Monday, September 29, 2014

Butternut Squash Risotto

I posted the other day about roasted beet and goat cheese risotto.  Before I ever tried that out I made short-cut risotto using my slow cooker.  I admit that I started a blog post about it at the time, but hadn't finished writing it.  I revisited the incomplete post, reminding myself how delicious the end result was.  Now that squash season is coming back I look forward to making this again!

In an effort to cut down on cooking in the evenings, I try to maximize the use of my slow cooker.  But I usually ended up doing the same recipe over and over.  When I started hearing buzz about the new cookbook Slow Cooker Revolution Volume 2 by America's Test Kitchen I knew it was something I needed to add to my collection.  I don't have Volume 1, but from what I've heard there is a LOT of prep work that goes into the recipes in there.  Volume 2 focuses on things with easy prep.  This doesn't usually mean just chopping veggies and opening cans which is what I was used to doing.  While the prep work is still pretty simple, you utilize the microwave and other shortcuts to making a great dish in the slow cooker both before and sometimes after the cook time is up.

Among the recipes that jumped out at me was Butternut Squash Risotto.  I like everything in that title, but I had never made risotto before because it usually was done by standing over a stove for a long time.  This recipe avoids that by microwaving the rice before cooking and adding hot broth to it from the start.  I will say, though, that this is not the dish to make on a day you are putting on the slow cooker and going off to work.  It only cooks 2-3 hours and I even if you have a timer I don't know how long it can be on 'keep warm' before it affects the outcome.

Of course I thought I had totally screwed up the whole thing because I hadn't read the blurb at the top of the page where it said to avoid the pre-cut chunks of squash and instead get a whole one or a halved & peeled one.  My supermarket doesn't sell halved ones and I'm sorry, but I have no patience when it comes to peeling a butternut squash.  I have other things I'd rather be doing (just about anything I can think of...).  I cut the pre-cut chunks down to 1/2 inch pieces and I think that it came out just fine.

And the official verdict on this is that it just might be my husbands #2 favorite dish I've made (after my poached flounder).  He would have to go back through everything I've ever made to decide if anything else was actually his second favorite, but this is definitely the best dish I've made in recent history.

Butternut Squash Risotto (from America Test Kitchen's Slow Cooker Revolution Vol 2)

6 cups vegetable broth
2 cups Arborio rice
1 cup chopped onion
3 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 lbs peeled and seeded butternut squash, cut into 1/2 inch slices (***while they like pre-cut & peeled squash, they recommend avoiding the pre-cut chunks which they find dry and stringy)
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp minced fresh sage

- microwave 4 cups broth in bowl until steaming, about 5 minutes.
- in a separate bowl, microwave rice, onion, and 1 tbsp butter, stirring occasionally, until ends of rice kernels are transparent, about 5 minutes.
- transfer rice to the slow cooker and immediately stir in wine, and let sit until wine is almost completely absorbed, about 2 minutes.
- stir in hot broth, squash, and 1/2 tsp salt.  Cover and cook until rice is tender, 2 to 3 hours on high.
- after the cook time is up, microwave remaining 2 cups broth in bowl until steaming, about 2 minutes.
- slowly stream hot broth into rice, stirring gently, until liquid is absorbed and risotto is creamy, about 1 minute.
- gently stir in peas and let sit until heated through, about 5 minutes.
- stir in Parmesan, sage, and remaining 2 tbsp butter (adjust risotto consistency with extra hot broth as needed).
- season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Beet and Goat Cheese Risotto

I think I've mentioned before that I am on a cooking message board.  Each day those of us who have blogs post links and pictures to that day's blog posts.  Back in February 2012 Jill from JBeanCuisine posted a picture of her roasted beet risotto with goat cheese that was just gorgeous.  I bookmarked the page because of the picture but having never eaten beets it wasn't on the top of my list of things to make.

Then I joined a CSA this year and in our box we started getting beets.  My mind immediately went to that beautiful picture and I knew what I would do with the beets.  Plus. risotto has always been one of those recipes that I know is time consuming and hard to make but I still wanted to try at some point.

The first time beets were in the box they were golden beets, so they didn't give us that nice pinkish color, but were still super tasty.  Since then we have gotten red beets so I had to go back and make the risotto again!

The risotto is actually pretty easy to make, but it does require your attention.  I like to pour myself a glass of wine, pull a stool up to the stove and sip away as I stir in the broth.

One note when using red beets - the color will stain!  I use prep gloves (the same kind I use when touching raw meats) when handling them plus I use foil under them on the cutting board so I don't end up with a bright pink board.  I also rinse the knife immediately after use so it doesn't stain.

