Main Course Recipes

Mushroom Barley Risotto Recipe Recipe

Mushroom Barley Risotto Recipe

04.29.14 by Jackie

My husband Lulu has been traveling a lot these days for his work. Being a vegetarian has never been an issue since we live in the Bay Area. But sometimes it can be tricky for him to find foods that fit his diet, especially when visiting the Southeast. 

Since he hadn't eaten much apart from lettuce and boiled tofu, I figured comfort food would fill the void he had experienced while traveling. For his return, I prepared a mushroom barley risotto because barley is a nutritious grain that supports a healthy lifestyle with complex carbohydrates and proteins, compared to the more traditional rice grains.

The only downside is it's much less starchy than rice. So I added Colby cheese for texture and color and flavored it with nutmeg to complement the natural aroma of barley. 

Since the barley risotto didn't have a striking contrast of colors. I served it on a bed of string beans. When serving foods that are visually a bit monotone, I always try to pair them with other colorful ingredients. Remember, you eat with your eyes first!


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Coq au Vin Recipe Recipe

Coq au Vin Recipe

04.01.14 by Jackie

Our family doesn't drink alcohol so the only time I cook with wine is after hosting a dinner party. I used leftover Cabernet Sauvignon wine and prepared coq au vin (chicken in wine sauce) for the occasion, except that instead of whole chickens I adapted the recipe with 9 pounds of chicken breasts.

The sauce was fairly standard; I used pearl onions, garlic, button mushrooms, turkey bacon, red wine, Cognac brandy, a bit of flour as the thickening agent and the  authentic, standard bouquet garni used in classic French dishes. The secret in this coq au vin sauce lies in the dark chocolate that's added once the dish is cooked.


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Cannellini Bean Soup with Arugula Recipe

Cannellini Bean Soup with Arugula

03.11.14 by Jackie

Cannellini bean soup is an easy dish I can whip up in no time. It's also a meal I can be sure everyone is going to enjoy. It's vegetarian, it contains no major food allergens and even baby Aria can eat it easily.

I try to always have fresh greens in my refrigerator. I usually toss them in a simple salad, I also make pesto or use them as garnish for appetizers, pizza and sandwiches. The addition of arugula at the last minute provides color and a peppery flavor to the otherwise fairly bland, pale soup. To ensure the nutrients of the arugula were still intact, I added finely chopped arugula only at the last minute, so it barely wilted in the soup.


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Ca Kho Recipe: Vietnamese Braised Salmon in Caramel Sauce Recipe

Ca Kho Recipe: Vietnamese Braised Salmon in Caramel Sauce

03.05.14 by Jackie

Even though I live in a 9-person household, over the years baby Aria and I have become the only "omnivores". I don't know if her taste buds will change over time and she'll copy her father's vegetarian diet, but for now, Aria enjoys meat and seafood. Last evening, I prepared a typical Vietnamese meal for ourselves called "cá hồi kho nước dừa", which roughly translates to "braised salmon simmered in coconut water". As a cook and especially as a mom, I took such pleasure in watching her appreciate the meal I had prepared for her. 

The fish is cooked in a caramel sauce called "nước màu" ("colored water"), which is a "savory" sauce made of caramel where the boiling point of sugar was reached to add a brown color and to impart a slightly bitter aroma. The sauce is balanced with spicy, fresh red Thai chili peppers, ginger, nước mắm (fish sauce), whole mint leaves and green onions. My favorite way to serve this "cá kho" dish is with steamed jasmine rice and blanched Vietnamese leafy greens. It's a healthy, nutritious and complete meal. Baby Aria loved it and I'm sure you will, too. If you'd like to start with a more inexpensive fish, you could prepare the same dish with catfish or mackerel.


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