Tag Archives: risotto

Cookbook Challenge #4 and #5

It’s time to recap two cookbook challenges I had last week. One was a complete disaster (#4) and one was totally boss (#5). I’m now two cookbooks done and only have 9 more to get through and 17 more recipes to finish!

Let’s talk about the kitchen disaster first. I tried making Isa Chandra’s Samosa smashed potato cakes from her Vegan Brunch cookbook and it failed miserably.

The mixture looks like it would hold!

The mixture looked promising. Looks can be deceiving.

I followed the recipe exactly and even used a blog online that also referenced the recipe and it still failed. The only difference was I didn’t use 4 pounds potatoes because we didn’t need 30 of these potato cakes for just us two. But that shouldn’t have made a difference. Whenever I make any kind of savory cake, I almost always use cooked quinoa, Panko or even an egg as the binder. Since this recipe was vegan, I couldn’t use the egg, but it suggested using flour. Which I used. It still turned into a gloppy, horrible mess, but it tasted great.

Following the recipe method of frying them. Yuck!

Following the recipe method of frying them. Yuck!

Again, this looked promising! They just wouldn’t hold so when I would flip them (waiting almost 6-7 minutes per side; double the time suggested in the cookbook!), they turned into a mess. So I decided to try it again but without any oil in the pan.

More promising - still didn't hold.

More promising – still didn’t hold.

Since it was like samosa filling, it was totally boss. I’m just disappointed the end result couldn’t be classified as food. So we ended up getting takeout since it was already like 8 by that point. Lame. Screw the cookbook. Use Panko or quinoa next time. Lesson learned.

But moving onto Friday, we had our successful recipe! I found the risotto and pea recipe from Giada’s Everyday Italian cookbook and decided to make it. Except, learning my lesson from the disaster the night before, I just made my own version of it. I used my mushroom risotto for two recipe but added peas. Simple enough and oh so delicious.


I’ve sort of perfected my risotto making process and now it’s foolproof. I do like the addition of peas, too. I didn’t think I would, but it was actually really good. And it reheated well the next day, too! You can’t go wrong with risotto though. It’s probably one of my favorite foods and since I don’t get to eat it all the time, when I do, it’s the most glorious experience. Truly.


Mushroom Risotto with Peas
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Combining my risotto recipe with the peas from Giada de Laurentiis
Recipe type: risotto, main dish, vegetarian
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4
  • 1 1 oz. package dried porcini mushrooms (Earthy Delights brand or similar) – soaked in hot water to reconstitute
  • 4 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  • 2 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 8 oz. Cremini mushrooms, wiped clean, stems removed and sliced
  • 4 oz. shiitake mushrooms, wiped clean, stems removed and sliced
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • ½ cup white wine (Pinot Grigio or similar)
  • ½ cup frozen green peas
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated
  1. Start by adding the dried porcini mushrooms to some hot water to reconstitute them. Set aside for 20-25 minutes.
  2. Next add 4 cups of low sodium vegetable broth to a medium saucepan and bring to slight simmer over medium heat.
  3. In a large, deep skillet heat the 1 teaspoon oil and 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat.
  4. Add the shallot and cook for 3-5 minutes or until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  5. Next add the sliced cremini and shiitake mushrooms and cook 8-10 minutes or until tender and most of the water has evaporated.
  6. Remove mushrooms from pan to bowl and set aside.
  7. Heat the other teaspoon of oil and tablespoon of butter in same pan.
  8. Add the arborio rice and stir until slightly toasted.
  9. Add the white wine and cook for 1-1½ minutes or until alcohol evaporates.
  10. Then add the broth ½ cup at a time, stirring the rice, and let it thicken. When you notice the liquid is almost absorbed, add another ½ up of broth. Continue this until the broth is used up.
  11. Add the cooked mushrooms to the pan.
  12. With a slotted spoon, take the porcinis out of the water and add them to the pan.
  13. If you need to use more liquid, you can use the mushroom water.
  14. The risotto is done when it is thickened and the rice is cooked and no longer hard – about 25-28 minutes.
  15. Add the frozen peas and cook for 1 minutes to heat through.
  16. Stir in the Parmesan cheese last.
  17. Serve immediately
  18. Optional garnishes: freshly chopped parsley or shavings Parmesan cheese

Mushroom Risotto For Two

Risotto is one of my favorite foods of all time. I LOVE it! The main problem, of course, is that it’s almost always made with chicken stock or broth. That doesn’t make it very vegetarian friendly. I always feel like the annoying customer who has to ask, “Is your risotto made with chicken broth or stock?”, but I just want to make sure, you know?

The last time we made Parmesan risotto, we used vegetable broth and it turned it really dark and took away the pretty color. The nice thing about making mushroom risotto is that it’s already dark so using a darker broth is A-OK!

Most mushroom risotto recipes suggest using dried porcini mushrooms and then letting them re-hydrate in water. Then you can even save the mushroom liquid as part of your cooking liquid. While that would have been awesome, we didn’t have any of those, so we just used baby Bella mushrooms, which we sliced up!

The process of making risotto does take a while and is all about stirring, but it was pretty good! We ended up having to use more liquid than normal recipes suggest, but I think that’s because we used fresh mushrooms. Actually I don’t know if that’s true, but we had to use more.

