Sunday, February 26, 2023

ChezCindy: Shortcut Italian Shrimp Risotto


A delicious one-pan Shrimp and Rice recipe using Italian arborio rice becomes an easy weeknight dinner.  

Standard process when using arborio rice to make risotto requires 20 minutes of continuous stirring while adding warm stock.  I generally don't mind this process as it is somewhat meditative to stir while enjoying a glass of wine.  However, this quick cooking method came out wonderfully well in about the same amount of time with much less hands-on engagement.  Dinner that is pretty, quick, and delicious.  

Shortcut Italian Shrimp Risotto
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 small shallots, chopped (about 1/4 cup)
1 14-ounce can of whole tomatoes, drained
2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1 cup arborio rice
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 cups unsalted chicken broth
1/4 cup water
1-pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined (16/20)
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
3 cups fresh baby spinach
1/4 cup chopped basil

Working with a large, straight-sided pan over medium-high heat, add in the oil and heat for 30 seconds.  Add in the chopped shallots, stirring for 1 minute until softened.  Add in the drained tomatoes and 1 teaspoon of salt, stirring and crushing the tomatoes with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. Cook for 2-3 minutes.  Stir in the arborio rice, stirring to coat each grain, cooking for about 3 minutes until lightly toasted.  Stir in the white wine, cooking until it is nearly evaporated.  Add in the chicken broth, water, and 1/2 teaspoon salt, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat.  Cover the pan, cooking at a low simmer for 10 minutes.  The rice will not be cooked through as yet.  

Season the shrimp with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, oregano and pepper flakes. Place the shrimp into the pan, nestle each one-by-one into the par-cooked rice.  Add in the spinach, cover and continue cooking for 7-8 minutes.  The shrimp will turn pink in color still tender to the touch and the spinach will be bright green and wilted.  Remove the pan from the heat, sprinkle with the chopped basil and serve.  

Friday, February 24, 2023

Chez Cindy: Rainbow S'mores Rice Krispies Treats


This is a fun mash-up to two favorite sweet treats!  S'mores and Rice Krispies Treats.  Bring this dessert to your next family gathering and even the adults will smile with joy.  

I created this recipe for a Young Chefs cooking class I recently taught at The Seasoned Farmhouse.  The kids loved making it and eating it!  The recipe starts with the standard Rice Krispies Treats process, but added to the cereal mix is a full pack of graham crackers broken into small bits.  Of course, chocolate and marshmallows are added to complete the full S'mores flavor.  Adding rainbow sprinkles makes any day a party.  

Rainbow S’mores Rice Krispies Treats

What you will need:  
3 tablespoons unsalted butter 
8-ounces large marshmallows
1 pack graham crackers (from a 14.4-ounce box containing 3 packs)
5 cups Rice Krispies cereal

2 cups mini marshmallows
1 cup mini chocolate chips
½ cup rainbow sprinkles

How to make it:

1. Prepare a 9 x 13-inch baking pan by lightly spraying it with baking spray.  Break the graham crackers into ½-inch pieces placing them into a small bowl, set aside.  Measure out all the remaining ingredients, setting them aside.  

2. In a large, deep saucepan melt the butter over medium-low heat.  Add the large marshmallows, stirring frequently until melted.  Remove from the heat to a work surface.

3. Stir in the Rice Krispies cereal and the graham cracker pieces.  Transfer half of the mixture to the prepared baking pan.  Use a small piece of wax paper to spread the mixture evenly into the pan.  

4. Sprinkle half of the toppings, mini marshmallows (1-cup), mini chocolate chips (1/2-cup), and half of the rainbow sprinkles (1/4-cup) spreading evenly over the top.  Press lightly into the cereal mixture.

5. Transfer the remaining cereal mixture over the toppings, again spreading evenly to cover the first layer of toppings.  Sprinkle the remaining toppings over the cereal mixture, pressing them into the top.  

