Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Risotto with asparagus and prosciutto (or using up party leftovers in creative ways)

I wanted to use the leftover prosicutto and asparagus rolls from the party, so I figured on cutting those into chunks and putting it in a risotto.

Then I figured I could also add the leftover mushroom and tarragon filling from the mushroom cups. I had maybe a cup of it left and it would add some creaminess and earthiness.

I also had about 6 slices of prosciutto and 12 asparagus spear left that I did not use for the rolls, so in they went, too.

(I also had a lot of leftover tomato and basil bruschetta. I just set that to boil for a few hours until it reduced into a nice sauce for pasta. Then I portioned it out and stuck it in the freezer.)

First up, a simple risotto that serves as the base for whatever ingredients YOU like to toss in there.

1/2 stick of butter

1 small onion, chopped

2 small garlic cloves, minced

1 1/2 cups risotto

4 cups broth (I used what I had, which was a mix of veggie and chicken)

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup chopped Italian (flat-leaf) parsley

start broth heating in a small sauce pan

in a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat and cook the onions and garlic until soft

add the rice and stir to coat it in the butter

cook, stirring frequently, until rice looks milky, about 10 minutes

slowly add heated broth to rice and continue to stir occasionally until mixture comes to a boil

reduce heat and boil gently for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally

Once the rice is al dente or cooked to your liking (it will be a bit sticky, that is just the way risotto is since it is so starchy), toss in whatever ingredients you like. I had the asparagus and prosciutto (I tossed the raw asparagus in a couple minutes before rice was done since it had to cook a little to catch up to the asparagus from the party).

I have made this in the past with some frozen peas and prosciutto.

It's also good with some frozen artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, grilled shrimp, sliced mushrooms, a drizzle of truffle oil if you are feeling decadent ... Pretty much anything.

I finished the dish by stirring in the Parmesan and parsley.

And it went quite well with a bottle of wine that was opened, but not finished at the party: 2004 Francis Coppola Black Label Claret.

Thanks again for that, Bob.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Chevre and mango steak bites

This was from something I saw in Sunset magazine.
I lost that page somehow, but found this version online:


It seems to be exactly what I saw in Sunset.

I made the flank steak and cheese mixture two days ahead, sliced the steak a day ahead and rolled them up the day of the party.

I used two big flank steak from the Costco meat department. They came out great.

Asian-spiced meatballs with snow peas and hoisin sauce

I made these two weeks ahead and froze them, cooked.

1 pound ground pork (I have used ground turkey in the past, but pork is a richer flavor)
6 sweet Italian sausages, removed from casings
3 teaspoons fresh ginger, finely chopped or grated
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 can water chestnuts, finely chopped
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons red chili sauce (Sriracha type sauce)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Hoisin Sauce
splash of sesame or olive oil
1 jar prepared hoisin sauce (Most grocery stores will have this in the Asian-food aisle.)
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
3 tablespoons white wine

Snow Pea garnish
48-50 snow peas of approximate size (I knew I needed 48 since I made the meatballs ahead of time and bought the snow peas a couple days before the party. You can guess how many you will need. The recipe should make about 4 dozen meatballs.)

wooden picks to hold snow peas to meatballs

For meatballs:
Preheat oven to 400.
Combine all the ingredients. I find the best way is to use my hands. It feels a little gross, but then I know all the stuff will be really well-mixed.
Form meatballs into 1-inch balls and place in large roasting pan.
Roast 20-25 minutes, turning every 5-7 minutes so they can brown on all sides.
Once cooled, these can be frozen. Thaw before reheating.
To reheat them, I put them in a skillet with a splash of chicken broth and steamed them for about 5 minutes.

For the sauce:
Heat oil in sauce pan and add garlic and ginger.
Sautee for just a couple minutes over medium heat, but do not let it brown.
Add store-bought hoisin sauce and wine.

That is it for the sauce. I made this three days ahead and stuck it in the fridge.

For the snow peas (Make this part the day of your event):
Bring large pan of salted water to a boil.
Add peas and cook until bright green and flexible. This should be 30-60 seconds.
Rinse with cold water.
Drain and set aside.

