Rice Cooker Mushroom Risotto

The fall has been great, but so busy with travel and work. Thus, it has been a while since I’ve posted. I feel bad having this recipe be yet another risotto (which is one of my go-to meals), but I couldn’t resist since a) I figured it was better to post a normal weekday meal than nothing at all and b) since this technique is new and a pretty big time saver.

There is this myth that risotto is hard to make and requires all sorts of stirring and effort, neither of which is true in my book, but this recipe truly nips that myth in the bud. Indeed, I made this risotto, mainly unattended in my rice cooker, while doing a yoga practice in my living room. In fact, it was so easy that it makes me hopeful that it (and more recipes like it) will encourage and help me to both exercise and get dinner on the table post-work in a timely manner. I can also see rice cooker risotto as a great way to easily put together a dinner-party worthy dinner when you’re slim on time. And while Naomi’s last post on slow-cooker pork almost convinced me that I probably need a Crockpot, in the meantime here’s one more use for it’s alternative, the rice cooker–that seemingly one-use appliance.

Enjoy!

Rice Cooker Risotto

Rice Cooker Mushroom Risotto

adapted from Rice Cooker Risotto Recipe, My Baking Addiction

  • 4 Tb. olive oil, divided
  • 16 ounces baby portabella mushrooms
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 clove garlic; minced
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 4 1/2 cups veggie broth, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2/3 cup frozen peas; thawed
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 Tb. fresh sage or parsley, chopped; optional

Heat 2 Tb. olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Saute onion till soft, about 5 minutes. In the meantime, make sure that your stock is hot (microwave it or heat on stove). Add mushrooms to onions in saute pan and cook until soft and slightly browned; about 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Add remaining 2 Tb. olive oil to rice cooker bowl. Add the rice and stir to coat evenly. Add garlic, wine, two cups of stock, and pepper to rice cooker and stir to combine. Close your rice cooker and begin the cooking process by turning it to “Cook.” Cook for 10 minutes. Open lid and stir in mushrooms and remaining stock. Continue cooking for 17 minutes. Stir in cheese, peas, lemon juice, and fresh herbs, if using. Serve immediately.

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Pulled Pork Sandwiches… or Tacos!

ImageWe’ve all been a little busy lately it seems, ehhhhh? Hopefully our long hiatus was a result of enjoying long summer evenings on your new porch, riding your new mountain bike amongst the Alps, or celebrating your recent engagement! I’ve been exploring my new Northwest home in all its green, mountainy, weird, 80s-punk glory. Tomorrow I start a really busy rotation so the last few days I’ve been in a frenzy of preparation – doing laundry, catching up with people, playing this awesome game I recently discovered (thanks Jenell and Pete!) and upping my protein intake. On Sunday I went to 1 of several local farmers markets and suddenly felt an overwhelming urge to do something I have never done before. Yes girl friends, I bough a big hunk of pork. Butt. I dont know what did it – maybe it was the grandpa-y farmer with a giant belly just barely held in by flannel and suspenders. Maybe it was the glittery flash of light that emanated from the cooler with the dangling “Butt” sign over it. Probably both?! So I did it. I made my first pulled pork. Not gonna lie, it was GOOD! (I take little credit though – a slow cooker is like having your grandma over to cook you dinner. But then you have to clean up of course, because now you’re an adult and she has arthritis.)

So I cooked the pork, and it was good. But then I realized I had 2.5 lb of pork and just 1 small belly! What to do?! Luckily my good friend Eben is in town visiting from Alaska, and my friend Jenell who has fed me many a delicious meal recently is working nights and has no time to cook! Eben probably took care of a good pound or so all on his own, and Jenell and Pete (yes, the board game people) got a big hunk for their next dinner. Thanks guys! So here’s the recipe. While the Asian flavors were lovely, I don’t think they were actually really necessary. A good piece of pork and a slow-cooker are probably all you really need! FYI – for this I toasted whole spices and ground them as I had some free time, but it would probably be just as good-ish with already ground spices.

