How I Saved a Failed Recipe

I have tried two recipes from Milk Street – the Christopher Kimball dealie. The first was a stovetop chicken and risotto dish and the second was called Red Chile Soup. The first recipe I rescued with added herbs, lots more salt and lemon juice. But the soup recipe was just NOT GOOD. I actually made it a point to follow the recipe to the letter.

Here is the sad, bland Red Chile Soup ingredients:

2 ancho chilies, stemmed, seeded and torn into a few pieces
2 chipotle chilies, stemmed, seeded and torn into a few pieces (I used a pasilla, and New Mexico chiles
Boiling water, for soaking the chilies
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
3 plum tomatoes, cored
1 small white onion, root end intact, halved and peeled
2 medium garlic cloves, peeled
6 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth, divided
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup masa harina or three 6-inch corn tortillas (I buzzed up some corn meal for this.)
1 1/2 pounds mixed mushrooms, such as cremini, oyster and shiitake, thinly sliced (I used cremini, shiitake and rehydrated dried chanterelles)
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
1 cup lightly packed fresh cilantro, chopped
Lime wedges, to serve

Notice ONE teaspoon of cumin and only 2 cloves garlic for a 6+ cups recipe. Yeah. There’s your first red flag. The directions are pretty straightforward. Roast the onions and tomatoes, toast and soak the dried chiles, then toss it all in the blender and puree. Cook the puree for a few minutes to reduce, add mushrooms, broth and the cup of water/masa. Season to taste. Pretty simple. And VERY VERY bland. I did not use 6 cups of chicken stock, thank the gods, I only used four, which brings us to about 7-8 cups volume all in. A lot. I added probably a Tbl of salt to this and another half pound of creminis. I did not bother with cilantro or limes, but I think both would be nice for service.

I am not at all happy with the taste of this soup, so I decide to turn it into chili. I added:

2 chubs of soyrizo (Cacique, the BEST)
3 roasted hatch chiles (I had these in the freezer)
1 small can tomato sauce
1 Tbl cumin
1 Tbl chili powder
1 Tbl ancho powder
2 tsp garlic powder
2 Tbl tomato paste
1 can black beans, partially drained
2 Tbl ketchup
2 tsp sugar

You can still taste the dried chiles (from the original recipe), which is nice and the soyrizo is up front, too. The mushrooms give nice texture – but the shiitakes have just a tish too much Asian flavor for chili. It could use more black beans, but I only had one can. The recipe almost doubled in size with all the additions I did to rescue it. It’s almost a gallon! It is a little bit looser than my usual chili, but I didn’t want to add more thickener and have to re-season.

This chili will be just great for chili cheese tots! I just had it with lime and some crema: YUM!

All in all, I’m happy that I managed to rescue the dish and make it tasty and edible. That Red Chile Soup recipe from Milk Street was straight up useless. That is two in a row that I’ve tried from that site and both were bland and called for little to no spices. So, here’s your warning: DO NOT bother with Milk Street recipes!

The thing to remember when rescuing any recipe that’s gone sideways, is to think about how to use the flavor profile you’ve got to either make something similar (soup -> chili) or amp up the lacking flavors by adding herbs and/or citrus. It’s surprising how much herbs and citrus can really make flavors pop. Being able to rescue a recipe is a handy skill to have, especially when you try out as many as I do! Just think about the flavors you have, then go from there. It takes a little practice, but it’s worth learning. I HATE wasting food, so it’s one of my prized skills to be able to use what I’ve already cooked rather than toss it. :)

Looky! Videos!

Sorry, pervs, NOT PORN. LOL

I made these for my niece, so I am going to post them here, too, why not? I’m going to start doing some short 1 minute instructionals on my YT channel.

Here’s one on how to hold a knife and dice an onion:

And how to cut a pepper:

Enjoy! Let me know in comments if there is something you’d like to see a how-to for!

Oven Risotto with Mushrooms

This recipe is not really risotto, but it’s LIKE risotto! Risotto is a method and this recipe does not follow that method very much. But it is still a nice nod to labour intensive risotto and has good flavour. Enjoy!

