Archive for the ‘Comfort Food’ Category

Laurel’s Squash Risotto

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

 
This recipe was inspired by Laurel Ritmiller Lucrezia of Boston. I “met” Laurel on Facebook when she informed Mass Farmers Markets (and therefore all of that organization’s friends!) that she was getting ready to make some butternut squash risotto. I was taken by the idea and asked her for her recipe.
 
Of course, being me and having the ingredients I had in the house, I changed the recipe! (Laurel said I should feel free to do so.) 

I had just used up my butternut squash so I tried a delicata instead. The butternut would probably provide squashier flavor and require more chicken stock since it’s larger. The delicata was lovely, however. Its flavor was subtle, and it lent a gorgeous seasonal color to the risotto.

 
The Risotto
 
Ingredients:
 
1 medium delicata squash
4 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) sweet butter plus another 1/4 cup later if desired
2/3 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1-1/4 cups Arborio rice or long-grain rice
1 cup white wine
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup finely diced carrots (optional)
4 teaspoons chopped parsley
several sage leaves, finely chopped
I small fresh tomato, diced
grated parmesan cheese to taste (start with 1/2 cup)
1 6-1/2 ounce roll of chèvre cheese (optional but what a great idea)
 
Instructions:
 
Peel the squash. Cut off the ends and scoop out the seeds and the goop in the middle.
 
Cut 3/4 of the squash into small cubes. Cut the remaining quarter into tiny julienne strips and set them aside.
 
Pour the chicken stock into a saucepan and pop in the cubes of squash. Cover and cook until the squash softens, about 20 minutes. Let the squash and liquid cool for a couple of minutes and then puree them. I used a potato masher for this, but you could also employ a food processor or blender.
 
Put the squash stock into the saucepan and keep it on low heat as you make the risotto.
 
In a heavy saucepan over moderate heat melt 1/4 cup butter and add the onion and garlic. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Add the rice. Cook for 1 minute.
 
Add 3/4 cup of the wine plus the bell pepper and carrots (if you’re using them), and stir. Add 1 cup of squash stock and keep stirring.
 
As the mixture cooks and the rice dries up, add the remaining squash stock a bit at a time. Cooking will take quite a while–somewhere between half an hour and 45 minutes. (In my experience, the only sure-fire way to know whether risotto is done is to taste it and decide whether the rice has cooked.) If you run out of squash stock, add a small amount of water.
 
About 20 minutes into cooking your risotto, add the small pieces of squash.
 
Just before serving, add the tomatoes, the herbs, the remaining wine, the last bit of butter (if you want an extra rich risotto), and the parmesan.
 
For extra deliciousness, top each serving with a wedge of chèvre. I didn’t have any in the house so I omitted this, but I’m trying it next time! 

Serves 6.


If you enjoyed this post, please consider taking out an email subscription to my blog. Just click on the link below!

Subscribe to In Our Grandmothers’ Kitchens by Email.

Sue’s Enchilagna

Friday, October 15th, 2010

 
There’s a chill in the air. We have had our first frost, and comfort food is on the menu of the day.
 
Luckily for me, Sue Haas of Seattle has come forward with another tasty recipe—a layered version of enchiladas that saves prep time over rolling. She says she was inspired by Mexican food she ate in Los Angeles.
 
Sue adds that one can substitute 1 pound of cooked chicken or 10 ounces frozen spinach (thawed) for the browned ground beef. I haven’t tried either, but both sound good.
 
I received photos of Sue’s own enchilagna, which looked a lot neater than mine (presentation was never my forte), but unfortunately her camera’s focus was off so readers are stuck with my messy version.
 
I added the chili powder and cumin, which didn’t overwhelm the dish at all. Next time, I think I’ll use a little more cheese (I skimped a bit on cheese so the top of my tortillas dried up a little) and try using the green chili salsa Sue suggested. I like my enchiladas wet! 

The basic flavor of the dish as written worked very well, however. And its warmth and heartiness made my guests (and their hostess) very happy last night. Thank you, Sue!

 
 
The Casserole
 
Ingredients:
 
1 pound ground beef
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
olive oil as needed
3 green onions, chopped (2 for sauce; 1 to sprinkle on top before baking)
2 4-ounce cans diced green chile peppers, mild (or use green chile salsa for a spicier flavor)
1 14.5-ounce can stewed tomatoes, chopped
2 fresh medium tomatoes, diced (optional)
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
salt and pepper to taste (about 1 teaspoon of salt and a dash of pepper should be enough)
1/ 2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
8 ounces Monterey jack or cheddar cheese, grated (about 2 cups)
1 dozen small corn tortillas (yellow or white corn tortillas)
1 pint sour cream
3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)
 
Instructions:
 
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
 
Brown the ground beef and drain it. In a separate pan cook the onion and garlic in just a little olive oil until the onion pieces are translucent. Add the 2 green onions, the green chiles, the stewed tomatoes, the tomato sauce, the fresh tomatoes (if you are using them) the salt, the pepper, and the spices. Simmer about 10 minutes and keep warm on low heat.
 
