Monday, April 23, 2007

Red Wine Risotto with Peas

I can not even begin to explain how excited I was to see that someone had commented on one of my posts. I started writing online several months ago because I had fallen so in love with other blogs. Honestly I think one of my favorite aspects of having this website is the list that runs on the left hand side. No matter where I am, I can browse to my blog and then go down my list of favorites and see what everyone else has cooked up.

Anyway, I never really thought about other people coming across my blog and was ecstatic and slightly embarrassed that someone had. Tara, from Seven Spoons takes GORGEOUS photographs and I feel like such an amateur in comparison. I made her soup a few weeks back and linked to her website in order to give credit where it is due. She must have followed that link and discovered my post. Not only did she comment on the muffins that I made to accompany her soup, but she called them "lovely." Imagine that! Thank you Tara.

My point in all this is that her comment has pushed me to try harder and work on my photography skills. Too often I am starving once I've finished cooking and just want to dive right in. It's difficult to resist and instead play with lighting and angles until I get the perfect shot. However, I believe that good photographs are the one constant element among my favorite food blogs and I know that I won't ever be "proud" of my blog until I have better photographs to contribute.

On Friday Alex and I decided to make risotto. I made it once before with my father but it had been a long time since then and my role was quite simple, "stir." This time around I would be responsible for a whole lot more and I hoped to pass the stirring role to Alex.For the recipe, we decided on Giada’s red wine & pea risotto. We could not have picked a better recipe, it was perfect and exactly what we were craving. It is creamy and rich and the peas give it that extra oomph. I also loved the green parsley bits laced throughout. All together, it was simply exquisite. I can't wait to make it again.

It's one of those dishes I would gladly serve to company and have mentally planned out several meals for the next time that I get to play host. If you've never made risotto it really isn't as difficult as you likely believe it to be. The only problem with it is that it requires constant attention.......I promise that it's well worth it in the end.

Bon Appetit!

Red Wine Risotto with Peas

Giada De Laurentiis, Family Dinners

3 1/2 cups chicken broth
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup finely chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup dry red wine
1/3 cup frozen peas, defrosted
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Bring the broth to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cover the broth and keep it warm over very low heat.

Melt the butter in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until translucent, about 8 minutes. Stir in the garlic and saute for 30 seconds, until fragrant. Stir in the rice. Add the wine and stir until it is absorbed, about 1 minute. Add 3/4 cup of the hot broth; simmer over medium-low heat, stirring often, until liquid is absorbed, about 6 minutes. Repeat adding 3/4 cup of hot broth 2 more times, stirring often, about 12 minutes longer. (At this point, the risotto can be set aside for up to four hours. Refrigerate the risotto- the rice will still be firm - and remaining broth, uncovered, until cool, then cover and keep them refrigerated.) Bring the remaining broth back to a simmer, then cover and keep it warm over very low heat before proceeding.

Stir 3/4 cup of the hot broth into the partially cooked risotto over medium heat until the broth is absorbed and the risotto is hot, about 3 minutes. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of broth and simmer until the rice is just tender and the mixture is creamy, about 5 minutes longer. Stir in the peas and parsley. Mix in 1/2 cup of the Parmesan cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon the risotto into bowls. Sprinkle with additional cheese and serve.

(I topped mine with shredded pot roast)

Monday, April 16, 2007

Feta Cheese Muffins

So much for Spring. It has been gray and gloomy here the past week. Normally this is the time that my body starts craving healthy light foods like salads and fruits but since the temperature is more like winter then summer, my body still wants the warm and hearty.

Both Alex and I were slightly hung over this morning after a late night of celebration with friends. They recently got engaged so drinks were aplenty. While definitely worth today's headache it didn't make the kitchen quite as appealing to me. I decided soup would be the easiest option, allowing me to throw together the ingredients then lay on the sofa and wait. I came across Tara's recipe for Chirizo Lentil Soup and it sounded delicious so I went with that.

I wanted to serve something alongside the soup and initially planned on picking up a loaf of bread. However, as I was walking to the market I remembered that we had a fridge full of Feta cheese and I decided to do something with that instead.

Why does someone have mass amounts of feta? Well, Alex works for a food distribution company and lovingly brings home bulk quantities of the food we love. Currently our apartment is stocked with four, 1.5 lb bags of frozen shrimp, two wheels of Kefalograviera cheese, a tub of buffalo mozzeralla, two 3 liter bottles of Cretan Olive Oil, and three pounds of feta. I'm a lucky girl and have nothing to complain about there!

The idea for feta muffins came from an article I read in the Globe a couple weeks back. While I originally thought about adapting it, I just didn't have the energy. Regardless, the muffins were good and don't need any alterations. I'd make them again but feta is so good plain that unless you too have three lbs of it laying around, you may not want to mess with it.

Feta Muffins
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 cup plain, low-fat yogurt
3 eggs
1/3 cup corn oil
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1.) Set the oven to 400 degrees. Prepare a muffin tin with cooking spray / butter
2.) Combine the flour and the baking powder. Drain any liquid from the top of the yogurt.
3.) Mix the yogurt, eggs, and oil. Fold in the the flour mixture, then the feta. Don't over mix. Divide the batter among the muffin cups.
4.) Bake the muffins for 4-5 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees and continue baking for fifteen to twenty minutes longer, or until the muffins are golder brown. Serve warm!