Asparagus Risotto

On April 27, 2013, in Featured, Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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I love risotto.  It is incredibly flexible where a wide variety of combinations can combine to create some amazing dishes.  In fact, last month when I was in Chicago for work I was in a cooking competition. Our team had flank steak, bell peppers, and potatoes as our ingredients. I led our team choosing between a Southwest or Asian flavored plate. We chose Southwest and went witha beer marinated flank steak, roasted potatoes and to top everything off stuffed bell peppers.

I had found some risotto, cilantro, tomatoes and onions that we used to stuff the peppers with then topping them with a slice of Manchego cheese. One of my coworkers had never made risotto and so I worked with her on adding chicken stock to the risotto and she came away proud she made it for the first time. Hopefully, she tried doing it again at work.

Here’s a video of my sharing our team’s creation that evening.

We came in second behind the creative team that had a couple food bloggers. Plus they had chicken, asparagus, and potatoes for their ingredients. Flank steak takes a lot longer to flavor so it was difficult getting something that would challenge the chicken option; though, that team did a great job with a wonderful balsamic vinegar sauce.

It was a fun evening an another example of how versatile risotto can be.

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Tonight though I wanted a simple though flavorful risotto for dinner.  I found some great asparagus at Erewhon market in Los Angeles this afternoon.  Perfect for a risotto.

 

Asparagus Risotto

Prep Time: 10 Mins Cooking Time: 30 Mins

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups uncooked risotto
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 cup Parmasen cheese
  • 3/4 cup white wine
  • 1 bunch asparagus, cooked
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons butter

Directions:

  1. In a stockpot heat the butter on medium-high heat and add the onion and garlic. Cook for a couple minutes until the onion is translucent and do not burn the garlic. Pour in the white wine and add risotto.
  2. Let the risotto absorb the white wine and then cook the risotto adding the vegetable stock 1 cup at a time and continue stirring. Each time let the risotto cook absorbing the stock and add more stock as the liquid cooks away. Eventually after all the vegetable stock has been added taste the risotto. It should be soft. If necessary add another 1/2 cup of broth or water.
  3. Add the cooked asparagus and Parmesan cheese. Mix together and cook with cooked risotto for 1 minute.
  4. Serve with some grated Parmesan cheese and sourdough bread.
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Lemon, Sage and Asparagus Rigatoni

On February 17, 2013, in Featured, Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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Fresh pasta is one of those things that sounds time consuming, especially on a work day evening. It certainly can be but there are ways to reduce the time and my secret weapon is the KitchenAid mixer with the pasta extractor accessory.

The pasta dough is simple to make and then a small ball of pasta dough is placed in the extractor and in seconds beautifully shaped rigatoni (or 8 other shapes.)

This recipe is a great use for fresh pasta and yes even on a work night it is possible.

Lemon, Sage and Asparagus Rigatoni 

Prep Time: 30 Mins Cooking Time: 10 Mins Total Time: 40 Mins

Ingredients:

  • 2 bunches of asparagus
  • Juice from 2 lemons
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 8 garlic cloves, sliced into thin slivers
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
  • 4 leaves of sage, chopped
  • 1 lb fresh rigatoni pasta

Directions:

  1. Heat a pot of water to a boil. While the water is heating up, fill a saute pan with water and add asparagus once it begins to boil.  Drain after 3 minutes of boiling. Wipe pan dry and add bread crumbs heating on medium-high heat for 4 minutes tossing to brown all of it without burning. Remove bread crumbs, set aside.
  2. Pour in a tablespoon of olive oil and then heat garlic slivers for about 4 minutes then add  butter, sage and parsley. Let it all combine for a minute then add lemon juice.
  3. Cook pasta for about 2-3 minutes, if freshly made (follow instructions on package if using store bought.) Drain pasta and then add to saute pan.  Return the asparagus and bread crumbs.  Pour in the remaining olive oil and parmesan cheese.
  4. Toss it all together and serve.
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Linguini with Pancetta and Golden Beets

On July 26, 2012, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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Pasta dishes are a great option for hotel cooking. They require only a couple pans and Extended Stay America’s kitchen came with a rather large strainer, showing someone thought a simple pasta makes sense for small kitchen cooking.

Last night I modified a recipe I usually make with Pancetta and Parsnips and Taglietti noodles. I had picked up some beautiful golden beets at the La Canada Farmers’ Market and needed to use them before they went bad.  A quick stop at Gelson’s Market in Pasadena for some Pancetta the day before completed what I need for this simple recipe.

Linguini with Pancetta and Golden Beets
Serves 2

1/2 lb linguini noodles
2 small golden beets, diced into small cubes
1/4 lb Pancetta, diced into small cubes
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup Italian parsley, chopped
Parmesan Cheese
Salt & Pepper to taste

Cook the pasta noodles in boiling water per package directions or for 3 minutes if fresh.

