Sunday, June 10, 2018
Every once in a while a cooking contest will have the contestants schmoosh two recipes together. Usually it's a pretty darned weird combination. In our case, we combined risotto and pesto and got a pretty darned GOOD combination. Good enough that I can say I liked this better than pesto and pasta. Who'd have ever thought that????
Let's start with the pesto. About 30 years ago a friend of mine named Monica gave me a pesto recipe. I wrote it on the back of one of those pink phone message slips. And, that's still what I use... It's dog-eared as all get out. But, it's still the best pesto recipe I've ever found. Her secret is that you can do everything but add the butter and the parmesan and freeze the sauce. We freeze a couple of pints of that every fall. Then I thaw enough for each recipe and add the appropriate butter and cheese and we're good to go. Just in case, I always keep a jar of Trader Joe's pesto in the pantry. It's ok as a back up. Here's the link to the post with the pesto recipe: http://kateiscooking.blogspot.com/2010/08/eggplant-and-tomato-stacks-with-pesto.html
And, now, risotto. Our clean up the kitchen for two. Over the years I've posted several recipes for risotto. But, it appears that I've never posted our basic recipe. So, here goes:
Kate's Basic Risotto
1 T olive oil
1/2 small onion, finely diced
1 c Arborio rice
1/4 c white wine (Chardonnay is usually best)
2-3 c chicken or turkey stock (keep warm in a saucepan)
1 T butter
1/2 - 1 c grated Parmesan
In a medium saucepan, saute the onion in the olive oil until it's softened. Pour in the rice. Saute until it's a teeny, tiny bit brown. Maybe I should say beige? Although, Connie insists there are actually only eight colors and they can be found in the basic Crayola box! So, once the rice gets a bit of a suntan, pour in the wine. The rice will slurp it right up. Ladle in about half a cup of stock and stir and stir and stir. It's the stirring motion that causes the rice grains to release their starches and create the creaminess you want. When the rice runs dry, ladle in another half cup. And stir. And, so on until the rice is the right texture. You don't want it al dente nor do you want it dry nor do you want it mushy. It needs to have creaminess with texture. If you've run out of stock and your risotto still isn't the right texture, toss in some water. It won't hurt a thing. Now, if you're planning on adding anything, this is the time to do it. Whatever you add in should have been cooked in advance and should be nice and warm. We put whatever in. Mushrooms, peppers, shrimp, chicken, beef, zucchini, beets. Like I said earlier, risotto is clean up the kitchen for two for us. Ok, you've added in the extra and now it's time to plop in the knob of butter and the Parmesan. Mix it all together and serve. You can add more cheese on top as well as some fun crunchies. We particularly love nuts. But, French fried onions are equally good.
Now, you've got the pesto made and the risotto made. Mix in the pesto until you get a flavor you like. For our pesto risotto, I browned some pine nuts. They added the crunch and pizzazz I wanted. We gave this one a five out of five!
As you'll note, there's a salad in the photos. It's one of our favorites. I had dribs and drabs of veggies to use up. Celery, a small zucchini, a roma tomato, some radishes... All of that tossed with some homemade blue cheese dressing and a sprinkle of dill and we were in business!
Here's the link to the blue cheese dressing we love: https://kateiscooking.blogspot.com/2013/11/blue-cheese-dressing-bjs-brewhouse-chef.html I will say as time has gone on, I've upped the amount of dry mustard. We love the tang it gives the dressing!
Tuesday, June 5, 2018
While we were on vacation I had a couple of salads with strawberries strewn across the top. It is that season, after all. When you get the ripe, juicy perfect strawberries. And, not the Styrofoam things that look like strawberries but taste like, well, Styrofoam! While on our way home from the office on Sunday I suggested to Connie that we stop at the stand down the street. First I checked out the bargain table. Each box is $1.00. I scored two heads of perfectly fine iceberg lettuce in one, four bell peppers in another and a mountain of peaches in yet the third. Then, the clamshells of strawberries were buy one, get one free. Score! $6.00 and I had everything I'd need for dinners and lunches this week. That's in addition to my Imperfect Produce box that had a couple of roma tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, kale and a bunch of other goodies.
