Alphabet Chef

Food stories, line by line.

Chipotle Mushroom Risotto with Brussel Sprouts (Veg)

Please allow me to introduce you this spicy, creamy, cheesy, well textured, ooey gooey, can’t get enough of this dish!

Aroborio rice tends to last me longer than I’d like to admit. One cup yeilds about 3 cups cooked, and that’s a lot of risotto! (A main course for two very hungry adults, which is usually all I cook for. Sometimes there is a little left over for a snack.) I usually mix in some onions, and a little white wine to make a beautiful side. Sometimes I’ll just cook it through with plain water and use it to make more filling and nutrient rich accompaniment for my asian dishes. However, when you’ve reached the point of no return with your brussel sprouts, and you have extra chipotle peppers and arborio rice on hand— this recipe is for you.

Note- the first image on the post is the vegan variation// aka please follow all steps but the final two which include romano cheese and a fried egg. It is hella good.

However if you are of vegetarian persuasion please do employ a few cage free eggs in this recipe. I will gladly admit that a little bit of runny yoke + the saltiness from the romano cheese takes this recipe completely over the top!

Go time!
You’ll need (for two main course servings… we eat a lot):
2 tbs olive oil
1 cup Arborio rice
2 cups organic veggie stock
1/4 cup dry cooking sherry
3/4 cup water
3 tbs finely diced chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (about 2 medium sized pieces)
1 cup mushrooms (bellas or white), sliced
~ 20 brussel sprouts, yielding 8-10 per person (they’re big and meaty, and we found this to be enough for us, but feel free to add more if you like.)

Top with:
3 tbs chopped green onion
1/8th cup shredded romano cheese
2 eggs, fried

Preheat large saute pan and olive oil over medium heat. Place vegetable stock, sherry and water in a pot on another burner also at medium heat.

Add in rice to saute pan and toast for 2 minutes.
Slowly add 1/2 cup of warm liquid into the rice pan. Stir occasionally. Continue to add liquids as they are absorbed. (It usually takes me about 5 minutes for each 1/2 cup to be soaked up.)

Prepare brussel sprouts by washing them, then peeling off any loose leaves and cutting off the stock at the bottom. Shred cheese, chop green onion.

When about a third of the liquids remain, add chipotle peppers to rice. With your next infusion of liquid, stir in your mushrooms.

In a new pot/pan, add about an inch of water to steam sprouts. Heat to a boil, add sprouts and cover for 3-4 minutes, or until tender. At this time (if you choose) also begin frying your eggs.

Continue adding liquid until all is absorbed, and rice is creamy.

Top with green onion, cheese and egg as desired!


Dark Chocolate Raspberry Truffles

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This year I decided I was making my Christmas presents. I love to cook, and my family loves sweets! What a convenient combination of facts! I wanted to do something special, more out of the ordinary than cookies. A wee little box of Godiva truffles can easily set you back 20-40 smackaroos, and for about half the cost I was able to make 30 truffles, or 6 gifts.

It was my first time making candy so I looked to Alton Brown for instruction, and used his recipe  as a starting point. I tweaked from there, substituting the raspberry preserves for liquor, and honey for corn syrup. I also changed the ratio of bitter to sweet chocolate and added spices to the heavy cream with totally tasty results. I debated on toppings, and ultimately decided to try 3. My family all loved the vanilla sugar the best.  I found a cinnamon/ vanilla sugar spice grinder and hacked it apart. After spending about 20 minutes fishing out all the little crystals and crushing them with a hammer I realized I probably could have just bought a piece of rock candy. -_-  Learn from me!

Another handy tip- the better the chocolate that you start with, the better your candy will be! Splurge a little, and take pleasure in knowing you’re still spending a fraction of the cost for gourmet results!

You’ll need:

-4 ounces bitter 100% cocoa chocolate, chopped fine
-6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
-3 tablespoons unsalted butter
-1/2 cup heavy cream
-1 tsp cinnamon
-1 tablespoon honey
-1/4 cup raspberry preserves
-1/2 cup Dutch process cocoa powder mixed with 1 tsp cinnamon
– 1/2 cup macadamia nuts
-1/4 cup vanilla rock sugar  for coating truffles

– 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine (keep separate for chocolate shell)

Place the 10 ounces of chocolate and butter in a medium size glass mixing bowl on a double boiler. Heat until chocolate is about 1/3 melted. You’ll see the edges shine and collapse, but keep the majority of your chunks intact. Set aside.

