Monday, February 27, 2012

Broccoli Romanesco Risotto with Shrimp

Have you ever found yourself walking through a store and all of a sudden you spot something so crazy and fabulous that you just have to buy it and bring it home? If you're like me, this happens to you all the time while shopping for clothes, shoes or yarn. My friend Kelly even knows that if she finds something that is 1. awesome 2. green and/or zebra striped and 3. less than $10, that she should just pick it up for me. If she doesn't she'll have to listen to me complain about my inability to find said object and how much I wish I had been shopping for her.
So the other day as I was wandering through the produce department, I found this most amazing vegetable, the little tag said "Romanseco broccoli," and happily it met all of my criteria for an impulse purchase. It was the most wonderful, shocking shade of lime green, so unbelievably cool looking I almost didn't want to eat it, and for $3.99, why not?
I brought this lovely head of half cauliflower/half broccoli home and contemplated what to do with it. Eat it raw? Meh, not good enough. Roast it like cauliflower with some curry? That wouldn't preserve the amazing color and shape well enough. Blanch and add to some other dish... Yes, that is exactly what I was going to do. Now, what to make that would play second violin to my beautiful cruciferous vegetable?
And then it hit me: what is more perfect that broccoli (or cauliflower) with cheese? Total midwestern comfort food, and this is going to class it up a bit. A cheesy and decadent risotto, featuring this crazy cool vegetable.
(Have you had enough of my Broccoli Romanesco glamour shots yet? Ok, fine, here's another of the finished product.)

  • 4 cups stock (chicken or vegetable)
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1/3 cup Parmigiano cheese
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 head broccoli romanesco, blanched
In a large pot, bring lightly salted water to a boil. Add the broccoli romanesco and cook for 1-3 minutes, depending on how small of pieces it has been cut into. Using a slotted spoon, transfer immediately to an ice water bath to stop the cooking.
Bring the stock to a simmer, so that you are only adding hot liquid to your risotto as it is cooking. In a large pot over medium heat, melt 1Tbsp butter and cook the onion until translucent. Add the second Tbsp of butter and the arborio rice and cook, stirring frequently (you don't want to brown the rice) for 2 minutes. Add the wine and cook until it has been absorbed. Add the stock ~1 cup at a time, stirring constantly. Make sure that all the liquid has been absorbed by the rice before adding more to the pan, otherwise your risotto will be mushy, not creamy with slightly firm grains of rice.
When all the stock has been incorporated, stir in the heavy cream, parmesan cheese and blanched broccoli romanesco. Heat over medium-low heat until he cheese has melted and the vegetables are warmed through. Serve immediately.

Serve with:
  • 3/4 pound large shrimp (peeled and deveined)
  • olive oil
  • seasoned sea salt
  • pepper
  • paprika
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
Heat olive oil in pan over medium high heat, add garlic and shrimp. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and paprika. Turn once, add more paprika to other side and continue cooking until done.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Quinoa Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

I've been on a bit on a quinoa kick lately, and when this recipe showed up in my inbox from Lia this morning, I wanted to share it ASAP. It looks positively scrumptious. Featuring lovely nutty flavors from the quinoa and pine nuts, sweet apples which always go well with pork and spiced with Garam Masala, this is sure to be a hit!


½ cup uncooked quinoa
1 cup water
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped or minced
1 medium-large apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
½ cup raisins
4 tablespoons pine nuts
4 mushrooms, chopped
4 tablespoons white wine
2 pounds pork tenderloin
Cinnamon, to taste
Garam masala, to taste
Salt and black pepper, to taste

