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Caramelized Onion Risotto

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I was never a big fan of onions growing up. My parents on the other hand were huge fans. Liver and onions, French Onion Soup… they couldn’t get enough. But me, I never wanted any of it. Sure, if there were sautéed onions in recipes that my mother made, I ate them, mainly because I couldn’t taste them. But if I could see the onions or if they were raw, I wasn’t having any of it.

Then something changed. I couldn’t tell you when or where but somewhere along the line I started liking onions. It didn’t matter if they were yellow, brown, purple, Bermuda, Scallion or Shallot. I enjoyed them all. While some fit certain recipes better than others (nothing beats a purple onion in a Greek salad), I tried to use as many as I could as often as I could. Onions got to be such an obsession that I now try to put some kind of onion in just about anything I cook whether it’s a thick marinara sauce, a risotto or even my weekend scrambled eggs. And while I do love a good slice of raw onion on a freshly grilled burger, my favorite way to eat the vegetable is when it’s been caramelized. Caramelizing the onion turns it from a sharp slap of flavor to a more subtle, sweet delight that goes well on just about everything.

So, you can understand my excitement when I saw a recipe for Caramelized Onion Risotto in Fine Cooking. As you all know by now I love risotto. If I was forced to eat it every night for the rest of my life, I’d be thrilled. I’d be big as a house, but I’d be thrilled. I mean, there are so many different variations. On this site alone, there’s a broccoli rabe, a grilled kale, and a red wine version. While I know making risotto takes a little more time than a lot of other dinners, all that stirring is so worth the final result. And honestly, what’s an extra few minutes when the final product is rich and creamy deliciousness?

Two cups of caramelized onions only improve upon this dinner delight. They’re not just swimming throughout this hearty dish, they’re piled on top too. It’s an onion lover’s dream dinner. Don’t believe me? Whip up a batch and just try not to fall in love.

Caramelized Onion Risotto

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup white wine (like a Chardonnay)
  • 1-1/2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onions and reduce the heat to medium. Cook without stirring for 5 to 7 minutes. Continue to cook, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pot frequently with a wooden spoon until the onions are well browned, about 20 more minutes.
  2. While the onions cook, combine the broth with 1 cup of water and set over medium heat until steaming hot.
  3. Transfer the onions to a small bowl, cover, and keep warm. Add about 1/2 cup of the broth mixture to the pot and scrape up all the browned bits with the wooden spatula. Pour the liquid back into the broth mixture and keep warm. Wipe out the pan.
  4. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in the pan over medium heat. Add the rice and cook until translucent around the edges, about 1 minute. Add the wine and cook, stirring, until absorbed. Ladle 1 cup of broth over the rice and cook, stirring constantly, until most of the broth has been absorbed. Continue to add the broth a cup at a time until the rice is tender, about 25 minutes. (You may not need all of the broth.)
  5. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, the cheese, and all but 1/3 cup of the caramelized onions. Serve immediately, topped with the remaining onions.

Old Pal

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We’ve all heard of the Old Fashioned. It’s a classic that’s constantly ordered in bars all over the world. But what about it’s cousin the Old Pal? Never heard of it, right? Well that’s because this particular cocktail isn’t nearly as famous. But just because it’s not as popular doesn’t mean it’s not worth a sip… or two.

Unlike the Old Fashioned which is made with bourbon, the Old Pal is made with rye and Campari making it a more herbal and so slightly more bitter cocktail. Some might compare this drink to that other popular classic Campari concoction the Boulevardier, and they wouldn’t be wrong. The only similarity the Old Fashioned and the Old Pal have is that they both have “old” in their titles. But both the Old Pal and the Boulevardier have Campari and vermouth. However the Boulevardier uses sweet vermouth and the Old Pal uses dry, making it the less sweeter of the two.

