Red Risotto with Peppers
Having done Chicken Cacciatore, one must serve over some form of starch. Pasta is traditional, but I do not feel like being traditional. A search for Italian rice dishes, yielded some interesting recipes for Arancini (Rice Balls), and they looked soo good, but not quite what I wanted, (but I WILL do them shortly) I found all kinds of risotto posts, but maybe, maybe not. Then I saw a post for a rice dish using red wine, and roasted red peppers. Quite an idea to play with, perhaps using my standard risotto, but red wine, and the roasted peppers.
I have some broth / stock / almost gravy from a roast and I have a package of dried porcini, and I’ll steep them in just enough boiling water to cover for 20 minutes or until they’ve expanded. Drain them, reserving the liquid, and mince them. I’ll use the rehydrate as well. I’m looking for a lot of mushroom aroma, and the beef stock will add that umami mouth feel/taste.
One can use a rich vegetable stock as well, for those with an aversion to meat or meat with dairy.
Risotto is a class of Italian dishes of rice cooked in broth to a creamy consistency. The broth may be meat-, fish-, or vegetable-based. Many types of risotto contain Parmesan cheese, butter, and onion. It is one of the most common ways of cooking rice in Italy.
Risotto is normally a primo (first course), served on its own before the main course, but risotto alla milanese, is often served together with ossobuco alla milanese.
There are many different risotto recipes with different ingredients, but they are all based on rice of an appropriate variety cooked in a standard procedure.
Grains of Arborio rice
The rice is first cooked briefly in a soffritto of onion and butter or olive oil to coat each grain in a film of fat, this is called tostatura; white or red wine is added and has to be absorbed by the grains. When it has evaporated, the heat is raised to medium high and very hot stock is gradually added in small amounts while stirring gently, almost constantly: stirring loosens the starch molecules from the outside of the rice grains into the surrounding liquid, creating a smooth creamy-textured liquid. At that point it is taken off the heat for the mantecatura when diced cold butter and finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese are vigorously stirred in to make the texture as creamy and smooth as possible. It may be removed from the heat a few minutes earlier, and left to cook with its residual heat. Seafood risotti generally do not include cheese.
Properly cooked risotto is rich and creamy but still with some resistance or bite: al dente, and with separate grains. The traditional texture is fairly fluid, or all’onda (“wavy, or flowing in waves”). It is served on flat dishes and it should easily spread out but not have excess watery liquid around the perimeter. It must be eaten at once as it continues to cook in its own heat and can become too dry with the grains too soft.
Seared Divers “Dry” Scallops
So the great push to “Eat More Fish” is on. Bad thing is the only way I like fish is “Deep Fried”…, not in the top 10 Most healthy ways to cook.
So the hunt for a fish I can eat, and that will be healthy. While examining the wild caught salmon for Madam Bad Wolf, I notice some large “Divers” Scallops, a quick mental review of menus I have seen, and I decided on Seared Scallops for dinner. Little did I know just how easy and simple this would be.
A scallop is a marine bivalve mollusk of the family Pectinidae. Scallops are a cosmopolitan family, found in all of the world’s oceans. Many scallops are highly prized as a food source. The brightly colored, fan-shaped shells of some scallops, with their radiating fluted pattern, are valued by shell collectors and have been used as motifs in art and design.
Scallops are characterized by having two types of meat in one shell: the adductor muscle, called “scallop”, which is white and meaty, and the roe, called “coral”, which is red or white and soft.
Sometimes, markets sell scallops already prepared in the shell, with only the adductor muscle intact. Outside the U.S. the scallop is often sold whole. In Galician cuisine, scallops are baked with bread crumbs, ham, onions, etc.
Scallops that are without any additives are called “dry packed”, while scallops that are treated with sodium tripolyphosphate (STPP) are called “wet packed”. STPP causes the scallops to absorb moisture prior to the freezing process, thereby getting a better price per unit of weight. The freezing process takes about two days.
In Japanese cuisine, scallops may be served in soup or prepared as sashimi or sushi. Dried scallop is known in Cantonese Chinese cuisine as conpoy.
In a sushi bar, hotategai is the traditional scallop on rice, and while kaibashira may be called scallops, it is actually the adductor muscle of any kind of shellfish, e.g. mussels, oysters, or clams.
Scallops have lent their name to the culinary term scalloped, which originally referred to seafood creamed and served hot in the shell (Rombauer 1964). Today it means a creamed casserole dish such as scalloped potatoes, which contains no seafood at all.
To be more specific in choosing scallops, look for a designation of U5 or U10, this link the similar designation in shrimp refers to the number of scallops per pound. The lower the number the larger the scallop. As per “Divers” scallops, the term “diver” does not itself imply a size, but these divers generally pick the largest scallops they can find, so diver scallops tend to be in the 10/30 range. Also diver scallops are more ecological because the divers only pick the bigger, more mature scallops, while leaving the younger ones, which allows the population to replenish; whereas dragging with chains is indiscriminate and sweeps up other shellfish besides just scallops.
In searing scallops, two words are paramount, Heat and speed. One looks for a heavy sear, and a medium rare center, so high heat and a brief exposure.
Sprouts and Bacon
Recently, I was accosted by a “Trained Food Scientist” … who it would seem, did not read the “It IS all about the TASTE! “ post, and proceeded to rip my cooking styles, menus, ingredients, into VERY small pieces, not to mention, my lack of knowledge in basic food science, poor taste, poor grammar, etc, etc, etc.
After several minutes of this, I left… (Remind me, to IGNORE my fan club…. or maybe start carrying a shock prod)
Let’s get one thing straight… I DO NOT GIVE A FLYING &%$%#!@ ….. about “modern nutritional science”, the folks who write / espouse that crap, also produce such healthy and wholesome items as the great American Fast food menu..
