Sunday, July 18, 2010

Strangely Simple Risotto (Paella?)

I'm going to a baby shower today, and I needed something subway friendly that could be easily shared, and made relatively inexpensively.  I was going to do a Japanese Kara age (fried chicken) but realized I'm feeling way too lazy to deal with hot oil, so I decided to do a paella.  Or a risotto.  Erm... I did a rice dish.

The difference between risotto and paella seems to be entirely reliant on who you ask.  In theory, paellas don't require the stirring that risotto does, and you make it in a special pot.   I have a paella pan.  Pooh gave it to me, with the little heat trivet and everything.  I know how to use it - but today I was far too lazy to fish it out of storage...

So I used a pot.  And up there?  that's what it looked like.  And it was delish!

So here's what went into my risolla or paetto....

  • Diced brown mushrooms
  • Italian sweet sausage (links, though I suspect loose would have been a better call, could also use diced up chicken, seafood, chicken sausage etc)
  • Peas
  • 1 package of Arborio rice (12 oz)
  • Cherry tomatos, cut into quarters
  • 2/3rds of a visalia onion
  • Handful of garlic
  • spoonful of saffron (pretty sure you can skip this without compromising the taste, but the vivid yellow orange color is thanks to the saffron - not the expensive kind, I got mine cheap at a bazzar in Thailand - would use much less if it was purchased here.)
  • Glob of tomato paste - I used a soup spoon
  • 4 cups of chicken broth
  • cup of water (set this aside, you may or may not need it)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pinch of herb mix

In a big pot pour a generous splash of olive oil and warm it up over medium heat.
Add the onions and garlic and stir - keep stirring until the onions and garlic start to become translucent and caramelize. (you can cheat a bit by raising the heat and adding water a table spoon at a time to speed the softening)

Toss in the mushrooms and heat thru (medium heat), add the rice (you may need to add olive oil at this point, the mushrooms tend to soak it in), and stir until the grains start to toast (some will become golden brown).

Add two cups of the broth and stir - now this is where the paella and risotto become two different dishes according to most sources I checked.  Risotto you keep stirring, paella you don't stir as much.  Frankly I stirred because I didn't want it sticking to the pot.  I hate scrubbing pots.

Stir in the tomato paste, saffron, salt to taste and herb mix, and continue to add liquid in small portions as it is absorbed by the rice.  Once all of the chicken broth is added, add the diced sausage and continue to stir and monitor - you may need to add water at this point if the rice starts to stick to the pan.  To preserve the fresh taste of the peas, I added them at this point, with a couple table spoons of water, covered the pot and let it simmer for about 4 minutes.

Check the rice every couple of minutes - you want it to be tender but still a little firm to the bite.

Total cooking time around 30 min.


Friday, July 2, 2010

Suspiciously easy Popovers

I had no idea how easy this was going to be - some of the instructions are pretty specific, like the eggs actually have to be at room temperature and the popover tin needs to be pre-warmed.  Fail to do those things and you get TOTALLY different (though still edible) results. Why do I know? I tried it.  Naturally.

The photo is from the second attempt.

Now let me say, I purchased this popover pan because upon sorting the recipe I realized they were so easy to make that I could theoretically do it all the time.  We'll see.

That said, you could use ramekins if you have them (the small individual size) or one of those muffin pans for the big muffins, even a cupcake pan, but they're going to be smaller and you may find yourself eating say, 6 instead of like 2.

Ready?  OK

Preheat oven to 425, put the popover tray IN the oven to heat.

You'll need 
  • 1 cup all purpose flour - I understand you could use bread flour, but all purpose works just fine
  • 1 cup whole milk (or 2% if you insist - you need the milk fat though, so no skim)
  • 1/2 tsp of salt - my dr. would love me I'm being so good - I only used 1/4
  • 3 eggs at room temp.  Not sort of room temp, not chilled but not cold, room temp.  I swear it makes a difference, I have no idea why...
  • 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted
  • Pam or nonstick cooking spray (I used a butter flavor one)

Put everything in a mixing bowl, and whisk together.  You'll find yourself with a thin batter - try to whisk out the lumps.
Take the pan out of the oven (careful now - I burned 3 fingers doing this tonight.  I'm an idiot.) and spray the tin lightly with the non stick spray - you need to facilitate the rising and puffing of the dough, plus they come out easier when you're done.
Fill each cup on the pan (or ramekins or whatever you're using) about 1/2 to 3/4 of the way full.
Bake in the oven for 25 min at 425 
At the 25 min mark, turn down the heat to 350 degrees, and bake for another 15 to 20 min till the popovers are golden and fluffed! 

Serve with tons of butter, maybe some jelly?  Using the butter recipe from a former post, I blended in honey in one batch and strawberry puree into another to make flavored butter for the popovers. 


Update; 11/25/2010
I made a batch today, adding a spoonful of Parmesan on top before putting the popovers in the oven.  HEAVENLY I tell you!!  Look;
Yummy cheesy noms!!! In place of Parmesan, you could use Asiago, maybe Gorgonzola,  any relatively dry cheese should work, dense cheeses will likely make the dent in the top of the popover bigger and could potentially hinder the rising action in the oven though if you're as fond of cheese as I am you'll be willing to deal with the compromise... :)