1.     Bring the quinoa and water to a boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until the quinoa is tender and the water has been absorbed, about 15 minutes.
2.     Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Cook and stir in the onion, garlic, apple, raisins, pine nuts, and mushrooms until the onion has softened and translucent, about 8 minutes. Stir in the white wine, and cook another minute until liquid has evaporated. Combine the apple mixture and quinoa until evenly mixed; set aside.
3.     Preheat oven to 425°F.
4.     Cut the pork tenderloin from one side through the middle horizontally to within ½ inch of the other side. Open the two sides and spread them out like an open book. Place between two sheets of heavy plastic wrap on a solid, level surface. Firmly pound the tenderloin with the smooth side of a meat mallet to a thickness of ½-inch.
5.     Season the tenderloin on both sides with cinnamon, garam masala, salt, and pepper. Spoon the quinoa filling into the tenderloin, then roll up and secure with kitchen twine or toothpicks. Place onto a roasting pan.
6.     Roast in preheated oven until the pork is no longer pink in the center, about 35-40 minutes. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the filling should read 160°F. Cover with aluminum foil, and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Three Mushroom and Paprika Soup

Happily, after several weeks of talking about this fantastic soup recipe that I had run across and was just dying to put my own twist on, Lisa was able to come over this weekend for some culinary adventures. She's one of my favorite people to cook with, because we both love experimenting and are both absolutely rubbish at following recipes to the letter. (I mean, they're more like guidelines really...) We certainly did pick a perfect day to make a pot of soup; today was gray and misting some kind of unfriendly ice-fog all morning, making the kitchen the perfect place to be.
I had a fantastic time catching up with Lisa, talking about books, nerdery, cutlery and how ridiculously delicious and perfectly carbonated La Croix Coconut sparkling water is. Don't believe me? Just try it. It is the perfect way to use fresh summer flavors to get rid of the mid-winter blahs. (Delicious plain, but also one heck of a drink mixer!)
We started the day with a wonderful adventure to the co-op for supplies, and ended up expanding our menu considerably based on the temptation of some particularly excellent looking produce (see the Broccoli Romanescu Risotto recipe that I'll be posting in the next blog entry. It was scrumptious!)
Now on to the details. If you're going to make this soup, and I really hope that you do,  here is what you are going to need:

  • 2 1/4 - 2 1/2 lb button, crimini and shiitake mushrooms, stems trimmed and thickly sliced (I overestimated a bit here because of them stems. Also, I just love mushrooms and more is better, right?)
  • olive oil
  • unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 Tbsp Spanish paprika
  • 1/2 - 1 tsp black pepper
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 Tbsp fresh dill, loosely chopped
  • lemon slices, sour cream and additional dill to garnish
Saute onion and garlic in large pot in 2 Tbsp each of butter and olive oil until softened. Add mushrooms, increase heat and sauté until most of the moisture has  evaporated. (Depending on the mushrooms, this may take a good while).  Stir in wine, lemon juice, paprika and pepper. Cook until wine has nearly evaporated, and then add stock. Bring just to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and simmer for 20 minutes. While simmering, whisk together soy sauce and cornstarch and add to the soup to thicken. Just before serving, finish soup with cream and fresh dill. Garnish with lemon slices and sour cream.
Now, when I make this soup again, I probably will use a little bit of heat, and toss in a bit of cayenne pepper. Not too much, because I don't want to overwhelm the mushrooms, but I feel like a little bit would have been perfect alongside the earthy mushrooms and fresh dill flavor. 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Salad with Prosciutto and Gorgonzola

At my family's holiday table, there is one salad that keeps coming back year after year. It's really a pretty simple salad, with a few bold flavors that combine for a bold, crunchy, Italian flavor that is sure to be a crowd pleaser. It is a bit tough to pin down a recipe for this salad, because it just sort of comes together (as a team effort usually). All of us siblings are usually in the kitchen asking "is that enough prosciutto? I should add more, shouldn't I?" or "pass the gorgonzola, I'll just add the rest of the container. I wasn't going to do anything with the leftovers anyway..."
So as you're putting this together in your own kitchen, keep that in mind, and remember that you can add as much (or as little, but where's the fun in that?) as you like. 
It starts with chopped hearts of romaine with some thinly sliced red onion mixed in. Add some mixed greek olives, crumbled gorgonzola cheese and sliced prosciutto that has been lightly fried until crispy. I've intentionally left the amounts out here, so that you can make this salad for one or for your next big party. As a guideline, I usually use about 1/2 medium onion with 1 bag of romaine hearts, 1/3 pound prosciutto, and 6 ounces of gorgonzola. I buy the olives in bulk at the local specialty market olive bar, and you can add as many or as few as you like.
To make the dressing, combine ~2 parts olive oil with ~1 part red wine vinegar, add salt, pepper, powdered mustard and oregano. Sweeten the dressing with a bit of honey. For about 1/2 cup total dressing, use approximately 1 tsp mustard, 1Tbsp oregano and honey to taste.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Chicken Saltimbocca

