Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Hot Stuff

I think it's safe to say that we are a little obsessed with heat in this house. I have an entire shelf in the refrigerator door dedicated to hot stuff. Sriracha, garlic chili paste, pickled hot peppers, jalapeno stuffed olives, and, of course, Frank's Red Hot (which you can buy by the gallon at Sam's Club, just in case you didn't know).

When Marx Foods offered the opportunity to test drive a selection of dried chilies, I signed right up. I got a fun little box full of goodies, and over the Thanksgiving weekend E, his little sister D Money, and I whipped up some slammin' dinner. D Money and her dad don't cook much, but they love to eat, so when E and I are in town we try to fix them up something special. It's not always easy thanks to my teenage sister in law's aversion to olives, stinky cheese, coconut, and mushrooms. My favorites! But we made it work, and guess what? Homegirl digs coconut now. I loved this dish, and will definitely make it again. The curry could be done with sliced chicken or shrimp to make it a quick one pot meal, and the pork would make amazing sandwiches.

Slow Cooker Japones Pulled Pork with Thai Red Curry 

For the pork:

1 3 lb. pork shoulder
1/2 c. low sodium soy sauce
1 c. water
1 tsp. freshly ground ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbls. brown sugar
2 Tbls. honey
6-8 Dried Japones Chilies
salt and pepper

Place dried chilies in a spice or coffee grinder and pulse until finely ground, reserve 2 tsp. for the curry. Season pork with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with ground chilies and place in a crock pot. Whisk remaining ingredients in a bowl and pour over pork. Cover and cook on low heat for 6 hours or high heat for 4 hours. Shred pork and toss with sauce to coat.

For the curry:

2 tsp. ground Japones Chilies
1 red bell pepper, julienned
1 c. sugar snap peas
4 scallions, chopped
1/4 cup cashews, chopped
1 14.5 oz. can coconut milk
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes with juice
2-3 Tbls red curry paste (depending on taste)
1 Tbls. brown sugar
1/3 c. fresh basil, julienned
1 lime, juiced

In a large saute pan, whisk curry paste with 1/4 cup of the coconut milk over medium high heat. Bring to a boil and add peppers and sugar snap peas. Reduce heat to low and simmer 3-4 minutes. Add remaining coconut milk, tomatoes, and ground chilies and continue to simmer until vegetables are just tender. Add brown sugar, basil, lime juice, and salt to taste. Serve over long grain brown or basmati rice, top with pulled pork, and garnish with cashews and scallions.

*Note: This was just enough heat for D Money, but the rest of us needed more. When I make this again, I'll use more red curry paste and dried chilies. Just remember, E once drank a bottle of Frank's Red Hot straight, so we like it spicy.

This post is linked to:
Hearth and Soul 
Tuesday Night Supper Club
Tasty Tuesdays

Monday, November 22, 2010

Thanksgiving for Dummies

My brother is going to kill me for this!

I'm not one to freak out about Thanksgiving. Having hosted two traditional American Thanksgiving dinners in Germany were very good prep. Back then I was working from a tiny kitchen equipped with a tiny fridge and range, very limited cook and serveware, and no big supermarket. I learned that planning ahead is the greatest single step for throwing any dinner party. That and knowing your limits. The first year I couldn't even find a whole turkey, so I had to cook turkey parts instead. The second year I couldn't find puff pastry, so I ditched my dessert plan instead of making it from scratch. Somehow it all worked out, and both dinners went off without a hitch. I wasn't even stressed. Yes, copious amounts of beer and wine were consumed those nights, but still.

This year E and I will be guests at the in laws', so I don't really have that much to do. It feels kind of weird to just show up with a few dishes, but I'm going to enjoy it (plus, I have a good feeling I'll still get stuck in the kitchen!). So, I'm sort of planning an imaginary menu for Giveaway Blogs' Plan it, Blog it! Thanksgiving 2010.  I will be making a few of these things, but the rest of our meal will be at the hands of others. Pray for us. And then leave a comment on this post so I can win :P What? Each comment counts as a vote! Please and thank you!

