Silver Queen Corn Risotto

My husband, Sir Wes, took a trip to his hometown recently, Fairhope, Alabama, AKA- LA.  He thoughtfully brought me back a sack of fresh Silver Queen corn from one of the local delicatessens of lower Alabama.   The roads of southern Alabama are filled with stands selling the local bounty, and I, along with the rest of Alabama just love it!  We had a few cobs before we had to head out of town so I cut the rest off the cob and stuck it in the freezer for another day.

Silver Queen Corn in all its glory!

While summer usually demands light and easy food, there are times when you crave a rich, comfort dish.  Making a risotto out of summer corn provides a little bit of both!

Alabama Risotto

Silver Queen Corn Risotto

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ¼ cup diced onion
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 2 ¼ cup Silver Queen Corn kernels, feel free to substitute your favorite local corn
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • 1 ¼ cup chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon white corn meal, PAN is the brand I use
  • ¼ cup buttermilk
  • ¼ cup milk
  • ½ cup shredded parmesan
  • 2 tablespoon chopped basil
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper

Mise en Place for a untraditional risotto!

Start by heating the olive oil in a medium pan and add the onions and chopped garlic.  Sauté over medium high heat for a few minutes until the onions become translucent.  Add corn kernels and sauté until slightly toasted, bringing out the natural corn sugars.   Add the wine and deglaze the pan.  Slowly add the chicken stock, ½ cup at a time simmering to release the starches from the corn.  Sprinkle the corn meal into the pan and stir continuously, while the broth starts to thicken.  Pour in both milks, simmering for a few minutes; afterwards adding in the parmesan and basil.   Season the risotto with salt and pepper.  Serve immediately.  Add in grilled shrimp or chicken to make a perfect meal!

Serves 2- 4 people.

Sweet and Cream Corn Riso!

Thanks to Sir Wes for this great gift from the Alabama farmers.  If you haven’t ever tried this variety of corn, you must!

Silver Queen Corn Risotto

Basil adds the perfect touch!

Cheers to long summer days, pool pruned fingers and the gifts from the cornfields!


Dried Lemon and Curried Chicken with Almond and Raisin Popcorn Rice

Inspiration from Dubai!

A couple of friends dropped a gift bag on my desk a few weeks ago filled with curries, spices and dried lemons from Dubai.   How lucky, and for no reason- just because they’re nice guysJ.  I have never seen dried lemons before, much less cooked with them so I was really excited, absolutely LOVE new ingredients!  Traditionally dried lemons are used in Middle Eastern and Persian cooking.  The lemons are picked when they are ripe, then boiled and salt water and dried in the sun.  They have a strong sour flavor so they should be “cooked with” not eaten as you can other dried fruits.   I took my friends recommendation and decided to try the lemons out with a roast chicken. 

Dried Lemons and Curry, what a great gift!

The flavor was light and delicate, but the aroma of the lemons was strong, a great combination.  The lemons are traditionally used in stews, which will be next!

Dried Lemon and Curry Chicken with Almond and Raisin Popcorn Rice

Chicken Marinate

  • 1 roasting chicken
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 ½ tablespoon medium curry
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 dried lemons, split in half
  • 1 inch ginger root, sliced

To prepare the chicken, start by rinsing the bird with water and patting it dry with paper towels.  Place the chicken in a roasting pan and pour the olive oil over it, spreading it evenly over the chicken.  Sprinkle the curry, salt and pepper all over the chicken, including the inside cavity.  Place the sliced ginger and dried lemon halves into the cavity and truss the chicken.  

Ginger and Lemons to stuff the bird with!

Spool of Twine

Trussing the chicken is a great way to keep the bird cooking evenly.  There are many methods to truss a chicken, but the as long as the legs and wings are kept close to the body and the cavity is closed you will have an evenly roasted chicken!


I like to roast chicken at 475°F for 25 minutes and then turn the oven down to 400°F for another 45 minutes or until the thickest part of the thigh hits 165°F on a meat thermometer.  Great color, Great flavor and plenty of juice!

To go with this chicken I made a flavorful rice, using one of my favorite types of rice- popcorn rice.  Sir Wes and I discovered it on a trip to New Orleans a few years ago and have been hoarding the bags for special meals only.  It has a rich, nutty flavor and is very aromatic.  The flavor is great all by itself but for this meal I added a few twists.

