Category Archives: DIY & Food

Paprika Chicken with Mushroom Risotto

Paprika Chicken with Mushroom Risotto

Last week’s experiment tasted better than it looks. I’ll probably fine-tune the proportions for the risotto the next time I make it. Please consider this a rough draft you can work on, if so inclined.


Pan Fried Paprika Chicken

4 to 5 boneless chicken breast fillets

salt and pepper


1/4 cup flour

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1/4 cup parmesan cheese

red pepper flakes

1/4 cup olive oil (add more if needed)

1/2 cup white wine

Take your boneless chicken breast fillets and pat them dry with paper towels to remove excess liquid. Pound them between sheets of plastic film if you wish them to be thin. (This is optional if you aren’t bothered by thickness of the fillets and you’re too lazy to hunt for your mallet like me.) Season each fillet with salt, pepper, and paprika. Set aside.

In a medium-sized bowl, combine the flour, cornstarch, cheese and red pepper flakes. Set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a roomy sauté pan. Once the oil is warm, dredge the seasoned breast fillets into the flour mixture, shaking off any excess. Pan fry each piece around three to four minutes on each side, taking care not to crowd the pan. Larger fillet pieces will need extra cooking time. (This is why hunting out for the mallet was a good idea. Oh well.)

Let the cooked fillet pieces rest on a plate with some clean paper towels while making the risotto.

Off heat, deglaze the pan with white wine, scraping off the nice brown bits at the bottom of the pan. Set this aside for the risotto.



Mushroom Risotto

6 cups warm water *

1 chicken broth cube

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup portobello mushrooms, sliced finely * *

1 cup button mushrooms, sliced finely

1 cup shiitake mushrooms, sliced finely

1 white onion, diced

2 cups Arborio rice

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup grated mozzarella cheese

1/4 cup grated cheddar (or any nice hard cheese you have on hand)

sea salt to taste

black pepper to taste

2 tablespoons butter


* If you’re using dried mushrooms (fresh shiitake mushrooms aren’t available everywhere!) hydrate the mushrooms by soaking in one to two cups of warm water.  Microwaving the mushrooms in the water helps speed up the process. After at least ten to fifteen minutes of soaking, check each mushroom piece and discard any hard pieces (usually the stems.) Remove the mushrooms with a spoon, then strain the remaining liquid into a measuring cup. Whatever amount you have (usually around one cup) can be used to replace some of the 6 cups of water.

* * Don’t forget to remove the black gills beneath the mushroom caps. These things are easily peeled off once you remove the stem. Technically, you can leave it in, but it will muddy up the color of the risotto.


Dissolve the chicken broth cube in the water. Set aside.

Warm some of olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the mushrooms, and sauté until soft, for about three minutes. Remove mushrooms and their liquid, and set aside.

With the remaining olive oil, sauté the onions for five to six minutes, or until it has a nice, slightly caramelized look. Add the rice, stirring to coat with oil, and cook for a few minutes. When the rice is golden brown and begins to smell lightly toasted, add 1/2 cup of the chicken broth, stirring constantly for even absorption. When the 1/2 cup is almost absorbed, add another 1/2 cup, and continue to stir. Repeat this process until all the liquid is absorbed, ending with the white wine from the chicken. It usually takes twenty-five to thirty minutes.

Turning off the heat, add the mushrooms and any of its liquid, butter, and the cheeses, stirring well so distribution is even. Season with salt and pepper.

My Truffle Treats

My Truffle Treats

A longer version of this post first appeared on my old blog last December 19, 2008. 

Drunk Truffle Balls

450 grams cookie crumbs

My chocolate truffles, as photographed by Che Katigbak. Gusto Magazine, 2005.

80 grams apricot jam

60 ml rum

115 grams chocolate, melted (for filling)

40 grams glucose

500 grams chocolate (for coating)

chocolate vermicelli, nuts, and sprinkles

In a bowl, mix the cookie crumbs with the jam and liquor. Add the 115 grams of melted chocolate until well blended. If using glucose, warm it up in the microwave for about 30 seconds and add to the mix.

If it looks too mushy and moist, gradually add more crumbs until its consistency is easy to handle with clean hands or spoon out in mounds. Shape into bite-sized balls and let set in the refrigerator. This takes about an hour.

When the truffle balls are set, melt the remaining chocolate over a double boiler, stirring occasionally. Dunk the truffle balls into the coating chocolate and sprinkle on the vermicelli, nuts, or sprinkles. Alternately, if you don’t want to get your hands messy, you may arrange the truffle balls over a rack with a pan underneath to catch any drippings. Spoon the chocolate over them. Decorate and let set.

These keep for about a month in the refrigerator.


Additional notes:

The original recipe is from John Slattery’s Chocolate Cakes for Weddings and Celebrations but I’ve changed so many things—like dry cake crumbs to cookie crumbs!—I guess I can call it mine.

I use my surplus homemade cookies for this recipe, which is rather buttery to begin with, so I have to add around 200 grams more crumbs to make it work. To get a fine crumb I grind everything up in a Cuisinart. Store-bought cookies, especially those that are on the dry side, should work well. I’ve used my homemade chocolate chip, dark chocolate, macaroon, and spice cookie crumbs and they all taste fine.

The same rule applies for the jam. Apricot is great but if you only have strawberry or raspberry on hand that will work too. I’ve even accidentally used a low-fat jam before and it still turned out good.

Regarding the liquor, I started out exclusively with rum but then I tried brandy and vanilla vodka. Tita Ana gave me this twenty-year-old bottle of Kirsch to play with and it’s highly potent in these treats! Can you omit the liquor? I don’t think it’s advisable since the liquor will help it keep fresh for longer.

Some friends asked about the addition of glucose. I used to make this without it. While flipping though some old notes from cooking school, however, I noticed my old truffles recipe added that ingredient. When I tried it, I noticed that it gave the mixture a better consistency after setting—and a more professional-looking caramel-chewy center. If you can’t find glucose, though, you can skip it. I only figured this out last week and I’ve been making these balls for almost a year. I haven’t really figured out how much glucose I should add, either, so give or take a couple of grams shouldn’t hurt too much.

For the chocolate, block chocolate is preferable over chips. Some chips don’t melt very well, that’s why I don’t like using them unless it’s the only thing I have on hand. Anyway, it’s nice to have contrasting colors for filling and coating, so any combination between white, milk, and dark chocolate will both look and taste great.

For the toppings, anything goes. Chocolate vermicelli, sprinkles, and nuts all work well. Rice crispies get soggy if stored for too long, and nobody I know seemed to like marshmallows. Lately I have also tried chopped candied cherries. These taste great, especially with a dark chocolate filling drunk on Kirsch…

Lastly, for a professional look (if you’re giving these babies away), wear plastic gloves while transferring the truffles to small muffin liners before boxing. You want them to know it’s handmade, but you don’t want greasy fingerprints all over the treats.

Anyway, that’s it. I hope this motivates some of you to make it for Noche Buena! Cheers and Merry Christmas.