If you’re a fan of the drier cocktail and like the strong herbal notes of Campari then you’ll appreciate this drink which was first published by Harry McElhone in the 20′s during the prohibition. McElhone supposedly named the cocktail after William “Sparrow” Robinson, a sports writer for the New York Herald Tribune’s Paris office who used to refer to everyone as “old pal”. Robinson evidently told McElhone to mix up a cocktail that was 1/3 Campari, 1/3 whiskey and 1/3 Vermouth. While the original cocktail called for equal parts, McElhone did the smart thing and made the rye the lead liquor with a 2:1:1 ratio. Placing the Campari in second position rounds out the cocktail and makes it much more palatable.

While this cocktail, like its Boulevardier counterpart, still has an acquired taste, it’s definitely the drier of the two. So if you’re a fan of both Campari and drier cocktails, give the Old Pal a try. I’m sure you’ll be great friends after just a sip or two.

Old Pal

Ingredients:

  • 1 oz. rye
  • 3/4 oz. dry vermouth
  • 3/4 oz. Campari

Directions:

  1. Combine ingredients with ice and stir. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a twist of lemon. Serve immediately.

Broccoli Rabe Risotto

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I love Italian food. Spaghetti, gnocchi, chicken parmigiana, they’re all delicious. But my absolute favorite Italian dish has got to be risotto. I love the creaminess, the rich flavor, and if you add a protein like chicken or meat balls you have a completely delicious dinner. There’s only one problem with risotto; it’s rare that you find any vegetables in them and I like to have vegetables with my dinner.

While certain vegetables like carrots, broccoli and sweet potato are delicious dinner sides, making them means adding an extra step to the dinner making process. An extra step means it could take longer to get dinner on the table, and when you have two little boys running around working up an appetite, the last thing you want to do is have a late dinner. Trust me. So when I find a risotto recipe that includes a vegetable, I make sure to test it out. Adding veggies to risotto means I still get that rich, cheesy flavor I adore while getting a nice helping of vegetables at the same time. But the best news about a veggie risotto is that my sons get their vegetables without realizing they’re eating them, and those recipes are worth their weight in gold.

While it’s true that risotto requires a lot of standing and stirring, it’s totally worth the effort. See, the longer you stir, the creamier the dish. The creamier the dish, the more likely your little ones will lap it up without inspection. And my sons inspect everything. So, while it’s true this dish is bright green thanks to the broccoli rabe, your children shouldn’t mind. After all in my house cheese and butter definitely trump vegetables.

 Broccoli Rabe Risotto (adapted from Food & Wine Magazine)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound broccoli rabe, chopped
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1-1/2 cups arborio rice
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Directions:

  1. Blanch the broccoli rabe in a large pot of salted water until tender, about 3 minutes. Drain and cool under running water. Transfer the broccoli rabe to a food processor and puree until smooth. Set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan, bring the vegetable stock and 2 cups of water to a boil. Reduce heat and continue to simmer.
  3. In a large saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the rice and cook until opaque, about 3 minutes. Add the wine and cook, stirring, until absorbed. Add one cup of the vegetable stock and cook, stirring, until nearly absorbed. Repeat one cup at a time with the rest of the stock, stirring, until the stock has been absorbed and the rice is al dente, about 20 minutes.
  5. Stir the broccoli rabe puree into the risotto along with the grated Parmesan cheese and the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Cook, stirring, until the risotto is creamy and heated through, about 3 minutes. Season the risotto with salt and pepper. Spoon into shallow bowls and serve.

Rhubarb Chutney

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My father is not a rhubarb fan. As a matter of fact, he hates it. So you can imagine how excited he was every time rhubarb season came and my mother (who is a fan) would stock up and make her rhubarb/strawberry sauce for me and my sister to snack on.  My father would smile, then politely pass whenever we helped ourselves to a bowl. I never understood how someone could detest that sweet, tart flavor that comes from rhubarb.  But evidently my father is not alone. I recently met someone else who is not a fan of rhubarb.

I don’t know why I’m surprised, I mean there are plenty of people out there that hate a fruit or vegetable that someone else adores.  But that’s what makes cooking and baking so much fun. I love taking something that I (or someone I know) doesn’t like and turning it into something they can’t stop eating.

