Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Goat Cheese Risotto, with Asparagus and Shrimp

This is a recipe I've made a couple of times over the past couple of years.    I love it in the spring but was craving it last week and decided to make it.   I don't really have a recipe that I go from; I kind of wing it as I go but I tried to jot down notes as I went.   Please email me if you have any questions.  This recipe serves 2 people as a main entrée. It is really good!

  • 6-8 asparagus stalks, tough parts removed and the rest cut at and angle into 1-2" pieces
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 large shallot, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • 3-4 cups chicken broth, kept warm on the stove
  • 10-12 raw shrimp, peeled and deveined (the bigger the better)
  • 2 tsp. lemon zest
  • ¼ cup goat cheese
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan

Sauté the asparagus in a saucepan for 2-3 minutes (you want it crunchy) with olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper and set aside.  

Pat the shrimp dry with paper towels and season both sides with salt, pepper, and cayenne.   Set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the butter in a heavy saucepan/skillet over medium-high heat (about a 6.5 on a 10 point scale).  Add the shallot and cook until translucent.  Stir in the garlic until just fragrant and then add the rice.  Stir the rice for a couple minutes in order to "toast" it.  Add the wine and cook until it's almost completely evaporated, and then add 1-2 ladles of the broth. Cook, stirring frequently, until most of the broth has been absorbed, and then add another 1-2 ladles. Keep stirring. Continue this process until you've used all the liquid.  

  • Risotto usually takes 22 minutes from start to finish.  (I’ve timed it many times).
  • The trick to risotto is to add the stock slowly and stir frequently.  The risotto should should be a bit runny - that is, ALL of the liquid should NOT be absorbed like regular rice.  

At about 18 minutes sauté the shrimp in a hot pan with olive oil; about 2 minutes each side.  When they curl up turn them.  Do not over cook. 

Just before your rice is cooked al dente (risotto done properly still has a bit of texture), add the lemon zest, parmesan, asparagus, and goat cheese.  Stir to combine and season to taste with salt and pepper (I also use cayenne for a little kick).

Put the risotto on a plate (or in a bowl) and top with the shrimp.   Grate fresh parmesan on top and serve immediately.

Pairing: Blanc de Blanc Sparkling Wine


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

New Recipe: Grapefruit Brûlée

I ripped out this recipe a couple of weeks ago and decided that it would be a good winter thing to make as grapefruit reminds me of summer and in the winter that is always a good thing.  
Recipe: Grapefruit Brûlée
Servings: 4
Recipe by: The Bon Appétit Test Kitchen


  • 2 grapefruits, halved crosswise
  • 4 tablespoons raw sugar

Special Equipment

A kitchen torch - Using a culinary torch is the best way to caramelize the sugar into a candy shell, but you can also make this old-school breakfast treat using your broiler.
  •  Trim 1/4–1/2" of peel from bottom of each grapefruit half to stabilize the fruit and prevent it from rocking back and forth. Place grapefruit, cut side down, on paper towels to dry for 5 minutes. Invert grapefruit and sprinkle 1 Tbsp. sugar evenly over exposed flesh of each grapefruit half. Using a kitchen torch, heat sugar until melted and beginning to turn dark amber. 
  • Alternatively, preheat broiler. Transfer grapefruit, cut side up, to a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil. Broil grapefruit, watching closely to prevent burning, until the sugar is melted and beginning to turn dark amber, about 8 minutes. Let grapefruit cool before serving.

My Notes:
  • I pre-cut the grapefruit into sections (also know as “supreme”) before adding the sugar to make it easy to eat.  I also have grapefruit spoons that are great.  
  • I did not flip the grapefruit over on the paper towel to dry it out because I love the juice too much.    I just used the paper towel on top to pat them dry.  
  • I used regular sugar from my cupboard vs. “raw” sugar.  Education: Raw Sugar is what is left after processing the sugar cane to remove the molasses and refine the white sugar.  In North America raw sugar is actually not "raw" as it has been partially refined to remove any contaminants. Unlike granulated sugar, raw sugar tends to hold more moisture, and is lower in calories; on average a basic teaspoon of raw sugar contains 11 calories, while granulated sugar contains 16.  Chefs claim it melts and caramelizes with greater ease.
  • I tried this both ways, with the broiler and the torch.   I liked the torch better because it actually created a hard shell on top.   When using the broiler, it took a while and then the grapefruit was hot and partially cooked and it didn’t create a very “hard” shell.    It was kind of cool though because my pre-cut slices of grapefruit rose up due to the heat and looked really pretty.
  • Make sure to turn on the fan when using the torch as it definitely smells like burning sugar.  
  • I used a red grapefruit and a pink grapefruit to compare the flavor and I preferred the flavor of the red grapefruit by far.  
  • I did not slice off the bottoms of the grapefruit because I didn’t think there was much risk of them “rolling around,” and I didn’t want all the juice to escape out of the bottom.  
Grapefruit using the Broiler

Grapefruit using Torch

Verdict:  I love the idea of this.   However, I think I prefer my grapefruit cold with a sprinkle of Splenda.   The brûlée made it feel more like dessert and less healthy.   That said, I think it is a really cute idea for a brunch if I have company.  I would probably torch the grapefruits ahead of time and then put the grapefruit back in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before serving. 

It was fun to get my torch out and use it for something other than crème brûlée.   I might have to find more uses for my blow torch in 2012.  Let me know if you have any ideas. 


Monday, January 9, 2012

Food Porn

Now don’t get too excited.  Well, actually, go ahead.   This weekend I attended one of four food "porn" photography classes that I signed up for at Kitchen in the Market, a fab, new commercial kitchen available for rent for caterers, producers & manufacturers, mobile food trucks, and others who need licensed space to create their culinary delights; and to my delight, they also have cooking classes.

In this first class, we focused on a travel theme and telling a story through photos.  We wondered around Midtown Global Market to find shots that inspired us.

I’m not going to lie, but they had at me at “hello” with the glass of bubbly they handed me upon my arrival.   What a way to start a Sunday afternoon photography class!

Here is a sample of the photos I shot (I took 92).   

So, I’m not going to win any awards or anything but I had fun using my “eye” to find interesting compositions and looking at things from a different angle.   

And, as if the beginning of class wasn’t good enough, we ended the class with beer, wine, and tacos!     

My only regret is that I brought my Cannon point-and-shoot camera instead of my Nikon DSLR.  I really need to learn how to get that thing off auto.  I’ve taken photography classes but am still afraid of all the buttons.  I think it has to do with the fact that math is involved?   I really need to work on that before the next class and it is definitely a goal this year.  

I’m really looking forward to the next class in February, which promises to be “sensual” as it explores food for lovers and we even get to get our hands dirty!    

I’m curious - what is your favorite photo above?   Talk to me……