Meanwhile, cut the tortillas into quarters. Put a generous dab (about 1 tablespoonful) of sour cream on each piece of tortilla and make a layer on the bottom of a lightly oiled 9″ x 13″ baking pan.
 
Add a layer of the meat mixture; then add a layer of grated jack cheese. Continue layering the tortillas with dabs of sour cream, meat (or chicken or spinach) mixture, and grated cheese, until all is used. There should be about 3 layers. End with a top layer of tortillas dabbed with sour cream, grated cheese, and 1 chopped green onion (and chopped cilantro, optional).
 
Bake until the casserole is bubbly and hot, and the cheese and sour cream are slightly browned, about 30 minutes. Serve with salsa, as desired.
 
Serves 6 (large servings) to 12 (small servings).

Stockton Asparagus and Chicken Enchiladas

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

 
This creamy casserole comes from a small, gem-packed cookbook sent to me by the Stockton Asparagus Festival in Stockton, California. I think next time I may try spicing it up a little—or I may not! My family ate every bite of it this way.
 
In my constant quest for spice I often forget that mild flavors can be appealing as well.
 
The original recipe called for 3 to 4 cups chicken broth. I used 4—and as you can see from the photo below my enchiladas were very wet! So I suggest sticking to 3………
 
Have fun!

 
Asparagus and Chicken Enchiladas
 
Ingredients:
 
2 pounds asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
12 tortillas (I used flour)
oil as needed for softening tortillas
1/2 cup (1 stick) sweet butter
1/2 cup flour
3 cups chicken broth
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup salsa verde (a little more if you like)
3 cups (generous) grated cheese—Monterery Jack or sharp cheddar or a mixture of the 2
2-1/2 to 3 cups cooked, shredded chicken
1/2 cup chopped onions
 
Instructions:
 
Blanch the asparagus for 2 minutes. Cool them with ice cubes and drain them; set them aside.
 
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
 
Cook each tortilla briefly on both sides in an oiled skillet until it softens. Set the tortillas aside to drain and cool.
 
In a saucepan melt the butter. Whisk in the flour for a minute; then whisk in the broth. Cook until thick and bubbly, stirring constantly.
 
Add the sour cream and salsa; heat thoroughly. Remove from heat.
 
Mix together 2 cups of the cheese, the chicken, the onion pieces, and the asparagus. Divide this mixture evenly among the tortillas, and top each with 3 tablespoons of sauce.
 
Roll up the tortillas and place them, seam-side down, in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with the remaining sauce and cheese.
 
Bake for 25 minutes. Serves 6.
 

If you enjoyed this post, please consider taking out an email subscription to my blog. Just click on the link below!

Subscribe to In Our Grandmothers’ Kitchens by Email.

 

Southwestern Cheese Fondue

Monday, April 19th, 2010

 
My family members and I are currently stoveless. My sister-in-law Leigh recently ordered a high-end gas range, which arrived a week and a half ago.
 
Unfortunately, the price tag on the new toy from Viking isn’t merely financial. The stove is eating into Leigh’s time and patience as well her pocketbook. It is apparently designed ONLY to go into a spanking new kitchen, not to fit neatly into an existing kitchen.
 
Leigh has had to hire not only a plumber to put in a gas line (which she expected) but a handyman to design a pipe for the exhaust system, an electrician to put in new wires, and a carpenter to fit the stove into the wall.
 
Some of them have come, some of them are still expected, and some of them are going to have to come back. Meanwhile, the stove sits in the middle of the kitchen annoying everyone, particularly the cats.
 

Miss Modigliani is NOT amused.

 
Actually, my mother isn’t annoyed—but then she has memory issues. Whenever she spots the stove she just compliments Leigh on how beautifully clean it is.
 
With no working burners or oven we’re taking advantage every other cooking appliance in and out of the house—the grill, the microwave, the slow cooker.
 
Yesterday evening the fondue pot enjoyed its moment in the sun. Happily, our fondue pot is electric so all the heating (not just warming) could be done at the table.
 
My brother was lobbying for a traditional Swiss fondue with Gruyère and Emmantaler, particularly since my most recent fondue was also nontraditional.
 
Most people credit the Swiss with inventing fondue to get them through winter months full of stale bread and cheese, and I do love classic fondue.
 
I found cilantro and a jalapeño pepper in the house, however, so my brother had to eat yet another non-fondue fondue. He managed very nicely.
 
