Archive for ‘Risotto’

March 28, 2012

Risotto of the Week | Spring Broad Bean and Foraged Dandelion

I returned home after a lengthy trip to Texas to find spring had sprung: the daffodils were spent and the ferns unfurling.  Nestled amongst said ferns on the shady side of the porch were dandelions, just emerged, with slender leaves and nary a flower in sight.

Which of course meant they are at their peak for eating.

Tonight’s dinner involved a return to cooking with a risotto.  Included were the fruits of my garden weeding – young dandelion leaves – and broad beans, another early spring arrival.

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January 3, 2012

Variations on a Theme | Caramelized Endive and Walnut Risotto

It might strike you as esoteric, caramelized endive.  But let me assure you that it is entirely devour-able, and not in the slightest way effete.

And the New Year is a perfect time to delve into comforting vegetarian dishes.  I just know you want to ease into your new-found resolve to eat more veggies, but dammit, it should taste good and be filling.

In this risotto, the endive is left to caramelize in a separate pan, given only a bit of olive oil, a garlic clove and salt to help it achieve its golden color.  Do this and you are rewarded with what looks a whole lot like oxtail and onions, only unabashedly vegetarian.  And simmering in another pot, a simple elixir of water, parsnips (crucial sweetness, in my opinion, to balance the bitterness of the endive), onion, bay and some seeds from the summer’s past garden (corriander in this case) round out the quick stock.

Combine it all and you have yet another version of one of my favorite things to cook for my family: risotto.  It is, after all, my lifetime dish.  One of those things I want to master perfectly before I die.  After all it is resolution season.

PK Tip: This dish is entirely versatile.  Sub kale and pecans for a thoroughly American take on the dish; radicchio and chestnuts for a U.K. variation.

Caramelized Endive and Toasted Walnut Risotto; serves two to three; inspired by this recipe in the Telegraph

For the stock:
1 very large parsnip, peeled and quartered length-wise

1 small onion, unpeeled and quartered

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February 24, 2011

Warmth | Carrot and Corriander Risotto

Spring has forsaken us for a moment here in Ohio.  The 40’s are not really doing it for me.  Yes, I remember it’s still February.  But I long for barefoot weather.  I crave a muddy, just-pulled summer carrot and the sight of my coriander having, once again, gone to seed before I can get a decent couple of salsas out of it.  I yearn for warmth.

In absence of warm outdoors, I made some sunshine in the kitchen with this sweet, herby risotto.  You can take your time with the stock, as it says in the recipe, or you can certainly make a quick and dirty one, starting it only a few minutes before you start the risotto (no whole onion, cloves, juniper berries required).

I will be making this one again, late this summer, with carrots from my garden that is yet to be planted, and the new cilantro plants that will spring unassisted from coriander seeds that found their way into the cracks around my patio.  I will stretch out barefoot on the grass and be content with the warmth.

Carrot and Coriander Risotto

1 bunch of carrots with tops
1 medium onion
2 cloves
Small handful parsley
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
10  peppercorns
4 or 5 juniper berries
1 t whole coriander seeds

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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.

October 26, 2010

The Week of Gourd: Hubbard Squash Risotto

Blue Hubbard

Image by SamH one via Flickr

So the Week of Gourd continues.  They’re all over your grocery store, in season, inexpensive, but perhaps a bit of a mystery.  One of the many varieties to check out is the pretty blue Hubbard squash.  I’ve been told they can grow to enormous sizes, but mine was around three pounds (only?) and I used half for this recipe.   This is a seriously thick-skinned squash, good for keeping over the winter. 

Have a good sharp knife at the ready and some nerves of steel.  As for this one, I got the knife started, it got lodged and I ended up banging the squash on the cutting board to loosen the knife.  Not exactly the super technique, but I’m not the only one who fights with these beasts. (I know Hades is reading this, shaking his head, vowing to not leave me alone next time with a hard winter squash and a butcher knife.)   But I’ve heard of chefs using cleavers and hammers.  Do not be deterred!   I got the knife out, and broke the squash in two, removed the seeds and pulp, rubbed both sides with olive oil, salt and pepper and roasted in a 350 degree oven for an hour while the tornado sirens were going off.  Midwest living!  Persephone 1, squash 0.  When the squash was tender, I let it cool a bit, then took a large spoon and scooped out all the orange flesh from one half.  I’m still pondering what to do with the other half.  I’m sure you’ll hear about it soon enough.  Without further ado, tonight’s recipe:

Roasted Hubbard Squash and Rosemary Risotto

2 T olive oil

1/2 onion, finely chopped

1 sprig rosemary, leaves removed and chopped

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