8 February, 2017  |   Comment

Repost: Frodo Risotto Recipe

I don’t know about you, but the meals I’ve been making keep getting richer and more fiddly. Lots of parts, lots of chopping and lots of steps. This Frodo Risotto recipe is exactly the kind of food I’m craving this year.

(Pairs beautifully with Pan-Fried Chicken Thighs.)

We love Frodo Baggins.Originally posted 2 years ago.

We made a hobbit dinner the other night.
James and I love Frodo. Bilbo too. We are Hobbits at heart.

Secure in our snuggly Shire home, we welcome any old man with fireworks to entertain the children.
The barefoot, mildly wild children.

And they all eat Frodo Risotto.

This is Frodo Risotto. It's a baked risotto.

We served Frodo Risotto with local Shire greens.
And some roast game (chicken).

Adapted from a Donna Hay recipe, this risotto bakes in the oven while you catch up with cousin Frieda Baggins about what’s causing the rabbit shortage.

Ingredients
1/2 butternut squash, peeled and diced about 1/2″ (Probably about 2 cups diced squash)
3 cups arborio rice
7 cups chicken stock
3/4 cup white wine (For cooking, I like any inexpensive Sauvignon Blanc)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
3 tablespoons butter, chopped
1 small onion, minced
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Additional Salt and Pepper to taste

Optional:
1/2 cup light olive oil for frying the sage
10 sage leaves, washed and dried

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350°.

Cate Blanchette, Lady Galadriel of Lothlorien, will try to scarysexy you into giving her your ring but don’t you let her.

Elvin Butternut Squash.

To avoid all risk, you probably should skin her and chop half of her into tiny bits.

Peeled Elvin (Elvish?) Butternut Squash.

You can mince Samwise Gamgee into tiny bits while you’re at it too.

Nooooooo Frodoooooo

Mix the first seven ingredients in a 9″ x 12″ baking dish.
Combine, being careful not to slosh.

Something lives beneath the surface of that salty lake.

Cover baking dish with aluminum foil and put in oven on top of a baking tray (to guard against sloshing) for 1 hour.

30 minutes into the baking time, take off the foil and stir it. You will be disappointed by the lack of progress. But hold tight, little hobbit, your dinner is right on plan. Return the foil to the top of the baking dish, being careful not to burn your hands. Put the risotto back in the oven for roughly 30 more minutes.

This is when I would fry up the sage.

Heat the oil in a small frying pan over medium-high heat, frizzle the sage in there until crispy, only a minute or two. Remove and drain on paper towels

After 30 more minutes, remove the baking dish from the oven.
Stir two tablespoons of butter and Parmesan cheese through the risotto.
Stir through 7 leaves worth of crumbled fried sage.

Garnish with the remaining 3 leaves.

Serve.
And watch out for fireworks.

Welcome all old men carrying fireworks

1 February, 2017  |   Comment

Weeknight Palak Paneer Recipe

Weeknight Palak Paneer

Career-wise, life-wise, events feel more pressing right now and I want my kids to know that, “Your mom, she cared about some things.”

One of those things I care about is how working people can feed themselves and their families, especially as it feels like we need to work even harder just to tread water.

Ahem.

This is a recipe we enjoyed from our meal plan. You know, the meal plans I’ve been posting nearly every week for ten years or so. This recipe is a spinach-packed powerhouse. Bonus points for making your own cheese (!!!)

We’re making more Indian food, it’s the only food our pickiest eater absolutely adores. Sure! That makes sense! Out of every ethnic cuisine, she prefers the most complex spice balance. She wrote a love letter to our local Himalayan restaurant. She will eat heaps of Tandoori-prepared vegetables but she won’t touch a summer tomato. That’s my girl.

Making your own cheese, especially as a working person, will make you feel powerful and strong, able to take on marching, phone calls and fight against voter suppression.

You can pull most of this dish together at the last minute, but if you want the homemade paneer, you’ll have to give the recipe 24 hours head start.

Did it get down to the wire?  Substitute tofu for the paneer and most people will never notice.

Weeknight Palak Paneer Recipe

Ingredients
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons curry powder (we use Penzey’s Now Curry because Penzeys is a most wonderful company from Wisconsin that stands up for what’s right)

Penzey's The Now Curry
1 large onion, chopped rough

Chopped onions
1 teaspoon salt
1 3 inch piece ginger, peeled and diced tiny
8 cloves garlic, smashed, peels removed and diced tiny
2 teaspoons Garam Masala (again we buy ours from Penzeys)
1 jalapeno pepper, seeds and stems removed
3 tomatoes chopped into 1/2″ chunks — we used whole peeled tomatoes from a can
1 cup water
2 heaping tablespoons tomato paste
16 ounces baby spinach – a whole container if you buy it prepackaged and washed at your grocery store
1 cup cream
1 recipe Paneer (see below)

You’ll also want a large dutch oven and an immersion blender or regular blender.

