Risotto

Oct. 8th, 2007 07:18 pm
ragdoll13: (Default)
I have done the risotto.

It was good.

It's a time-consuming dish that requires complete attention. It cannot be held at temperature or reheated well, so you must time it to be done at serving time. All other dishes must wait for the risotto, not the other way around.

It's also totally worth it.

Here's the recipe I made up:

2 tbl butter
2 tbl olive oil
1 med-small onion, diced
one carrot (or a half if it's big) diced
one celery stalk (ditto) diced
two cloves garlic, minced
1/2 pound chantrelles (or other preferred mushrooms), sliced *
2c arborio rice
1/2 c dry white wine **
chicken broth, hot ***
salt and pepper to taste
1 oz chevre

heat oil in large skillet or saucepan. pour chicken broth into large pan, heat over medium-low heat. sweat onion and carrot and celery in butter and oil until soft. add garlic and mushrooms. cook until mushrooms begin to soften. **** add rice, fry lightly in the oil. the rice will take on a pearlized appearance but do not allow it to brown. add wine, cook until absorbed, stirring. add broth a ladle at a time, stirring until absorbed before the next addition. stirring is important... without it, your risotto may scorch. It also helps you know when to add more broth. Keep going. It will slow down as the rice starts to get more and more cooked. taste the risotto to make sure the rice is fully cooked before you stop. add the chevre in four pieces or so, stir until melted in. season with salt and pepper to taste, serve immediately.

I think it was a little underdone. I don't know how long it took, as I was staring at the rice and not at the clock, but it took a while. I think it could've taken five more minutes or so and another ladle of broth. Mike thought it was great though. Next time, I'm making a much smaller quantity.

It was, however, not difficult. It's just all about control, and being able to set aside the time to give the dish your undivided attention.


* I sliced the chanterelles quite large, they're uncommon so I wanted my diners to be able to taste them and experience the texture.

** If I could do only one thing different, I would have used a better wine.

*** Yeah, well, you need as much as you need. There are guidelines, but it will vary. I used most of two boxes of commercially produced chicken broth.

**** DO NOT cook the mushrooms all the way. All mushrooms are vulnerable to toughening when overcooked and become rubbery. Chanterelles have a greater tendency toward toughening, so be particularly careful with them.
ragdoll13: (Default)
Sauce

2.5 oz pancetta - 250 calories
1 tbl olive oil - 120 calories
1/2 onion diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 carrot diced
1/2 rib of celery, diced
4 medium sized tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 bay leaves
parsley, oregano, basil... fresh, chopped, to taste
6 kalamata olives, pitted and diced - 30 calories
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp lemon juice

1 medium sized eggplant, sliced crosswise - 130 calories

4 oz part skim mozzarella - 360 calories
2.5 oz Parmesan cheese - 450 calories.

salt both sides of eggplant slices, place between two layers of paper towel, and put a baking sheet on top. place some cans of stuff on top of sheet to apply pressure to eggplant, allow to drain for 20-30 minutes.

dice and cook the pancetta in the olive oil. add onion, garlic, carrot and celery, cook until soft. add tomatoes, bay leaves, herbs, olives, vinegar and lemon juice. cover and cook until it's all soft. remove bay leaves, hit it with your stick blender until smooth. if it's too thick, add a little water. if it's too thin, cook uncovered until desired consistency is reached.

cook the eggplant slices in olive oil, turning frequently, until lightly browned and soft.

spread some sauce in bottom of 9X9 glass baking dish. add layer of eggplant slices. add another layer of sauce, half the mozzarella and half the parmesan. add another layer of eggplant, sauce, and then top with remaining cheese. Bake uncovered at 350 until bubbly, 15-20 mins.

Makes about 4 servings. approx 425 calories per serving.

Notes: The use of meat as a flavoring agent rather than a main ingredient is one of the things that make the Mediterranean diet one of the most heart-healthy in the world. This was pretty good but could have used more texture. Breading the eggplant slices will add considerable calories, and the crispness may not endure baking. Perhaps include spinach or arugula in the layering process? Add red pepper flakes to the sauce for better flavor? Eggplant to sauce/cheese ratio was low; next time two eggplants? Overlap the eggplant slices in layers for a more robust casserole?

Hm.
ragdoll13: (Default)
I'm having this for lunch tomorrow on a pita.

1 can salmon
1/2 tbl olive oil
juice of 1/2 lime
1/4 onion, diced
1/4 red bell pepper, diced
1 tbl chopped fresh dill
1 tbl plain lowfat yogurt.

Mix it all up!
ragdoll13: (Default)
What about parsley, lemon zest AND GRATED HORSERADISH in the batter? On HALIBUT??

What would I sauce that with?

Hmmmm...
ragdoll13: (Default)
What if you put lemon zest into the batter with the parsley and stuff?

Hmm.
ragdoll13: (Default)
I'm feeling lost and isolated and stressed the hell out today.