I think I’ve done just that with this rhubarb chutney from Fine Cooking. See, there’s no sugar in this recipe. Not one teaspoon. Instead you have spices like cinnamon and mustard seed with just a touch of honey. And it’s those spices that bring out a completely different side to the rhubarb. Instead of turning the red stalk into something tart and sweet reminiscent of a Sour Patch Kid, you get a savory dish perfect for a cheese plate, spread onto a nice crusty baguette or (if you’re anything like me) eaten all by itself with a big spoon.

But don’t take my word for it, this delectable chutney has already converted one rhubarb hater. Will you be next? Will my father? Guess you’ll just have to try it and find out.

Rhubarb Chutney

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, lightly crushed
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 1 tablespoon Coleman’s dry mustard
  • 2/3 cup mild honey
  • 3/4 pound rhubarb, chopped
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins

Directions:

  1. Combine the vinegar, bay leaves, fennel seeds, cinnamon and 1 teaspoon of salt in a large pot and bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove from the heat, cover and let sit for at least 15 minutes.
  2. While the vinegar combination sets, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and mustard and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.
  3. Stir the shallot mixture and the honey into the vinegar and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Cover and continue to simmer for about 5 minutes.
  4. Remove the bay leaves and cinnamon stick.
  5. Stir in the rhubarb and raisins until combined. Cover and simmer, without stirring, for another 10 minutes or until the rhubarb is tender. Remove from the heat and season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving dish and cool to room temperature before serving. (Can also be served cold, straight from the fridge. The chutney will keep covered and refrigerated for at least 3 weeks.)

 

Saturday my husband went fishing with some friends. He’s been wanting to go for awhile now, but always had a conflict. Well this time he was free. So he got up at the crack of dawn and joined his friends for what turned out to be an awesome day on the water. They were out there for hours and were lucky enough to catch several Link Cod and Rock Fish. Even the guy who organized the fishing trip couldn’t believe how fruitful they all were.  Needless to say when my man returned home, he brought with him more fish than either of us knew what to do with.

I don’t remember the last time I ate fish that I, or someone I knew, caught with their own two hands. Hubs said he’d had a blast catching the fish and knew I would have just as much fun figuring out how to prepare it.  While I would’ve enjoyed catching the fish, since it was a guys only trip, I had to settle for creating a delicious dinner. But creating tasty dinners is fun for me so I was okay with missing the trip… this time. While most of the fish went in the freezer for numerous dinners later, I prepared a couple of the beautiful filets the very next night. I’ve never had cod, so I wasn’t really sure what to do with it. But thankfully the internet and Melissa’s Produce came to the rescue.

See, Melissa’s had just sent me some packages of they’re delicious baby beets to try. While several of them went toward my daily juice routine, I still had plenty left over to use in salads and this delicious glaze I saw on Bird + Cleaver. While that blog used the glaze for their salmon, I thought it would be just as tasty on the cod, especially when combined with a light bok choy salad. My theories were correct and the fish and salad were the perfect end to a lovely weekend. Best of all both were super easy to make.

Beet Glazed Cod and Beet, Blood Orange, Baby Bok Choy Salad (adapted from Bird + Cleaver)

Ingredients:

For the Cod

  • 2 Cod fillets
  • 2 baby beets, diced
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

For the Salad

  • 2 blood oranges, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2-3 baby beets, sliced
  • 2 bunches of baby bok choy, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment.  Place the fish on the cookie sheet and sprinkle with salt.
  2. In a small saucepan, combine orange juice, lemon juice, sugar and diced beets.  Cook over medium heat until mixture starts to thicken, about 5 to minutes.  Strain liquid into small bowl.  Reserve the beets for the salad.  Brush the cod with the glaze and roast in oven for 15 minutes.  Cod’s ready to eat when it’s firm and flakes off easily with a fork. Let rest for 5 minutes.
  3. While the fish cooks, combine the oranges, bok choy and all the beets in a medium bowl.
  4. Whisk together the olive oil, vinegar and sesame oil in a small bowl. Pour over the salad and toss to coat. Serve the salad with the fish and enjoy.