Tomato and Mozzarella Risotto

Tomato Mozzerella Risotto

Did you ever feel just a little too comfortable for your own good?  For example, in cooking.  I do so much cooking and baking, every once in a while I let my guard down, and I have a failure that definitely could have been avoided, with a little more vigilance.  It is definitely a hard concept, and one that often needs constant reminding.  Then I think about my children…and how it is best to start young with that lesson.

My older daughter plays softball – and her team is really good this year.  They are actually undefeated, if you can believe it.  At this point, with their 8+ wins, I can see they are starting to be a little over-confident.  The other night they really got a scare – a team that they had beat 19 to 0, came back in their next game to tie it at 5 runs.  I could tell they were a little nervous – and it was a good thing.  I still cheer loudly at every game – but I worry about them heading to the play-offs if they stay undefeated.  Aside from the expectations they will have – the other teams will be playing their hearts out.

Obviously though, it is a hard lesson to learn.  The other weekend I made some more rhubarb jelly – and I had some pectin left over from last season.  I was feeling pretty confident with my jelly making abilities – and would you believe the jelly never really set?  It is fine if you stick it in the refrigerator, but it is not my normal product.  I should have known better than to use that pectin, and that if it failed the plate test at over 220 degrees, there was probably something wrong.

Fortunately this risotto from Cooking Light is kind of dummy proof.  I made this for the girls after a long day, when my husband was away.  I was definitely not all there when I was making this, and it took me by surprise how good it actually was.  I had to run and grab my camera and take a shot of it – which I had no intention of doing.  It was also a big hit with the girls, even with the spinach – score.  So – the next time you are not feeling completely on top of your game – don’t worry about pulling this out for dinner.  Even if you are over-confident – the results will not disappoint.

Ingredients

  • 3 1/4 cups organic vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
  • 1 1/4 cups uncooked Arborio rice
  • 3/4 cup canned crushed tomatoes
  • 2 ounces chopped fresh mozzarella cheese (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 cups torn fresh baby spinach
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
  • 4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

Preparation

Bring vegetable broth to a simmer in a medium saucepan (do not boil). Keep warm over low heat.

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic to pan; sauté 2 minutes or until onion is tender, stirring frequently. Add rice to pan; cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add 1/2 cup broth to rice mixture; cook for 5 minutes or until the liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Reserve 1/3 cup broth. Add remaining broth, 1/4 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of broth is absorbed before adding the next (about 22 minutes total). Stir in tomatoes; cook for 1 minute. Add cheese, pepper, and salt to rice mixture, stirring constantly until cheese melts. Remove from heat; stir in reserved 1/3 cup broth, spinach, and basil. Place 1 cup risotto in each of 4 shallow bowls. Drizzle 1 teaspoon oil over each serving.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Tomato and Mozzarella Risotto

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Persian Rice

I am having one of those weeks – I call them, “I have fallen and I can’t catch up” weeks.  I come home everyday with my inbox completely full of email, the girls asking a million questions, and I can’t even think about what to make for dinner.  Oh, and throw Halloween into the mix – and things have really just been turned upside down.

I really can’t complain though, not after seeing the pictures of the devastation that occurred this week from Hurricane Sandy.  My parents live in New London, CT – and I have been going there all my life.  The seawall that I have walked on thousands of times has crumbled – and the debris on the streets was quite a sight – a toilet seat, a refrigerator?  Probably from one of the beach clubs that got washed away.  Very sad.  Thank goodness they were safe, as was their home.  It is going to be a long time though before the neighborhood gets back to normal.

Even though we didn’t have a hurricane, the rain here has been something else.  We had our 60+ days of sun, and the rain came pouring back into our lives.  This post brings me back to summer.  My family loves rice – and for the most part I buy it frozen and warm it in the microwave.  I saw this recipe in Cooking Light though, and had to indulge.  This was delicious – crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside – with a really nice tangy taste from the yogurt.  Everyone loved it, and it was the perfect side to go with our summer vegetables from the garden.  Goodbye summer, see you next year.  And to all of you on the east coast – I hope you survived the storm ok.  I hope things can go back to normal soon.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup long-grain basmati rice
  • 1/2 cup plain 2% reduced-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed saffron threads
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil

Preparation

Place 4 cups water in a saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to a boil. Add rice; cook for 10 minutes. Drain. Rinse with cold water; drain.

