Posts Tagged ‘Rice and Risotto’

A big, meaty braise with a root vegetable risotto isn’t a very summery dish, but it was delicious, so I’m posting about it.  We have been doing a meat CSA through Marin Sun Farms and they offered some great deals on some unusual cuts of meats.  I’ve never made oxtails, so I thought I’d give it a go.  I found some lovely baby turnips at the farmers market and thought they’d be a nice match.

The oxtails were amazing.   I should have followed advice online however and made them 24 hours in advance.  They were quite greasy the first night.  When we reheated leftovers the following night, we scraped off some of the fat that had risen to the top and they were a million times better.  With that in mind, this is a great make-ahead dish.  That said, it’s really messy and there’s no way to eat this without using your hands, so it’s probably not the best for dinner parties, you know, the types of things you need make ahead dishes for.

The turnip risotto was brilliant, if I do say so myself.  The turnips gave up their starch, making the risotto super creamy, and it had a great bite to it, which complemented the beef nicely.  Since the greens on the turnips were so gorgeous, I steamed them and served them up with the dish.  Because the dish was so rich, the bitter greens really complimented it nicely.  If you can’t find turnips with good looking greens still attached, chard would work well.

Braised Oxtails

I just followed a bunch of suggestions online and improvised.  They are pretty hard to screw up.  To make them, heat a bit of olive oil in a heavy pan and add the oxtails in batches.  Brown on all sides and remove.  Add some diced onion, shallots, garlic, and carrot and saute for a couple minutes.

Add a bottle of red wine and some beef stock.  Add a bouquet garni if you’d like or a few bay leaves.  Place the oxtails back in.  They should be covered completely by the liquid.  Cover and place in the oven at 300 for 3-4 hours.  You may want to pull it out every hour or so and check the liquid levels and just add a bit more wine or stock if it looks like its drying out.  When its finished, the oxtails should be tender and falling off the bone.  If there’s too much liquid, just remove the oxtails and simmer down a bit.

If you want to let it sit overnight (which I highly recommend), I’d pull the oxtails out and store them separately from the sauce.  Chill in the refridgerator overnight and the next day, skim off the fat from the sauce.  Place the oxtails back into the liquid and warm in the oven until they reach the desired temperature.

Turnip Risotto

Chop 6 small turnips into a 1/2 inch or so dice.  You want about 1 1/2 cups.  Dice a couple shallots up too.

Bring a pot of water or broth to a boil.  You want about 6-7 cups in there.  Heat olive oil in a heavy pan over medium heat and add the shallots.  Saute for a few minutes, until the shallots start to brown.  Add the turnips and saute for another minute or two.  Add 1 1/2 cups of arborio rice and stir it in until it is coated with oil and slightly translucent.

Add about 1/3 of a cup of white wine and stir.  After that is absorbed, add broth one or two ladles at a time, stirring and simmering.  When each ladle of broth is just absorbed, add another.  This should take about 20-25 minutes.  When all the water is just about absorbed and the rice is tender, stir in a pat of butter and grate in about 1/3 cup of parmesan cheese.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Steamed turnip greens
Place the turnip greens in a steamer and steam for a minute or two.

To serve, spoon the risotto into a bowl and top with the greens.  Place the oxtails on the side and drizzle some of the oxtail sauce over everything.

Read Full Post »

The other night, I had big plans to make my Winter Pizza again.  While the dough was rising, I carmelized the shallots, prepped the squash, and grated the cheese.

Then I looked at the dough.

It was a hot mess.  It was hard as a rock and hadn’t really risen.  It seems there was a problem with the yeast.  I had no idea how to salvage it and I was starving.  So, I threw out the dough and did some quick thinking. 

Arborio rice in the pantry, vegetable stock in the freezer, and an open bottle of white wine in the fridge meant my new risotto recipe was born.

I made a butternut squash risotto last year.  This one is much more complex, so I recommend ignoring that one and opting for this.  While it wasn’t pizza, it was still pretty damn good.

Butternut Squash and Carmelized Shallot Risotto

2 tablespoons of olive oil
2-3 cups of  butternut squash, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch chunks
3-4 shallots, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon finely diced sage leaves
1 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
4-5 cups of vegetable or chicken stock, or a mix of stock and water
a couple tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese and grated fontina cheese


Bring the stock to a simmer.

