Anchovy Syrup

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Some of my Instagram friends may remember when I discovered anchovy syrup on Amazon one day and posted a photo of it. I’d never heard of it before, and there was lively discussion about how it compared to Asian fish sauce. However, it’s an Italian product.

I was so intrigued bought a little bottle of it, even with mixed reviews. It’s a 3-ounce bottle for $35.00, but you don’t use much.

It’s recommended for pasta, pizza, soups, in dressings, or sauces. Because I use anchovies quite often, I though this product could be quite handy as a pantry staple.

From Chef Shop: Colatura di Alici is the modern day descendant of an ancient and greatly prized Roman condiment called garum.

The method of making Colatura di Alici is the same now as it was then: by slowly curing Mediterranean anchovies with salt and extracting the liquid that drains from them. This part of the process takes 9-12 months to complete, a process that is as closely regulated as the DOC-controlled production of balsamic vinegar or champagne. The liquid is then aged in oak barrels for 3-4 years. It is then filtered and placed into jars.

Cetara, a small fishing village south of Naples, regards their Colatura di Alici as an heirloom food. It is an example of a foodstuff holding out against the modern age, and Slow Food Italy embraces it as an important regional specialty.

The IACA (whose Italian name translates as “Friends of the Anchovy”) is one of a few authorized producers of this heritage ingredient. It has only recently appeared in the United States, where chefs have enthusiastically taken it to their kitchens.

What especially intriguing about anchovy syrup is that although it’s made from anchovies, there’s no fishy-in-your-face quality to it, unlike fish sauce. In fact, it has a delightful aroma – truly. Anchovy syrup would be hard to identify it in a smell test.

To test the anchovy syrup, I decided to make a simple pasta with sautéed greens, topped with shrimp. Here’s what I did.

Pasta with Greens and Shrimp

4 ounces pasta, such as angel hair
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic minced
5 ounces mixed greens, coarsely chopped
3/4 pound raw shrimp, cleaned, shelled

Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat in a skillet large enough to hold the pasta and sautéed greens. Add the shallot and cook for about 4-5 minutes. Then add the garlic and stir for a few seconds.


Add the greens and stir them into the aromatic oil, making sure all of the leaves are coated. Turn down the heat to the lowest setting and allow the greens to wilt. Then add the cooked pasta to the greens and gently stir to combine.

Add some anchovy syrup. I was going to get a pouring shot, but I can’t do anything with my left hand, and I can only use my camera with my right hand. (Where is my assistant?) So after I set down the syrup and camera I then put a little drizzle into the pasta and greens, and again stirred; set this aside.

Place the last tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet, and cook the shrimp, only about one minute per side, depending on how big they are. Transfer them to a plate, and finish cooking all the shrimp. Sprinkle the shrimp with a little salt and some cayenne pepper flakes.

To serve, place the pasta and greens mixture on plates, and top with the shrimp.

Well, I could barely taste the anchovy syrup, so I had to add more!

Wow, this stuff is amazing.

And I have to say that this recipe turned out great.

Oddly enough, I tasted the anchovy syrup, twice actually, and it’s basically salt. The flavor doesn’t match the aroma!

Fregola with Peas and Bacon

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My blogger friend Stefan, of the blog Stefan Gourmet, has been help and inspiration to me for years. And I even got the chance to meet him in person, so I feel a special connection with him.

He’s an expert cook, loves to experiment, and he was my original resource for cooking sous vide. His greatest passion is Italian cuisine. He vacations often in Italy, where he gets inspiration from street food to Michelin-starred restaurant meals. His stories of driving back to Holland with carloads of Italian wines are legendary.

When Stefan wrote a post about fregola, also spelled fregula, I had never heard of it, and knew I had to try it.

Fregola is a spherical pasta from Sardinia, that looks like couscous, but what makes it different from both is that it’s toasted. So what you get when it’s cooked is a sturdy, flavorsome pasta. Some say it’s toothsome.

In any case, I ordered a little cookbook a while back, called The Sunday Night Book, by Rosie Sykes, published in 2017.

