Risotto alla Milanese with Asparagus and Red Wine Sea Salt


When Francis and Vanessa of Gustus Vitae Condiments first sent me samples of their amazing spices and salts, I didn’t know which one I wanted to try first. I decided on the red wine sea salt as it sounded so original as well as ingenious (sea salt and red wine being two of my favorite flavors).


I’ve often had red wine risottos and liked them but found them a little overpowering especially paired with an actual glass of red wine so the idea of being able to sprinkle some over the top of a classic saffron risotto seemed like the perfect solution. I’m going to try Taste of the Southwest on some skirt steak next!



Risotto alla Milanese with Asparagus and Red Wine Sea Salt

Serves 6


1 bunch of fresh asparagus, ends discarded (slice into ½“ diagonal slices and steam or boil for about 3 minutes until tender)

4 cups of homemade chicken broth, or for vegetarians use vegetable broth (heat in a saucepan on low, ladling from there)

1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped

4 tablespoons of butter, divided in two

2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

2 cups of risotto rice (I like to use Carnaroli but Arborio is often easier to find)

1 teaspoon of powdered Saffron

2/3 cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese

Red Wine Sea Salt to taste



1. In a dutch oven or heavy saucepan, add 2 tablespoons of butter, olive oil and onions. Sweat until translucent – about 5 minutes.

2. Add the rice and cook on medium-high for 2 minutes. Stir continuously so the rice is coated with the fat and onions.

3. Lower the heat and slowly begin to add the stock; one ladle at a time.

4. Stir continuously and only add another ladle of stock once last ladle is absorbed.

5. After about 15 minutes, add the saffron and stir until the entire risotto turns a bright yellow. (If you run out of broth, you can add hot water)

6. Turn the heat off just before you think the risotto is ready (about 20 minutes after you’ve added the rice) – rice should still have a slight bite to it.

8. Stir in the asparagus, the rest of the butter and the parmesan cheese and cover for a few minutes to let everything blend together.

9. Serve in warmed bowls and sprinkle a little red wine sea salt and extra grated parmesan on top for a pop of flavor.


Wild Rice Salad with Mango and Pecan


You may have figured out from previous posts that I feel very strongly about pasta and could blind taste the difference between most brands. The same, I’ve discovered, is absolutely true of beans and grains which I’m trying to eat more of. I came across Rancho Gordo on a food foraging trip in San Francisco and after tasting, quickly understood why they are so universally beloved. Steve Sando founded Rancho Gordo out of a frustration of not being able to find ingredients especially those native to the New World. And we’re very grateful that he did! Their beans and grains are so versatile that I’m constantly thinking up new ways to use them.


This wild rice salad is adapted from a Christopher Schlesinger recipe. The flavors and textures are as vibrant as the colors; sweet, tart, spicy, nutty, crunchy and juicy all rolled into one. It is just one of the many ways, I’ve incorporated Rancho Gordo products into my repertoire – more to come soon!



Wild Rice Salad with Mango and Pecans

Serves 4


1 cup of wild rice

Salt to taste
2 mangoes
1 red pepper
1 cup of pecans (roasted)



1/4 cup of chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 crushed garlic clove
1/4 cup of olive oil
1/2 cup of lime juice



1. In a medium sized sauce pan, mix rice with 2 cups of cold water.

2. Bring to a boil, cover and let simmer on a low heat for 45 minutes or until the rice is chewy but still has a bite.

3. Drain excess water and let the rice cool, adding salt to taste.

4. Cube the mango and red pepper.

4. In a small bowl, whisk all the dressing ingredients together.

5. In a large serving bowl, mix the rice, mango, red pepper and pecans.

6. Pour the dressing over the rice, mix well and serve at room temperature as a side dish to pretty much any grilled meat or fish.


Asparagus-Lemon Magique


This recipe calls for fresh asparagus, minimally prepared to bring out the vegetable’s naturally distinctive, delicious flavor. This dish is ready in about 15 minutes and pairs well with fish or meat, as its own course or as a fresh and flavorful snack.


Sel Magique’s 

Asparagus-Lemon Magique

Serves 3-4

2 bunches of fresh asparagus (about 2 pounds)
1-2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
1 lemon
Sel Magique classic blend



1. Wash the asparagus and angle-trim to uniform length.

2. Steam until bright green and crisp but easily penetrated by a fork (about 10 minutes).

3. Drain and rinse in cold water and return to the pot.

4. Toss with the juice of one lemon (about 2 tablespoons) and butter.

5. Plate and sprinkle a dash or two of Sel Magique over the asparagus.

6. Garnish with lemon slice and serve warm.


Tamarind and Sumac Date Chutney



Last week I was fortunate enough to have lunch with Louisa Shafia, the woman behind Lucid Food and the author of the upcoming The New Persian Kitchen.


