Sunday, August 26, 2012

Fairy Carnival

I don't know what is up with True Blood this year. Isn't the finale usually in October?? Nevertheless, it has become my custom to watch the finale of each season with my dear friends, The Padulas--after we have a fabulous potluck dinner, of course! In years past, we've just made Cajun or Creole food, but more recently, our dinners have a theme. This year, is was...wait for it...A Fairy Carnival! Janice and Domenica made all kinds of fun fair food, from pizza to (organic) corn dogs, stuffed zucchini flowers, fried dough, cupcakes topped with cotton candy (aka fairy floss), and caramel corn. (Fairies don't need insulin after consuming such things, I guess!)

My contributions to the Fey Affair were: Mushrooms Stuffed with Turkey Sausage, Corn, Tomato and Fresh Basil, and Forest Loam Cake with a Chocolate-Honey Glaze Topped with Hazelnut Crunch. My rationale: Mushrooms are found in the forest, and I think fairies would appreciate fresh, seasonal fillings (some of which I grew myself). Then the sheet cake was rich and dark and earthy, and we know fairies love chocolate and honey, and also nuts, which can also be gathered from the forest floor. And any kind of crunchy, nutty candy topping says carnival to me! :-) 

Stuffed Mushrooms for the Fey Folk

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 onion, finely chopped
5 links turkey (or pork) sausage
1 /2 pounds fresh mushrooms, caps and stems separated
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 tomato, chopped
1 ear of corn, steamed and kernels cut from the cob
1 cup panko (I used a lemon garlic flavor)
1/4 cup romano (or parmesan) cheese, shredded
1 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons fresh basil, finely shredded
salt and pepper, to taste
pinch of cayenne
shredded Italian cheese blend (or whatever you have on hand)

In a large skillet, cook the onion, sausage, and the chopped-up stems of the mushrooms until the meat is no longer pink. Then add the garlic and cook for another minute or two. Remove from heat and drain the excess fat. Stir in the chopped tomato, corn kernels, panko, romano cheese, cream cheese, fresh basil, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Blend until thoroughly combined. Use a cookie scoop to fill each mushroom cap (this makes enough filling perhaps 32 mushrooms, depending on size). Sprinkle with shredded Italian cheese, and bake at
350 degrees for 25-30 minutes until the tops are golden and the mushrooms are tender.

As for the cake, I made my favorite chocolate sheet cake, and to the glaze, I added two tablespoons of honey, and one big spoonful of Nutella to tie it into the special topping. When I Googled hazelnuts and chocolate, I came across a new Bon Appétit recipe for a magnificent-looking Devil's Food Cake with Hazelnut Crunch. Someday, I'll get around to trying the cake, too, but I just made the hazelnut topping this time. And it's SO GOOD, you could happily eat it on its own. But it makes a delighfully crunchy surprise on top of a luscious chocolatey cake.

Hazelnut Crunch
(Source: adapted from Bon Appétit)
1/2 cup hazelnuts
1/2 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (do not exceed 70%), chopped (I used Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate chips)
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup Nutella
3 cups toasted rice cereal
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 350°. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread out nuts on sheet. Toast until fragrant, six to seven minutes. Coarsely chop nuts; set aside.

Combine chocolate and butter in a medium heatproof bowl. Set bowl over a large saucepan of simmering water. Heat mixture, stirring often, until melted and smooth. Remove bowl from over saucepan. Stir in hazelnuts and Nutella. Fold in toasted rice cereal. Spread mixture out on prepared sheet; don't worry about spreading it evenly. Freeze until set, about 30 minutes. Using your hands, break crunch into small pieces.

DO AHEAD: Hazelnut crunch can be made 4 hours ahead. Cover and chill.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Bings with a BANG!

I ran across this awesome-looking cherry jam recipe....say it with me now...on Pinterest. And I finally got around to making it today. I started with about four pounds of fresh, sweet Bing cherries, a FAAAABULOUS new cherry pitter from OXO, and ended up with eight half-pint jelly jars of zesty preserves. I don't think it's the sort of thing I'd want on toast, but I am VERY keen to try it on a pork tenderloin!

