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Posts Tagged ‘mushroom’

Sadly, my camera has been idly uncharged for quite a few months now. However, my new Blackberry is equipped with a WordPress application and a flash camera that will hopefully help me chronicle more of my food adventures.

One of my co-workers recently went on a low-carb diet, omitting heavy starches and sticking to whole grains. Eh.. That is way too extreme for me because I depend on starch to maintain daily sanity. I could never give up potatoes, a fresh baguette, pasta or white rice. You might be expecting a post depicting some food ideas for someone pursuing the same feat as my co-worker. Sorry, wrong. Instead, I would like to celebrate my love for starchy goodness.

I have grown up eating rice with pretty much everything. However, when it comes to dishes over rice, I’ve never really explored outside of my comfort zone. Lately, I have become a big.. HUGE fan of arborio rice. I had the sudden urge one day to make risotto because I hear it is one of those dishes that can easily go wrong. But, I bought a jar of arborio rice and went for it. On the back of the label, the brand (RiceSelect) even included a simple “cooking arborio rice” recipe. If you can believe it, you only need 5 ingredients that are most likely already stocked in your kitchen.

I feel like they should just tell you the key to arborio rice ahead of time: stirring. And you’ll see why. Here’s the recipe that RiceSelect offers:

Cooking Arborio Rice

INGREDIENTS

1 cup uncooked rice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth, salt and pepper optional

DIRECTIONS

1. Saute onion in oil and butter for 3 minutes
2. Add rice, stirring for about 2 minutes
3. Stir in 1 cup of broth. Continue cooking and stirring until liquid is absorbed.
4. Gradually stir in remaining broth 1 cup at a time, cooking and stirring until liquid is absorbed before adding the next cup.

Yields approximately 3 cups cooked rice.

Just like any rice you will make the rice soaked up the liquid you cook it in. That’s why, a little bit of arborio rice will go a long way. It will soak up the 3 cups of broth you use and fluff up into 3 cups of flavorful, decadent starch.

For my first risotto meal, I made zucchini risotto with brown-buttered chicken tenders. I followed the instructions on how to cook the arborio rice, except I also tossed in a whole zucchini (thickly sliced and quartered) about a minute after adding the rice. By the time the rice was fully cooked and ready to serve, the zucchini was also very tender.

A day later, in my risotto frenzy, I put another dish together: mushroom risotto with lemon peppered salmon. Mushrooms can be a bit tricky.. Mushrooms retain water, so when you heat them up, they will not only shrink but expel a great deal of liquid as well. I questioned whether or not I should satuee the mushrooms first, drain, and add them at the very end. However, I decided that by doing so, my mushroom risotto might not be as mushroomy as I would like it to be. I added the mushrooms in the same time I added the zucchini previously– about a minute after adding the rice. From there, “cooking arborio rice” became more of a guessing game. I added lots of somewhat thickly sliced mushrooms (knowing that they would cook down a lot before serving). The “mushroom liquid” adds extra moisture; thus, I accounted for this while adding the portions of broth. I ended up using just enough broth that will cook down and also fully cook the rice. With the mushroom risotto, I prepared a lemon peppered salmon.

To reiterate once more, keep stirring. If your arm gets tired, try switching off between the two. At least by the time you eat, you know you’ve squeezed in a light workout. Always keep an eye on your rice, which shouldn’t be hard since you will be standing there stirring the whole time. But after you add the final cup of broth and the risotto is really coming together, pay extra attention to the doneness. You do not want mushy risotto! If you aren’t sure, find yourself a small spoon and take a taste. And finally, make sure you plan your meal accordingly. Risotto is to be served piping hot hot hot. So, if you don’t have a sous chef in the kitchen to help out, prepare your meat/fish/vegetables ahead of time before you begin cooking the rice. Keep in mind that you want everything to be finished at about the same time! Otherwise you will be waiting on something and that will be no bueno.

Wishing you the best on your risotto adventures. Long live starch!

nom nom nom,

B

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I hate to see my blog steering solely towards baked goods and sweets. The truth is, savory food really hits the spot for me. However, unlike the meals I used to prepare with my friends in college, I am hoping to do more than just cook a 30-minute meal. I know how to grill. I know how to throw together a hearty meat lasagna. I know all the shortcuts. But now, I’m trying to avoid them all. I want to explore my abilities in the kitchen and bring something new to the table.. literally.

Luckily I have an open palette to match my open mind, so there is nothing holding me back. A serious foodie never discriminates against food! And with that said, part of my mission is to also honor dishes of various styles, backgrounds, and cultures on this journey.

