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The 2010 March Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Eleanor of MelbournefoodGeek and Jess of Jessthebaker. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make risotto. The various components of their challenge recipe are based on input from the Australian Masterchef cookbook and the cookbook Moorish by Greg Malouf.

I may have cheated somewhat on this challenge. Shhh…don’t tell anyone. I had a freezer full of turkey stock, so I used that instead of making the chicken stock that the recipe called for. I was a little apprehensive as I thought the turkey flavor might be a bit too strong, but it wasn’t overpowering at all. I used some arborio rice and Riesling I already had. Imagine my surprise to find I only had to purchase one ingredient (an onion – of all the things not to have on hand!) for this month’s Daring Cooks’ challenge. Pure and utter joy, I tell you!

I may have slightly overcooked my risotto as I didn’t get the creamy consistency I sought. Basically, it was really tasty, plump rice. I’ll give it another go sometime. Maybe I’ll do a sweet risotto similar to this one by Gwen with coconut milk and spices. Sounds good right now, actually.

A printable version of the recipe can be found here or you can pay Eleanor a visit. And, as always, you should take a gander at the Daring Cooks’ blogroll where you’ll find some truly creative and talented cooks. The most innovative risotto I’ve seen thus far has to be by Audax Artifex. He made multiple risotto dishes – vegan umami risotto, cheese-filled risotto croquettes, risotto pancakes, and even risotto focaccia. Another challenge knocked out of the park!

Daring Cooks sushi challenge

I have been wanting to make my own sushi for quite some time, but I hadn’t been able to muster up my courage. Lucky for me, I’m a Daring Cook. The November 2009 Daring Cooks challenge was brought to you by Audax of Audax Artifex and Rose of The Bite Me Kitchen. They chose sushi as the challenge.

The challenge consisted of four parts: 1) sushi rice, 2) dragon rolls, 3) spiral sushi roll, and 4) nigiri sushi. After investing an hour and a half just to prepare the sushi rice, I vowed never to complain again about the wait at my favorite sushi joint.

dragon roll

Smoked salmon, cucumber, avocado…need I say more? Although my “dragon” has a face only a mother could love, I’m still proud of it. Who cares about looks when it tastes so good, anyway?

spiral sushi roll

The spiral roll was the most challenging of them all for me. Actually, I have a confession to make – I enlisted the help of my gracious husband on this one. I committed a rookie mistake and overfilled my spiral roll. I know, I know…less is more. But you should know how hardheaded I am by now.

nigiri sushi

I used sashimi grade tuna for both the spiral roll and the nigiri. The nigiri proved to be the easiest for me as it does not involve rolling, but rather a hand-shaped roll. Next time, I will forgo the thin line of wasabi on top of the rice that binds the sashimi to it. Let’s just say, husband and I will have no sinus issues for the next decade. 😉 I rounded out the meal with a little seaweed salad and some miso soup (thank you, Fresh Market!).

If you want some full on food porn complete with fantastic sushi recipes, visit Audax and Rose. As if that’s not enough to satisfy your hunger, check out the rest of the gang on the blogroll. Join me Tuesday for a very festive bundt cake that’s sure to get you in the holiday spirit.

black & white arborio rice pudding

What, were you expecting cottage cheese pufflets? I was looking forward to pufflets myself, but after reading the Tuesdays With Dorie P& Q discussion I decided that recipe would be better for another time. Apparently the dough is extremely sticky and must remain chilled. With daily showers (it’s rained 13 days in a row here…come on!) and close to 90% humidity, you can see why I chose to do a “rewind” this week.

I searched through BFMHTY for a recipe that wouldn’t leave me at the mercy of the meteorologist and I stumbled upon Dorie‘s arborio rice pudding. The lovely Isabelle of Les gourmandises d’Isa chose this recipe back in November before I joined the group. I wish I would have taken the time to go back and read the P & Q discussion for this recipe because my pudding turned out very runny. The recipe reads, “When the milk boils, stir in the steamed rice. Reduce heat and let the mixture simmer gently, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes. When the pudding is almost cooked, the rice grains are visible in the boiling milk – you’ll see them floating just below the top layer of milk. The pudding is not thick – it does nothing (it thickens in the fridge) – but the rice is creamy and it has absorbed 80 to 90% milk.” I let mine simmer for 40 minutes, but that apparently wasn’t long enough. 😦  

I made a full batch and divided it into two serving dishes, adding 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract to one and 1 1/2 oz. bittersweet chocolate to the other. Visit Isabelle for the recipe (click here), just be sure to give it a little more time than I did. I have another batch simmering as we speak, so hopefully it will turn out as it should.