Combine yogurt, salt, and saffron in a medium bowl. Add rice to yogurt mixture, stirring well.

Melt butter in a medium nonstick sauté pan over medium heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Add rice mixture to pan, lightly packing rice down. Wrap a clean, dry dish towel around lid to pan, tying it at the handle; place prepared lid on pan. Cook rice, covered, over medium heat 20 minutes (do not stir or uncover). Reduce temperature to medium-low; cook an additional 20 minutes or until rice is tender on top and a golden crust forms on bottom.

Loosen the rice crust with a rubber spatula around the edges. Place a plate over the top of pan, and invert the rice onto plate, browned side up. Cut into 6 wedges, and serve immediately.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Persian Rice

Bacon and Leek Risotto with Poached Egg

When my husband was little he went through a phase where he only wanted rice for breakfast.  From what I hear, he was such a skinny kid that his mother let him eat pretty much whatever he wanted – as long as he was eating.  That would not fly in my house – and yes, my girls are pretty tiny to say the least.  I love a good bowl of rice, but rice for breakfast would not be my choice – unless I added a handful of granola and topped it off with some milk.  Now you’re talking…

I saw this recipe in Bon Appetit and I immediately thought of breakfast, and then my mind went straight for dinner.  As I have mentioned many times before – I love a good egg for dinner.  Add some bacon, leeks and risotto to that, and boy do you have yourself a killer meal.  My favorite restaurant Tilth will occasionally serve a poached or sous vide egg on top of their risotto or homemade pasta dish – and it makes me melt.  I love breaking into that egg and watching the yolk get into all those nooks and crannies – creating a beautiful silky sauce that coats the dish.  Yum, with a capital Y.  Well – that’s what this dish was all about.  I closed my eyes, and I swear I was eating at my favorite restaurant.  The kids loved it too – my older daughter loved the eggs so much – she had two.  That was quite a compliment.

So – go ahead and try this, and I really don’t think it matters if you serve it for dinner or breakfast – this is definitely a dish to make when you want to impress someone.  Fortunately it is not too difficult – and boy is it worth it.  I can’t wait to make it again…

Ingredients

  • 6 large eggs
  • 5 cups low-salt chicken  broth
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 6 slices thick-cut bacon, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 cups thinly sliced leeks (white and pale  green parts only; about 2 large)
  • 1 1/2 cups arborio rice or medium-grain white rice (about 10 ounces)
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh Italian  parsley
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • Fresh Italian parsley leaves  (for garnish)
  • Additional finely grated  Parmesan cheese (for garnish)

Preparation

Bring large skillet of water just to simmer over medium-low  heat. Sprinkle water with salt. Working with 1 egg at a time, crack into small  bowl and slide egg into simmering water. Cook eggs until whites are cooked  through but yolks are still runny, 3 to 4 minutes. Using slotted spoon,  carefully transfer poached eggs to medium bowl filled with ice water. DO  AHEAD Eggs can be made up to 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate in same  bowl of ice water.

Bring broth to simmer in medium saucepan; cover to keep warm.  Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add bacon and cook until  crisp, stirring occasionally. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper  towels to drain. Add leeks to drippings in pan; cook until soft but not brown,  stirring often, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer 2 generous tablespoonfuls leeks to  small bowl; reserve for garnish. Add rice to pan; stir 1 to 2 minutes. Add wine;  stir until absorbed, about 2 minutes. Add 1D2 cup warm broth to saucepan; stir  until broth is absorbed. Repeat adding broth and stirring until rice is tender  but still firm to bite and sauce is creamy, stirring almost constantly, about 23  minutes total. Add bacon, chopped parsley, butter, and 2 tablespoons cheese.  Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Meanwhile, heat poached eggs in medium skillet of simmering  water just until heated through, 1 to 2 minutes.

Divide risotto among 6 bowls. Top risotto in each bowl with  poached egg. Sprinkle egg with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with parsley leaves,  additional cheese, and reserved leeks.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Bacon and Leek Risotto with Poached Egg

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Asparagus Risotto with Oven Roasted Tomatoes

Even since I made this almost hands-free version of risotto, I have been wondering how it compares to the workout version – where you stir for at least 20 minutes.  Of course I have made risotto before, but I felt like I needed to make it again, just to be absolutely sure.  Plus, I felt like my arm needed a little exercise – typing on the computer all day does nothing for me.  I was ready.