A quote on Amazon.com: Make Sunday night the best evening of the week, by perfecting the last, lazy meal of the weekend. Most of us want to forget that back-to-school feeling by kicking off our shoes and hunkering down with a soul-soaring supper – one that can be eaten with friends at the table, with book in hand by the fire, or in front of the TV.

It’s an adorable little book, and I love the concept behind it, even though I need no help conjuring up meals any day of the week.

I especially love these words by the author: As the weekend winds down into non-existence, many of us begin to contemplate the impending horrors that Monday morning will bring. But this is a choice, a social construct dictated by empty streets, empty pubs, and closed curtains. You could resign yourself to yet another humdrum Sunday evening supper, but you could just as easily embrace the moment as an opportunity to create something that’s not only comforting, but also uplifting.

In this book I discovered a fregola recipe, and was eager to make it.

Fregola with Bacon and Peas
serves 2

1 cup fregola
3/4 cup frozen peas
1 1/2 tablespoons light olive oil
2 ounces smoked streaky bacon
1 banana shallot, finely sliced
100 ml white wine
400 ml chicken stock
2 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
3 sprigs mint leaves, finely chopped
Salt and black pepper

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the fregola for half its cooking time, about 8 minutes, adding the peas for the last 2 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold running water, then set aside.


Heat the oil in a heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat. If your bacon has the rind still on, remove and reserve. Using scissors, snip the bacon into 1/2″ pieces directly into the hot oil – adding any reserved rind for extra flavour – then let it sizzle and give off its fat. Once the bacon is cooked and a bit crispy, lift out with a slotted spoon and set aside; discard the rinds or give them to the birds.

Add the shallot to the residual fat in the pan and cook over low heat for about 5 minutes, or until soft, stirring so it doesn’t catch too much colour.

(As you can see, I cooked the bacon gently, then added the sliced shallots to it.)

Stir in the fregola and peas, then pour in the white wine. Once the wine has evaporated, add the stock. Bring to a simmer and cook until the fregola is just cooked, about another 6 minutes.

(Oops I mixed the wine and broth together.)


Return the bacon to the pan, then add the butter and all but a tablespoon of both the parmesan and the mint.

Stir over a low heat for a couple of minutes, then cover and remove from the heat. Let it sit for another minute before spooning into bowls.

Scatter over the remaining parmesan and mint, then inhale – this is super-delicious!

I think this is my new favorite kind of pasta!

Boneless Leg of Lamb

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Years ago, I remember telling a friend that I wanted to take a butchering class some time. She said, “you mean you want to learn how to kill chickens?”

I then clarified that I wanted nothing to do with animals outside of my kitchen, but I wanted to know what to do with them once they were in my kitchen.

The extent of my butchering has been trimming beef tenderloins. This came from too many times purchasing packaged filet mignons, which looked perfect underneath the stretched plastic wrap, but when I got them home they would fall into 2 or 3 pieces.

That’s when I started buying whole tenderloins and being in charge of cutting the filets myself. It’s less expensive, and nothing goes to waste.

When on Amazon.com looking though cookbooks a few years ago, I came upon what seemed like a perfect reference book for me. It’s called The Butcher’s Apprentice, by Aliza Green, published in 2012.

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This book was my dream come true. Pretty much anything you need to learn how to do with meat is in this book, along with step-by-step directions. Recently I decided to de-bone a leg of lamb using the book.

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I opened it up and immediately noticed that the photos are mirror images of what they should be. I would have imagined the photos be from the butcher’s perspective, maybe using a camera attached to the ceiling.

I tried laying the book on the floor upside-down, but the angle of the camera was off for me.

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There was also no labeling of the leg of lamb. Turns out mine didn’t have a pelvis attached. The parts about shanks and femurs and so forth were lost on me – I was mostly trying to match what the meat looked like in the photos.

Basically, I gave up on my “prized” book, and just removed the two bones that I found, some fat, and some of the fell.

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What was left was a mess, but I seasoned it with garlic pepper and salt. Check out my scimitar! My husband thought I’d perhaps joined the dark side when he spotted it.

Then I pushed it all together, and tied it up.

I placed halves of garlic cloves, from about 5-6 cloves, into holes I made in the meat using the point of a knife.

