Love in a bowl – Serrano Parmesano Risotto

Serrano - Parmesano Risotto with avocado

Remember that time when you ate risotto for lunch and dinner and next day lunch? No? You’ve never done such a piggy-like thing before? Hmm. Weird. Maybe that’s because you haven’t made risotto with a nice and old, freshly grated Parmesan cheese, jamon serrano, tons of butter, and avocado. This kind is the second best risotto I’ve ever tried (it was here), the first one being a Black risotto with calamari, which you can enjoy right here in Mexico City, but which I’m not adventurous enough to try and make myself yet. (How do you go about using squid ink? Where do you even buy it?) For this recipe though, I did feel bold enough to try it with a recipe I made up myself, using good ingredients as the secret for good results. I chose jamon serrano, which one could say is the spanish version of prosciutto, but which tastes quite different. And then I did something (if you’re squeamish/vegan/a health nut , I would suggest you stop reading) quite naughty; I toasted the rice in those white slices of fat. I know. I’m terrible. But you can really justify it to other people once you present them with a hot bowl and a spoon. They won’t be complaining once they the get tiny bits of golden, delicious, cheese covered goodness. Read more for the recipe!

Grated parmesan cheese Continue reading

Baking frenzy Part 1 – Cinnamon pull-apart bread

Last week I had a baking frenzy – not out of sheer boredom, of course (because I’m never bored…..yeah right) but because we were throwing a bachelorette weekend party for a friend who for certain health reasons, can’t drink, and consequently couldn’t spend her weekend time jumping around like a monkey on steroids as drunken 20-something girls do on bachelorette parties. Hence, with the options of drinking, jumping around, or any other form of physical exertion out the window, we were left with only one activity left; eating. Not that any of us were complaining. You try sticking 12 girls, most of them single, in a house with sun, a pool, and great food for a whole weekend and you’ll see for yourself that no one will be missing the booze. (You might, though, need a pair of earmuffs. Girls are LOUD. Specially when stuck together in large groups without boys.) Anyway, since I’m the cook-baker of the group, it was my task to provide all the pastries for the brunch, dinner and teatime. I baked everything on friday, because I wanted it as fresh as possible for saturday, and that is the reason of my baking frenzy; I spent the whole day in the kitchen. Tiring, but happy! Part 1, is Joy the baker’s recipe for cinnamon sugar pull-apart bread, which I must confess, is every bit as good as described in her post. Mine turned out to be rather uncooked in the middle (because my oven does seem to be permanently on steroids) but that turned out to be a good thing; everyone wanted more of the “sneaky cinnamon dough”.  Part 2 and 3, which will be coming soon, are banana nutella muffins and blueberry scones. Pictures here, and you can find the recipe at Joy’s really cool site.

Cinnamon dough rolled out

Cinnamon bread squares

A truly delicious bread. I only added a bit more cinnamon, and next time I’ll be cooking it in a slightly less hot oven, but you absolutely can’t stop eating it.

 

Cashew Brittle – Vanilla ice cream

Cashew Caramel - Vanilla Ice cream

So lately I’ve had floating around my head gazillions of ideas for ice cream (probably because I stuck my ice cream maker in the freezer about 9 days ago and hadn’t yet brought myself to the actual task of putting something in it.) Amongst those ideas have been a mamey one, which is probably coming next, a strawberry crumble one, a nutella-banana one, and a rosemary one. But, even though I rarely repeat recipes, I thought I’d start this ice-cream frenzy my mind is on with something tried and true – and oh so very true! I made this recipe before for a friend who’s crazy about nuts (heh, crazy about nuts -insert childish giggle-) in any form, but particularly mixed with anything sweet, namely caramel. The cashews in this ice cream are slightly salted, roasted, and then turned into brittle, all by a very simple process. They are then incorporated into an adaptation of The perfect scoop’s vanilla ice cream recipe. I made extra brittle for serving, and also just because it’s delicious by itself, you can serve it with tea or just munch on it while you blog about it give it to said friend as an extra present. Keep reading for the recipe.

