Green Goddess Risotto

My now-nonexistent, tiny, indoor city garden – if you can call it that – was still a place for me to walk across the room to grab fresh herbs. I realized I have taken this for granted enormously.

I still have a way to stockpile fresh herbs, though. And it saves a few, literally, bucks in the process. But mostly, it allows me to sigh in relief when I realize – oh wait, I do have fresh dill.

Here’s all it is – grab a pack of ice cube trays, sprinkle desired fresh herbs into the cubes, and cover with olive oil, putting the tray in the freezer until you need it. It’s made a big difference in knocking down my shopping list, especially those times when my shopping list should essentially be one of everything in the store.

This recipe is a perfect example – fresh herb heavy dish? You’re covered!

When I have a new idea for a dish, I have to ask myself, is making this more complicated – adding more ingredients, introducing extra steps to recipes – really going to make it taste better?

Yes, there are times I want parmesan risotto. Perfect as it is, and it scratches that itch.

But I have those moments when I veer off the road, screech a u-ey and speed the other way. I call some of my recipes “Frankenstein” recipes because they mesh two dishes together. Pizza Carbonara. Surf & Turf Fried Rice. I think you get it. Follow this tag here to see what I’m talking about.

But risotto lends itself to being conjoined with another dish – not because it’s bland, but because it’s the perfect vehicle for other flavor profiles. It’s already starchy and fattening. Check. So bringing herbs, strong spices and other non-traditional ingredients into the mix doesn’t wipe out the risotto-ness of the dish.

The flavor is so spot on, that it tastes uncannily similar if you make or eat green goddess dressing regularly. The yummiest kicker though, is that one or two filets of anchovies you add. It sets the risotto off, and I can’t get enough of anchovies.

One fun fact to leave you with – the American-originated version of green goddess dressing, which hails from San Francisco, had chives, chervil and tarragon as its herb base, not basil. If you’re anything like me, you’ve thought green goddess dressing was basil-based. I use scallions here because I wanted a stronger onion-y bite, but a combination of those three herbs would be the most historically accurate.

This is another risotto for the books in my kitchen, and hopefully in yours too. 😊

I N G R E D I E N T S

Serves 2.

  • 1 1 / 2 cup arborio rice
  • 3 / 4 stick butter, salted or unsalted
  • 1 cup parm reg, shredded
  • 1 / 2 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1 / 4 cup scallions, chopped
  • 2 anchovy filets
  • 1 lemon, juiced and zested
  • 1 / 4 cup olive oil, more as needed
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • Salt, as needed
  • Pepper, as needed

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Combine the parm reg, parsley, scallions, anchovies, lemon juice and zest, and a pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper in a food processor. While whirring, slowly add in 1 / 4 cup of olive oil. Continue to puree until it reaches a pesto consistency. If more oil is needed to thin out the sauce, add more a bit at a time. Set aside.
  2. Heat the chicken stock in a small saucepan until simmering. It should stay simmering for the duration of the cooking.
  3. Melt the butter in a saucepan, and add the rice, stirring for 2 minutes or so until the rice toasts a bit.
  4. Add a ladle of stock and stir. Keeping the heat on medium-low, gently stir the rice intermittently, and when the rice appears to get a bit dry, add more stock. After about 20 minutes, test the doneness of the rice. The rice should be al-dente, and the consistency of the risotto should be creamy.
  5. At this final stage, add the green goddess mixture to the risotto and stir until heated through. Taste the risotto for seasonings, and adjust if necessary.
  6. Plate the risotto while hot, sprinkling with additional herbs you have on hands for garnish, and a sprinkling of parm reg, if desired.

Pork Chops with Horseradish Cream Sauce

There’s a restaurant called The Pig, self-dubbed the Nose to Tail restaurant, here in D.C. – and all their menu items feature – you guessed it – pork products.

Garden salad? House-made bacon bits.

Burger? That’s going to be ground pork. Yum. Pork chop? That’s wrapped in bacon for some double pig action.

Order a Bloody Mary? You’re getting a strip of bacon in that.

These are just examples, and the only one I can attest to being true is the bacon Bloody Mary, but you get the point.

I don’t buy or cook pork chops regularly. I actually totally forgot about pork chops.

But during a routine trip to the butcher counter to leer at the meats, my eyes settled on a very thick, bone-in slab of pork. It was love at first sight at the butcher counter.