Here’s what you need:
•1 tablespoon butter
•1 tablespoon olive oil
•1/4 cup onion, chopped
•1 cup Arborio rice
•1/2 cup dry white wine (we used a Pinot Grigio)
•1/2 pound fresh baby Bella mushrooms (8 oz. carton), wiped clean and sliced
•3 1/2 cups vegetable broth
•1/4 cup grated Parmesan

Start by heating the vegetable broth over medium-low heat. Just bring it to a simmer so it’s warmed up. Then chop your onion, wipe clean and slice your mushrooms and set both aside.

In a saucepan or large pot, add the butter and olive oil over medium-high heat. When the butter is melted, add the onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Next add the Arborio rice and cook for 1-2 minutes or until it’s lightly toasted. Then add the wine and let it cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute to let the alcohol cook out. Add in all the mushrooms and stir to coat them in all the flavors.

Next, add in the vegetable broth, 1/2 cup at a time and stir to help the cooking process along. When the rice is a little dry, add another 1/2 cup. Keep doing this until you’ve used all the liquid and the risotto is coming together nicely and is creamy. For us, it took about 35-40 minutes total. We also left the risotto alone, not stirring it constantly, so some of the rice could cook up nicely since again, we had to cook fresh mushrooms with them. It was worth it, though! We were left with creamy, flavorful and mushroomy-meaty risotto. Throw in the Parmesan at the end, stir it in so it gets extra gooey and serve! You can also put a few shavings of cheese right before you eat.

Mushroom risotto for two! Or maybe just for you ;) Enjoy!

Have you ever made risotto before?
What’s your favorite kind?

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Tofu Marsala

We had some leftover tofu in our fridge, so we decided to make something with it that wasn’t Asian-themed. Our usual go to is to make General’s Tofu, but we had that last night, so we wanted to find a recipe that used tofu differently.

We found a recipe online for Tofu Marsala and it actually turned out really well! This was the recipe we followed the basic concept from. We didn’t use a whole block of tofu since we were using leftovers, but we made the sauce the same amount. I could have had that sauce entirely on its own, it was so good!

Here’s what you need!
•1 block of firm tofu (we used half a block) – cut into long rectangles about 1/2 inch thick. We actually made our 1 inch thick and it seemed to work fine
•1/4 cup all purpose flour
•1/4 cup corn starch
•1/4 teaspoon S&P each
•1/2 cup dry marsala wine
•1 cup vegetable broth (we used low sodium)
•8 oz. Cremini or Baby ‘Bella mushrooms, sliced (just a small container at the store)
•2 medium shallots, minced
•2-4 tablespoon of olive oil (more or less depending)
•1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves (not ground)
•1 tablespoon tomato paste
•2 additional teaspoons corn starch (this will be used as a thickener to the sauce, separate from the 1/4 cup earlier)

First preheat your oven to 300F

Then we prepared our ingredients. We minced up the shallots and put them in a bowl. Then with a damp paper towel, we wiped off the mushrooms, took the stalks off, then sliced them up and put them in a bowl. Then we took the leftover tofu we had (half a block) and just it in half so we had two 1-inch pieces. It was kind of thick, but it was all good.

In a separate bowl mix the flour, corn starch and salt and pepper. Rinse the tofu and pat it dry. Then dredge it in the dry mixture and shake off the excess.

Heat up some oil (about 2-3 tablespoons) in a large skillet over medium high (our stupid stove required it to be high :P) heat. Once it’s hot, put the tofu into the pan and let it cook on all sides until golden brown (about 3-5 minutes. Ours took about 5-7 minutes since we wanted it extra crispy). Transfer it to a baking dish and put it in the oven to keep warm. This was good we did this because I think it helped cook the tofu a bit more since ours was thicker than suggested.

In the same skillet, reduce the heat (if you need to) add more oil if needed (another tablespoon) and add the shallots and dried thyme leaves. Stir them constantly until they’re soft (about 2-4 minutes). Add in the mushrooms and stirring frequently, cook them until they’re tender and lightly brown (ours took about 5-8 minutes).

Then add in the marsala wine. The smell is unbelievable when it hits the pan. It’s a kind of a sour, pungent smell, but it smells so wonderful with the shallots and mushrooms! Stir and let the pan come to a simmer so the wine can reduce.

In a 2-cup measuring cup (one of those Pyrex thingies) measure out the two teaspoons of corn starch, the tomato paste and the vegetable broth and whisk. This creates a sort of slurry or thickening agent. Once you’ve whisked it, add it to the pan, stirring the mushrooms as you do. Let this sauce reduce and thicken.

We served it up with some store bought vegetable risotto, took the tofu out the oven and spooned the sauce over it.

There are definitely things we would change. While this was ridiculously delicious, I think next time we’re going to try it with tempeh or seitan. Both have more flavor from the get-go than tofu does. I mean, the great thing about tofu is that it will taste like what ever your flavor with it, but we wanted some kind of flavor from the beginning. We also think we’re going to mix in some herbs with the dredging mixture. And also use eggs and breadcrumbs for a more substantial crust. I think this recipe is technically vegan, but I think if we could create a better crust, it would be even more yummy.

But like I said, it was delicious!! Definitely give it a try and if you find some other way to serve it up, come back and share it! I’m just glad we have another recipe we can make to get some good protein!

What are some of your favorite recipes where you substitute the meat with tofu, seitan or tempeh?

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