Sunday, February 16, 2014

Champagne Risotto

Happy three day weekend to all my lovely readers! I'm so happy that today is still my Saturday since I don't have to go to work tomorrow! I had a productive morning, running a 10 mile relay race with two girlfriends in Prospect Park. I definitely wasn't prepared for the cold - 20s with wind - I thought my toes were going to fall off! I was happy to have a delicious post race lunch - pulled pork sandwich, fries and a beer to wash it down.

I hope you all had a great Valentine's Day as well! Matt and I cooked dinner at home and watched Rush, which was a really good movie. I would definitely recommend checking it out! Our dinner menu was comprised of bruschetta, champagne risotto and chocolate cake, with a lemon raspberry champagne cocktail to finish off the night.

The champagne risotto was definitely the star of the evening. After blanching the asparagus in the chicken broth and cooking down the shallot, the time intensive (but completely worth it!) creation of this dish could really begin. I was glad to have some extra chicken broth since I ended up needing more than three cups to cook the rice enough without being too chewy.

The absolute best part of this dish had to be the crispy prosciutto. I've had prosciutto on its own, or with figs, but never cooked to a crisp. The crunch, the smoky bacon flavor...I could go on forever. I'm going to have to find ways to incorporate this into other dishes, or maybe I'll start sprinkling it on top of all pasta dishes. I think that's the right way to go!

Matt approves!
The risotto turned out wonderfully. The dish was creamy and pepper-y, with a crunch and freshness from the asparagus and smoky crunch from the prosciutto. If you're willing to put in the time for this dish, you'll be so happy with the outcome!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Poached Pear Olive Oil Cake

You're all going to fall in the love with this beautiful, easy to make poached pear olive oil cake. I loved the cake so much that I made it twice within a few weeks! I may be hiding the reason why I made it twice since that's usually not my style. Here's the real story:

I was writing a blog post so I had to upload pics from my memory card onto my laptop. After I had finished my post, a few hours passed and I decided I wanted to bake something. I had already bought the pears for this recipe so I got to work. I was taking some great pictures of the cake before and after it went into the oven, really loving my shots. I was so excited to blog about this recipe! Well, maybe an hour or so later, it all of a sudden hits me that I never put my memory card back into my camera. All of those lovely pictures never even existed. I definitely went to bed angry that night.

So here we are, with cake number two. This cake could not be easier to make. The pears are cooked in sugar water for about five minutes to soften them up and add a little extra sweetness. The cake batter was quick to whip up in my food processor. Just like that, I'm ready to put everything together and stick this bad boy in the oven.

The big lesson I learned from the first time I made this was not to overfill the loaf pan. I had too much batter and filled it almost to the top, which led to a lot of burning batter on the bottom of my oven. The second time around, I used the extra batter to make individual cakes in my muffin pan...yum! This cake is really tasty on its own, a refreshing lemon flavor coming out from the lemon juice and zest added to the batter.

This one turned out much better looking than the first since I had some trouble getting it out of the loaf pan before. The cake just looks so beautiful once you cut into it. Each piece has a cross-sectional slice of pear and this moist, citrus-y olive oil cake that perfectly compliments the mild sweetness of the pear. I highly recommend you try this cake right won't be disappointed!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Wingin' It for the Super Bowl!

I'm definitely not a football fan, but I always enjoy watching the Super Bowl for the commercials and the food! It's not the Super Bowl without a few batches of wings and a cold beer to wash them down. I decided to make two types of wings since Matt is a traditional buffalo wing eater, while I like the gooey varieties.

Since we don't have a grill, I went for the oven baked route. I found two yummy recipes, one for buffalo wings and one for sweet and spicy ginger wings. I've never cooked with ginger beer before (yay, another new ingredient!), but these sound really tasty with both the ginger beer and fresh ginger.  I left the wings marinade for about an hour before cooking both sets of wings together in the oven.

The buffalo wing glaze was very traditional, Frank's Red Hot hot sauce mixed with some butter, before dunking the wings into the mixture. They had a nice level of heat for me, but Matt could have used more heat. We were wary of the Franks' Xtra Hot variety, but this may have been more up Matt's alley.

The glaze for the ginger wings turned out really great. The combination of ginger beer, ginger, soy, honey and a split habanero pepper produced a glaze with a nice balance of sweet, salty and a nice level of heat. Next time, I would cook the glaze down more so it really coated the wings and made them nice and sticky. What wings did you make for the biggest game of the year?