Cooking

Orzo with Lemon Garlic Butter

Orzo with Lemon Garlic Butter      www.morewinelesswhines.com

Assembling Ingredients for Orzo with Lemon Garlic Butter

This weekend, we were in the middle of the first real snowstorm in Chicago’s 2014-2015 winter season!  So far, we have received about 19″ of snow.  Yesterday and again this morning, my husband and I went outside to finish shoveling the driveway and sidewalks.  The snow is the heavy, “packing” kind,  perfect for kids wanting to make snowmen and forts, but really irritating for adults trying to clear footpaths!  Stella was jumping around like a kangaroo in the snow!  This was before it got too deep for her.  After a few more hours, we ended up clearing a path in the backyard so she could walk without having the snow reach up past her   fluffy tail!

Stella Bear Braving Chicago's Big Winter Snow       www.morewinelesswhines.com

Stella Bear Braving Chicago’s Big Winter Snow

When we got inside from shoveling, I wanted something quick, simple and a lot like buttered noodles.  I made this ridiculously simple dish that does not even need a recipe once you make it a few times.   I put 1/2 a box of orzo in a pot of salted, boiling water.  I drained the orzo and made my butter-olive oil blend fancy by flavoring it with lemon peel and sliced garlic cloves.  Then, I stirred in some lemon juice, Romano cheese and parsley to finish the dish.  Easy!

Orzo with Lemon Garlic Butter    www.morewinelesswhines.com

Orzo with Lemon Garlic Butter

Orzo with Lemon Garlic Butter     www.morewinelesswhines.com

Orzo with Lemon Garlic Butter

Orzo with Lemon Garlic Butter      www.morewinelesswhines.com

Orzo with Lemon Garlic Butter

Orzo with Lemon Garlic Butter

serves 2

1 c. orzo
2 T. unsalted butter
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 2″ lemon peel
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
Juice from 1/2 a lemon
1/4 c. parsley, minced
1/3 c. Romano cheese + extra for serving
sea salt & pepper to taste

Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add Orzo. Cook according to package directions until ‘al dente.’ You are better off undercooking the orzo at this point. Drain into a colander and transfer to a medium glass or heat-safe bowl*. Return pot to medium heat. Melt butter in pan and add olive oil. Gently place the sliced garlic and lemon peel in the butter/oil and stir a little bit. BE CAREFUL! Let bubble until garlic just barely starts to turn golden, ~30-60 seconds.  (It will go from golden to burned quickly) Remove garlic and lemon peel from pan with slotted spoon. Let cool on a plate before discarding.

Pour flavored butter/olive oil over the orzo. Stir in lemon juice, parsley and Romano cheese. Season to taste with sea and freshly ground black pepper.  Enjoy!

 

*Note: You can keep the cooked orzo in the colander and just stir it into the saucepan once the butter/oil has been flavored and the garlic/lemon peel is removed. I do this to minimize dirty dishes. The problem is the orzo can stick to the hot sides of the pan if you do not stir vigorously and immediately. The choice is yours.

Orzo with Lemon Garlic Butter    www.morewinelesswhines.com

Orzo with Lemon Garlic Butter

Orzo with Lemon Garlic Butter      www.morewinelesswhines.com

Orzo with Lemon Garlic Butter

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Cooking

Asparagus, Fiddlehead Fern & Morel Mushroom Risotto

Asparagus, Fiddlehead Fern

Asparagus, Fiddlehead Fern & Morel Mushroom Risotto

I received an email from one of the local markets that they had just received some fiddlehead ferns and fresh morel mushrooms.  What would I do with the fronds and morels once I brought them home?  No clue, but I went in search of them regardless, knowing they would be part of the evening meal.

Fresh Fiddlehead Ferns  www.morewinelesswhines.com

Fresh Fiddlehead Ferns

I wanted to do something fresh, filling and delicious but without the addition of cream.  Enter my friend risotto.  I have a few favorite ways to make risotto, one of them being with a mix of dried and fresh mushrooms, pancetta and saffron.  Eventually, I will share that recipe.  For this dish, I started with my seasonal ingredients.

Asparagus, Fiddlehead Fern and Morel Mushrooms with White Wine Butter Sauce

Asparagus, Fiddlehead Fern and Morel Mushrooms with White Wine Butter Sauce

You could almost just prepare the asparagus, fiddlehead ferns and morels in the white wine butter sauce and forget about the risotto if you are pressed for time.  I will leave that up to you!  No matter which direction you choose, you will have a great recipe base to sample some of spring’s fleeting delicacies.

