Sunday, November 28, 2010

Pumpkin Risotto

Not like I need another thing to love about Thanksgiving, but in addition to all the glory that is the Thanksgiving holiday, my mother also sends me home with plenty of food. Not just leftovers, but also extra ingredients. This year, like all others, I made out like a bandit: brown sugar, stuffed grape leaves, cheese, pie, and pumpkins! A whole pumpkin and also a container of pumpkin puree. I was excited to try uses for my pumpkins and thought of pumpkin risotto and -wow- it is amazing!

Pumpkin Risotto with Roasted Vegetables (adapted from Straight from the Farm)

What You Need

- 3-4 cups vegetable stock (you can also use chicken stock)
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 1/2 cup aborrio rice
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1/2 teaspoon finely minced fresh rosemary
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
- 2 cups roasted vegetables (I used a combination of sweet potato, carrots, and orange cauliflower sprinkled with olive oil and salt and roasted at 400 degrees for 25 minutes)
- 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste

What You Do

1. If you need to, first prepare your pumpkin puree (see here: The Pioneer Woman)
2. Cut up your vegetables and toss with olive oil and some salt.
3. Put vegetables in a pre-heated 400 degree oven and roast for 25 minutes.
4. While the vegetables are roasting, begin to work on the risotto.
5. Put the vegetable stock in a medium saucepan over low heat to come to a simmer.
6. Melt the butter in a large heavy saucepan over medium heat.
7. When it is melted, add the onion and cook until translucent, about 4 minutes.
8. Add the rice and stir for about two minutes so it can absorb the butter and toast a bit.
9. Add the wine and let everything simmer for another minute or two until the wine is absorbed.
10. Set a timer for 18 minutes. Add about half a cup of hot stock to the risotto and stir constantly until it is absorbed.
11. Add another half cup of stock and repeat this process until 18 minutes is up.
12. Add the pumpkin puree, nutmeg, rosemary and a final half cup of stock and stir vigorously to combine.
13. When risotto has once again become thick and creamy (don't worry, this does happen!), add the roasted veggies and grated cheese and stir again to combine.
14. Finally, finish the risotto by stirring in the heavy cream and adding pepper and salt to taste.
15. Serve immediately while hot, garnishing with addition grated cheese and a sprig of rosemary on each plate if you have it.

This was a great meal to help me transition from the Thanksgiving holiday to the final three weeks of the semester.

Thanksgiving: Sides (Brussels Sprouts)

In the end, the only new addition to our Thanksgiving meal was the new variation of brussels sprouts. The rest of the recipes have already been posted to the blog! I love brussels sprouts and I also love balsamic vinegar. Together, as in this recipe, they are amazing.

Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic Vinegar and Caramalized Onions (adapted from Martha Stewart)

What You Need

- 1.5 pounds brussels sprouts
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 small red onion, thinly sliced lengthwise
- 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

What You Do

1. Trim outer leaves and stems from brussels sprouts, and discard.
2. Cut brussels sprouts in half.
3. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil, and add salt. Meanwhile, prepare an ice-water bath.
4. Add brussels sprouts to boiling water, and cook until tender but still bright green, about 4 minutes.
5. Remove from heat, drain, and plunge into ice-water bath to cool.
6. Drain well.
7. Heat 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat.
8. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until wilted and transparent, about 3 to 4 minutes.
9. Add vinegar, and stir to loosen any brown bits on bottom of pan. Cook until vinegar is reduced and the onions are glazed.
10. Add remaining 1 tablespoon butter and oil to the same pan, and move the onions to the side of the pan.
11. Add brussels sprouts, and cook, tossing occasionally, until they are brown and crisp on the edges, about 3 minutes (this can take longer).
12. Mix together the onions and the brussels sprouts in the pan until perfect!


Thanksgiving: Turkey!

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. As you know, I love this holiday. I love this holiday so much that I celebrated it three times this year. Once at my sister's friend's potluck, then again at a pot luck with my graduate school program, and then a third time with my wonderful family in New Jersey. I was really excited because I prepared the turkey for my graduate school potluck, an experience I had yet to do on my own. I found a fabulous local, happy Maryland turkey and picked up all 18 pounds of him on Sunday morning.

I spent a lot of time debated how I would prepare this turkey, looking through food magazines, cookbooks, and websites. In the end, I asked my mom to send me the recipe she uses and I don't think I will ever stray from it. We also used this recipe to prepare our family's Thanksgiving meal. It is perfect.