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Ingredients:

– 2.5 lb pork shoulder

– 2 cups chicken broth

The Rub:

– 2 tbsp tamarind paste

– 1 tbsp soy sauce

– 1.5 tbsp coriander

– ½ tbsp black pepper

– ¾ tsp cayenne

– ½ tsp cumin

– 1 star anise

– 1 tbsp brown sugar

– 1 tbsp salt

– 2 cloves garlic

– ½ tbsp minced ginger

Extras for the Sandwich:

– Tortillas or a good crusty bread

– Queso fresco

– Asian slaw (I made something resembling this)

Direction:

1. If you are using whole spices, toast them in the oven and then ground them coarsely.

2. While they are toasting, melt/dissolve the tamarind paste in ~1/2C hot water.

3. Put the spices, tamarind paste, and all the other ingredients for the rub in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth enough to schlop onto the meat. Doesn’t have to be perfect. Don’t go crazy!

4. Schlop the rub all over the meat. Go ahead, rub it in. Massage it. Wrap the meat in plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

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5. Put the meat and the chicken broth in the slow cooker and cook it on low for 16 – 18 hours. Mmmmmmmmm.

6. When the meat is finished it should easily fall apart when pressed with a fork. Arrange on tortillas or bread with the slaw, queso fresco, avocado, etc. and invite your hungry friends who are in town visiting over for dinner!

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Smoky Eggplant and Tomato with Herbed Bulgur

A few weekends ago, I visited my parents in Kentucky while Garriy spent some time with an old friend in Knoxville. One of the highlights of the trip was visiting my Uncle David’s amazing farm, which is practically bursting with produce at the moment. Kale, chard, tomatoes, red and green cabbage, eggplant, corn, peppers, chiles, butternut squash, zucchini–he truly sent me home with a veritable feast.

Our garden is only producing herbs and chiles at the moment, as our swiss chard fades out, and our tomatoes and bell peppers get ready to ripen, so I couldn’t have been happier for the bounty.

I love eggplant, but prefer it smoky and broken down into a silky texture rather than in big chunks. Also, I didn’t want to make an eggplant dip (though that’s one of my favorite things in the world…), but I wanted to use blackened eggplant to get the smoky, meaty flavor that imparts. I came up with this. It’s definitely Paula Wolfert and Yotam Ottolenghi (Naomi and I are clearly on the same page) inspired, but I didn’t use an existing recipe. I thought we’d have leftovers for lunch, but Garriy and I both gobbled it up. This one’s a keeper for sure.

The directions look long, but don’t pay attention to that. It’s easy to roast the eggplant while making the bulgar, and to saute all of the veggies together into a jam-like consistency in a manner of 15 minutes. Also, microwaving coarse bulgar to make sure it’s cooked through is my favorite method, but you can also just follow the simmering or soaking directions here, which are perhaps more traditional methods. If you use fine bulgar, you cut your steps in half–all you need to do is cover the bulgur with boiling water and let it sit till the water is absorbed, as there’s no need to cook it further.

Eggplant with Bulgur

Smoky Eggplant and Tomato with Herbed Bulgur

  • 1 eggplant
  • 3 Tb. olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 small fresh red chile, diced
  • 1 large red bell pepper or 2 small, diced
  • 1 large ripe tomato, diced
  • 1 Tb. pomegranate molasses
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 C. coarse bulgur
  • boiling water
  • large handful each of fresh flatleaf parsley and basil, minced

Prick the eggplant several times with a fork, and then put the eggplant over an open flame on your gas stove and patiently wait while it blackens. Turn with tongs until it blackens on all sides (alternatively, you can blacken it under the broiler). I recommend letting it char a lot. When the eggplant is uniformly blackened, place it in a bowl or on a plate to steam for a moment and to let the skin loosen.

In the meantime, just cover the bulgur with boiling water and a pinch of salt in a microwave-safe bowl and cover with a lid or a plate. Let the bulgur absorb almost all of the water. Once the bulgur water is mostly absorbed, cover the bowl and microwave the bulgur for 5 minutes to finish the cooking. Set the bulgur aside to sit and steam while you continue to cook.

While the bulgur is sitting, heat the olive oil and add the garlic. Cook for 30 seconds, then add the chile and the red bell pepper. Stir occasionally over medium heat until the bell pepper is extremely soft. Cut the eggplant in half, and using a spoon or a dull knife, scoop out the flesh. Chop the eggplant coarsely and then add, along with the diced tomato, to the bell pepper. Add some salt and pepper and turn heat to low and simmer. Once the mixture is tender and has melded together, stir in the pomegranate molasses. Taste for salt and pepper.

