Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Passover is here already?

It seems like I have been running non-stop since January. The calendar has quickly flipped pages and I find myself almost at April!

Passover is a good time to sit back and think about all we have to be thankful for - freedom, family, friends, and all these crazy opportunities that keep me bouncing around with a full schedule.

I haven't had a chance to post my photos or write up any recipes from our mini-Seder from last night, but here is a link to some of my Passover treats from last year. I made the same brisket and am planning to make a batch of chocolate covered matzoh later in the week.

To all a who are celebrating, I hope you had a wonderful Seder. To those of you preparing for Easter, save me a few cookies and chocolates for after Passover.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Guest Post: Vegetarian Delight by Beth

Since I've been away on vacation I'm a little behind in my cooking and blog posts. Instead, I'd like to introduce a new guest blogger - my best friend Beth! She's been a vegetarian for a long time and will hopefully add some tasty vegetarian recipes to the Good Cook Doris recipe box! Enjoy!

Here's one of our many photos involving food (yes, mashed potato martinis):

From Beth:

While I enjoy cooking, complicated recipes intimidate me. I am easily overwhelmed by multiple steps and long lists of ingredients - especially when I haven't heard of all of them. I can proudly say that in my many years of vegetarianism, my repertoire has recently greatly expanded.

Good Cook Doris must take some credit for my new found confidence in the kitchen as it has helped to teach me, guide me and, above all, inspire me. Thanks Lara! Here is a vegetarian sloppy joe recipe, adapted from a Rachel Ray cookbook, that I made it a few days ago to be enjoyed by omnivores and carnivores alike.

Beth's Veggie Sloppy Joe

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 jalapeno peppers, seeds and ribs removed (unless you like it super spicy)
1 red, green or yellow bell pepper
1/2 large red onion
1 can black beans
1 15-oz can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 rounded tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (or vinegar if don't want to include anchovies)
4 crusty rolls

Seed and chop the jalapeno peppers and bell pepper
Chop the red onion
After heating oil in a skillet over medium-high heat, add the chopped jalapenos, bell pepper and onion
Cook until tender (it took about 8 minutes on my stove)
Add the black beans (drained), cumin and coriander to the skillet
Season to taste with salt and pepper
Stir in the tomatoes, brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce
Allow mixture to simmer for a few minutes before serving on toasted rolls

I added a slice of sharp cheddar cheese and a pickle before serving. The leftovers are easy to reheat and taste great too.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Daring Cooks: Risotto Challenge

The 2010 March Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Eleanor of MelbournefoodGeek and Jess of Jessthebaker. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make risotto. The various components of their challenge recipe are based on input from the Australian Master Chef cookbook and the cookbook Moorish by Greg Malouf.

You can call me crazy, but I’ve added another thing to my ever-growing list of activities. Last month I joined the Daring Kitchen – a few of my blogger friends are members – as a way to challenge myself to try new recipes and techniques that I might overlook. Too my delight, my first official challenge is something that has been on my foodie to-do-list for quite some time. I present….RISOTTO!

Within the last few months, I’ve devoured some deliciously creamy and wonderful risottos at a few Boston area restaurants (and some arancini too). I was always wary of making it at home because I thought it was quite labor intensive and difficult. With this challenge I had no excuse not to try making risotto myself. The challenge called for two things: homemade stock and risotto using the stock. I knew I had a busy week, so I made the stock a few days ahead of the risotto.

I found a few chicken stock recipes online and one in my trusty Joy of Cooking book. I cooked, simmered, and strained my way to a flavorful homemade stock.

For the risotto I decided to branch out from the recipes given and find an ‘easy’ one to attempt. My first stop was my Google Reader blogs and I came up with a winning recipe in a post on We Are Not Martha. They posted a step-by-step account of a mushroom risotto recipe from http://foodiereflections.com/ that looked easy enough to execute.

I made a few tweaks of my own to the recipe. Being the only wine drinker in my house, I don’t always have a big selection on hand. When I went to the wine collection for a dry white, the only white to be found was a not so dry Riesling. I chose to use a semi-dry red wine that I had picked up in my home state (Missouri) during my last visit home. I was also having a stressful week, so I opted to mince all the mushrooms, onions, and garlic by hand to decompress (the recipe called for the food processor).

I used a large, wide bottomed Le Creuset Dutch oven and a wooden spoon for stirring (it seemed traditional!). While I did have to stay in the kitchen to stir for the whole time, I watched TV and cleaned up my mess while I cooked.

The result was an unbelievably smooth, rich, mushroomy dinner. I only wish that I had made a triple batch because there wasn’t much leftover for lunch the next day. I’m looking forward to adding risotto to my regular dinner rotation (so is the hubby). Here’s the recipe and the result! Looking forward to the next challenge!

Mushroom Risotto
Adapted from Foodie Reflections

Makes 4 side dish servings (Very true – I wish I had tripled the recipe!)
1 1/4 cups mushrooms, cleaned and divided
2 1/2 cups chicken stock
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup Arborio rice
2/3 cup dry wine (red or white)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 – 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced (plus a few springs for garnish)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, divided
Salt and pepper to taste

Finely chop 3/4 cup of the mushrooms (or puree in the food processor until finely chopped)
Thinly slice the remaining 1/2 cup mushrooms and set aside for later
Heat the stock in a pot over medium heat. Once it reaches a simmer decrease the heat to low and cover to hold warm
In a large wide pan (I used my giant Le Creuset Dutch oven), heat the olive oil over medium heat
Add the minced onions and cook, stirring until the onions become soft and translucent, about 5 minutes
Stir in the minced garlic and cook for 30 seconds, then add the mushrooms. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring often, then mix in the Arborio rice and cook for 1 minute.
Pour in the wine and stir until the wine has been absorbed by the rice.
Add one ladle of broth, about 1/2 cup, and stir every 30 seconds to 1 minute until all the broth has been absorbed
Continue this process until all the broth has been absorbed and a grain of rice pressed between two fingers separates into three pieces (for me, about a half an hour)
Stir in the Parmesan cheese, thyme and 1/2 tablespoon butter
Season to taste with salt and pepper

In a small-medium skillet melt the remaining 1/2 tablespoon butter over medium-high heat
Add the mushrooms and sauté until the edges become lightly browned
Season with a pinch of salt and pepper
To serve, spoon the risotto in a large serving bowl or onto individual plates
Garnish with the sautéed mushrooms and a few thyme sprigs

Summary for risotto:
Prep Time: 15-20 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes, approximately
Large wide pan, skillet, stock pan, cutting board and knife (food processor), measuring cups, ladle, spoon, serving utensils and dishes

Monday, March 8, 2010

La Comida de Espana

Hola! Just a quick post to highlight some of the delcious food we've been enjoying in Spain. The hubby is taking a siesta (too many churros...) so I decided to log on and share a few photos. We started our trip in Madrid and sampled many of the local specialities! On the recommendation of a friend from Madrid, we went to La Taberna de la Bola for a madrileno specialty - cocida. It's a slow cooked beef and chickpea stew.

Of course, we couldn't pass up churros with chocolate. They were fresh and hot, served with a thick, melty cup of hot chocolate.

We visited el Mercado de San Miguel a few times during our stay. We couldn't resist the aceitunas (olives) of all varieties - right next to a "queso & fromage" stand. The best were the pickled olives and mini-pickles.

And the last photo to share is the specialty of Toledo - mazapan (or, marzipan). As the hubby commented, the Spanish spelling and pronuciation is the way most Bostonians pronouce "marzipan"!

Many more photos and descriptions to follow. Hasta luego!


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