I was excited to tell her about Lezzet Spices and their wonderful Sumac which is so prevalent in Persian cooking and often used by Louisa. Having just come from a meeting with her agent, she had a galley of her gorgeous new cookbook with her so I got a little sneek peek.  I’ve already preordered my copy and you can too:



Louisa has also kindly donated a recipe to Many Kitchens featuring sumac which looks delicious!


Tamarind and Sumac Date Chutney
The New Persian Kitchen
Louisa Shafia

This sublime condiment brings together tamarind, lime, ginger, cinnamon, and sugary dates. Once pickled in the tamarind, the dates crystallize and dissolve into a soft paste similar to a chutney. After 6 weeks, the pronounced salty flavor of the sumac will mellow, and you can enjoy this fragrant pickle on everything from burgers to fish to cheese. For an easy hors d’oeuvre, spread it on a cracker and top it with lime powder–seasoned grilled shrimp and a fresh green herb. The chutney will separate slightly over time, so stir it from the bottom before serving to bring out all its tart lime goodness.

Tamarind and Sumac Date Chutney

Makes about 3 cups


1 cup Thai tamarind concentrate, strained to remove grit

1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice, plus more if needed

2 tablespoons sumac

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 cloves garlic, minced

1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 pound Medjool dates, pitted



1. In a large bowl, whisk the tamarind with the lime juice, sumac, kosher salt, garlic, ginger, and cinnamon. Add the dates and toss well.

2. Transfer the mixture to a clean glass jar and add more lime juice as needed to cover any exposed dates.

3. Seal and store in the refrigerator.

4. Shake every few days to break up the crystallization. The dates will be ready to eat in 6 weeks and will last for about 6 months in the refrigerator.

Reprinted with permission from The New Persian Kitchen by Louisa Shafia, copyright © 2013. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.

Food Photography credit: Sara Remington © 2013

Potato Latkes

Potato Latkes


4 medium sized Idaho potatoes

2 yellow onions

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 eggs

salt and freshly cracked pepper

3/4 cup matzo meal

vegetable oil for frying



1. Peel and grate potatoes into a large bowl filled with cold water (this will prevent them from oxidizing).

2. Next grate the onion. Wring both the potatoes and the onion until dry. You can work by squeezing handfuls in batches.

3. Mix the onion and potatoes together and add the lemon juice. Mix once more then add eggs.

4. Stir until eggs are evenly dispersed and season with salt and pepper.

5. Mix in the matzo meal and stir until all ingredients are thoroughly incorporated.

6. Next, in a wide pan bring the vegetable oil to frying temperature. I test my oil by dipping a piece of food in. The oil is ready when the food immediately starts to fry. You want to avoid oil that is too hot or it will scorch the food. Once I’ve done one batch of latkes I usually turn my temperature down a couple of notches.

7. Take a handful of the latke mixture and press into a flat pancake (thin is best so the latkes stay nice and crunchy and potato and onion cook through).

8. Repeat, laying each latke on a baking sheet, until you have used all the potato mixture.

9. Fry in batches until latkes are a warm golden brown (roughly 4 minutes per side).

10. Transfer to a baking sheet and finish in the oven for 10 minutes.

11. Season finished latkes with salt and serve warm.

Favorite toppings include sour cream (with smoked salmon and dill) apple sauce or even an egg if you want to make a latke benedict. Enjoy!

Spaghetti Squash with Sour Cream and Dill


Spaghetti Squash with Sour Cream and Dill
4 servings


1 spaghetti squash (peeled and halved with seeds removed)
1 tablespoon salt
4 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
4 tablespoons chopped dill



1. Slice squash into small matchsticks (preferably with a mandolin to keep even sizing).

2. Add squash to a medium bowl and season with salt.  Let stand for 10 minutes then squeeze off all excess water.

3. In a large saute pan over medium-high heat, melt butter and add squash.

4. Sprinkle vinegar over squash and stir.

5. Add flour, lower heat and cook for 10 minutes.

6. Add sour cream and sugar and boil for 2 more minutes.

7. Add dill, stir and remove from the burner.

This dish is best served with Wiener Schnitzel.  I hope you enjoy!