Saturday, January 30, 2010

Chive Risotto with White Truffle Oil



To all of my readers, I'm sorry it has been so slow in here lately. But I have a good reason for not feeling like cooking - we're expecting our first little one in July! The first couple of months were full of exhaustion and Jon did all of the cooking, and when he wasn't home, I got takeout. But thankfully my energy came back along with my urge to get into the kitchen. And now that I'm cooking again, I'm also wanting to try some new recipes, so I promise I'll have more posts over the next few months!

Last Saturday we stayed in and cooked together. And what does Jon always request when he's grilling steaks? Risotto, of course.

I have a bunch of risotto recipes in my blog already - feel free to browse through the risotto tag over there on the right. And here is a new one to add to the list, Chive Risotto with White Truffle Oil. If I can't have real truffles, the flavor of them will have to do - I love truffles!
I used this recipe as my inspiration, but used my standard risotto preparation method. My adaptation is below.

Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 c arborio rice
  • 1/4 c dry white wine
  • 4 c chicken broth, warmed
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 bunch fresh chives, chopped
  • Approximately 1/2 c freshly grated Parmesan cheese (I don't measure, I just grate it over the pan)
  • 2 tbsp white truffle oil

Directions

  • In a large saute pan, melt butter and heat oil over medium heat
  • Add shallots and garlic; saute until soft, about 3-4 minutes.
  • Add the rice, and toss until coated
  • Add the wine, stir until absorbed
  • Add 1 ladle full of broth, stir until absorbed. Continue adding broth, 1 ladle at a time, stirring and letting it absorb before adding more. The process of adding the broth will take about 18 minutes or so. When you are getting close to this time, start to taste the rice so you don't overcook it. You want it to have a very slight bite to it.
  • Season with salt and pepper during this process, to taste. Adjust as needed.
  • When you add your final ladle-full of broth, mix in the cheese.
  • Remove from the heat and mix in the chives and half of the truffle oil. Use the rest of the truffle oil when serving.

We both loved this, and the white truffle oil added a nice earthiness. The next day, I turned the leftovers into risotto balls, my favorite way to use up leftover risotto.

To anyone out there scared of making risotto, don't be! I know that if you have watched any show featuring Gordon Ramsey yelling at his cooks, you must be scared as he makes it seem like an almost impossible art. But believe me, it is not difficult. Yes, it takes some time and attention, but you do not have to stand over the stove and stir the entire time. Also, it's not as time consuming as you may think. From the time you start the shallots to finish, it's about 35-40 minutes. And there are endless ingredient possibilities, so experiment and have fun!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Baked Snapper in a Lemon-Garlic Sauce

Last week, on my drive home from a client meeting, I stopped in at a fish market to pick something up for Jon. I had never been in this market, but had always heard such great things about it, including that the owner drives to Philadelphia early every morning to personally pick out his items that he will sell that day.

When I went in, they had such a wide variety of products - oysters, clams, Maine lobster, Chilean sea bass, halibut, and seafood salad, just to name a few. I brought home a nice red snapper filet for Jon, and he decided to use
this recipe for Baked Snapper in a Lemon-Garlic Sauce as his inspiration. Below is the original recipe with one change noted.

Ingredients (he cut this in half for just one filet)

  • 2 large red snapper filets
  • 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced (he used what we had on hand, a yellow onion)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 c fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 c chopped fresh parsley (we only had dried)
  • 1 large tomato, cored and chopped (Jon doesn't like tomatoes so he omitted this, but I would have kept it)
  • 1/4 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  • Lightly oil a baking dish; pat dry the fish.
  • Mix together the onion, garlic, lemon, olive oil, parsley, tomato, salt, and pepper in the baking dish.
  • Set the filet into the mixture, and spoon the sauce over the fish.
  • Cover the dish tightly with foil and bake until the fish is just cooked through, about 20-30 minutes (Jon's took 22-23 minutes and was 0.9 lbs)

I am not a huge fan of fish, but was very surprised at the mild flavor of the snapper. The sauce added a light and refreshing flavor without overpowering the fish. I think using the tomatoes would be a great addition.



Friday, January 8, 2010

Soup Sunday: Creamy Cabbage Soup with Gruyere


So far this winter has been giving us a lot of good soup and stew days! So last Sunday when it was in the 20s and windy, I went in search of a hearty soup recipe. I found
this one on the New York Times web site for Creamy Cabbage Soup and instantly decided to give it a try.

