Archive for October, 2012

From Dish Nicole:

Ah October, the month of zombies and ghosts, sexy(____insert occupation___) costumes, candy corn and my new favorite, black rice risotto. Risotto is relatively easy to make but you must have patience, patience and more patience. If you have ever worked with black rice, you will know that it takes a particularly long time to cook but the result is well worth the wait. Black rice is not only festive for Halloween-inspired meals, it has several health benefits. It is full of antioxidant-rich bran known as anthocyanins which are the purple and reddish pigments that are also found in blueberries, grapes, and acai. Anthocyanins have been linked to a decrease in the risk of heart disease, cancer and improvements in memory. Another little nugget of information I stumbled across is that according to ancient Chinese legend, black rice was so rare, tasty, and nutritious that only the emperors were allowed to eat it. The reason I like it is a little simpler: it has a delicious nutty flavor, a beautiful color and an amazing texture. Cooking it risotto-style makes the texture a little more tender and creamy than if you cook it according to the package directions.

Here is what you will need for my spooky black rice risotto:

6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 1/2 cups black rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced

To start, place your broth in a saucepan on medium on the back of your stove. It is very important to use low- sodium chicken broth because as your risotto cooks down and becomes more concentrated it can become too salty. Next you will want to take a large saucepan and heat your olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until it softens.

Add the rice to the oil and onion mixture and cook for about 1 minute. Cooking the rice in hot butter or oil before adding liquid helps the rice to absorb the liquids slowly. This is called “Toasting the Rice.”

Once toasted, reduce the heat to medium low and add the wine and cook until it is absorbed. All of the beautiful purple and red colors will probably be all over your kitchen at this point.

The next step will require all the patience you can muster: add ¾ cups of broth stirring constantly until all of the liquid is absorbed, which takes approximately 10 minutes. Continue this process with the remaining broth until the rice is tender and creamy. This should take you about 60 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Now that your arms are tired and you are very hungry from all the stirring, you can dive into your well deserved meal. Garnish each portion with basil and parmesan. Happy Halloween y’all!

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From Dish Rachelle:

I’ve found that a dish, no matter how accurate the recipe, never comes out exactly the same way twice. That’s part of the fun of cooking — the element of surprise involved when one tiny substitution, whether it’s the freshness of an ingredient or the mindset of the cook, can make a world of difference. Sometimes I bite into a meal I’ve made a hundred times before and can’t believe how good, and new, it tastes. Unfortunately, sometimes this works in the opposite way, too. A tried and true recipe can still go sideways every once in a while.

Case in point: this Moroccan Chicken. It’s based on a highly rated Epicurious recipe and the first time I made it for a guest we declared it a Keeper. I couldn’t wait to have it again and when we made plans to host Dish Erin and her spicy side, it was the first dish that came to mind. My husband and I shopped for ingredients, dreamed up side dishes, and since I’d been so successful the last time, decided that I would head up the prep. I started, and something didn’t feel quite right. Then I realized I had planned an olive-centric meal for a man who hates olives. It got worse from there.

The Moroccan chicken – which had been so savory and fragrant and balanced the last time – came out BITTER. Our guests were kind enough to chow down anyway (wine helps) but I knew that the dish was imperfect. Here’s what happened: the dish simmers for about 25 minutes, when the chicken cooks through and the flavors come together. I realized, about 20 minutes in, that the flame had been too low and the chicken was barely cooked. It then had to go another 20 some-odd minutes, during which time the lemons started breaking down, releasing the bitter pith into the stew. By the time I realized and removed the lemon rings, it was too late. Gross.

On the bright side, I learned a new rule: never simmer lemons for more than a half hour.

But seriously, make this dish. It’s awesome when it’s awesome. I’ve made it twice now, which allows me to write the recipe exactly how I would prepare it.

Serves 4
4 good-sized chicken thighs, seasoned with S&P
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 cups chicken stock
2 lemons, 1 sliced into 8 rounds and 1 juiced
1/4 cup green olives, pitted and sliced (assuming nobody hates them)

Set the lemon juice aside.

Heat a tblsp of olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pot or crock and add chicken thighs, skin down. Cook over medium heat until golden, about 5 minutes. Remove chicken to a plate. Add the sliced onions (and more olive oil if needed) season and saute until translucent. Add spices and garlic and stir until fragrant, about one minute. Add white wine and turn the heat up to cook off the fumes. Deglaze the pan.

Add chicken stock, lemon slices, and the browned chicken back into the pot.

Bring to a boil and the lower heat to a simmer. Cook mostly covered for 20-25 minutes.

When the chicken is cooked through, remove it to a plate again. Add the olives and lemon juice and turn up heat, reducing the sauce for about 5 minutes. Adjust salt and pepper and add chicken back in. Serve with a smile, even if it’s not your finest moment in the kitchen — it’s not the recipe’s fault, I promise!

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From Dish Amelia:

Late summer into fall is as exciting to me as early spring. Spring’s bleak odorless stage features the easily spotted first-time life sprouting pale crisp colors into the air. The transition to fall gives us robust summer bounty which is almost bittersweet, and there is a pressure to make the most of it. Honeycrisp apples appear, and the first yearning to make cozy dishes, like oatmeal, pumpkin soup, and mushrooms on polenta. You can make anything in the fall and spring, just like you can wear anything you like, flip-flops or boots, jackets for chilliness or fashion. You can make light bright food with huge basil, heirloom tomatoes, and shaved vegetables galore. It’s a toss-up whether I’ll go for hot coffee or iced. On a recent shorts-and-sweatshirt clad trip to the farmers market, I discovered piles of oval Italian plums. Not seeing a ton of other fruits I figured I would just cook with these somehow and I went on my way. Once home I washed and split the plums and tasted them to see what I would do. Six or seven plums later I had to act so as not to make myself sick, and so I would cook with them as I had told myself I would. Man they were SO good. Luckily I made an excellent plum chutney which lasted longer than the fresh fruit, but not by much.

Adapted from Susan Spungen from Bon Appetit/Epicurious

6-7 plums (Italian or otherwise) pitted and chopped (I did not peel them)
1 small red onion, finely diced
3 carrots, peeled into thin strips and finely diced.
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 T chopped garlic
scant 1/2 tsp powdered ginger
1 T mustard seeds
a few liberal shakes and grinds of cumin, cardamom, coriander and black pepper
1 bay leaf
kosher salt
1/4 cup water

Heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a saucepan. Cook the onion and the carrot until they begin to soften, and add brown sugar, water, vinegar, spices, garlic, mustard, leaf, and salt. Cook until this becomes very fragrant, then add plums, cover and simmer gently for 8 minutes. Uncover, stir and cool until thickened, about 20-25 min. Taste and adjust seasoning. Cool.

Apply to anything and everything. I ate this several times on a tortilla with scrambled eggs and arugula. Revel in the sun and clouds of the season, before they slip away.

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