Heat the heavy cream, honey, and cinnamon in a small saucepan over medium heat until simmering. Remove from the heat and pour the mixture over the melted chocolate; let stand for 2 minutes. Don’t stir even if you want to! The heat is becoming evenly distributed throughout the ingredients and will make a beautifully smooth ganache. Using a rubber spatula, stir gently, starting in the middle of bowl and working in concentric circles until all chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth and creamy. Gently stir in the preserves. Pour the mixture into an 8 by 8-inch glass baking dish and place in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

Using a spoon or melon baller scoop mixture into balls about a quarter in diameter, then place onto a sheet pan lined with  foil and return to the refrigerator for 1 hour.

Mix the cocoa powder and cinnamon. Chop nuts. Crush rock sugar then place each in its own dish and set aside.

In the meantime, place the 8 ounces of chocolate into a medium mixing bowl on a double boiler. Use a candy thermometer to keep the chocolate at 90-92 degrees en ensure the coating has a nice snap when you bite into it.

Remove the truffles from the refrigerator and shape into balls by rolling between the palms of your hands. Alton suggests powder-free vinyl or latex gloves to keep the heat from your hands from melting the chocolate. I just worked quickly and washed my paws afterwards!

Now we dip! This part can get tricky because you don’t want to drop your entire truffle into hot chocolate. Alton had a great tip- dip an ice cream scoop into the chocolate coating and turn upside down to remove excess. (Just enough left to make a nice coating.) Place truffles 1 at time into the scoop and roll around until coated. Then place the truffle into the dish with either the cocoa powder, nuts or coconut. Move the truffle around to coat; leave truffle in the coating for 10 to 15 seconds before removing so shell will harden. In the meantime, continue placing the chocolate-coated truffles in the cocoa or other secondary coating. After 10 to 15 seconds, remove the truffle to a foil lined cookie sheet. Repeat until all truffles are coated. Allow to set in a cool dry place for at least 1 hour; or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Truffles are best when served at room temperature. Makes about 30 pieces!

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Sweet Potato, Apple Burritos


Simple ingredients, ultra fast cook time, and an explosion of contrasting flavors make this my meal of choice lately. A burrito is a larger tortilla that hugs the fillings and keeps them safe and secure! (How nice!) Since mine are smaller, they should probably be considered ‘tacos’ or ‘wraps’, but man, once you try this you’ll want it in gigantamous (burrito sized?!) proportions and you might just want to hug me!

You’ll need:
1 large organic sweet potato
1 small apple (I used a golden delicious, but you can use anything that’s  not terribly tart.)
1 medium sized green bell pepper
1 can organic corn (fresh organic if you can find it!)
1/2 medium spanish onion
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup Veganaise (or mayo)
3-4 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (this is about 1/4 of the small cans)
soft tortillas- look for some with flax or multi grain

Chop sweet potato into 1 inch cubes, boil until skins start to loosen and potato is tender, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile mince chipotle peppers, mix with Veganaise and set aside. You may want to start with less than 3 and work your way up to taste. Very spicy!

Cut the apple into 8 pieces then slice 1/4″ thick. Cut green pepper and onion into thin 2 inch pieces. Mince garlic.  Open and drain corn. Preheat 3 tbs of olive oil in a pan. Saute onion, green pepper, and garlic (about 3 minutes). Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add in apple, and corn. Heat through.  Drain potatoes add to pan and give a gentle toss. Taste for seasoning.

Slather tortillas with chipotle mayo, fill generously with veggies! Woo!


Hoisin Portabellas with Potato and Spinach (Vegan)

Behold! Hoisin sauce! A soy based asian dip and marinade, that is sweet, smokey and a foundation for a great Asian bbq sauce. I’ve always found the flavor to be a little too sweet brushed on meats or veggies alone, and never quite managed to use an entire jar. Until one fine night  when a little of this met a little of that.. and I found the secret! Starch will cut sweetness! Holy hot potato batman!

This delicious vegan dinner is ready in about 20 minutes.  The portabellas absorb the sauce like a tasty little mushroom sponges. Their slightly chewy texture has just enough bite when paired with wilted spinach, and creamy, starchy potato. My favorite dishes combine soft and hard, savory and sweet. (And great color!)

