4 red onion
1 lime
1 green bell pepper
1 jalapeno pepper (or, when you don’t have one when you feel like Gualsa, you can use Sriracha for heat, instead)
1-2 avocados
salt and freshly grated pepper
2-3 tablespoon of high quality olive oil
bunch of chopped cilantro

Start with tomatoes and cut them into small dices (personal preference here, if you like bigger chunks, that’s fine). But smaller are better to get on the tortilla chips. Place into larger bowl.

Seed the pepper and cut  into strips first, then small dices. I like to use green pepper for the color, but any peppers are fine. Add to the tomatoes. Do not mix yet. Next, finely chop red onion and jalapeno pepper. If you like spicy, leave the seeds in jalapeno, otherwise take the seeds out and chop just outer pepper. It’s still going to add heat to your Gualsa.

Wash and chop cilantro (I like plenty, again make it to your personal taste and preference), and let cilantro join the party. Season with salt and pepper. Do not mix just yet.

Last, halve the avocados. Take out the pit with your knife, and with small pairing knife, carefully cut stripes into the avocado, all the way to the skin, while holding the half in the palm of your hand. Be careful not to cut through the skin and not to cut yourself. Then repeat crosswise, so you’ll end up with dices of avocado. Repeat with the other avocado. For my own taste, I like to leave avocado in bigger chunks – since they are soft and will be inevitably little broken when mixed anyway.

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With table spoon, carefully run it against the skin, and take the avocado flesh out, straight above the bowl with the rest of the vegetables. Sprinkle all over with the lime juice. I use juice of whole lime for that. You can squeeze the juice ahead of time, and then just pour it all over. Make sure to cover the avocado evenly; the lime juice is not added just for the taste, it also prevents avocado to oxidize and turn dark. When everything is in the bowl, sprinkle with olive oil and mix carefully together. Taste and adjust seasoning, if needed.
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Cover with plastic foil, and let cool in the fridge for 1/2 hour. That is, if you can wait – or dig in right away, and enjoy with your favorite tortilla chips! I also use this as super bright salad on its own.Oh – and as for wine pairing – when I go this road, although devoted wine lover, in this case I reach for nicely chilled bottle of Corona with a slice of lime. What would be your choice of drink? How about some great margarita?!!!

Enjoy!