Stir the herbs into the bulgur, along with a glug of olive oil. Serve the eggplant mixture over the bulgur.

Kim Chi Burritos

Hi all! Its been a long time since I’ve posted, with lots of exciting times in between. Chris and I spent almost every weekend for the last couple months I was in NY up in New Paltz climbing, which was super fun and great quality time together! We had some wonderful family time in NY and Philly, went to Erin and Dan’s beautiful farm wedding in PA, and I had an amazing weekend in Durham, NC with Natalie and lots of other spunky, fantastic women to celebrate her upcoming wedding. And of course I graduated med school, packed up my belonging and headed West!

I’ve now been in Seattle for about a month and I gotta say, life is pretty good! Its been beautiful and sunny almost every day, bike commuting is the bomb, I’m loving my new place and new job, and perhaps most importantly, I’ve managed to make some pretty great new lady friends! Jenell, who I spent 6 weeks with in Peru and who lives down the street from me, suggested a food exchange during our first week of residency, which was a great idea for our busy schedules! Six of us got together for dinner and each brought 5 portions of something we made to share and freeze. So now we each have 6 delicious meals in our freezers to get us through those long days when we don’t have time or energy to cook. I had been wanting to make kim chi and had a big pile of flour tortillas in my freezer, so I went with Korean tacos. Not the fastest, but super easy!

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Climbing at the Gunks

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Paddle boarding in Portage Bay

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Salmon migrating upstream through the Ballard fish ladder to spawn – amazing to watch a piece of this cycle of life!

Ingredients:

First, for the Kim Chi (thanks to Erin Bingham for this part!):

  • ½ large cabbage (~1lb)
  • 1 daikon radish or a few red radishes
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 onion or leeks or scallions or shallots
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 3-4 hot red chillies (i used  few spoonfuls of red pepper flakes instead)
  • 3 T fresh grated ginger root

Then, the tofu:

  • 2 lb extra firm tofu
  • Soy Sauce
  • Rice vinegar
  • Sesame oil

The beans and rice part:

  • 2 poblanos or regular green peppers
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 16 oz can black beans, or 1.5 cups cooked beans
  • 2 C cooked brown jasmin rice (or other grain)
  • Olive oil

The sauce:

  • 2 kiwis
  • 1 large apple
  • 1 large pear
  • 3 cloves garlic

Other things

  • 1 more onion
  • 2 limes
  • pepper
  • Flour tortillas (I used 10 medium-sized ones for this amt of food)

Directions:

The kim chi needs to be made at least 4 or 5 days, but preferably a week, ahead of time. Mix 4 cups water and 4 tbsp salt in a large bowl. Chop or shred in a food processor the cabbage, carrots, and radishes, then put it  all in the water with a plate or something to keep it submerged. Leave it for at least 4 hours.

Now make the paste: Put the onion, garlic, ginger, and chiles (or pepper flakes) into a food processor and let it go until fairly smooth.

Drain and reserve the brine from the veggies. Mix the past in well with the veggies, then pack it down into a jar. The liquid should just cover everything. If there’s not quite enough, add back some of the brining liquid. Cover and let it ferment in a warm place for at least 4-5 days. Once ripe (you can taste a little every day), move it to the fridge.

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Also marinate the onions a day or two in advance: slice 1 onion and put it in a bag with the juice of 2 limes and some pepper. Add a bit of water so that the liquid just covers the lime slices.

Now for the tofu: cut the tofu into ~1cm thick squares. Heat a non-stick skillet with sesame oil, then brown the tofu squares on each side. When you put the tofu in, add soy sauce and rice vinegar to taste. I probably used a total of 2 tablespoons of rice vinegar and 4 of soy sauce, and I did the tofu in a couple batches so that I could lay the squares in 1 layer and flip all at once.

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To make the sauce, throw the garlic, pear, kiwis and apple into the food processor and sauce-ify it. Then put it in a skillet and heat it all up for 10-15 min, allowing some of the liquid to evaporate.

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Rice and beans: chop the onion and peppers and sautee them in olive oil until soft. Add the black beans and cook for another 5 minutes. Then using a spatula, smoosh the beans. Don’t go crazy, just smoosh out whatever stress you might be feeling at the moment, and move on! Then add the rice and mix it all in together.

