Blackberry Compote

A very simple dessert is poached berries.  It is simple but at the same time it can be very elegant.  You can flavor the fruit with a number of spices.  The blackberries looked wonderful and I decided to poach them with some star anise and some cinnamon.

I placed the berries with the spices in a small saucepan and added a splash of orange juice and a couple of tablespoons of honey. Simmer them over a low heat until the berries are soft but not mushy.

Serve warm with honey flavoured Greek Yogurt.  It’s a great last minute treat that everyone will enjoy.

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Risotto and Family

I recently had some of my nieces and nephews and other family over for an impromptu dinner.  Of course I thought of making Risotto since it is so easy.  It is a dish that all the family loves, since it was one of my mother’s favorite meals.

My daughter, who unfortunately was not in town reminded me that a few of my guests were vegetarian.  I would not have even thought about the chicken stock that is used if she had not told me.  Instead I made it with vegetable broth.  It has a slightly different flavor, but it turned out great.  I was very pleased that I could be courteous to their dietary preferences.

It was a lot of fun to show them how it is made and of course, that came at a price….. they were enlisted to help stir.  All in all it was a very nice evening with family.

I am re-posting the risotto from an earlier posting.  Remember variations are good!

Shallot

Risotto is a very classic Italian dish.  There are numerous variations.  You can mix it up with different vegetables or proteins.  But by far the most classic interpretation is from Milan.   Rice has a starring role in this recipe and as such, it is important to us the right kind.

peeled shalot

Arborio is a good type to use but the preferred rice is the Carnaroli.  It is plump and releases it’s starch in a uniform manner.  This is what give the dish it’s creamy texture.

rice and garlicrice

The saffron imparts not only color but flavor as well.  Don’t be shocked by the price.  When you think that there are only 3-4 of these strands in a single crocus flower, you begin to understand it’s value.  It is worth it.

Saffron

risotto spoon

Risotto alla Milanese

In a large saucepan, sauté 2 finely chopped shallots and 1 clove of garlic in 2 Tablespoons of olive oil until softened.  Stir in  1 cup of rice. Coat rice with the oil and then add 1/2 cup of white wine. Add 2 capsules of saffron.  Stir constantly.  Start adding 5 cups of broth little by little.  Keep adding the liquid until the rice is done and creamy. Remove from heat and add 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve.

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Warm mushroom salad

This is a simple salad, but a very interesting one.  It is hearty enough for a light supper. And it is a breeze to make.

Saute a package of mushrooms, about 2 cups in 2 tablespoons of olive oil. You can use regular white button mushrooms or you can use dried mushrooms that you soak in warm water.  Make sure to cut off any tough ends if you use dried. Add chopped onions, garlic or shallots to taste.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Meanwhile fry bacon until crispy.  You could also use pancetta if you would like.  Once the mushrooms are cooked, add 3 Tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and a splash of olive oil.  Saute a few minutes.  Then add to the greens.

You can use arugula or spinach.  Pour the warm mushrooms on top with some of the dressing.  Crumble the bacon on top and add some cheese.  You can use goat cheese or blue cheese.  Add some toasted pine nuts and serve.

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The “21” Burger

The “21” Club in New York City makes these burgers and although they are good….Crisco?…..seriously?

The ‘21’ Burger

Ingredients:
2 pounds ground sirloin or beef
2 tablespoons Crisco or 4 tablespoons duck fat
1 teaspoon ground fennel seed
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary
1 whole egg
4 tablespoons minced onion
Method:
1. In a mixing bowl add the beef, Crisco or duck fat, fennel, cayenne pepper, ground pepper,
thyme, rosemary, egg and onion. Mix until all ingredients are incorporated evenly.
2. Divide the beef mixture into four, 8‐ounce burgers. Pack and shape them tightly.
3. On a hot grill place the burger and cook for approximately 4 1/2 minutes on each side for a
medium rare temperature (cook longer for a more well‐done burger if desired.)
4. Serve on a bun.
Yield:
4 burgers

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Museum Cafe

The Museum of Contemporary Art has a great little Cafe.  It is convenient and they serve the best salads.  It is a great place for a nice lunch.

It was a beautiful day and we sat outside.

Any budding artists?  Up for some doodles?  I’ll get you some more crayons!

I tried the chicken salad.  It had so many wonderful flavors.  It was dressed with an orange aioli.  Yummy!

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Open that Bottle —Part 2

Yesterday we opened some very nice bottles of wine.  We had a 1961 Chateau Palmer.  We also tried some some 1988 Gaja.

There are technical difficulties uploading the photos…. they will follow.