Notes about turkey timing: Directly upon removal from the refrigerator, place the bird in a preheated 450 degree oven. Reduce the heat immediately to 350 or to 325 for large turkeys. After the first half hour of cooking baste frequently with pan drippings. Cook to an internal temperature of 180 or 185. The center of the stuffing should reach at least 165. If not using a thermometer, allow 20 to 25 minutes per pound for birds up to 6 lbs. For larger birds, allow 15 to 20 minutes per lb. For turkeys over 16 lbs, allow 13 to 15 minutes per pound. Add about 5 minutes to the pound if the bird you are cooking is stuffed (we stuff our birds). For our 18 pound bird, we cooked it 5 hours.

Thanksgiving Turkey (with gravy and stuffing) (from my mom adapted from The Joy of Cooking and the Silver Palate)

What You Need

-2 T of vegetable oil
-3 cups of chopped celery with leaves
-2 cups chopped onions
- 2 tart apples cut into 1/2 inch cubes (pealed)
- 1 cup walnuts, chopped
- 1 cup of raisins
- 6 cups stall bread cubes (we use Pepperidge Farm seasoned cubes that come in bag)
- 1 t salt
- 1 t of dried thyme leaves
- 1 t of crumbled dried sage leaves
- group black pepper to taste
- 1 cup tawny port
- 1 cup of chicken stock

Turkey (and gravy)
- A turkey (between 18 - 20 lbs. for this recipe)
- 3 ribs of celery, halved crosswise
- 1 onion quartered
- 1 large carrot, pealed and quartered
- 3 1/2 cups of water
- 8 T of unsalted butter, melted
- 3/4 cup tawny port
- 1/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
- salt and pepper to taste

What You Do

1. First begin by preparing the stuffing.
2. Heat the oil in a large skillet and saute the celery and onions over low heat until softened but not browned, 10 minutes.
3. Transfer the vegetables to a large mixing bowl.
4. Stir the apples, walnuts, and raisins into the mixture.
5. Add the bread cubes and toss lightly.
6. Sprinkle with salt, thyme, sage and pepper. Toss lightly again.
7. Add the port and sock, toss again until well blended.
8. Preheat oven to 450.
9. Rinse the turkey well and pat it dry. Rinse the inside of the turkey with the juice of an orange.
10. Stuff the cavity loosely with about 7 cups of stuffing. Skewer or sew the opening shut.
11. Stuff the neck area with about 3 cups of stuffing. Secure the neck skin flap under the turkey.(Put any remain stuffing in an ovenproof casserole and set it aside.)
12. Arrange a bed of the celery, onion and carrot pieces in a large roasting pan.
13. Gently place the turkey on the vegetables.
14. Pour 3 cups water into the pan.
15. Cover the breast with cheese clothe soaked in melted butter. (You will remove the cheese clothe at the last hour or most likely 1/2 hour of cooking.)
16. Roast the turkey for 4 hours brushing it well with melted butter once an hour.
17. After it has cooked for 4 hours, pour or brush 1/4 cup of the port over the turkey. Bake 15 minutes.
18. Repeat basting with port and baking three more times, until the turkey has cooked a total of 5 hours. (Note: If you have reserved some extra stuffing in a casserole, stir in a bit of the pan juices and put it in the oven during the last hour, loosely covered. Bake for 45 minutes.)
19. Transfer turkey to a platter, cover it loosely with foil and allow it to rest for 15 minutes.
20. While the turkey is resting, strain the pan juices into a saucepan and heat to a simmer.
21. Stir the flour and remaining 1/2 cup of water together in a small brown until smooth.
22. Whisk this into the pan juices and heat to a boil. Simmer 5 minutes.
23. Season with salt and pepper.

This is the most fun and leaves your house smelling delicious. After carving the turkey, you can use the bones to make a wonderful turkey stock by simmering the bones with some onions and carrots in water for 3-5 hours.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Pre-Thanksgiving Weekend

I'm so excited. I'm picking up my turkey for my Friendsgiving tomorrow morning and I have my plan for cooking (thanks to my mom!). I can't wait.

Off to shop and cook for another Thanksgiving potluck tonight.

Also, my mom and I agreed on our menu for our Thanksgiving meal (more recipes to be posted after we see how they go next week).

- Appetizers from our family friends
- Onion and Fennel Soup (from Gourmet Today Cookbook)
- Kale and Apple Salad
- Turkey, stuffing, gravy (my mom's specialities- to be posted after this weekend) and cranberry sauce
- Brussels Sprouts (choosing between two new recipes)
- Sweet potato casserole
- Green bean casserole (not sure about this one yet)
- Pumpkin Pie (from French Women Don't Get Fat)

Okay, time to run out to the store to get started with the fun.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Broccoli Salad

Yay! Friday. Today, I made a yummy vegetarian broccoli salad. The recipe is nice and you hardly miss the bacon!