While the water for the noodles is getting to a boil, sauté the Pancetta for 10 minutes turning frequently to brown but not burn the meat.  Add the beets and butter and continue cooking with the Pancetta for another 6 minutes adding some salt and pepper.

When the noodles are done, add them to the pan with the chopped parsley. Toss the noodles with the butter, Pancetta, and beets then serve on plates shaving some Parmesan cheese on top and a little more parsley, if desired.

 

Mario Batali’s Mint Love Letters

On April 21, 2012, in Featured, Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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If you are ever in New York City, I highly recommend Babbo.  It’s an Italian restaurant from celebrity chef Mario Batali.  It’s amazing.  I say Mario is a “celebrity chef” but he is the real deal and is by far my favorite chef. His approach to Italian food that used to be featured in his Food TV Network show Molto Mario, back when Food TV had good shows instead of all of this competitive reality crap.

My favorite two dishes of Babbo’s are the oxtail gnocchi and mint love letters.  I’ve tried making both but have been more successful with my attempts at the latter than the former.  Nothing I’ve made is equal or better to what I’ve had a Babbo’s.  That said this is a very impressive dish and it is definitely worth your time and effort, especially considering how Babbo’s isn’t around the corner from my home.

This dish took about a hour and half to make, so do it on a weekend, not after work.

First thing you’ll want to do is make the Basic Red Sauce. I did this the day before.. The recipe is simple and uses these few ingredients.

First start with making your pasta dough, I use a basic recipe that requires 30 minutes after the dough is made making sure it is not sticky and wrap it in plastic. Let it sit and make your filling.

For the Mint Love Letters, ie the Ravioli, you’ll want to start with the filling.  Blend peas, mint, Parmigiano Reggiano, heavy cream and salt and pepper using a food processor. I’d advise adding the heavy cream separately until you develop a thick paste that will hold as the filling in the pasta sheets.

Now work with your pasta creating two sheets of similar size and shape that you’ll use to create about 3 to 4 raviolis.  I run the pasta through the rollers starting at thickness 1 working down to thickness 5. You can go as low as 6, but you will have some rip. I recommend thinning the sheets to size 5 thickness.

Prepare each ravioli using two thin sheets of pasta dough and small dollop of filing making sure it’s not too large as you don’t want it bursting later when boiling.

Continue making your raviolis and dust with flour so they will not stick to each other. Also start heating your water to bring to a boil, lightly salt.

Start your sauce by lightly browning your spicy ground lamb. If you do not like lamb, use ground beef and add a 1 teaspoon of each of basil and oregano and add a few flakes of dried red pepper.

Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook for about 5 minutes, being careful not to overcook or undercook.

While the ravioli is boiling and the meat is lightly browned, add the red sauce and about 5 chiffon leaves of fresh mint before serving. Cook the red sauce and meat for about 3 minutes.

Add several raviolis to each plate and complete with the meat sauce.  Sprinkle with Parmigiano Reggiano. Serve.


Recipes:

Basic Red Sauce

Mint Love Letters with Spicy Lamb Sausage 

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Mushroom Pasta Divine

On April 1, 2012, in Featured, Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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Since moving from Michigan, I have definitely missed the bounty of fresh pasta I could buy at Ventimiglia Italian Market. Tired of the occasional dry pasta I decided it was time to take action and by action I mean using some of my American Express member reward points to do some Williams Sonoma shopping.

A well-reviewed pasta maker kept coming up high in my research. The KitchenAid Pasta Press attachment looked like a great solution so I went ahead and ordered one. Today I finally had some time to use it.

Making pasta is quite simple and takes all of about 5 minutes. To make enough pasta for four people here is how I made some quick pasta dough.

I made some rigatoni noodles which was super easy and boiled a pot of water with a little bit of salt. Added the pasta and cooked it for 3 minutes.

This time I went with a mushroom cream pasta recipe I found on Pinterest at the Sweet Paul blog. It turned out great and was a wonderful debut breaking in for my new pasta shape maker.

Pasta Dough
Serves 4

1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup semolina flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup water

Mix first three ingredients in stand mixer. In a sparate bowl, mix the last three ingredients.  Slowly add the liquid ingredients to the dry with the KitchenAid mixer on a low speed. Let it combine. If a ball is not forming, add a little olive oil.  It should combine.

Now remove from mixer. If it is not sticky, then wrap in plastic wrap and let it sit for 20 minutes.  It’s ready then to use.

If it is sticky, just kneed with a little bit of flour on a cutting board, then wrap in plastic and let it sit for 20 minutes. Use after that.

Full Recipe: Mushroom Pasta Divine.

