Archive for March, 2011

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Risotto, I Don’t Think We’re in Kansas Anymore

March 20, 2011

Risotto is certainly no newcomer to the table, but in case its charms and wonders have somehow slipped under your culinary radar, let me clue you in.  Risotto is a classic Italian dish made with Arborio rice that is cooked in a broth until the starches break down and it becomes rich and creamy.  Risotto is one of the most versatile dishes out there, and once you get the hang of the basic cooking process, the possibilities are virtually endless.

The queue of ingredients, waiting to go into the pot.

A few notes before you embark on your risotto journey:

First of all, don’t make risotto if you’re hungry.  This advice may sound counter-intuitive, but keep in mind, it takes almost an hour to make – if you’re starving you’ll wind up playing “eat the pantry” and ruining your dinner before it’s even on the table.  Make it when you’re almost hungry so it’s ready when you are.

Secondly, don’t plan on doing anything else while your risotto is cooking.  You really have to nurture it (i.e. watch it like a hawk and stir it constantly).  It demands your undivided attention.

Lastly, don’t let these points intimidate you.  If you’ve got the time and really have a taste for something special (or someone to impress), give it a try!  It can be done vegan or vegetarian (as shown below), or beefed up with meat stocks or seafood.  Either way, it’s a very worthwhile dish to have in your repertoire.

Coating the rice in oil. Nice action shot! (Photos by Edward B.)

Mushroom Asparagus Risotto

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil (for vegan) or butter (for vegetarian)
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • ½ cup diced white onion
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • ½ cup dry white wine (I used some leftover Pinot Grigio I had in the fridge – doesn’t need to be fancy)
  • 3 ½+ cups vegetable (or chicken or beef) stock, as needed (could also use mushroom broth if you can find it in your grocery store)
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms, any variety
  • 1 ½ cups chopped asparagus, parboiled
  • ¼ cup shredded parmesan (optional)

In a large, shallow pan, sauté garlic and onions in oil/butter for 2-3 minutes.  Add rice and cook 2-3 minutes, letting the fat coat each grain.  Add wine all at once, stirring to allow rice to absorb wine.  Once wine is almost completely absorbed, add broth ½ at a time, stirring continually to incorporate liquid.  Add mushrooms halfway through, cooking with rice in broth.  Cook until rice is just barely al dente and risotto is thick and creamy.  Add asparagus.  Finish with parmesan cheese and serve immediately.  Enjoy!

Adding the asparagus to the mix. Mmm...so green.

~Josie

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Fresh and Fun Vegetarian Fajitas

March 13, 2011

Zut alors!  It has been quite a while since our last post.  In all honesty, I meant to post something up but simply kept procrastinating. <(-_-)>  I’ve been juggling a lot of recipes in the R&D department lately, most of which are still works-in-progress.  The recipe I wanted to share today I’ve tweaked a couple of times, and think I’ve finally got it to a share-worthy stage.

Since becoming a vegetarian, there are naturally some “off-limits” foods that I crave.  But, while it is occasionally a craving for the meat (OMG pork chops), more often than not, it is the spices and depth of flavor of the dish that I crave.  One of my favorite classically meaty dishes was fajitas.  I love the sound and scent of the sizzling plates, the gentle spiciness, and flavors reminiscent of citrus.  Now, while I do love me some veggie protein substitutes when it comes to tacos and such, I really didn’t want to rely on “meat” to bring this comforting dish to life.  For this recipe I enlisted the help of a trusted friend, butternut squash.  It’s slightly sweet, vibrantly orange — always a good decision.

Thoughts:

-You can use your favorite fajita seasoning (packet) if you don’t have all these spices on hand. However, all of these spices (perhaps sans ground coriander) should be in your cabinet. <(>.>)>

-Speaking of ground coriander, I used it here because my parents aren’t the biggest fans of cumin. I find that the coriander softens the pungency of the cumin, while enhancing the citrus flavor. P.S. Ground coriander is the seed of the lovely cilantro plant. ❤ Cilantro.

-Add more or less cayenne based on your fire threshold. This recipe should rank about a 2-3/10 on the spiciness scale.

-If you want to add a bean component to your dish, serve with some black beans jazzed up with chopped green chilis, diced onion, a sprinkle of fresh cilantro and diced tomato.

-You can garnish these fajitas with the typical fare, or opt for the Sweet and Spicy Sour Cream-y Cole Slaw — yes, it’s a mouthful but sooo worth it! — we whipped up (Recipe below).  It really offers a nice cooling contrast to the warm richness of the fajita veggies!

*disclosure: all photos are from recipe version 2.0 before addition of green peppers and coleslaw. Still delicious however.

 

Roasted Butternut Squash Fajitas

  • 1 ½ lb butternut squash, cut into ½ inch cubes
  • 1 sweet onion, cut in half-moon slices
  • 1 bell pepper of choice, sliced
  • 1 pkg of cremini or white mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 lime (zest+juice)
  • ½ tsp oregano
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp onion powder
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • Flour or corn tortillas (I favor the corn)

Preheat oven to 400° F.

Yah for shake and roast!

In a large bowl or a gallon size plastic bag toss in all ingredients. Mix/shake vigorously to get every bit nicely coated. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet or roasting pan and roast for 20-25 minutes or until the squash is tender and aroma irresistible.

So colorful! (well even more colorful with green peppers)

Scoop roasted veggies into a tortilla (or several) and top with your desired fixin’s. The cole-slaw topping was a nice addition by Josie that really makes this dish some good noms. P.S. This recipe is vegan friendly, well minus the sour cream, woot woot!

A before picture of the fajitas. I took an after but it was just an empty plate so...yeah. <(^_^)>

Sweet and Spicy Sour Cream-y Cole Slaw

  • 1 head green cabbage*, shredded
  • 1 head red cabbage*, shredded
  • 2 large carrots*, julienned
  • 5-6 radishes, julienned
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup pineapple juice
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
  • salt and pepper to taste

This recipe yields A LOT of cole slaw.  Reduce everything by half if you want a more managable amount, or see the following option:

*If you’re in a hurry, you can use a pre-packaged cole slaw veggie blend in place of the cabbage and carrots, in which case halve the sour cream sauce.

~Josephine and Erik <(^_^)>