If you’d like the recipe for Dorie’s cottage cheese pufflets, go to Jacque’s place. While you’re crusin’ the net, surf on over to the TWD blogroll to see how they faired with their sticky pufflet dough. I’m already looking forward to baking with the rest of the group next week when we make Chocolate-Crunched Caramel Tart!! Did anyone else hear angels singing? 😉

What a great turn out!

good times with friends

As you probably already know, Kevin and I hosted a pre-Thanksgiving potluck dinner last night. We had a smashing time! Thanks to everyone who made it, and to those of you who couldn’t, we missed you.

I prepared a whole roasted turkey with citrus rosemary salt, wild rice & sausage casserole, and turtle trifle. Our guests provided cheese logs, ham biscuits, green bean casserole, mac & cheese, sweet potato casserole, crescent rolls, Oreo pie, and pumpkin pie. Yum-o!

We also collected non-perishable food items which I will take to the Bay Area Food Bank this week. Thanks for contributing!

Me & Kevin pre-party

Me & Kevin pre-party

I’m today’s NO-HO guest contributor at Jlo’s blog. Be sure to stop by and check it out.

I have to get back to my kitchen, but I wanted to share these pics and this recipe with you. As I’ve mentioned previously, Kevin and I are hosting a pre-Thanksgiving potluck dinner tonight. In addition to the turkey and the turtle trifle, I’m making a wild rice & sausage dressing.




2 boxes of Uncle Ben’s Long Grain Wild Rice

1 can cream of mushroom soup

½ tsp. sage

1 pkg. hot sausage

4 cups chicken broth

½ lb. fresh mushrooms, chopped (do not use stems)

Dash garlic powder

1 cup slivered almonds

½ tsp. black pepper

1 bunch green onions, chopped

½ tsp. parsley flakes

4 stalks of celery, chopped

1 envelope dry onion soup mix


Cook rice as to package instructions; brown sausage in skillet, add mushrooms, onions, celery, and spices. Water will need to be added to this – just a bit. Saute until tender. Add this mixture to the cooked rice. To this add the dry soup mix and the cream of mushroom soup – mix together. Put in an ungreased casserole and bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. You can add the almonds just as you’re putting mixture into the casserole.


wild rice and sausage dressing 1          wild rice and sausage dressing 2


Last week, Kevin and I dined on chipotle salmon burgers, mambo rice, and salad with avocado – delish! First, let me tell you about the salmon burgers. My mom found this recipe in Cooking Lite magazine.


Shape the patties up to eight hours in advance, and cook just before serving. Use a grill pan or nonstick skillet to cook them since they may not hold up on a standard grill. If you have a mini food processor, use it to prepare the mayonnaise mixture. You can use regular hamburger buns instead of English muffins. *Note: We ate ours without the bread and they were delicious. Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 burger)



Mayonnaise Sauce:

  • 1  tablespoon  chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3  tablespoons  light mayonnaise
  • 2  tablespoons  finely chopped fresh mango
  • 1  tablespoon  finely chopped fresh pineapple
  • 1/8  teaspoon  finely grated lime rind


  • 1/3  cup  chopped green onions
  • 1/4  cup  chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1  tablespoon  finely chopped chipotle chile, canned in adobo sauce
  • 2  teaspoons  fresh lime juice
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 1  (1 1/4-pound) salmon fillet, skinned and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Cooking spray
  • 4  English muffins
  • 4  butter lettuce leaves




1. To prepare mayonnaise, combine first 5 ingredients in a food processor or blender; process until smooth. Transfer to a bowl; cover and chill.

2. To prepare burgers, place onions, 1/4 cup cilantro, chile, and juice in a food processor; process until finely chopped. Add salt and salmon; pulse 4 times or until salmon is coarsely ground and mixture is well blended.

3. Divide salmon mixture into 4 equal portions; shape each portion into a (1-inch-thick) patty. Cover and chill 30 minutes.

4. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add patties to pan; cook 6 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness.

5. Wipe skillet with paper towels; recoat with cooking spray. Place 2 muffins, cut sides down, in pan; cook 2 minutes or until lightly toasted. Repeat procedure with cooking spray and remaining muffins.

6. Place 1 muffin bottom on each of 4 plates; top each serving with 1 lettuce leaf and 1 patty. Spread about 1 tablespoon mayonnaise mixture over each patty; place 1 muffin top on each serving.


I discovered mambo rice when watching an episode of Guy’s Big Bite on Food Network featuring Guy Fieri. I’ve served this at a few get-togethers and it’s always a hit. The recipe says it makes 4 servings, but I don’t think that’s accurate. I cut the recipe in half and we still had a lot left over.



  • 2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups rice
  • 1 cup chopped Italian parsley
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves
  • 4 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper



Add water, chicken stock and rice to a rice cooker. Cook until al dente.

Combine all other ingredients in a bowl.

Remove rice from cooker and toss, separating with fork. Once rice is separated, slowly add the blended mixture.


"Nothing would be more tiresome than eating and drinking if God had not made them a pleasure as well as a necessity." ~Voltaire

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