Monday, November 30, 2009

Risotto with Shrimp, Peas and Frizzled Onions

Back to work after a long holiday weekend… so hard... I love risotto. It is quick to make, comforting, satisfying, and relatively light. A lot of the richness comes from the chicken stock but there is just enough butter and cheese to make it taste decadent. I like to add shrimp and some kind of vegetable to make it a complete meal. I only had peas in the house so that is what I used ( I also love asparagus). The frizzled onions do add some calories but I love the texture - crispy onions with creamy risotto – yum!


2 tbs. olive oil
1 onion diced
1 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine
2 1/2 cups chicken stock (simmered)
2 tbs. butter
1/4 cup grated parmigiano reggiano
1/2 lb. peeled and deveined shrimp
1/2 cup defrosted peas (or asparagus pieces)

Heat the olive oil in a heavy bottomed saute pan. Add the diced onion and cook until the onion softens and becomes translucent. Next add the rice, and stir into the onion mixture. Cook the rice until lightly browned, stirring often. Add the wine and simmer rigorously until the wine is mostly reduced. Add the simmering stock one ladle full at a time, allowing the stock to mostly reduce before adding the next. Stir often, but no need to constantly stir. Once all of the stock has been incorporated, add the butter to the rice. Sauté the shrimp in a separate pan with the peas until the shrimp are just cooked through. Add the shrimp and peas to the rice and lastly add the grated cheese. Stir to combine. Plate and top with frizzled onions.

Frizzled Onions

1 small onion sliced thinly across the rings
1/4 cup flour seasoned with salt and pepper
vegetable oil for frying

Toss the onions with the seasoned flour. Shake off excess flour. Heat vegetable oil in a skillet until hot. Add the onions and pan fry until they are golden. Drain on a plate lined with paper towels. Sprinkle with salt to taste.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

At my family's request we had a super traditional and relaxing Thanksgiving. The Griggstown Quail Farm turkey was the most delicious turkey that we have ever had! Unbelievably good! Fresh and local is definitely the way to go! The sides were dressing (I didn't stuff it in the turkey), whipped potatoes, cabernet cranberries, butternut squash puree, creamed onions, mashed turnips, biscuits, and the dreaded green bean casserole with crunchy onions - I tried to lose it :) but I was overruled! It was so nice to have my family together to enjoy a delicious meal. Nothing fancy, just fresh, homemade, traditional foods. What a great day! The best is that I got a huge turkey and we have lots of leftovers! Happy Thanksgiving and a blessed holiday season to all!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Pork Tenderloin with Balsamic-Cranberry Sauce

I absolutely love pork tenderloin. It is so versatile and quick enough to make on a busy weeknight. One of my favorite go-to pork tenderloin recipes is Pork Tenderloin with Balsamic-Cranberry Sauce. Dinner was on the table in about 30 minutes and was just delicious. I rubbed the baked potatoes with olive oil and sprinkled with plenty of coarse kosher salt. The brussels sprouts were tossed in olive oil, salt, and pepper and roasted. Quick, healthy, and super tasty!

Pork Tenderloin with Balsamic-Cranberry Sauce Bon Appétit | November 1998

Yield: Serves 2, can be doubled

1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 8- to 10-ounce pork tenderloin
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 cup canned low-salt chicken broth
1/3 cup canned whole berry cranberry sauce
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 450°F. Melt 1/2 tablespoon butter in heavy large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle pork with salt and pepper. Sear pork on all sides, about 2 minutes. Place skillet with pork in oven. Roast pork until thermometer inserted into center registers 155°F, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter in heavy medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and rosemary; sauté until onion softens, about 3 minutes. Add broth, cranberry sauce and vinegar and whisk until cranberry sauce melts, about 2 minutes.

Transfer pork to work surface. Scrape any juices from large skillet into cranberry mixture. Boil until sauce has reduced enough to coat spoon thickly, about 6 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Slice pork and serve with sauce.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Dinner for Two

One daughter away at Disney and one away at college. The house is too quiet! Our poor little cocker spaniel and I are not too happy!