Bing Cherry Chipotle Balsamic Preserves
(Source: adapted from Jules Food)

8 cups pitted bing cherries, roughly chopped
1 lemon, juice and zest
1 Granny Smith apple, cored and chopped or shredded
6 cups sugar
2 chipotle peppers, seeded and minced
2 tablespoons adobo from the can of chipotles
2 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Cook cherries, lemon zest and juice, and apple until softened, about 20 minutes. Stir the sugar into the cherry mixture and cook over moderate to high heat.  Watch and stir fruit often so as not to burn the bottom. Once the liquid begins to slightly thicken, add the minced chipotle, adobo, balsamic, and black pepper. Stir and continue cooking.  When mixture reaches 220 F degrees (the bubbles will get big and pop more slowly), do a frozen plate test. If it wrinkles, you're done. If not, keep cooking.

*Caramelized jam is not good eats, and I have learned the hard way that that point happens somewhere around the 40-45 minute mark of cooking. So be careful. Test early and often. That being said, do not expect this preserve to set up like Jell-O as it might if you used commercial pectin. It's going to be looser, more tender than that. This is old school jam-making we're doing here!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

WTH is a Cowpea??

Sometimes, my roommate sees something on t.v. or reads about it in a magazine, buys it, and then pawns it off on me to figure out what to do with it. If she were to develop a Food Network show, it would be liked Chopped, only it would be called Make Me Something with THIS! Recently, a two-pound bag of dried cowpeas from Carolina Plantation showed up in the kitchen, and when I asked what they were and what they were for, Cyd said she didn't know, but she thought I could figure out something to do with them. 

So I Googled what I was dealing with and came to understand that the cowpea is one of many varieties of crowder peas or field peas--a brownish, earthier cousin of the black-eyed pea. This posed a problem, as I often find black-eyes a little too strong for my tastes. So I knew I needed a recipe with bold flavors to stand up to the super-earthy taste of the cowpeas. And I found an excellent one on Carolina Plantation's website. Chef Kyle Taylor of Pawley’s Front Porch in Columbia, South Carolina calls his dish Southern Plantation Salsa, but it's more like Texas/Cowboy Caviar, and I prefer to use it as a summer side dish salad. I served this with some simple--but simply outstanding--marinated, grilled chicken breasts for a perfect light, seasonal supper!

Summery Cowpea Salad
(Source: adapted from Kyle Taylor, via Carolina Plantation Rice's website)

Soak one pound of dried cowpeas (black-eyed peas may be substituted) in cold water overnight, or bring them to a boil, turn off the heat, and soak for a couple/few hours. Strain liquid. Place in pot and cover with about three inches of fresh water and add a tablespoon of salt. Bring to boil, reduce to a light simmer until peas are tender (about an hour?). Strain liquid and let peas cool.

*Or make it easy on yourself and used canned black-eyed peas, drained.

Creamy Herb Vinaigrette:
1/2 cup champagne or red wine vinegar
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/4 cups canola or vegetable oil

Place vinegar, egg yolk, Dijon mustard, garlic, herbs, and salt and pepper in a large cup or container. Use a stick blender (emulsion blender) to combine. Slowly add oils until emulsified. Refrigerate until needed.

When peas have cooled, add enough of the vinaigrette to coat (start with a cup then go from there). Then add the following vegetables to the cooked and cooled cowpeas.

kernels from two steamed ears of sweet corn, cut from the cob
1/2 yellow pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 red pepper, seeded and diced
1 pint rainbow cherry tomatoes, halved
4 scallions, diced
1 or 2 jalapenos, seeded and diced
1/2 red onion, diced
1/2 cup cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
salt and pepper to taste

You may serve the salad right away, but it's better if you let the flavors marry in the fridge for a few hours first!  

As for the awesome chicken breasts, I sliced four big ones in half so they would cook more quickly. Then I marinated them for about four hours in about a half cup of Greek salad dressing, the juice of a lemon, a tablespoon of minced garlic, a teaspoon of salt, a half teaspoon of pepper, and a small handful each of fresh thyme and fresh oregano from my herb garden (whole sprigs). Then I grilled the chicken breasts. Simple and YUMMY!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Homesteading FOR REALZ, Duggar-Style

I finally have a teeny tiny bit of a summer break, and though I don't have grand plans (other than a dear friend's Hudson Valley wedding), I do have time to devote to little projects that may not be earth-shattering, but that I have been meaning to try.