For 2 servings you’ll need:

3 rounded tbs hoisin sauce
1 tbs soy sauce
1/2 tbs olive oil
2 caps portabella mushrooms (sliced 1/4″, or 1 cup sliced baby bellas)
1 large baking potato, cubed
2 cups (big  handfuls) spinach
– one cup reserved on plates
1/4 sweet onion
2 small cloves garlic
2 tbs fresh basil (for garnish)

Boil a pot of water with a few pinches of salt. Once rolling, add in cubed potatoes and cook for about 10 minutes (for a 1inch dice, a bit longer for bigger bites of potato) until fork tender. Drain and set aside.

As your potatoes cook, thinly slice your whole portabellas (or use pre-cut baby bellas), mince garlic, and slice onion. For this dish I cut 1/4 onion off a full onion, so it’s a scoop shape. I remove the paper and cut in half horizontally, then chop vertically, following the ribs of the onion to get thin strips about 2 inches long.

In a separate bowl combine soy sauce, hoisin sauce, and olive oil.

About a minute before potatoes are cooked. Pre-heat a saute pan with a drizzle of oil over medium heat. Add in mushrooms, garlic, and onion. Saute for about 2 minutes on each side, or until mushrooms are browned, and onion is golden.  Gently fold in potatoes and sauce with a large spoon until evenly coated, and potatoes are heated through (about 2 minutes.) Turn off heat and mix in fresh spinach until just wilted.

Add fresh spinach to a plate for extra color and crunch, and serve mushroom/potato mixture on top. Garnish with fresh basil.

Good Morning Parfait


I think there is something so beautiful about combining really simple ingredients to make a new dish. Initially this concoction was meant to be a new salsa. I was down to the last random ingredients in my fridge, and dying for something cool ( a pretty common theme for me in FL summers). I had no tomatoes or peppers, decided against the vinegar and garlic but used up the juice from an orange, one cucumber, one mango, and a bit of onion. Wahla! It was the farthest thing from a salsa. No tang, no spice, just pure refreshment. I remembered cucumbers are paired with yogurt in a lot of middle eastern dishes, and immediately scooped up a bite of vanilla yogurt and my fruit mixture.  So refreshing and healthy! Sunflower seeds and oatmeal added texture and crunch. One of my new favorite breakfasts, (although I’ve decided the onion isn’t for me)!

You’ll need:

Juice from half an orange
One Mango sliced
One cucumber sliced
3/4 cup vanilla yogurt (per serving)
a sprinkling of sunflower seeds and oatmeal


Thanksgiving Turkey Burgers (the best you’ll ever have!)

Here’s the truth. The long and the short of it. I love Thanksgiving!!! If you mention the word, my mouth starts to water and my hands clench with glee!It’s not so much that I am a glutton, but I can’t get enough of the smells wafting through the house, the gathering of my favorite people in one room, and the plethora of flavors to be combined on a single plate…

I’ve long been in favor of having a pre-thanksgiving, Thanksgiving. One halfway through the year, just to keep me going. But beyond the expense and gargantuan mess that accompanies the real deal, it’s just not that practical to make a 15 lb turkey for one belly. 😦

Thus- the turkey burger! Perfectly portioned deliciousness on a bun!

After much experimentation I’ve settled upon the ultimate mixture. Onion and fresh carrots fill them with moisture and sweetness. Garlic salt brings out the natural flavors in the turkey, basil (fresh when you have it) adds gorgeous color and brightness, and cinnamon adds a depth and complexity that makes this recipe one of a kind.

A fast and easy lunch, dinner, or craving-filler, these burgers were on my weekly rotation during college, and still a favorite to date. Serve on some bakery fresh buns with mashed potatoes, sweet potato fries, or fresh fruit!

For two turkey burgers use:
2 tbs carrot
4 tbs onion
3/4 cup ground turkey
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp dried basil ( 2 tbs fresh)
1/8 tsp garlic salt

can of cranberry sauce (about 4 tbs for 2 burgers)
mesclun or spinach
slices of sharp cheddar or pepperjack cheese
bakery buns

Finely mince carrot and onion, mix veggies, turkey, and seasoning in a bowl. Form two 4″ round patties about an inch thick.