I did take the opportunity, however, to make a nice dinner for two. The inspiration for this dish came from a local Italian restaurant's menu (La Dolce Vita). I have never had this pasta dish but the menu description sounded delicious and gave me a starting point. I was feeling creative so I gave it a shot and I made this most delicious pasta dish. I quickly tried to jot down the ingredients and measurements before I forgot. Many times I have made something that we really liked but later I couldn't remember exactly how I made it. My husband raved about it - success! I could go for it again tonight! It was that good!

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion diced
4 - 6 shiitake mushrooms sliced
2 oz. sliced prosciutto di parma
1/3 cup white wine
8 large shrimp peeled and deveined (21-25 ct.)
½ cup frozen peas
1 ½ cups crushed tomatoes or pureed diced tomatoes
½ cup heavy cream
grated parmigiano reggiano

Heat the butter and olive oil in a heavy bottomed sauté pan. Add diced onions and once they begin to soften add the shiitake mushrooms. Cook until the onions are softened and lightly browned. Add the prosciutto and shrimp. Once the shrimp is pink on the outside, add the wine to deglaze the pan. Next add the peas. After about a minute add the tomatoes (I used diced tomatoes pureed in the food processor). Simmer until the shrimp are just cooked through. Next add the cream followed by the grated parmesan cheese. Toss with fresh fettucine and serve immediately. Buon appetito!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Please Support Your Local Farms

Cherry Grove Farm in Lawrenceville is a 400 acre certified organic farm that supplies grass-fed lamb and beef, pastured heirloom pork, free range eggs, and artisinal cheeses to the local community. The farm is just beautiful and the animals are all well cared for. Eggs are $5 a dozen, which may seem a little pricey but trust me they are worth every penny. Store bought eggs cannot compare! I've also had their Italian sausage, ground beef, and cheeses. If you have not seen Food, Inc., I would highly recommend it. I saw it at a small theater in Asbury Park, NJ over the summer. I see that it is now available on dvd at Amazon. It will change the way you look at food production in the US.

Last weekend, Cherry Grove Farm hosted their annual Pasture Party. My husband, two daughters and I attended on Sunday. It was such a beautiful day here in NJ - sunny and the highs were in the low 70's (amazing for November). Cherry Grove partnered with other local businesses to bring fresh, local foods to their customers. Food and drinks were supplied by Nomad Pizza, Small World Coffee, Village Bakery, Flying Fish Brewing Co., Hopewell Valley Vineyards, and of course Cherry Grove Farm. One disappointment was the lack of The Bent Spoon, from neighboring Princeton, which features artisan ice cream - which had been there on Saturday, serving pumpkin mascarpone ice cream, but didn't return on Sunday :(

Nomad Pizza is a traveling pizzeria, complete with a wood-fired oven, that serves delicious pizza made with fresh local, and organic ingredients. We sampled onion and mushroom, pepperoni, and pizza margherita - yum! Cherry Grove served their fresh handmade cheeses, grass fed beef burgers, macaroni and cheese, pasta with andouille sausage, potato salad, macaroni salad, pulled pork, and fresh lamb... a feast! I also enjoyed an Extra Pale Ale from Flying Fish Brewing Co. Fresh artisan breads and rolls from The Village bakery were also served. Dessert was also supplied by The Village bakery and consisted of bread pudding and a delicious apple cake made from organic apples from local Terhunes Orchards. The coffee that I tried from Small World Coffee was "crispy hippie", a Mexican coffee, that was quite delicious.

Cherry Grove also had a hay ride, live music, and arts and crafts for the children. The weather was perfect, the crowd was friendly, what a nice afternoon. We enjoyed a nice family day together, drove my daughter back to Swarthmore, and then headed home. We'll see her soon for Thanksgiving! I would like to make the Pasture Party an annual tradition. Please support your local farms and businesses. They need everyone's support to survive, especially in this economy.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Weekday Dinner and Dessert

I used to be able to do it all - but not lately. For years I would work all day, run home to get dinner ready, and then head off to class 2-3 times per week. Now, dinner and dessert on a weeknight is a chore. Long since done with my MBA ... I can't get my act together during the week. Maybe I need to go back to school?