In a separate, heavy pot over medium high heat, add tablespoon of olive oil.  Add the shallots and saute for about 8 minutes or so, until they become golden brown and carmelized. 

Add the rest of the olive oil, and the diced butternut squash and the sage.  Start cooking the squash, and after 3 or 4 minutes, add the arborio rice.  Stir to coat the rice.

Add the wine, stirring and cook until almost all liquid has been absorbed, about 1 to 2 minutes.

Ladle about 1/2 cup of broth into the rice and stir, until almost all liquid is absorbed.  In 1-2 ladle increments, slowly add the rest of the broth, stirring and letting it absorb until adding more.  This should take about 20-30 minutes.

Stir in the fontina and the parmesan.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Read Full Post »

My addiction

fresh tomatoes

I can’t stop buying tomatoes.  The tomatoes in the Bay area right now are just incredible.  All these fantastic colors and they just taste amazing.  Fresh and sweet and not grey and mealy tasting like those sad supermarket tomatoes.  As a result, I just keep buying them.  At the farmers market near my house, at the farmers market near my office, at the Berkeley Bowl, everywhere I see them, every chance I get.  I pile them up on my counter in those green plastic pint baskets and throw them in pasta, make pickled tomatoes for friends, or just to eat with a drizzle of oil and a sprinkle of salt.

So that my tomato eating keeps pace with my tomato buying, I’ve been looking for recipes that lets me use pounds of them at once.  And along came tomato confit.  It appeared in my blog reader in a few different forms, and I loved the idea from Herbivoracious to make a risotto with it.  I loosely adapted his approach, which he loosely adapted from Tom Colicchio. 

The finished product was amazing.  I think the standard tomato suggestion is romas, but I used 2 pounds of dry farmed Early Girls.  If you can get your hands on these, I highly recommend them.  Not just because using such a specific tomato makes this recipe sound like an important, ingredients-obsessed chef at a farm to table type restaurant, but because they are really, really delicious, don’t have a lot of water (this is important), and roast up just beautifully.

The confit is basically slow roasted tomatoes, rich with olive oil and lusciously sweet.  I stirred that into a basic risotto and had myself a lovely dinner.

Finally, I’ve always been a bit confused on what the official serving size for risotto is.  I think this would probably serve 3 people as a main course, though it’s really delicious and 2 very hungry people would probably not have too much trouble destroying it.  If you are cooking for 4 or more, I’d double it.

Risotto with Tomato Confit
Inspired by Herbivoracious

For the tomato confit

15 medium-sized ripe tomatoes (about 2 pounds), such as Early Girls, halved and cored
1/4  cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
A few cloves of garlic and a few sprigs of herbs (I used thyme, though any woody herb would work)

roasting tomatoes

Preheat the oven to 350 Fahrenheit.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with tin foil.  Don’t use a silpat, though one of those deep 9X11 type pans would work.

Toss the halved tomatoes in a bowl with the olive oil and salt and pepper and place them cut-side down on the baking sheet.  Squeeze in the peeled garlic cloves and thyme around the tomatoes, drizzling with the oil left in the bowl.

Bake for 20 minutes or until the skins have begun to loosen.  Pour off and reserve any juice.  Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes until you can easily peel off the skins without burning yourself.  Honestly, if you can’t get the skins off, don’t worry about it.  I had a few on and it didn’t really affect the finished product. 

 Lower the heat to 275 F. and return the pan to the oven.

Every half-an-hour or so, pour off and reserve the juice.   You’ll probably only need to do this 1 or 2 more times, depending on how dry the tomatoes were to start with.  The original recipe suggests roasting them for a total of 4 hours, until they have given up a lot of moisture and a very tender but still moist.   I found I reached this point at just under 3 hours.  I might have been able to go a bit longer, but I was concerned that any more time and they’d dry out, so I stopped.   In any event, use your judgment.  The tomatoes should have a concentrated tomato flavor, and still be soft and rich from the oil.

When they are finished, remove from the oven.   If you aren’t going to make the risotto (or anything else with them) right away, store in the refridgerator in some oil (not the reserved juice.  Store that, just seperately.) 