Roasted Beet Risotto with Goat Cheese (from JBeanCuisine)

4 medium beets, trimmed (leaving 1 inch of stems attached)
3 1/2 cups vegetable stock + 1tbsp for roasting beets
3 cups water
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil + 1 tbsp for roasting beets
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 cups Arborio rice
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp  freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup goat cheese (plus more for garnish)

- preheat oven to 425'
- toss the beets with 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp stock and a dash of salt & pepper.  Tightly wrap beets in double layer of foil and roast on a baking sheet until very tender (about 1 - 1.5 hours depending on the size of the beets).  You will now they are ready when you can insert a knife through the middle without any resistance.
- Place the cooked beets aside (with the foil opened to allow steam to escape) to cool for about 20 minutes
- When the beets are cool enough to handle, peel them, discarding stems and root ends, then cut into 1/2 in cubes.
- When you are ready to make the risotto, bring the broth and water to a rolling simmer in a medium saucepan.  Reduce heat and keep at a low simmer
- Preheat a wife (4-6 qt) pot over medium/medium-high heat.  Add in the olive oil and onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened.  About 3 minutes.
- Add rice to the onions and oil and cook, stirring constantly, for about 2 minutes
- Add the wine to the pan, simmer briskly, stirring constantly, until all of the liquid is absorbed, about 1 minute
- Add in 1/2 cup broth and simmer briskly, stirring constantly, until broth is absorbed.  Continue simmering and adding broth (about 1/2 cup at a time), stirring constantly and letting each addition be absorbed before adding the next, until the rice is just tender and creamy-looking, 18 to 22 minutes (reserve leftover broth).
- Stir in diced beets, salt, and pepper (mixture will turn bright pink) and cook, stirring, until heated through.
- thin to your liking with some of the leftover broth, then stir in cheese and remove from heat.
- serve, garnishing with additional goat cheese if desired

Friday, September 19, 2014

Phyllo Confetti Tilapia

Now that my son is a year old and eating table foods, I have been looking for some good dinners that seem pretty easy to make and aren't too far out there.  Thankfully we have been blessed with a child who is not a picky eater.  This kid will basically eat anything we put in front of him, which lets us eat a wider range of food while trying to feed him what we are eating.

Over the weekend my husband and I were trading off watching the baby (or should I say, watching our toddler?!) as we tried to be a little productive, so I looked for a dinner with only a small amount of hands-on work.  This recipe had already jumped out at me because every ingredient is more delicious than the last.  Plus we had an overabundance of tomatoes thanks to our CSA share.  We also got to use our fresh parsley we are growing on our deck, which I always love incorporating into our meals.  The one change we made is that the original recipe calls for halibut.  They had it at our local store but it was about $26/lb due to overfishing, so in an effort to not spend an insane amount of money on a homemade meal we opted to use tilapia which is a comparable fish but about 1/5 of the price.

The end result was so good.  The honey mustard added a nice punch of flavor while the phyllo dough added some much needed crunch.  And our son loved the fish (which we took the phyllo dough off of).  He finished a huge piece!

Even reheated this was delicious.  I plan on adding this to our usual rotation.


Phyllo Confetti Tilapia (slightly adapted from Kosher By Design: Short on Time)

olive oil cooking spray
1 roll phyllo dough, thawed
6 6-8oz tilapia filets
fine sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp whole grain honey mustard
1/3 cup loosely packed fresh parsley, finely chopped
2 pts grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced

- preheat oven to 375 degrees
- spray baking dish with olive oil spray
- take roll of phyllo dough, remove from the outer plastic bag.  Keeping it in a roll, use a serrated knife to cut 2in off the end.  (return rest of roll to fridge/freezer for another use)
- gently remove inner plastic sheet.  Re-roll the phyllo dough and, with a serrated knife, shred the dough into thin strips.  Fluff out the strips with your hands
- season the fish fillets with salt and pepper
- place fillets in the prepared baking dish
- spread an even layer of honey mustard on each piece
- arrange the shreds of phyllo dough in a pile over each fillet.  Sprinkle with parsley
- generously spray the olive oil spray over the fish
- toss the tomatoes with the extra virgin olive oil and minced garlic.  Add to the baking dish.
- Bake, uncovered, for 15-20 min, depending on thickness of the fish, until the phyllo is a light golden brown and the fish is white and slightly firm to the touch.
- transfer to plates or a platter.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Getting Ready for Rosh Hashanah

We are a week away from Rosh Hashanah and I'm sure everyone is planning their new year menus.  I have placed my order for whitefish, carp and pike so I can make my gefilte fish on Tuesday.  I may also whip up some noodle kugel.

If you are in search of some new ideas on how to ring in a sweet 5775, I asked some blogging buddies for dishes that use honey and here are a few other recipes I'd like to share:

***All pictures belong to the blog I link the recipe to***

Start your day off with these delicious breakfast ideas:
Honey butter croissants (from Hop's restaurants)
Honey Butter Croissants from Eva Bakes

Honey Almond Granola from Books & Cooks

Grapefruit Honey Cereal Muffins from Adventures in My Kitchen

grapefruit scones 5

Grapefruit Honey Yogurt Scones from The Way the Cookie Crumbles

And end your meal with some of these sweet treats:

Honey Cake that I posted in September 2012

 Karidopita (Greek Walnut Cake) from Elly Says Opa

Baklava from Elly Says Opa

honey ice cream 4

Honey Ice Cream from The Way the Cookie Crumbles

I hope these recipes help you have a sweet new year!