Monthly Archives: May 2011

asparagus risotto

 

This is not just a risotto with some asparagus pieces thrown in at the end- oh no.   This is a risotto swimming in miniscule flecks of asparagus, fully immersed in green and spring.  It’s my favorite kind of asparagus recipe- the kind that embraces the use of the entire stalk.  Instead of throwing out the tougher ends of the stalk [or adding them to the finished risotto to be picked around and pushed off to the side], we cook them a bit and then puree, producing a bright-green bubbly liquid.

Then this asparagus puree is stirred into the risotto, alternated with the traditional chicken stock, stirring and coaxing each little grain of rice to absorb as much of the asparagus- its flavor, nutrition, color- as it can.   A very asparagusy risotto indeed! 


Asparagus risotto
adapted from Mario Batali

Serves 4-6 as a side; 2 or 3 as a meal

1/2 to 3/4 pound asparagus stalks
3 to 4 cups chicken stock
1 shallot, diced
1 T. butter
2 t. olive oil
1 cup short-grain rice
3/4 cup white wine
salt and pepper
freshly grated parmesan for serving

Bring a pot of water to a boil.  Meanwhile, wash asparagus; trim off tough ends and discard.  Chop into 1-inch pieces, setting aside the tips and the pieces from the top two-thirds of the stalks.  Once the water is boiling, toss in the pieces of asparagus from the bottom third of the stalks.  Boil for 4-5 minutes; drain all but 1/4 cup water.  Puree aspargus and 1/4 cup of water in a food processor or blender; set aside.

Place chicken stock in a small saucepan and keep over medium heat.  In a heavy-bottomed skillet, melt butter and oil over medium heat.  Sautee diced shallot for 1 minute, then add raw, unrinsed rice.  Sautee for 4-5 minutes, then increase heat to medium-high.  Add wine and stir while reducing. Once wine is mostly absorbed, add the hot stock in 1/2 cup increments, stirring almost constantly.  Wait to add more stock until the rice has absorbed nearly all of the liquid.

Once 2 cups of the stock have been added and absorbed, alternate adding 1/2 cup of the asparagus puree and 1/2 cup of chicken stock, again allowing the rice to absorb almost all of the liquid before adding more.  At this point, check the rice frequently, wanting it to be cooked but with a bit of an al dente bite.  Once the risotto is creamy and the rice is fully cooked, season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with parmesan.

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Filed under Clean Eating, Gluten-Free, Main dishes, Side dishes, Spring, Vegetables, Vegetarian

strawberry-rhubarb upside downer


I really wanted to tell you about the asparagus risotto I made this week.  It was creamy and subtle and deliciously spring-ish, while comforting enough for the chilly air that settles around us in the evenings.  But I can’t.  It would be irresponsible- nay, reprehensible– to allow you to go on living one more day of your life without hearing about this cake.

There are cakes for celebrations, and then there are cakes like this.  This is an everyday cake, padding around in day-old jeans and a faded t-shirt, perfect for coffee and a bit of freshly whipped cream.   But at the same time, this is a seriously awesome cake.  This is a make-this-when-your-mother-in-law-comes cake.  Even if it’s only in jeans, it’s impressive.  Sweet, sticky, and spicy. What more do you need?!


This is from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From my home to yours, except she wrote it as a cranberry-nut cake.  She also included in the margins directions for a peach version, but I decided to springify.  I halved the cinnamon from the original recipe and added half a teaspoon of fresh cardamom- and WOW.  If you’ve got cardamom, break that bad boy out for this cake.  I don’t know if there’s anything I like more in spring than the combination of strawberries, rhubarb, and cardamom.

There’s also no salt in this cake.  That may dismay some and cheer others.  I will admit that I cheated and used salted butter for the “topping” and unsalted for the actual batter, because I had some stray salted laying around.  Don’t be afraid to add salt if you  know you like it in your cakes and muffins.


Strawberry-rhubarb upside downer
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: FMHTY

14 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
6 tablespoons + 1/2 cup white sugar
1 cup AP flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 cup chopped strawberries
1 cup chopped rhubarb
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup whole milk

Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350.  Put an 8×2 (or 9×2) round cake pan on a baking sheet (you WILL want the baking sheet!).

Melt 6 T of the butter and whisk in 6 T of the sugar. Stirring, bring up to a brief boil, then pour evenly into the bottom of the cake pan.  Sprinkle strawberries and rhubarb on top of the butter-sugar combination and press lightly to flatten.  Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and cinnamon.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the remaining 8 T (1/2 cup) of butter for 2-3 minutes until soft and creamy.  Add the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and cream well for 2-3 minutes.  Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well between each one and scraping the bowl down as needed.  Pour in the vanilla.  Turn the mixer down to low and add in half of the dry ingredients, only mixing until barely incorporated.  Mix in the milk.  Then mix in the remaining dry ingredients. Spoon the batter in the pan over the strawberries and rhubarb, and smooth the top down.

Bake on the baking sheet for 40-45 minutes, until a knife inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.  With a knife, loosen the cake from the pan around the edges, but allow to sit for 20-30 minutes to let the cake soak up as much of the juice as it can.  While still warm, carefully turn out the cake onto a plate.

Serve thick slices with fresh whipped cream or ice cream, preferably while still a bit warm (or warmed up for 20 seconds in the microwave.  Enjoy!

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Filed under Breads, Breakfast, Desserts, Spring, Summer