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Archive for the ‘Grains’ Category


I haven’t made risotto in a while, and I had almost forgotten how wonderful it is. Risotto should be loose and a little runny, not a tight little ball when scooped onto a plate. I finished this one with a handful of grated cheese and a little butter to give it a richness. The term mantecare in Italian means to stir, and it’s usually used to refer to the process of quickly stirring in this finishing butter. By aggressively stirring, it emulsifies the butter and brings it all together.

Squash Blossom Risotto

6 squash blossoms, chopped

1 cup arborio rice

1/2 onion, minced

1 garlic clove, minced

2 cups chicken or vegetable stock (I used a dark homemade chicken stock, but boxed or canned is fine)

1 cup white wine

1 cup grated parmesan

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Saute the onion and garlic in a tablespoon or two of olive oil until they have softened. Season with salt and pepper. Add the rice and toss in the oil to coat. Allow the rice to toast for a minute, until the outsides of the grains start to look translucent. Add the wine and stir. Warm the stock in a separate pan.

Slowly add the stock a ladle at a time, keeping enough liquid in the pan to continue the cooking process, but it shouldn’t be higher than the level of the rice. Cook at a medium heat and stir frequently with a spatula to let the rice emit it’s starches. Add the squash blossoms halfway through the stock. Cook until al dente, and you can use additional water if you run out of stock. It should be a little runny when done. Add the butter and stir vigorously to emulsify. Add the parmesan and olive oil and stir through.

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I’m a big fan of quinoa because it reminds me of pasta but it’s actually a seed so it’s healthier. You can basically treat it as you would any small pasta and it works, although my favorites are either mushroom-based or citrus-based. When I saw these beautiful snap peas at the farmers market, it seemed like a natural fit for a healthy Sunday lunch.

Quinoa with Snap Peas and Mint

1 cup quinoa

2 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock or water)

1/2 cup white wine

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

1 onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

1.5 cups snap peas

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon mint, chopped

Saute the onion and garlic in a little extra virgin olive oil until they soften. Season with salt. Add the quinoa and allow to toast for a minute. Add the chicken stock and wine and let cook until the quinoa softens. Add the vinegar, lemon juice and zest, and honey and stir through. Add the snap peas and cook for the final minute. Top with the mint and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil when you serve it.

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As you might know by now, I love citrus. The olives in this recipe give it a nice salty, earthy bite and balances out the bright freshness of the citrus. Cooking this couscous in the juice really brings out the citrus flavor without adding fats like cheese and butter. I happened to find kaffir lime leaves and have tons leftover after making Thai curry, so I threw a couple in here. Feel free to leave them out, but I would suggest throwing in another herb or a bay leaf.

Mediterranean Citrus Couscous

1 cup whole wheat couscous

2 cups freshly squeezed orange and lemon juice (preferably more orange than lemon but whatever you have)

zest of the citrus used

3 kaffir lime leaves

1 teaspoon salt

1 garlic clove

1/4 cup Gaeta olives, pitted and chopped

3 tablespoons parsley, chopped (optional)

Bring the juice to a boil and add in the kaffir, garlic, zest, and salt. Let it reduce down a bit and then add the couscous. Boil according to package instructions– the liquid should cook off but you can drain it if you have leftover. Stir in the olives and parsley.

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Well, it’s time for the pre-Thanksgiving round-up. After several lovely meals for the holiday, I can say I’m done with turkey until next year. Not including turkey sandwiches or ground turkey. But the whole bird…I’ve had enough for a while.

I thought we were getting a de-boned and butterflied turkey breast from the butcher, but it turned out there were bones. Hmmm. So, I set about to deboning. It actually wasn’t that bad, I just cut out the backbone and started from one end of the chest cavity. It took about 20 minutes, but I got those things out of there. They immediately went into a pot for some turkey stock, which simmered for about an hour with some water.

I butterflied the breast and then salted the skin and let it sit in the fridge to dry out for a couple hours. Then the bird got stuffed and rolled and roasted for a while. We served the extra stuffing on the side along with some roasted brussels sprouts, homemade butternut squash ravioli and cranberry sauce. And of course, a delicious apple pie.

Gareth’s Stuffing

1/2 loaf crusty Italian bread, cubed and toasted in the oven

1 onion, chopped

10 sage leaves, chopped

1 apple, diced

1 cup almonds

1 cup beer (we used Dale’s Pale Ale, but any tasty beer would work)

2 tablespoons olive oil

Saute the onion in the olive oil until softened. Meanwhile, blanch the almonds in boiling water for a minute and drain into a towel to rub off the almond skins. Saute the almonds in a teaspoon of olive oil for a few minutes until starting to brown.

Add the sage and apple to the onion and saute together for a couple minutes. Add the bread and toss. Add the almonds and remove to a baking dish. Pour the beer over and bake for 30-40 minutes, until browned on top.

Turkey Roulade

1 deboned and butterflied turkey breast, skin on

1 cup Gareth’s Stuffing (before it’s baked)

2 tablespoons olive oil

kitchen twine

Lay the turkey out skin side down. Season with lots of salt and pepper. Spread the stuffing out in the center, making sure to keep it from the edges since it will spread out as you roll. Starting at one end, roll like a jelly roll making sure to tuck in any loose pieces. Tie with several pieces of twine to keep it as uniform in width as possible. The skin that gets rolled into the center will virtually baste it from the inside out. Place on a baking sheet or roasting pan and drizzle with the olive oil.

Roast at 425 degrees for 30 minutes, then lower to 350 degrees for another hour or until the center reads 165 degrees on a thermometer. Let rest 20-30 minutes before slicing. The skin should be nice and crisp, if it’s not crisping up while roasting, turn the temp back up to 425 degrees until it does. You can use the pan drippings to make gravy, just deglaze with a little wine turkey stock and whisk in some flour. Cook a few minutes to get the flour taste out and it’s ready to serve when it has thickened a bit. If it’s too thick, add some leftover turkey stock.

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Well, after making the mini pies, I had some strawberries and rhubarb left over. I usually put some sort of fruit in my quinoa (peaches, pineapple, mango, grapes, etc), so I thought I’d give it a try.

Strawberry Rhubarb Quinoa

1 cup quinoa

2 cups chicken stock

1/4 cup white wine

1 stalk rhubarb, chopped into 1/4 inch pieces

6 strawberries, chopped

1 shallot or 1/4 onion, chopped

1 tablespoon chopped parsley or basil

1 tablespoon olive oil

Salt to taste

Saute shallot in olive oil until it softens, about 5 minutes. Add some salt to help it break down a little. Add the quinoa and toast in the olive oil for a minute. Add the wine and chicken stock and let it reduce. When 2/3 of the liquid has evaporated, add the rhubarb and strawberries and continue cooking until the liquid is gone. Add the parsley and adjust seasoning if necessary.

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