Pumpkin Risotto with Burrata, Fried Sage

Pumpkin Risotto Stuffed with Burrata, Fried Sage

Smoky Pumpkin Risotto with Burrata
Crumbled Fried Sage

Happy Halloween! The culinary SORCERESS has a real TREAT to share in the SPIRIT of the holiday…a SMOKY creamy pumpkin risotto in which she BURIES a MONSTROUS wedge of burrata. This TRICK she learned from gastronomic WIZARD two-star Michelin chef Julian Serrano. He SUBMERGES burrata under his BLOOD-RED Risotto Al Vino Rosso at restaurant Lago in Las Vegas.

BEWARE,  this dish is only for those with a GHOULISH ATTRACTION to fresh mozzarella cheese stuffed with heavy cream, aka burrata. Topped with crumbled fried sage, it is a BEWITCHING seasonal risotto and so FRIGHTFULLY good.

Smoky Pumpkin Risotto Recipe

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Lemon Risotto Balls with Edible Flower Confetti

meyer lemon arancini, lemon rice balls, ciao fiore appetizer

Meyer Lemon Risotto Balls with Parmesan and Mascarpone
Edible Flower Confetti

Crispy on the outside – warm, creamy, cheesy, and lemony on the inside – these little risotto balls (arancini in Italian) are simply irresistible. And if the texture and flavor aren’t enough to make you swoon, I’m dressing them up with pretty flower petal confetti and lacy Parmigiano-Reggiano. Serve them with your favorite Italian white wine and enjoy happy hour!

Meyer Lemon Risotto Recipe

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Risotto: Carrot, Cumin, Vodka, Creme Fraiche

carrot risotto, vodka, cumin, creme fraiche
RISOTTO
Carrot, Cumin, Vodka, Creme Fraiche
Parmesan, Nasturtium Blossom

I just happened to be thinking about making risotto while reading the Proud Italian Cook’s fabulous new ebook, Italian Sauces My Way (highly recommended and available here). In her book, my friend Marie has a recipe for Vodka Cream Sauce which she recommends spooned over steamed mussels, ravioli, gnocchi, or the classic penne pasta. It’s not a complicated sauce but the vodka makes it fancy, taking her delicious basic marinara to another level. Anyway, her wonderful sauce got me thinking about pairing vodka and risotto.

Other than tomato, what vegetable would pair well with vodka? Beet, celery, and carrot all sounded right. I decided to make the first trial with carrot. I added a kiss of cumin and a some creme fraiche for the creamy element. The color was so incredibly lovely, I didn’t want to detract from it. So the dish was finished with a nasturtium flower from the garden, keeping that monochromatic look.

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Spinach Mushroom Risotto with Pecans

vegetarian risotto
Spinach Mushroom Risotto with Toasted Pecans
Chiffonade of Fresh Spinach Garnish

Combining two favorite risotto dishes – spinach risotto and mushroom risotto, into one – and adding toasted pecans plus an unexpected garnish of fresh spinach ribbons equals one bright and satisfying vegetarian meal. Crunchy toasted pecans contrast the creamy risotto, earthy caramelized mushrooms complement tender wilted baby spinach. A sprinkle of Parmesan and glass of wine were the only accompaniments.

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Meyer Lemon Arancini, Flower Confetti, Parmesan

meyer lemon arancini, lemon rice balls, ciao fiore appetizer
Cocktail Hour @ Ciao Fiore!
Meyer Lemon Arancini, Flower Petal Confetti, Parmesan

It’s cocktail hour at Ciao Fiore!  Meyer Lemon Risotto left over from the previous night’s service is formed into balls, coated with panko bread crumbs, and fried in canola oil. We need to watch our food costs so here we transform the day-old risotto into a delightful bar appetizer. Finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and a sprinkling of flower petal confetti make the presentation pop!

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Meyer Lemon & Pink Rose Petal Risotto

meyer lemon rose petal risotto
Meyer Lemon & Pink Rose Petal Risotto

Edible flowers are so darn pretty, it is easy to use them to garnish the plate and call it good. No complaints. But for this challenge I wanted to incorporate the flowers into my dishes so as to marry the flavors and colors, to create a synergy where all the elements of the dish are enhanced.

Lemon trees and rose bushes thrive side-by-side in the garden. The colors yellow and pink make a delightful pair. And the aromas of citrus plus floral make for a heady perfume. And so Meyer Lemon & Pink Rose Petal Risotto was born. A hint of rose water plus a chiffonade of “passionate kisses” rose petals transform this creamy citrus risotto into a blissful dish.

