Adventures in Food, Episode 2: Stuff in My Pantry

All right folks, its time for another installment of Adventures in Food. This episode takes place in my pantry and features all the random stuff I’ve bought.

All the random stuff I've boughtHere’s the rundown of my recent impulse and adventure buys:

Trio of sea salts- Himalayan pink, grey, and cyprus flake. I searched for a while for this assortment of sea salts, and finally found one at a reasonable price at our local big box store. My favorite so far is the cyprus flake sea salt, but mostly because I haven’t decided how to use the other two.

Quick Cooking Bulgar, aka Barley– as featured in a previous post.

Paprika– a Hungarian paprika, a generic cheapo paprika (not pictured) and a jar that my mom got me that I haven’t opened yet. Why so much paprika? One word: Chickenpaprikash (ok that’s two words).

Minnesota Wild Rice (you have to say it “minn-ee-soooh-tah”- its more authentic that way) and Farro– Surprisingly, I found these both at a local big box store. I’ve also purchased Quinoa, but I’ve since used that up and moved on to other grains. The wild rice does have an earthy flavor, and kinda smells boggy when cooking it (what I imagine a bog to smell like since I’ve never actually been to a bog). I’ve used the Farro in quite a few recipes, trying to get a feel for it: Risotto, roasted cauliflower soup and just plain.

The Sauce That Killed Kenny– This is a hot sauce that a friend gave us. It sat on my shelf for a while until I started trying spicy foods. Now we add a drop or two to stir fry and sauces to give them a little kick.

Currants– I’ve had these for a while; unlike most of the stuff listed I actually had a recipe in mind when I bought the box… I think the recipe used like 1/4 cup of currants. I like to add them to salads with or instead of dried cranberries.

Curry Powder– Curry is my newest addition to my spice collection. I always thought that curry was too spicy for me, but since I started trying spicier foods I worked up the courage to buy it. Now its one of my most frequently used spices (I’ve been cooking a lot of Indian food lately).

Specialty Mustards– I discovered the jam, jelly and mustard lady at my local farmer’s market- she ensnared me with her free samples and cute little jars. I bought a sun-dried tomato and garlic mustard, and later a cranberry mustard that I was planning to serve at Thanksgiving with the turkey but it got lost in the shuffle.Very tasty but at $7 for a small jar, they’re a sometimes impulse buy for me.

Garam Masala & Tumeric– (the tumeric is the goldenrod yellow spice in the recycled container). These were my first ‘outside my comfort zone’ Indian spice purchases.

What random impulse food purchases have you made?

Advertisements

Zucchini & Sun-Dried Tomato Vegetable Risotto

Risotto is one of my favorite dishes because it is infused with cheesy goodness. If you’ve never tried your hand at making it, or if you’re afraid of Gordon Ramsey materializing in your kitchen insulting your cooking skills in a British accent, forget Señor Ramsey and get cookin’ because this is just too good to pass up!

(This video is definitely NSFW- language). But excellent for impromptu kitchen dance parties. That is all.

Zucchini & Sun-Dried Tomato Vegetable Risotto

Zucchini & Sun-Dried Tomato Vegetable Risotto

Adapted from this recipe.

Time: 45-50 min (15 min prep; 30-35 min cook)
Servings: 6

Ingredients

6 1/2 cups (give or take) low-sodium vegetable or chicken stock
2 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
3-4 cloves garlic, crushed, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 cups Arborio, or other starchy short grain rice
1/2 cup dry white wine (optional)
1/2 to 1 full medium zucchini, thinly sliced into pieces about 2-3 inches long (see picture below)
10 sun-dried tomatoes, sliced into strips

1-2 cups of your favorite veggies; I used the following:
1/2 cup carrots, diced
1/2 cup celery, diced
1/2 cup broccoli stems, diced
1 jalepeño, diced

2+ tsp dried thyme
2+ tsp dried basil
2+ tsp fresh rosemary, chopped or 1/2 tsp dry rosemary
1/2 to 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese
Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Special Tools: deep sauté pan or large, heavy stockpot, wooden spoon

What To Do

Heat the stock on medium high in a sauce pan– if it starts to boil, turn down the heat but keep the cover on to keep the stock hot.

Crush and dice the garlic, and chop up your onion.

Onions & Garlic- Yum!

Heat the EVOO in a sauté pan on medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the garlic and onion, and stir with a wooden spoon (since you’re going to stir a lot, you want to use a stirring device that doesn’t conduct heat well).

Sauté the onions and garlic for 3-5 minutes, until translucent.

Add the rice and stir to mix into the garlic and onions. I ran out of Arborio rice, so I substituted with some farro that I had on hand. Note: Farro takes a bit longer to cook than Arborio. I’ve found that when using farro in risotto, it will be a little more liquidy the first day I make it, but after sitting overnight or for several days it tends to soak up a bit more liquid to make a thicker, creamier risotto (Also, I ❤ leftovers!).

Deglazing the Pan

Let the rice cook for 3-5 minutes, until the kernels turn a toasted golden brown color.  Next, deglaze the pan with the wine or an equivalent amount of stock. Add a ladelfull of stock and mix the rice and veggies into the liquid.

While that is simmering……

Courgette is a fancy name

Chop up your veggies if you haven’t already done so. You’ll want to add the veggies to the rice mixture in order of how long they’ll take to fully cook, so carrots and broccoli stalks go first.

Why do I use broccoli stalks, you ask? Well, to be honest, I just can’t bring myself to throw them away! It seems like such a waste to buy broccoli for the crown and then throw away perfectly edible food! I’ve found that these stalks work great as vegetable “filler” in meals where I just don’t have enough other veggies on hand, or in meals where the flavors and ingredients are strong enough to season this relatively innocuous veggie. I’ve found that it kind of has a mellower broccoli flavor than the florets, but melds easily into other cooked dishes– sauces, casseroles, rice. (After some quick googling, it looks like other people eat the stalks, too! Raw and cooked– check it out). I like the term “Stalker”- haha! Looks like raw stalks are loaded with Vitamin A, too!

Veggies in the Pan

Add the veggies to the pan. Sprinkle around 1 tsp of each of your spices on top of the veggies, add a ladle of stock and stir.

Slice the sun-dried tomatoes into strips and fold into the risotto. You can add them to the rice earlier or later depending on how infused you want the dish to be with their tomato flavor.

Bread & Butter ProTip: If you’re using sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drain the oil into the sauté pan instead of using plain EVOO. This will add another layer of flavor to your dish. Or, use the oil to flavor a roasted vegetable size dish.

Alternate adding a ladle of stock, a pinch of the spices and stirring until you have used up all of your stock. You’ll want to wait until the liquid is mostly absorbed before adding the next ladle (if I’m pressed for time or feeling lazy, I’ll turn up the heat on the stove to move this along). Stirring is what makes this dish so creamy– so be sure to stir every couple of minutes.

When you have one or two ladles of stock left, slowly sprinkle on the grated cheese while stirring to incorporate into the rice and veggie mixture. If you dump all of the cheese in at once, it is likely to clump together rather than melting evenly throughout the risotto.

Once the cheese has melted into the risotto, it’s ready to eat!

Serve with a fresh grating of cheese (mmmm cheese) if desired.

Zucchini & Sun-Dried Tomato Vegetable Risotto2

Bon Appétit!