Posts made in March, 2013

How to Make a Basic Risotto

Risotto

Risotto is one of my favorite comfort foods. It’s a cooking method that I think every home cook should know how to do, and once you get the basic method down, you can go crazy and experiment with different ingredients.

The secret to a good risotto is simplicity. I don’t recommend adding more than two or three ingredients (two is really the ideal), and always cook the vegetables/protein first. The only things that should be added into a risotto raw are fresh herbs and perhaps something like lemon zest.

Though there’s an endless combination of vegetables you can use during each season of the year, in this basic recipe I used mushrooms and peas, which I think are a wonderful risotto combination. And any mushrooms will do. I happened to have some shiitake mushrooms on hand from Swainway Urban Farm at the Worthington Farmers’ Market. Shiitake mushrooms certainly aren’t traditional in a risotto, but they tasted wonderful.

And so, the method:

Heat 5-6 cups of chicken or vegetable stock on the stove. The stock must be hot before it can be added to the risotto. Homemade is best, because the stock is the best source of flavor for the rice.

In a heavy bottom pot, heat olive oil or 1 tablespoon of butter. 

Saute your vegetables (in my case, my mushrooms.) Remove from the pot once cooked.

Add more olive oil or another couple tablespoons of butter to the same pot, add 1 small onion, finely chopped. Saute over medium heat until the onions are soft. 

Add 2 cups of Aborio rice.* Let the rice cook for a minute or two.

Add 1 cup of white wine. Cook and stir the rice until all of the wine is absorbed.

Now comes the time for the stock. Add about two small ladles of the hot stock at a time. It should be just enough stock to cover the rice. Cook and stir, constantly, until all of the liquid has been absorbed. Repeat this step until all or most of the stock has been used and the rice is cooked. It takes about 30-40 minutes.

Once the rice is done, add 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese and any cooked vegetables or herbs that you are using. (In my case, my mushooms and frozen peas, defrosted). Add a little more stock, if needed. Taste and add salt and pepper, if necessary. When serving, I like to add a little more parmesan cheese on top and a few grinds of black pepper.

And that’s it. Once you get the basic method down, you can experiment and create endless meals with each season’s produce.

*Aborio rice is the most traditional rice used. For a more nutritious risotto, try using farro. It makes the dish heartier and gives it a much chewier texture. Just note that if you’re using farro, it will take more stock and a slightly longer cooking time.

 

 

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Kale Chips

I’m obsessed with kale chips. It is, by far, my favorite way to eat kale. When I pull the pan out of the oven, the chips are gone in no time. I can’t get enough of them. Pictured below is some gorgeous kale that I got from Northridge Organic Farm at the Worthington Farmers’ Market.

Kaleraw

 

The Method:

Start with either curly leaf kale or Italian kale (also known as Lacinato or dinosaur kale. And who doesn’t like the name dinosaur kale?). Remove the tough center stem and tear the leaves into large pieces.

Important: Make sure the kale is completely dry! Wet leaves will not crisp in the oven.

Drizzle the kale with olive oil and use your fingers to rub the oil over each leaf. This allows the kale to crisp evenly. (A step I only learned about recently, and though it’s tempting to skip it, it really does make a difference.)

Sprinkle with kosher or sea salt. I also like to add a few grinds of pepper, though I don’t often see that in other recipes.

Stick the kale in a 350 degree oven and bake for 8-10 minutes. Be sure to check it after 8 minutes. Kale goes from crisp to burnt very quickly, and I find that each bunch of kale I purchase cooks at a different time. The dinosaur kale, in particular, seems to crisp faster than the curly leaf kale.

When it comes out of the oven, try not to eat the entire pan of kale in a few seconds. I usually fail at this.

Finished product:

kalechips

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Cornmeal Buttermilk Pancakes

Another Sunday morning pancake recipe! This one I got off of Bon Appetit’s website, and it’s so perfect that I didn’t even modify it. Next time I might try replacing the sugar with honey. Since it’s such a good recipe, I’m simply going to post the link here and my photos. This was my first time making cornmeal pancakes, so I may experiment some more with various recipes but, for now, follow the link and enjoy!