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Asian Risotto: Sushi Rice, Shrimp, Thai Basil, Shiso, Yuzu

asian risotto, shrimp risotto

Asian Risotto
Sushi Rice with Rosé & Sautéed Shrimp
Flavored with Thai Basil, Shiso, and Yuzu
Chiffonade of Shiso Garnish

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Asparagus Risotto with Gorgonzola

Asparagus Risotto with Gorgonzola
Recently I was the happy recipient of some beautiful bundles of thick and thin asparagus from my friends at Gourmet Trading Company. Elegant asparagus’ peak season is Springtime. If you are in the depths of a really cold winter, maybe this post can lift your spirits? Spring is (almost) around the corner. Gourmet Trading Company imports and distributes top-quality fresh asparagus from the areas where it grows naturally in the Americas. This month asparagus is flourishing on their farms in Peru.

Trim thin stalks of asparagus, cut into 2 inch pieces and steam in salted boiling water until tender. Shock in an ice bath to stop the cooking.

Osso Buco, Saffron Risotto, Peas & Snow Pea Shoots

Veal Osso Buco
Saffron Risotto
Peas & Snow Pea Shoots

When my dear friend of many years, Father Adam, comes to town we like to cook! Nothing we make ever takes less than three hours. It’s always an adventure. Last time we made Mario Batali’s Osso Buco with Toasted Pine Nut Gremolata. I had purchased several fresh veal shanks then, and put the extras in the freezer. It was time to defrost them and give Suzanne Goin’s recipe a try!
Osso Buco

Veal shanks were rubbed with garlic, lemon zest, thyme and rosemary then refrigerated over night. The next day they were brought to room temperature, seasoned and browned on all sides in olive oil.
The browned shanks are removed from the pan. Diced onion, carrot, celery, sage and garlic are added to the same pan, and cooked over medium heat until just starting to caramelize. Add 1/2 c. chopped canned tomatoes then 1 c. dry vermouth. Raise the heat and reduce by half.

Add shanks back to the pan with enough hot veal stock to almost cover the meat. Add parsley sprigs, cover, braise at 325° for about 3 hours.

Father Adam and I put the Le Creuset into the oven and went for a walk at Royal Palms State Beach.

Three hours later!
The meat was removed to a baking sheet. The sauce was strained, then we used a gravy separator to remove the fat. We reheated the sauce in a clean saucepan and adjusted the seasoning. It was so flavorful!
Saffron Risotto

Saffron threads were toasted in a small pan, then ground in a mortar. We mixed the saffron with olive oil and added diced white onion, thyme, crushed chile de arbol, salt and pepper. Cooked until the onion was soft.

Add arborio rice and stir to coat the grains.

Add 1/4 c. dry white wine, then when that has evaporated, add hot chicken stock gradually while stirring until the rice has absorbed the stock. When the rice is al dente, season with salt and pepper.

The shanks were removed to a baking sheet and broiled for a few minutes to get a nice brown crust.


Peas & Snow Pea Shoots

Frozen peas were defrosted and cooked in olive oil with minced shallot, thyme, salt and pepper. Add the pea shoots and heat until the leaves are softened and tender.
Beautiful Colors!

Dau Miu (snow pea shoots) are young pea shoots that are delicate and crispy with a flavor that’s a cross between peas and spinach with a hint of watercress.

Falling Off the Bone!

This terrific recipe is adapted from one of my favorite cookbooks, Sunday Suppers at Lucques by Suzanne Goin. You can find Chef Goin’s exact recipe here.
And be sure to check out Father Adam’s unique blog, Monastery Daily Photo: Views From and Within A Roman Catholic Monastery in Northern California.

Shrimp with Risotto and Corn – Fast!

When there are presents to wrap and cookies to bake it’s nice to have a meal that takes only a few minutes of active cooking time and the ingredients are already on hand in the pantry and the freezer.

Box. Bag. Can.
Box of Cheese Risotto – just add water, white wine, a tablespoon of butter
Bag of Frozen Shrimp – cleaned, uncooked, tail-on
Can of Corn – drained

Add water, wine, butter, and risotto mix to pot.
Bring to boil, lower heat, stir occasionally.

When the rice is almost cooked, pour in lots of frozen shrimp, right from the bag.

When the shrimp are pink and the risotto is al dente add corn and heat through. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with scallions.

“The feast of the seven fishes is a tradition that Italians follow every Christmas Eve. La Vigilia or the vigil is kept with the custom of dining on 7 fish dishes as we await the birth of the savior at midnight,” writes Maryann. She and Joe are hosting this fabulous Seven Fishes Feast event. I thought they might enjoy a quick yet very tasty dish to add to their bountiful buffet, so I am sending this shrimp over their way, along with wishes for a dazzling Christmas!

Images
A funny thing happens when one totes the camera around, ready to take a photograph of the next tasty morsel…the eye starts to notice other than food-related photo opportunities, a serendipity of a food blog indeed! I am grateful for the chance to capture some images of my surroundings and to be able to share a glimpse of the beauty of Southern California with you.

Sunset over the Port of Long Beach

at Bluff Park, Ocean Blvd. Long Beach, California