Pre-heat a grill pan at medium heat.
Drop patties on grill and hear a great sizzle. Flip after 6 minutes, and cook for another 5.

As they cook, slice open buns, and spread one half with 2 tbs cranberry sauce, layering mesclun (lettuce mixture) on top, cut thin slices of sharp cheddar cheese or pepperjack cheese for the top of the bun. Once burgers are cooked through, finish assembling and let cheese melt for about 1 minute.

That’s the ticket! Go eat!!!

Zucchini Muffins

Oh man, do I love muffins! They are somehow much less intimidating than any other kind of baking, which I have yet to master. Even so I was thrilled to pieces with this result. They had a perfect weight and texture, puffed up with perfect rounds, and came out golden brown.  Summer gardens with zucchini, rejoice! You’ll want to make these every week!!!

You’ll need:
2 and 1/2 cups of finely diced zucchini
1/2 cup raisins
3 cups flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
2/3 cup melted butter
2/3 cup agave nectar
1/2 cup brown sugar

Preheat over to 350 degrees and grease your muffin tin.
Finely chop zucchini
Combine dry ingredients in large bowl: flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, salt, and mix with a fork.
In a separate bowl, combine eggs, vanilla, agave nectar, brown sugar, and cooled melted butter (don’t want to cook your eggs!). Whisk until smooth.

Add zucchini and raisins and wet mixture to dry ingredients. Stir with a large spoon until vegetables are evenly distributed.  I was a little nervous about how dense the batter looked and felt, but only until they came out of the oven and ate one! No fears fellow bakers! Spoon mixture into pre-greased tins almost to the top. Will yield 12 muffins.

Bake for 18-23 minutes at 350 degrees, let cool for 5 in pan, then try your best not to eat them all in one sitting!

Papaya and Ginger Pie

Ever had one of those days when you just want to make something new? I was halfway through a delicious snack of aforementioned fruit when it struck me that a lover of papaya would most certainly be a lover of papaya pie. Beyond being one of the most fun things you’ll announce serving to your loving family/guests/ stomach all week, it’s a mad change of gears from your every day dessert.

Now I should tell you,  if you are a papaya fan, you’ll LOVE this pie! If you’re on the fence about it, you may want to try the equally fabulous strawberry filling which I have included below*.

You will need:
1 large ripe papaya in a 1/2 inch dice
2 yellow bananas
1 9″ pie crust ( pre-made graham cracker crust, or pre-baked home made)
1 small bottle of chocolate shell (surprisingly not any bad ingredients in these bad boys…!)
2 tbs corn starch
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 tsp ground ginger

Fresh Whipped Cream
1 small container whole cream
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbs powdered sugar

Let’s begin!

Give your bottle of chocolate shell a good 30 second shimmy-shake.
Pour about 4tbs into the bottom of your ALREADY PREPARED pie shell.
Tilt the pie pan to make an even coat over all bare edges. This is a great idea because it is chocolate. Also because it forms a protective layer from our wet ingredients, keeping the crust from getting soggy.
Pop the tin into the freezer for a minute or two, until chocolate sets, then move to the refrigerator.

Slice bananas into 3rds both length wise, and width wise. Set in a pattern at the base of chocolate shell.
Dice the papaya, reserving half.
One half raw fruit creates a layer on top of the banana.
Make a smooth puree from remaining half, with water, sugar, ginger, and corn starch, either in a food processor or with an immersion blender.
Place in a pot over medium heat, whisking constantly.
Once the mixture begins to boil, it will thicken quickly.
Cook at a boil for 2-5 minutes or until gelatinous, then cool.  (This mixture would be the ultimate addition to plain or vanilla yogurt, if you have any extra!)
Spoon carefully over fruit in pie shell, filling to the top edges.

Place in the fridge until set- about 2-3 hours.

About 15 minutes before serving put a ceramic or metal bowl, and whisk in the freezer. This is key to getting a full bodied whipped cream!!!
Place cold cream in a bowl, and use a mixer on low until cream forms peaks. Do not over mix.
Fold in vanilla and sugar.
Put into a bag and pipe onto pie.
Extra whipped cream will keep for 3-5 days.

Serves 6 generous slices. 🙂

*Strawberry Pie- use 1 pint fresh strawberries. Half sliced, half in the puree. Omit bananas, and ginger. Follow steps to success!