I love strong, woody herbs and garlic with pork, but I wanted some to add an unexpected, punchy element. Enter horseradish.

Pork chops want to be crunchy and seared so juices lock in, just like steak – so achieving that is priority number one.

The sauce starts with the juices from the pan the chop is broiled in, so you’re losing zero percent of that flavor that seeps out from the meat while roasting.

From start to finish, you’re really only turning on the oven and smashing a couple garlic cloves to pull this dish together. And you’re getting a restaurant presentation with little to no effort. That’s a loveable, go-to recipe in my book.

I N G R E D I E N T S

Serves 2.

  • 2 thick, bone in pork chops
  • Approximately 20 stems thyme
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 6 tablespoons grated horseradish
  • Olive oil, as needed
  • Salt, as needed
  • Pepper, as needed
  • 1 / 3 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons butter, salted or unsalted

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Preheat the oven to 350*.
  2. Pat dry the pork chops. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper on both sides.
  3. Heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a cast iron skillet, large enough to hold both pork chops. Add the garlic cloves and the stems of thyme.
  4. When the oil is very hot, almost smoking, put the pork chops in the skillet so they are settled amongst the herbs and garlic cloves. Allow to sear on one side for 4 to 5 minutes on medium-high heat. Flip the pork chops, sear for 2 minutes, and place the skillet in the oven.
  5. Bake the pork chops for 25 to 30 minutes, depending on thickness, until the pork chops are cooked through. The meat thermometer should reach *160.
  6. Remove the pork chops and thyme stems from the pan, leaving the garlic. Add the cream, butter, horseradish a pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper to the pan. Scrape up the brown bits from the pan while the sauce reduces for 5 minutes or so.
  7. Pour the sauce over the pork chops, and serve hot.

Green Bay Cheddar Fondue with Soft Pretzels & Beer Sausage

Fondue is a amazing concept. I feel like I’ve said that already.

We don’t eat it frequently because we think of it as a special occasion dish, something for a crowd.

In reality, it’s so much less complicated than many recipes we make on a regular basis. And because the dippers are up to you, the whole process can be as simple as you want it to be. My whole point being, I think I’ll be making fondue more regularly, because I &^%*ing love it. And I can.

During our trip to Lexington, VA, I was brought along to a local country shop near the Natural Bridge landmark by my parents – they were right in thinking I would love it there. I walked out with a locally packaged version of HamBeen’s 15 Bean Soup, some blue raspberry jam, and most importantly – a just cut-off-the-wheel wedge of Wisconsin-sourced Hoop cheese.

I had big plans for this cheese. My boyfriend is a Packers fan – I mean it. All the TV yelling, furor over bad calls, and green and yellow trinkets in our living area. I’ve never seen anyone like something, so much.

The cheese’s meltability wasn’t the best – but all that meant was that we were going to have to eat the fondue screaming hot, to allow for the cheese solids to remain pull-able.

I had to bake soft pretzels to bring home this Bavarian-esque theme, along with beer-flavored sausages. Had to.

For the soft pretzels, having never made them before, I went with Alton Brown’s recipe. For some reason, I trust the guy on baking-related escapades like these. I am not a baker, so I rely heavily on well-tuned recipes when I do. They turned out great. Except, the portions of liquid to flour were a bit off, and I ended up adding about a half cup more flour than suggested. In the event anyone wants to make them, I’d recommend doing the same and it’s reflected in the recipe.

This recipe go-round was a fun test for me. First, making soft pretzels for the first time, which reminded me of the Amish store owners and bakers in Germantown, MD who can twist pretzel dough into shape in half a second and throw others into the baking soda water bath simultaneously with their other hand. Mine did not come out as uniformly as theirs. Next time, maybe.

The second lesson – a rule in melting down cheese. Not all cheese is going to get to that gooey state. There were several rounds and strategies used to melt the cheese that turned into the pot of scalding gold you see here.

Ultimately, know that the more notoriously meltable, softer cheeses – mozzarella, gruyere and processed stuff are your safest bet, but it doesn’t mean you can’t have your cheddar cheese and melt it too. 😊

I N G R E D I E N T S

Serves 4 to 6. Soft pretzel recipe makes 8 pretzels.