First up, making yogurt. Yes, yes. I have made yogurt before, but not since I've had an eye-opening experience. When we went to the Vermont Cheesemaker's Festival, I tried some yogurt from a vendor called Narragansett Creamery. It was nothing short of a REVELATION! I used to think that yogurt should always be silky smooth and creamy, but this was light, ethereal--the stuff angels and fairies would eat--but it had different textures, from soft little curd-like bits, to custard, to areas of almost liquid milkiness. I LOVED IT! And the flavor was very mild and slightly sweet, not sour like some yogurts can be. So we bought every container of vanilla yogurt that they had left, but the company is from Rhode Island, so what was I going to do after it was all gone?

Naturally, I had to learn to make it for myself. And the secret to a yogurt with those different textures? You have to start with raw, non-homogenized milk. Don't worry--it will be pasteurized as soon as it hits 165 degrees. And as a special bonus, you'll get that delicious cream layer on top that's rich and yellow and CRAZY GOOD! Also, since you won't want to stir in vanilla and sugar after the fact and ruin that lovely, soft, lumpy texture, you are going to have to add it ahead of time. Worried it won't set up if you add sugar before fermentation? Don't be. I tried it, and it works fine. In fact, I am now considering investing in a local "cow share" to get a gallon of raw milk a week!

Raw Milk/Non-Homogenized Vanilla Bean Yogurt
(Source: adapted from National Center for Home Food Preservation)

1/2 gallon whole, raw, non-homogenized milk
2/3 cup powdered milk
1/2 cup sugar or honey, optional
2 vanilla beans, split and scraped
1/2 cup plain or vanilla yogurt with live cultures

Place cold milk in a large pot or in the top of a double boiler. Stir in the nonfat dry milk powder. Add sugar or honey, if using, and the two split vanilla beans. Heat milk to 185°F, stirring gently, and then hold for 20 minutes at that temperature. Do not boil. Be careful and stir constantly to avoid scorching if not using a double boiler.

Place the pot in cold water to cool milk rapidly to 100°F. Remove one cup of the warm milk and blend it with the yogurt starter culture. Add this to the rest of the warm milk. Pour the entire mixture through a strainer into a pouring vessel to remove any stringy or curdled bits, then fill containers as desired. (I got 7 small 6 oz. yogurt jars and one pint-sized Mason jar.)

Cover and place in prepared incubator* for about seven hours, then remove and refrigerate. Yogurt will keep for about 10-21 days if held in the refrigerator at 40°F or lower.

*My preferred incubator which works EVERY time is a chest cooler with two gallon milk jugs filled with hot tap water placed in either end, and the prepared yogurt jars covered with two thick beach towels. Try it!

My second Little House on the Prairie (more like 19 Kids and Counting) project was, once again, to be blamed on Pinterest. I have been wanting to try making my own laundry soap for some time now, and I finally got around to it. I made a small batch (a little over two gallons), and so far, I am very pleased. The ingredients (a bar of Fels-Naphtha soap, a box of washing soda, and a box of Borax) cost about ten bucks, it probably took 10-15 minutes to make a small batch, and it actually cleaned better than commercial laundry detergent! It got out a persistent oily stain that I had washed twice with regular detergent, and it cleaned a dog urine smell that I often have to pre-wash or run a second time to smell truly fresh. And the best part? It costs a penny and a half per load (=1/2 cup)! WINNING!

P.S. My friend, Terry, told me that she has been using a similar laundry soap recipe for a few months, and that she noticed her whites getting dingier. So I might consider adding a scoop of bargain brand/generic Oxy-Clean to each load just in case. It's still WAY cheaper than buying name-brand laundry detergent.

Liquid Laundry Detergent (Small Batch)
(Source: The Rachel Berry Blog)  

1/3 bar Fels Naptha Soap, grated
1/2 cup washing soda (NOT baking soda!)
1/2 cup 20 Mule Team Borax (powdered)
2 gallons hot water

Mix grated Fels Naptha soap in a very large stock pot (I used my 12 quart, and it was just right) with six cups of hot water and heat on low until dissolved. Whisk in washing soda and borax. Continue to whisk until thickened, and remove from heat. Add four more cups hot water and whisk again. Add another five and a half quarts (22 cups or a gallon plus six cups) of hot water, and whisk again until it's as uniform as you can get it. Set aside for 24 hours. Whisk it all up again. You may add additional hot water if the mixture becomes too thick. Funnel into laundry detergent bottles or empty milk gallons. Shake well before each use. Use 1/2 cup of mixture per load.