Now its time to assemble the burritos! I personally warmed the tortillas in the oven at about 250 for a few minutes, but this is not necessary. This step is pretty self explanatory: spread some kim chi on each burrito, add equal portions of tofu, rice and beans, marinated onions, and fruity sauce to each burrito, wrap up, and you’re done!

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Chipotle Pumpkin Enchiladas with Greens and Beans

You know those times when you have a random can of something on your shelf, and you’re like, what in the world am I gonna do with that? This recipe was borne out of that recent situation: a lone can of organic pumpkin puree sitting in my pantry.

Foodily, my go to recipe search engine when I need inspiration, spit out multiple variations of a pumpkin enchilada sauce, but this version, come across via One Hungry Mama, appealed for its simplicity.

I also happened to have most of a pot of simple Rancho Gordo pinto beans in the fridge, and I knew that they would be great filling. Now let me tell you, I’ve always been skeptical of those who insist that paying a premium for dried beans, the Queen of cheap foods, was a good idea. But I received two bags of beans as a gift from someone, and I was blown away by the quality. And while I won’t be shelling out for shipping on these puppies very often, I can tell you that those Rancho Gordo pintos were amazing: creamy, fat, sweet, and fast-cooking as well. I made a big pot simply with onion, salt, bay leaf, and a pinch of dried oregano to eat with cornbread and then pureed the leftovers with some spices to make the filling for these enchiladas. Seriously though, treat yourself one of these days to some heirloom dried beans…

My modification of the recipe has multiple steps, mainly because I had leftovers that would work as great filling in the enchiladas, but the good news is that canned refried beans or whole black beans, as well as whatever veggies you have in the fridge (greens, carrots, potato) or freezer (corn) would substitute in well. The pumpkin sauce turned out really well–rich, but not heavy, healthy, and a welcome alternative to metallic-tasting canned enchilada sauce.

(Now listen, I know my sloppy plating and photo below aren’t the best, but I challenge you to prettily plate enchiladas without cilantro on hand!) Hope you all enjoy!

Pumpkin Bean Enchiladas

Chipotle Pumpkin Enchiladas with Greens and Beans

  • 1 can pumpkin puree, about 2 cups
  • 1 1/4 C. water or vegetable stock
  • 1 canned chipotle pepper, plus a few teaspoons of adobo sauce
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • dash cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. cider vinegar
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 Tb. olive oil, divided
  • 1 onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 large bunch of swiss chard or other greens, chopped coarsely
  • 1 C. refried beans (either canned or made by pureeing pintos with salt, a bit of olive oil, cumin, and chili powder)
  • 8 corn tortillas
  • 1/4 C. feta cheese and/or white cheddar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine the pumpkin puree, water or stock, chipotle, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste in the food processor. Whir until thoroughly combined. Taste the puree for salt, vinegar, and chipotle, adding as needed, and mixing again. Heat 1 Tb. olive oil in a small saucepan and add the pumpkin mixture. Turn on low and simmer.

In the meantime, heat the remaining 2 Tb. olive oil in a pan and add the onion. Saute 5 minutes and then add the garlic. Saute over medium until the onion is transclucent–about 5 more minutes. Add the greens and saute for 5 minutes and take off flame..

At this point, the enchilada sauce will have simmered for about 15 to 20 minutes and may be taken off the flame if it is thickened and tasty.

Coat a square Pyrex dish with olive oil or Pam and set aside. Pour 1/3 of the warm sauce into the bottom of the pan. Heat up the tortillas in a water-soaked kitchen towel for 1 minute in the microwave to soften them. Remove, careful of the steam. Fill each generously with some refried beans and greens, roll, and place seam-side down in dish. Pour the rest of the sauce over the enchiladas. Top the enchiladas with cheese, and then place in the oven. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until hot and bubbling and cheese is melted. Serve, ideally with cilantro sprinkled on top, and extra hot sauce on the side.

Planned Happiness Via Garlic Toast with Rabe and Onions

ImageWe signed up for a CSA and it started this week.  Our kitchen is flooded with every green thing imaginable: spinach, scallions, green garlic, rabe, several varieties of lettuce….you get the idea.  I’ve been a pretty uninspired cook lately but I found that heaps of pre-paid produce snap you into gear whether you feel inspired or not.

