We are still enjoying some great family time until my husband has to go back to work, so I’m going to keep this short and sweet. We’ve had a great holiday spending time together. We’ve lounged around the house, enjoyed the beautiful weather at a new playground and went to one ofBahrain’s ubiquitous Friday brunches.
Every year for as long as I can remember we’ve had black eyed peas New Years day for good luck, so this year was no exception. This year I didn’t do anything fancy. Just soaked the beans overnight in water, put them in the pressure cooker, covered with chicken stock and generously sprinkled in garlic powder, onion powder, and red pepper flakes and let it go for about an hour. I usually do them in a slow cooker and let them simmer for a few hours, but this just seemed easier. I’d also usually throw in a turkey leg for flavor and because I like some meat in my beans, but I didn’t have one, so my husband just ate his with a bit of left over ham from Christmas.
I’ve got some great recipes planned for the New Year, at least I think so. I hope everyone had a safe and happy holiday season and welcome to 2012!
A few weeks ago I was at the grocery store to pick up some milk but of course, in true Alyssa fashion, there is no quick trip to the store. I still had to walk up and down every isle, looking at everything. I must look like a nut to the people who work at the store. I can spend hours there, looking at everything, reading labels, putting things in my cart and putting them back. Anyway, this particular day, I was so glad I took my time to look, because on the bottom shelf pushed to the back in the baking isle were a few cans of pureed pumpkin. Just pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling. I may, or may not have snatched it off the shelf. I may, or may not have raced to the check out to buy it. I may, or may not have hid it in the back of the pantry like someone was going to break in and steal it.
No, I’m not some kind of crazy pumpkin nut. To be honest, I never really cared for the stuff that much before. It’s just that there are not the same kind of pumpkins you carve for Halloween, and the canned stuff couldn’t be found anywhere on the island. You know the saying, something like, “you never appreciate what you’ve got until it’s gone.” Well that has been my feeling about pumpkin. To my other foodie friends who have been making pumpkin recipes and posting them for months, you may have noticed me tell you how great it was and how I was
jealous excited to see the post.
Well, now I had my very own can of pumpkin and it has literally taken me weeks to decide what to make with it. Indecisive me decided to finally use it to make a super easy (and pretty good) risotto. And of course, I wanted to figure out a way to make this a make-ahead dish as it’s the week before Christmas and I’ve got tons of stuff on my nap time to-do list (ok that’s a lie, I wanted to spend nap time catching up on Real Housewives of Atlanta.) There were many slow cooker risotto recipes I came across while doing a quick web search, but all required stirring at various points during the cooking process, which I thought kind of defeated the point (and I didn’t want to have to pause the RHWoA or miss a minute of any cat fight!) So when I saw this recipe for a baked risotto that was so simple, I knew I had to try it. My verdict: it was a bit gummier than a traditionally made risotto, but it was so easy that I’d do it again.
Baked Pumpkin Risotto:
*Adapted from Ezra Pound Cake’s Easy Baked Risotto
3 1/2 cupsTurkeyStock ( used up what I had made after Thanksgiving)
1 cup pureed pumpkin
4 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 cup Arborio rice
1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
1 tablespoon butter
Fresh thyme to garnish
Salt and Black pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350. Combine stock, pumpkin, cumin and rice in a casserole. Cover and bake for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and stir in cheese and butter. Garnish with fresh cracked black pepper and thyme leaves. Serve immediately.
Filed under: Main Course, Pasta & Rice, Pasta & Rice | Tags: Risotto, Sausage, Sweet potato
Yesterday after I finish snapping a few pictures of dinner, “M” in all of her three years comes up to me and strikes up a conversation that went like this:
M: Mommy, whacha doing?”
Me: “I’m finishing up dinner, what are you doing?”
M: “What’s for dinner?”
Me: “Cheesy rice with sweet potatoes and sausage”
M: “Ohhhh that sounds delicious! Rice is my favorite….but Mommy there is just one problem.”
Me: “Oh yeah, what’s the problem?”
M: “My brother doesn’t like rice, make something else!”
It’s true, my son is probably the pickiest eater on the planet and he won’t eat rice. I offer it to him when ever I make it, but his response is always the same, “No Ma, don’t want it!” Oh well, what’s a Mom to do? I wish I had some great story about how this risotto was the one that turned him into the carb-lover I know is in there somewhere, but it’s not. This was one of the few nights my husband picked something up for him from work.
