Spring Risotto – Spring has Sprung!

Spring Risotto

Spring has sprung–and boy do I have a plateful of deliciousness that screams of spring flavors.

Creamy, cheesy risotto with leeks, peas and asparagus. The whole plate is then showered with parmesan and bright lemon zest.

Mega drools….

Spring Risotto

You could really throw whatever fresh veggies that your local market or farmers’ stands may have available. Zucchinis, mushrooms, chard and spinach would be rad options. As for cooking liquids, I opted to use some white wine and chicken stock in the risotto but if you want to go with a purely vegetarian route, a well flavored vegetable stock would also work well.

Spring Risotto

Have a delectable weekend, Folks!

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Spring Risotto
Serves approximately 4

Ingredients:
4 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 cup chopped leeks, thoroughly washed and dried
1 tablespoon minced garlic
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 cup Arborio rice
½ cup dry white wine
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, more to garnish
1 cup peas
1 cup blanched asparagus tips
kosher salt
black pepper
fresh lemon zest

Heat the chicken stock in a medum saucepan and keep warm over low heat.

Heat the olive oil and butter in a pot over medium heat. Add the leeks and sauté until softened and translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, thyme leaves, rice and stir quickly until the rice is well coated and opaque—about 1 minute.  Stir in the wine and cook until the liquid is nearly all evaporated.

Ladle in 1 cup of the chicken broth into the rice. Simmer and slowly stir until the rice has absorbed the liquid. Add the remaining broth, 1 cup at a time. Continue to simmer and stir, allowing the rice to absorb each addition of broth before adding more. The risotto should be slightly firm and creamy–approximately 25 minutes in total.

Stir in Parmesan cheese until the cheese has melted. Gently fold in the peas and asparagus tips. Check for seasonings and adjust with the kosher salt and pepper.

Spoon the risotto into dishes. Grate additional parmesan cheese on top and sprinkle fresh lemon zest over each dish. Serve immediately.

 

Crispy Arancini stuffed with Mozzarella

Crispy Arancini stuffed with Mozzarella

Let me tell ya….

I’ve learned two things since we’ve started our Sunday Family Dinners.

Crispy Arancini stuffed with Mozzarella

First is that my family is obsessed with food. So obsessed that while we’re gorging on a deliciously bountiful Sunday Family Dinner, we already begin planning what’s on the menu for next month! We’ve got issues!

And second—we always, ALWAYS make too much food. It’s pretty ridiculous.

Crispy Arancini stuffed with Mozzarella

At our last European themed dinner, my family fixed up Chicken Marsala with Angel Hair Pasta, Beef Wellington with Green Peppercorn Sauce, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Antipasti of Grilled Vegetables, Crispy Arancini, and Chocolate Mousse in Phyllo Cups. A little overboard, eh?

But we’ve also grown up with the mentality that it’s always better to have more food than less food. After all, leftovers are delicious!

Crispy Arancini stuffed with Mozzarella

I jumped on the chance to make Beef Wellington for the fam bam. Unfortunately after all the time and effort (and stress!), it was just “meh”. Oh well, chalk it up to experience…..

Thank goodness my saving grace were the Arancini I made to snack on while we were fixing up dinner. These Arancini were made of mushroom risotto balls that were stuffed with mozzarella cheese and then breaded with Panko. I fried these beauties until golden brown and then made some marinara to dunk them in. They came out wonderfully crisp on the outside and rich and creamy on the inside. Delizioso!

I can hardly wait for our next Sunday Family Dinner coming up this weekend. It’s EXTRA special because all the Nguyen Siblings and their families will be attendance—gathered together from New York, San Francisco, San Diego, and Orange County. There’s no doubt it will be delish but more importantly, it will be filled with tons of love and laughter!

And as the cherry on top–our theme will be honoring the flavors of New Orleans! *drools*

Until next time!

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Crispy Arancini stuffed with Mozzarella
Makes approximately 30-36 balls

Ingredients:

3 cups cooked Risotto, chilled
3 dozen ¼-inch pieces of mozzarella cheese
1 cup flour, seasoned with black pepper and kosher salt
3 large eggs, beaten
2 cups panko bread crumbs
vegetable oil
Marinara Sauce
Italian Parsley for garnish

Using a spoon or small ice cream scooper, spoon out 1 tablespoon of chilled risotto. Gently flatten out the risotto and use your index finger to press an indentation in the middle. Place one piece of the mozzarella cheese in the center and fold over the sides to cover. Use both hands to roll and evenly shape into a ball. Place the arancini on a wax paper lined plate and repeat until they have all been formed. Transfer the plate to the refrigerator and chill for 20-25 minutes.

While the arancini chills, take 3 shallow dishes and place the flour, eggs, and Panko bread crumbs into each. Fill a heavy bottomed pot with about 3 inches of vegetable oil and heat to 375 degrees F.

Working in batches, dredge a few of the arancini in the flour, then the eggs, and finally the Panko breadcrumbs to coat. Gently shake off the excess between each step. Place the prepared arancini on a cookie sheet that has been covered with cooking spray.

In batches, fry the arancini in the heated oil for 4-5 minutes or until golden browned. Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels. Transfer to a platter and garnish with parsley. Serve immediately with warmed marinara sauce.

Grilled Shrimp Risotto

Shrimp Risotto

 

Summers in San Diego are pretty awesome.