For the risotto

The reserved tomato water (measure it, and then add enough water or broth to have a total of 4 cups of liquid)
4 tablespoons of the oil
1 shallot
1 cup arborio rice
1/4 cup dry white wine
all of the roasted tomato halves (give them a coarse chop if they are still fairly large)
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1 bay leaf

Bring the tomato water, broth or water, and bay leaf to a simmer.

Heat the oil over medium heat in a large, heavy pot.  Saute the shallot for a couple of minutes until softened but not browned.  Add the rice and saute for a minute or two until it turns slightly translucent.

Add the wine and the thyme and stir until the liquid is absorbed.   Slowly add the tomato/broth mixture (don’t add the bay leaf), one ladle at a time, stirring often.  When each ladle of liquid is absorbed, add another ladle. 

Continue adding the liquid slowly until it’s all absorbed and the rice is soft but still has a bit of give to it.  You might need an extra 1/2 cup or so of water if it’s still too firm after the first 4 cups has been absorbed.

When the last of the water is absorbing, add the tomatoes and give it a gentle stir, then remove from the heat and stir in the parmesan cheese. 

The finished dish is wonderful.  The tomatoes are rich and sweet and the dish just tastes like late summer. 

risotto 2

Read Full Post »












I went to the farmers’ market over the weekend and went on a greens binge.  Among other things, I got my beloved arugula and a bunch of dandelion leaves.   I’ve never cooked dandelion before, but the bunch was only a dollar so I couldn’t resist.  I thought the bittery, peppery flavors of these greens would work well in a risotto dish.

The recipe is my own creation.  I just worked off of the basic risotto technique and incorporated flavors I knew would work well together.  Bacon and bitter greens has always been a heavenly combo for me, particularly when there’s cheese involved, so I’m happy to have created another vessel to enjoy that.

If you can find both dandelion and arugula, I would strongly recommend using both.   I think dandelion on its own might be a little strong, but mixed in with the other ingredients, it gives an unexpected kick to the dish.  Arugula on its own would be delicious too, or mix it with a milder green like spinach if you aren’t a big fan of bitter, pungent greens.

1 cup arborio rice
4-5 cups broth or water  (I use half water and half broth, it helps control the salt)
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 strips of bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 shallot, finely minced
3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
3 cups (approximately) of coursely chopped arugula (and dandelion if you can find it)
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
1-2 tablespoons butter


In a sauce pan, bring the water or chicken broth to a simmer.  While that is warming, cook sliced bacon in a large, heavy pan.  Over medium heat, add shallots and garlic and saute lightly until golden.

Add the arborio rice to the bacon mixture and stir for about 2 minutes, until the rice is coated in oil and starts to turn translucent.  Add the wine and simmer until all the liquid is absorbed, stirring occassionally.

Using a ladle, slowly add the water or broth to the rice.  Add 1-2 ladles at a time, stirring occassionally.  When the liquid is just about absorbed, repeat until all the liquid is gone or until rice is soft but not too gummy. 

When all the liquid has been added and the rice is cooked, turn the heat down to low and add the greens, one cup or so at a time, followed by a stir.  This will lightly wilt the greens but keep them from turning too mushy.  Once the greens have all been added, stir in a pat of butter and the parmesan cheese.  Stir until the butter has melted and the cheese has been absorbed.

Season with salt and pepper and serve!


Read Full Post »


Our CSA has given us a ton of butternut squash this year.  It started back in October or November, and we’ve gotten one or two in almost every single box since then.  I hadn’t cooked much of it in my life, just a soup or two really, but now I’m a pro.   And, it’s been wonderful having this much squash in the pantry all winter since it’s so versatile.  This risotto will be the fifth butternut squash recipe I’ve blogged about, and the soup, macaroni & cheese, and gnocchi I’ve made multiple times this winter since posting them.  Now that it’s spring, I should probably move on to asparagus and rhubarb, but Eatwell gave me two more butternut squashes last week, so here we are with another recipe.

There are quite a few versions of butternut squash risotto floating around online.  Since Martha and Ina never fail me, I immediately flocked to them.  Ironically, Martha’s is considerably more simple than Ina’s.   I opted for Martha’s version, because hers required that the squash be in the pot for the entire duration of the risotto cooking time, and I thought the end result would be squash-ier.  Ina’s looks excellent as well, so I may try that with the other squash.