Thanksgiving for Dummies:

Monday (Crap, that's today. Get your butt in gear!): 
  • Make your list, check it twice, then go shopping. Have everything you need ready to go by checking this list against your fridge and pantry contents and your recipes. You do not want to be running off to the store in the middle of prep.
  • Make sure you delegated the appetizers to someone else. And a salad. And maybe some desserts. This isn't a soup kitchen.
  • This may sound silly, but figure out what baking/serving dishes you'll need for each dish. It sucks to have a pan full of something ready to bake and have no empty baking dish to put it in. This was my first lesson from Germany. I baked stuffing in a lid. Yup.
  • Make My Aunt Cynthia's Party Potatoes. These are quick, easy, and crowd pleasing, not to mention sinfully delicious. Wrap them in foil and stick them in the fridge.
  • Make Cranberry Citrus Relish.
  • Prep your vegetables for my Roasted Root Vegetables with Herbs de Proven├žal by peeling and cutting everything. Toss them into a baking dish, wrap with foil and stick it in the fridge.
  • Mix up your turkey rub from My Favorite Roast Turkey. Guess where you should stick it?
  • Make dessert. My mom's crazy amazing Frosted Apple Squares should do the trick. These actually don't need refrigeration, so just lay them on your serving platter and wrap well with plastic wrap.
  • Need something a little more decadent? Make  this Gingersnap Cherry Cheesecake. Stupid delicious. Stick it in the fridge.
  • Pull out and clean a cooler. This will save your sanity whether or not you have big drinkers. You'll need that fridge space, so beers, juice, and soda can chill in a cooler so that people will stay out of your way :) 
  • Set your table. I'm serious.
  • In the morning: Take the butter mixture for your turkey out of the fridge to soften. Eat an apple square for sustenance. Put on a pair of stretch pants and some makeup. You're all class.
  • 2-3 hours before dinner: Finish workin' on that bird and stick it in the oven. Have a glass of wine. 
  • 1.5 hours before dinner: Make dressing. I love this Savory Mushroom Dressing recipe. My mom always did stuffing inside the turkey, but I think it's a messy pain in the ass. I use apricot or pear nectar in place of the cognac (save your pennies for the good wine). Have a glass of wine. 
  • 45 minutes before dinner: Finish the veggies and stick them in the oven. Refill your glass of wine while you set out all of the accouterments, like cranberry relish, rolls, and the good ol' pickle tray. 
  • 30 minutes before dinner: Grab your potatoes from the fridge. Stick them in the oven.
  • Done. Eat, drink, and be merry. Be thankful for those stretch pants. And the wine.

Now for those of you who are insane and also want to take on some fun crafty things in the midst of the week's business, here you go. Tasty links for funsies you can do with your kids or delegate to your kids to keep them out of your hair:

Printable Blessings Tags from Whipperberry. Use them for seating cards, let kids create their own blessings tree or board, whatevs.

More Free Printables from It Is What It Is. Love the colors on these!

Pom Pom Turkeys from Martha. For adventurous folk or independently crafty kidlets. 

Mod Podge Pumpkins from Simple Mommy Secrets. An awesome way to use those baby pumpkins you may still have sitting around from Halloween. I do.

Bottom Line? Enjoy yourself, even if you need to medicate to handle your family. Be thankful that you get to do this at all, and say a little prayer for those who can't. That's what it's all about anyway.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Smart Fish

It's official. The point and shoot is cashed, junked, deceased. Which means all of my fun plans for posting a Thanksgiving rundown and Christmas cookies are dashed until I can replace it. Luckily I have a few dishes that I was saving, so I won't be posting recipes with stock photos for a while. Sigh.

As much as I'd love to post a pretty photo of Giada's Butternut Vanilla Risotto for this week's Fall Favorites theme for IHCC, I can't do it. So here's another Giada dish, one that I enjoyed (stop the presses!). One that I enjoyed so much, we ate it twice. I can't even believe it myself. It's one thing for me to love a Giada recipe, but it's a whole other ball of wax for me to love a Giada dish that includes the most vile fish on the planet. We're talking salmon. Shudder. I know everybody and their mother loves salmon, smearing it with maple syrup and lemon and whatever the hell else you'd put on it, but it makes me gag. I've always found it revolting, but maybe that's because people keep pouring friggin' pancake syrup on it.

