(10 seconds each to read and are almost that quick to prepare)
By Lisa Messinger
Food and Cooking at Creators Syndicate
Chocolate for dinner? That might be something your kidlets have asked for, but it can be a romantic adult meal, especially for Valentine's Day. After all, chocolate, or cacao (the beanlike seeds from which chocolate and cocoa are made) have been featured in some of the world's tastiest cuisines for centuries. Famed chef Emeril Lagasse's rendition of Mexican chicken mole, for instance, features a full two ounces of chocolate in the famous rich sauce that also features four types of chilies, peanuts, sesame seeds, garlic, onions, cloves and cinnamon sticks.
When might a free app be almost as valuable a gift to your Valentine as jewels? If your sweetie likes to cook and you like to eat or vice versa, the SideChef app (at iTunes, Google Play or at SideChef.com) is a standout, a la the prettiest roses, the finest wines or the richest chocolates.
In fact, my review of savory chocolate recipes is what, to me, made the app rush near the head of the pack. Culinary creativity, sure to impress a dinner date, is on display with the ancient aphrodisiac ingredient at center stage.
SideChef is succulent because it is a mingling of more than 100 food bloggers worldwide, all of whom are expert at showing their dishes prepared step-by-step in photography. More than 1,000 recipes are featured and SideChef has been a top-ten app in iTunes food and drink category and named one of the best apps of 2014 by USA Today.
In the tasty recipe featured on SideChef from the blog WellWornFork.com that follows, prosciutto and gruyere cheese become one with chocolate, cream cheese and diced basil in risotto (creamy rice) balls.
There are even simpler ways to stash some romantic chocolate in your sweetie's meal. Some of those tips of mine also follow.
Fun fare like this also proves food preparation can be easy, nutritious, inexpensive, fun - and fast. They take just 10 seconds each to read and are almost that quick to prepare. The creative combinations are delicious proof that everyone has time for creating homemade specialties and, more importantly, the healthy family togetherness that goes along with it!
Another benefit: You effortlessly become a better cook, since there are no right or wrong amounts. These are virtually-can't-go-wrong combinations, so whatever you - or your kidlet helpers - choose to use can't help but draw "wows" from family members and guests.
Scones That Won't Be Skipped: Dinner rolls take on a deeper meaning when you include in your scone or roll batter chocolate chips (semisweet or dark), cooked, crumbled bacon and freshly ground black pepper.
Choose Chocolate for Chili: Consider melting any type of chocolate within your chili when cooking. It adds depth of flavor and richness and is equally good whether your chili is made with beans, beef, pork or poultry.
Nothing Fishy About This Idea: A blend of two-thirds melted white chocolate with one-third melted semisweet or dark chocolate, white wine and compatible seasonings, like dill, tarragon and thyme, and freshly ground black pepper make an excellent sauce for white fish fillets, like tilapia or Alaskan Pollock.
CHOCOLATE-PROSCIUTTO RISOTTO BALLS
QUICK TIP OF THE WEEK:
2 tablespoons butter
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup Arborio rice, dry
3/4 cup grated gruyere cheese
6 slices prosciutto, finely diced
1 tablespoon finely diced basil
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
Vegetable oil, for frying
Breadcrumbs, for breading
2 & 1/2 teaspoons cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 ounce semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
Yields 20 rice balls.
Melt butter in a large saute pan.
In a separate pot, heat chicken stock to a boil.
Toast the rice in the butter. Carefully ladle some chicken stock on top of the rice and start to stir almost constantly until the liquid is absorbed. Repeat until the rice is cooked through.
Add the cheese, prosciutto and basil to the rice. Add salt and pepper, if needed.
Line a tray with wax paper. Carefully spread out the risotto on the tray; cool in the refrigerator.
Meanwhile, in a pan, carefully heat vegetable oil to 350 F. Put the breadcrumbs in a shallow bowl for breading. Cut the cream cheese into about 1 / 8-inch cubes.
Take risotto out of refrigerator and mix in a bowl with egg and chocolate.
Scoop out a small amount of risotto mixture and flatten with hands. Put the cream cheese into the center and roll into a ball. Bread with breadcrumbs and set aside.
Carefully gently with a utensil put a few of the rice balls in the oil and gently and carefully stir consistently. Take out once golden brown and salt immediately, if desired. Repeat with remaining rice balls.
-WellWornFork.com featured on SideChef app
You no longer have to stuff your luggage with gourmet gifts for loved ones. If you enjoyed specialties while on the road, many of the world's top spots have Internet ordering. Among scores of other less perishable foods that New York City's Zabar's sells, even the lox, cream cheese and bagels for which Zabar's is famous, are available for overnight delivery at Zabars.com. Harrods in London is another distinguished location whose famed "food halls" sells online at Harrods.com. San Francisco's Boudin Bakery, at BoudinBakery.com, ships lots of gifts, including the city's legendary sourdough bread bowls. Lisa Messinger
is a first-place winner in food and nutrition writing from the Association of Food Journalists and the National Council Against Health Fraud and author of seven food books, including the best-selling The Tofu Book: The New American Cuisine with 150 Recipes
(Avery/Penguin Putnam) and Turn Your Supermarket into a Health Food Store: The Brand-Name Guide to Shopping for a Better Diet
(Pharos/Scripps Howard). She writes two nationally syndicated food and nutrition columns for Creators Syndicate and had been a longtime newspaper food and health section managing editor, as well as managing editor of Gayot/Gault Millau dining review company. Lisa traveled the globe writing about top chefs for Pulitzer Prize-winning Copley News Service and has written about health and nutrition for the Los Angeles Times Syndicate, Reader's Digest, Woman's World and Prevention Magazine Health Books. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com.