All posts filed under: Sides

Shiitake Mushroom Risotto with Thyme, Saffron, and Parmesan

Risotto is one of the ultimate comfort foods.  When made right, it’s creamy and belly-warming.  I tend to like my risotto packed with a lot of vegetables–mushrooms being the classic companion.  Here is my take using shiitakes only, but 2 ways: fresh and dried. I soak the dried shiitakes in HOT water for about 45-60 minutes before adding. Start by sauteeing a chopped medium size onion in butter and olive oil until transcluscent.  Add in the sliced mushrooms until cooked down by about half.  Make sure you add salt & white pepper as you cook the risotto–you want those flavors to penetrate the mix as you go.  Once cooked down, add the rice.  Stir well. Once the rice and ‘shrooms saute for a few minutes, add the thyme and saffron threads.  Start adding the chicken stock in 1/2 cup increments, stirring constantly.  After the first 1/2 cup of chicken stock, add the strained mushroom liquid and wine.  Keep adding chicken stock until the rice is tender and the consistency is creamy.   Add 1/2 cup grated …

Butternut Squash Agnolotti with Pancetta, Toasted Breadcrumbs, Parmesan, and Beurre Monte, Part Three: Sauce and Serving

Ahh… the finish line.  The first bite.  Experiencing the combination of textures and tastes: smooth & crunchy; sweet & salty.  Everything in one bite.  Total bliss.  Total joy in knowing that it all turned out–rejoice in your accomplishment!  Now, the final step in making butternut squash agnolotti. After making the fresh pasta, the filling, and composing the finished agnolotti, it’s time to bring it all together by making the sauce and plating.  This part probably takes only 20 minutes–so make sure you save this to just before serving.  Fill a pot with well salted water; cover and bring to a boil.  Meanwhile, start dicing the pancetta, thinly slicing scallions or chives, and chopping garlic into big chunks. Add the pancetta and garlic chunks to a COLD large pan.  Place over medium-low heat.  Once the pancetta and garlic are browned, discard the garlic.  Add the pancetta and pancetta fat to a ramekin and set aside.  Lower the pan heat to low. When the water comes to a boil, drop the fresh (or frozen) agnolotti into the …

Butternut Squash Agnolotti with Pancetta, Toasted Breadcrumbs, Parmesan, and Beurre Monte, Part Two: Filling & Stuffing

This post serves as part two of three posts on how to make Butternut Squash Agnolotti with Pancetta, Toasted Breadcrumbs, Parmesan, and Beurre Monte.  To make the filling for the agnolotti, start by baking one butternut squash.  If you find one already cubed, awesome–that will work just fine.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt and white pepper.  Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of light brown sugar.  Bake until the squash is tender and you can easily pierce with a fork.  Cool at room temperature. Once cooled, add the butternut squash flesh (no skin!) to a food processor.  Blend until smooth.  Add the ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, and maple syrup (the real stuff, please.)  The result with be super smooth and creamy with a bright orange color. To fill the agnolotti, fill a pastry bag with the butternut squash/cheese mixture.  Or you can fill a large (gallon-size) Ziploc bag.  Roll down the sides to ease the process.  Twist the bag above the filling to fill the bottom of the bag–snip off the corner of …

Braised Chicken with Mushrooms, Pancetta, and Almonds with Haricots Verts

I love Anne Burrell.  If I had to pick one Food Network chef I’d like to meet it would be her.  I’ve learned the most from watching her.  Some tips I’ve picked up: 1.  How to use salt during the cooking process and not as an afterthought. 2.  That black pepper’s taste doesn’t go with everything as salt does.  Think about substituting white pepper or red pepper flakes. 3.  That brown(ed) food tastes good. This recipe makes use of all of these tips.  The result is something so rich, so tender, so perfectly-seasoned.  I found myself grabbing a spoon just to take full advantage of the sauce that still lingered on my plate after devouring every bit. To get started, I added 8 skin-on chicken thighs (seasoned with salt and black pepper) to a hot dutch oven, bottom coated with a pre-heated layer of olive oil, over medium-high heat.  Anne gives a another great tip here… The thighs become easier to flip over after they’ve browned adequately–the pan “releases” them from the bottom.  If you …

Charred Corn Polenta with Gorgonzola

Fresh corn on the cob is one of my favorite treats from Summer’s bounty.  As a kid, we always ate it with little cob holders on the side, corn dripping with butter and salt.  Over the years, I’ve discovered other ways of cooking it.  One of my easiest and most nutritious methods is simply shucking the corn and removing any remaining silk, wrapping the ears in plastic wrap, and microwaving on high for 2-3 minutes.  You simply remove the plastic wrap (once cooled a bit) and bite away.  If the corn is sweet enough, I find it doesn’t even need butter and salt.  But I also like to grill corn, in the shuck and out of it.  The latest batch I decided to grill, and unfortunately, I was disappointed with the result.  The corn wasn’t sweet at all.  Instead of just coating the sad kernels with butter, I wanted to try something different.  I love polenta–and I knew that fresh corn always makes a great addition to corn bread.  So I thought, I’ll mix the …

Escarole Salad, Walnuts, Red Onion, Pecorino

Escarole is most commonly eaten cooked.  After first having it raw and cold in a salad at Otto a few years ago, I knew I had discovered another wonderfully crunchy, hearty, and crisp salad green–similar to romaine, but with more umph and bitterness.  At Otto, Mario Batali’s kitchen prepared it simply with a lemon & olive oil dressing, Marcona almond halves, curls of parmesan, and peeled Jerusalem artichokes, raw, and sliced thin.  Since Otto, I also discoverd an escarole salad at Centro Vinoteca (which is now off the menu) that Anne Burrell prepared with pickled red onions.  She generously shared that recipe on the Food Network, and I chronicled that recipe here. I purchased a gorgeous head of escarole at the farmers market over the weekend and wanted to try a different salad recipe.  I recently picked up a copy of the Frankies Spuntino Kitchen Companion & Cooking Manual, after falling in love with their Caesar Salad recipe, which I also chronicled here.  When browsing through the salad section of the book, I found this …

Baby eggplant, mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, roasted garlic

Eggplant parmesan is my go-to staple at any neighborhood Italian restaurant, and I’m never disappointed.  Covered with oozing cheese and sauce, fried eggplant is down-right delicious.  (Of course, what wouldn’t be covered with cheese and sauce?)  I’m also a fan of eggplant rolatini, which is usually long slices of eggplant, rolled around herb-seasoned ricotta cheese, and topped with sauce and cheese.  Served in a gratin dish with bread for dipping, this is a fabulous appetizer. On a recent visit to CostCo, I spied these adorable baby eggplants.  I snatched them up and a ball of fresh mozzarella and created this home-version of eggplant parmesan.  My cherry tomato plant has been producing like mad, so I decided to make a quick “baked” tomato sauce with them–plus some garlic for extra flavor.  The result was absolutely wonderful. First, I sliced the baby eggplants lengthwise, then sprinkled both sides of the slices with salt to release some of the moisture.  I got 5 slices per eggplant.  I let them sit on a parchment lined baking sheet for about …