Tag Archives: cooking

Cooking: Pear Crostada

This rustic tart looks gorgeous, but is so simple to make! I used Guy Fieri’s recipe (except I used granulated sugar instead of turbinado because what middle class citizen buys a special kind of sugar for one recipe?) As far as the pears go, Bosc pears are my favorite. This dessert is a crowd pleaser at dinner parties.

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WORTH IT. (serve with vanilla ice cream)

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Cooking: Butternut Risotto

This is one of those recipes that results in the flavors of autumn. It is a “comfort food” in our home, and one of my parents’ favorite things I cook. Here is what you need:

Two cups of diced butternut squash: you will need an ice pack for your wrist after chopping up a butternut squash, unless you have an extremely sharp knife or, perhaps, an axe. I toss my squash in a little olive oil, salt and pepper and roast it in the oven for about 35 minutes at 350 degrees. You don’t have to do this, but I like how the flavors become concentrated and the sugars are caramelized.

You also need the following: 4 cups of chicken stock/broth, 1/2 cup dry white wine, 4 or more (I always use more) of pancetta or bacon (the real, good stuff, not the thin, pre-cooked stuff), 2 medium shallots, minced, 1 teaspoon minced garlic, 1-1/2 cups Carnaroli or Arborio rice, 2 teaspoons of sage, 1/2 cup grated Parmigiana Reggiano, olive oil, salt and pepper. Put the chicken broth and wine in a pot and begin warming it. You want it to be hot when as you add it to the risotto, but not boiling. I like to squeeze the juice of a lemon into mine as well.

Now, Arborio is a delightfully fat & starchy rice that makes the risotto hearty. I also use it for rice puddings.

You will also need a really good, dry white wine. Please use something you would drink, people. You need to stay hydrated while you cook this marathon dish. I use my all-time favorite dry white wine, Orvieto Classico:

You’ll want to cook up your pancetta in a little olive oil until it’s awesomely crispy, then let it drain on paper towels:

Cook up your shallots until softened and add the garlic. Throw in the Arborio & squash and stir it together for about a minute, getting the rice all coated and toasted. Add one cup of the chicken stock & wine-y goodness. Stir continually, and sing softly to your risotto, if you so desire. Enjoying some of that wine will help with this.

This is the long part: continue to add the broth mixture, a ladle-full at a time. Stir continually until each ladle-full is almost completely absorbed before adding another ladle. Slowly, the rice will begin to give up its starches and your risotto will thicken and become wonderful. Near the end, the risotto should be creamy, but still “toothsome”, so you actually have some bite to it, and it isn’t just mush:

At the end, crumble the pancetta and add the sage into the risotto. Mix in the cheese and remove the pot from the heat.

Plate it up! Serve it with a nice salad and warm bread and the rest of that wine, if there is any left. If you want some nice color contrast, throw some parsley on top of it, but I don’t like green plants in my risotto, so I leave it out. Enjoy the comforting goodness!

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Boeuf Bourguignon: A Playdate with Mama

We did it.  Mama and I attempted this seemingly overwhelming recipe and not only did we actually finish it, but it was pretty much incredible.  It was mostly Mama’s doing. 🙂  Now, the culinary queen herself, Julia Child, has a ridiculously complicated recipe to follow, so we turned to another mutual favorite, Ina Garten, for a simpler, less time-consuming recipe.  We sort of combined the two recipes, with great success.

Now, the ingredient list and recipe are long and I want to paint today, so instead of typing it up, you can find Ina Garten’s here and Julia Child’s here

Here we are, cooking up the bacon:  real bacon, not the pre-made, quick microwave stuff, but real, fat-rendering bacon.

Next comes the meat, the gorgeous red stewing meat that smells divine as it browns and will slowly stew until it falls apart in your mouth.

My brother and father were completely willing to eat just this:

Add the onions and the carrots.  We couldn’t find pearl onions so we used regular and it was still amazing and they still caramelized beautifully.  We used baby carrots instead of taking all that time with real, large carrots, and it was still amazing also.

Now the meats are returned to the pot to begin melding with the veggies.

Now everybody gets to relax in a decadent bath of beef stock, tomato paste, thyme, garlic, and a good, and I mean really, really good bottle of dry red wine.  It slowly bubbles together and reduces and thickens for a freakishly long time and it smells like nothing you’ve ever smelled before.

Serve the finished French stew over noodles or mashed potatoes (I mean real, you peeled ’em, chopped ’em, boiled ’em, then whipped ’em with milk or sour cream and butter potatoes, not flakes-in-a-box mashed potatoes), some great artisan bread, and a glass of that full-bodied red wine.  You’ve never eaten anything with so much depth of flavor.

Yeah……I started eating before I got around to taking a picture.

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Having purchased my longed-for Madeleine baking pan, I finally made the delicate cookie-cakes a few days ago.  No one, on either side of the family, has ever made Madeleines, so I had no idea what to expect.  The only thing I had to go on was my memory of how incredibly delightful were the Madeleines made by the mom of my dear friend, Christine.  I carefully followed the recipe below:

2 large eggs

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

pinch of salt

1 cup all-purpose flour

10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) of unsalted butter, melted, and slightly cooled

powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Spray Madeleine pan with cooking spray or generously butter.  Using electric mixer, beat the eggs and 2/3 cup of sugar in a large bowl just until blended.  Beat in vanilla, lemon zest and salt.  Add flour; beat just until blended.  Gradually add cooled melted butter in a steady stream, beating until just blended.

NOTE:  At this point, I freaked out a little, as my “cookie-ish” batter suddenly turned in a runnier “cakey” batter.  I tried to have a little faith in myself, and after baking the first batch, I realized that is what is supposed to happen to the batter.

Carefully spoon batter into each Madeleine indentation in the pan, like this:

Bake until puffed and browned around the edges: 6-8 minutes for small Madeleines, 14-16 minutes for large Madeleines.  Cool for 5 minutes, then gently remove each Madeleine from the pan.  Repeat the process, spraying or buttering the pan before each batch.

For a final, yummy flair, dust the cooled Madeleines with powdered sugar.  Now, my mom has this gorgeous, scalloped China plate with exquisite little blue flowers on it, and I dug it out.  See, I believe that elegant little cookie-cakes deserve an elegant presentation.

These are so light and delightful and go fabulously with black coffee or tea.  It is not possible to eat just one.

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