Saturday, February 28, 2009

Friday Night Menu, Risotto

This week we were going to keep it light. I saw a picture in a magazine for risotto and with duck sliced over top and that photo did it for me. I love to make risotto's as a one pot meal. Once you get the knack you can add any flavors you like. I remember having a really good risotto with roasted squash and so I did a variation of that. I sliced some butternut squash (peeled) into 1/4 inch slices and I had some fennel so I did the same thing, 1/4 inch slices and place them on a sheet pan, drizzled with olive oil, salt and pepper. Into the oven at 375 for 40 minutes. Roasting the squash is key, it really brings out the best flavor. I got together everything I needed for the risotto and realized I didn't have chicken stock. I poured about 1/2-3/4 Cup apple cider into a pan and added just water. Bring that to a simmer and I used that like I would the chicken stock. Let me tell you it works like a charm. It's amazing the amount of apple flavor you get when you do it that way (Tony thought I had chunks of apple in there). After cooking the onions for 5-10 minutes with a little salt I added in cardamom and cinnamon because I thought with the "apple stock" those flavors would compliment each other. After the rice was the perfect texture which takes about 25 minutes, I added in the roasted squash and fennel that I cut into small 1/4 inch squares, along with Parmesan and a Tbsp of butter. Heat though and taste for seasoning. I served Tony's smoked ribs that he made a couple days ago (see the BBQ Blog) on top of the risotto. They were a match made in heaven, he used the apple wood and the apple cider to reheat and I think there was grated apple in the sauce so they were excellent together.

Dessert was another magical thing. I thought I would make a simple apple crisp with vanilla ice cream. I added brown sugar and a couple Tbsp of fresh grated ginger, a little Cinnamon, butter and the juice of 1/2 orange to sliced Cortland apples and poured it into a 9" square baking pan and topped it with a combination of sugar, flour, almond meal, salt, cinnamon, oats and butter. 375 for 45 minutes or until the top starts to turn golden and I served warm with a scoop of Haagen-Dazs Vanilla Bean ice cream. OMG Wow Simply Fantastic!

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