Friday, August 10, 2012

West Plattsburgh becomes KOREA TOWN! remember when I made that kimchi awhile back, and I wondered what I was going to do with it all? As luck would have it, Michelle Guenard (of Michelle's Spicy Kimchi) taught a "Cooking a Kimchi" class this week sponsored by Burlington's City Market and held in the North End at the Sustainability Academy (an elementary school cafeteria...tee hee). So I convinced my friends, Janice and Domenica, to go with me, and we had a DELICIOUS time!

Michelle started with the world's easiest dip: a block of softened cream cheese and a half cup of kimchi, whizzed up in the food processor. That was all there was to it, and it was so tasty! But then I had an idea of what to do with the dip: fill the cavities of baby sweet peppers with it, top with a piece of bacon, and roast in the oven until the bacon is crisp and the peppers are tender. (I tried this out at home, and it was truly scrumptious! See picture here.)

Next, Michelle made some simple--but simply awesome--kimchi fried rice. She started with one cup kimchi cooked for about three minutes, then added about a tablespoon of Korean hot pepper paste (you'll have to hit up the Asian grocery store for this as I did, or substitute any sriracha/sambal oelek/chili garlic sauce/harissa you have on hand) and two cups leftover cooked rice (white or brown). Cook this, stirring most of the time, until hot. Drizzle with sesame oil and sprinkle with sesame seeds and sliced scallions as garnishes. (When I make this, I'll be adding a scrambled egg, too.)

The third dish was my favorite: Bulgogi and Kimchi Lettuce Wraps or (if you use tortillas) Korean Tacos with Easy Dipping Sauce.

The Korean beef (bulgogi) is made with a pound of beef thinly sliced (Michelle prefers chuck) marinated for at least two hours in a couple of tablespoons of soy sauce, three tablespoons of water, a tablespoon each of brown sugar, honey, sesame oil, and toasted sesame seeds, two chopped green onions, four cloves of minced garlic, and a half teaspoon of black pepper. You can grill, broil, or pan fry the meat, then sprinkle with more sesame seeds and green onions for garnish.

Serve the bulgogi with the kimchi fried rice (above) or make lettuce wraps or Korean tacos with the bulgogi, steamed rice, kimchi, and a spoonful of an easy dipping sauce that Michelle makes with a cup of honey, a quarter cup of white vinegar, and sambal oelek to taste. (I tried this at home and preferred it with the honey cut down by half, adding a couple tablespoons of soy sauce, and a big tablespoon of minced garlic.) Here were the Korean tacos that I made tonight at home that my roommate pronounced STUPID GOOD:

Another dish Michelle made with the bulgogi was a quesadilla: a tortilla spread with kimchi dip, topped with bulgogi and a little extra kimchi, and then browned on the griddle. Looks messy, tastes YUMMY!

The last dish was one commonly eaten in Korea, a kimchi stew. You start off by heating two tablespoons of sesame oil in a large pot then add a pound of diced bacon and a little salt and pepper. When the bacon is crisp, drain off some of the fat, and add one chopped onion to the pot along with three cups of kimchi. Pour in enough water to cover, about five or six cups, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the onions and kimchi are soft and the stew has thickened, about 20 minutes.

Stir in one package of tofu (diced), a tablespoon of fish sauce, and three sliced scallions. Thin with water if necessary to reach desired consistency. Cover the pot and simmer for another ten minutes to let the flavors marry. Serve piping hot garnished with shredded nori...unless you hate seaweed as I do. ;-)

*Except for the kimchi dip and the lettuce wrap dipping sauce, most of these dishes were Michelle's adaptations of Maangchi recipes (, but the stew was from The Kimchi Chronicles (

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Great Harvest Salted Caramel Cookies

Some friends and I went to Burlington to attend a cooking class a few days ago (more about that in my next post), and we had a little time before it began, so we made the rounds of some of our favorite "foodie" haunts. One stop is always Great Harvest Bakery, where I like to pick up a loaf of Dakota bread (makes great toast). On a whim, I grabbed one their salted caramel cookies from a basket on the counter. It was a ginormous, thin, soft--almost to the point of not holding together--and chewy oatmeal cookie packaged in a little brown paper sack. SO DELICIOUS! The only thing I didn't care for was the coarse salt that was sprinkled on top. It made for an interesting texture, but it also made it too salty.  Naturally, I had to come home and try to replicate my new favorite cookie, and I think I came very close, adapting a recipe that I found on