Well, I saw this incredible dessert on Stacey Snacks, with the post title Brown Butter Bliss: Make This Tonight! Everything Stacey makes is amazing and since I went to Catholic school, I am a good at following instructions! I had plans and couldn't make it that night, but Stacey was kind enough to grant me a reprieve. Since, I can't seem to be able to handle both dinner and dessert, I bought dinner and made dessert. That is really unusual for me. I always choose cooking over baking. Many times, I will cook and my daughters will bake, which works out well. One daughter off at college, the other furiously working on college applications, so what to do..?

I have been wanting to try the turkey pot pie from Griggstown Quail Farm and just learned that they are available at Delicious Orchards in Colts Neck, NJ. I am a big fan of Griggstown and have ordered my Thanksgiving turkey from them. Their fresh poultry is so good, but it is over an hour away from home. Delicious Orchards is a wonderful market, which is easy to drop by on my way home from work. They carry lots of organic and specialty items. They are famous for their pies, apple cider, and donuts. I ran in and picked up a Griggstown turkey pot pie, apples for dessert, and of course a pack of apple cider donuts! I popped the pot pie in the oven and made the dessert.

The pot pie was really delicious. The turkey bites were so good and there were lots of delicious vegetables. The crust is made from puff pastry - yum! Oh, and dessert - amazing! Warm apples, cinnamon, and the butter... Mmmmm... loved it! I love it when a plan comes together! Thanks Stacey! I think that this dessert will make an appearance again at Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Butternut Squash Soup with Poblanos

Above: The soup before using the immersion blender or adding the cream
I saw this recipe in an email update that I received from Griggstown Quail Market. The recipe was submitted by a customer and was originally from The Asylum restaurant in Arizona. It is a very cold day here in New Jersey. The frost certainly is on the pumpkins! I had soup on my mind - so this looked perfect. I had all of the ingredients in the house to make this soup, so I got to work. The kitchen smelled so good with the butternut squash, poblano peppers, and garlic roasting. Mmmm...

I mostly followed the recipe but made a few changes. I roasted the butternut squash, the poblano peppers, and the garlic (wrapped in foil) all on the same baking tray. I removed them as they were done - peppers first, followed by the garlic, and lastly the squash. I sauteed the onions and serrano chili in a little olive oil until beginning to brown, added the beer, let it cook off a little, then added all of the remaining ingredients, except for the cream . I used 3 cloves of the roasted garlic. The recipe didn't specify but I used my immersion blender to make it a nice smooth texture. Lastly, I added the heavy cream.

I really liked the sweet and heat combination. Delicious!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Pizza Cavolfiore

I picked up a beautiful, locally grown cauliflower. What to make with it? Maybe soup - I've been constantly in the mood for soup since it has gotten colder here in NJ. I know - cauliflower pizza, yes, definitely cauliflower pizza in the style of Grandaisy Bakery. Thin crust, gruyere cheese, roasted cauliflower, bread crumbs, and fresh parsley. In an attempt to replicate the popular pizza cavolfiore at the Grandaisy Bakery in New York City, I came up with this rendition:

Pizza Dough

1 tablespoon instant yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 cups warm water
4 cups bread flour
1 tseaspoon kosher salt

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, stir in the yeast, sugar, and water with a spoon. Slowly add the flour, with the mixer on low. Add the salt and knead the dough at speed 2 until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl and clings to the dough hook. Remove the dough from the mixer (it should be smooth and only very slightly tacky) and place in a well oiled bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place it in a warm area to rise. Once the dough has doubled in size, punch it down. Recover with plastic wrap and let the dough rest for 30 minutes.

Roasted Cauliflower

1 large cauliflower washed and cored
salt and fresh ground pepper
2 tablespoons of olive oil

Slice the cauliflower florets away from the head into small pieces. Place on a baking sheet (in a single layer), toss with the olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Roast at 400 degrees until lightly browned (approx 30 minutes).

Prepare the Pizza

Press the dough ( I only used about 2/3rds of the dough) into a lightly oiled baking sheet. Brush the crust lightly with olive oil and let rise again. Top with shredded gruyere, the roasted cauliflower, and sprinkle with fresh toasted bread crumbs. Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley. Serve with good olive oil.

The Reviews

My husband really liked it. My daughter not so much a fan... and I think that it was a valiant first attempt - with a little tweaking could be perfect. My crust stuck to the pan in spots. A little more gruyere would have been better... but it satisfied my craving for this pizza without an hour commute into the City!