If you’ve made risotto before, the recipe is a piece of cake.  If you’ve never made risotto before, here’s a good time to learn.  The recipe will probably serve 3-4 as an entree and 6 or so as a side dish.  The original recipe uses sage, which I omitted simply because that just seemed too wintery.  I think it was great without, though just about any fresh herb would be nice as a garnish.

Butternut Squash Risotto


1 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 cans (14 1/2 ounces each) reduced-sodium chicken broth, mixed with 1/2 cup water and heated
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish


In a medium heavy-bottom saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add squash; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until edges soften, 6 to 8 minutes.

Add rice; stir to coat. Add wine; cook until almost all liquid has evaporated, 1 to 2 minutes.

Reduce heat to medium-low; add 1/2 cup hot broth mixture. Cook, stirring, until almost all liquid is absorbed. Add remaining broth mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring until liquid is absorbed before adding more, 35 to 40 minutes total.

Stir in Parmesan and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt.  Serve immediately, garnished with more Parmesan and herbs, if desired.

Read Full Post »

When I lived in Washington, there was this local chain, Lebanese Taverna, that had this one amazing dish…consisting of either chicken, lamb, or eggplant, served with yogurt, chickpeas, pomegranates, and tons of garlic. It was to die for.

There is no Lebanese Taverna in Berkeley, and I had a craving. Through the magic of the internets, I was able to hunt down a recipe for this dish. The recipe I used was posted by a poster on the Chowhound boards. I improvised a little, so I’ll try to describe it the way I did it. And while I used a whole chicken as the recipe suggested, next time I will just use boneless chicken pieces, which will make preparing this a lot easier. Or perhaps I’ll try lamb or a vegetarian version with eggplant.
While not exactly like Lebanese Taverna’s, this version was still really, really good. I’ll definitely make this again.
Fatteh Bel Djaje
For chicken and broth:
1 chicken, quartered (or 2-2.5 pounds or so of boneless chicken pieces)
1/2 lemon, cut into quarters (I used half an orange)
1 Tb ground cinnamon
1 tb salt
2 cups water (I needed a little more water to cover everything in the pot)
1 onion with 3 cloves stuck in it
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 stick cinnamon
2 bay leaves
1 large can chickpeas
For serving
1 quart plain yogurt (i use labneh or the thick greek yogurt, they work best)
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup mints leaves, torn
1 cup pine nuts
3 Tb butter
2 pita breads cut into 1 inch squares
1/2 a pomegranate (if available)
Rice or couscous, for serving, if you want.
First, mix the yogurt with garlic and a pinch of salt and let it sit for at least 15 minutes. I’d keep it out of the fridge so it can come to room temperature.
Brown the chicken in a large large dutch oven or stockpot. Add lemon or orange, ground cinnamon, salt, water, onion with cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon stick and bay leaves. If you are using boneless chicken in small chunks, you can probably just leave it on the stove to to simmer. If you are using bigger pieces with the bone in, bring the water to a boil and put it in a 350 degree oven for 20-30 minutes, depending on how big the pieces are.
Once the chicken is cooked, remove it from the broth. Let it cool if you need to debone it. Strain and skim broth, pour over chickpeas and cook for 15-20 minutes. I reserved a little bit of broth and poured it back over the deboned chicken, covered it, and simmered on very low heat to keep it warm.
Cook the rice or couscous, if you are using it. (I used basmati rice, which works well with this.)
Fry pine nuts in 1 tb butter until brown.
Set them aside and fry the pita cubes in remaining butter until crisp.
To serve
Put rice or couscous in a shallow bowl. Top with chicken, chickpeas and a couple tablespoons of broth, and the yogurt mixture. Sprinkle the pine nuts, pita, mint, and pomegranate on top.
And convince people that despite the odd ingredient list, it is actually an incredibly delicious meal. The pomegranate seeds add sweetness, the pine nuts and pita are crunchy, the mint makes it fresh and bright, and all of them compliment the spicy chicken and garlicky yogurt beautifully.

Read Full Post »

This is, without a doubt, the best thing I have ever made. It is so amazing that I don’t even know where to start. It tastes like a restaurant dish. It is sophisticated and comforting at the same time, and it is just absolutely delicious.

The recipe is a little tricky, but the marmalade can be made in advance, so I recommend doing that so you can focus. But, I’ll try to break down the steps as simply as possible. If you take your time and don’t do two things at once, you will be fine.