The flavorings here are really a guideline. If you want more pepper, as I say below, use more (or use the seeds!). If you don’t want to taste the cumin, omit it. If you have small children in the house you may want to skip the cilantro—or let adults put it on their own portions.
 
Enjoy……
 
 
The Fondue
 
Ingredients:
 
2 to 3 cloves garlic, slightly crushed
1 pound shredded cheese—mixed Monterey Jack and sharp cheddar
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup Mexican beer
2 plum tomatoes, diced
1 can (4 ounces) mild green chiles
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced (more if you like spice)
1 tablespoon lime juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
3 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
1 medium baguette, cut into bite-sized pieces
carrot and celery sticks
 
Instructions:
 
Rub the inside of a fondue pot with the garlic; then discard the cloves.
 
In a bowl toss together the cheese and the flour.
 
Bring the beer to a boil in the fondue pot. Add the tomatoes, the chiles, the pepper, the lime juice, and the spices—but not the cilantro.
 
Reduce the heat and stir in the cheese/flour mixture. Continue to stir until the cheese has melted. Stir in the cilantro.
 
Dip the bread and vegetable pieces into your fondue. Serves 4.

 

If you enjoyed this post, please consider taking out an email subscription to my blog. Just click on the link below!

Subscribe to In Our Grandmothers’ Kitchens by Email.

Saint Sara’s Chicken Enchilada Casserole

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

Left to right: Sara, Tinky, and Alice (yes, I am really that much of a shrimp!)

 
This Tex-Mex dish is more Tex than Mex, but non-purists will enjoy its bubbly warmth.
 
The recipe comes from my dear friend Sara Stone in Waco, Texas, possible the nicest person in the whole world.
 
Here’s just one of Sara’s kind deeds: when I was trying to finish my doctoral dissertation, she invited me to stay in her house for the month or so we thought it would take to do the final rewrites.
 
It took me A YEAR to finish up the darn thing.
 
Sara never once complained about the messy cooking or the show tunes or the diet-coke cans or the vintage TV programs or the piles of paper or the general Tinkyness of her apparently permanent houseguest.
 
She even managed to laugh when an experimental cake exploded in her oven on the hottest day of the year. (I can almost still smell the fumes as I type this.)
 
That’s not just being a nice person. That’s being a saint.
 
This casserole is a little like her—colorful and comforting. I think it might have a sense of humor, too.
 
I was lucky enough to see Sara last spring when the Mount Holyoke Club of San Antonio flew me to Texas to cook with them.
 
Playing with the Mount Holyoke crowd was fun and enlightening. Texas has tons more fresh produce in early June than Massachusetts, and the alums and their husbands certainly knew what to do with it.
 
After I left San Antonio I enjoyed a wonderful reunion with Sara and another friend and former roommate, the brilliant and funny Alice from Dallas. Husbands and kids rounded out the crowd. (Both Sara and Alice were smart enough to marry people I like.)
 
Need I add that the food at our reunion was fabulous?
 
I made Sara’s casserole recently because I get a kick out of being reminded of her—and because my family loves it. Here is her recipe. It serves a crowd.
 
 
 
The Casserole
 
Ingredients:
 
1 2-to-3 pound chicken
vegetables as needed for making broth
salt and pepper to taste
1 medium onion, chopped
2 to 3 tablespoons butter
1 can (about 10 ounces) cream of chicken soup
1 can (about 10 ounces) cream of mushroom soup
1 small (4 ounces) can green chiles, chopped
about 8 corn tortillas, ripped into pieces (about 3 to 4 per tortilla)
1 pound store (Cheddar or similar) cheese, grated
 
Instructions:
 
First, cook the chicken. Bring it to a boil in a pan of water with vegetables appropriate for making a rich broth (onion, garlic, celery, perhaps a carrot or two—and some parsley if you have it in the house), plus salt and pepper; then turn it down and simmer it until it is tender and the broth is flavorful. This will take about 2 hours. Stir occasionally during this process, and don’t forget to add more water if you need it.
 
Drain the chicken, saving the broth, and set it aside to cool briefly. Strain out 1 cup of the broth. The remainder of the broth may be used for cooking or sipping at your leisure. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, strip the meat from the bones and shred it.
 
When you are ready to proceed with the casserole, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Brown the onion in the butter. Combine the soups, broth, onion pieces, and green chiles in a saucepan. Add the pieces of chicken and heat well.
 
In a baking dish, place a layer of broken tortillas, a layer of chicken sauce, and a layer of cheese. Repeat until the casserole is filled. Repeat this layering process. Bake the casserole until it is bubbly around the edges, about 30 minutes.
 
Serves 10 to 12.
 
 

Messy but yummy!

If you enjoyed this post, please consider taking out an email subscription to my blog. Just click on the link below!

Subscribe to In Our Grandmothers’ Kitchens by Email.