When I first found out I was pregnant, I started researching all of the fun nutritional information I needed and found that I was happily on the right track already. Then I discovered the harrowing truth. Babies need lots of DHA (an omega-3 fatty acid) for brain development, 600 mg a day according to my OB. That's more than twice the amount found in most prenatal vitamins. One good source of DHA? You guessed it. Salmon. Yes, you can find supplements in lots of health food stores to make up for the difference, but they can be expensive, and I'm already taking two horse pills a day. I thought I'd go out on a limb and try to include a little salmon in my diet (Doctor Marvelous said 6 oz. a week would cut it). This recipe was my first attempt, and it was actually delicious. So good I called my mom to tell her.

I've decided the Baby Bean has chosen to make me like salmon so I'll eat more of it and he will become a Noble Prize winning super genius. Or just a regular kid, that's be pretty awesome, too.

Whole Wheat Linguine with Lemon, Basil, and Salmon
Adapted from Giada's Kitchen

1/2 pound whole-wheat linguine
cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 (4-ounce) pieces salmon1 tsp. dried basil
3 tablespoons capers
1 lemon, zested (OF COURSE!)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 cups fresh baby spinach leaves


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta and transfer to a large bowl. Add the garlic, extra-virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper. Toss to combine.
Meanwhile, warm the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Season the salmon with salt and pepper. Add the fish to the pan and cook until medium-rare, about 2 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the fish. Remove the salmon from the pan.
Add the basil, capers, lemon zest, and lemon juice to the spaghetti mixture and toss to combine. Set out 4 serving plates or shallow bowls. Place 1/2 cup spinach in each bowl. Top with 1/4 of the pasta. Top each mound of pasta with a piece of salmon. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Glee! And a giveaway...

Oh, how I love Glee. That Singing in the Rain/Umbrella Medley was awesome last night! E groans about watching it, but he's not exactly chained to the couch. I think he digs it. But anywho, that's not the Glee I need to tell you about today actually. We need to talk candy.

Glee Gum's Make Your Own Candy Kits to be precise. You may have seen the cute retro gum packaging in stores, but they also make DIY kits. I got the chance to review one of the kits (they offer, gum, chocolate, and gummies) and was so excited when the package arrived. Glee Gum is based in Providence, RI, so it was love at first sight. 

The Make Your Own Gummies kit comes with sour mix, colored and flavored sugar, powdered seaweed, seaweed, molding starch, instructions and the story of carrageenan. You're wondering why the hell seaweed is in a candy kit, right? You can read all about it here. It's actually a pretty ommon ingredient in natural food and products. Natural and educational candy? Word. 

The kit gives you instructions to make your own mold, which has endless possibilities. Gummies shaped like your favorite toys, your own sculptural designs, whatever! As it was near Halloween, we just used my plastic candy molds and made eyeballs and fingers, so you can use anything you like. The process is incredibly easy, and we had our candy completed in about 20 minutes. The kids dug it, even though Anniebelly made a squinchy sour puss face with every taste and went back for another bite. Sour mix'll do that to ya. Cherry isn't one of my favorite gummy flavors, so I hope they'll start offering others! As for the texture, if you've ever made homemade gels, this is similar. It is not the hard gel of fruit snacks, but softer and more flexible. Very fun to play with, and the mix even reheats to you can just warm it up to pour again if you don't move fast enough the first time.

Overall, this is a fun little activity to get your kids playing in the kitchen and teach them a bit, too. It could even make a fun addition to a holiday gift. You know you want to try. You can order any of the products on the company's website, but guess what?

Glee Gum is giving one of these kits away to you guys! You even get to choose if you want to make gum, chocolate, or gummies. Here are the details:

To Enter: 
1. Simply leave me a comment below. Don't forget to leave a contact in case you win.

2. Followers: As a bonus for you loyal folks, you get an extra entry. Please leave an additional comment letting me know you follow my blog via Google Friend Connect.

Contest is only open to residents of the U.S. and ends on Wed., November 24th.