The other thing that has helped is a book my dear friend Emily recommended called The Everlasting Kitchen.  It’s a lovely, lyrical little book that gives loose instructions about how to minimize waste in your kitchen and make the most out of all your ingredients.  It’s more full of suggestions than recipes, which appealed to me as a more advanced home cook, and it’s full of time- and money-saving ideas.

Therefore, today I present you with a very simple recipe.  The trick of it is not in the ingredients or the technique- it’s in the fact that I threw it together in 10 minutes on a Thursday night and was still able to enjoy the flavors of roasted garlic and caramelized onions, which usually take at least 45 minutes.

At the beginning of the week, I roasted batches of vegetables that like to roast, such as sweet potatoes and broccoli.  I threw in 5-6 garlic cloves on the baking sheets (no oil, in their skins.)  When all the roasting was done, I stored the veggies in containers and saved the garlic to the side.

Two days later, when making a frittata (tasty, recipe to come), instead of using just the one onion I planned to use, I sliced all three of the ones we had and spent a good leisurely hour talking on the phone and getting a skillet full of melted gooey and brown onions.  I placed those in a plastic bag with the garlic in the fridge.  I wasn’t sure of my plans for them, but roasted garlic and caramelized onions are never a hardship to have on hand.  (PS: I caramelized the onions in butter and I’m not sorry.)

 The Everlasting Meal also reminded me of the simple beauty of toast as a centerpiece of a meal.  Sometimes I forget that you can heap a bunch of vegetables on a good piece of bread and that can be it.  So that was it: no recipe, just toast a piece of bread, rub roasted garlic over it with a fork, pile caramelized onions on top.  Rinse and chop broccoli rabe and wilt it in a hot pan with some roasted pepper flakes.  Then add it to the toast and enjoy the fact that you planned for your own happiness (in the form of garlic and onions) earlier in the week, and you are now able to reap the rewards.

Bulgar with Arugula Pesto, Beet Stems, & Poached Egg

After a month (really?) in our new home, we finally feel like we’re settling in. We’ve painted almost every room in the house, hung new lighting in almost every room, finished a bathroom renovation, and most importantly for me–finished a kitchen renovation (better pics to follow). (And PS, if you ever renovate a kitchen, let me save you some trouble with your appliance/hardware source list…)

New Kitchen

The new kitchen at night

We love the hardworking kitchen counters (leathered granite)–so much better than our past poorly sealed concrete counters that bubbled up at the suggestion of water–and I love the light that streams in through the windows during the day.

Lilies in our back yard

Lilies in our back yard

Our little garden has also taken off, and it has been great to come home after work and weed, haul dirt, and mow. Like yoga, hard manual labor in the yard is a great segway between work and computer time during the day, and the rest of the evening. It forces you to stop. Stop thinking. Just do stuff and enjoy the smells and sounds of the outdoors (including a neighborhood mockingbird that mimics an alarm clock. Seriously. And starts chirping at 2 am. But that’s another story.)

I’m still getting the hang of what to plant in our raised beds. The arugula did well for about a month, but then quickly bolted, so last night I bit the bullet and trimmed off the woody leftovers for pesto and pulled them out by the roots to fill that space with something new. I’m thinking okra, which is perfect for hot weather planting and grilling, but I’m open to suggestions.

As you may know, it is my feeling that there’s little that isn’t made tastier by arugula pesto and a poached egg. So here’s an impromptu dinner made last night with the last of the garden’s arugula (until fall), and other bits and pieces in the fridge. I made this recipe with walnut arugula pesto, but you can see in the past I’ve also made arugula pesto with pumpkin seeds.

Bulgar with Arugula Pesto & Beets

Bulgar with Arugula Pesto & Beet Stems

Bulgar with Arugula Pesto, Beet Stems, & Poached Egg

  • 1 very large bunch arugula
  • 1/2 C. walnuts
  • juice of two lemons
  • 1/4 C. olive oil + 1 Tb. olive oil, divided
  • salt and peper
  • 1 bunch of beet greens and stems, cleaned well, and chopped fine
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 C. bulgar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/8 C. feta cheese

Bring a kettle of water to a boil and pour over the bulgar in a large ceramic bowl, just covering the grains with water. Cover the bowl with a ceramic plate or plastic wrap and cook in the microwave for four minutes.