6. Cool for 5-10 minutes until fully set.  Cut into large squares and enjoy.  

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

ChezCindy: Chocolate Lava Cakes

The chocolate lava cake has been an iconic dessert for decades.  It first appeared on the restaurant scene in the late 1990s.  Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten is primarily given credit for the creation of the dish.  Some even saying it was the result of an error in the kitchen having underbaked the cake.  Once served, the cake became a popular "mistake" and one of the most popular and copied desserts across the nation.    

The recipe is surprisingly easy and can also be made ahead of time, with the unbaked cakes stored in the refrigerator until ready to bake and serve.  The trick to serving the cake is having confidence in inverting the ramekin to release the cake on to the serving plate.  Be bold.  You can do it.  

Make-ahead Chocolate Lava Cakes
1 stick unsalted butter (8 tablespoons)
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, 60% cocoa butter
2 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
¼ cup sugar
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Butter and lightly flour 4 6-ounce ramekins, placing on a sheet pan.  Set aside.

Working with a double boiler over simmering water, melt the butter with the chocolate stirring to combine.  Remove the top pan from the double boiler and set aside to cool slightly.  

In a medium bowl using a hand mixer, or in the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the eggs with the egg yolks, sugar and salt on high speed until thickened and pale.  This will take about 4-5 minutes.  

Using a rubber spatula, fold the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture, folding in the flour additionally until just combined.  Spoon the batter into the prepared ramekins, dividing the batter equally among each.  At this point, the cakes can be kept at room temperature for 1 hour or stored in the refrigerator for 1-2 days before baking.  If kept in the fridge, bring to room temperature for 30-40 minutes before baking.  

Place the sheet pan with the filled ramekins into the hot oven, baking for 8-11 minutes, depending on how soft you prefer your cake.  Bake less time for a more fluid lava texture.  The sides of the cakes will be firm with the center being soft and still very shiny.  Remove the sheet pan from the oven.  Let the cakes cool for 30-60 seconds.  

Place the serving plate on top of the ramekin.  Using a towel to protect your hands from the hot ramekins, carefully and with confidence, invert the ramekin and plate, allowing the cake to drop onto the plate.  Let the ramekin stand in place for 15 seconds, then remove it to reveal the cake.  Serve immediately.  Vanilla ice cream and raspberry sauce are a nice accompaniment to the chocolate cake. 

Sunday, February 5, 2023

ChezCindy: Sweet Glazed Chocolate Chip Scones


February brings thoughts of chocolate.  This indulgent scone, filled with chopped chunks of rich chocolate, glazed with a sweet sugar-cream glaze, fulfills all chocolate dreams.  Perfectly paired with a glass of Brut Champagne, but equally lovely with your morning coffee.  

The recipe is based on one from a cookbook titled Chocolate Passion by Trish Boyle and Timothy Moriarty.  The contents of the book present a history of, great information about, and recipes for every type of chocolate.  I have spent a lot of time with this book.  

Making this recipe yields 16 large scones.*   The baked scones can be frozen before glazing.  Allow the scones to come to room temperature before adding the glaze.  If not eaten soon after baking, I recommend warming them in the oven or microwave briefly to slightly melt the chocolate.  

Sweet Glazed Chocolate Chip Scones
4 cups all-purpose flour
5 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
3/4 cup cold unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks)
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup heavy cream
4 large eggs, cold
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
16-ounces dark chocolate, 60% cocoa, such as Ghirardelli 4-ounce bars

Sweet-Cream Glaze
1 cup powdered sugar
3-4 tablespoons heavy cream

*Recipe is suitable to make half the recipe to yield 8 large scones.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Line 2 large sheet pans with parchment paper.   Hand cut the chocolate bars into small, ragged pieces, using a large knife.  Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, add in the flour, baking powder, and salt, whisking to combine.  

Cut the cold butter into small 1/2-inch pieces, adding them to the flour mixture.  Using your hands, toss the butter pieces to coat each piece in flour.  Using a pastry cutter or your fingers, cut or rub the butter into the flour mixture until the butter is the size of small pearls.  Stir in the sugar to combine.  