This is how you know it is ok to add more broth to your risotto

This is how you know it is ok to add more broth to your risotto

Personally, I’m not a huge fiddlehead fern fan, but they are a fun, seasonal ingredient and “just work” in this dish.  The morels for this recipe cost $7.80.  They are not cheap, but are worth the once a year splurge.  Enjoy!

Asparagus, Fiddlehead Fern & Morel Mushroom Risotto

6 c. low sodium chicken broth

4 T. unsalted butter
1 bunch asparagus
16-18 fiddlehead ferns (optional)
18 small morel mushrooms (can substitute with other mushrooms)
1/2 c. dry white wine (I used Chardonnay)

1 T. Canola Oil
2 T. unsalted butter
1/2 c. minced shallots
1.5 c. Arborio rice

1 c. grated Parmigiano-Reggiano + 1/4 c. for serving
2 T. Parsley, chopped (optional)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1.) Broth: Pour chicken broth into a large saucepan. Bring to a slow simmer. Reduce heat to low and maintain a gentle simmer.

2.) Asparagus, Fiddlehead Ferns & Morels: Heat a medium frying pan over low-medium heat. Add 4 T. butter. Gently melt and allow to turn a rich golden-tan, stirring occasionally with a spatula. Once the butter is browned (but not burned), add morels and asparagus. Sauté 2-3 minutes. Add fiddlehead ferns. Sauté additional 5 minutes. Turn heat to high. Pour in white wine. Sauté 5 minutes longer, stirring occasionally, until most of liquid is absorbed. Remove pan from heat and set aside.*

3.) The Rice:Heat a large dutch oven over medium heat. Melt 2 T. butter & 1 T canola oil. Stir in minced shallots and sauté until golden. Stir Arborio rice into the shallots and continue stirring, 2 minutes longer until oil coats all of the rice. Begin adding broth, 1/2 c (4 oz) at a time, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon. Once most of broth is absorbed or you can run your spoon down the center of the pan without liquid immediately covering the space back up, add another ladle full of broth. Continue to do this 18-25 minutes, or until all of broth is gone.** Season to taste with sea salt and black pepper as you go, taking care not to add too much salt..

4.) Bringing it all together: Add the reserved spring asparagus, fiddlehead ferns & morels along with any sauce left in the saucepan to the rice. Stir. Slowly stir in the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve garnished with fresh parsley and extra parmesan cheese.

*You can forget about the risotto if you like and just prepare the asparagus, fiddlehead ferns and morels up to this point. Serve them as a side dish, mixed in with an omelet, atop grilled chicken or as part of an antipasto platter!

** I use a 4 oz ladle to scoop the broth out of the pot. A measuring cup will work, too.

 

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A Simple Polenta Dish with Fontina and Romano cheese

 

A Simple Polenta Dish

A Simple Polenta Dish with Fontina and Romano Cheese

A few months ago I visited Eataly in Chicago.  While there, I experienced Polenta for the first time.  It was smothered in cheese and a mushroom ragu.  After that trip, I promptly purchased a small package of dry Bob’s Red Mill polenta intent on crafting a memorable throwback to my Eataly adventure.  The bag of polenta sat on my pantry shelf, then my freezer shelf, for weeks…  The dirty truth is that polenta scared me – oh the time commitment!  the bag of ground up corn!  the thought of me standing over a stove for hours only to fail miserably!

I am writing this post to dispel the polenta fiction in the world.  Making polenta is actually quite simple.  I (sort of) followed the directions on the  package with a few of my own modifications.  The only ‘work’ involved is stirring.

 

A Simple Polenta Dish

A Simple Polenta Dish

A Simple Polenta Dish with Fontina and Romano Cheese

3 c. low sodium chicken broth
1/2 tsp. sea salt (optional)
1 c. polenta (stone ground – I used Bob’s Red Mill)
1.5 T unsalted butter
1/2 c. Fontina cheese
3 T. Romano cheese

Bring chicken broth and sea salt (if using) to a boil in a medium, heavy bottomed saucepan over high heat. Slowly, stir in polenta. Reduce heat to low and stir frequently, about 30 minutes. Stir in unsalted butter. Then, stir in the Fontina until melted.

Spray an 8″ pie plate or low, shallow bowl with cooking spray. Pour cheesy polenta into the greased pie plate and spread evenly. Let stand 10 minutes. If you would like to be fancy, invert the pie plate onto a flat serving plate or cutting board. Sprinkle with Romano cheese and slice into wedges.

Enjoy!

Notes:

I used Bob’s Red Mill Yellow “Corn Grits” also known as “Polenta.” I’m calling it Polenta because this is an Italian inspired dish.  The polenta I purchased includes the bran and the germ.  It is delicious!

 

A Simple Polenta Dish

A Simple Polenta Dish

 

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