Directions
In a large sauté pan, warm the oil over medium-high heat, add the 2 tablespoons of curry powder and toss together for about half a minute – stir well to make sure the powder and oil integrate and sizzle a bit.

Add the onion and salt – cook for 3 minutes or until melty. Then add the ginger and garlic and toss for another minute. Add the Garam Masala, jalapeno pepper, tomatoes and water, add the tomato paste. Cook over medium heat for about 3-5 minutes, or until the ingredients are blended together.

Add the baby spinach in batches – letting each specific batch wilt down so there’s room for more. Continue to stir and fold and work together until the spinach totally cooks down (about another 3 minutes).

Use your immersion blender or blender to blend – we still like our spinach to have a bit of shape to it.

See here, I was blending so heartily, it’s out of focus!
How hearty the blend!

Immersion blender craziness for Palak Paneer

At this moment, I added the mix to a container so that we could have it ready to go quickly on Monday night.

Put that Palak Paneer in the fridge!

On Monday, I pulled the Weeknight Palak Paneer from the fridge, put it in a pan over medium heat. Then, I added the cream and the paneer. That paneer was chopped into roughly 1″ pieces.

We served it with naan and rice and we were so happy and we almost forgot we had a president that hates us. I love to toss some cilantro and hot sauce on it, but I leave that choice up to you.

weeknight Palak Paneer

Homemade Paneer Recipe

Ingredients
1 half gallon whole milk
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 teaspoon salt

Directions
You will pour an entire gallon of whole milk into a large dutch oven. You will feel weird about this, like it’s wasteful, but then you will remember that flank steak is 9.99/pound at your local grocery store so you take a deep breath and commit.

Pouring a whole gallon of milk in the pan? Okay!

Heat the milk over medium-low heat until it just barely boils. You’ll want to stir it fairly frequently to avoid the milk burning to the bottom of the pan.

You’ll know it’s time to add the buttermilk and salt when there are bubbles are just starting to break the surface and it’s steaming heavily. That looks something like this:

Nope! The paneer isn't ready yet

Then lower the heat as much as you possibly can and stir in the buttermilk.

Buttermilk to make the paneer

Stir it in gently, and then continue to stir over the next 7-10 minutes as curds magically appear. Stir them toward the middle of the pot to congeal into a largish disk.

Paneer curds in whey

Isn’t that crazy? You just made cheese! Little Miss Muffet ain’t got NOTHING on you!

If you have a gas stove, turn off the flame, cover the pot and let it rest for 15 minutes. If you have an electric stove, move the pot to another (cold) burner before resting the cheese.

After 15 minutes goes by, remove the curds to a cheesecloth lined strainer. Mine looked like this:

Paneer in cheesecloth, draining

Squeeze all the juice out and twist the edges. Put in an edged container and add a weight to the top. Let solidify in the fridge. When I did this, I had to drain the plate twice. You can let this drain for up to 24 hours.

Draining paneer in the refrigerator

You’ve made paneer! You’re a cheesemaker! You’re a cheesemaker and a patriot!

Like I said above, chop the paneer into about 1″ chunks and mix into the spinach mixture with the cream before serving.

 

21 September, 2016  |   1 Comment

Repost! Wine Wednesday: Wine Cake Recipe

Wine Cake is our town’s go-to fundraiser cake. If you know exactly which women’s auxillary group has it for sale, you could even find it at the Harvest Festival and pet parade.

Thanks to a sticky glaze, Wine Cake is squishy and sweet and super-delicious. We serve it with barely sweetened whipped cream and all the berries.

Wine Cake Recipe


Cake ingredients

1 box yellow cake mix
1 three and a half ounce box instant vanilla pudding
1 cup white wine (I like Sutter Home’s Sauvignon Blanc for cooking)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs

Glaze Ingredients
1 stick butter, cut into chunks
1/4 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup white wine

Directions
Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease and flour a 10″ Bundt pan or grease and flour one and a half cupcake pans.

Combine the yellow cake mix, box of instant vanilla pudding, white wine, vegetable oil and all four eggs in a large bowl and beat with a well-muscled arm or (my preference) an electric mixer.

