Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Food: Risotto & Gingerbread Cookies, The Savory and the Sweet

On cold wintery days like this there's nothing better than comforting food like a dish of Risotto.
Here's my recipe for two:
Dice 1/2 a small Onion, one stalk of Celery and 1/3 Green Pepper, add these to a large sauce pan with some Olive Oil and stir until softened, season with a generous pinch of Salt and some Black Pepper, then add a bit more Olive Oil and
3/4 cup Arborio Rice, it's available even in Taos, along with 1/2 ounce or more of dried Porcini mushrooms. Bollitos grow in the mountains around Taos if you've still got any left dried or frozen from the summer season otherwise use the dried Porcini. The idea is to coat all of the rice with oil, so stir this up a bit without burning with your stove top around medium high. Now a pinch of Rosemary and a little Sage, (you may also add some chile powder or other herbs you may prefer). Add about 1/3 cup of Chicken stock, or vegetable and stir until the liquid reduces, do not add too much liquid at any given time, slowly adding liquid keeps the Risotto creamy, which trust me on this, that's what you want. You can alternate using some White Wine of your choice and the broth, but the wine tends to be a bit acidic and will need to be counterbalanced with more butter at the end. Stirring should be fairly constant, along with adding more liquid, a can of broth is about 2 cups you'll need as much as 5 cups all told, depending on your heat. Taste the rice after 1/2 an hour hour, it should be getting bulkier, but still be a bit too al dente, it should be ready in 15-20 minutes more, around 45 minutes. Keep tasting, try not to overcook which will result in mushy rice instead of creamy, what's the difference you ask, hmmm...an hour is too long, 45-50 minutes tends to be about right. Add some Butter at the end not too much I'm not trying to send you to the hospital here about 1/4 of a stick, if you did use White Wine, you'll need half a stick, I know what I said, that's why I usually don't use the wine. You may also grate some Parmesan Cheese into the rice just before serving with some grated on top when you've put it into the bowl. Also a bit of Black Pepper on top is nice. if you need more salt let your dinner companion add their own. Sautee some fresh Brown or Shitake Mushrooms in a little Olive Oil, with Pepper, Salt, Rosemary and a drizzle of Balsamic Vinegar, which will sweeten and carmelize.
Yum! This can also be done with other main ingredients, Shrimp added at the last couple of minutes, instead of the Mushrooms. Or, a cup of cooked steamed or oven roasted Pumpkin or Pumpkin type Squash, added during stirring, Or, steamed or roasted Beets and their Greens. This can be a summer dish with Arugala/Rocket added into the serving bowl with the Risotto on top, maybe some left over Roast Chicken on top, too. Risotto, Stir It Up!
Gingerbread Cookies with simple icing
Use a large bowl
Melt 3/4 Cup Butter add 1 Cup Mollasses
1/4 Cup Brown Sugar, 1/8 Cup White Sugar
2 Eggs Beaten, 1 1/2 Tsp Ginger, 1/2 Tsp Nutmeg, 3/4 Tsp Cinammon
all of this into the bowl once the butter has cooled down,
do not mix the hot butter into the eggs.
4 Tsp Baking Powder, 4 1/2 Cups Flour
Mix this all together add the Flour a bit at a time, this will come together as a big golden mass of cookie dough, DO NOT EAT ALL THE COOKIE DOUGH! (yes, you may sample it)
Roll the dough out to less than 1/4 inch thickness and cut out with your favorite cookie cutters.
You'll be making a lot of cookies about 5 cookie sheets full of cookies, WOW that's a lot of cookies even for me. Bake them at about 350 depending on your oven, mine requires about 325
Bake in the top part of the oven, and check them after 7-8 minutes, it may take 10 minutes baking total, I prefer them soft, if your preference is for a hard cookie roll out the dough thinner, either way is delicious as you can tell from nibbling that dough earlier.
After the cookies have cooled, never frost anything while it's still warm or you'll find that the frosting melts into the cookie or cake. Frosting is simple: Powdered Sugar, with a bit of Food Color, and a bit of water, if you add Meringue Powder to this the frosting will harden quite nicely, you do not need to beat this frosting into submission just mix it until it looks like it has all come together not too watery. If you've made too much frosting do not start eating it or you'll have a tummy ache all night, but you may now EAT THE COOKIES, remember to share.

This recipe was given to me by a friend back in Boston, after a Christmas party at their house where I could not stop eating these delicious the BEST I EVER ATE GINGERBREAD COOKIES,
you're welcome, eat and enjoy, R

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