I made a few changes, noted in italics in the recipe below.




Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 russet potato, peeled and grated (don't do this until you are ready to use it as the potato will become discolored if grated too early)
  • 3/4 lb cabbage (about 1/2 medium head), cored and grated (Grating it was annoying me, so I sliced it and then chopped it. I liked the consistency, and it took less time than grating would have)
  • Salt to taste
  • 5 cups water, chicken stock, or vegetable stock (I used vegetable stock)
  • 1 Parmesan rind
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 2 c low-fat milk (ok, so I know they were trying to make it healthy, but using low-fat milk in a soup doesn't do anything for me. I used heavy cream instead. Normally I'd use light cream, but heavy was what I had in.)
  • 1 c grated Gruyere cheese
  • For garnish: homemade croutons, minced chives

Directions

  • Heat the oil over medium heat in a large, heavy soup pot.
  • Add the onion and cook, stirring, until tender, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the potato, cabbage, and 1/2 tsp salt. Stir together for a minute, taking care that the potatoes don't stick to the pot.
  • Add the stock, Parmesan rind, and salt/pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer, then cover and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.
  • Add the milk (cream) to the soup. Stir to combine well and heat through without boiling.
  • A handful at a time, stir the Gruyere into the soup and continue to stir until the cheese has melted.
  • Taste, adjust seasonings. Remove the Parmesan rind.
  • Serve, garnishing each bowl with some croutons and minced chives.

Croutons: I took sourdough bread leftover from the previous night's dinner, cut into cubes, and tossed it with some olive oil and a few pinches of thyme. I put them in a 400 degree oven for about 10 minutes, until golden and toasted.



This soup was so creamy, delicious, and full of flavor. On top of that, it was ridiculously easy to make, even with chopping the cabbage. I loved the addition of the thyme to the breadcrumbs, and felt that the flavor mixed perfectly with the soup. I ate this one for lunches all week!




Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins



A few weeks ago, my dad, the baker in the family, brought me some muffins - Banana Chocolate Chip. They were delicious! Good enough for breakfast, but sweet enough to feel like a treat. So when I was craving them this week, I decided to make them on my own.

I know, I don't bake, but these were really easy and well worth all the measuring that I hate!

The recipe can be found on the All Recipes web site -
Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins.

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 c all purpose flour
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 c vegetable oil
  • 1/2 c plain yogurt - I used sour cream instead
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 c mashed ripe bananas - this was 3 bananas
  • 3/4 c semisweet chocolate chips - I used Ghiardelli chocolate chips

Directions

  • In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients - flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt
  • In another bowl, combine the wet ingredients - egg, oil, yogurt (sour cream), and vanilla
  • Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients just until moistened
  • Fold in the bananas and chocolate chips
  • Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full
  • Bake at 350 for 22-25 minutes (mine cooked exactly 22 minutes) or until a toothpick comes out clean
  • Cool for 5 minutes before removing from tins to a cooling rack

This recipe made 16 muffins that were great for breakfast all week. Jon asked me to make them every week!

Easy and Savory Appetizers



Happy New Year!

On New Year's Day my parents made one of my favorite meals - roasted pork loin, mashed potatoes, and my grandmother's secret family recipe for sauerkraut. I decided to make something we could munch on while everything was cooking.

I have seen these Crescent Roll appetizers around, so decided to make up a few of my own.

The first version was inspired by this appetizer,
Bacon-Onion-Cheese Tart, a pizza crust topped with caramelized onions, cheeses, and bacon and then baked and cut into squares. I took the Crescent Roll dough and rolled it out flat. I spread a wedge of Laughing Cow cheese onto it, layered on some crumbled bacon, and then topped it with some shredded Parmesan cheese. I rolled it up, sliced it into one inch pieces, and baked on 375 for 10 minutes.
The second version was so easy, and my favorite of the two. I simply spread Alouette garlic and herb cheese onto the dough, rolled, sliced, and baked.

I loved these and imagine they could be made (rolled) a few hours in advance of a party, and then just sliced and baked.


When photographing, my mom asked me to take a picture of her mother's favorite Christmas ball, the Skier. This ball has been in our family for at least 80 years -


I hope everyone has a happy, successful, and delicious 2010!