Popcorn Rice is Gourmtastic!

 Almond and Raisin Popcorn Rice

  • ¼ cup diced yellow onion
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup of popcorn rice, rinsed in water and pat dry
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 ¼ cup water
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 3 tablespoons toasted almond sliver
  • 4 tablespoons raisins
  • Fresh ground black pepper

Heat olive oil in saucepan over medium high; add in onions and sauté for a minute.  Add rice and sauté for a few more minutes.  Toasting the rice like this will refresh it, who knows how long it has sat on the shelf; it will also enhance the natural flavors of the rice.  Add the chicken stock and the water and bring to a boil, turn the heat down to low and cover the saucepan with a lid.  Allow the rice to cook for about 40 minutes.  The water should be absorbed and the rice tender.  Fluff with a fork and add in the cilantro, almonds and raisins.  The raisins will rehydrate naturally as they sit with the hot rice.  Sprinkle with ground black pepper before serving.

Inspiration from Dubai!

Serves 3-5 really good friends depending how hungry they are!

Preserved Lemons and Curried Grains

The lemons are ready!  I have been preserving lemons for the last few months and they are perfect!  I used them for the first time last week in a warm grain salad.  The best way to keep your preserved lemons is in the same container they started in.  When you are ready to use some, take out what you need, rinse the lemons off with water and remove the flesh, the skin is what you want to keep. 

Preserved Lemons are ready!

Preserved lemons are very versatile- from vinaigrette to a cocktail! 

Remove the flesh and pulp. The skin is all you need.

The first dish for the lemons was inspired by not having much in the refrigerator- another busy week at work.  Perfect timing to as it was Monday!  Have you heard about Meatless Mondays- I’m pretty impressed about how this initiative has gained steam.  Meatless Mondays, is a nonprofit initiative of The Monday Campaigns, in association with the Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health.  Families across the country are joining in- whether their reasons are health based or financial based, 1/3 of the country has reduced their meat consumption in 2011.  Grains, tofu, soy are offering replacement proteins and a healthy alternatives.  This brings us to the popularity of grains- which can be seen all over the food magazines and in most restaurants.  Chefs are now wondering …what else can we do with grains?? 

Preserved Lemons Debut!

Here is the recipe that my preserved lemons made their first appearance-

All of this was in the kitchen- waiting to get used up!

Preserved Lemon and Curried Grains

  • 1 ½ cup uncooked spelt
  • 1 ½ cup uncooked kasha
  • 1 ½ cup uncooked lentils
  • 3 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ cup diced onions
  • 2 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 24 oz. coconut curry broth
  • 6 tablespoon chopped preserved lemons
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 6 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 3 oz. roasted red pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1 ½ cup green beans, cut into bite size pieces
  • ½ pint grape tomatoes

    Preserved Lemon and Curried Grains Mise en Place


It’s pretty easy to cook grains- start by washing them off with water.  Put a pot on the stove and add the washed grains, add water or stock to about two inches above the grains.  Bring to a slow boil and cook until tender.  When the grains are a la dente, drain them from the pot with a colander.  You can cool them down and reheat them when you are ready to serve.  This is a great way to prepare meals for a busy week.

I had a few pots working 🙂

  1. Cook the grains to a la dente.
  2. Place a large stock pot on the stove over medium high heat; add olive oil, followed by the onions and garlic.  Sauté until translucent.
  3. Add the cooked grains to the pot and stir in broth.
  4. Mix in the lemons, curry, cilantro, roasted peppers and ground red pepper.  Allow to gently simmer, giving the flavors a chance to meld.
  5. Put the green beans and tomatoes into the pot about 15 minutes before serving- this will keep their beautiful, bright color. 

Add the bright veggies at the end so they keep there color and don't turn to mush!

Like with many other soups and stews, this dish gets better with time. Give it an hour or a day the flavor will deepen.  Another similarity to soups and stews is ingredients can be of the “clean the fridge” mentality- no beans? Use cauliflower- any vegetable or none will work!  The grains can also be switched up.

Flavorful and healthy- take that meatheads!

My favorite meals are alway the ones when I have “nothing’ to cook for dinner!