Good Luck!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Letting the Cat Out of the Bag

I have a confession to make. I've been keeping a secret. A big secret. The hugest secret, even. Revealing it explains lots of things, like why I'm sitting on five new recipes to keep from having to explain to you why I'm eating salmon even though it's retched, why we had to cancel our Morimoto reservations in Philly, why E had to be the one to taste test reishi tea, and why I sat through that Kitchen Nightmares shoot sober as a judge. 'Cause I know everyone was wondering. Ha.

Check it out. We're having a baby!

And it's a boy. Phew! 

If you haven't seen this kind of baby cake before, I'm sure you'll see lots more. I'm so on trend :P Thanks to my cousin Libby's suggestion, we asked the ultrasound tech to write the baby's sex on a slip on paper and seal it in the envelope. Then we gave the envelope to a baker and instructed him to tint the cake's filling either blue or pink depending on the note. The outside of the cake was supposed to be all white. In reality, I opened the cake box to find a pale pink rose in the center. I almost freaked out. But then I figured he probably just had a bunch of roses sitting nearby and stuck one on for pretties. E's dad was in town for the weekend, so we had a little cake cutting party with my parents on the Tango so we could all find out together. Then I stuffed my face with cake. I have an excuse. And Gimmee Jimmies has THE BEST icing (a mix between buttercream and whipped cream, ultra fluffy and barely sweet. Ask for the white cupcake icing if you order from them!). I stuck a big wedge of cake in the freezer so we can eat it in March on baby homecoming day. I'm so lame.

p.s. I think my point and shoot is on its last legs. All of my photos are coming out with grainy stripes. 
Time to start SLR shopping! Any suggestions people?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Kid Food Fail

A quick note: The NEW poll is up and running for the Recipe Impossible Challenge by Joanne and MarxFoods. You may have clicked the button on my top right sidebar, but the poll was broken for a while so no votes were counted. It's all fixed, so you can use that button or click here. I'm getting my ass kicked, so if you love me, please pop over and vote for my Butternut Cupcakes with Salted Caramel and Maple Brown Butter Icing!

And now back to our regularly scheduled programming...

Sometimes things just don't work out. Sometimes you know it from the get go. Such was the case when I attempted to make the Polenta Crusted Shrimp from Giada's Kitchen for IHCC's Kid at Heart Theme. Total catastrophe. And I had a feeling. I need to listen to my gut more.

This looks pretty good right?  I thought so, so I went ahead and whipped up the polenta coating and cleaned my shrimp. Then I noticed a few things. The description calls them "fried shrimp," but the instructions tell you to bake them. Inconsistencies bug me, especially in cookbooks. The recipe also makes a ton of coating, way more than you'll need for the amount of shrimp. I hate being wasteful, so I sliced up a bunch of zucchini and battered them as well. I threw my shrimp and zucchini in to bake and 10 minutes later, nothing. I gave them a few more minutes, but still, nothing. No gorgeous golden brown crust. I had to let it go, lest I overcook the shrimp, so E and I went ahead and tried them. Gross. It was like biting into shrimp coated with dry sand. What this recipe needs is to stick to its guns and fry the shrimp already. A pan full of hot oil would have saved the day, turning this dry, tasteless crust into golden deliciousness. Sadly, it was too late for my shrimp.

It wasn't too late for the zucchini however. I decided to give the veggies a makeover. A little dressing up and a quick bake, and they became a delicious twist on Veggie Parmesan. 
So even though this recipe sucked, dinner didn't have to.

Polenta Crusted Zucchini Parmesan

2 zucchini, sliced lengthwise
1/2 c. polenta
1/4 c. flour
salt and pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 egg, beaten
1 c. tomato sauce (jarred is fine)
3/4 c. shredded mozzarella
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Set up your polenta coating in 3 shallow dishes or pie plates: flour in one, egg in the second, polenta in the third. Whisk polenta with garlic powder and salt and pepper to taste. Dredge zucchini in flour, then egg, then polenta. Once all zucchini is coated, either bake on a cookie sheet for 15 minutes OR pan fry them in a little oil until golden, about 3 minutes per side.
Spoon a bit of tomato sauce in the bottom of a small baking dish. Add a layer of zucchini, top with mozzarella cheese and more sauce. Continue layering until you have used up all zucchini. Top with Parmesan and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly and melted.

