Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Risotto with Asparagus

No matter your age, are there still things in life that make you giggle?  My current one is receiving an email from Travis.  He was given an account through school (no Dad, I still will not give it to you) and periodically he will send me an email.  When I check my phone, it makes me giggle to see his name in my inbox (the salesperson at Macy’s thought I was looney).  At what point did he get old enough to send email?  He left this morning on his 4th grade overnight trip to Austin.  Next week we attend a middle school move-up briefing.  The words “this will be your car in 6 years” slipped through my mouth recently.  I’m not sure that I’m ready for all of this…

What I am ready for is more risotto.  This combination of two recipes – Barefoot Contessa and Southern Living – produces a creamy, satisfying side.  Speaking of BC, my friend Carol alerted me to the fact that she has another cookbook, Make it Ahead, coming out this fall.  Pre-order now!

Happy Birthday William!

Risotto with Asparagus
  • 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked Arborio rice (short-grain)
  • 5 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • ½-1 pound fresh asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 t ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Garnish: shaved fresh Parmesan cheese; chopped chives

Melt butter (or pour olive oil) in a large heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add rice, stirring to coat. Add 2 1/2 cups broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes. Add 1/2 cup broth, and cook, stirring constantly, until liquid is absorbed. Repeat procedure with remaining broth, 1/2 cup at a time. Total cooking time is about 20-30 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut the asparagus diagonally and discard the tough ends. Boil water and then blanch asparagus in boiling (salted) water for 4 to 5 minutes, until al dente. Drain and cool immediately in ice water.

When the risotto has been cooking for 15 minutes, add it to the risotto along with 2 t salt, and 1 t pepper. Continue cooking and adding stock, stirring almost constantly, until the rice is tender but still firm.

Risotto is done when it is tender but still firm.  Remove from heat.  Stir in Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately. Garnish, if desired, with more parmesan cheese and/or chives.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Scalloped Potatoes

The kids introduced me to a game called 2048.  Darn them!  I have an addictive personality.  I think it’s why I never tried drugs.  I didn’t trust myself to stop.  The game is like being in Vegas – the clock is hidden so you don’t realize how long you’ve been sitting there playing it.  I don’t even really understand how to win nor have I figured out the strategy.  It’s a 4x4 grid, the blocks start at 2 and multiply as you make matches and the highest block that I have achieved is 512.

These potatoes are addictive too.  Simple to make, rich and creamy to eat.  Another Southern Living recipe that is fit to pass along.  

Scalloped Potatoes

  1. 2 lb Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
  2. 3 c whipping cream
  3. 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  4. 1 ½ t salt
  5. ¼ t freshly ground pepper
  6. ½ c grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400. Layer sliced potatoes in a 13 x 9 in or 3 quart baking dish

Stir together cream, garlic, salt and pepper in a large bowl.  Pour cream mixture over potatoes.

Bake at 400 for 30 minutes, stirring gently every 10 minutes.  Sprinkle with cheese; bake 15-20 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown.  Let stand on a wire rack for 10 minutes before serving.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Lemon Cheesecake

The test kitchen at The Baker’s Mann has been busy, but not always successfully.  I made a Greek pasta salad which David described as “that was interesting – not exactly what you expect.”  For a strawberry-limeade, Andrew said “that would be good without the strawberry.”  Finally came a winning streak and this was one of them. 

This cheesecake was published by Southern Living as a dessert for Passover with its Passover friendly crust.  You can also make this cheesecake with a standard graham cracker crust any time of year. 

PS – exactly how much sugar does sparkling grape juice contain?  If this is any insight as to how the kids are going to drink and enjoy wine when the time comes, we are in big trouble. 

Lemon Cheesecake

  1. 1 c crushed Mandelbrot, biscotti or almond cookies
  2. 1 c finely chopped pecans
  3. ¼ c sugar
  4. 1/3 c butter, melted 

  1. 2 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, softened
  2. 3 large eggs
  3. 1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
  4. 2 t grated lemon rind
  5. ¼ c lemon juice

Topping (optional)
  1. 1 (8 oz) sour cream
  2. Garnishes like lemon slices, lemon rind strips

Stir together ingredients for the crust.  Press mixture in bottom and 2 inches up sides of a lightly greased 9-inch springform pan (you don’t have to pre-cook this crust).

Beat cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer for 3 minutes or until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating just until blended.  Gradually add milk, rind, and juice, beating until blended.  Pour into prepared crust.

Bake at 300 for 1 hour or until almost set.  Turn off oven and let cake stand in over for 30 minutes.  Remove cake to a wire rack.  If you are using topping, spread evenly with sour cream and let cool completely.  Cover and chill 8 hours.  Add garnish, if desired.  

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Oven-Baked Churros

After tasty, satisfying Mexican food, it’s nice to top it off with a sweet treat (as if you aren't full enough already).  Making pralines can be tricky – is it humid? Did the liquid reach the right temperature, but not burned?  These oven-baked churros will satisfy your sweet tooth and are easy to make.  No fooling!  This recipe is courtesy of Southern Living May 2011 (yes, that’s how deep my backlog of magazines is!)

Since 1 pastry sheet will make 18 churros, I only used 1 sheet for our family.  If they had been out of town, I would have made both sheets and enjoyed them all myself but I must show some restraint around the kids.

Oven-baked Churros
(with a side of vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce)

  1. 1 (17.3 oz) package frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed
  2. ¼ c sugar
  3. 1 t ground cinnamon
  4. ¼ c (4 T) melted butter

Preheat oven to 450.  Unfold and cut puff pastry sheets in half length-wise.  Then cut each half crosswise into 1-inch strips (hint: that means 9 per half sheet – or 18 total).  Place strips on a lightly greased parchment paper-lined baking sheet.  Bake 10 minutes or until golden brown.

While baking, combine sugar and cinnamon and melt butter just in advance of the pastry strips being baked.  Remove pastry strips from the oven and dip in butter.  Sprinkle/pour the cinnamon sugar mixture over the strips (recipe said to roll the strips in the mixture however then the butter clumps the cinnamon sugar).  Let stand on a wire rack for 5 minutes or until dry.