Preserved Lemon and Curried Grains

Cheers to Meatless Monday!

Pretzel Bread Pudding – A Ballpark in Your Oven!

Not to long ago I posted a bread pudding made with eggplant, and explained that we are loving savory bread puddings at work this year.  A few years ago I made Caraway and Shallot Pretzel Bread Pudding Kebabs with a Honey Porter Cheddar Sauce for a Tail Gate themed event and they were fabulous!   We switched it up a bit recently at work and brought the Ballpark to the Bread Pudding , which has become a house favorite! Apparently there are a lot of pretzel bread fans at work. 

Ball Park Bread Pudding


Mustard, Onion and Pretzel Bread Pudding

  • 26 oz frozen soft pretzels
  • 1 large yellow onions, sliced and caramelized
  • 5 whole eggs
  • 1 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoon yellow mustard
  • 2 tablespoon spicy brown mustard
  • 2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

    Frozen Unbaked Soft Pretzels, cut into large bites

Preheat oven to 350.  Cut unbaked pretzels into large bites and put into a cooking spray coated 9×12 baking dish.  Spread caramelized onion evenly over pretzel pieces.  In a mixing bowl combine remaining ingredients and mix well.  Pour over pretzels and onions and gently stir so all is coated.  Bake in oven for about 45 minutes, until center is done.

Cream, egg and mustard whipped up, ready to pour in!

The best part is how simple and very little prep it takes to prepare this fun dish!

Ummm, it's going to be good!!!!

I think this would be a perfect dish for cookouts, it will feed about 8 friends, depending on what else you have on the menu.

Pour it evenly and then follow up with a good stir, making sure all the bread is coated!

The smell that fills the house is kind of amazing, definitely got my stomach growling!

Mustard, Onion, and Pretzel Bread Pudding!

Honestly, I’ll take anything pretzel bread, because my love of it, but this dish goes way beyond being delicious! Enjoy!


Roasted Eggplant and Caraway Bread Pudding- Man Alive- it is good!!!

Turning savory into sweet and vice versa is very big trend in the culinary field today; we see herbs and vegetables in desserts and we see desserts turned savory.  A few months ago we had a candy manufaturing company at the convention center, not only did we use their product in the desserts, but we used them in savory items as well- Chocolate Almond Demi Glace with Short Ribs, Mozzarella Cheesecake with Tomato Basil Jam.  They were awesome!

I love bread pudding, and recently have been playing with savory ones.  It is such a great alternative to potatoes, rice and pasta sides. This recipe is perfectly delicious!

Roasted Eggplant and Caraway Bread Pudding

  • 1 Eggplant, diced in 1 inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 loaf fresh rye bread, cut in 1 inch cubes
  • 1 small onion , large diced
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups dairy (I used half heavy cream and half milk)
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Roasted Eggplant and Caraway Bread Pudding Mis en Place

Pre heat oven to 425.  Start by tossing the diced eggplant in olive oil and laying it out on a sheetpan (cookie sheet :)). Roast for about 30 minutes until brown and tender.  Allow to cool.  At the same time as the eggplant roasts, using a second oven, or counter top toaster oven, and toast the rye bread on low heat, 250 for 15 minutes.   While everything toast and roasts, saute the onion over meduim high heat- semi carmelized, semi fried,  I like my onions to be a bit burnt as it adds so much flavor. Set onions aside to cool. Whip eggs, dairy,  lemon zest, lemon juice and seasonings together in a large bowl.

Large Diced Eggplant

Fry the onions

Roasted eggplant- AKA Roasted Goodness

Turn oven down to 350.  Add toasted bread and onions to cream and egg mixture and toss, pour ingredients into either a parchment paper lined 9 x12 baking dish or a 9 x 12 baking dish sprayed with cooking spray, aka- “pam”.  Place the roasted eggplant evenly around the dish carefully so the eggplant doesn’t fall apart.  Bake for 45 minutes.  We ate it right away, but it is also perfect to serve the next day.  When you allow it to cool, you can cut perfect squares, place on sheetpan,  cover with foil and reheat at 300 for about 20 minutes.  This will look so nice on a plated dinner, it will also help to free time on party day.

Feel free to substitute breads, at work we use pretzel bread- which is also AmaZing!

Bon Appetit!