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I poured some olive oil in a large roasting pan and placed the lamb on the oil. Then I turned over the lamb, making sure it was covered with oil.

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After more garlic pepper and salt, I put the lamb in the oven that was preheated to 400 degrees.

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After 10 minutes I used large forks to turn it over. The other side browned in about 5 minutes.

I reduced the oven to 325 degrees. I think the old standard is ten minutes a pound, but I decided to use my oven probe to make sure the lamb cooks only to medium rare, or 125 degrees.

The thing is, when you use a probe, you actually have to listen for the beeping that tells you that the probe has reached the desired temperature. I, unfortunately, was not in the kitchen, so the oven went to HOLD and continued to cook my precious lamb roast.

When I realized that the lamb had been in the oven too long, I quickly took it out of the pan and let rest on a cutting board.

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When I sliced it, the lamb wasn’t terribly overcooked, but it certainly wasn’t medium rare, which is how I love it. This is not a mistake I haven’t made before – I’ve got quite a few burnt pots to prove that I get distracted easily when I’m cooking.

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If lamb is cooked properly, just like a filet mignon, it doesn’t need much!

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I served the lamb with persillade and roasted tomatoes.

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The persillade was also wonderful with the tomatoes.

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The pinkest parts of the lamb were wonderful, probably because of the high quality of the meat.

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Overall, I’m really disappointed in this book. I don’t think photos taken from an observer’s perspective does anyone any good when trying to learn an involved skill like meat butchering. I had better luck closing the book and using common sense.

Paprika-Smothered Pork Tenderloin

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I have mentioned before that I am a food snob, but I’m actually much better than I used to be. Believe it or not, there was a time when I made everything single thing from scratch. I did not believe in buying prepared herb or spice mixtures, pastes, marinades, sauces, and so forth. I still don’t buy marinades or sauces at all, because that’s just silly. However, I have relaxed my ways in the other categories.

To defend myself for a second, why would anyone purchase Italian Herbs when you can just use individual Italian herbs? Why would anyone use a curry powder or garam masala when you can easily own all of the individual components? Why would you purchase Schezuan pepper salt when you can make it so easily?

But we live and learn. And the good thing about aging is relaxing a bit. So I now actually own Italian herbs, a sweet curry powder, Old Bay, a barbecue 3000, a garlic pepper, a smoky salt mixture, a Bavarian spice mixture, a lemon pepper, chili powder, and many more blends, thanks to Penzey’s, mostly, that I never would have dreamed would be in my spice cabinets. And I’m okay with it!

And so I’ve also been a purist when it came to pestos and pastes that can be so easily made in a food processor or blender, with no chemicals or preservatives required! Fortunately, I’ve relaxed in this area as well, and have really come across some delightful products.

One was gifted to me by my Hungarian girlfriend. It’s called Paprika Creme. I could smother this stuff on everything, including myself. In fact, I used it in a paprika risotto on the blog and it was fabulous. I’ve smothered it on chicken, added it to soups and stews, and also used it to season polenta/grits. It’s quite versatile!

It typically comes in a jar, produced by Univer, but it also comes in a tube.

And so, tonight I’m smothering a pork tenderloin with this beautiful, aromatic paprika creme for dinner.
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Paprika-Smothered Pork Tenderloin

Olive oil
1 pork tenderloin, patted dry, and almost at room temperature
Paprika crème

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place a little oil in the bottom of the baking dish. Add the pork tenderloin and roll it in the oil a bit. Pork tenderloins have a smaller end, so I just always tuck that end underneath. Then the tenderloin is more uniform in thickness.

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Then, spoon the paprika creme generously on the top of the tenderloin.

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Smooth the top. I also added a few pieces of purple onion just for fun.


Place the baking dish in the preheated oven. If you are worried about being distracted and overcooking the tenderloin, take advantage of an oven probe if you have one. This little guy has become my best friend in the kitchen, because I’m often distracted.
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Cook the pork until the internal temperature reaches 155 degrees. Or more if you’re one of those people who doesn’t like pink pork. Then remove the tenderloin to a cutting board to rest.


The reason I don’t use a higher temperature with the paprika creme is that I don’t want it to burn. You can see how it looks almost the same as before cooking.