This post is linked to: 


Monday, November 08, 2010

On the Road

I'm on the road today, guest blogging for the lovely Heather of Acting Balanced. If you like the looks of this Butternut Squash Curry, pop on over to Heather's blog for he recipe. It was delicious!

Also, I hit 100 followers this weekend, so I'd like to say a big thank you to the sudden onslaught of new people who are reading this blog. I have no idea where you are all coming from, but thanks so much for reading and hanging out with me. I can't believe that that many people read this, since most of my own family doesn't even bother :P I'll try to rustle up another giveaway just for you guys soon!

This post is linked to:

Friday, November 05, 2010

Warm Fuzzies

Maybe you're not an oatmeal person. Maybe you think it tastes like glue. Fine then. I'm not going to argue with you about the flavor possibilities, the amazing health benefits, or the warm fuzzies you get from eating it on a cold morning. This just isn't the recipe for you. 

But maybe you are an oatmeal person. Maybe, like, me, you think it's one of the easiest, most satisfying, and delicious breakfast items, second only to bacon. Then this is one of the best breakfasts you could ever eat on a cold, nasty fall day like today. It's rainy, windy, gray, and totally uninspiring outside of my window. Time for yummy pumpkin goodness. 

Pumpkin Pecan Pie Oatmeal

1 c. water
1/2 c. rolled oats
2 Tbls. ground flax
1/4 c. pureed pumpkin
dash of nutmeg
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
maple syrup to taste
dried cranberries

Bring water to a boil in a small pot. Add oats and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook about 4-5 minutes or until most of the water is absorbed. Stir in flax, pumpkin, spices, and maple syrup to taste. Cook until heated through, just about a minute. Stir in milk if desired, add pecans and cranberries and serve immediately.

* You can honestly ignore most of the measurements in the recipe, since it was just thrown together, but trust me, it's worth trying.

This post is linked to:

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Lights! Camera!

E and I had dinner at the latest restaurant to get the Gordon Ramsey treatment last night. That's right folks, we got to sit in on a Kitchen Nightmares shoot. Sa-weet. We love the show (although I do enjoy the British version best!) and there have been quite a few episodes shot in our area. They are shooting two different re-dos here in the next few weeks. This week it's Spanish Pavillion in Harrison. We were curious and thought it would be fun to check it out, so I made a reservation and off we went.

Let's begin with a disclosure. E and I both worked as waiters for a long time (though he admits he hated it and was super lazy, while I was lame-o Server of the Year. Gold Star!). We are also big time food lovers. That makes us a bit on the picky side when it comes to dining out, and we can be a little critical, especially of servers. However, we never complain, and we have maybe sent back two or three dishes ever. It's just not our style, and while we bitch to each other at the table, we keep our criticisms to ourselves. We did not walk into this to be whiny food snobs.

We arrived at the Spanish Pavillion, which is in a rather shady part of town, with no idea what to expect. We had to sign disclosures and have pictures taken before being seated. The restaurant was insanely bright, since they removed ceiling tiles and set studio lights inside. It works for TV, but wasn't workin' for the ambiance of the place. Wait til you see it. Just wait. While we waited for our server to bring drinks, a producer came over for a little chat. We were instructed to keep an eye out for cameras, and when they came close, we were to direct our conversation to the food, service, and the restaurant in general. Um, ok then.

We had a ton of fun people watching and gossiping when our starters came. Mine was a bed of iceberg, a few spinach leaves, a pink tomato, and dressing that tasted like bottled Catalina. It was so cloying I couldn't eat it, so I overloaded on bread. Oops. Eric's soup was served tableside from a big silver bowl and ladle straight from the high school cafeteria. Classy. Then we had calimari (I know, you guys are like, WTF is it with the calimari!) and it had great flavor, lots of garlic, lemon, and hot peppers, just the way we like it. It was a little overcooked, but we didn't care, because very few places do it right anyway. Then we sat. And sat. And sat.

