Monday, March 15, 2010

Cajun Risotto

Do you ever feel like you get stuck deciding on sidedishes and you're tired of the same rice, potatoes and pasta? I do, a lot, well not with pasta so much. Do you sit down, drink a glass of wine, plot and plunder and surprise the hell out of yourself?  Me either.  Ok, just this once, I felt the need to "Cajun-fy" and Italian sidedish, risotto. 

I like the creaminess of risotto and the versatility of it but to be honest. I've gotten bored with it.  So to relieve some stress I just felt the need to fry's a Southern thing, don't ask.

In a medium pot, bring 5 cups of chicken broth up to a simmer over medium - low heat and then reduce heat to low.

To a large pot, add 1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil and one tablespoon of butter.  Once the butter is melted, add three strips of hickory smoked bacon cut up and 1 lb. of diced smoked pork sauasaage.  Fry until well browned.

Then add in 1/2 medium onion chopped, 1/2 green or red bell pepper chopped and 4 ounces of chopped mushrooms.  (A 4 oz. can drained will work great.)  Saute until tender, about 5 to 7 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.

Add in 1-1/2 cups of Aborio rice.  Stir to coat the grains.


Add in 3/4 cup of white wine.  Stir until the wine is almost completely evaporated.  Just a word of caution here and this is really important, be prepared because the aroma given off will attract everyone in your home and lure them to your stirring station and if your windows are open, lawsie, you will meet neighbors you didn't know existed.


Add in 1/2 cup of the heated chicken broth.

Stir over medium heat until the broth is almost completely absorbed and then add in another half cup of broth.  Repeat until all the broth has been used absorbed. 

This is after that last 1/2 cup of broth.  The risotto is becoming very creamy and I've enlisted the help of a nosey passerby to stir.

Sprinkle the risotto with some Pecorino Romano cheese and some freshly chopped Italian parsely.  This is balanced meal, meat, veggies, grains and dairy.  Oh wait, where's my serving of fruit...oh yeah, I need to refill my glass!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Stuffed Chicken Breasts and Pasta Rosa

Through Foodbuzz's Tastemaker Program, I received this box of Bertoli sauces.  Talk about  excited and intrigued by the Four Cheese Rosa Sauce and by the Arrabiata sauce.I was very surprised how good the Four Cheese Rosa sauce tasted; it didn't have that "jar" taste that most cream sauces have.

Today you're getting a "two-fer" that is guaranteed to make you drool and reel! 

In a medium bowl, place 1-1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, 1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, crumble three strips of crispy bacon and 1 tablespoon dried basil.

Mix together with your hands, this is the stuffing for your chicken.

For some reason my grocery store only packages boneless, skinless chicken breasts in packs of 3 or 5...go figure.  This recipe is enough for 5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts.  Cut a pocket into the chicken and coat the chicken breast in extra virgin olive oil.  Place about a tablespoon of the cheese mixture into the pocket.  No need to fasten with a toothpick.

Very carefully, set the stuffed chicken breast into a bowl with Italian breasd crumbs and coat the chicken with the bread crumbs.  Place the breaded chicken on a prepared baking sheet (sprayed with non-stick cooking spray).  Place the chicken in a 400 degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes. 

While the chicken is baking, cook 1 lb. of your favorite pasta.  I used penne rigate for this dish.  Once the pasta is cooked and drained, return it to the pot  and pour one jar of Bertoli's Four Cheese Rosa pasta sauce and fold into pasta to thoroughly coat.

Your family will worship the ground you walk-on.

They will sing your praises until it's time for dessert...really.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Pork Tenderloin, Diva's Mashed Potatoes with Roasted Garlic Gravy

Absolutely scrumptious!  Normally, I sear the pork tenderloin and then roast it in the oven, sometimes I'll brine it.  This time I threw caution to the wind and skipped a step with very tasty results.

Pre-heat the oven  to 425 degrees. Trim the silver skin from the pork tenderloin.  Coat the pork with extra virgin olive oil and season with season salt, black pepper, garlic powder and Herbs de Provence.  Roast in a 425 degree oven for about 30 minutes, until the internal temperatire of the tenderloin reaches 145 degrees. 

