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

Risotto Paella

Mexican Monday took a back seat this week for a Spanish cousin to shine through.

Of course, I could pretend I just made this dish some other day of the week and find a decent photo of a past Mexican Monday, but then I’d be out of a personal back story to the dish!

I was not about to have a repeat of last week where we ate out way too much, so I “forced” Stuart to help me create our weekly “Everson Menu”.

“What do you want for Mexican Monday?”

“Paella”

“That’s not Mexican….”

Stuart’s favorite Food Network star is Bobby Flay and we record Bobby Flay’s Barbecue Addiction. There was an episode last year in which Bobby had a grill the size of a breakfast table and a paella pan to cover it up. He made the largest (and most expensive) paella I’d ever seen. So for a year Stuart’s been wanting to try Paella.

Most traditional Spanish Paellas involve Mussels or other shellfish, which I am allergic to. I don’t know why it took me a year to realize that I can put whatever I want into the recipe, it’s my kitchen! So I finally gave in to his craving. I read a few recipes and articles about paella and created my own rendition.

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to find authentic Spanish paella rice, but the cooking method reminded me of risotto, so I compromised and used risotto rice. (Sorry!) I also couldn’t find authentic Spanish chorizo, so I kept the casing on Mexican chorizo, sliced it into rings and cooked it. I also opted to use salmon as my seafood choice.

An Original Recipe

Risotto Paella

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 large onion, diced
  • 1/2 large red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 C Arborio rice
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp tumeric
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 1/4 C white wine (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp dried parsley
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1 – 1 1/2 qt chicken stock
  • 2 links chorizo, sliced into rings
  • 6 oz salmon, cubed

Steps

  1. In a large pot bring stock to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer.
  2. In a large, non-stick skillet, saute onion and pepper in olive oil. Season with salt. When the onion is translucent add the garlic, rice, and seasonings. Stir with a wooden spoon. When rice is slightly toasted and everything is yellow add in the chopped tomato.
  3. Deglaze the pan with white wine, if using, or a ladle of stock.
  4. While waiting for the wine to evaporate, start cooking the chorizo in a separate skillet. Remove from pan and cook the salmon in the same skillet.
  5. Add 1-2 ladle-fulls of stock at a time to the rice, stirring constantly. When the liquid is absorbed, repeat the process until the rice is cooked through. This will take approximately 15 minutes.

*This recipe was inspired by http://foudefoodmtl.com/eatsathome/shrimp-and-chorizo-paella and http://mongoliankitchen.com/salmon-paella/*

Risotto Paella 1 Risotto Paella 2 Risotto Paella 3

Chorizo Carbonara

I didn’t plan my weekly menu over the weekend so therefore didn’t have a grocery list to go shopping either. My freezer was devoid of protein (one chicken breast and a pound of bacon) so we made a quick pit stop at the local Winn-Dixie with the intention of only buying some meat – whatever was BOGO that week. Even though chorizo was not on sale, Stuart wanted it (if you want to save money, leave your husband at home).

Because I didn’t want to rush back to the grocery store, I had to find a chorizo recipe where I had all of the ingredients on hand. I stumbled upon this Chorizo Carbonara. Chorizo Carbonara 1

This recipe might be the simplest Mexican Monday dinner yet! It only takes 4 ingredients and 10 minutes. It’s a pasta dish, so you know I’m one happy girl!

Chorizo Carbonara

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb fettuccini pasta
  • 3 links Mexican chorizo, casing removed
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 C heavy cream

Steps

  1. Cook pasta in salted boiling water until al dente.
  2. Brown chorizo in a small, non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, breaking up with a wooden spoon. Drain any excess fat.
  3. Whisk together egg yolks and heavy cream.
  4. Drain pasta. Using two forks, toss with cream mixture – make sure to do this quickly so as not to scramble the yolk and coat the pasta. Add in the chorizo.

*This recipe is adapted from Caroline at http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2011/04/chorizo-carbonara-recipe.html*

Chorizo Carbonara 2

Lemony Shrimp Scampi with Orzo

My favorite Food Network star is Giada De Laurentiis. (If I could be her for a day, I would!) I record her show Giada at Home and sit with my laptop on the couch and take notes. That’s me furthering my education – Food Network. 😉

Lemony Shrimp Scampi with Orzo 1This recipe was on the episode “Viewer’s Choice 2” and it looked like a perfect weeknight dinner. I was hoping to have some friends over for dinner the night I planned to make this dish, so I was prepared for making the full 4-6 servings. It ended up being just being the two of us, but none of the food went to waste! I took it to lunch the next day, and we even used it as a side dish later in the week too.

Lemony Shrimp Scampi with Orzo

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb orzo pasta
  • 1 lb peeled and deveined shrimp
  • 1/3 C extra-virgin olive oil
  • zest and juice of 2 lemons
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1/2 C white wine
  • 5 C arugula or spinach or other (I simply used a store bought organic salad mix)

Steps

  1. Cook orzo in boiling pot of salted water until al dente.
  2. Whisk together 1/3 C olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
  3. In a large skillet, saute shallots in a little bit of olive oil over medium heat. Add in the shrimp and season heavily with pepper and salt. Once shrimp are pink, curled, and cooked through remove and set aside.
  4. Deglaze the skillet with white wine and add in your greens. Once the greens are wilted and most of the wine is evaporated add in the cooked orzo and shrimp.
  5. Toss with the vinaigrette from step 2.

Lemony Shrimp Scampi with Orzo 2

Penne with Vodka Sauce

I love pasta. I could never do a carb-free diet… because, I love pasta.

When I was a little girl, the only thing I would eat was Macaroni and Cheese in the Blue Box. And then my pasta diet grew up a little bit to pasta with butter and balsamic vinegar. (I had some recently, and it’s still delicious!) I love pasta.

Now, my favorite pasta sauce is Vodka Sauce. And I’d always wanted to try making my own. Then I found a recipe on a friend’s food blog. So I made it! It takes time to make because the sauce actually gets baked in the oven, but I multi-tasked and while the sauce was doing its thing, I prepared dinner for the following night! When I opened the oven to pull out the sauce, it smelled like Italy. Okay, so I haven’t actually been to Italy, but it’s what I imagined Italy would smell like. I would also advise to not skip out on the fresh oregano. I’ve been known to substitute dried herbs in lieu of purchasing fresh (because I can’t grow my own…) but in this recipe, I’m glad I didn’t. The best bites were those with some fresh oregano. I love pasta.

Penne with Vodka Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1/8 C olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes depending on your spicy preference
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 C vodka
  • 6 roma tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 lb penne pasta
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh oregano, divided
  • 2/3 C heavy cream
  • 1/4 C parmesan cheese, plus extra for garnish

Steps

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. In a large, oven-proof skillet, saute onion in olive oil over medium-high heat. When translucent, add garlic, pepper flakes, dried oregano, S+P. Pour in vodka and cook until reduced by half, stirring occasionally.
  3. Put the peeled tomatoes in the pan and crush with a potato masher. Season with S+P, cover, and bake for 1 1/2 hours. Remove and let cool slightly.
  4. Cook pasta according to box directions.
  5. Blend cooled tomato sauce and heavy cream and puree until smooth. Return to the stove and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in 3/4 of the fresh oregano, S+P. Toss in the pasta and parmesan cheese.
  6. Garnish with remaining oregano, extra Parmesan, and red pepper flakes if desired.

*This recipe makes 2-3 servings and is modified from Tara at http://www.tarasmulticulturaltable.com/penne-alla-vecchia-bettola-penne-in-tomato-vodka-cream-sauce/*

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