I'm not ready to admit that winter is here. Granted, this year it has been a long time coming. Summer held on long past its expiration date, and then the mild far weather lasted far longer than I had any right to expect it to. I mean, 50 degrees in January? In Minnesota? But now it is snowing, and we've gone from record setting high temperatures back to somewhere in the single digits... sigh.
But, if it it going to be cold outside, then we had better have some real comfort food. Translated, that means crispy chicken cutlets, seasoned with sage and prosciutto and finished with a decadent sauce. The perfect accompaniment to this decadence is some skin on garlic mashed potatoes. Scrumptious. 
  • 2 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
  • 1 egg
  • salt and pepper
  • fresh sage leaves
  • 4 slices prosciutto
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp capers in vinegar
  • 2 artichoke hearts canned in water, quartered
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 - 1/3 cup white wine
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp butter

 To make the chicken cutlets, place the boneless, skinless chicken breasts into a 1 gallon heavy duty ziploc bag with a bit of water (to prevent tearing the chicken). Pound the chicken breasts one at a time, until they are evenly thin with a rolling pin.
 Beat one egg, brush on both sides of the chicken and lightly dredge in flour. Season both sides with salt and pepper. In a large frying pan, heat olive oil over medium high heat.
 Brown chicken on both sides. Because it is quite thin, it will cook through quickly. Don't overcook it, or it will become tough.
 Lay the sage leaves across the top of the chicken, then cover each cutlet with 2 slices of prosciutto.
Add garlic to pan, return chicken, prosciutto side down. Cook just until prosciutto begins to brown. Turn chicken. 
 Deglaze pan with white wine, add lemon juice, capers and artichoke heart quarters. Let sauce cook down for a couple minutes, and finish with butter.
Serve with garlic mashed potatoes, and enjoy!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Pomegranate Mint Couscous

I know, I know... this is already (!) a bit of a divergence from my vegetable side dish fest. But I swear to you there is a reason! You see, winter is also pomegranate season, and despite the massive amount of work required and propensity to staining your favorite sweater (or your sister's... sorry Elizabeth!) I just love them. There is nothing like that sweet-tart, surprising burst of flavor when you bite into those tiny, gloriously red seeds. And pomegranates are super good for you, full of anti-oxidants. So you're getting healthier just by eating them (I make this argument to defend my red wine habit too, in case you are wondering).
Here is a wonderful, festively colored pasta side dish that is simple to make and can be prepared ahead of time. Serve it warm or cold, it is fabulous either way. I served it for dinner with a simple pan seared steak and caramelized shallots, but it was equally delicious on its own the next day for lunch.
  • 1 cup couscous, cooked and fluffed
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • seeds from 1 pomegranate
  • 2 ounces of goat cheese, crumbled
  • 2-3 Tbsp fresh mint leaves, thinly sliced
Dress couscous with olive oil and lemon, stir well. Add all remaining ingredients, stir to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Maple Cayenne Glazed Carrots

Poor carrots, often written off  as unwelcome at the dinner table due to their prevalence in sub-par steamed vegetable mixes. Their only other appearances are as a part of veggie trays served up with ranch dip. Ish. We can do so much better!

Here is a spin on the classic sweet glazed carrots that Christopher and I put together for Thanksgiving dinner this year. We were craving sweet and spicy, and this delivers.

2 pounds carrots, sliced in rounds
2-3 Tbsp unsalted butter
3 Tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (or to taste)

-In a large, heavy pan, sauté the carrots in the butter over medium high heat until they begin to soften.
-Add maple syrup and cayenne pepper, maintaining the heat. Watch the carrots carefully at this step, as you want to remove them from the heat just as they begin to caramelize, before the sugar has a chance to burn.