My family loved this roasted garlic gravy.  They are clamoring for more! If you haven't roasted garlic before, you really need to try it.  Click here for my garlic roasting method.  Make a roux using 2 tablespoons of butter and two tablespoons of flour.  Stir constantly for about 3 to 4 minutes.  You want a medium-brown roux and to cook off the flour taste.  De-glaze the pan with 1/2 cup white wine.  At this point squeeze out all of the cloves of roasted garlic (from 1 head of garlic).  Stir to combine, add 1 to 1-/2 cups of beef broth and a drop or two of Kitchen Bouquet to achieve the color you want to achieve.   Use an immersion blender to render a velvety smooth gravy, season with salt and pepper to taste and add a pinch of Herb de Provence.  Let simmer on lowest setting util ready to serve.

I saw Diva's Mashed Potatoes at Beach Eats and knew I had to make them!  I had the pleasure of meeting up with Diva and having dinner with her in NYC.  She posted these potatoes last week and I made them and they are nothing short of fabulous.  The homegirlz loved them!  They you know these are must and will make many return visits to our table.  Thanks Diva!!!

Diva's Mashed Potatoes:

• 4 to 5 large russet or Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters
• 2 large carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
• 1/2 of a medium onion, peeled and sliced thin
•2 cloves of garlic, smashed, peels removed
•  Kosher salt
• 3 tablespoons butter
• 1/4 to 1/2 cup of milk, non-fat milk, or heavy cream
• salt, white pepper, freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
• some chopped fresh chives, parsley or chervil, if desired

Combine the potatoes, carrots, onions and garlic in a large soup or stock pot and cover with water. Salt the water liberally, 2 or 3 good pinches of Kosher salt should do it, cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until potatoes and carrots are tender, about 12 minutes. Test with a fork, potatoes are done when easily pierced. Drain and return all veggies to the pot. Return the pot to the stove and over medium-high heat, stir potatoes well to dry, for about 1 minute. Remove from heat and add the butter, mash well using a potato masher until desired consistency is achieved. Add milk (or cream) stirring well to combine, taste and adjust the seasoning, adding a bit of salt (if needed) and some ground white pepper and a dash of freshly grated nutmeg. Add some fresh chives, parsley or chervil if desired and stir to combine. Reheat gently, if necessary, and serve immediately.

As written this recipe will yield 4 servings.

We had a feast and half and on a weeknight too!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Cloverleaf Rolls

These delicious and easy cloverleaf rolls are a cinch to make even for you people out there that are afraid of yeast.  If I can make these anyone can.  They taste like Parker House rolls and require no human kneading  (I don't heart kneading).  All they ask for is butter!

4 cups all purpose flour
1 packet Rapid Rise yeast
1 cup milk
1/3 cup white sugar
1/3 cup butter
1 teaspoon salt
2 room temperature eggs

In the bowl of your stand mixer, mix together 2 cups flour and the yeast packet. In a medium size microwave bowl, heat milk, sugar, butter at 30 second intervals untils it reaches 120 degrees.

Add the milk mixture and the eggs to the flour mixture. Using the paddle attachment, mix on low speed just until combined, about 30 seconds. Scrape down the bowl with a spatula and mix on medium speed (one a Kitchenaide - 4) for 3 minutes. Turn off the mixer and take off the paddle and put on the dough hook.  At low speed add in the remaining two cups of flour 1/2 cup at a time.  Once all of the flour has been added, scrape down the bowl again and knead on low for 5 minutes.  Place dough in greased bowl  - either use vegetable or canola oil.  Non-stick cooking spray will work great too.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rise in warm place for about 1 hour or until it doubles in size.
After dough has risen, punch it down, cover it and let it rest for 15 minutes.

Spray non-stick cooking spray into the cups of a muffin pan.  Take little piece of dough and roll into little balls about 1/2 inch in diamter and place 4 dough balls into the muffin cups.  Cover the muffin pan with plastic wrap and let rise 30 to 45 minutes. 

Bake in a 375 degree oven for 12 to 15 minutes, until golden brown.

Can you heard them begging for butter?