Tuesday, February 23, 2010

lemon asparagus risotto


So I had some really great encounters with risotto lately. First was a lemon shrimp risotto at Sparks in downtown Provo, Utah. The second was a lobster risotto at Balthazar in New York City and the third was a mushroom risotto at an Italian restaurant called Rustico Ristorante in Telluride. Now it was time for me to try making it myself. Being so excited, I got all my ingredients together and off I went making some incredible gourmet lemon asparagus risotto. I was so proud of myself for pulling it off on my first try, it was truly a work of art. So it was time to serve it up for dinner. It was a given that the children weren't going to like it. Alta, who is my best eater, ate enough to be satisfied, the other children didn't even consider it. When Fairb came home he took a couple bites and shrugged his shoulders. "What's the deal?" I ask.
"I don't know, its rice. Just slimy rice. I couldn't eat very much of it" So these are the lamos I have to cook for. . . . . stayed tuned for the next post which is a recipe all lamos will like. Until then, try making this risotto. . . . .

Ingredient list
2 c arborio rice (Italian style rice)
6 c chicken stock
1 c dry white wine
1 small onion finely chopped
2 clove garlic minced
bunch of asparagus
1 lemon
4T butter
handful of Parmesan cheese
fresh ground pepper

Saute the onions and garlic in the butter, after a couple minutes add the rice and toast the rice until it is shiny, but not browned.

Meanwhile, heat the chicken stock to a simmer in a pot next to the risotto, keep it at a simmer. Prepare the asparagus by removing the woody ends. Chop off the tips and set aside. Chop the good parts of the stem into one inch pieces. Steam the tips over the chicken stock.

Once the rice is shiny, add the asparagus stems and add the wine and stir until the wine is nearly absorbed. Add a couple ladle fulls of hot stock, just to barely cover the rice.

Continue to stir as the stock absorbs ( I didn't go crazy with the stirring, just occasionally).

Once nearly absorbed, add more stock and repeat the process. Repeat the process until you taste the rice and it's al dente done. Somewhere in the middle of the process, add the juice from the lemon (you will use the zest at the end) You don't want the liquid completely absorbed, you want it a little runny still. Once the rice is done, add the remaining butter, a handful of cheese, and the asparagus tips. Top with lemon zest and fresh ground pepper.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Happy Valentines Day!! Chocolate covered strawberries


Oh love day, me amore . . . . Happy Valentine's day to one and all. I think Valentine's Day is much more than romance, it to celebrate all forms of love. Actually, I just say that to justify how horribly unromantic my husband Fairb is. He needs about a week advance notice if he should be required to celebrate a holiday. I remind him at least 5 times for Mother's Day because Mother's Day is where I put my foot down. It is the most important holiday of the year as far as I am concerned. Today he went to costco for me (which is romantic in its self, because he rarely does errands for me) and when he got home, I asked him why he didn't get me flowers while he was there and he said, " I didn't know we were celebrating Valentines! You didn't tell me!" Oh well, if you expect your husband to be romantic when he is inherently inept, you will have a disastrous marriage. I love him just the way he is!

On a more romantic note, my niece and nephew are staying with us this weekend. Their family was scheduled to go to Disneyland for a cheer competition that my 9 year old nephew, Adam, was competing in. Christian and Sunni didn't want to go because they just transfered to a new school and just COULDN'T miss any days of school, lest they get even further behind. Imagine, young teenagers missing a trip to California at the expense of their studies. Ya right! The TRUE reason was soon revealed . . . . . the middle school Valentine's Dance!! They were sooo excited! They dressed in their best clothes, I curled Sunni's hair, Christian asked if Fairb had any cologne (sorry, no.) and they were off to the dance. Sunni is loved and adored by all boys, and she revels in it. She came back wearing a homemade bracelet a boy had given her. After the dance, Christian was so proud of himself. He said that before the dance he was scared to death of girls, but now? He has conquered his fear! He couldn't wait to tell us about all the girls he asked to dance. It was to great to hear and feel their excitement after the dance.