Oven Baked Risotto

Easy Oven Risotto with Mushrooms

This is a spin on a recipe I ran across at Epicurious. Theirs was way too fussy, so I stripped it down and made it easy! If you love risotto and are intimidated by the fussy recipes, try this one! It's easy and really delicious! Butternut squash variation in notes!
Course Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine Italian
Keyword baked risotto, mushrooms, risotto
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Author misangela


  • Shallow dutch oven roasting pan or oven proof skillet
  • sheet pan


  • 8 oz Shiitake mushrooms, de-stemmed & cut into 1/2" pieces sub cremini, but shiitake has better texture
  • 1 Tbl olive oil to lightly coat mushrooms
  • S/P to lightly coat mushrooms
  • 1 large shallot, quartered then sliced sub 1/2 cup small diced onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced about 1 Tbl
  • 1 Tbl olive oil
  • 2 Tbl butter salted
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice reserve juice
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves about 2 tsp, sub 1 tsp dry thyme
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes or more if you like
  • 1/2 tsp each S/P
  • 1 cup arborio rice (risotto)
  • 1/2 cup dry vermouth sub white wine
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken broth sub veg broth to make vegetarian
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tsp fresh basil, finely chopped sub 1 tsp dry basil
  • 1 Tbl fresh parsley, finely chopped try to use fresh herb here


  • This recipe can be made in one pot if you have a skillet type dutch oven or an oven safe skillet with a lid (or you can cover with foil). If you do not have these, you can start the risotto in a saucepan, then transfer to a 9x9 square dish or pie plate to bake, covered in foil.
  • Preheat oven to 375ºF.
  • Prep mushrooms and toss in olive oil & S/P on a sheet pan (use parchment paper or cover pan in foil for easy clean up). Put in oven to roast for about 20 minutes.
  • While mushrooms are roasting, prep the rest of the veg.
  • Put vessel over medium heat and add olive oil and butter. When hot, add in shallot, garlic, thyme, red pepper flakes and lemon zest. Cook shallots until translucent, about 4-5 minutes. Do not brown, just sweat.
  • Add rice and S/P. Stir and turn heat up to Med Hi. Stir rice for about 2 minutes then add vermouth. Stir another 2 minutes then add chicken stock and turn up heat to Hi.
  • Bring to fast simmer and cook rice for about 10 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally. The broth should reduce by about 1/3. Check mushrooms; you want them roasted and a bit dry, but not burnt. If done, remove from oven.
  • Turn off heat and add parmesan, basil, parsley and half the reserved lemon juice. Stir thoroughly.
  • Mushrooms should be done by this point. If they were not before.
  • Risotto should still have some broth on top. If not, add just a bit more broth for the baking. If using a skillet, dot mushrooms on top of risotto and cover. If using a saucepan, put risotto in oven proof dish, add mushrooms and cover with foil.
  • Bake (in the 375º oven) for 20 minutes. Check midway to see if risotto has gotten dry, if so, add just a little broth to keep moist.
  • Risotto is done when the broth has been absorbed, but it is not dry. The grains should be cooked either al dente (half way) or all the way. I like mine cooked through, but not mushy.
  • Check for seasoning and drizzle the last of the lemon juice over the top. Dot with more fresh parsley if you like and serve with lemon wedges.


This risotto can be a side dish, but I like it as the main. It is Italian mac n cheese and SO satisfying!  Although it's not really risotto, it is close enough for the ease of preparation! 
The mushrooms can be left off this dish, but they do offer a nice textural element.
If you'd like to add butternut squash, simply add about a cup of small diced butternut squash to the roasting pan with the mushrooms. Add to risotto with mushrooms. Easy! 
The trick to risotto is keeping it moist. It should be loose enough to pour, but not watery. If your risotto is too dry, add stock; if it's too loose, bake uncovered for a bit longer.
Cooking the risotto in a saucepan first is the method I used for this recipe. I then poured into a pie plate and baked, covered with foil. If you use the one skillet method, your cook time on the stove and the stock amount may vary. The stovetop cook time could be a bit less since the risotto has more surface area and it may require up to 3 cups of stock. Keep this in mind.
As always, DO try to use fresh herbs and do try to use shiitakes. Both will give you a better end product. But, use what you've got! Better to substitute than not cook at all. :)

How to Cook More Like a Chef

People ask me for recipes allll the time. There is a treasure trove of them in this blog – I’m putting them into the recipe format now. To see all of them together, go to the View Posts by Category drop down menu to the right and choose Angela’s Recipes, which bring that whole category up and you can browse.