The recipe also suggests making the marmalade to spread on bread or serve over polenta, which I think would be wonderful.

Like almost all of my recipes, this one comes from Food and Wine (best foodie magazine ever).

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3/4 pound fresh porcini or stemmed shiitake mushrooms—1/2 pound cut into 1/2 -inch dice, 1/4 pound sliced 1/4 inch thick
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 medium shallot, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon water
3/4 cup dry red wine, such as Amarone
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter

5 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, minced
1 cup arborio rice (6 ounces)
1/2 cup dry red wine, such as Amarone
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Salt and freshly ground pepper
One 2-ounce piece Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for shaving
2 teaspoons chopped mixed herbs, such as chives, mint and tarragon
I used cremini mushrooms instead and it worked out fine. I have read that you are not supposed to wash mushrooms before cooking them as it throws their water content off, so I didn’t. I just wiped the dirt off with paper towels, which took forever, but I think it made a difference. They didn’t give off as much water and retained their shape a little better.

I think if you were planning this as a main course, I would recommend using a meatier mushroom like cremini or portabella (or a mix of them with the more delicate kind), and perhaps doubling the amount of marmalade.

For the wine, I used a zinfandel blend. Apparently Amarone is a peppery, fruity wine, so I figured zinfandel would be a good bet. I found a lovely bottle from one of my favorite Napa vineyards at Trader Joes for $15. If you can find this wine, I highly recommend it – for cooking, drinking, bathing in, whatever. It is fantastic and at $15, a total steal.

Marmalade Directions

In a large, nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil. Add the diced mushrooms; season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook over moderate heat until tender, 5 minutes.

Uncover and cook, stirring, until browned. I took them off the stove after about a minute. Transfer the mushrooms to a plate.

In the same skillet, heat another 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. Add the shallot and garlic and cook over low heat until softened, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the cooked mushrooms.

In a small saucepan, simmer the sugar and water over moderate heat, washing down the side of the pan with a wet pastry brush, until amber, 6 minutes.

Add the wine and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.

Add the vinegar and boil over high heat until reduced by half. The recipe says this will take about 12 minutes, but I found it took only about 8. Just keep an eye on it. It will turn from liquid to syrup fast and you want to catch it right when it turns to syrup. The consistency was very thick and when it cooled, it stuck to my wooden spoon like candy. So, work quickly.

Stir the mixture into the skillet and cook over moderate heat until the mushrooms are glazed, 3 minutes. Season with salt. Take it off the heat and cover.

Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. The recipe says to use a clean skillet, but I didn’t feel like washing another pot, so I just used the pan that the wine syrup was in. I figured this way I could soak up the last of the wine syrup goodness. I didn’t have an problems doing this.

Add the sliced mushrooms, season with salt and cook over moderate heat until tender and lightly browned, about 8 minutes.

Stir the mushrooms into the marmalade, and swirl in the butter. There is a lot of liquid in the pan at this point, but some will evaporate out, and some will re-absorb into the mushrooms.

And voila! Mushroom marmalade! At this point, I covered the pan, removed it from the heat and placed it on a rack. I started cooking the risotto an hour or so later. As soon as the risotto was done, I put the mushrooms back on the stove over medium heat and slowly warmed them up. It took about 2 minutes.

Risotto Directions

In a medium saucepan, bring the chicken stock to a simmer; cover and keep warm over low heat.

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the rice and cook for 2 minutes. Add the wine and simmer until almost evaporated.

Pour in about 1 cup of the hot stock, or enough to cover the rice. Cook, stirring constantly, until the stock has been absorbed, about 5 minutes. Repeat, adding 1 cup of stock at a time and stirring until all of the stock has been absorbed. The risotto is done when the rice is just cooked and suspended in the creamy sauce, about 25 minutes. You may not need all 5 cups of liquid. Once you’ve got 4 cups in, start tasting it. You want the rice soft, but not mushy. I only used about 4 and a half cups of liquid, so add that last cup very, very slowly.

Stir in the butter and season with salt and pepper.

The recipe suggests shaving parmigiano-reggiano over the top of the risotto, but I went with the traditional route of mixing the grated cheese into the risotto right after adding the butter.

Garnish with the herbs (which I forgot to do) and enjoy your amazing restaurant quality dish.


Read Full Post »