This risotto was one of those dishes that came together from things I already had on hand. I had planned to make risotto the old fashioned way, you know ladling hot broth into the rice, stirring until it’s absorbed and repeat until the risotto is cooked. But as I started prepping dinner, I was going through a to-do list in my head of everything else I had to get done that night. Then I glanced over and saw my copy of Around My French Table and had, as Oprah would say, an “Ah Ha” moment. A few weeks back the French Fridays with Dorie recipe was Creamy, Cheesy, Garlicky Rice with Spinach (click here to see my version.) Her French version of risotto doesn’t require constant stirring and attention, but comes out creamy and cheesy. This was a great, comforting meal and I’m glad this recipe adapted well to other flavors.
Sweet Potato and Sausage Risotto
*Adapted from Creamy, Cheesy, Garlicky Rice with Spinach from Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan
1 lb Italian sausage, removed from casings
1 onion, diced
1 1lb sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups Arborio rice
7 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup shredded provolone
1/4 cup milk
Fried sage leaves for garnish, optional
Brown sausage and onions over medium high heat and set aside. While sausage browns, heat the oil and cook the sweet potatoes with the Italian spice until the potatoes are crisp on the outside and soft on the inside, about 15 minutes. Set aside.
To cook the rice, bring chicken stock to a boil. Stir in the rice and cover. Reduce the heat to low and allow the rice to cook, undisturbed until most of the liquid is evaporated about 25 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the rice to finish absorbing the liquid. Stir the sausage, milk and cheese into the rice until the cheese melts. Gently fold in the sweet potatoes and serve with fried sage leaves immediately.
Filed under: Main Course, Pasta & Rice, Sides | Tags: Cheese, Garlic, Peppers, Rice, Spinach, Vegetaran
I recently joined French Fridays with Dorie. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a group of bloggers that all make a selected recipe out of Around My French Table, by Dorie Greenspan and post said recipe every Friday. If you want to join, just click here
My copy arrived last friday and I was beyond excited. I’ve already read it cover-to-cover (does it make me strange that I read every new cook book like a novel?) Not only does she have so many great recipes that are both classic and inventive, she also tells a story with each one. This has become one of my favorite cook books-second only to my Grandmother’s cook book.
This dish is everything it’s title promises. It is creamy, cheesy, garlicky goodness. Oh and the spinach adds a nice earthiness to it as well. I used red spinach, as that was what I had on hand. I will continue to use this as more of a method than a recipe, and a great way to spice up left overs, adding whatever is in the ‘fridge. As you can see, I took Dorie’s suggestion and stuffed peppers with the rice. We enjoyed this for lunch with some sautéed shrimp. “M” choose to have the red pepper, because that’s her favorite color. “C” choose the yellow, because that’s his favorite color (as “M” dictated it to be a few months ago.)
I can’t wait to make next friday’s recipe, stay tuned for that post!
*Per the rules for FFWD, recipes are not posted, just pictures. You must buy the book for the recipe, but believe me, you won’t be disappointed!
Filed under: Fish, Main Course, Sides, Vegetable | Tags: Gnocchi, hamour, Tater Tots
When my husband has to go away for work, I usually take the opportunity to try out a new recipe that I know he probably wouldn’t like and watch a movie that he wouldn’t want to see. On his last trip, I decided that I wanted to make gnocchi. Every time I’ve even hinted that I was going to make it, his immediate response would be, “I don’t like potatoes.” Totally untrue, but has been enough to thwart any attempt in the past. While I was looking through recipes for gnocchi, I saw on Food and Wine gnocchi tater tots. Perfect, I’ll divide the recipe, using half for a gnocchi carbonara for me for a late dinner, and half I’ll make into tots for the kids. I was already planning on baking some fish sticks for them for dinner, and what goes better with fish sticks than tater tots?!?
Well I fried up half of the gnocchi, and I thought they came out pretty tasty. They were like a hybrid of gnocchi, tater tots, and fried breakfast potatoes. I would recommend sticking to russet potatoes, though. I haven’t seen russet potatoes here, and the potatoes I do find (don’t know the variety) are starchy but also kind of waxy. I think the waxy aspect was present in the gnocchi, and while it didn’t ruin it, I know these would have been even better with russet potatoes.
After the kids had their dinner, I put them to bed and started to get to work on my carbonara (the intended subject of this post.) However, I guess my guilty pleasure got the best of me. I was so into the latest episode of Real House Wives of New Jersey I just downloaded on itunes, I way overcooked the gnocchi. They were a big globby potato mess, so I had to toss them and finish the kids’ fish sticks for dinner instead.
