Friday, February 26, 2010

Mushroom Risotto

I am a firm mushroom-hater. Or I should say, I was a firm mushroom hater. I have recently discovered that mushrooms, particularly when sauted in butter, are delicious! (Granted, you could saute an old shoe in butter and I'd be all over that). Last night for dinner I had a dish in mind involving chicken and mushrooms, but I needed a side dish to go with it. Well in my mind nothing beats risotto- I could eat it every day- so I concocted this mushroom risotto. It ended up almost overshadowing the main dish.

Mushroom Risotto
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1 cups Arborio rice
2 T olive oil/butter (I use a combo of both)
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup chopped baby bella mushrooms
½ cup white wine
5 cups chicken broth
½ cup shredded parmesan cheese
splash of half and half (optional)

Melt the butter in a large saucepan and/or heat the olive oil. Add the shallots to the pan and saute until soft, then add the garlic and mushrooms and saute until soft and slightly golden. Add the rice into the pan and toss to coat.

Pour the wine into the saucepan and stir in the rice fairly constantly until absorbed. Add the broth to the pan, one cup at a time, letting the liquid absorb before adding the next cup. With the last cup of broth let it absorb half way, pour in a splash of half and half if desired, then add the cheese and stir until cheese is melted.

Source: Original Laura's Recipe Collection recipe

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

When I was in high school I worked as a hostess at a local restaurant that was "famous" for it's broccoli cheddar soup. One of my jobs was to fill to-go orders. Fine and dandy, right? Well, sure. Until it got super-busy and I was filling, and because it's me we're talking about here, spilling globs of molten lava hot soup down the side of the to-go cups 15 trillion times a day. Every time it would spill I'd catch it with the back of my hand, yelp because it was HOT! HOT HOT! then wipe the back of my hand on my shirt and go on my merry way. It wasn't a bad job, all in all, until I ended the summer with a scalded hand, slight soup burns on my stomach and immeasurable loathing for broccoli cheddar soup.

Thankfully, this soup-hate didn't last very long. Especially once I came across this recipe in a recent Food Network magazine. It was, quite possibly, the best broccoli cheddar soup I've ever had (sorry, former employer).

I decided to skip the blender portion of the recipe since I a) like cooked broccoli and b) like chunky soups. We also skipped the bread bowls and just ate some French bread on the side.

Broccoli Cheddar Soup
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6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small onion, chopped
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups half-and-half
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 bay leaves
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
sourdough bread
4 cups broccoli florets (about 1 head)
1 large carrot, diced
2 1/2 cups (about 8 ounces) grated sharp white and yellow cheddar cheese, plus more for garnish

Place a large stockpot or Dutch oven on the stovetop. Melt the butter over medium heat. Add in the onions and saute until they are tender. Add the flour into the pot and whisk until mixture is golden browned. Pour in the half-and-half and whisk until smooth Stir in the chicken broth, nutmeg, salt, pepper and bay leaves. Bring to a simmer, then lower to low heat and cook for about 20 minutes, or until thickened.

Add the carrots and broccoli into the soup and simmer for 20 minutes or until veggies are tender. Add the cheese into the pot and stir until melted.  Add water until soup is desired consistancy (I didn't add any) and serve!

Source: Food Network magazine

Monday, February 8, 2010

Buttermilk Cheddar Biscuits

These biscuits were a eggcellent (ha. I'm so clever) addition to a simple Sunday morning breakfast. They come together very quickly have a deliciously simple taste with a wonderful, fluffy yet slightly crusty texture.

Buttermilk Cheddar Biscuits
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2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, diced
1/2 cup cold buttermilk, shaken
1 cold extra-large egg
1 cup grated extra-sharp Cheddar
1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water or milk

Preheat oven to 425°. Line a baking pan with parchment paper and set aside.

Mix 2 cups of flour with baking powder and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer. Cut in the buttermilk and blend until the butter pieces are the size of peas.

Whisk together the buttermilk and egg, then quickly pour into the flour combination with the mixer speed on low. Beat together until just combined and the flour is moistened.

Pour the cheese into a small bowl and toss with a bit of flour to coat, then gently fold into the dough a few times until just combined.

Empty the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead a couple of times, then roll out to a 10x5 rectangle. Using a sharp knife dusted with flour, cut the dough into 8 triangular pieces and place the baking pan.

In a small bowl beat one egg with 1 Tablespoon of water. Lightly brush the tops of the biscuits with the egg wash, then sprinkle with salt.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the insides are done and the tops are golden brown.

Serve warm or hot.

Source: Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa, Food Network

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Slow-cooked Scrambled Eggs with Herbs

It feels counterproductive at times for me to go to the gym. At my regular workout time there's always at least one TV tuned in to Food Network. I like to think of it as inspiration. "I'm doing this, so that I can eat that". Well, a few weeks ago I was running away when Ina Garten's show Barefoot Contessa came on. Every time she'd mention a new recipe I'd think "ooh, I should make that. Ooh I should make that too". 2 days later, on a Sunday morning, I made them!

I have to confess that while I may have (semi)mastered baking bread or cookies, and I've improved my cooking skills drastically, I still have a really hard time with the simplest things like scrambled eggs. Turns out, the key is cooking them very slowly at a low heat (Thank you for the tip, Ina Garten!) These were so light and fluffy, unlike the dry and gross scrambled eggs I've made in the past and the herbs gave them a different and refreshing change of flavors.

Slow-Cooked Scrambled Eggs with Herbs
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10 extra-large eggs
16 Tablespoons half-and-half (or whole milk)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 Tablespoon minced parsley
1 Tablespoon minced scallions, both white and green parts
1 Tablespoon minced fresh dill

Whisk the eggs, half-and-half, salt and pepper together in a large bowl.  Chop the herbs and set aside.

In a large saute pan, melt 1 Tablespoon of the butter, then add in the eggs and cook on low heat, gently stirring constantly. Once the eggs are cooked to your liking fold in the herbs, scallions and the last Tablespoon of butter. Stir until the butter is melted and incorporated.


Source: Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa on Food Network

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Asiago & Blue Cheese-Stuffed Venison

When Brian's brother came home at Christmas, he brought Brian one of the best gifts (for him) ever: A gigantic bag of various wild game venison.

Brian immediately started planning out what we'd do with all of this delightful meat. His first choice was to use some elk back strap stuffed with blue cheese and covered in Asiago.  This recipe will be staying in my back pocket for next time I need to make beef steaks too.

Asiago Blue Cheese Stuffed Venison
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1 large venison steak or back strap  (any wild game meat or thin-cut steak will work)
8 oz. cream cheese, softened at room temperature
8 oz. blue cheese
1 lb bacon
kosher salt
crushed black pepper
crushed garlic
shredded Asiago cheese for garnish

Turn oven to broil.

Filet the back strap in a spiral cut until it lays completely flat and about ¼ inch thick.

In a small bowl blend the cream cheese and blue cheese together until combined. Spread evenly onto the steak. Sprinkle on the salt, pepper, garlic and oregano, then roll the steak into a spiral.

Wrap the steak with bacon, covering entirely. Secure the bacon and steak with toothpicks.

Broil for 20-25 minutes until cooked through.

Slice into ¾ inch sections and lay each section flat on a baking sheet. Sprinkle each piece with Asiago cheese and broil again until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Source: Adapted from Brian's cousin Chris. Original source unknown.