Yeah, you heard me. I said carrot purée. If you guys know me by now, you know I love sneaking in extra vegetables where I can. And if it adds more color, it's a win win. This risotto is rich, creamy, aromatic, and has just a hint of sweetness from the carrot purée. It pairs really nicely with a simply arugula salad (and a crisp glass of white wine), and is always impressive to guests. The only problem with risotto is that it doesn't really reheat that well, so you're just gonna have to finish this whole thing tonight :)
A lot of people have this misconception that making risotto requires a higher level of skill, but honestly, it's one of the easiest things you can make- it just requires your near-undivided attention. I think the babysitting aspect of making risotto is what deters most people, but I find it to be extremely therapeutic. The heady scent of white wine and onions cooking together will fill your kitchen and make you feel fuzzy inside, and there is something so calming about the repetition of stirring and ladling, stirring and ladling, stirring and ladling.... see what I mean?
*Kitchen Tip* I've found that the best way to make risotto is with a glass of wine in your free hand... ;) Have I mentioned I like wine? But really, you deserve it. You're going to be standing at the stove for an hour- treat yourself.
It's important to always keep your broth at the same temperature as the rice. As the rice continues to cook and absorb the broth, it will puff up and release its' starch, which is what gives risotto that signature creaminess. Adding liquid that is too cool will reduce the risotto's temperature, interrupting the cooking process and causing the risotto to cook unevenly.
• 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice (uncooked)
• 4 1/2 cups vegetable stock (in general the larger cartons of stock are about 32 oz. Feel free to use water for that last 1/2 cup)
Note: you may need more or less broth
• 1 cup white wine (plus more for you)
• 1 small onion (chopped)
• 3 garlic cloves
• 3 tbsp butter
• 4 carrots (chopped in large chunks)
• 1/3 cup frozen sweet peas (thawed)
• 1 cup of broccoli (cut into florets)
• 1/3 cup zucchini (diced)
• 1 cup grated parmesan
• 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley (finely chopped)
• 1 tbsp olive oil
• Salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)
**Be sure to have all ingredients measured out and chopped up before you start the risotto**
• Start with your purée. Add carrots, water (just enough to cover the carrots), and a pinch of salt to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and allow carrots to cook until tender. Saving the liquid, remove the carrots and add to a blender or food processor. Add about 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid and blend until smooth. Add about a tbsp of cooking liquid as necessary, until carrots have reached the right consistency. It should basically have the consistency of baby food- very smooth, but not too watery. Set aside when done.
• Heat the broth in a small saucepan until the liquid starts steaming. Adjust heat as necessary to keep the liquid hot, without simmering, as you cook the risotto.
• Over medium heat, melt the butter in a large pot. Add onions and cook down until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add salt, pepper, and garlic. Cook until fragrant, about one minute.
• Add the rice, and give it a few stirs so that the butter covers all of the grains. Let the rice toast for about a minute, stirring occasionally.
• Add wine, inhale the AROMA, and let cook until most of the liquid is absorbed.
Note: throughout the duration of this process, you will be adding liquid and cooking down until most, not all, is absorbed. You always want a thin layer of liquid covering the rice.
• Add a ladleful of broth (about 1/2 cup) and continue to stir occasionally until most of the liquid is absorbed. Continue to repeat this process until you've added half of your broth.
• At this point, add in your carrot purée, and with that same method, stir occasionally until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Then return to ladling in the broth. Continue doing this until your risotto is creamy and al dente.
• While your risotto is cooking, heat a tbsp of oil in a non-stick skillet. Add broccoli, with a pinch of salt, and sauté until bright green. Add zucchini and continue to sauté until tender. I like to get a little sear on the zucchini as well. Remove from heat and set aside.
• Once risotto is done, add in your broccoli, zucchini, peas, and parsley. Stir to combine and cook for about a minute, allowing all of the flavors to come together.
• Add parmesan and stir until cheese has melted
• Season with more cracked black pepper. Taste before adding any extra salt- parm is salty on its' own
Stir fry is one of my favorite week night dinners to make. It's quick, easy, healthy, and a great way to use up almost any leftover veggies you've got in the fridge. I'd say the two keys to making a good stir fry are 1) keeping just the right amount of crispiness in the veggies, and 2) the SAUCE. After experimenting with dozens of stir fry sauces, I can confidently say that THIS one is perfection. It's creamy, savory, and bright, with a hint of spice. After adding it to the noodles, I can usually be found scraping the remaining sauce out of the bowl and spooning it into my mouth. No judgment.
This stir fry also goes well with shrimp (if you're into that, which I am not, but Sterling is), so I'll give you the ingredients for the quick marinade I like to make for the shrimp, and how to prepare them.
This is my ultimate number one favorite stir fry that I've made to date. It's so colorful, vibrant, quick to make, and deeelicious. I think it'll be your favorite too.