  • 1 lb. cheddar cheese, of your choosing, grated
  • 4 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 / 4 bottle Heineken beer (3 oz.)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon butter, salted or unsalted
  • 4 beer-flavored sausages
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Coarse mustard, if desired

F o r  t h e  S o f t  P r e t z e l s ( a d a p a t e d  c / o  A l t o n  B r o w n )

  • 1 1 / 2 cups warm water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 1 / 4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 3 1 / 4 cups flour
  • 2 ounces butter, melted
  • 10 cups water
  • 2 / 3 cup baking soda
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten with 1 tablespoon water
  • Pretzel salt or kosher salt, as needed
  • Vegetable oil, as needed

D I R E C T I O N S

( S o f t  P r e t z e l  D i r e c t i o n s  a d a p a t e d  c / o  A l t o n  B r o w n )

  1. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet. Brown the beer sausages on medium-high heat for 10 to 15 minutes, turning often, until all sides are deep brown and the sausage is cooked through. Remove from the heat, and slice on the diagonal. Set aside while you prepare the rest of the dish.
  2. Preheat oven to 450*. Line 2 half sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with oil. Set aside.
  3. Combine the 1 1/2 cups warm water, the sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Set aside for 5 minutes, or until the mixture foams.
  4. Add the flour and butter and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, 4 to 5 minutes.
  5. Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl, then oil it well. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside in a warm place for 50 to 55 minutes, or until the dough has doubled in size.
  6. Bring the 10 cups water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in a large saute pan or a roasting pan (something wide and shallow is best).
  7. Meanwhile, turn the dough out onto a lightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Make a U-shape with the rope, and, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Place on a half sheet pan. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough.
  8. One by one, place the pretzels in the boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula. Return them to the sheet pans, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture, and sprinkle liberally with salt.
  9. Bake until dark golden brown in color, 12 to 14 minutes. Allow to cool.
  10. To make the fondue, melt 1 tablespoon butter in a small skillet. Add the garlic, and sauté for 2 minutes or so. Add the heavy cream, beer and cheese, and allow to melt, stirring constantly. Allow to simmer for 3 to 4 minutes. While the cheese is scalding hot, serve the fondue, and eat with the soft pretzels, beer sausage and coarse mustard.

Mushroom Forager’s Soup

I’m in full-on mushroom mode this fall. Few things are better than that wholesome, nutty smell in my kitchen, and sautéed mushrooms are always a perfect bite before dinner. Add garlic to the sauté and you’ll hear earnest whimpers from my boyfriend about how good it smells. And they’re not too filling, either.

Did you a mushroom lover is called a mycophile?

I came across a organization with members that forage locally for mushrooms and host speakers with a deep knowledge of fungi – the Mycological Association of Washington, D.C. I saw a meeting they hosted on harvesting truffles, which piqued my interest for obvious reasons. I joined the group. They offer “forays” into the woods to seek out mushrooms – with experts. Don’t worry. I don’t want to be eating some red spotted toadstool mushroom, and be foaming at the mouth minutes later.

Anyone go mushroom foraging? What is it like?

I will usually buy mushrooms in bulk because I know they’ll get eaten – sometimes I’ll buy those stuffing mushrooms, other times I’ll get a huge bag of the loose cremini mushrooms.

But it’s a lot more fun to veer out of the produce aisle and head into the dried foods sections to seek out the interesting mushrooms stocked there. I hadn’t noticed the chanterelle mushrooms before. I’d usually just swing by to grab morels.

I was so excited to get home to taste these mushrooms – I couldn’t remember if I’ve had them before. They’re great reconstituted, almost spicy, but I can only imagine how much better they are fresh. Maybe it’s worth an order online. But for those who are like me without access to the fresh variety, the reconstituted dried chanterelles bring a deeper, woodsier flavor than your portabella or white cap mushrooms.

The base of this soup is a mushroom stock imbued with a variety of mushrooms I had on hand – baby bella, beech, oyster, shitake and chanterelle mushrooms all made the cut. Add some crushed garlic and springs of thyme, and that’s all she wrote. The stock was perfect.

If you love mushrooms, you’ll love this recipe. And if all else fails, just know you’re eating a cream-based soup, and really, how bad could that taste?

I N G R E D I E N T S

Serves 2.