I took this recipe out of the pantry that I found in Cooking Light, adapted it slightly to my taste, and to what I had in the refrigerator – and off I went.  I couldn’t believe it – but it tasted exactly the same.  This batch of risotto was really no better (except for the fact that it had some delicious fresh asparagus and beautifully roasted cherry tomatoes) than the hands-free version.  I guess there is really no need to ever stir risotto by hand again, unless your arm really needs to get some energy out (like we say to our kids – go run around outside, get that energy out).

This technique for roasting cherry tomatoes is also excellent over pasta with some bread crumbs and mozzarella cheese – my neighbor has an awesome recipe that I will make soon and get it on the blog.  Perfect for those vine ripened cherry tomatoes that you will start seeing in the next couple of months – or if you live in Seattle, maybe next summer.

Ingredients

  • 1  tablespoon  olive oil, divided
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt, divided
  • 1  pint cherry tomatoes
  • 5 1/2  cups  fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 1/2  cups  chopped onion
  • 1 1/2  cups  Arborio rice
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 12  ounces  asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2  ounces  pecorino Romano cheese, divided
  • 1  tablespoon  lemon juice
  • 1/4  teaspoon  black pepper

Preparation

Preheat oven to 400°.

Toss 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and tomatoes on a parchment-lined jelly-roll pan. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until tomatoes burst.

Heat 5 1/2 cups broth in a saucepan over medium heat (do not boil).

Heat remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion to pan; cook 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add rice; cook 1 minute. Stir in white wine; cook until the liquid is absorbed, stirring constantly. Add broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion is absorbed before adding the next (about 20 minutes total). Add asparagus to pan with last 1/2 cup of broth. Remove from heat; grate 1 ounce cheese. Stir in grated cheese, remaining 3/8 teaspoon salt, and juice. Spoon about 1 3/4 cups risotto into each of 4 bowls; top evenly with tomatoes. Shave remaining cheese evenly over each serving; sprinkle with pepper.

Serves 4

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here: Asparagus Risotto with Oven Roasted Tomatoes

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Almost Hands-Free Risotto with Parmesan and Herbs

I love risotto – I try and make it at least once a year.  The problem is that I need dedicated stove time with no interruptions – which doesn’t happen to often with two girls that are constantly vieing for my attention.  Although, I do love the workout I get by stirring something consistently for 20+ minutes. 

I was reading my Cook’s Illustrated, and this title just grabbed me.  This would be perfect, I could have my risotto, and possibly keep my children happy at the same time.  What could be better?  Well, the risotto was fantastic, it was nice and creamy, with a wonderful rich flavor (I used a hard gouda cheese, instead of parmesan).  You can easily add some roasted chicken to this and make a heart meal.  You could also add some spring vegetables like asparagus, leeks, or fava beans.  The sky is the limit, and I can’t wait to try some other combinations now that I know the secret…

Ingredients

  • 5 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped fine (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • table salt
  • 1 medium garlic clove, minced
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon juice from 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • group black pepper

Preparation

Bring broth and water to boil in large sauce-pan over high heat.  Reduce heat to medium-low to maintain gentle simmer.

Heat 2 tablespoons butter in large Dutch oven over medium heat.  When butter has melted, add onion and 3/4 teaspoon salt; cook, stirring frequently, until onion is softened but not browned, 4 to 7 minutes.  Add garlic and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add rice and cook, stirring frequently, until grains are translucent around edges, about 3 minutes.

Add wine and cook, stirring constantly, until fully absorbed, 2 to 3 minutes.  Stir 5 cups hot broth mixture into rice; reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until almost all liquid has been absorbed and rice is just al dente, 16 to 19 minutes, stirring twice during cooking.

Add 3/4 cup hot broth mixture and stir gently and constantly until risotto becomes creamy, about 3 minutes.  Stir in Parmesan.  Remove pot from heat, cover, and let stand 5 minutes.  Stir in remaining 2 tablespoons butter, lemon juice, parsley, and chives; season with salt and pepper to taste.  If desired, add up to 1/2 cup remaining broth mixture to loosen texture of risotto.  Serve immediately.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Almost Hands-Free Risotto with Parmesan

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