Ingredients (makes approx. 4 servings):
• 10 oz stir fry rice noodles (I like this kind from Thai Kitchen)
• 1-2 tbsp coconut or olive oil
• 1 heaping cup broccoli (cut into florets)
• 1/2 cup cauliflower (cut into florets)
• 1/2 cup red cabbage (sliced)
• Half large red bell pepper (sliced)
• Half large green or yellow bell pepper (sliced)
• 3 large carrots (julienned and cut into 1-2" slices)
• 1/3 cup frozen edamame (thawed)
• 2 cloves garlic (diced)
Sauce (increase by 1 unit per ingredient if you like it mo' saucy)
• 2 tbsp creamy peanut butter
• 4 and 1/2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
• 2 tsp sesame oil
• 1 tsp sriracha (or more, to taste)
• Half tbsp fresh ground ginger (or the tubed kind)
I use the large frozen ones, shelled and deveined. Since I'm only ever making the shrimp for Sterling, I typically make like half a pound, give or take, so please adjust your marinade ingredients accordingly. In any case, you don't need a lot of marinade, just enough to mostly cover the shrimp.
• 2-3 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
• 1/2 tsp garlic powder
• 1 tsp sriracha
Toasted sesame seeds
Sliced green onions or scallions
• Cook rice noodles according to package instructions, and prepare sauce (by whisking all sauce ingredients together) for later.
• In a large skillet with deep sides (I use a small wok... That I own.....), heat 1 tbsp oil over medium high heat. Once hot, add broccoli, cauliflower, and a dash of salt. Stirring occasionally, cook until both are tender and broccoli is bright green. Add 1 more tbsp of oil if needed. The broccoli should be totally cooked through and tender, but should still have a slight crisp.
Note: my favorite trick to cooking fibrous veggies, such as broccoli, without extra oil is to add a tbsp of water to the skillet. My mom taught me this.. Hi Mom! Stir continuously until water evaporates. Keep doing this until you've reached desired tenderness. Add an additional pinch of salt as well.
• Once broccoli and cauliflower are tender, add cabbage, peppers, and carrots. Cook about 3-4 minutes, or until tender. Stir occasionally.
• Add edamame and garlic and cook until garlic is fragrant
• Pour half of your sauce over the veggies, then add the rice noodles and top with remaining sauce. Stir to combine and remove from heat. Garnish with sesame seeds and onions
• Add marinade ingredients to a bowl, add shrimp, and toss. Let marinate for 10 minutes
• Spray a large skillet or grill pan with non-stick cooking spray, and heat over medium high heat
• Once hot, add shrimp and cook each side for 2-3 minutes, or until opaque and slightly pink
Top your noodles with your shrimp (or dont!) and enjoy!!
I’d suggest making this when you’ve got extra time on your hands. This is a really fun dish to make because it pushes you a little out of your comfort zone, without being too technically complex. I woke up at 7 am on a Saturday morning, hungover and hungry, contemplating where the day might take me. The first thing I do in the morning, like any douche of a millennial, is check social media, and the first thing I saw on Facebook was this scratch-made-no-ravioli-mold-necessary recipe from Proper Tasty. I immediately decided that I would be making ravioli that night. Would I have made this decision if I wasn’t in a hazy, morning-after-a-3-am-night fog? Yes, probably, because I love pasta and I love cooking.
The first step is to make the dough. You’ll let it rise for about an hour, while preparing the filling, shrimp, and blackened seasoning in the meantime. Once the dough has risen, you’re going to roll it out long and THIN across a floured surface. As thin as possible without being transparent. Then add dollops of the filling, evenly spaced about 3/4 inch apart, along the left half of the dough.
Slice the dough down the middle, leaving about half an inch of space between the filling and the edge of the dough. Brush water (or beaten egg white) around the filling. This will act as a glue to help bind the two layers. Press the naked slice of dough on top of the strip with the filling. With your fingers, press around the filling to eliminate air bubbles, and flatten the edges while fusing the two strips together. Slice evenly between the filling bubbles in that empty, flat portion of dough.
Once done, you’ll be left with this decadent masterpiece. Keep reading for a detailed step by step :)
• 2.5 cups all purpose flour
• 3 eggs
• 1/4 cup water
• 4 oz goat cheese
• 2/3 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese (or you can do 1/3 parm, 1/3 Italian 6 cheese blend)
• Bag of spinach (about 9 oz)
• Salt and pepper to taste
• Dash of nutmeg
Sauce (adapted from Damn Delicious)
• 2 tbsp unsalted butter
• 2 cloves garlic
• 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
• 1.5 cups milk (I used unflavored, unsweetened almond milk to lighten it up)
• 1.5 tsp dried thyme
• 1/4 cup half & half
• 1/4 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese or Italian 6 cheese blend
• 1/4 cup pasta water
• Sea salt and ground black pepper to taste
• 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
• 1 lb raw or frozen (and thawed) large shrimp (shelled and deveined)
Note: I used medium sized shrimp in this recipe, which is what I had on hand, but I think it would be better with the larger guys
• 1/2 tbsp and 1 tsp paprika
• 1/2 tbsp garlic powder
• 1/2 tbsp onion powder
• 1/2 tbsp dried thyme
• 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
• 1/2 tsp cayenne
• 1/2 tsp dried basil
Pasta Dough: add flour to large mixing bowl. Create a small well in the middle and add eggs and water. Mix with fork until incorporated, then knead with hands for 5 minutes to get the gluten working. Work those biceps, boo. Cover in saran wrap and let sit in fridge for an hour
Filling: Add spinach to non-stick skillet, cover, and cook over low heat, allowing spinach to wilt down. Once wilted, remove cover and let cook until water evaporates. Make sure to stir every few minutes or spinach will stick to the skillet. Once water has mostly evaporated, remove from skillet and lay on paper towel. Take another paper towel and press down on spinach to absorb excess water (if you have a cheesecloth, that would be easier ~and more environmentally friendly!). Now combine all filling ingredients in a small bowl and mix.