So tonight they helped me make chocolate covered strawberries and caramel and chocolate dipped pretzels.
I was at the grocery store and they were selling 3 chocolate strawberries for 6 bucks!! Oh no you didn'! Right next to the dipped strawberries were nice, big, ripe, cheap strawberries. So I scooped them up and rushed them home to couple them with all this chocolate I bought during Christmas when I had high expectations of myself to make all my neighbors fancy treats, and expectation I never met. Sorry neighbors. Your not getting any strawberries either, I am too greedy tonight.

Chocolate dipped strawberries are pretty self explanatory, but here are some good tips.

1-- In the past I have used the dipping chocolate that is the little chocolate disks, but its not the best tasting chocolate and it comes out a little waxy in my opinion. So this time I use the brick of chocolate that isn't as fool proof and you have to temper. The directions are seemly complicated, with all these temperature readings you have to take. I didn't mess with all that. This is how I melted it. I chopped up a pound of chocolate into chunks and put it in a bowl and placed over a pot of simmering water, making sure the bowl didn't touch the water. I reserved 3 oz chocolate. While it was melting I stirred it now and again (no one stirs "continually" do they?) once it was melted I removed it from the heat and let it sit for about 45 seconds. Then I dropped in the 3 oz chunk and stirred (that is basically how you "temper" chocolate). It came out perfect! The 3 oz chocolate doesn't melt completely, it is just a step in the process of tempering the chocolate.

2-- I washed the strawberries much earlier in the day and put them back in the fridge so they were cold and dry, ready to be dipped.

3- To add the pretty lines of the opposite color chocolate I put a few spoonfuls in a plastic bag and carefully snipped the tiniest bit of the end off.

4- I place the dipped chocolates on parchment paper.

5- For the pretzels, I melted caramel squares, and with help from a spoon, covered the pretzel rods in caramel and let them harden on Pam sprayed parchment before I dipped them in any chocolate.

6- With the left overs, I drizzled over some blueberries.

I I did reserve a little something to give to my
Visting Teachie's, to which Jason replied, "You're are visiting teacher?" That shows how awesome of a visiting teacher I am. Oops.

Monday, February 8, 2010

The romance salad


The only reason I call this the romance salad is because it has a lot of red components to it and its Valentine's Day soon, and because I am in love with it!! I served this at my fancy pants dinner and it was a hit. This recipe is my own creation, however, I stole the pear and beet idea from a salad I had at a UVU dinner party. I tell ya' the culinary arts department at UVU is incredible! They do awesome work.

Ingredient list:

Romane lettuce

pickled beets (buy the best quality you can preferably in a jar, not a can)

hearts of palm (which are not pictured in the photo, it was a delicious after thought)

candied pecans or marcona almonds (which are the white, more round almonds you don't buy them candied you candy them yourself by putting them in a frying pan with a little butter and sugar)

Red pears

For the dressing:
1 shallot
1/3 c red wine vinegar
1/4 c sugar
2/3 c vegetable oil
1 t salt

For the dressing, I sauteed the shallot quickly in a little oil. Just to remove the raw taste (optional). Add the shallot, vinegar, salt, and sugar to the blender, and blend till smooth. Slowly add the oil.

To prepare the salad
Chiffonade the romaine (my new fancy word for fine shred)
Drain and rinse the beets then fine dice (I used my nicer dicer)
Drain and fine dice the hearts of palm
Slice the pears like you were to slice a tomato for tomato slices

Toss the romaine in the vinaigrette. Put two slices of pear on the salad plate, top with the lettuce. Top with the lettuce with the remaining ingredients.

Its Amore!!

Fancy Pants Birthday Dinner!!


