Wednesday, October 19, 2016
This light and colorful rice dish is a perfect recipe for this pumpkin season. It comes from the Mediterranean cuisine. I found it in one of the Italian magazines which I brought from Italy. The dish is quite similar to risotto and calls for the risotto type of rice, preferably Carnaroli or Arborio. It is started as risotto, but because it is then baked in the oven, it does not require constant stirring. It is made with Feta cheese instead of Parmesan and finished with two garnishes—fried sage leaves and pine nuts. Sage adds extra flavor and aroma to the delicate taste of rice, pine nuts bring in some crunchiness to a smooth texture of the dish, so it is worth adding both to obtain that full and rich taste at the end.
Baked Rice with Pumpkin and Feta
1 cup risotto rice (if available Carnaroli),
1 lb peeled and cut into small cubes pumpkin,
1 medium onion, chopped,
1/2 cup white wine,
2 and 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock,
1/2 cup Feta,
1 tsp hot pepper flakes (optional),
2 tbsp roasted pine nuts,
3/4 cup milk,
2 tbsp butter,
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil,
12–16 sage leaves.
1. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large pot. Add pumpkin cubes and fry for about 2–3 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside.
2. Preheat oven to 325 F.
3. In the same frying pan heat another 2 tbsp of olive oil. Add onion and fry until transparent. Add rice and toast together for 1–2 minutes. Pour in wine, and let simmer until wine evaporates.
4. Add pumpkin and stock to rice, season with salt and bring to boil.
5. Transfer rice to a large baking dish and bake for 20–25 minutes.
6. In a medium bowl crumble Feta and mix with roasted pine nuts and hot pepper flakes if used.
7. In a small pot bring to boil 2 tbsp butter. Add washed and dried sage leaves and fry for 2 minutes.
8. Remove rice from the oven. Pour in milk and gently mix and bake for another 10–15 minutes.
9. Once again remove rice from oven and spread Feta crumbles on top. Bake for 5 minutes until Feta melts.
10. Remove rice from the oven, finish with melted butter and sage leaves and serve.
Saturday, September 17, 2016
Tres leches is a famous cake from Latin America. Last year, I tried it for the first time. It was delicious and seemed very simple, so I recently decided to replicate it. I looked up different recipes, ask a Latino friend about ingredients, and finally came up with my own version of it. Last night, I served it to a friend who considers tres leches one of her favorite cakes. She said that the best tres leches she ever had was from a South American restaurant in Chicago, but when she tried mine, she admitted that it was even better, and asked for a recipe.
As always, I made my version lighter and less sweet than the traditional recipe calls for. As a base, I used my own sponge cake, which does not contain any butter although it features in many tres leches recipes. I use this sponge cake base to make a birthday cakes. It is light and easily absorbs all kind of liquids that you wish to saturate it with.
I used exactly three milks--evaporated, condensed, and whole milk, and no heavy cream, which I only used for decoration. With all those changes, the sweetness of the cake turned out to be perfect, that is the way I like it. I served it not with candied fruits but with fresh raspberries which gave it bit of tartness and nice presentation.
Three-Milk Cake (Tres Leches)
For a 10" sponge cake:
4 large eggs, room temperature,
2/3 cup sugar,
2/3 cup all purpose flour,
1 tsp baking powder,
2 tbsp natural breadcrumbs,
1 tbsp butter.
For the three-milk mixture:
1 14-oz can evaporated milk,
1 can sweetened milk,
2/3 cup whole milk,
1 tsp vanilla extract,
1 cup heavy whipped cream,
2 tbsp sugar,
raspberries or any berries you like.
1. Preheat oven to 325F.
2. Grease the bottom and the walls of a baking form with butter and dust with breadcrumbs.
3. In a bowl of a mixer place eggs and sugar. Beat until pale yellow and almost stiff.
4. Mix flour with baking powder and sieve into the egg mixture. Gently fold in until well incorporated.
5. Transfer to a baking form and bake for about 40 minutes, until set and gold on top. Let it cool completely.
6. In a large jar mix all the milks and the vanilla essence.
7. Transfer the cake to a serving plate with at least one-inch high walls. Using a wooden skewer poke the cake several times. Slowly pour over the milk mixture making sure that outside walls are also well soaked with it.
8. Cover the cake and let cool in a refrigerator overnight.
9. Whip the heavy cream with 2 tbsps of sugar until stiff. Spread on top of the cake, decorate with fruits and serve.
Saturday, September 3, 2016
A few years ago a friend gave me as a gift a spiralizer, a simple tool which makes any long vegetable into spaghetti threads. At the time I got it it was not available in the US stores. In the past year or two a spiralizer became easily available in many American stores so today I decided to post a recipe for a vegetable dish with the use of a spiralizer.
Many vegetables, for example carrot, squash, cucumber or zucchini can be spiralized. My favorite became green zucchini which I make often in the fall when local big zucchinis are available. And in that case the bigger zucchini the better. I make a zucchini spaghetti which is a simple dish of fried zucchini with tomato sauce on top. This is not only an easy dish but also almost entirely made of fresh and pure vegetables, an excellent dish for any fastidious vegan and gluten- or lactose-free diet believer. I shred some Parmesan on top of the sauce but the dish is very tasty also without it.
Zucchini Spaghetti with Fresh Tomato Sauce
6 large green zucchinis,
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil,
4 medium tomatoes,
1 small onion, chopped.
1. Blanch tomatoes in hot water, peel off and cut into cubes.
2. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a medium pot and add onion. Fry on a medium heat until transparent. Add tomatoes and simmer for about 5 minutes.
3. Spiralize the zucchinis.
4. In a large frying pan heat 2 tbsp of olive oil. Add minced garlic and fry until gold. Add spiralized zucchini and fry on a high heat tossing it often until all the water evaporates. Zucchinis should be cooked but still firm. Do not salt them as they will release too much water and become very soft and overcooked. The bigger zucchinis the less water they will release.
5. Turn off the heat and season the zucchinis with salt and pepper. Transfer them to the plates, spoon the tomato sauce on top and serve.