The producer came and asked us how long we had waited for our dinners. E wasn't wearing a watch, and we weren't allowed cell phones, so we had to guess. The table next to us had appetizers, dinners, sent one dish back to the kitchen, got a remake, sent a second plate back to the kitchen, got a second remake, and then wrapped their leftovers and were sitting with the check, all while we sat there. It was a long time, but the server was nice and told us he was checking it out. Then the producer asked us to talk about the wait. Suddenly a boom mic was hovering over my head. Awkward much? As we talked, E would occasionally get this deer in the headlights look and say something random to me, like, "so are we ordering dessert?" This was my signal that a camera was behind me. It was totally weird.

Finally a guy came and slid a portion of Spanish rice onto my plate, gave E his steak, and said my shrimp would be right out. I looked right at E and said, "What the hell is up with that?" and started laughing. Then the cameras were hovering again. E's steak (ordered medium rare) was well done with a few medium well spots. WTF. I could not even believe we had to send it back. It felt like such a set up. But he did, and the waiter whisked away my cold plate of rice, too, presenting us with new food within ten minutes. E's steak was perfect that time, luckily, since I ate half of it. My shrimp and wine sauce (the house specialty) was pretty sad. The rice had no flavor, and the sauce was one of those awful sauces thickened with corn starch that just screamed old people food. The shrimp was well cooked, but it was just dated. That's actually the best word to describe the whole place: decor, food, servers even. It was straight out of 1981. The server asked how it was and I told him it was ok. He was super nice and wanted to get me something else, but I told him it was fine (since I was eating off E's plate anyway!). Seriously, if I just don't like a dish, I don't think it's anyone's fault. People have differing tastes. Hair in my food? Sure I'll bitch, but otherwise, I'm fine.

Then the owner's mom showed up. She wanted to know what I didn't like, told me other people like it, it's a very popular dish. I felt terrible! This show instantly makes everyone defensive, so I just told her I didn't care for it, but it was fine. I had plenty to eat, and E would take it for lunch tomorrow anyway. He'll eat just about anything leftover. So we wrapped it up, and now its sitting in the fridge, making me feel bad. I know that poor woman thinks we're evil, and I won't forget her pinched, pained look. Ugh.

Now we get to sit and wait a million months to see if we turn up on the show. I hope we don't now, since we all know how editing works. I could end up looking like the whory Wife of Bath since I had on more makeup than I wear ever. I could also end up looking like a huge asshole and so could my beloved husband. His response to that idea? "And? Who gives a fuck?" Nicely put.

p.s. Since I know you'll ask... Yes, Gordon was there. He floated around and whispered things to servers and not a curse was heard. He looks younger in person. And cuter when he's not screaming his fool head off.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Creamy, Dreamy Heaven

Risotto is one of the first dishes I remember making with my mother when I started to get really into food. It was before a family dinner and I had to keep taking over for her, stirring the pot, while she poked around the kitchen tasting and finishing other dishes. That was the first time I tasted risotto, and I was a goner. I've become a bit obsessed. I never order risotto in a restaurant. I only make it when I really crave it or am in need of comfort. Nothing reduces stress like a risotto.

I make risotto the way my idol makes it. That is to say, the way Biba makes it. Biba Caggiano, the real Italian superstar (back off Giada!).

Here's what she has to say about risotto:

"The technique of cooking a risotto, which is to add broth at intervals, is essential to produce a perfectly cooked and creamy rice. Timing in cooking a risotto is essential to its success... The risotto at the end of cooking should have a moist but not watery consistency, with creamy yet individually separated grains of rice. 
There is only one way to achieve this perfect balance: practice. The more you do it the better you'll become. The fact that a risotto should be cooked at the last moment shouldn't bother you... When you cook a risotto for the first time follow the recipe literally. Be on top of it. Stir and taste and try to remember the look and consistency that a well-made risotto has when it's done." 
                                                   -from Modern Italian Cooking by Biba Caggiano

When MarxFoods sent me four varieties of risotto rice to road test a few weeks ago you can just imagine my glee. You thought risotto rice meant Arborio rice, right? Not so. You can check out the Guide to Risotto Rice to get your learn on. Me? I started with what I thought didn't exist: brown risotto rice. Italian integrale rice is whole grain brown rice, making it better for you, but I wasn't sure how it would hold up to a risotto recipe. I've tried other short grain brown rices before, and they never, ever turn into the creamy, dreamy heaven of a good risotto. I was pleasantly surprised. Integrale is a little nuttier in flavor than Arborio, and it makes a great base for the earthy flavors of ingredients like mushrooms. The texture had a tiny bit more bite than Arborio, but it lost none of the richness. I was in total risotto heaven, with none of the risotto guilt.