I guess it was a good thing I snapped a few pictures of my tots 🙂
Gnocchi “Tater Tots” with Crispy Fish Sticks
*Gnocchi recipe from epicurious.com
1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, scrubbed
1 cup (or more) all purpose flour
1 large egg yolk, beaten to blend
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
Large pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Vegetable oil, for frying
1 lb Hamour Filet
1 cup honey Dijon mustard
2 cups Panko bead crumbs
salt/pepper to taste
Line large baking sheet with parchment paper. Transfer potatoes to large bowl. Add 1 cup flour; toss to coat. Form well in center of potato mixture. Add egg yolk, coarse salt, and nutmeg; stir with fork until mixture is evenly moistened (mixture will look shaggy). Turn mixture out onto lightly floured work surface. Knead until dough comes together, sprinkling dough with flour very lightly only if dough is very sticky. Form dough into ball; divide into 4 pieces. Roll each piece between hands and work surface into 3/4-inch-thick rope. Cut each rope into 3/4-inch pieces. Place gnocchi on prepared baking sheet.
Working in batches, cook gnocchi in large pot of boiling salted water until gnocchi rise to surface of water. Continue to simmer gnocchi until cooked through and tender, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes. Using slotted spoon, carefully transfer gnocchi to bowl of ice water, then to paper towels to drain. Meanwhile, heat oil to 350 degrees. Fry gnocchi3-4 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oil to paper towel lined plate and salt immediately.
To make the fish sticks: Cut the hamour filet into strips. Coat strips with mustard, then with bread crumbs. Bake for 10 minutes, or until crisp and cooked through.
Filed under: Fish, Main Course, Pasta & Rice, Sides | Tags: Asparagus, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Risotto, salmon
I thought about trying to find a recipe for some amazing, crazy, salmon. But as I looked, I came to the realization that I love the taste of salmon. I don’t need to cover it up with sauces, rubs, marinades, etc… For me a piece of salmon with a little salt, pepper and lemon juice is perfection.
I’ve seen these baby asparagus in the market, and a few weeks ago I picked some up. I’m not a huge fan of asparagus, but roasting these tiny green veggies makes them crisp, and they have a more mild flavor. And while risotto can be a little labor intensive, I think the final product is so worth it. My husband thinks he hates risotto, or as he calls it, “soupy rice” but every time I make it, he inevitably asks for more of, “that cheesy rice stuff.” I like this risotto because it feels like it’s so indulgent, but it’s fairly healthy. I don’t add cream, and just a bit of sharp parmesan cheese makes all the difference.
Salmon with Roasted Asparagus and Parmesan Risotto
2-3 fillets of Salmon
Juice of one lemon, plus more for serving
Salt and Pepper to taste
2 cups rice (I used basmati because that’s what I had in my pantry, but arborio is probably a better choice)
5 cups chicken stalk, preferably homemade (You may or may not use this much, but it’s better to have more than you need then less)
1 small onion
1/4 cup white wine, plus extra for drinking whilst stirring risotto (I used Sauvignon Blanc, again because that’s what I drink, so that’s what I had on hand 🙂 )
1 lb baby asparagus
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
To roast the asparagus: Preheat the oven to 400. Rinse and trim asparagus. Dry and place on a tin foil lined baking sheet. Toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast in oven 10 minutes, or until asparagus is cooked, and slightly crispy.
After the asparagus is roasted, remove from baking sheet and set aside. Add salmon to the baking sheet and pour on lemon juice and sprinkle liberally with salt and black pepper. Roast the salmon 10 minutes, or until it’s cooked to preferred doneness.
While salmon is roasting prepare the risotto. Bring chicken stalk to a simmer. Saute onions in another pot until translucent and soft. Add the rice and stir to incorporate the onions. Pour in the wine and stir rice until all the wine is absorbed. Add chicken stalk, 1/4 cup at a time, stirring continuously until liquid is absorbed before adding more. When rice is soft and creamy (takes approx. 20-30 minutes, that’s why you need some extra wine handy 🙂 ) stir in asparagus and parmesan cheese. Add salt/pepper as needed.
To serve, place risotto on plate and a few curls of parmesan. Top with salmon. Serve with lemon wedges.
Cornmeal Fried Okra
- 1 lb fresh Okra
- 1 cup flour
- 1 cup yellow cornmeal
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus an extra pinch
- vegetable oil for frying
- Combine flour, cornmeal, salt and pepper in a plastic bag
- Rinse Okra, and without drying, add to flour mixture. Shake bag to evenly coat all the Okra.
- Heat oil to 350 and fry okra on each side until golden brown. Remove from oil with slotted spoon to paper towels. Immediately sprinkle remaining salt on Okra.
- Serve as an accompaniment to Shrimp and Grits.