Steak and Mango Fajitas with Chipotle Mayo

Our neighborhood is full of mango trees, and those trees produce fruit like no other. We’re lucky enough to have generous friends, and it’s not rare to have a sweet smelling bag delivered into to our doorstep.

My favorite dishes are ones that combine a variety of textures, and flavors. These fajitas have blackened steak, and chipotle peppers for  heat, savory grilled onions and fresh spinach ribbons, fresh, sweet mango, and sour limes. I fried some plantains with cinnamon, and dusted them with brown sugar to accompany my plate with beans and rice. Also, I can’t express the importance of using high quality tortillas. I’ll be looking into learning how to make my own so I can share, but I recently stumbled upon La Tortilla Factory brand, and I can tell you I’ll never go back to any other corn store bought tortilla. Heated on a dry skillet they have a slightly chewy texture that feels freshly made. Oh, and simple ingredients are all that goes into them. Read that label, baby!

Things you’ll need:

1/4 onion
2 handfulls of spinach
1 mango, diced
4-6 corn tortillas
2 cloves garlic
salt and pepper
blackening rub
1 small can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
2 tbs mayo
1 lime
grill pan

Start by preparing your protein. Cut strips at a diagonal, and mix in a bowl with seasonings (diced garlic, salt and pepper, a good amount of blackening seasoning), and a drizzle of olive oil before grilling. (* Note, tonight I grilled before cutting, and the texture was a little chewy. Cutting before grilling will ensure a better texture,  a more even coat of spices, and faster cooking time!)

As the steak cooks, prepare your toppings. Quarter an onion, and cut into thin slices. Dice the mango by cutting off quarters with as much flesh as possible, then create grids with your knife without cutting all the way through the skin. By running your knife along that edge,  you can get the most fruit, equally sized pieces, and will not crush the soft ripe fruit. Roll your spinach into a tight cigar shape, cutting with your knife through the short end of the stack will yield beautiful ribbons.

Once steak is cooked, remove and set aside. Add onions to the pan and continue to cook over medium heat. As they sweat, they will deglaze the pan and pick up any seasonings left from the steak.

In a small dish, mix adobo sauce from your can of chipotle peppers, in a 1/4 ratio with mayonnaise. The peppers hold an incredible amount of heat, so if you want to spice things up, consider dicing on very finely and adding it to your mixture.  Squeeze half a lime over meat, quarter the other half for use as garnish.

Warm tortillas in a dry pan, for about 30 seconds each side. Assemble and enjoy!

Roasted Rosemary Potatoes with Shredded Zucchini (v)

Sunday’s are just wonderful days. I made a little road trip to make my Mom lunch in the house I grew up in. Her kitchen is a joy to cook in, so many memories of watching her make our heirloom ravioli from scratch every year for Easter, anticipating the day I’d be old enough to reach the flour covered counters and help. Then years of experimentation, strange ingredients finding their way into concoctions I created and made my siblings try (Thanks Matt and Kelly!). Some of those were rewarding, re-enforcing my love for food, some were combinations of what I once loved, AWFUL together, (thus I love them no more) like ranch dressing in chocolate milk.   ….YOLO.

This fine day I came prepared with:
2 large red potatoes- sliced about 1/4 inch
2 zucchini- 1 cup shredded through a cheese grinder, the rest in a 1/4inch dice
10 mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup shredded swiss cheese
1/2 large yellow onion, 1/4 inch  dice
2 tbs butter
1/8 cup vegetable oil for potatoes
2 tbs olive oil for sauteing veggies

Put an even layer of potato on a baking sheet, brush with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and chopped fresh rosemary. Bake at 375 for 15 minutes, then flip. Cook an additional 15 minutes or until tender, and golden brown on top.

After the flip begin your base vegetable medley.
Season onion and diced zucchini with salt, pepper, and rosemary, and saute for about 5-8 minutes over medium heat. Remove and set aside. Melt 2 tbs butter in pan, saute sliced mushrooms until browned and tender. Mix back in zucchini mixture and keep warm.

Your potatoes should be cooked at this point, add a layer of swiss cheese to the rounds, and place under a broiler for about 5 minutes. Vegan? Don’t like cheese? Simply leave the cheese out at this step, or keep about half your tray cheese free!

Layer vegetable medley, with potato rounds, raw shredded zucchini and rosemary to garnish. Serve immediately.