Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Butternut Squash and Sage Risotto



People usually think of risotto as a fancy restaurant dish but it’s easy to make at home and a great dish to have in your repertoire. The only special thing you need to buy is the rice - either Arborio or Carnaroli, which are Italian, short grained rice varieties. It takes less than 30 minutes and you can use any ingredient you like to "star" in it. This is a butternut squash and sage risotto. Other favorites include mushroom; peas, prosciutto and asparagus; lobster with tarragon; or just plain cheese (my kids love this and call it "cheesey rice." You can make it vegetarian, seafood, meaty, vegan... you can load it up with butter and cheese or just use olive oil. It's completely versatile. The technique is basically the same - you sweat aromatics in olive oil, add rice and "toast" it for a few minues, add some wine, wait till it is absorbed, then slowly ladle in stock until the rice is cooked. Towards the end, add your highlighted ingredient (either already cooked, or cook it in the pot if it's fast cooking, like peas.) Stir the risotto fairly often because that will help release the starch from the rice, giving you that creamy texture you're looking for. If you have questions about different ingredients ask me in the comments!


Ingredients:

2-3 cups butternut squash, cut into small cubes
olive oil
sage  
6 cups stock (chicken or vegetable)
1 1/2 cups Arborio or Carnaroli rice
1/2 onion or 2 shallots, cut into 1/4" dice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup white wine
Parmesean
Butter



Method:

Roast butternut squash with a few tablespoons olive oil, salt, pepper and chopped sage on an oiled sheet pan at 400 for about 20 minutes (until easily pierced with a knife.) Set aside and keep warm.

Put stock in a pot and bring to barely a simmer.

Heat a separate, larger pot, and add a couple tablespoons olive oil, the onion or shallot, garlic, 1 tsp salt, a little pepper and sauté, stirring occasionally.

Once the onion/shallot is translucent, add the rice and stir. Let it “toast” about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add white wine, stir and cook until all the wine is absorbed.

Once all the liquid is absorbed, start ladling in the warm stock, a half cup at a time, stirring frequently. Don’t add more until most of the liquid has been absorbed and you can see the bottom of the pan when you stir. You should be adding liquid every 2-3 minutes for about 18-25 minutes.

At 15 minutes, taste the risotto for doneness. It should be just on the softer side of al dente and the consistency of porridge. If you run low on stock, add a little water to your stock pot. 

Once the risotto is cooked, stir in the squash, a couple tablespoons butter, and a big handful of grated Parmesean. Add salt/pepper if needed. I garnished with fried sage leaves but you can keep it simple and just grate more parmesean on.


Friday, February 1, 2019

Turkey and White Bean Chili


So-Cal Turkey Chili with ALL the fixings! This healthy chili is packed with protein, fiber and veggies. It won a chili cook off in Budapest when I cooked at the US Embassy there and was featured in Southern California Magazine a couple years ago. It really benefits from a full 3 hours on the stove but you can cook it a little less if you're in a hurry. If you don't add beer, just add an extra cup of chicken stock. The longer you give it, the better the flavor. It makes a big batch so it’s great for a crowd, to have in the fridge all week, or you can freeze it. The more toppings, the better! 



Ingredients:

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds organic ground turkey (dark or dark and white combo)
1 large onion or 2 small onions, diced
2 bell peppers (red, yellow or orange) deseeded and cut into small dice
1 jalepeño, minced with or without seeds - seeds will make is spicier (optional) 
3 cloves garlic, minced2 teaspoons ground marjoram or dried oregano
2 teaspoons coriander2 teaspoons cumin
1/4 cup chili powder
tablespoon paprika (sweet, hot or smoked, depending on preference)
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1-2 canned chipotle peppers in adobo, minced2 teaspoons cinnamon 
28 oz. can chopped tomatoes
3 cups chicken or beef stock
1 12 oz. bottle dark beer (optional)
2 rounded tablespoons tomato paste
5 cups cooked white beans OR 3 15 oz. cans white beans, drained and rinsed (I like cannellini or navy)
1/4 cup lime juice 


Accompaniments: sour cream, avocado, cilantro, cheddar, diced red onion, lime wedges, etc. 