Great Harvest Salted Caramel Oatmeal Cookies
(Source: adapted from

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups brown sugar, packed (might cut this to 1 3/4 cups next time)
1 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
2 tablespoons molasses
1 tablespoon milk (I used buttermilk)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups rolled oats, divided
1 11 oz. package Kraft Caramel Bits

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

1. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a small bowl and mix well. Set aside.
2. Cream together the brown sugar and butter until well combined.
3. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each.
4. Mix in the molasses, milk and vanilla.
5. Take one cup of the rolled oats and grind them in a blender or food processor until it is the consistency of coarse flour.
6. Add the ground oats and the remaining cup of rolled oats to the butter mixture and mix well.
7. Now add the flour mixture and mix until combined.
8. Stir in the caramel bits  until evenly distributed throughout the dough.
9. Using a 1/4 cup scoop (my standard size ice cream scoop works well for this) or a measuring cup, scoop the dough onto ungreased cookie sheets 3 inches apart.
10. Bake for 12-13 minutes until the edges are just starting to brown.
11. Remove from oven and cool two minutes on cookie sheets.
12. Remove from cookie sheets to cool completely on racks.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Shortcut "Lasagna" with Summer Veggies

I am on the board of the community choir in which I sing, and we had a big fundraising mailer that needed to go out. So our new treasurer graciously opened her home to a gang of us gals on the board, and we had a stuffing party (to take the burden off of the poor secretary). It was to be a potluck affair, and I decided it would be appropriate to take something "stuffed" to the event.

Hence, I created a layered roasted vegetable lasagna type dish, using cheese-filled ravioli for the pasta. I think it turned out very well and would be a fine "Meatless Monday" entree. The addition of crimini (Baby Bella) mushrooms adds a meaty quality that is satifying without the inclusion of actual meat. Also, this is a great way to use up all of those garden or farmer's market vegetables that are plentiful and inexpensive right now. (My rule at this time of year is: CORN AND TOMATOES IN EVERYTHING!)

Summer Vegetable Ravioli "Lasagna"

1/4 cup olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 sweet peppers (red, orange or yellow), seeded and diced
1 small zucchini, quartered, core removed, sliced thinly
1 small summer squash, quartered, core removed, sliced thinly
1 lb. Baby Bella mushrooms, sliced
2 ears of sweet corn, kernels cut from cob
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 pound spinach leaves, chopped
12 cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered (depending on size)
handful of fresh parsley, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
salt and pepper, to taste
about 50 frozen cheese ravioli (2 small packages or 1 large?), prepared acc. to package instructions
6 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons flour
1 quart (4 cups) milk
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon freshly-grated nutmeg
hot sauce, to taste
1 1/2 cups shredded parmesan
2 cups shredded mozzarella

In a very large skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil to the pan and saute the onions and peppers for a few minutes until they have begun to soften, then add the squash, mushrooms, and corn and continue to cook until the veggies are almost tender as you like them. Add the minced garlic and the white wine and saute another minute or two until the wine has reduced. Turn off the heat and stir in the chopped spinach, cherry tomatoes, parsley and basil. Season with salt and pepper to taste and reserve.

While the veggies are cooking, bring a large pot of water to boil, and cook the ravioli until al dente. Drain and reserve.

In a large sauce pan, melt the butter, then whisk in the flour. Cook for a minute or two, whisking constantly. Pour in the milk and cook until thick and bubbly, whisking frequently. Remove from heat and season with salt, a good pinch of nutmeg, and a few shakes of hot sauce. Whisk in the parmesan cheese until smooth. Reserve.

To assemble, add about a third of the parmesan bechamel to the bottom of a glass baking dish. Layer in half of the cooked ravioli, then half of the sauteed veggies, and a cup of shredded mozzarella. Top with another third of the bechamel, the other half of the ravioli, the rest of the veggies, and another cup of mozzarella. Finish with the last third of the bechamel. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes until the top starts to brown around the edges and everything is bubbly. Garnish with more chopped fresh parsley if desired.

P.S. The second day, I reheated the "lasagna" and added a big spoonful of some homemade pasta sauce on top, and it was even MORE delicious!

Friday, August 03, 2012

Summer Salvation!