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Butternut Squash Risotto

On December 3, 2011, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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Alright I have a confession, I’m really a pathetic food blogger. Basically all I do is checkout Emily Levenson’s food blog, make what she makes, take a couple photos and then link to her site.  If you haven’t gotten the hint yet, you should be following Emily’s blog. (You should keep reading mine too, since I do occasionally make things not from her blog that I hope you think are worth trying.)

Tonight I had a butternut squash waiting all week on my counter until I got around to making this recipe.  It really turns out to be a richly colorful dish.  The orange risotto is a thing of beauty and I’m debating what to do with the leftovers after tonight.  I’m leaning toward some cider baked chicken breasts atop my leftover risotto.

This evening we stayed vegetarian and paired this dish with a salad.  Together it made for a great vegan meal.

For the recipe: Butternut Squash Risotto

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Focaccia Bread (or Pizza Dough)

On October 16, 2011, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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Pizza Dough or Focaccia
(makes 2 — 12” rounds)

2 packets “rapid-rise” active dry yeast 1 cup warm water (105 – 110 degrees)
2 teaspoons sugar
6 cups all-purpose flour*
2 teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons olive oil

In a bowl, proof the yeast by mixing yeast, warm water and sugar. Let stand until it becomes foamy. This will take about 5 minutes.
In a mixer or large food processor, mix the flour and salt. Add the proofed yeast mixture and combine. Add olive oil and combine until the moisture is well-mixed into the flour. Add as much additional warm water to produce a dough which is smooth and not sticky. When dough is smooth and can be formed into a ball, it has been sufficiently kneaded.

After combining place into a greased bowl and cover

Place the ball of dough into an oiled bowl; turn to coat all over with oil; cover with a towel, or plastic-wrap, and set in a warm place. Allow it to double in size, which will take about 10-15 minutes, or 1 hour with regular yeast.

When ready to proceed, preheat oven to 450.

Punch dough down; cut into halves; form each half into a ball; roll-out each ball into about a 12” round. Oil pizza pans lightly, and place dough onto pans. Push the dough up slightly around edges to make a border to hold the fillings.

Place out on a pan and add toppings and dimple the bread. Sprinkle with olive oil

Top pizzas with desired fillings, and moisten top by drizzling on some olive oil. Bake for about 12 minutes, or until dough is golden-brown and fillings are slightly bubbling.

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Boden is wonderful UK clothing website where we buy quite a few outfits for our twin boys. They have some great clothing and recently we picked up some fantastic swim trunks for the boys since we are spending a lot of time at the University Park community pool – one of the best benefits of our new home.

Boden has a blog that talks not only about fashion and their products but anything the
“Boden Community” wants to discuss. One day my wife sent me an email she received from Boden showcasing a fabulous looking taglionlini recipe that she wanted me to make. Wish granted.

Here is the recipe: Springtime Taglionlini from Antonio Carluccio.

I made a few changes switching out the noodles with fresh linguini and swapping the hazelnuts with something I already had – pine nuts.

This is a light, easy to make recipe that goes great with some fresh bread and a small side salad.

Enjoy! Oops I meant to say, Brilliant!

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I will occasionally get an email from my wife requesting quote – You should make this – end quote. Well last week I received another email (in fact two) and finally got around to making a pasta dish from Martha Stewart’s website.

It’s a good thing I didn’t get this particular recipe sent to me a couple months back, because I still had yet to find a market with decent fresh ricotta cheese in Dallas. Fortunately, a few weeks ago while at Central Market I noticed they carry a couple fresh ricotta choices. This afternoon I made a stop over there and picked up fresh ricotta from the Mozzarella Company, a popular local homemade cheese shop located in Deep Ellum, a trendy artsy part of downtown Dallas.

The recipe also calls for some fresh tarragon, sugar snap peas, and peas. One of the best parts of the recipe is it’s all cooked in one pot; though, you really should test the pasta before adding the peas. The recipe asks to cook the pasta for 3 minutes before adding the sugar peas. I would check the pasta and maybe give it a good 3 more minutes before adding, unless you have just made fresh pasta. I was using fresh, but refrigerated pasta from Central Market and it need a few more minutes; though, not as long as dry pasta needs. So adjust accordingly.

Also, when I make this again I’m going to try two things. First add roasted pine nuts. It just needed something to intensify the flavor and pine nuts should bring out the flavors better. Second change is to still experiment with the ricotta cheese choice. The one from the Mozzarella Company was good, but I’ve had far better at good Italian Markets. Unfortunately, the only Italian Market I’ve found around Dallas is Jimmy’s Food Store and they don’t carry fresh ricotta.

Here is a link to the recipe: Two-Pea Pasta with Ricotta and Tarragon