Broccoli Salad (Adapted from

What You Need
- 1 head fresh broccoli, cut into bite size pieces
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1 small red onion, chopped
- 2 tablespoons white sugar
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 3/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1 cup sunflower seeds (I used less because I didn't have enough)
- 1/2 cup walnuts

What You Do
1. In a salad bowl, toss together broccoli, raisins, walnuts and red onions.
2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the white sugar, vinegar and mayonnaise.
3. Pour over broccoli mixture and toss to coat.
4. Add on the sunflower seeds.
4. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Election Night Caesar Salad

As you can tell, I'm obsessed with Smitten Kitchen these days. Along with her description of cauliflower soup, she had a recipe for Deb's Caesar Salad Dressing. So, I decided to try it! Caesar Salad is a great comfort food for me!

Caesar Salad (dressing adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

What You Need
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 1 1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 small garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon capers
- 1/4 teaspoon horseradish
- 1 head romaine lettuce, chopped
- Garlic croutons
- 1-2 tablespoons parmesan cheese

(Note: her recipe calls for 1 oil packed anchovy fillet, finely chopped. I didn't have any and probably would avoid this anyway, so my roommate and I added the capers and horseradish to compensate)

What You Do
1. First make the dressing by whisking all ingredients (except olive oil) together.
2. Gradually whisk in 1/4 cup olive oil.
3. Season with salt and pepper. (Note that the dressing can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature and re-whisk before using.)
4. Prep croutons.
5. Toss lettuce, dressing, croutons, and cheese together.


Cauliflower Soup

I love cauliflower. This week at the farmer's market. I purchased the biggest cauliflower I have ever seen. I made my roommate take a picture, which I will post for you soon.

With this cauliflower, I used 1/3 of it to make the following wonderful soup for this cold, election day.

Cauliflower Soup (adapted from Food Network, also found on Smitten Kitchen)

What You Need
- 1 head cauliflower (or in my case, 1/3 of a massive cauliflower)
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced (I used 4)
- 1 quart vegetable stock
- 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan (I used a bit less)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper

What You Do
1. Remove the leaves and thick core from the cauliflower, coarsely chop, and reserve.
2. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan or soup pot over medium heat and add the onion and garlic.
3. Cook until softened, but not browned, about 5 minutes.
4. Add the cauliflower and stock and bring to a boil.
5. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until the cauliflower is very soft and falling apart, about 15 minutes.
6. Remove from heat and, here the recipe calls for blending (either with a hand held immersion blender or in small batches in a blender). However, I just used my potato smasher and mashed up the cauliflower. I like to have a little bit of varied texture to the soup and avoid having to clean the blender (I don't have a hand held blender). You can do it either way.
7. Add the Parmesan and stir.
8. Season, to taste, with salt and black pepper.

Enjoy on a cold day! It warms your insides even while you are nervous about the election results.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Spinach and Artichoke Dip

For my roommate's birthday yesterday, we had a wonderful potluck/cookout. I was excited to make spinach and artichoke dip. I found the best recipe in my 2010 Food and Wine Cookbook. I'm thinking of making this as an appetizer for Thanksgiving. It is very easy to make but more sophisticated and yummy than other spinach dips I've tried making. Enjoy!

Spinach and Artichoke Dip (from Food and Wine)

What You Need
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
- 16 ounces marinated artichokes, drained and coarsely chopped (I used a bit less, just one 14 ounce can, but next time I'd try for a little bit more)
- 1/4 cup dry white wine
- Two 10-ounce packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
- 12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
- Tabasco

What You Do
1. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil until shimmering.
2. Add the chopped onion and garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes.
3. Add the artichokes and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned in spots, about 5 minutes.
4. Add the white wine and cook until nearly evaporated.
5. Add the spinach and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
6. Add the cream cheese, Parmigiano-Reggiano and lemon zest and season with Tabasco.
7. Cook, stirring, until the dip is creamy, about 2 minutes.
8. Transfer to a bowl and serve warm (the recipe says you can serve it at room temp but it is much better warm!)

I served the dip with crackers, chips, and bread. The recipe calls for spiced pita chips that would be delicious as well. The dip is great, so it doesn't matter what you serve it with really.

I hope you are all starting to think about your Thanksgiving menu and turkeys. I am going to be going to a pre-Thanksgiving party the Sunday before Thanksgiving and have been challenged to find a local MD turkey farm that will allow me to pick up our turkey on the Sat. before Thanksgiving. At the Farmer's Market in Greenbelt, I found it: Ferguson Family Farm. I'm looking forward to working out the logistics for an early pick up of our truly farm fresh turkey.

I love this season!