Work was hard. It was hard to keep my chin up, hard to keep a smile on my face, hard to keep that lilt in my voice. We got someone to back me up during the evening, but something's wrong with the way the splits are set up and I'm still getting all the calls. I have a new project for the summer picnic committee, and they haven't even provided me with any parameters. Just a deadline.

I've taken to going for a two-and-a-half mile walk in the morning with my neighbor Jen, and while I understand that the walking is probably very good for me, the early mornings are not winning any prizes from me. I've decided to go to bed early.

We got a great price on a heap of sole fillets, so I came home, and after chasing my roommate out of the kitchen with a heady mixture of irrational anger and irrational despair, I quietly got to work cooking. I cooked by myself, setting up a pattern and repeating it, silent tears rolling down my face. Dinner won high marks from the boys. They said they would clean the kitchen tonight, and here it is almost my bedtime and it still isn't done. They're in Josh's room, sorting magic cards and playing WoW.

Without further ado, dinner.

Batter Fried Fish.

Fillets of sole, haddock, halibut or cod.
2c flour
1 tbl baking powder
1 tsp salt
a handful chopped, fresh parsley (maybe 1/3 cup?)
Plenty of freshly ground pepper
1 large egg, beaten
approx 14 oz beer

Mix together the flour, powder, salt, parsley and pepper. Add the egg and stir. Pour in beer and mix to form a batter, close to pancake batter in consistency.

Dredge fish in flour, then dip in batter.

Fry in vegetable oil. I didn't have much oil, so mine was only about an inch deep and never got much over 300 degrees. The fish cooked fine, but sole fillets are quite thin; for larger pieces of fish, I might need deeper fat/higher temps.

fry until golden brown, turn, fry until golden brown. Serve with fries, malt vinegar, lemon and tartar sauce.
ragdoll13: (Default)
Today I made the first good biscuits I've ever made. Up until now, my biscuits have been little overbaked, overhandled pucks of bread, soft in the middle, but hard as hell on the outside.

Through some research, I've determined that this is due to several things:

1. overhandling the dough. I have always worked biscuit dough until smooth, like a bread. I now know that this is absolutely not needed, and in fact makes biscuit dough bake up tough.

2. not enough liquid. I have previously thought that biscuit dough should be dry and smooth, again, like bread dough. I now know that biscuit dough should be wet to the point of just being able to handle it. This provides more steam, which along with CO2 from leavening agents, provides loft and also keeps the biscuits moist.

3. overbaking the biscuit. I have always (following the recipe I was using) baked biscuits until browned on top. This is not the way to go, and overbaking is horrifyingly bad for biscuits. Biscuits, lacking in sugars and fats that produce browning reactions, do not brown up like some other baked goods do. For lovely golden-brown biscuits, I will never overbake, but will wash the biscuit with an eggwash or with milk.

Here's the (extremely basic) biscuit recipe I used today:

2c bread flour
2tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
4tbl butter
1/2c (approx) buttermilk

I'd like to make a flaky biscuit, but folding the dough to gain a laminated structure will work the dough and toughen it, so while the gluten in bread flour is needed to solidify the laminated structure, next time I'll cut it with 1/2c to 1c of AP flour and add a tbl of sugar to help tenderize. To support flaky layers, I'll also up the fat content, but instead of more butter, I'll add 2 tbl of chilled shortening to further aid tenderization (butter contains milk solids and proteins that can further toughen biscuit dough).

I'll bake in a 400 degree oven this time, for fifteen minutes, rather than 375 for 20 mins, which is what I used this morning, and doesn't seem to have been quite hot enough to gain the loft I'm looking for.

Now, does anyone have a preferred cutting in method, what is it, and why do you like it? I rubbed the butter in with my fingers for this batch, but if anyone gets better results another way, please let me know.
ragdoll13: (Default)
Okay, the chili was great. I thought about it all day at work, and I got home and the apartment smelled like it, and I waited and made cornbread with bacon drippins, and it was great.

But there was something, some small, elusive richness missing from the chili, and I don't know what it was.

It'll drive me nuts for days. At least, until I fix it.
ragdoll13: (Default)
I was struck about a half-hour ago by a wicked sweets craving. Alas, Fred Meyer is closed. So I'm making brownies.

It's a new recipe, so I hope it turns out. Of course, logically, any recipe with equal amounts of flour and butter can't be THAT bad.

If I had powdered sugar, I'd make frosting, too. At least it would keep me occupied for the WHOLE TWENTY-FIVE MINUTES I have to wait for brownies.

Brownies.

Mmmm.

** EDIT **

Pretty damn good brownies. Here's the recipe, it's a bit stripped down, but handy when you only have your basic baking kit.

1/2 c butter, melted
1 c sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/2 c flour
1/3 c cocoa powder
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

combine sugar, butter, and vanilla in mixing bowl. add eggs.
combine dry ingredients.
stir dry into wet.
pour batter into greased 9x9 pan.
bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until knife comes out clean.

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