Method:

Heat a large pot and add olive oil and turkey meat. Cook until no longer pink, using a large spoon or potato masher to break up large chunks. 

Add onions, bell peppers, jalepeño (if using), garlic and salt. Sauté about 5-7 minutes until onions are soft and translucent. 

Add marjoram (or oregano), coriander, cumin, chili powder, paprika, cocoa powder, chipotle peppers, and cinnamon. Sauté 5 minutes more over medium heat, stirring occasionally. 

Add tomatoes, chicken stock, beer (or extra cup of stock) and tomato paste. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer 2-3 hours over low heat, uncovered. Stir occasionally to prevent scorching on bottom. Add beans during last 30 minutes of cooking.

Salt again to taste and add 1/4 c lime juice before serving. 

Serve with sour cream, diced avocado, cilantro, chopped red onion, grated cheddar cheese and lime wedges.



Serves 8-10

Monday, January 21, 2019

Coconut Pumpkin Pecan Bread


This pumpkin bread is pretty much the same as my pumpkin muffin recipe but I double the sugar to make sure it stays moist in loaf form. I usually try to get away with less sugar, but when you're making quick breads if you put to little sugar in you will end up with a very dry loaf. If you don't have coconut, leave it out or substitute rolled oats to add some whole grains. I like to sprinkle some coconut on top but if you're using shredded coconut that's sweetened be careful as it may burn. I would just mix it into the batter and leave the top plain.

Ingredients:

Monday, January 14, 2019

Coconut Panna Cotta with Mango Lime Purée

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Bûche de Noël




It doesn't get more classic than a Buche de Noel for dessert on Christmas Day. This is a pretty straightforward recipe adapted from an old Hershey Cookbook recipe from 1993. I usually bake the cake on Christmas Eve, along with the meringue mushrooms (don't assemble them until the day you're using them.) Then on Christmas morning I make the Chocolate Frosting, the Mocha filling and assemble everything. You could do it all on Christmas Eve and refrigerate the cake if you like to get things done ahead of time. Just save the assembly of the mushrooms for last because if you refrigerate them, they'll get soggy.

You can simplify by skipping the mocha frosting and using lightly sweetened whip cream to fill the cake. If I do this sometimes I spread the cake with a layer of raspberry jam or marmalade. You can also add berries or toasted, chopped nuts to the filling (hazelnuts are my favorite although the original recipe calls for almonds.) You can take this cake in all kinds of directions and use whatever flavors you like. When it's all assembled I like to add real folliage from outside and dust it with a cocoa and then powdered sugar, tapped from a sieve to resemble dirt and snow on the forest floor. If you have any questions, feel free to message me on Instagram or comment below!






For the cake:

1 cup cake flour, sifted
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa 
1/8 teaspoon baking powder 
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 eggs, separated 
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 tsp rum extract (can substitute vanilla extract)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line 15” x 10” x 1” sheet pan with aluminum foil; lightly grease foil. Set aside. Combine cake flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt in mixing bowl. Set aside.

Beat egg yolks and 2/3 cup sugar in large mixer bowl until light and fluffy (3-5 minutes.) In a separate bowl beat egg whites until foamy. Gradually add remaining 1/3 cup sugar, beating until stiff peaks form. Add flour mixture alternately with water to egg yolk mixture, stir in melted butter and rum extract. Carefully fold in beaten egg whites. 

Spread batter evenly in prepared pan. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until top springs back when lightly touched. Cool in pan 5 minutes, invert onto dish towel sprinkled with powdered sugar or cocoa. Carefully peel off foil. Immediately roll cake and towel together starting from narrow end for a thicker, shorter cake or longer end for a skinnier, longer cake (this is what I do.) Place on wire rack to cool completely. 

Prepare Mocha Filling and Chocolate Frosting (recipes below.) Carefully unroll cake; remove towel. Spread cake with all but 2 tablespoons of Mocha Filling to within 1/2” of edges. Carefully reroll cake. Cut off 1” from each end and reserve to use as “stumps.” Place cake roll seam side down on serving plate. Use reserved mocha filling to attach “stumps” to the side of the cake roll. Frost log and stumps with Chocolate Frosting. Run fork tines over frosting to resemble bark. Chill 2 hours before serving. Decorate with Merengue Mushrooms (recipe below.)