Integrale Risotto with Black Trumpet Mushrooms
adapted from Biba Caggiano
makes two very generous portions

1 c. Organic Integrale Rice
3 c. vegetable stock (you may, of course, use any type of stock you like)
1/2 c. dry white wine
3  Tbls. unsalted butter, divided
1 Tbls. olive oil
1/4 c. diced onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 c. Black Trumpet Mushrooms, re-hydrated and chopped
1/4 c. grated Parmesan
salt and pepper

Bring the stock to a boil in a pot on the back burner and reduce heat to very low.
Melt 2 Tbls. of butter in a large skillet or a dutch oven. Add oil and onion and saute until translucent. Add garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the rice and cook 1 or 2 minutes, until rice is toasted and coated with butter and oil.
Add the wine and cook until evaporated. Add a few ladles of stock until rice is just covered. Cook, stirring, over medium heat until stock has been absorbed. Continue adding stock in this manner, a little at a time, until all stock has been absorbed and rice is creamy, 15 - 20 minutes). Stir in remaining butter, mushrooms, Parmesan, and salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Print the Recipe

This post is linked to:
Hearth and Soul
Bookmarked Recipes
Tasty Tuesdays
Tuesday Night Supper Club

Monday, November 01, 2010

Fighting Post Halloween Stress Disorder

We got our first trick or treaters at 2:00 yesterday afternoon.  I was watching TV with E's brother, Ed, and our sister in law, Rachel.

E: "Where's all the Halloween candy?"
Me: "You're not opening the candy bags, yet. It's for the kids."
E: "This is for kids. They're on the porch."
Rachel: "What?"
Me: "What the fuck are you talking about? It's 2:00."
Ed: "No one trick or treats this early. That's bullshit."

Apparently not bullshit. E was out on the porch grilling up some buffalo wings for the football game when a group gathered at the edge of our lawn. One of the adults called up to him, "Got any candy?" Really? "Got any candy?" He is so lucky I wasn't the one he asked. Am I crazy to think 2:00 is way too early to bug your neighbors on a Sunday afternoon? Am I also crazy to think this guy had a hell of a nerve? Way to teach your kids manners, buddy. Which, by the way, is clearly lacking around here anyway. Of the 30 or so kids we saw last night, less than half said "Trick or Treat", five said, "Thank you," and most didn't even bother with a paltry "Hello." They just stared at us blankly and held out their hot little hands. Am I just getting old, or is something seriously wrong with people?

I shut the lights off at 8 and turned my candy bucket into a Sedaris Family Fuck it Bucket. We ate our way through half. This morning I baked up some cookies to get rid of the rest. I don't think consuming all of this sugar is good for my case of grumpy-old-neighbor-itis.

Brown Sugar Butterfinger Drop Cookies
Adapted from The Betty Crocker Cookbook 1978
makes 3 dozen cookies

1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1/4 c. buttermilk
1 egg
1 3/4 c. all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 c. chopped Butterfinger candy bars (12 minis)

Beat sugar, butter, buttermilk, and egg until light and fluffy. Beat in salt, baking soda and flour until combined. Fold in chopped candy bars. Chill, covered with plastic wrap, for at least one hour.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls onto a parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake in the center of the oven for 8-10 minutes or until edges are lightly golden. Using a thin metal spatula, transfer immediately to a wire rack to cool.

At this point, you could leave well enough alone, but if you also happen to have a handful of Hershey's chocolate bars in the bottom of the candy bucket, go for it. Melt them up, whisk in a bit of cream, and dunk those suckers!

 Print the Recipe

And to prove I'm not actually a big scrooge, here are my cutie pie nephews ready to go trick or treating 
(at 5:30 thank you very much).