But there’s more to making great food than recipes. There are techniques that one uses in every dish one prepares – and they are often not written out in recipes. I know *I* often forget to put them in! I’ve written about this before, so go read that post as well.

So, here’s a list of things I can think of, off the top of my head, that home cooks often do not do and they should:

Season as you go. This means salt and pepper. You MUST properly season your food or it will be bland. I’ve had bland salsa before, so this has nothing to do with spices, this is SEASONING.

Use acid. This means balance your dishes with an acidic element such as citrus juice, vinegar or a pickle. American cooks tend to not use enough acid in cooking. Most well developed food styles (Italian, Greek, French, etc.) will always include an acidic element, but American foods tend not to. So be aware and try a little lemon on a dish that seems “flat”. It will wake it up!

Make a sauce. There is a lot to be said for making sauces. Even something as simple as adding citrus zest/juice to mayo can change it completely and add much to a dish. The art of sauce making is well developed in French and Italian cooking, but not so much in American kitchens. Gravies are fairly common, but most people can’t make even a basic flour gravy. Learn to make a basic bechamel (white gravy) sauce and you’ll then be able to make a whole host of dishes such as mac and cheese, lasagne and scalloped vegetables. You can use the same method (fat + flour) to make brown sauces, too, and thicken soups. For Asian dishes, sauces are made with cornstarch, which is a different method, but also handy to know. There are a zillion youtube videos to show you how to make sauces! Go forth and sauce!

Learn how to control the heat. I see novice cooks use HIGH heat way, way too often. There is the notion that high heat is a) faster, b) better to sear and c) how to preheat a pan – amongst other things. IT IS NOT. I actually told someone recently: “NEVER use HIGH. Just don’t. High is never necessary.” And for the most part, that is true. Putting a pan on high heat will certainly heat it up, but it is not like a thermostat where it gets to HIGH then stops. The pan will continue to heat up! The only time high heat should be used is to boil water. Seriously. I rarely go above medium high on the stovetop. There are also different SIZES of burners on most home ranges. Use the smallest one you can and that will help prevent you from overheating the pan and food. Generally, most things that are cooked on a range are cooked at medium or below. Once a liquid is brought to a boil, you can keep it simmering at medium or lower. You can get a nice sear on meats at no more than medium high. Pay attention to what is called for in the recipe (it should have range and oven temps!) and when in doubt, go LOWER. Most things that are baked are going to be in the 350-400F range. If there’s no temp given, go with 350F. If it’s smoking, IT IS TOO HOT.

Learn knife skills. First: get a good quality knife and keep it sharp. I am partial to Henckels/Zwilling knives, but I recently got a Misen that is STELLAR. Spend around $50-75 on a good 8″ chef’s knife (French or Santoku, whichever you prefer) and KEEP IT SHARP. I can’t stress enough that a sharp knife is ESSENTIAL. A dull knife causes accidents (you have to exert too much pressure) and mangles what you’re cutting. Once you have a good knife, get thee to youtube and watch some knife tutorials. Get some onions, potatoes, carrots and tomatoes and start practicing. Good technique is KEY to using a knife properly. Get that finger OFF the top of the knife!! Technique = control, and practice definitely helps you gain confidence. Learn how to use a knife properly!! (I may do another post about knife skills with some photos. Stay tuned.)

Cook more. I know this seems out of place in this list, but TRULY, you have to actually cook in order to get better at it. SO many people ask me for cooking lessons, but honestly, other than a little knife skills help, you learn to cook by doing it. You learn to read and execute recipes by doing them. Having someone stand over your shoulder will not do a single thing to help raise your skills. Practice is the only way to get better at cooking. Sorry, lazy people, but if you want to cook better, then you have to actually cook. This is not something you can watch videos or read about and learn. It is a skill, a trade, which is why cooks apprentice! Just like being a plumber or electrician, you must do the work to learn it.

