Monday, October 31, 2011

Pumpkin Risotto with Caramelized Pumpkin

Fall is a great time to cook. Apples and pumpkins are abundant at this time, and they happen to be two of the ingredients I really enjoy cooking with. This fall marks the first time I have made this dish but it is certainly not the last. Risotto, on its own, is a creamy dish but add pureed pumpkin and that creaminess is intensified. You can see the pumpkin melt like butter as you stir it in at the end.

Pumpkin Risotto with Caramelized Pumpkin
Serves 4 to 5

5 to 6 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 tbsp butter
1/2 cup diced onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 whole sage leaves
1 1/2 cup arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/3 cup grated parmesan

1. Bring the broth to a simmer and keep warm over a low heat.
2. Add the butter to large stock pot over medium heat. Cook the onions, garlic, and sage until softened, about 4 to 5 minutes.
3. Add the rice, and toast for 2 minutes. Pour in the white wine and stir slowly until most of it has abosrbed. Once the wine has absorbed, add the chicken broth 1/2 cup at a time stirring almost continuously and waiting until almost all of the broth has absorbed before adding each cup.
4. When the rice is cooked -tender but firm to the bite- discard the sage leaves and stir in the pureed pumpkin and cheese. Serve topped with the caramelized pumpkin.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Poached Pears in Port Reduction

I derive much happiness from cooking. Even when my weeks are hectic, making a meal at home is a constant that I look forward to. Cooking provides a pleasant distraction amid all the dreaded papers and exams that seem to occupy my time recently (having recently started working on my Masters) and the many deadlines I barely meet.

This past weekend, I had the house to myself so naturally I cooked: Poached Pears in Port Reduction to which I added cinnamon and star anise. Believe me, it smelled like Christmas in the kitchen! And was a great - albeit short - break from my paper which is due in less than twenty four hours.

Poached Pears in Port Reduction
Serves 4

4 bosc pears
3 cups port
1 cup apple cider
1/4 cup sugar
2 cinnamon stick
4 whole star anise

1. With a damp towel wipe the pears clean and peel, leaving the stems intact.
2. Bring the rest of the ingredients to a simmer in a large sauce pan add the pears, and cook for about five minutes on each side until they are easily pierced with a knife. Remove the pears and place upright in a serving dish.
3. Continue to cook the liquid until thickened about 10 to 15 minutes more. Pour over the pears and serve. Moreover, add a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side of each pear and drizzle with the warm port reduction.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Caramelized Pumpkin with Maple Sugar and Ginger

Here is an easy recipe for caramelized pumpkin which is absolutely delicious on a salad or as a side dish. The maple sugar used here is from the Sand Man at the Minneapolis Farmers' market. However, if you cannot find maple sugar, brown sugar is a good substitute.

Caramelized Pumpkin with Maple Sugar and Ginger

2 cups diced pumpkin
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp maple sugar*
1 tsp grated, fresh ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and add the diced pumpkin. (Try to arrange the pumpkin in a single layer so that the cubes cook evenly. ) Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, being careful not to crush the pumpkin cubes.

Remove from the heat and stir in the maple sugar, ginger and cinnamon.

*Brown sugar can be substituted for maple sugar.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Toasted-Almond Rice

Rice can be boring sometimes. Recently, I was asked by a friend for a quick way to enliven plain basmati rice. This recipe below is what I sent him.

Toasted-Almond Rice
Serves 4

1 ½ cups basmati rice
3 cups water
¼ cup almonds
¼ cup chopped scallions
2 tbsp chopped parsley
3 tbsp salted butter

1. Bring the water to a boil and add the rice, and a pinch of salt. Stir, lower the heat to medium, and allow to simmer for 20 to 25 minutes until cooked.
2. While the rice is cooking, coarsely chop the almonds. Toast in a pan over medium high heat for 6 to 8 minutes. Shake the pan a few times so that the almonds toast evenly and they don’t burn.
3. Once the rice has cooked, add the toasted almonds and the remaining ingredients. Fluff with a fork to combine.