Mocha Filling


1/4 cup butter at room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa 
1 tablespoon instant coffee granules 
2 tablespoons hot water
Zest of 1 orange
1/4 cup sliced almonds

Cream butter in a mixing bowl, add powdered sugar and cocoa, beating until smooth. Dissolve coffee granules in hot water; beat into mixture until of spreading consistency. Stir in orange zest and almonds. 

Chocolate Frosting

1/2 cup butter at room temperature 
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/4 cup cream

Cream butter in a mixer bowl. Combine powdered sugar and cocoa; add alternatively with cream until desired consistency. It should be spreadable and not runny. If it’s to thin, add more powdered sugar, if to stiff, add more cream, a teaspoon at a time. 

Meringue Mushrooms


2 egg whites at room temperature 
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
6 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment or lightly grease it.

In a large mixing bowl beat egg whites and cream of tartar until foamy. Gradually add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla, beat until stiff peaks form. 


Spoon meringue into large pastry bag fitted with plain tip. Pipe 15 mounds on to prepared sheet pan, making each mound about 1 1/2” in diameter to resemble mushroom caps. Pipe remaining meringue into 15 upright 1” lengths to resemble mushroom stems. Bake for 1 3/4 hours. Without opening door , turn off oven; let meringues remain in oven 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely on cookie sheet. 

When ready to assemble, use the tip of small knife to scrape a small hole in underside of mushroom cap. Melt chocolate chips in double boiler or microwave. Place small amount of chocolate in hole and spread underside of cap with chocolate. Attach stem to cap by inserting pointy end into chocolate filled hole. Repeat with remaking caps and stems. Let dry upside down until chocolate is set, 1-2 hours. 



Thursday, November 29, 2018

Vegetarian Lasagna



There's no fast way to make homemade lasagna, but this is the quickest method I know. The main short cuts are store bought tomato sauce, no boil lasagna sheets and a ricotta mixture instead of bechamel. Buy a good sauce. I like to make my own, but in a pinch (and for quick lasagna) I like Rao's.

You need to add water to the tomato sauce because no boil lasagna sheets require a more watery sauce - they will essentially be boiled IN THE SAUCE! Of course you can use traditional lasagna noodles (they will give you a superior texture) if you have the time to boil them ahead. Make sure when you drain them you lay them flat on an oiled baking sheet so they don’t get sticky and clumpy in a colander.

used carrot, sweet potato, zucchini and bell pepper for the vegetables, but you can use whatever combination of veggies you like. Eggplant, squash and mushrooms are nice. You want to end up with about 4 cups of roasted vegetables.


Ingredients:

about 1/4 cup olive oil (2 Tbs for roasting and 2 Tbs for sautéing the onion)
1 large peeled carrot, cut into 1/2" cubes
1 large peeled sweet potato, cut into 1/2" cubes
1 medium zucchini, but into 1/2" cubes
1 red bell pepper, stemmed and seeded, cut into 1/2" cubes1 16 oz jar tomato sauce
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1 onion, cut into 1/4' dice
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 x 15 oz containers ricotta
2 eggs
1 tsp salt
grated nutmeg (optional)
1 tbs chopped fresh basil or 1 tsp dried
1/2 c grated parm
no boil lasagna sheets (about 12)
2 cups grated mozzarella

Method:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Toss carrot, sweet potato, zucchini and bell pepper with a couple tablespoons olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper and spread onto a rimmed, oiled baking sheet. Roast for about 20 minutes or until almost cooked through.

In a large sauté pan heat 2 tbs olive oil and add onion and half of the garlic. 

Sauté about 5 minutes, and season with salt and pepper.  

Add tomato sauce and 1/2 cup water and bring to a low simmer.

While sauce is simmering make cheese filling. In a large bowl mix ricotta, egg, the rest of the garlic, salt, nutmeg, basil and Parmesean.

