Maria Faires’ Instant Pot Mushroom Risotto






This is an elegant, intensely mushroom flavored risotto. The soy sauce and miso bring out the fresh flavor of the mushrooms.

·        4 cups homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken stock or vegetable stock

·        1 ounce dried shitake mushrooms

·        1 1/2 pounds of any or a mixture of mushrooms, such as cremini, shiitake, oyster or chanterelle, trimmed and thinly sliced

·        4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

·        4 tablespoons salted or unsalted butter

·        Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

·        6 ounces of about 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped

·        2 medium cloves garlic, finely minced

·        1 1/2 cups risotto rice, such as Aroborio, Carnaroli, Vialone, Nano, or Baldo

·        2 teaspoons soy sauce

·        1 tablespoon white or light miso paste

·        3/4 cup dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, or Unoaked Chardonnay 

·        1 ounce finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving

·        ½-1 cup minced fresh parsley

Place stock and dried mushrooms in a microwave-safe 1.5 quart capacity bowl and microwave on high power until simmering, about 5 minutes. Remove from microwave. Set aside and let mushroom hydrate as you do other prep.

Turn the instant pot onto sauté. Heat olive oil and butter in the base of a stirring, until butter has melted. Add fresh mushrooms, season lightly with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, about 8-10 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer rehydrated mushrooms to a cutting board and roughly chop.

Add onion, garlic, and chopped rehydrated mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, until onions are softened, about 4 minutes.

Add rice and cook, stirring, until rice grains start to look translucent around the edges and milky/cloudy in the center. This takes about 10 minutes.

Stir in soy sauce and miso paste until evenly incorporated.

Add wine and cook, stirring, until wine has almost fully evaporated, about 2-3 minutes.

Pour stock into pot. Scrape any grains of rice or pieces of onion from side of pressure cooker so that they are fully immersed. Close pressure cooker and press “steam” and 5 minutes. The instant pot will take about 10 minutes to get up to pressure then “5” will appear on the display. When the timer goes off, safely release the steam vent and allow to vent.

Open the instant pot and stir to combine the rice and cooking liquid. Stir in cheese and parsley. If the risotto is too soupy, cook on the sauté function for a few minutes longer, stirring, until it begins to thicken more. If it is too thick, stir in some hot water.

How to Tell If Risotto Is Cooked Perfectly

Take a grain or two of rice out of the risotto and press against a cutting board with your finger to smash the grains. If the rice is not done, you’ll notice a small hard white piece that remains (the uncooked part of the rice grain). If there is no hard white piece is left, the risotto is done.

Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve immediately on hot plates, passing extra cheese at the table.


Maria’s Greek Chicken Breasts with Feta and Caper Sauce

This easy entrée has a rich sauce with a hint of lemon. Serve with Caesar salad with tomatoes and whole wheat orzo (rice-shaped pasta) tossed with olive oil and oregano.
8 (4-ounce) skinned, boned chicken breast halves
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons dried oregano or 2 Tablespoon finely minced fresh oregano
2 tablespoon olive oil
2 cup chopped onion
6 garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press
2 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2/3 cup golden raisins
¼ cup tablespoons lemon juice
¼ cup capers
1/2 cup (2 ounce) crumbled, reduced fat feta cheese
4 thin lemon slices to use as garnish
Prep Time: 10 minutes   Cooking Time: 25 minutes
Prep all the vegetables and lemon.
Combine the flour and oregano in a pie pan or other shallow bowl.
Place each chicken breast half in a large Ziploc bag; flatten to 1/4-inch thickness using a rolling pin. Dredge chicken in flour mixture.
Heat oil in 2 large nonstick skillets over medium heat. Add chicken; cook about 5 minutes on each side. While chicken is cooking turn the oven on to 150 degrees.
Remove chicken from pan to an ovenproof dish. Keep warm in oven.
Add onion and garlic to one of the pans and sauté 1 to 2 minutes.
Stir in broth, raisins, and lemon juice; cook 3 minutes, scraping pan to loosen browned bits.
Return the chicken to pan. Cover, reduce heat to low-medium, and simmer 10 minutes or until chicken is done.
If you’d like to serve this over orzo, start the water boiling now and then cook orzo, drain it, season with some olive oil, oregano and salt and pepper.
Remove chicken from pans to the ovenproof dish and keep warm.
Add capers and cheese to pan, stirring with a whisk until cheese is melted.
To serve, either spoon orzo onto a large serving plate and place all 4 chicken breasts on a serving platter, pour sauce over the top and garnish with lemon slices or place one piece of chicken on a plate and top each chicken breast with 1/4-cup sauce and 1 lemon slice and some orzo.

Maria’s Curried Red Lentils and Greens Soup

2 + 1 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, use less if you want less spice
2 cups, about 1 large onion, finely chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
Sweet potato, peeled and diced, optional
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped or grated
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
2 cups red lentils, rinsed
28 ounce can diced tomatoes, I prefer these taste-test award winning organic bpa free tomatoes
6 cups of water (decrease to 5 cup if you prefer it thicker like a stew. If adding the sweet potato use 6 cups)
1 can coconut milk, low fat or reduced fat
3 packed cups of Swiss chard or kale, stems removed, leaves chopped or spinach, chopped
1 teaspoon of salt or to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste
If desired, finely chopped cilantro to garnish

Put the lentils in a colander under running water and check them for any debris and make sure they’re rinsed and clean.

Grind the cumin seeds, coriander seeds, turmeric and cayenne pepper together with a mortar and pestle or in a spice grinder.

In a soup pot, heat 2 tablespoons oil on medium heat. Add the ground spice mixture to the oil and fry for about 1 minute, mixing continuously with a spoon. They will become very fragrant. Be sure not to burn.

Add the onions, carrots, garlic, and ginger and sweet potato if using. Cook for 5 minutes until softened. Add another tablespoon of oil if the bottom of the pot gets dry.

Add the lentils, tomatoes, water, salt and fresh pepper as well. Cover, bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium low. Simmer for about 20 minutes. The time will depend. The easiest way is to check on your lentils as you cook them. Cooking times vary depending on how large the pan and simply the size of lentils themselves. Simply have a taste and judge the cooking time accordingly

Add the coconut milk, the Swiss chard, kale or spinach and simmer for another 5 minutes or so.

Taste and add more salt and pepper if necessary.

Serve with freshly chopped cilantro, if desired  Serves 6.