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 plum or cherry 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 (13-15)
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, (10-11-inches) 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.