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Slice the tenderloin and serve immediately.

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I served the paprika-smothered tenderloin with steamed Brussels sprouts and some of the onions, which I let brown a little longer in the oven.
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If you love the flavor of roasted Hungarian red bell peppers, you will love this dish.
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I encourage you to try this product. One word of warning, however, the paste stains everything.
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note: There are spicy and mild varieties of paprika creme, and they’re both wonderful.

Arctic Spheres

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There is a new product on the market called Arctic Spheres, that are silicone forms used to create large, round ice cubes. These would be ice spheres, to be more precise. The whole idea behind the spheres of ice is that they melt slower. This is because of the lower surface area-to-volume ratio of the spheres as compared to traditional cubes. From a scientific standpoint, this makes perfect sense!
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Rizzi, at Arctic Chill Products, was kind enough to send me this product to honestly evaluate. For me, it was just a wonderful excuse not only to test such a novel bartender’s product, but also to try out a new cocktail!
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People who drink Scotch are the ones behind the concept of utilizing extra-large ice cubes or, in this case, ice spheres. Those who enjoy Scotch on the rocks don’t really want the ice to melt quickly and water it down.
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I am not a Scotch drinker. I have sampled Scotch in Scotland at Talisker’s and whiskey in Ireland at two different distilleries, Bushmill’s and Jameson’s, because I felt it only fair to taste the best at the source. But I have concluded, sadly, that I don’t like Irish or Scotch whiskey/whisky. It’s just not for me, even watered down.

So to showcase and test out the ice spheres, I wanted to make a cocktail instead. It’s my blog, so it’s only fair that I not suffer too much, right??!!

The arctic spheres are very easy to use. I first rinsed them well in warm water, although it is good to know that they’re made from BPA-free silicone. You can read all about them on the arctic sphere website Arctic Chill Products.

I filled each sphere with “good” water through the holes on the tops, then I froze the spheres overnight. The bottoms of the four spheres are flat, so they can easily be placed on your freezer shelf, or first on a tray before placing it in the freezer.

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The silicone forms come off easily, and you’re left with beautiful ice spheres, ready to be placed in your drinks. However, to insure that the ice didn’t melt quickly, I also had all of my cocktail ingredients chilled. Just a tip.
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It’s March now. It’s a time when we’re all hoping that winter is mostly over, but sadly, it’s not yet spring. So I came up with a “seasonless” drink adapted from one I found online. If you’re ever wanting a search engine of sorts for alcoholic drinks, try out Bar None Drinks. You can even search by a specific ingredient, like Pernod or creme de cassis.

Here’s my adaptation of the original drink I found on Bar None Drinks, called Banana Italiano:
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Banana Italiano
To make 1 drink

1 oz. Galliano*, chilled
1 oz. Crème de Banana, chilled
1 oz. Half and Half, chilled
1 arctic sphere

To make the cocktail, I simply combined the Galliano, Crème de Banana and half and half into a shaker and shook until the ingredients were well combined, about 10 seconds. Then I poured them over one arctic sphere per glass.
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The arctic spheres are very pretty and indeed, and they do not melt fast.
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I spent about 45 minutes enjoying this drink, which was deliciously banana-y and herbaceous at the same time, and as you can see, the ice sphere was definitely in tact at the end. It perhaps only lost about 5-10% of its volume, by estimation only, of course. It also helps that these ice spheres are so large, being 2 1/2″ in diameter!

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For information on purchasing these sphere makers, check them out on Amazon here. There are four in each package, that retail for $19.95. Each sphere would be a wonderful stocking stuffer as well!
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Of course, other liquids can be frozen in these silicone spheres, like limeade or orange juice as well, depending on what you want the ice spheres in, like a punch or sangria. So they’re quite versatile.

I’m definitely giving a thumbs up, and 5 Amazon stars for this product. They’re easy to use, functional, and the creative uses for these are endless. Thanks, Rizzi!

* Galliano, if you’ve never used it, is a very herbaceous liqueur from Italy. To me it tastes and smells like cough syrup, which is not a good thing. But I like it in small quantities. If you like the taste of cough syrup, increase the amount of Galliano in the above recipe to 1 1/2 ounces.