Bluntly, good food, prepared fresh, in reasonable amounts, combined with reasonable amounts of exercise, (GET OFF YOUR FAT ASSES!!!!), will be more healthy for you than consuming the prepackaged, chemically preserved and flavored, highly salted, over processed organic material that is excreted and extruded as a wonder of “modern nutritional science.”
It isn’t meat or butter or eggs or even sugar that are responsible for America’s obesity problem. I really believe it is dependence on foods that are full of chemicals and GMOs AND an inactive lifestyle. The combination is deadly. Problem is people decided to go low fat rather than get rid of the chemicals and move around a little. So now people ingest more chemicals, they are still fat, and they are battling diseases that are brought on by toxins in what they eat.
While in the green grocers, I noticed fresh Brussels sprouts. Now given the time of year, I had to ask, where they were grown, and the reply was San Mateo, Ca.. Wow… It seems they get FLOWN in… WOW!! … The price.. “UGH!”, but then again, sprouts are mild and sweet at the start of the season, especially if you toss them in hot butter or olive oil after boiling them, or shred them and stir them into hot bacon fat, with some onions and serve with a vinegar dressing.
Black Bean Hummus
As one of our oldest and most loyal critics is in the hospital for heart surgery, perhaps a bit lighter touch is appropriate. Something to help balance all the rich and hearty meals, but something with taste texture and just that special mouth feel. (The primary item wrong with “health food” is the lack of taste / umami.)
On special note … “GET WELL, I can not afford to loose that much of my readership”
Hummus is a dip or spread made from cooked, mashed chickpeas, blended with tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and garlic. It is a popular food in various local forms throughout the Middle Eastern world. While cuisine-related sources carry forward a folklore which describes hummus as one of the oldest known prepared foods, its historical origins are unknown with a long history in the Middle East which stretches back to antiquity. It is probable that is only dates back some 2000 years or so.
As an appetizer and dip hummus is scooped with flatbread (such as pita). Hummus is also served as part of a meze or as an accompaniment to falafel, grilled chicken, fish or Baba Ganoush. Garnishes include chopped tomato, cucumber, cilantro, parsley, sautéed mushrooms, whole chickpeas, olive oil, hard-boiled eggs, paprika, ful, olives and pickles. Outside the Middle East it is sometimes served with tortilla chips or crackers. In fact it is almost as ubiquitous as peppers in Thai cooking, and acts as a “velcro” to allow many disparate food items to blend together to form a pleasing meal.
It is written that some early Jewish settlers in modern Israel rejected everything that reeked of Diaspora and an eager, almost childish, embrace of the Levant. The infatuation with falafel and hummus, staples of Arabic cuisine, started there. The outcome, according to others, was that “Shawarma, falafel and hummus soon became “sabra” foods,” a part of everyday meals in Israel. Many restaurants in Israel are dedicated to hot hummus, which may be served as chick peas softened with baking soda along with garlic, olive oil, cumin and tahini. One of the more upscale hummus versions available is made with lemon-spiked tahini garnished with whole chick peas, a sprinkling of paprika and garnished with hot-peppers and drizzled with olive oil.
Steamed Teriyaki Salmon
I am conducting a working weekend, and part of the work is to try new recipes to dazzle Madam BadWolf. One of her favorite dishes is salmon, and I’ve done it on a plank, pan seared, grilled, broiled, and after lunch with a client who ordered steamed salmon with veggies, I’ll do steamed.
As I said this is a working weekend, so large amounts of post writing are not in the cards, but I will summarize the actions.
Steaming works by boiling water continuously, causing it to vaporize into steam; the steam then carries heat to the nearby food, thus cooking the food. The food is kept separate from the boiling water but has direct contact with the steam, resulting in a moist texture to the food. This differs from double boiling, in which contact with steam is undesired.
Such cooking is most often done by placing the food into a steamer, which is typically a circular container made of metal or bamboo. The steamer usually has a lid that is placed on the top of the container during cooking to allow the steam to cook the food. When a steamer is unavailable, a wok filled less than half with water is a replacement by placing a metal frame made of stainless steel in the middle of the wok. Some modern home microwave ovens include the structure to cook food by steam vapor produced in a separate water container, providing a similar result to being cooked by fire.
Once again I have fallen pray to the clutches of the Medical Institutions… With the drawing of blood and collection of all forms of samples complete I am left with just one one hideous bodily insult. This requires a “cleansing”… So light lunch, and then a fast complete with the ingestion of many chemicals and herbs to ensure a poor nights rest
My lunch will be a salad, but I want crunchy, I want crisp, I want texture and I want taste. Really sounds like an Middle Eastern chopped salad. I’m thinking an Israeli salad, but I don’t like tomatoes that much, perhaps cut back on the tomato, and add a few other veggies.
Israeli salad is a chopped salad of finely diced tomato and cucumber. “Distinguished by the tiny diced tomatoes and cucumbers,” it is described as the “most well-known national dish of Israel.” It is usually dressed with fresh lemon juice and olive oil. Parsley and spring onions are sometimes added, but not lettuce. Generally, the cucumbers are not peeled. The key is using very fresh vegetables and chopping them as finely as possible. The ability to chop the tomatoes and cucumbers into the “finest, most perfect dice” is considered a mark of status among many kibbutz cooks.
Variations include salads made with the addition of diced red or green bell peppers, grated carrot, finely shredded cabbage, sliced radish, fennel, spring onions and chives, and other herbs such as mint, za’atar or sumac.