Lush Life

To be a lush chef, does not mean to drink in excess - this can result in scary fires and bad dishes. A lush chef is one who enjoys gourmet cooking/baking, often with fresh ingredients and the smart use of one's home bar. If there happens to be half a bottle of beer, a glass of wine, or a sip of brandy left over...well, one cannot be wasteful. I give you permission to imbibe.

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The Lush Chef
Twitter: @thelushchef Provenance: Santa Monica Dish: Coq au Vin Spirit: Whiskey Wine: Malbec Beer: Hefeweizen Farmer's Market: Santa Monica on Main Street
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Apr 29, 2014

Beer Risotto with Sausage and Gouda

Libations used: one bottle of beer...
Libations left over: well, hopefully you bought a whole pack, so pop open another bottle while you're stirring that risotto...
Ah, risotto.  The downfall of nearly every contestant on Top Chef.  It's a process that shouldn't be rushed, which is inevitably while these folks fail because they're trying to make it with such a short amount of time.  But don't be scared off by it.  It's really quite easy, and the key is to have a warm stock, room temperature beer or wine, patience, and a strong stirring arm.  Making risotto is a great way to tone your arms!  This version from Cherry on My Sundae's blog is what I would consider a guy's risotto.  It's got beer, spicy sausage, and plenty of cheese.  What's not to love?  Use a dark beer, like a brown ale and make sure it's at room temperature.  I grabbed a pack of spicy Italian chicken sausages from Trader Joe's and a nice, smoky gouda.  So pop or crack open a cold one, and get to stirring.

Beer Risotto with Sausage and Gouda - serves 4
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 8 oz spicy sausage, sliced
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 12 oz dark beer at room temperature (I used Mission St. Brown Ale)
  • 3 cups chicken stock, warmed in a small sauce pot on the stove
  • 1 Tbs butter
  • 1/2 cup grated gouda
  • Salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 1-2 Tbs parsley, chopped
- In a large sauté pan over medium heat, add the olive oil.
- Add the sliced sausages and sauté until browned, about 3 minutes.
- Remove the sausages with a slotted spoon and set aside in a bowl.
- Add the onion and garlic to the pan and sauté for about 3-4 minutes, until they're translucent.
- Add the rice and stir, cooking for about 1-2 minutes so you get a nice, nutty aroma.
- Add half of the beer and stir until the liquid is fully absorbed.
- Add the remaining beer and stir until that's fully absorbed.
- Add a ladle of warm chicken stock and keep stirring away until it's absorbed. Take a swig of beer - this is hard work!
- Keeping adding the stock in increments, stirring until all the liquid is absorbed.
- Cook until the rice appears creamy and is al dente, about 20-30 minutes after all is said and done.
- Stir in the butter and grated cheese.
- Add the sausages back in and season with salt and pepper.
- Divide evenly, and garnish with the chopped parsley.

Apr 17, 2014

Ooo, La, La

It's been weeks since I've played with my home bar as I've been having a bit too much fun going out and trying other people's cocktails!  Easter is coming up this Sunday, and we've been blessed here in SoCal with some amazing strawberries at the market, so I was eager to shake up a drink that centered around the fruit.  I had bought a bottle of St. George Botanivore Gin a couple of weeks ago, so I knew that had to go there in as well.  To French it up a bit, I added St. Germain and lavender simple syrup.  With the fresh squeezed lemon juice and a spring of mint, it's like a spring garden in a glass.  The beautiful pink color and mint makes this a beautiful and refreshing drink to make for the Easter holiday.  Batch this up in a pitcher, and you've got the perfect cocktail for a truly boozy brunch.

Ooo, La, La
  • 1 strawberry
  • 1 oz lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz lavender simple syrup - recipe can be found here
  • 2 oz gin (I used St. George Botanivore)
  • 3/4 oz St. Germain
  • Mint leaf, for garnish
- In a shaker, muddle the strawberry with the lemon juice and lavender simple syrup.
- Add ice, gin, and St. Germain and shake.
- Pour into a glass.
- Slap a mint leaf between the palm of your hands and add to the drink as garnish.

Apr 15, 2014

Braised Chicken with Fennel and Fava Beans

Libations used: 1 cup white wine
Libations left over: Pretty much the whole bottle, so pour yourself a glass while that chicken is braising...
Apologies dear lushes, for the rather long delay in posting anything.  I've just been having too much fun these past few weeks and haven't had time to sit down at my computer to hammer these recipes and stories out.  Easter is coming up next Sunday, and while most people traditionally serve lamb, my parents are not fans of the protein.  When I cook Easter dinner for them, it's typically a roasted or braised whole chicken — it's simple, delicious, colorful, and doesn't demand a lot of my time at the stove.  I recently made this Braised Chicken from Bon Appetit, but because baby artichokes weren't going to pop up at my market for another week or so, I added in fennel and a whole, sliced lemon.  I almost didn't track down any fava beans, and if you find yourself in the same situation, use some snap peas instead!  This is a great recipe to get creative with, so sub in any fresh, springtime vegetable you have on hand.  Serve with fresh, crusty bread, because you'll want it to sop up all that yummy wine sauce.
Braised Chicken with Fennel and Fava Beans - serves 4-6
  • 1 cup fresh fava beans (from about 1 lb of pods)
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • One 4 lb chicken, cut into 10 pieces
  • 8 shallots, peeled and halved 
  • 1 large fennel bulb, sliced (reserve the fronds)
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • 1 cup dry white wine (I used Sanford's Flor De Campo Chardonnay)
  • 3 Tbs white wine or chardonnay vinegar
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 Tbs chopped fresh chives
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 425.
- Bring a medium pot of salted water to boil, and then add the fava beans, cooking until tender for about 4 minutes.
- Using a slotted spoon, transfer the beans to a colander set in a bowl of ice water to cool.
- Drain, remove the skins, and set aside in a small bowl.
- Season the chicken with salt and pepper.
- In a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, add the olive oil.
- Working in 2 batches, cook the chicken, skin side down without turning, until browned and crisp (about 6-8 minutes), and transfer to a plate.
- Reduce the heat to medium, and add the shallots and fennel, stirring often until golden brown and beginning to soften (about 8-10 minutes).
- Add the wine and vinegar and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits, and reducing to half (about 5 minutes).
- Add the broth and lemon slices, and then place the chicken back in the pot, skin side up.
- Top the chicken with some large fennel fronds.
- Transfer to the oven and cook, uncovered, until the chicken is cooked through (about 20-25 minutes).
- Mix in the fava beans.
- Serve the chicken topped with chives and parsley, with the fennel, shallots, and lemon on the side.