Take tomato sauce off heat and lightly oil a 9x13" casserole dish. You can use something slightly smaller too, just make sure to put your dish on a foil lined cookie sheet in case there is spill over. I do this no matter what size pan I use. 

Add 1/2 cup tomato sauce and then three sheets of noodles. Don't over lap them. Some gaps are fine. 

Next add a layer of ricotta mixture (1/2 of it) and scatter 1/3 of vegetables over it. 

Then 3 more sheets of noodles, then tomato sauce (1/2 of what is remaining) with 1/3 of vegetables scattered over, then 3 more sheets of noodles.

Next, the rest of the ricotta with the last 1/3 of vegetables scattered over. 

Your last layers should be noodles and then sauce. Don't worry if your layers aren't perfectly spread, it will all fuse together while baking.

Sprinkle grated mozzarella over the top. 

Take a piece of aluminum foil big enough to cover lasagna and oil it (this will help prevent cheese from sticking to it.) Cover lasagna with foil and bake at 375 for 1 hour. 

Remove foil carefully in case there is a little sticking and place under broiler for 3-5 minutes until golden bubbles appear. Be careful not to burn it. If you don't have a broiler you can just leave it in the oven another 10 minutes uncovered.

Let sit for at least 20-30 minutes before cutting.

Serves about 8

Friday, November 2, 2018

Quick-ish Meat Lasagna


Quick-ish Meat Lasagna


There's no super fast way to make homemade lasagna, but this is the quickest method I have come up with. It takes about 20-30 minutes to put together and an hour to bake. The main short cuts are store bought tomato sauce, no boil lasagna sheets and a ricotta mixture instead of bechamel. Definitely buy a good sauce. I like to make my own, but in a pinch  (and for quick lasagna) I buy Rao's - it's really good. If it's a good sauce, you shouldn't have to add more garlic, basil or seasoning.

You can leave the meat out and do a vegetarian lasagna, maybe bulk up the tomato sauce by adding some sauteed cubed veggies like zucchini, sweet potato or carrot. I add water to the tomato sauce because no boil lasagna sheets require a more watery sauce - they will essentially be boiled IN THE SAUCE! Of course you can use traditional lasagna noodles (they will give you a superior texture) if you have the time to boil them ahead. Make sure when you drain them you lay them flat on an oiled baking sheet so they don’t get sticky and clumpy in a colander.

Ingredients:


1 Tbs olive oil
1.5 lbs organic beef
1 16 oz jar tomato sauce
2 x 15 oz containers ricotta
2 eggs
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
grated nutmeg (optional)
1 tbs chopped fresh basil or 1 tsp dried
1/2 c grated parm
no boil lasagna sheets (about 12)
1.5 cups grated mozzarella

Method:


In a large saute pan heat olive oil and add beef. Sautee about 5 minutes, breaking up meat with a spatula or spoon. Season with salt and pepper.

Add tomato sauce and 1/2 cup water and bring to a simmer.

While sauce is simmering make cheese filling. In a large bowl mix ricotta, egg, garlic, salt, nutmeg, basil and parmesean.

Take tomato sauce off heat. Lightly oil a 9x13" casserole dish. (You can use something slightly smaller too, just make sure to put your dish on a foil lined cookie sheet in case there is spill over. I do this no matter what size pan I use.) Add 1/2 cup tomato sauce and then three sheets of noodles. Don't over lap them. Some gaps are fine. Next add a layer of ricotta mixture. Then 3 more sheets of noodles, then sauce, then noodles. Repeat. Your last layers should be noodles and then either ricotta or sauce. Just don't let your top layer be dry noodles. Also, layers don't have to be perfectly spread, it will all fuse together while baking.

Sprinkle grated mozzarella over the top. Take a piece of aluminum foil big enough to cover lasagna and lightly oil it (this will help prevent cheese from sticking to it.) Cover lasagna with foil and bake at 375 for 1 hour. Remove foil carefully in case there is a little sticking and place under broiler for 3-5 minutes until golden bubbles appear. Be careful not to burn it. If you don't have a broiler you can just leave it in the oven another 10 minutes uncovered.

Let sit for at least 20-30 minutes before cutting.

Serves about 8