Tag Archives: side dish

Bon! Ratatouille

You know the stereotype about American women loving foreign accents, particulary British or Australian?  While I’m sure that’s true, I am here to tell you that there is nothing American women find more irrisitible than a man with a French accent and a fabulous joie de vivre.

Meet J.M.

J.M. is a Quebeçois on-call cook where I work.  He used to be a sous chef, but decided he wanted to pursue more college degrees and teach philosophy at a local university.  He simply stays on-call because he loves to cook and enjoys mingling with the variety of people that come through the hotel.  Whenever I see J.M. at work, I immediately get a smile on my face because he is like a breath of fresh air.  He is incredibly bubbly, looks like a jolly Père Noël, and always gives excellent wine suggestions.  I never tire of hearing him say, “Ahh, bon!” after finishing off a fruit display or setting up a buffet.  Everyone could use a little more “Bon!” in their life.

The thing that gets me everytime about this friendly French Canadian is how J.M. attracts women.  It is like moths to a flame.  The chefs and I tend to make a sport of guessing how many women he can charm in the course of an hour while working the dinner buffet because it is so fun to watch.  J.M. is probably in his mid-50s, but females of all ages blush immediately when he says, “Bon soir, how are you tonight?  Now do not forget dessert, all women (pronounced wooo-man) must enjoy un petit chocolat today.”

I think he should record his voice and sell Podcasts on iTunes of him simply speaking nonsense.  He could make millions.  And he would make millions of women happier all over the world. 

Read on, there’s more!


Filed under It's Fun Being a Manager, Recipes, Uncategorized, Work

Duke Blue Cheese Risotto

What about today are you celebrating, and just how are you celebrating it?

I am celebrating and anxiously anticipating tonight’s men’s basketball matchup between Duke University’s Blue Devils and University of North Carolina’s Tar Heels.  As I mentioned in my post yesterday, the rivalry between these two teams puts all other rivalries to shame in my book.  It’s pretty exciting to be in the Triangle right now. 

I’m showing my spirit for the game in two ways:  the color of my clothes and the food I’m eating.  This is how I typically celebrate all holidays or special events.  I dress up being mindful of whatever the event is (meaning a Duke t-shirt and jeans today) and then make sure to consume something that represents the occassion…

Enter Duke Blue Cheese Risotto.  This recipe stemmed from a need to clean out my fridge (I’ve been trying to figure out what to make with the leftover blue cheese from my birthday party pizzas) and today’s big game.  Nothing like showing you bleed Duke blue by consuming some stinky blue cheese.  

Risotto is one of those foods that I love to eat but have only made a handful of times because the idea of it used to make me nervous.  I’ve heard horror stories about unbearably chewy or crunchy risotto from too many chefs to count.  A good deal of time at the stove is also required due to the constant stirring, and sometimes I’m just too impatient to stand in one spot for 20 minutes or more.  But I had the time today and discovered two things:

1.  I really never had anything to worry about because making risotto is extremely easy.
2.  If you step away from the stove for a couple minutes, the risotto won’t be ruined.  There’s no need to be a helicopter cook and hover.

I promise this is delicious…make it tonight. 


Duke Blue Cheese Risotto


Duke Blue Cheese Risotto

1 ½ Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
½ cup white onion, diced
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup brown rice
1 cup dry white wine
2 to 3 cups chicken stock
½ cup blue cheese crumbles
1 tsp. honey
salt and pepper to taste

1.  Heat chicken stock in a saucepan over medium heat.
2.  In a large sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium.  Add garlic and onion, sauté for 3 to 4 minutes.
3.  Add in frozen peas and heat until warmed through.
4.  Add in rice and mix well to coat the grains in oil.  Toast for 2 minutes.
5.  Pour in wine and allow to boil off (keep temperature at medium to medium-low).  Once most of the liquid has been absorbed, it’s time to start adding the broth!
6.  Using a ladle, add about ½ to 1 cup of broth to the rice mixture.  Stir risotto occassionally as the liquid absorbs.  When you stir the risotto and no liquid separates from the rice, but it’s still moist, add another ladle of stock.
7.  Continue the process of stirring and adding more broth until the starch in the rice starts to break down, the grains look creamy, and suit your desired level of tenderness (I like my risotto to be softer, less al dente).  This took me about 20 minutes using brown rice*.
8.  Once the rice is cooked, reduce heat to medium low, add blue cheese crumbles, and season with salt and black pepper to taste.
9.  Swirl in a bit of honey.  This sweet finishing touch complements the blue cheese perfectly!  A little honey goes a long way in this dish.