In the meantime, make your pesto. Make sure the arugula is well-rinsed and toss it in the food processor. Pulse it until it is chopped. Add in the walnuts, lemon juice, and a bit of salt and blend. With the motor going, slowly drizzle in the 1/4 C. olive oil till emulsified. Taste for salt, and then set aside.

Heat 1 Tb. olive oil in a pan, and add the garlic. Cook 30 seconds, or until fragrant and then add the beet greens and stems. Season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes.

While the greens/stems are cooking, toss the bulgar with the arugula pesto, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

To poach the eggs, either do it on the stove, or as with my favorite method, pull out a mug. Fill 3/4 full with water. Add 1 tsp. cider or white vinegar. Crack a raw egg into the mug and then microwave the egg and water/vinegar for 1 minute. Pull the mug out and drain the cooked egg. Cook the next egg in the same manner. If you’d rather, you can instead soft boil or fry the eggs.

Place some of the pesto bulgar in a bowl and top with the sautéed greens and stems. Top that with a cooked egg, and then sprinkle with feta. Serve with Aleppo pepper flakes or harissa, and enjoy. There should be plenty of bulgar leftovers for a lunch salad the next day.

Jamaican Jerk Chicken

K had a four day weekend this week  (Ascension day on Thursday as well as a ‘bridging day’ on Friday- companies here realize many people would inevitably take it off, so they give it as freebie – so progressive). Unfortunately, my employer does not celebrate Ascension day or bridge so we stayed in Basel, which was a nice reprieve from our otherwise hectic schedules.  Focusing on house projects, we FINALLY BOUGHT A GRILL!!!!  Now if anyone knows K, this is a BIG deal in our lives and I must say, I feel more grown up with this purchase than any other we’ve made.

As I’ve previously mentioned, Basel is a wonderful place to live; however, the food scene is utterly lacking.  Granted, if you hop on a bike and cross the border, you are bound to find incredibly decadent, delicious French food, which we did Saturday night, but if you want anything ethnic, with a hint of heat, we have found the best option is to make it ourselves.  As a result, we’ve really expanded our culinary repertoire.  We’ve made many dishes where after taking a bite we exclaim – “Wow…is that it? It’s so easy!” So we christened our grill with Jamaican Jerk Chicken (it’s so easy!), parmesan/lemon asparagus and veggies. DELICIOUS.

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Jamaican Jerk Chicken Ingredients (Adapted from Saveur):

This mix is for one whole chicken deconstructed.

– 1/2 c brown sugar

– 1/2 c allspice

– 1 shallot minced

– 1/3 c peanut oil

– 1/4 c kosher salt

– 1/2 c minced giner

– 1/3 c lime juice

– 2 tbsp soy sauce

– 1 tbsp fresh thyme

– 1 tsp ground cinnamon

– 1 tsp ground nutmeg

– 7 gloves minced garlic

– 3 habaneros

Directions:

  1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Rub all over chicken, especially getting into the skin area.
  2. Grill. (Not sure what one is involved here, but I’m sure most people who use one do).
  3. Consume.
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Jerk chicken with lentil, veggie quinoa salad with mustard, lemon vinaigrette

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Grills veggies and asparagus

Ramp Risotto with Lemon, Peas, and Radishes

Ramp, or

Ramp, or “Wild Leek”, CC: Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported, Courtesy Wikimedia.

We are almost there–T minus four days until move in and much of our big renovating will be done as of tomorrow. We will be living without kitchen counters for a couple of weeks once we move in, as well as without a stove and sink for a while, so this may well be the last blog post I write for a bit as I see Co-Op deli dinners and eating out in some of our future. But we’re excited to create this new home together, and hopefully to have all of you there eating meals around a table together in the near future!

Today we were at the house after work checking out the kitchen progress. As always, I was wondering what I might be able to cook with little food in the cabinet, and most of our pots and pans packed away. A few days ago, while tilling our second raised bed, I pulled out what I assumed were irises so I could transplant them elsewhere, but quickly found that I’d pulled up some kind of onion. They looked like really large green onions, with a leek-like stem, and leaves like irises. They wer actually ramps.

