Saturday, January 18, 2014

Leftover Peas: A Triple Threat (Couscous, Purée, Risotto)

Ina Garten's Couscous with Peas and Mint: 3.5 stars

Sometimes you make couscous for 15 people (Ina Garten's "Couscous with Peas and Mint" from her Foolpoof: Recipes You Can Trust) and convince yourself that you need to double the recipe. Then you find that it probably wasn't necessary to buy TWO bags of frozen peas. Now you find yourself staring at a whole lot of leftover defrosted peas. What to do?

Here's one idea! How about lamb sausage (more specifically, lamb-apricot sausage from Savenor's) with a mint-pea purée? (It is winter, so I used this recipe for the purée and left off the pea shoots, etc). Do remember that a little bit of fresh mint goes a long way, so you may want to adjust the amounts depending on your preferred pea-taste to mint-taste ratio.


 Serious Eats' "Lamb Sausage with Pea Purée": 4 stars

But one can only make/eat so much mint-pea purée. I was excited to try Food52's Peas Porridge Hot recipe until I discovered I only had "quick-cooking-but-not-instant" steel cut oats. So, I threw together this simple risotto for lunch, and finally used up the rest of the peas!
Peas Risotto Hot

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large chopped shallots (of course)
1 cup arborio rice
3 cups heated chicken stock (you may need more, depending on your preferred consistency)
1/2 cup grated parmigiano reggiano
1 to 2 cups frozen peas (defrosted)--yes, fresh are better if they are seasonal
1/8 cup heavy cream
freshly ground pepper
prosciutto (4 slices, shredded)--optional

In a medium saucepan or heavy-bottomed dutch oven, melt the butter and oil over medium heat.
Add the chopped shallots and cook until translucent (3-5 minutes).
Add the arborio rice and coat all the grains with the butter/oil mixture.

Add the heated stock 1/2 cup at a time. Wait for the liquid to be absorbed before adding the next 1/2 cup. (You may be able to add more at a time, so watch it carefully to gauge the rate of liquid absorption). Be sure to stir from the bottom (I like using a bamboo spatula) to prevent the rice from sticking. The adding-liquid process will probably take about 20-25 minutes.

When you have used all the stock, the rice should have a bit of a bite, but also a creamy consistency.

Add the peas, and remove from heat. Stir in the cheese and cream, and add pepper to taste.  Add the shredded prosciutto at the very last minute, stir and serve.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Cookbook Geekiness and Braised Chicken

A friend of mine posted a link to Eat Your Books, and so I thought I'd try it out.  The website indexes cookbooks, blogs, and magazines to create a database of recipes. When you sign up, you add the cookbooks you own to your "shelf" (as well as any blogs and magazines), and this creates a searchable database of ingredients. So, for example, last night I typed in "chicken thighs" and my results returned recipes from Food 52, The Kitchn, Barbara Lynch's Stir, etc...blogs I follow and a book I own.  What follows is a little evaluation of the website thus far:

CONS:
  • The free trial allows for only 5 shelf items (including books, blogs and magazines)
  • Not everything is indexed (although this is to be expected)
  • They do warn you that basic ingredients (salt, pepper, olive oil, etc) are not indexed, but I found that this can also include fresh herbs (tarragon, thyme) etc...so, not so useful as a grocery store tool, depending on the recipe.

PROS:
  • you can request that a book, blog or magazine be indexed
  • there is a forum for communicating with other users and the EYB team
  • the index status of an item is marked
  • You can index items yourself (I have not tried this yet)
 The service is $25 a year. That will be a pro or a con depending on your situation.  For me, I decided it was worth it, and so far I've been pretty happy.  It is a serious time saver as I can access the ingredients of the recipes in my cookbooks (many of them, anyway) and the recipes in my favorite blogs, in about 30 seconds, as opposed to combing through my myriad cookbooks.  I hate dealing with "what's in the fridge and what do I do with it?" but this may help with that.

Last night, my search results returned
 Braised Chicken Thighs with Tomatoes and Garlic from Food52. It was easy, and I like things that simmer on the stove in the winter (and allow me to pull the rest of dinner together). I didn't have fresh thyme on hand, but I substituted some dried thyme and basil, and it worked just fine. The salad has a homemade vinaigrette of star date vinegar, Aceto balsamic di Modena, and white wine vinegar (with olive oil), and was mixed with marcona almonds and parmesan. (If you are lucky enough to live near a Vom Fass, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND that you go splurge on some vinegars and oils...and/or scotch---you can also order online!). The dolmades were bought on a whim and I needed to use them ;-).
(Apologies for the bright red color of the tomato sauce--not that bright in real life!)