They’re filled with gorgeous sunshine, lazy days lounging at the beach, deliciously fresh produce, and warm afternoons sipping on chilled white wine. Perfection.

To pair with a lovely Chenin Blanc I had chilling in the fridge, I decided to make a tummy satisfying Grilled Shrimp Risotto. The wonderful light “crunch” texture from the shrimp balances so well with the creamy risotto. And although you may think otherwise, it’s surprisingly light making it a perfect summer time dish.

Leave it to me to decide on what dish to make based upon what adult beverage I’m drinking. :)

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Grilled Shrimp Risotto
Serves 3-4

Ingredients:
1 Pound Large Shrimp, cleaned and peeled
1 Teaspoon Lemon Zest
¼ Teaspoon Red Chili Flake
4 Cups Shrimp Stock*
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil, divided
½ Cup White Onion, diced
2 Tablespoons Garlic, finely minced, divided
1 Teaspoon Fresh Thyme Leaves
2 Tablespoon Fresh Italian Parsley, chopped
1 Cup Arborio Rice
½ Cup White Wine
¼ Cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large bowl, mix together 1 tablespoon olive oil, chili flakes, lemon zest, 1 tablespoon garlic, thyme and shrimp. Season with salt and pepper and allow to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes. Heat a grill pan to medium high and cover lightly with cooking spray. Grill shrimp until they turn pick about 1-2 minutes on each side. Remove from pan and tent with a piece of foil.

Meanwhile, heat the shrimp stock in a medium saucepan and keep warm over low heat.

Heat the remaining olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and remaining garlic to the skillet. Cook until items are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the rice and stir quickly until it is well-coated and opaque.  Stir in wine and cook until the liquid is nearly all evaporated.

Ladle in 1 cup of the broth into the rice. Simmer and slowly stir until the rice has absorbed the liquid. Add the remaining broth, 1 cup at a time. Continue to simmer and stir, allowing the rice to absorb each addition of broth before adding more. The risotto should be slightly firm and creamy–approximately 20 minutes in total.

Gently fold the grilled shrimp into the risotto. Stir in Parmesan cheese and cook briefly until the cheese has melted. Check for seasonings and adjust with salt and pepper if needed. Spoon risotto into dishes and top with chopped parsley before serving.

*The Shrimp Stock is a key component in layering the shrimp flavor throughout the entire dish. It can be made by simmering 2½ quarts of water with shrimp shells, 1 onion roughly chopped, 2 carrots roughly chopped, 2 cups celery roughly chopped, 1 teaspoon black peppercorns, 2 bay leaves, and a generous amount of sea salt. Simmer for 30 minutes, strain and use accordingly.

Mushroom Risotto

Mushroom Risotto

 

Over the years, I have grown a deep adoration for risotto. Creamy, rich and perfect as a side dish or entrée. The slow cooking and continual stirring of the rice assists in developing the starch—which helps in the wonderful “unctuousness” of the dish. Pair that with my love for mushrooms and BADA-BING-BADA-BOOM—-you’ve got a happy tummy!

Earthy, rich, savory, and satisfying. All that’s missing is a nice glass of Sauvignon Blanc—and as luck would have it, I just happened to have an open bottle of it since the recipe called for white wine.

Now if that’s not “divine kitchen intervention”, I don’t know what is. :)

Cheers, Friends!

 

Mushroom Risotto

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Mushroom Risotto
Adapted from Tyler Florence
Serves 2-3

Ingredients:

4 Cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil, divided
½ Cup White Onion, diced, divided
2 Garlic Cloves, minced, divided
½ Pound Fresh Sliced Mushrooms (crimini, portobello, trumpet, oyster, etc.)
1 Bay Leaf
1 Tablespoon Fresh Thyme Leaves
2 Tablespoon Fresh Italian Parsley, chopped, divided
1 Tablespoon Unsalted Butter
Salt and pepper
½ Ounce Dried Porcini Mushrooms
½ Cup Warm Water
1 Cup Arborio Rice
¼ Cup Dry White Wine
½ Cup Parmesan Cheese, grated

Heat the chicken broth in a medium saucepan and keep warm over low heat.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add 1/2 onion and 1 clove garlic, cook, stirring, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the fresh mushrooms, thyme, bay leaf, 1 tablespoon of parsley, and butter. Sauté for 3 to 5 minutes until lightly browned, season with salt and pepper. Add the dried porcini mushrooms that were reconstituted in warm water, saving the liquid. Season again with salt and fresh cracked pepper. Sauté 1 minute then remove from heat and set aside.

Coat a saucepan with remaining 1 tablespoons of oil. Sauté the remaining 1/2 onion and garlic clove. Add the rice and stir quickly until it is well-coated and opaque, 1 minute.  Stir in wine and liquid that the porcini was reconstituted in–careful not to add in the mushroom grit/sand. Cook until it is nearly all evaporated.

Now, with a ladle, add 1 cup of the warm broth and simmer, stirring, until the rice has absorbed the liquid. Add the remaining broth, 1 cup at a time. Continue to simmer and stir, allowing the rice to absorb each addition of broth before adding more. The risotto should be slightly firm and creamy, not mushy–approximately 20 minutes in total. Transfer the mushrooms (reserving about 2-3 tablespoons of them) to the rice mixture. Stir in Parmesan cheese, cook briefly until melted. Check for seasonings and adjust with salt and pepper if needed. Spoon risotto into dishes and top with a few mushrooms and chopped parsley before serving.