  • 1 pound mushrooms of your choosing (I used baby bella, beech, oyster, shitake and reconstituted chanterelle mushrooms), plus 1 / 2 pound mushrooms of your choosing, sliced thick, for garnish, if desired
  • 4 springs thyme
  • 2 garlic gloves, crushed, plus 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 1 / 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 / 2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 / 2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons butter, salted or unsalted
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • Olive oil, as needed

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Combine the mushrooms, thyme, crushed garlic, 1 1 / 2 teaspoon salt and water in a pot. Allow to come to a boil. Simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, until the stock is a deep brown flavor. If using reconstituted chanterelle mushrooms, strain those mushrooms, and add that liquid to the pot as well.
  2. Strain the stock through a colander lined with a paper towel to eliminate the dirt. Set the stock aside.
  3. In the same pot, melt the butter. Add the minced garlic, and allow to cook on medium heat for 2 minutes. Add the flour, and stir until the flour is incorporated into the butter mixture. Add the milk, heavy cream, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, nutmeg, and bring to a light boil. Allow to simmer and thicken slightly, about 10 minutes.
  4. In the meantime, sautee a variety of mushrooms of your choosing (1 / 2 pound or so) in a skillet with olive oil, salt and pepper, for about 5 to 7 minutes on medium heat, until they are lightly browned. Set aside.
  5. Add 3 cups of the mushroom stock to the soup. Allow to simmer for 15 additional minutes, until the soup reaches a chowder consistency. Taste the soup for seasonings (salt & pepper), and adjust accordingly.
  6. Plate the soup, topping with extra sautéed mushrooms for garnish, if desired.

 

 

 

 

Butter-Poached Shake & Bake Drumsticks

I have no excuse for this one. I just know, that you know, you want to eat it.

There’s a butter poaching technique I saw used on steaks – and I knew I wanted to try it immediately. But this poaching process is simplified. No removal of the fat solids. No monitoring the liquefied butter to ensure it remains at exactly 135*. And most importantly, no baby pool sized vat of melted butter. A couple of sticks will do just fine.

Poach what, though? I thought drumsticks, because I’ve been getting back into them. My parents used to make them for us all the time as kids. I loved Shake and Bake night. If I was lucky, I even got to do the shaking! Anyone else know what I’m talking about?

I’m not sure why I took such a long hiatus from drumsticks – because they are a perfect poultry cut. And unabashedly cheap.

I’m a dark meat person for life. I’ve never bit into a piece of dark meat that wasn’t moist and flavorful as hell. Even if it wasn’t cooked perfectly. A chicken breast? Yeah, you can overcook it. We’ve all made that mistake before.

The other flavor I incorporated is an unmistakably American snack staple. Cheddar and sour cream – specifically, that yummy, dairy-laden powder you taste on Lay’s Cheddar & Sour Cream Potato Chips.  My boyfriend and I snack on that stuff like fiends. And when crushed into granules, I couldn’t think of a more delicious coating to flavor chicken.

The longer you poach these drumsticks in the butter, meat exposed to the liquid, the better they will be.  Like any marinade, protein will assimilate whatever liquid it’s submerged in. Being careful to abide by an appropriate don’t-leave-chicken-outside-the-fridge-for-too-long span of time for poultry, I poached the chicken in butter for about an hour.

Don’t be wary about serving these butter-soaked haunches of meat – I think if you set the right tone for your eaters, as in, this is a special caloric occasion, everything will go over completely fine.

And use whatever potato chips you want for this. I don’t think you can top Cheddar & Sour Cream, but I’ve been wrong before.

What crunchy coatings have you used on baked chicken?  I’ll be making this again, probably sooner than I should. 😊

I N G R E D I E N T S

Serves 2.

  • 6 chicken drumsticks
  • 1 / 2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 / 2 of an 8 1 / 2 oz. bag of Lay’s Cheddar & Sour Cream potato chips
  • 2 sticks butter, salted or unsalted
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper

D I R E C T I O N S

  1. Preheat the oven to *350.
  2. Melt the butter in a pan with high sides, that’s snug enough to fit the drumsticks in one layer.
  3. Remove the butter from the heat, wait until the butter is cooled, about 5 minutes, and submerge the chicken, letting the chicken sit in the butter for up to an hour, turning occasionally.
  4. In the meantime, crush the potato chips in a large Ziploc bag with a mallet or rolling pin. Add the panko bread crumbs, garlic powder, salt and pepper, seal the bag, and shake to combine.
  5. After an hour, remove the chicken from the butter and add the drumsticks to the Ziploc bag. Seal the bag, and shake until all pieces are coated.
  6. Place the drumsticks on a sheet pan, and bake for 1 hour, turning the pan half way through for even cooking.
  7. Serve hot.