To assemble:
Warm hoisin sauce in microwave or on stove.
Pour onto platter in thin, even layer.
Fold each snow pea in half and attach it to a meatball with a wooden pick.
Place the meatballs on top of the sauce.

I think that is it.

This one sounds more complicated than it is. Especially since I did in stages. But that really makes it easier. Then you just have to heat the meatballs and sauce and serve them.

I think these meatballs would be good in some type of brothy soup with bok choy. I may have to experiment.

Creamy mushroom and tarragon bites

First up, make the bread cups. This recipe makes two dozen:

Oh, and you need a mini-muffin pan to make these.

1 1-pound loaf sliced white bread. I like Milton's brand if you can find it.
1/2 stick melted unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 375.
Cut bread into 2-inch squares. I have a set of square cookie/pastry cutters and use one of those. You can just use a knife, too. I get two squares per bread slice.
Brush a light coating of butter on each side of bread.
Press the bread square into a mini-muffin tin making the sides fairly even.
Bake 5 to 8 minutes or until golden brown.

They can be made ahead and kept in airtight containers or frozen for up to three weeks.

For the filling (slightly modified from Cocktail food Deck recipe):

4 tablespoons butter
4 cups sliced brown (cremini or Italian brown) mushrooms
3/4 cup chopped onion
salt and pepper
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup creme fraiche or sour cream
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon

Melt butter in large skillet.
Add mushrooms and onions, seasoning with salt and pepper.
Cook about 7 to 10 minutes, or until mushrooms start to brown.
Add wine and cook until liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes.
Put mushrooms mixture in food processor with creme fraiche/sour cream, Parmesan and tarragon.
Pulse 4-5 times or until mixture is combined but not pureed.

I made the filling a week ahead and froze it. I took it out the night before the party and thawed it in the fridge. It worked great.

To assemble:

Spoon mixture into bread cups and place on baking sheet.
Bake in 400-degree oven until filling is hot.

Roasted Asparagus with Mountain Ham

The recipe called for serrano ham, which is Spanish cured ham. It is great, but tough to find.
I used prosciutto di Parma, which is great and easy to find.
And the book said this was a fine substitute.

This is the recipe from the book. Obviously I made more than 12 of these.

2 tablespoons olive oil
6 slices serrano ham
12 asparagus spears, trimmed

Preheat oven to 400.
Coat bottom of a roasting pan with olive oil.
Cut each piece of ham in half.
Roll asparagus spears in ham slices.
Season with pepper.
Roast for about 10 minutes, depending on thickness of asparagus. They should be tender, but firm so they can be eaten as finger food.

The recipe called for making a complicated aioli.

I passed on this. I blended some mayo with dried tarragon, lemon juice and a bit of sugar. I got a sweet, but tangy sauce that went nicely with the salty ham.

I served this in a little bowl on the side of the asparagus/ham rolls.

spinach and smoked gouda spheres

From the Cocktail Food Deck with a couple of my own variations (I like extra cheese!):

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
pinch of pepper
1 10-ounce package froze, chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed to remove excess liquid
1 1/4 cups dry bread crumbs
1 cup grated smoked gouda
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1 egg
3 tablespoons salted butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350.
Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat.
Add onion and season with salt and pepper.
Cook until tender, 5 to 7 minutes.
Remove from heat.
Put spinach in a food processor, adding the onion, 1/2 cup of the bread crumbs and the remaining ingredients.
Process until combined and smooth.
Form mixture into 1-inch spheres and roll each sphere in remaining bread crumbs to coat completely.
Place on foil- or parchment-lined baking sheet.
Bake until hot and lightly golden, about 10 minutes.
Do not overcook, or they will get dry.

I made these a few days ahead of time and frozen them on a baking sheet. Once they were individually frozen, I put them in a freezer bag. I took them out to thaw the morning of the party and cooked them just before guests arrived.

The freezing worked great. I have made these before with no freezing and there was no difference in taste or texture.