This morning, I came across a half moon press in our baking drawer– 3 half moon presses, actually (small, medium, and large). My mom bought them many many years ago, probably thinking we could use them to make pastries.. even though she doesn’t bake. She really loves kitchen knickknacks. (Guilty. I get that from my mama.) But what’s the point in owning appliances and gadgets that aren’t being used? Big pet peeve. Hence my sudden urge to break in the ice cream maker and popcorn maker within the past couple of months.

It took me about 20 seconds to think to myself: Empanadas! The half moon press is perfect for empanadas! And I saved myself a trip to the grocery store, because I had all the ingredients for the dough. As for the filling, I quickly played around with a few ideas in my head as I scanned the kitchen. I wasn’t worried.

Empanada Dough

INGREDIENTS

2-1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter (1 stick), cut into 1/2-in cubes
1 large egg
1/3 cup ice water
1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar

DIRECTIONS:

1. Sift flour with salt into a large bowl and blend in butter with your fingertips or a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal with some (roughly pea-size) butter lumps.

2. Beat together egg, water, and vinegar in a small bowl with a fork. Add to flour mixture, stirring with a fork until just incorporated. (Mixture will look shaggy.)

3. Turn out mixture onto a lightly floured surface and gather together, then knead gently with heel of your hand once or twice, just enough to bring the dough together. Form dough into a flat rectangle and chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, at least 1 hour.

*Recipe courtesy of Epicurious.

The empanada dough is comparable to a flaky Pâte Brisée (tart or pie dough). Same basic ingredients, same procedure. The addition of the egg, which differs from a Pâte Brisée, acts as a binding force for empanadas. When rolling out the dough, you will see that it has a semi-elastic quality that a Pâte Brisée does not. Thus, when baked, the empanada will be able to hold its shape (and the filling) and won’t immediately crumble apart when broken into to eat! The final empanada will have a bite to it.. a slightly tender chew.. with a flaky exterior.

Once you place the dough into the refrigerator, keep time in mind; you have an hour to spare. It’s better to let the dough chill in the refrigerator for a little bit longer (if the filling isn’t quite done) than have the filling be ready before the 1-hour chill time is up. It only took me about 30 minutes to make my filling, including prep time.

This is my original recipe for the filling I created:

Sausage, Spinach, and Mushroom Empanada Filling

INGREDIENTS

1 package of frozen sausage links (I used Hot Italian because I like the spicy flavor), defrosted
1 medium onion, sliced (cut in half vertically, then cut in slices end to end)
2 cups white mushrooms, sliced
1 cup uncooked spinach, washed and dried
3 tablespoons sour cream

DIRECTIONS

1. Cut a slit in each sausage link with a knife and remove meat from the casing.

2. Place sausage meat, onions, and mushrooms into a heated and lightly oiled pan. Cook on medium to medium high heat. Stir occasionally and break up large chunks of sausage to ensure thorough cooking.

3. When the meat has just about reached its doneness, stir in spinach. Let the spinach wilt down. Then add sour cream, stirring until incorporated. Turn the heat down to medium low and keep it on the stove for about 3 more minutes.

4. Take the pan off the stove. Let the filling cool down before placing it onto the empanada dough.


After you add the sour cream and let it all heat up a little longer, the filling really came together. The sour cream thickened the juices from the ingredients. By allowing the filling to cool down, the juices dissipate and get soaked up by the whole mixture.

So, let’s see how it’s all put together..

I removed my chilled dough from the refrigerator. Lightly flour the board and rolling pin.. keep some  flour around for additional use but avoid over-flouring. Roll out the dough to an approximate 1/8″ thickness. It should be rolled out fairly thin, but NOT paper thin. I just know I don’t want them to end up too doughy. I hate that.

For the next part, my medium half moon press comes into play. But, remember, if you don’t have a half moon press, don’t be intimidated. You can use the same procedure. Instead, cut your dough into circles (for a half moon shape) or rectangles (for a square shape) and pinch to close with your fingers or the back of a fork.

I was able to use the back of my press to cut out the circle shape into my dough. I rolled and cut, re-rolled and cut.. until all the dough was used up, placing all my circles onto a plate. I prepared an egg wash (one beaten egg) in a small bowl.

I placed the dough on the inside of my press, added the filling into the center with a little bit of shredded cheese (although the empanada surely doesn’t need it).

With a small dabble of egg wash, I brushed along the edge of the dough. This acts as the glue.. keeping it sealed up.

Then, all I had to do was press the two handles together. Tip: If the dough circles feel sticky, lightly flour one side (the side laying directly on the press) with your fingertips. Do so as needed.

Once all the empanadas were pressed. I place them onto a cookie sheet. Brushed each with the egg wash. Fit as many empanadas onto the sheet as you can without crowding.

I put the sheet into a preheated 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes, checking them out periodically and rotating the sheet halfway through. I knew they were done when they turned a golden brown color.

And there you have it.. Empanadas! Or shall I say MmmPanadas.

nom nom nom.

B

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