The first dish that came to mind was a wedge salad. We love my version of blue cheese dressing: mayo, sour cream, dry mustard, cider vinegar and loads of blue cheese whirred through the bullet. That and the duck breasts with cherry sauce I'd been wanting to make. But, until we went to Jungle Jim's I couldn't find duck breasts. We bought four there and since we split one for our entrée, we're good to go for a couple of months. Ok, that was dinner Sunday.
Lunch Monday was the next issue. Salad with strawberries. How about a strawberry vinaigrette on top of the strawberries? I used eatyourbooks.com and hunted and hunted. Finally! On closetcooking by Kevin Lynch I found it. Roasted strawberry vinaigrette. It sounded perfect. And, it was. Given that we had an avocado to use up and I'd fried bacon for the wedge salads and we had rotisserie chicken at the office, it sounded like a strawberry Cobb salad was in order. I added in some bourbon basted pecans that I read about in one of the cookbooks I bought on vacation. Tried going back through the indexes and couldn't find the recipe listed so I made it up... It drives me crazy when some cookbooks don't separately list the recipes inside the recipes. Oh, well, at least I can usually recreate!
Roasted Strawberry Cobb Salad
lettuce, chopped (I used iceberg because that's what we had. You can use spinach, romaine...)
bourbon basted pecans
blue cheese, crumbled
chicken, diced (I used slices of breast meat from a rotisserie chicken)
bacon, cooked and crumbles
roasted strawberry vinaigrette
Bourbon Basted Pecans
Toss a handful of pecans with about a tablespoon of bourbon. Allow them to sit until the bourbon is absorbed. Toss the pecans with a knob of butter (I used about a tablespoon) and a good sprinkle of seasoning (I used Emeril's but many would work.) Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes stirring regularly. You could also do these in a small skillet.
Roasted Strawberry Vinaigrette
makes enough for four salads
1 c strawberries
1/4 c balsamic vinegar
1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
1 T Dijon mustard
1 t honey
1 clove garlic, minced
salt and pepper
Sunday, June 3, 2018
From there we headed downtown to the Underground Railroad Museum. They suggest at least two hours to tour it. We really needed six to eight but finally gave up after four and a half. Fortunately, they have an in/out policy so we were able to take off around lunchtime and go next door to Taste of Belgium. I do wish they’d open a location in Indy! Connie and I split a mushroom crepe and a pig and fig crepe. The mushroom was absolutely outstanding and the pig and fig was close behind it.
4 slices thick cut bacon, diced
2 scallions, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
¼ t crushed red pepper flakes
2 T balsamic vinegar
1 bunch kale, stemed and torn into large piecesK
Kosher salt and black pepper
Brown the bacon in a large skillet. Use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon from the skillet then pour off all but two tablespoons of the bacon grease. Sauté the garlic, scallions and red pepper flakes. Pour in the balsamic vinegar and cook until it’s a bit reduced. Stir in the kale and keep stirring for four to six minutes until it’s wilted.
2 small redskin potatoes
1 small sprig rosemary, stemmed and finely chopped
½ - ¾ c shredded parmesan cheese
Preheat your oven to 425. Cut the potatoes into quarters. If they’re larger, eighths or sixths will work. Toss them with olive oil. Put them in a baking dish and sprinkle them with the rosemary. Roast them 20 minutes, tossing a couple of times. Then, sprinkle the cheese over and roast them another 10 minutes, tossing them once.
Kate’s Lobster Rolls
¼ c mayonnaise
1 T browned butter, warmed
1 large or 2 small celery ribs, finely diced
2 split top buns
1 T butter
Tropical Waldorf Salad
2 kiwis, peeled and chopped
¼ c browned and chopped pistachios
¼ c mayonnaise
1 T Malibu rum