Tuesday, November 27, 2007

What?! Leftover Risotto?

Yes, it's true. I made risotto for dinner one day and the stars must have aligned just so, as there were plenty of leftovers. This has never happened to me before. Typically there is nothing left of this marvelous Italian comfort food.

The big question: What does one do with leftover risotto?

I researched the query and arancini ("little oranges"--but they aren't orange, nor is that an ingredient) would be a definite possibility. Little balls (hence, the term "oranges") of risotto which are deep fried. Another one was risotto al salto, which are just pancakes made of risotto and a little egg (something like potato pancakes, apparently).

Arancini was my answer, which accompanied bowls of steaming soup. If I had found some mozzarella in my fridge, I would have put little pieces into the center of each. I didn't deep fry them; just a little olive oil in my cast iron skillet did the trick. They had flat sides because of this... I guess that made them rustic. He he.

leftover risotto
1-2 eggs, slightly beaten---put this into a bowl
1-2 c dry bread crumbs (I used Panko)---put this into a shallow dish
olive oil for frying

Shape the leftover (cold) risotto into balls about 2" in diameter. Dip each into egg, then the bread crumbs. Shallow fry until browned and crispy on each side. Drain well (pat with a paper towel to catch any extra oil) and serve.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Comfort Food: Beef Stroganoff

The night I made this, it was cold and damp outside... enter more comfort food!

My cooking ways have given way to heartier meat dishes this season; the beef I purchased for this was a single pound of hormone-free extra lean stew meat (perfect for high pressure cooking, so that it gets tender). It was easy to fill in the gaps with a bunch of cremini mushrooms, straight from an Illinois farm. Next time, though, I'd like to double the recipe.

This dish was prepared in a pressure-cooker; though I haven't tried it, I'm sure it would also work on the stove top or a cozy baking dish.

1 lb beef stew meat
3 T olive oil
2 T flour
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1 c broth (I used a veg bouillion cube)
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1 c sour cream
sea salt & pepper
egg noodles, cooked for serving
paprika for garnish (optional)

In the bottom of the pressure cooker, brown the meat in the oil. Add onions, cook about a minute. Add flour, and coat beef and onions. Add the rest of the ingredients, except the sour cream. Seal the lid and start building pressure inside the cooker. Once the pressure has built up, let it cook for about 20 minutes. After the pressure has been released, stir in the sour cream and season. Serve with the cooked egg noodles, and sprinkle with a little paprika.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Toona Noodle

It's November already! I've certainly noticed the days getting shorter. While my daily schedule hasn't changed, the fact that it is dark when I leave work forces the mental challenge of preparing dinner without feeling like the entire evening is a crapshoot.

Enter my two very bestest kitchen buddies: the slow cooker and the pressure cooker. I find it ironic that these routes to a meal are of two extremes, very very very slow and super rocket fast.

Colder weather has also brought comfort food cravings upon us, which is the main reason I've been making tuna noodle casserole in my slow cooker. There is almost 30 seconds worth of prep time! Wow! I've only made this so far on weekends with the setting on High; if you do the Low setting, be sure to give it a stir about a 1/2 hour before eating, just in case it isn't thick enough. I like mine so that it can stand on end with a spoon.

I have one very important note about the recipe below. Typically, I don't purchase "cream of xxx" soup because of the high msg content. The soups I use below are made by Health Valley, no msg, and are of the ready-to-use variety (in other words, they are not condensed). If you choose to use a condensed "cream of xxx" soup, add 1 cup of milk to the recipe.

Slow Cooker Tuna Noodle

2-1/2 c elbow macaroni
1 14.5oz can cream of celery soup (not condensed)
1 14.5oz can cream of mushroom soup (not condensed)
2 6oz cans tuna (low salt if available)
1/2 c bread crumbs, browned in a little butter so they are crisp (croutons would be ok, too)
1 c frozen green peas

Combine the macaroni, soups, and tuna in a greased slow cooker (it may stick badly if it isn't greased). Cover and cook on High for 2-3 hours, or Low 7-9. I have found in my slow cooker that it cooks rather quickly, so be prepared.

Stir in the frozen green peas (they'll thaw quickly), sprinkle with bread crumbs and serve.