In Atlantic City at the "Your Morning Cup" event, I sampled the BEST iced coffee I've ever had in my life from a couple of guys called Dallis Brothers who were brewing up a special Kenyan varietal. So when I got home, I was inspired to start making iced coffee at home. I don't know why it's taken me this to try the Pioneer Woman's iced coffee recipe, but it's my new favorite beverage, especially to combat the summer heat. And it's so simple! You combine a pound of ground coffee (the darker the better IMHO) with two gallons of cold water, then cover and let it steep for at least eight hours.

Next, line a strainer with several layers of cheesecloth--or I prefer a flour sack towel moistened, then doubled and then doubled again and placed in the strainer. Pour the coffee through the lined strainer. It may take awhile for all the coffee to strain through, and you may have to scrape the liner and press with a spoon, etc., but your patience will be rewarded.

After straining the coffee, I pour mine into one of those refrigerator water dispensers with the little tap on it so that I can just hold my glass of ice under it and fill 'er up! I also add a generous glug of half and half, a packet of Splenda, and--the piece de resistance--a big spoonful of sweetened condensed milk. YUM and YUM, I say! You simply must try it if you haven't already.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

The High Holy Corn Season is Upon Us

Here's another wonderful idea to take advantage of your local sweet corn: Food and Wine's Fresh Corn Risotto. I added shrimp to make it a complete meal and some garlic and fresh thyme because I love them so. YUMMY and easy! (Naturally, Cyd and I enjoyed pronouncing it riz-AH-toh like Gordon Ramsey and cussing at each other that it was "still crunchy and f***ing RAWWWWR!" even though it wasn't. Tee hee.)

To the base recipe, I added about a couple of cloves of minced garlic at the end of the saute, a pound of shrimp in the last couple of minutes of cooking (although, in retrospect, the carryover heat might have done the trick) along with about a tablespoon of fresh thyme leaves. Oh, and I doubled the corn (=four ears, not two), because more is MORE!

Shrimp and Fresh Corn Risotto
(Source: adapted from Food and Wine)

6 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
1 bay leaf
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, very finely chopped
2 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 1/2 cups arborio rice (12 ounces)
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 cups corn kernels (from 4 ears)
1 pound raw, peeled medium shrimp
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
salt and freshly ground pepper

In a medium saucepan, bring the chicken stock to a boil with the bay leaf. Keep the stock warm over very low heat.

In a large skillet or braiser, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until softened, about two minutes. Add the garlic and cook another minute. Add the rice and cook, stirring until opaque, about three minutes. Add the white wine and cook, stirring, until completely absorbed, about one minute. Avoiding the bay leaf, add one cup of the warm stock and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until nearly absorbed. Continue adding the stock one cup at a time and stirring until it is absorbed between additions. After about half of the stock has been added, stir in the corn, then add the remaining stock.

The rice is done when it's al dente and creamy, about 25 minutes total. At the last minute of cooking, add the shrimp. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese and butter; season with salt and pepper and serve.

P.S. "They say" that you can't reheat risotto, but I find that to be completely untrue. The next day, put the cold risotto into a skillet with another cup of stock and heat it slowly, stirring occasionally. When that liquid is absorbed, you may want to add one more cup of stock, and cook it until it comes back to the desired consistency. (You may wish to fish the shrimp out before you do this so as to not rubberize them in the reheating process.)

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Rubbing Elbows with TV Chefs in AC

I didn't really plan on taking a proper summer vacation this year, as I depleted my savings by fencing in the front yard of the house (=happy, safe dogs!), and because I am harboring a secret dream of travelling to England in the fall...but that's a whole 'nother Oprah show. So I was going to settle for a few little weekend road trips here and there. But Cyd decided that she wanted to spend some of her vacation time attending the Atlantic City Food and Wine Festival, mainly to stalk her celebrity crush, Chef Anne Burrell. Though I am the cook in the family, strangely, I was not really interested in the food festival. Bad food and overpriced tickets ($150!) just to see Paula Deen in the flesh? Pass.

But Cyd didn't want to go alone, and she seduced me with the promise of a hot tub in our room and some quality beach time. She even compelled me to attend one festival event, a coffee and tea tasting with her beloved Anne Burrell (who, as it turns out, is a horrible human being) and Robert Irvine who, despite being able to snap you like a twig with those arms of his, is delightful and quite the mensch.  I must admit, it was kind of fun, but I still preferred my quality time in the jacuzzi tub, swimming in the ocean (at both Cape May and Long Beach Island), and the all-you-can-eat Maryland blue crabs on the deck at H&H Seafood at Cape May!