Archive for January 11th, 2011

January 11, 2011

Winter Kitchen | White Bolognese with Fresh Pasta

You can’t find a fresh, ripe, beautiful red tomato here in Ohio in January.  You just can’t.  So how could you possibly make a bolognese in the depths of winter?  Make a white bolognese.  Skip the tomatoes altogether and make a very Italian specialty.  In doing so, you will make my single most favorite thing to cook.

It is my most favorite of all favorites.  Really, truly.  The kind that my small family of three will piggishly devour an entire pound of pasta, with Cherub (remember, she’s three) helping herself to thirds.  It is, in a word, delicious.  Amazingly delicious.  Well, that’s two.  But I mean it: if you have yet to make a recipe from this blog, you should make this one.

White Bolognese, adapted from The Silver Spoon

1 T olive oil

2 strips of bacon

1/2 finely chopped yellow onion

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January 11, 2011

Winter Kitchen | Roasted Chestnut Risotto with Mushrooms

When the snow is swirling outside and you feel like spending a bit of time in a warm kitchen stirring leisurely, risotto is your answer.

I have a deep love for risottos.   It is an endlessly versatile dish, perfectly at home in any season.  A stock, some aromatics, and a bit of rice transforms into a bowl of comfort.

I have taken risotto on as the meal I would most like to perfect in my life.  Ultimately, I want mine to be able to stand up next to any Italian nonna’s.  Lofty dream, I know.   But it’s a life project.

One of the things that makes me almost endlessly sad is to see recipes for “risotto” that include copious amounts of butter or oil or cream.  Risotto should not be a excessively fatty dish.  It is, as I said, essentially stock and rice.  You add at the end a bit of Parmesan if you like, or alternately, depending on the combination of ingredients, a heaping tablespoon (at most) of perhaps some marscapone cheese (across four servings) .  The creaminess of the dish is almost entirely derived from the grains of rice giving up their starch.

Today’s risotto was a combination of roasted and chopped chestnuts, dried and fresh mushrooms and a lamb stock.  This happy combination was again facilitated by The Flavor Thesaurus.   I had lamb bones in the freezer from a roasted lamb shoulder, so it was easy to toss everything in a pot to simmer a stock in the afternoon.  A bit later on, I set a metal sieve over the pot and soaked some dried chanterelles to rehydrate them and add a further bit of meatiness to the stock.

When it was time for dinner, I sauteed some fresh mushrooms (a combination of oyster, portabella, and cremini) along with the rehydrated chanterelles that I chopped in a very hot pan with some olive oil and salt and pepper, almost like duxelles.  When these were brown, I put them in a bowl for later.  I added a sliced shallot to the pan, reduced the heat to medium and soften it a bit.  Then I added about a cup and a half of rice, cooked it for a minute then deglazed the pan with vermouth.  The rest of the cooking is almost identical to the recipes here and here.  I added in the mushrooms just before the last addition of the lamb stock to rewarm them.  PK tip:  Make sure you add a generous extra ladle full or two of stock just before serving.  You want it almost a bit too loose.  It sets up so quickly as you get it to the table and you want it to be spoon-able, not stiff.  The plate was garnished with a bit of thyme (lots in the stock) and grated Parmesan.

Playlist included Writing to Reach You, by Travis.

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