This weekend two of my dear friends both turned 29 (or something like that anyway). To celebrate I hosted a 5 course, fancy pants dinner. Our conversations however, were not fancy, it went from sex toys to poop to boob jobs and back again. We literally ate, cooked and talked for 5 hours!!

The Menu

Mini Crab cake for an amuse bouche (I really just wanted to say the phrase). I haven't written the recipe yet, stay tuned . . . .

The romance salad -- A chiffonade of romaine lettuce tossed with red wine vinaigrette, topped with pickled beets and hearts of palm and candied marcona almonds resting on ripe red pears. (wrote that fancy didn't I? I had to google "finely shredded" to get the fancy word "chiffonade")

For dessert a choice between creme brulee with fresh berries or bread pudding with rum sauce and fresh cream.


nan's notes: many of these recipes I went back and edited to make them even more perfect!! So check them out!!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Boston Cream Cake


I know its called a "boston cream pie" but look at it, does it look like a pie? no, it looks like a cake. If a true baker doesn't use cake mixes, then I am not a true baker. However, I maintain that a cake mix is always the way to go. So you bakers can be snooty, and I can by smarty.

First make a yellow cake mix according to directions. I add either a 1/2 c of sour cream or yogurt to make the cake more moist. Bake them in two 9 inch rounds, and allow them to cook completely.

Make the filling:

one 3.9 oz box vanilla jello (small box)
1/2 a can of sweetened condensed milk (7 oz)
1 c water

Blend above ingredients till smooth and allow to set in the fridge. Meanwhile whip 1 1/2 c heavy whipping cream until stiff (no sugar added). Fold together the pudding mixture and the cream. This is the filling.

Make the ganache frosting.

1 1/2 c heavy whipping cream
16 oz chocolate chopped (any kind you like, milk, semi sweet, bitter . . .)

Bring whipping cream to a soft boil turn off and add the chopped chocolate and stir till smooth. Allow to cool down so it can thicken. The cooler it gets, the thicker it gets. If you leave it over night in the fridge it is spreadable. I allowed it to cool to pourable.

Assemble the cake by sandwiching the pudding between the two round cakes. Pour ganache over the cake. Reserve the remaining ganache to serve with the cake just in case people want extra chocolate.

Monday, February 1, 2010

peace out mom and dad, now who am I going to cook for?


One the biggest reasons I haven't been blogging much lately was because I was partying down with the family to the build up of my parents retiring in Africa. Saturday afternoon the weree off for new adventures saving the world.

Now who am I going to cook for? Mom and Dad came up 5 days a week for dinner, they showed up at 6 and were out the door by 6:30 with a smile on their face. My youngest son, Everett, knows no life where his grandma and grandpa weren't at the dinner table. I will be liable to burst into tears tonight if he asks if Grandma and Grandpa are coming to dinner.

I think one of the reason that people don't like to cook is because no one appreciates their effort. A mom goes to all this effort to prepare a healthy home cooked meal, and the kids are complaining. They want mac and cheese with hotdogs. The husband is indifferent and emotionless, when dinner is over he puts his plate in the sink and goes about his business. All the while, mom has barely just sat down to eat her own creation. Makes the whole thing no fun at all. Might as well be doing another under appreciated task like folding clothes (you mean those clothes don't magically appear back in the closet?)

Well in my case, I had two extremely grateful, food loving people to cook for!! I didn't have to cook plain boring food that only children like. They didn't mind when I experimented with new things, and always complimented the food. Having people like that really makes working the kitchen fun.

So alas, they are in Africa now. So thanks Mom and Dad for coming up to dinner every night (and paying for the food to boot!) and appreciating my efforts. I will miss you. I weep. I think after a couple of weeks of having your chairs empty at the dinner table, and I scrape the plates of the gourmet food my children didn't eat I will weep some more. I am proud of you guys and you two are the greatest examples to me and Fairb. At least now that they are gone, maybe they will read my blog for once! I will still cook the same fancy food, my kids can suck it. I don't do hot dogs, sorry kids.