Cook other cuisines than your native one. I can’t recommend enough cooking outside your ethnic base. Not only will it expand your palate, it will teach you about herbs, spices and how to balance flavours. I especially recommend learning how to cook Asian recipes. The reason is that Asian foods tend to be balanced between sweet, salty, bitter, spicy and umami. Japanese and Thai in particular are very well balanced. Indian food is another good ethnicity to try. Yes, you may have to buy some specialty ingredients, but I promise, once you try them, you’ll start using them all over the place. I see FAR too many people who won’t eat anything beyond fast food and won’t try anything, either. By not challenging your palate, you have a very narrow view of flavours and your ability to use various ingredients properly suffers. By learning about flavour profiles of other cultures, you’ll increase your flavour intelligence and your cooking quality will get better.

Watch cooking shows. No, REALLY! I especially like Chopped to learn about various ingredients. Watch shows from Bon Appetit (lots on Hulu). Watch cooking tutorials on youtube. Watch food documentaries to learn about different cuisines. It doesn’t really matter what you watch, you’ll end up learning more about cooking and that’s the goal. You need to train your brain to think about food and how it’s prepared. Watching foodie things will help with that.

If you want to be a great cook, you MUST be open to new flavours. If you are a picky eater, you likely will not be a very good cook – because you don’t understand the vast world of ingredients and flavours. To cultivate your palate, you must be able to get past your personal preferences and be able to taste ANYTHING. I will eat just about anything, but I do draw the line at bugs in whole form – although I’ll eat them if they are ground up. I tried chitlins and they are as nasty as you’d think, but I tried them anyway. You must be fearless when it comes to trying new things. Period. Some things that smell gross (kimchi and ripe cheeses for instance) often have the most sublime flavours. You just have to give it a chance!

When I was catering, people asked me OFTEN how I knew how to make [whatever I was serving that night]. I tell them I am very curious and I’m willing to try new cuisines and recipes. I loved the catering job because I could make whatever my heart desired – so I did! I did pub grub, street tacos, Puerto Rican, Moroccan, Italian, Indian, Korean and I’d make whatever people requested. It was a blast! I had a lot of fun taking iconic dishes such as Puerto Rican Fricassee and escabeche and making them buffet friendly.

Another bit of advice for those who wish to up their cooking game: pick a genre, find some recipes (As genuine as you can find, NOT Pinterest! Want Korean? Go to Spruce Eats has many good recipes for all cuisines. Bon Appetit, Epicurious and even Food Network all have good recipes.), get the ingredients and start cooking. If it doesn’t turn out? SO WHAT? I find that even when a recipe doesn’t turn out just like you wanted, it is rarely inedible. This goes back to COOKING MORE.

And finally: learn the ways of NO WASTE. Eat leftovers. Learn to make leftovers into something else. People who won’t eat leftovers drive me INSANE. It goes back to being picky and not knowing how to transform leftovers into something else. Food waste is a huge issue in the US (and the whole world), and is covered in THIS post. But if you’ve got leftovers sitting in the fridge, simply go to google and type in “flank steak, baked potato and cooked carrots recipe”. You’d be amazed what will turn up.

Now get out there and cook something!

Catering, Party Planning & Meal Prep

Caprese Salad

I specialize in cocktail nosh for small parties. I have done Korean, Puerto Rican, Indian, Italian, Mediterranean and other cuisines. I write all the menus and design all the recipes myself. I specialize in parties, but I could do small dinners as well. I am also available for meal prep. Prices depend upon what you type of food you want and the amount. I will deliver for a small fee.

tailgate catering spread
Cocktail Party catering

HERE is a gallery with some photos of my food!

Shrimp w/ Creamy Prosecco Sauce

You can get ahold of me via email (misangelaspam at gmail dot com), FB or IG. I can’t put my phone number here, but if you have it you can call or text me! Thanks!!