Paprika Cream

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I wrote a post in late 2012 after I started my blog called “My New Favorite Ingredient.” I had about 4 followers then, and so I would like to re-introduce this ingredient on my blog.

The ingredient, or product, was given to me by my friend who has Hungarian parents, and I will always be indebted to her for her act of kindness. The product? Paprika Cream.

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There are a few different versions of it, all made by Univer in Hungary, but they’re very much the same product – a paste or “cream” made from red bell peppers. There is one called Goulash Creme, Sweet Paprika Mix, and Hot Paprika Mix.

The only way I can get my hands on more of this luscious stuff is to order online at Amazon.com, and they’re often out of the product. I would really love to taste a few of these varieties and see how they taste differently, but I can just be happy with one jar at a time, as they become available.

I have also gotten the Paprika Creme in a tube form.
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So today I wanted to make risotto, and I thought that the perfect way to season it would be to add some of this lovely paprika cream. It’s so much easier to add a few tablespoons of paprika cream instead of roasting your own red bell peppers and processing them into a pulp. Besides, these are the good red bell peppers – the ones from which paprika is made – so the flavor is not just about red bell peppers that are roasted, but also spicy hot paprika.

And, the color is pretty spectacular, as well. You can use this cream for just about any culinary purpose for instant flavor, but I’ve also used it simply as a coating for pork tenderloin. It was fabulous.

Anyway, if you’ve never made a risotto before – trust me – they’re very easy to make. I’ve even taught young girls how to make a risotto. Which is why it infuriates me on these cooking shows like Hell’s Kitchen when the trained chefs mess up risottos. It’s not hard, people!!!

I’m not going to give you an exact risotto recipe, because to make a risotto is about so much more than following a recipe. You really have to feel the recipe, and let your brain be your guide. A risotto is a lot about common sense.

There’s a little elbow grease involved with risotto, as it requires a lot of stirring. But that’s not hard at all. The only rule is to not leave the kitchen while you’re making it. A risotto is a very hands-on dish.

Paprika Risotto
This recipe makes 2 servings

2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
2 shallots, diced
1 cup arborio or carnaroli rice

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1/3 cup white wine
2 1/2 cups chicken broth, approximately
3 tablespoons paprika cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
Grated Parmesan, optional
Grilled chicken, optional

Place the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. There are pots made specifically for making risotto, but these aren’t necessary. A good saucepan and a wooden spoon will do.

When the butter melts, add the shallots and sauté them for a couple of minutes.

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Then pour in the rice. Stir the rice all around, so that every bit of rice gets coated in butter. Stir the rice for about half a minute.
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Then pour in the wine. Immediately begin stirring the rice as it absorbs the wine. You will notice the wine disappearing before your eyes as you stir. You must keep stirring to prevent the rice from sticking.
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Once the wine is absorbed, begin adding the chicken broth, about 1/4 to 1/3 cup at a time. Stir the rice after each addition.
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Every time the rice absorbs the liquid, you will have to make sure that you don’t wait too long before you add more liquid. Add liquid, stir. Repeat.
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Once you can tell that the rice has essentially stopped absorbing, add the paprika cream and the salt. If you’re not sure you’ll like the paprika flavor, add less and taste. But I’m sure you’ll love it.
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Once you’ve stirred in the paprika cream, you have a couple of options. Sometimes, people add cream and/or Parmesan cheese to risottos. Both of these additions are fabulous. However, today I just want the rice to show off, simply flavored with broth, shallots, and paprika.

Immediately put the hot risotto in a serving bowl.

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Today I added some left over grilled chicken, and I placed a bowl of Parmesan nearby.

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This was actually my lunch, and I got really hungry taking these photos. So I decided to go for it and I added a generous amount of Parmesan to the risotto!

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The creaminess and sharpness of the Parmesan was perfect with the chicken and the paprika-flavored rice. I will make this again.
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If you ever happen upon some version of this Univer product, make sure and grab some. You’ll find all kinds of uses for it, trust me!

note: If you notice that the rice got really yellow while I was adding the chicken broth, it’s because my powdered variety of chicken broth is very yellow.