*Note:  Traditional risotto uses arborio rice.  I simply used brown rice because that’s what I had on hand.  Arborio rice may need additional liquid and cooking time.


And since it is a Wednesday….it’s time for wine of the week!

I used the $3.99 bottle that the Berserk Mushroom lady recommended to me a couple weeks back in the risotto, and it is delicious!  Aconga 2009 Chenin Blanc-Chardonnay blend from Argentina.  I found it right in my local grocery store and hopefully you can, too.  It’s excellent for the price!

Lastly, GO DUKE!

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Filed under Duke, Recipes

Gone Berserk

I’m sure you’ve heard by now that food prices for basic necessities like wheat, eggs and meat are on the rise.  You may have already seen the effects of this in your grocery store. Well yesterday, after shopping for bananas (really, that’s all I was there for) I thought of a great job position that grocery store operators should create. First, the story…

In my local Kroger grocery store, certain produce items like spinach and bagged salads that are close to expiring tend to go on a “Manager’s Special” and be offered at 50% of the original price. I eat lots of veggies and LOVE when I find something that I want in good condition on sale. It’s almost a game — these items are highly coveted by constant shoppers like myself, so it’s rewarding when you are one of the lucky people that gets to snatch up a sale item.  Or maybe that’s just how I feel about it.

Anyway, I wandered over to this section yesterday merely to browse and saw that oyster mushrooms were on sale.  As I looked them over, a European woman approached me and began to promulgate about how great mushrooms are and what an extraordinary deal it was to find an 8oz. pack on sale for $1.89 when the same size package normally costs $5.00 at Whole Foods.  She was elated because her son is “berserk” about mushrooms and could not wait to show him the six (two of which were 16oz.) packages she picked up.

She then went on to describe her favorite preparation method: simply sliced and sauteed in a half cup of white wine with salt, pepper, and a healthy dollop of sour cream that you add at the end until slightly melted.  “Just warm it, you don’t want it to curdle,” she explained.

When I asked about adding garlic to the pan, she said that she never does because she enjoys the taste of mushrooms too much and does not want garlic to overpower them.  This was a novel concept to me as I love garlic and add it to almost everything I make.

I was entranced by this woman and how she depicted this simple but beautiful recipe. In the time it took for her to describe how her son goes berserk for golden-cooked mushrooms and divulge that the best “cheap” white wine was on sale for $3.99 just three aisles over, I made up my mind to buy those mushrooms.  And the wine.  How could I not after she described it to be one of the best whites she’s had in a long time, and one that she finds just as easy to help make dinner as well as drink with dinner?

I was an absolute sucker for this woman’s stories, and I made her mushroom recipe to the best that I could last night.  I have to say that she was right on.  If you enjoy the actual taste of mushrooms, you will love this recipe. Simple, rich, and healthy all at once. I really don’t think I had previously cooked mushrooms just to serve as mushrooms.  Usually I include them as an ingredient in a main dish.  But this recipe lets you savor and appreciate them just as they are.

I doubt that Kroger planted this woman by the sale produce items, but think about how they could off-set their rising food costs by hiring people like her to scope out people like me that enjoy being schlepped into a good recipe!  Having a “secret buyer” of sorts (similar to a secret shopper) could help stores cycle through their inventory and reduce their waste.  The nerd is coming out in me, but really, Kroger should look into that.

I really hope to see this woman again in the store. But until then, the least I can do is share this recipe.


Berserk Mushrooms
Serves 2 to 3

8oz. sliced white or oyster mushrooms
2 tsp. olive oil
1/2 cup dry white wine, such as chardonnay
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup sour cream

1. Slice mushrooms thinly (about 1/4″ thickness).
2. Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat.  Add mushrooms and cook for 1 minute.  Add salt and pepper, cook for 1 more minute.
3. Add wine to pan.  Allow liquid to start boiling and then reduce heat to low to medium-low.  Cook until mushrooms are fragrant and slightly browned (about 3 – 4 minutes).
4. Add sour cream to pan and allow to liquify a little.  Stir to combine.  Keep heat low so the cream does not curdle.
5. Enjoy with a side of chardonnay.


Filed under Recipes, Uncategorized