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Pine nut and dulce de leche cookies

Pine nut - dulce de leche cookies

“A poem begins with a lump in the throat” – so said Robert Frost. And while these cookies are far from being a poem, they also began with a similar lump in the throat. Things have not improved that much since my last rabbit post, hence the lack of recipes. But yesterday, after a day of doing pretty much nothing and pleading guilty to myself of intense wallowing, I decided, with the lump in my throat, that it was time to pay my kitchen a much needed visit. And as I could not muster enough energy to chop chocolate or did not feel adventurous enough to bake a cake, I made up a quick-cookie recipe. Now, these are made with pine nut dulce de leche, (or cajeta, as we call it in mexico) but you could use any dulce de leche you can find, and add the pine nuts, previously roasted. Pine nuts have always been, in my opinion, funny tasting. But these cookies, while different from  any others that I’ve tried, proved to be a success with both my mom and my friends.

Here follows the recipe:

Pine nut and dulce de leche cookies
(Own recipe)
Makes aprox. 24 cookies.

1 cup butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
Pinch of salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 egg
1 1/2 cups  flour
3 tbsp dulce de leche
2 tbsp roasted pine nuts

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Lightly flour two baking sheets.

In a bowl, mix the flour, salt, and baking soda. Separately, using the whisk attachment of your mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the egg. Slowly incorporate the flour mixture. When fully mixed, using a spatula, mix in the dulce de leche and pine nuts, not mixing entirely but leaving it in swirls. Drop by spoonfuls on your cookie sheets and bake until golden brown, about 12 minutes.

These are really good served with vanilla ice cream.

Pine nut cookies before baking

 

Lentil and mushroom soup

So today started as pretty rough day, even though the first thing I saw when I opened my eyes was raindrops, the wet bark on the trees outside my window, and a lot of birds. (My favorite sight to wake up to). I slept virtually nothing and had an appointment with my acupuncturist, aka my torturer. Anyhow,  after muscle therapy, a nerve block, needles and laser therapy, I left nauseous, dizzy and barely able to stand up, with an apple in my hand kindly provided by one of the assistants. Once back home, I crashed on the floor in my room and dozed for about two hours, and then came back to consciousness with one thought in my mind; I need a pick me up. And so, seeing the pouring rain outside my window, got a strike of inspiration, and a chance at feeling better.  This soup, due to the lack of vegetables in my fridge, has an onion base with a lot of broth, but its compensated by the delicious buttery and milky mushrooms  you’ll add at the end. The result is very light, creamy, delicious smelling lentil goodness.

Lentil and mushroom soup
(Own recipe)

4 tbsp. olive oil

3 scallions, chopped (save a few stems)

1 1/2 red onions, chopped

2 shallots, chopped

2 tomatoes, chopped

2 cups lentils

12 cups hot chicken broth (If you’ve got stock, go for it)

2 tbsp. butter

2 cups diced mushrooms

1/2 cup milk

Fresh thyme

Fresh oregano leaves

Heavy cream for serving

salt and pepper to taste

Directions
Heat the olive oil in a large and deep saucepan. Add the chopped scallions and red onions, along with the whole stems from the scallions (you’ll be taking these out later). Cook over med-low for about 5 minutes, until the onions are soft and see through. Add the shallot and cook for another three minutes, stirring to keep them from burning. Add the tomatoes, stir and add the broth. Bring to a full boil and then reduce the heat to med-low. Let cook for 10 minutes, remove the scallion stems, and using the blender, puree all the solids. Return to the saucepan and once its boiling again, add the lentils. Reduce the heat to simmer, cover, and cook for about 35 minutes, until the lentils become soft.
Meanwhile, in a separate frying pan, heat the butter until it begins to bubble. Add the mushrooms (make sure they are dry if you washed them) and thyme. Cook until browned and the butter smells like heaven. Add the half cup of milk, and stir until you get a first boil. Remove from heat and set aside, or if your lentils are ready, incorporate. Turn off heat. Serve with a spoonful of heavy cream and a pair of oregano leaves.