Create the ravioli:
• Preheat oven to 400º
• Flour work surface. Remove dough from fridge and cut in two equal halves. Take the first half and roll it out to somewhere around 16″ x 6″. Again, make sure it’s nice and thin.
• Add dollops (a tbsp or so) of filling evenly along one side of the dough. Leave about 3/4 inch between each dollop.
• Brush water (or beaten egg whites) around each dollop to create a glue to seal the two layers of dough
• Cut the sheet of dough in half lengthwise, leaving about half an inch of space between the filling and the edge of the dough
• Lay the naked sheet of dough evenly on top of the filling, and with your fingers, press around the filling to release any pockets of air. Press the top layer into the bottom, fusing the two
• Cut the ravioli into individual pieces. Set aside.
*now bring a large pot of salted water to a boil*
Shrimp: Add all blackened seasonings to a small bowl and mix. Season shrimp with salt, then toss in blackened mixture. Space shrimp evenly across lined, greased baking sheet and cook for 8-10 minutes, or until cooked through.
• Melt butter over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, while stirring, until fragrant. Whisk in flour until lightly browned.
• Gradually whisk in milk, thyme, and black pepper. Make sure to add the milk slowly, while whisking quickly, to avoid any clumps.
• Once incorporated, stir in half & half and cheese.
• Allow to simmer while pasta cooks. If sauce gets too thick, add about a quarter cup of the pasta water
Pasta: Add ravioli to boiling water and cook for five minutes (fresh pasta cooks much faster than boxed), or until the raviolis rise to the top. Remove with slotted spoon or oil skimmer.
Now just plate the pasta, pour on the sauce, top with the shrimp (if you must) and garnish with freshly chopped parsley and more cracked black pepper! Enjoy and pat yourself on the back!
Caramelized Onions. Goat Cheese. Basil. Bread. Jesus be a flatbread. This is crisp, chewy, creamy, rich, and a breeze to make. It’s a real crowd pleaser, I guarantee it. My cousin came over a couple weeks ago and cooked us a FEAST (I’m talking ribs, empanadas, salmon, arroz con gandules, everything). There was so much food, but I still wanted to contribute, so I whipped this up right quick and served it as an appetizer. Our bellies were happy (and extremely full).
• 1 Flatbread. I used this one from Stonefire. I think it was about 8×9″
• 2-3 tbsp olive oil
• 2 medium sweet onions (sliced)
• 6 oz fresh goat cheese
• 8-10 leaves of fresh basil (chiffonade… I don’t know if this is a verb or an adjective)
• Splash of balsamic vinegar
• Tsp of sea salt
• Pinch of sugar
• 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
• Cracked red pepper
Note: We are cooking these onions looooow and sloooowwww (about 30 minutes) to build maximum flavor, texture, and sweetness.
• Preheat oven to 425 degrees
• Heat 1 tbsp oil in skillet over high heat. Once hot, add onions, and allow most of them to develop a nice sear, stirring every so often so as not to burn
• Once most of the onions have seared, reduce heat to low. Add salt, black pepper, sugar, and a splash of balsamic vinegar to deglaze the pan. Stir.
• Now let the onions do their thing. And you can go do yours (set the table, read a book, twerk to Work, whatever). Just come stir them every 5-10 minutes.
• Once the onions have caramelized to candy perfection, take the remaining oil and brush it all over the flatbread.
• Sprinkle evenly with the onions, and add small dollops of the goat cheese to any empty spaces so that every bite is delicious. So that it cooks evenly, press the goat cheese down with your thumb to flatten it out a bit. You could also brush a little olive oil over the cheese, to help it stay moist in the oven.
• Place the flatbread on a lined baking sheet and bake for about 8-10 minutes, or until the edges have browned and the goat cheese has softened.
• Chiffonade (verb? adjective?) your basil. Here’s how to do it.
• Remove flatbread from oven and top with basil and cracked red pepper
• Serve immediately
• Take a bow
Hi! I'm Shantal.