In a separate medium bowl, add in the cream, eggs, and vanilla, whisk to combine.  Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture, stirring to combine.  Stir in the chopped chocolate. The dough will be lightly sticky and shaggy.  Turn the shaggy dough onto your work surface, kneading a few times until the dough comes together.  Divide the dough into 2 equal parts.  Form each piece into a 7-inch round disk.  Place each disk onto the parchment lined sheet pans.  Cut each disk into 8 pie-shaped wedges, without cutting through the parchment paper.  Separate each wedge slightly apart to allow the scones room to expand and puff up.    

Bake the scones 1 sheet pan at a time for 18 minutes.  Keep the waiting pan with unbaked scones cold by placing the pan into the refrigerator or freezer.  Bake until the scones are lightly browned and slightly springy to the touch.  Remove the pan from the oven, keeping the scones on the pan for 1 minute.  Then transfer the scones to a cooling rack.  Bake the second tray.  

Make the sugar-cream glaze, drizzling when the scones have cooled.  

Sugar-Cream Glaze
Add the powdered sugar into a small bowl.  Add in 2-3 tablespoons of cream, whisking to combine, adding more cream a little at a time, until the mixture is slightly thin and pourable.  Drizzle over the scones.   

Sunday, January 29, 2023

ChezCindy: Carrots & Leeks with Honey-Vinegar Glaze


Vegetables in winter can be kind of ho-hum.  I was looking at the choices in my vegetable drawer, knowing that I had rainbow carrots.  I have been making my standard glazed carrots recipe, which is very good.  When I spotted the leeks buried under various lettuces and such, I knew I had a chance to shake things up.  The leeks added a mellow sweet onion flavor in complement to the carrots.  Plus, their vibrant green color was gorgeous against the variety of rainbow carrot colors.   To add balance to the dish overall, I deglazed the pan with honey and a bit of apple cider vinegar.  Serving the carrots with a rich roasted meat such as a roast chicken or braised short ribs provides the perfect side dish.  

Glazed Carrots and Leeks

1 pound rainbow carrots
1 large leek
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
chopped fresh parsley for garnish

Prepare the vegetables:  Peel the carrots, cutting each carrot on the bias down the length of the carrot to create angled pieces about 3-inches long.  Cut the leek lengthwise down the middle to open it up to thoroughly wash the interior of the leek layers.  Cut away the dark green leaves, discarding them.  Once clean, cut across the leek into 1-inch pieces, using only the white and light green sections.  Smash the garlic cloves to remove the skins, then mince into tiny pieces.  

Working with a large 11-inch heavy bottomed skillet, such as Le Creuset or Lodge, over medium-high heat, add in the butter and oil, swirling the pan to combine.  Add in the cut carrots, stirring to coat in the butter/oil.  Cook the carrots for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add in the cut leeks, stirring to combine.  Sprinkle in the salt, continue cooking the carrots and leeks for another 5 minutes.  Add in the garlic, cooking for 1 minute.  Carefully add in the water, cooking until the water is cooked down to almost completely gone.  The pan should look saucy, and the carrots and leeks should be tender.  If they are not tender, add 2 tablespoons of water and continue cooking.  When the carrots are tender, add in the honey and vinegar, stirring to combine to glaze the vegetables, cooking for 1-2 minutes.  Remove from heat and garnish with the chopped parsley.    

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

ChezCindy: Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Browned Butter Sauce


Roasting a whole head of cauliflower for dinner can present a dramatic moment equal to serving a whole roasted chicken.  Each are browned and gorgeous in their own way.  You can even "carve' the cauliflower at the dinner table as you would the roast chicken.  

The cauliflower is smeared with a mayonnaise-mustard mixture, giving it fantastic flavor, as well as yielding the beautiful bronzing.  I like the contrast of textures gained by adding toasted walnuts to the browned butter, offering great crunch against the soft flesh of the vegetable.  The cauliflower can be served as a side dish, or as the main dish with a side of orzo pasta or rice.  

Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Walnut & Capers Browned Butter Sauce
1 medium head cauliflower, about 2-pounds
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup toasted chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons capers, drained

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Line a sheet pan with foil.   

Trim the stem end of the cauliflower, removing the leaves.  Using a paring knife, carefully cut out the core, no more than 2-inches, keeping the whole head intact.  Season the cauliflower with salt, placing it onto the prepared sheet pan.  Tightly cover the whole head with a large piece of foil.  Roast the cauliflower for about 30 minutes.  It will only be partially cooked.  Remove the foil.  Meanwhile, combine the mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, and thyme leaves.  Spread the mixture onto the partially cooked cauliflower, coating it entirely.  Return the sheet pan to the oven, roasting for another 25-30 minutes until evenly browned and tender when pierced with a fork.  Remove from the oven and set aside.

In an 8-inch skillet, melt the butter over medium heat, swirling and stirring until the butter is slightly browned.  Off the heat, add in the chopped toasted walnuts and capers, stirring to combine.  

Cut the cauliflower into large wedges, serve with the browned butter sauce spooned over the top.  

Sunday, November 27, 2022

ChezCindy: One-pan Shrimp Scampi with Orzo Pasta


As much as I enjoyed cooking the Thanksgiving meal this year, washing up all of the pans, skillets, and baking dishes wore me out!  I was looking for a break but still wanted to cook something that did not require so many pans.  Just before the holiday, I had purchased a new cookbook by Melissa Clark, titled Dinner in One - Exceptional & Easy One-Pan Meals.  In this new book was my answer.  

Ms. Clark's latest cookbook is filled entirely with recipes for one-pan meals that I plan on fully exploring.  The first one I tried was her Skillet Shrimp Scampi.  Each recipe includes notes on following the exact recipe or how to make it your own with what you prefer or have available.  And that is exactly what I did here.  I started with the shrimp scampi orzo pasta, but added in arugula greens in two ways, first wilted into the orzo, and then a sprinkling of fresh chopped arugula to finish on top.  I look forward to creating many more of the recipes in this cookbook.  Below is my version of Ms. Clark's shrimp scampi recipe.  

Shrimp Scampi Orzo with Arugula
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup chicken or vegetable broth
2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
pinch of red pepper flakes
1-pound large shrimp, (U13-15)
1 cup orzo
2 large Roma tomatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 cups fresh arugula, divided

Fresh grated Parmesan cheese for serving
olive oil for serving

Prepare the shrimp by peeling and deveining them, rinsing under cold water.  Place the shrimp onto a paper towel to absorb the extra water from rinsing.  Set aside. 

Working with a 12-inch skillet with a lid, melt the butter, adding in the olive oil, swirling to combine.  Add in the chopped garlic, stirring for 30 seconds.  Add in the wine and broth, 1 teaspoon salt and the pinch of red pepper flakes.  Let this cook for 1-2 minutes to reduce slightly.  

Carefully place the shrimp into the simmering liquid to sauté for 2 minutes.  Using a slotted spoon or tongs, remove the shrimp to a plate.  The shrimp will be partially cooked.  

Add in 2 cups of water and the orzo, along with the remaining teaspoon of salt, stirring to combine.  Cover the pan with the lid, reducing the heat to medium.  Cook the orzo until it is tender, and the liquid is mostly absorbed.  This will take about 8-10 minutes.  Add in a few more tablespoons of water as necessary if the pan dries out before the orzo is tender.  

Return the shrimp and any juices to the pan, adding in the cut tomatoes, cooking for 2 minutes, stirring to combine.  Add in most of the arugula stirring into the pan to wilt, saving 1/2 cup for chopping as a garnish.  Turn off the heat.  Sprinkle the chopped arugula over the orzo and shrimp.  Serve each plate with a bit of freshly grated Parmesan cheese and a drizzle of olive oil.