Ramps are kind of an Appalachian thing–people down here eat them with beans and cornbread or sauteed with bacon grease. Now I’m wishing I didn’t pull all of them, because I should definitely plant some more for next season–apparently they’re actually a protected species in some places! Anyhow, with my surplus of ramps, and some radish plants still needing thinning, I figured I’d make some kind of risotto–my go to “everything but the kitchen sink” solution.

Ramps & Radishes

Ramps & Radishes

Of course, I realized once we were home that we didn’t have any white wine in the house, so I figured I’d try gin–why not, and the juniper/herbally flavors I thought might be nice with spring onions and radishes. We also didn’t have any cheese, which is all the better since I really shouldn’t eat it, so the key to cheeseless risotto is adding butter at the end–what the French call monter au beurre–in order to emulsify everything and give it some rich mouthfeel. Frozen peas (one of my favorite go to pantry items) and lemon juice rounded it out.

I’m excited to have put this together on a whim, and look forward to taking advantage of more Appalachian indigenous ingredients, like ramps. Enjoy!

Ramp Risotto

Ramp Risotto with Lemon, Peas, and Radishes

  • 1.5 C. Arborio rice
  • 5.5 C. veggie stock
  • 1/2 C. gin
  • 1 Tb. olive oil
  • 2 Tbs. butter, divided
  • 1 large bunch ramps
  • 1 large bunch of radish greens and baby radishes, chopped
  • 1/2 to 3/4 C. frozen peas
  • Zest and juice of one lemon

Heat the veggie stock in a large pot. In the meantime, heat the olive oil and 1 Tb. of the butter in a heavy pan over medium. Clean the leeks well of any dirt and chop off most of the green leaves. Cut off the bottoms, and similarly to leeks, peel off the outer layer and rinse well to get rid of dirt. Chop ramps fine. Saute the ramps in the olive oil and butter over medium until tender. Add the rice and stir, coating well, for 1 minute. Add the gin and stir until absorbed. Start adding in the stock, about a cup or so at a time. Simmer and stir, adding more until you’ve used a little more than half of the stock. Stir in the radishes and radish greens.

When you’ve added in your last ladle of stock, stir in the frozen peas and cook slowly till most of the stock is absorbed. Add in the lemon juice and zest and stir. Add in the remaining Tb. of butter and stir till melted. Serve hot with plenty of fresh ground black pepper. Serves 4-6.

Vegan Chipotle Squash & Carrot Soup

So today I should be working on my (last?) paper and presentation for med school, on prescription drug costs or something like that. So what better time to put that off and write up a recipe I’ve been sitting on for a few weeks?! Exactly.

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All I’m saying about this one is that the doll really liked it, ok?

Ingredients:

  • 1 butternut squash
  • 5 carrots
  • 1C cooked black beans
  • 1 head garlic
  • 6oz firm or extra firm tofu
  • 2 chiles in adobo sauce (adjust for preferred spiciness)
  • 4C vegetable stock (adjust for preferred viscosity)
  • 1 C chopped cilantro
  • Olive oil
  • Salt

Directions:

1. Turn oven to 450. Peel the carrots and slice them ¼ inch thick. Pierce the butternut squash in several places with a knife. Cut the top off the head of garlic.

2. Oil half of a cookie sheet. Place the carrots and the head of garlic (cut side down) on the oiled side, and the whole squash on the non-oiled side. Bake in the oven until the veggies are all squishy, 40-50 min. Keep an eye on the garlic to make sure it doesn’t burn.

3. While the  veggies are in the oven, make the tofu croutons. Squeeze out the excess water in the tofu and cut it into ½ in cubes. Heat a non-stick pan with olive oil and fry the tofu cubes, flipping half way through, so that all sides are a nice, crunchy golden-brown.

3. Remove the veggies from the oven. Carefully cut the squash in half and spoon out the flesh, tossing the seeds or saving them to make a snack. Put the stock, 4 or 5 roasted cloves of garlic, carrots, squash and chiles into a food processor and puree. Add salt to taste. Adjust the amount of stock depending on how thick you want your soup.

4. Add the beans at the end and mix them in, then drop the tofu croutons and cilantro on top. Yum! Vegan.