The Great Pumpkin!

Happy Thanksgiving! There is never a bad time to be thankful and enjoy food (even if you aren’t in the U.S. for this specific holiday)!  If you have not yet had your fill of Turkey Day delicacies, perhaps some pumpkin will tantalize… and not that stuff in the can, either:

(via http://www.marthastewart.com/1089860/diy-pumpkin-pur%C3%A9e#1089860)

Hmm… a pseudo-pumpkin is filling our store shelves?

I grew the sugar pumpkin variety this year to a fair level of success.  I may have to expand to the additional variety he mentions, as well!  I have used pumpkin as a base for a risotto- it can be so much more than dessert… the recipes abound (for slow cookers and more.)  And who can forget the not-quite-so-unexpected bonus of toasted pumpkin seeds- sweet or savory? (After saving some to plant for next year, of course.)  I enjoyed ours fresh from the oven with a little salt.  (Parchment paper was a good tip to keep them from sticking/burning and to cut the fat.)

Enjoy!

 

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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(But be careful with the name!)  Celebrate with the history and some green, as well as favorite dishes (even though they may not be historically Irish).  Of course, there is nothing like a glass of Guinness.  Visit a local Irish pub, and don’t forget dessert!  I’m not Irish (but I’m adopted Irish through my wife).

We didn’t go with the typical dishes this year; instead, I made a sweet pea and asparagus risotto to celebrate with green.  I’ve made a basic (somewhat healthy) risotto recipe for a while now and have found ways to adjust it to tasty effect.  I have a couple of cooking adjustments so it is not so heavy (1% milk instead of cream, butter added just before the end, olive oil to start).  Enjoy!

Sweet Pea and Asparagus Risotto

olive oil

1 large white onion

2 cloves garlic

2 c white wine

1 tablespoon parsley

1 tablespoon thyme

1 tablespoon marjoram

1 tablespoon coriander

salt and pepper to taste

2 cups risotto rice (Arborio or another kind)

1 cup milk

6 cups water (added one at a time)

chicken-flavored stock granules (or veggie, if desired)

1 small bag frozen peas

1 bunch fresh asparagus, chopped into pieces (tough part of stem removed and discarded)

2 tablespoons butter

8 oz fresh Parmesan cheese, shredded

I cooked this using a wok, but a medium-large non-stick saucepan should work.  Add olive oil to pan and set heat to low-medium.  Chop onion and add to pan.  Saute for a few minutes.  Add garlic using a garlic press (or mince).  Cook for about a minute (don’t let garlic burn), and add white wine.  I added the herbs at this point.  (I tend to like a lot of seasoning, so my herb and spice measurements were more along the lines of 2 tablespoons each.)  Add the rice, and cook so the wine bubbles and starts to reduce.  Add peas and asparagus.  Add milk, and then add the water 1 cup at a time (as the water cooks away and evaporates).  (Add chicken, chicken-flavored, or veggie stock granules according to the package directions.)  Keep heat at about medium so the mixture is bubbling, and keep stirring frequently to prevent burning/sticking and to build the creaminess with the rice.  Taste the rice as you cook so it does not get completely soft (you may need to add additional cups of water if the rice is not yet done, though).  Add the butter just before you are done.  Allow it to melt and stir it into the mixture.  Remove the risotto from the heat and add the shredded Parmesan (while stirring).

A note- fresh peas may be better, but we did not have any available.  The frozen peas we had seemed starchy, but we did enjoy the flavor of the peas, so frozen baby peas may be the way to go (more sweetness, less starch).   Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Drunken Valentine’s Day Eve

Chow Ciao logo

What better on Valentine’s Day Eve (or national ‘Eat Italian Food Day‘) than to look to a classic Chow Ciao! for some last minute recipe ideas: Drunken Spaghetti!  In keeping with the red wine theme, Chef Fabio also offers a recipe for Red Wine Risotto via his website.  In either case, you have an excellent meal idea for Valentine’s Day.

What’s cooking on Thanksgiving Eve?

Butternut Squash Risotto

Photograph from recipe

As I’m writing this, my wife and I are finishing up applesauce and baking butternut squash for butternut squash risotto for Thanksgiving.  Risotto is one of my favorite thing to make, given that the recipe is so versatile with add-in ingredients.  I especially enjoyed my mother-in-law’s response upon tasting it- “How can we make our rice taste like this?”   I will often make it with portabellas (with some modifications), but this version with butternut squash is another of my favorites.  I love the flavor of butternut squash, as it can savory or slightly sweet, depending on how it’s made.  I have made this recipe previously, to excellent results.  It doesn’t call for other herbs or spices other than salt and pepper, but it can easily be adjusted.  I use a little cinnamon and nutmeg to add a little spice to the recipe.  Butternut squash risotto is a nice alternative to cheesy potatoes (though I love cheesy potatoes, as well!) and adds in an extra vegetable with the starch.  Happy Thanksgiving!