Pour the batter into your choice of pan.

If you’re going the Bundt route, put the filled cake pan in the oven for 45-50 minutes. Cupcakes should only take about 20 minutes.

About 10 minutes before the cake is done, make the glaze by stirring the butter with the water, sugar and white wine over medium heat until dissolved. Increase the heat and bring to a bubbly boil. Be careful, for it is sugar and can hurt you badly if it spilled on your skin. Remove the danger pot from heat. Set aside.

Remove the cake or cupcakes from the oven and let the pan cool for 10 minutes.

If using the Bundt pan, poke holes in the bottom (top) of the cake. Pour 1/2 of the glaze into and around the holes. Let the cake absorb the glaze. If you’re working with cupcakes, remove all from the pan and set on a tray upside down. Poke holes in the bottom of the cakes and pour the glaze into your holes.

Invert the cake onto a serving dish and drizzle the rest of the glaze on top. You may need to do this in several batches. Serve and await the cheers and happy hollers.

14 September, 2016  |   1 Comment

Repost: Helen Jane’s Minestrone Soup Recipe

  • Seasons, seasons.
    This month seems all about revisiting things after taking a break from them.
    Sometimes the things are relationships, sometimes they’re beliefs, and sometimes they’re hobbies.

I’ve taken a big break from my blog, no surprise. Due to a combination of time and social media and a personal turn to the more private, this seems like the worst, most dangerous hobby in the world. Of course, I miss it.

Lately, due to wonky plug-ins and comments, I’ve had to go back in the archives.
I’m surprised at all the energy and adjectives.
I shared so much.
I’m not much like that anymore.

But all those past, bubbly posts remind me that I’ve shared some useful things. We still eat this soup nearly every other week. In fact, we ate it Monday.

Eat this with grilled cheeses and grapes

When I first made this recipe, we had no kids. I had more energy and adjectives. I shared so much.

Things change. Soup remains.

Now, this minestrone soup recipe is the most effective way I have to cram veggies into the girls. I make it on Sunday, we eat it on Monday. We eat it up and ask for seconds, not realizing the cabbage, greens, beans and lycopene doing their healthfuls.

Minestrone Soup is good for your ass and ass.

Helen Jane’s Minestrone Soup Recipe

Ingredients
3 tablespoons olive oil
6 pieces raw bacon, chopped fine
1 large onion, chopped fine
3 stalks celery, chopped fine
3 carrots, peeled, chopped fine
3 cloves garlic
1/2 green cabbage, sliced into thin ribbons
6 leaves swiss chard, stripped from the stems and sliced into thin ribbons
1 32 ounce can of chopped tomatoes
2 quarts chicken broth
1 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 bay leaf
2 cups water
1 16 ounce can white beans, drained and rinsed – we like butter beans
1/4 cup tiny star shaped pasta or 1/3 cup Ditalini pasta.
A block of parmesan cheese and a fine grater

Directions
Chop the onion, celery and carrots fine. You want them small, especially if small mouths are consuming. Mince garlic. Slice the cabbage fine. Remove stems from swiss chard and slice fine. Open the can of tomatoes.

Veggies are ready.

Warm olive oil over medium heat in a large dutch oven or soup pot. Add the chopped bacon and stir until the bacon is cooked through and fat has melted down.

Remove the bacon from the oil to drain on paper towels. Add onions, celery, carrots, salt, pepper and bay leaf to the pot.

Stir and cook veggies for 2-3 minutes.
Add garlic, cabbage and kale and stir frequently until mixed through and limp.
Add can of tomatoes, chicken broth and water.

Stir through until everything is mixed. Turn heat to high, bring the soup to a boil and then turn to low and simmer. If I have a random Parmesan cheese rind, this is when I add it. If you have no Parmesan cheese rind, I promise I won’t hold it against you.

After 15 minutes, add the white beans. Cook for another 20 minutes, add the pasta (if you’re using) and cook until the pasta is tender (7-10 minutes, depending on the size). Remove bay leaves, taste and adjust salt and pepper.

Leave the bacon out and swap the chicken broth for vegetable broth and you’re looking a little Vegan around the edges.

Serve with sprinkled reserved bacon (this keeps it crunchy) and a healthy scattering of grated Parmesan cheese.
(Sometimes, when lilygilding, I drizzle olive oil over the whole thing.)

We serve this soup with grilled cheese or panini and a chopped antipasti salad. The girls eat it up. Now you can too.