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Archive for March, 2011

Winter Squash Risotto with Radicchio

After a few months with our butts parked here in wintry Buffalo, it’s that time again, we are hitting the road. We leave Saturday morning for Austin, Texas for the South by Southwest Music Festival and Flatstock 29! I love this trip not only because we drive down, and I love a good road trip, but we also get a great dose of some much-needed sunshine and warmer weather plus great music, hang outs with our good friends, good food and so much more. As with all of our trips, though they are an escape from the every day and a bit of a vacation in that sense, they are very much about work and business, so the weeks leading up require a lot of long days and nights of prep. We have to wrap up any client projects we have on deck and we also have to pack and restock all of our handmade goodies, print stuff, sew stuff, etc. I have been trying in these two weeks before, to make meals that require one day of prep and cooking but gives us many meals. I have made pasta Bolognese, vegetarian shepherd’s pie, italian sausage, white bean and escarole soup, slow cooked black beans for tacos and this risotto. It’s been great because we have a ton of leftovers and we’ve been able to just focus on work and when need be, take breaks, heat up some dinner and then get back to work. I love it. Home cooked meals are most important to me when life gets busy and stressful.

This risotto is a nice, hearty winter dish that is comforting, while being light. I love all the different flavors, a good quality vegetable broth in itself has so many layers of flavors, the sweetness from the squash really compliments the sharp bitterness from the little bit of radicchio and the creaminess from the milk and the cheese finish it all off, perfectly. The rich, creaminess from the squash really makes this risotto feel sinful, but you can enjoy it, guilt-free. We served it as our main dish but it is light enough to be a side-dish. If you don’t care for radicchio you could add in baby spinach instead.

Winter Squash Risotto with Radicchio
serves 6
adapted from Cooking Light Magazine

1 butternut squash (about 4 pounds)
6 cups organic low-sodium vegetable broth
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 1/2 cups sliced radicchio
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons organic butter
1 small onion, finely diced
1 1/2  cups uncooked Arborio rice or other short-grain rice
1/4  cup dry white wine (I didn’t have any so I used dry vermouth)
3 tablespoons organic half-and-half or whole milk
fresh ground black pepper
kosher salt
3/4 cup  (3 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Cut squash in half lengthwise; discard the seeds and membrane. Place squash halves, cut sides down, on a baking sheet; bake at 375° for 50 minutes or until squash is tender. Cool. Peel squash; mash pulp. Set aside 1 1/2 cups pulp, reserving remaining pulp for another use.

Bring vegetable broth to a simmer in a large saucepan. Keep warm over low heat. Heat olive oil over medium-high heat until hot in a large pan or dutch oven. Add radicchio; sauté 2 minutes or until wilted. Place radicchio in a bowl. Sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon each of pepper and salt, set aside. Melt butter in Dutch oven. Add onion; sauté 3 minutes or until lightly browned. Add rice; sauté 1 minute. Stir in wine and 1/2 cup broth mixture; cook 3 minutes or until the liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Add 2 cups broth mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of liquid is absorbed before adding the next (about 15 minutes total). Stir in squash pulp. Repeat procedure with remaining 1 1/4 cups broth mixture (about 9 minutes total). Stir in radicchio mixture and half-and-half. Season to taste with black pepper and kosher salt. Remove from heat; stir in cheese. Sprinkle with a bit more cheese and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.

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Cocoa Brownies with Browned Butter and Walnuts (Gluten-free)

I made mention of the February issue of Bon Appétit magazine on Facebook last week and a gluten-free friend of mine told me I just HAD to try the cover recipe for the brownies pictured. Ironically, I had just finished drooling over the recipe, seconds before. She mentioned to substitute gluten-free all-purpose flour for the regular flour in the recipe, which I had on hand along with all the other ingredients. We had a friend over helping us with some dry wall work on the house so I decided right then, with tarp and ladders in the kitchen and all,  to give this recipe a try.  Despite its name, this is a very simple brownie recipe, that rivals the brownie recipe I posted a few weeks back.  These brownies are a bit different, not only because they include flour but because the star of the show this time is the browned butter. It brings a beautiful rich and almost nutty flavor. They are so wonderfully fudgy and chewy with a bit of a crust on top. The walnuts are the perfect addition, but you could certainly use pecans or almonds instead of walnuts or skip the nuts altogether. If you aren’t gluten-free, just use regular all-purpose flour in place of the gluten-free flour and skip the xanthan gum. The original recipe called for unsalted butter and a generous 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt. I personally adore a dessert with a salty/sweet combo, even more when it includes chocolate, so I went with salted butter and 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt. Why not, right? I definitely didn’t find the salt overpowering, in fact I expected to taste the salt a bit more.

My favorite part of this recipe is that my mixer didn’t even need to get brought out. I made the entire recipe in the pot I browned the butter in. Simple. Once the dry wall work was done and we had cleaned up, I made sure the brownies were cooled and we sat and enjoyed a small sliver before dinner, we couldn’t wait. Just when I thought I couldn’t make my husband any happier, I saw his face with one bite of this brownie, I did it again! I love when he loves gluten-free desserts I make, not only because I love cooking and baking for him, but if he loves it as much as me, this means I won’t get stuck eating an entire pan of brownies. I have someone else to help. I also have to mention, I have been very happy with how well these have kept. I made these last Saturday and we still have 4 brownies left, nearly a week later. I cut the pieces up and simply covered the pan with plastic wrap, they haven’t dried out and have kept the lovely fudgy chewiness that makes them so great, something a lot of brownie recipes cannot say for themselves.

 

Cocoa Brownies with Browned Butter and Walnuts (Gluten-Free)
Makes 16 brownies
Adapted from Bon Appétit Magazine – February 2011

10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) salted organic butter, cut into 1-inch pieces + a bit extra to grease the pan
1 1/4 cups organic pure cane sugar
3/4 cup natural unsweetened organic free-trade cocoa powder (I used Equal Exchange)
2 teaspoons water
1 teaspoon organic vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
2 chilled local brown eggs, cage-free and pasture raised
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon gluten-free all-purpose flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum (do not add this if it is included in your gluten-free all-purpose flour mix)
1 cup walnut pieces

Position rack in bottom third of oven; preheat to 325°F. Grease a 8x8x2-inch glass baking pan with softened butter. Melt 10 tablespoons of butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Continue cooking until butter stops foaming and browned bits form at bottom of pan, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; immediately add sugar, cocoa, 2 teaspoons water, vanilla, and 1/2 teaspoon (generous) salt. Stir to blend. Let cool about 5 minutes (it will still be hot). Add eggs to hot mixture 1 at a time, beating vigorously to blend after each addition. When mixture looks thick and shiny, add flour and stir until blended. Beat vigorously 60 strokes. Stir in nuts. Transfer batter to prepared pan.

Bake brownies until toothpick inserted into center comes out almost clean (with a few moist crumbs attached), about 30-35 minutes*. Cool in pan on rack. After the brownies have fully cooled (a few hours) cut into 16 square pieces and enjoy. Store airtight at room temperature.

 

*Don’t be alarmed if it takes a bit longer than this, I had read some reviews of this recipe online and some people mentioned it took them over 40 minutes to be fully baked.

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