Grape Risotto

This post accompanies yesterday’s Red Pepper Pesto Crusted Tilapia. It is also a Nikki Dinki recipe.

Risotto is my favorite thing to cook. Risotto has the reputation of being very difficult and is presented as a fancy restaurant only dish. It takes patience (something I’m admittedly not very good at) and attention. It requires tasting. It requires you to immerse yourself in the process, to trust your hand when to add more liquid and when it’s done.

Rumor has it you must remain at the stove constantly stirring and tending to the pot of rice, but I’m here to tell you that’s not true. I’m not telling you to dump in some liquid and go take a bath, but you can relieve yourself from the wooden spoon occasionally. You can watch from the sidelines as the new addition of liquid bubbles and the rice absorbs the flavors being added to it. When you stir, do so gently and without repetition – I like to trace my spoon in figure eights, zig zags, and circles.

Making risotto makes me happy. Even though I don’t find it difficult to prepare, I still feel proud. Like I did something impressive. Like I could get famous off of this. (Oh, to dream)

Grape Risotto

Ingredients:

  • 2 shallots, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 C Arborio rice
  • 3 cans vegetable stock
  • 3/4 C parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 C sliced scallions
  • 1 C grapes, halved

Steps:

  1. Bring stock to a gentle simmer in a large pot.
  2. In a dutch oven, saute shallots and garlic in olive oil. Add rice and cook for a couple of minutes. Deglaze the pan with 1/2 C stock. Once the stock is absorbed by the rice, add in another ladleful of stock. Stir. Repeat the process until the rice is cooked and creamy. Season with salt, to taste.
  3. Stir in cheese, scallions, and grapes.

*This recipe is adapted from Nikki at http://www.nikkidinkicooking.com/home/pesto-crusted-halibut-grape-risotto.html*

Grape Risotto

Red Pepper Pesto Crusted Tilapia

My dream job would be to host my own show on Food Network. I know I have a long way to go and it’s something that will most likely never happen, but hey, that’s why it’s called a dream job.

Every year I watch Next Food Network Star. Spoiler Alert – I am very excited for this summer’s winner, Damaris, and her show this fall but I was drawn to Nikki Dinki from day one. This recipe, is one of hers. It’s very quick and simple to prepare and tastes incredible. I do not like Greek yogurt – I am not on the bandwagon – but I didn’t want to stray from Nikki’s recipe (I did have to switch the fish based on local availability though) so I gave it another shot. The Greek yogurt complimented the red pepper pesto perfectly. Mixing the panko with the pesto also provided a beautiful crust on top of the fish. I promise you this is a new staple in my kitchen.

Pesto Crusted Fish

Red Pepper Pesto Crusted Tilapia

Ingredients:

  • 2 roasted red peppers
  • 1/4 C pine nuts
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 shallot, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 C parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 C olive oil
  • 4 4oz tilapia filets
  • 1 C panko
  • 4 tbsp Greek yogurt

Steps:

  1. Make pesto: combine peppers, nuts, thyme, garlic, shallot, cheese, and olive oil in a food processor.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  3. Season fish with salt and pepper. Spread 1 tbsp of yogurt on each filet.
  4. Mix 1/2 C pesto from step 1 with the bread crumbs. (Or you could use store bought jarred red pepper pesto instead) Press onto each filet. Bake 20 minutes on a foil lined baking sheet.

*Both recipes are adapted from Nikki at http://www.nikkidinkicooking.com/home/red-pepper-pesto.html and http://www.nikkidinkicooking.com/home/pesto-crusted-halibut-grape-risotto.html*

Red Pepper Pesto Crusted Tilapia

CIC: Coconut & Tomato

CIC-header

I interrupt my recount of Hawaiian food to bring you this month’s Crazy Ingredient Challenge! This month the task was to combine Coconut and Tomato. Upon seeing the ingredient list I thought I was going to sit this one out as I am allergic to coconut. But then I got an idea and decided, why not! Just because I can’t eat it doesn’t mean my friends can’t be my taste buds.

My original idea was to do a play on the Bloody Mary – either make a virgin version substituting vodka for coconut water, or simply adding coconut water to the cocktail, or even making a “creamy” version with coconut milk, garnished of course with toasted coconut.

This idea was altered slightly when I searched Food Network’s website for Bloody Mary recipes. I’d never had one before! I found Rachael Ray’s recipe for Bloody Mary Shrimp Cocktail and thought, that’s a better idea! And I can serve it with coconut shrimp instead of typical shrimp cocktail. This way also prevents my husband from trying multiple Bloody Marys before I came up with the right recipe. I also bought cocktail shrimp so I could dip in too!

I served this appetizer during last weekend’s football game. We had some friends over and I was given the “this is addicting” nod of approval. I hope this boozy dip makes it to your next tailgate!

Coconut Shrimp with Bloody Mary Dip

Ingredients for Shrimp:

  • Canola oil, for frying
  • 1 lb peeled, deveined shrimp
  • 1 C flour
  • 1/2 tbsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tbsp garlic powder
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 C panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 C shredded sweetened coconut

Ingredients for Dip:

  • 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp horseradish
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire
  • 2 tsp hot sauce
  • 2-3 shots of vodka, to taste

Steps:

  1. Bring oil to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl combine flour, garlic powder, and onion powder. In another bowl beat eggs and season with S+P. In a third bowl combine coconut and panko. Season shrimp with S+P and dredge in flour, egg, and panko. Fry shrimp 2 minutes on each side. It’s best to do this in batches so as not to decrease the oil temperature too much.
  3. Combine dip ingredients. Serve with celery sticks!

*The shrimp is adapted from The Neelys and the dip is modified from Rachael Ray*

Coconut Shrimp and Bloody Mary Dip 2Coconut Shrimp and Bloody Mary Dip 1

Click the link below to see other blogs that participated in this month’s Crazy Ingredient Challenge!

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