Cornmeal Buttermilk Pancakes

Cornmeal Pancakes

Cornmeal Pancakes2

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Dough: Simple Contemporary Bread by Richard Bertinet

Dough

 

Dough: Simple Contemporary Bread by Richard Bertinet (9781904920205)

Put simply: I love this book. Over the past few years, I’ve tried many different bread recipes. Some came out well, some failed, but all of them were always too dense. That changed when I got this book. Every single recipe I’ve tried so far has been delicious. Even when I screw something up, it still somehow turns out okay. And my bread is so light and airy now! I know several people who own this book, and they all say the same thing. Richard Bertinet’s method of kneading dough is so simple that I really believe that anyone could use this book and master the art of making bread. I’ve used it so many times that there’s a thin layer of flour and even dough on many of the pages. Buy this book. Eat bread. Be happy.

And in case I haven’t convinced you enough, here are some photos of the bread I’ve made from this book.

orange

rolls

garlic

bread

focaccia

sticks

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Pulled Pork Shepherd’s Pie

pie

My version of meat and potatoes. For those of you who think that I don’t eat meat, here ya go. When I do eat meat, I go all the way.

The inspiration for this dish came from one of those shows on the Cooking Channel that features dishes from various restaurants across the nation. I have no idea which restaurant it was that gave me this idea, but I simply had to try it myself. Pulled pork and mashed potatoes are two of my favorite things.

The pork came from Cedar Cress Farm at the Worthington Farmers’ Market. I used pork shoulder (about 3 lbs). I prepared mine in a crock pot because I was going to be in and out of the house during the day. If you can cook it in the oven all day, that’s the best way to do it, but a crock pot works as well.

Once again, this really isn’t an exact recipe but, if you’ve read my previous posts, I suppose you’re used to that by now.

Start by heating olive oil in a saute pan at medium-medium high heat. Smother the pork in salt and pepper and sear it until each side is brown. (Note that if you’re cooking it in the oven, you should sear it in the same pan you’re going to use to roast the pork so that all the flavors can remain in the same pot). Once the pork is seared, move it to the crock pot (if using one). Then pour a few splashes of red wine into the saute pan in order to get all of those good, flavorful brown bits off the bottom of the pan. After cooking for a minute, pour that wine over the pork in the crock pot. Add some water (a couple cups) and then let the pork cook all day. (I started my crock pot on high just to get the heat up and then, after about an hour, turned it down to low.) When it’s done, it’ll be falling apart. Once it’s cool enough to touch, shred it using two forks.

While the pork cools, heat a tablespoon of butter in a saute pan over medium heat. Once melted, add a tablespoon of flour and whisk it together. Now add a few splashes of red wine and about a 1/2 cup of the water/wine mixture that cooked with the pork (this is optional. It’s fatty from cooking with the pork but has wonderful flavor. If you don’t want it, just use all chicken stock). I also added a few ladles of homemade chicken stock (eyeball how much you need, based on how much pork you made). Once the mixture thickens, season it with a little more salt and pepper (taste it first!).  If it doesn’t appear thick enough, whisk in about a teaspoon of arrowroot flour to thicken it even more (this step may not be necessary depending on how much liquid you added in the beginning. Just be sure to use a flour, such as arrowroot, that can easily be whisked into the liquid. It helps to lower the heat and mix the arrowroot flour with a touch of water first before adding it into the hot liquid). Add the shredded pork and stir until well combined. Add more chicken stock if you think it needs more liquid.

(Note that if you cooked the pork in the oven all day, you should do the above step in the same pan you cooked the pork in so that you can get all that good flavor from the bottom of the pan.)

Now the fun part: assembling the pie. Simply pour the pork mixture into a heavy pot or dutch oven and top it with homemade mashed potatoes. Dot the top of the potatoes with tiny cubes of butter and bake it in a 400 degree oven for 10 minutes. Once it is bubbly hot, stick it under the broiler to get the top nice and brown. Then enjoy the best meat and potato dish you’ll ever eat.

 

 

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