11/25/2013

pumpkin risotto with fried sage leaves

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I'm going to guess that a lot of pumpkin recipes on your horizon are of the baking variety, right? Pumpkin rolls, muffins an probably towards the end of this month, a pie or two. First things first, no arguments here. Still, the beauty of pumpkin is it's versatility to be the star of dinner AND dessert. And breakfast. And any time of day you feel it appropriate to have, I don't know, a pumpkin donut. Because that would fall under morning, noon and night if you ask me.

Risotto is an increasingly popular way to enjoy the fall-themed flavor of pumpkin, especially when you pair it with a combo of savory-sweet spices (think cumin and cinnamon) and top with a little fried sage, an herb that pairs beautifully with this seasonal squash.



For this recipe you'll need:

4 cups of vegetable stock, heated through
1 cup of arborio rice
1 leek, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
1 stalk of celery, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 to 2 cups of pumpkin purée
Freshly ground salt and pepper
2 tablespoon of butter
About 2 tablespoons of grated Parmesan (optional for those who are vegan/lactose-intolerant)
Olive oil
Some fresh sage leaves, about 2-3 for each serving

Thoroughly heat your stock in a small saucepan. It's important to start with warm vegetable stock, rather than refrigerated or even room temperature, as this will affect the way the rice cooks. In a larger pot, add a tablespoon or two of olive oil. Add your chopped vegetables and garlic and stir constantly, so as to fry but not brown.


After about 10 minutes of stirring, add your rice. Keep stirring and wait until you notice the rice going slightly translucent around the edges while staying white in the very center. This will happen relatively quickly and is more or less frying the rice. Add your salt, pepper, cumin and cinnamon. After this happens, about 2-3 minutes, add your pumpkin purée in half-cup increments. Stir rapidly to incorporate.

At this point it's time to slowly add your stock, also in half-cup increments. Allow each scoop of stock to be fully absorbed by the rice before adding more liquid. Though the stock will disappear into the rice relatively quickly each time, it's important to keep stirring as to avoid sticking or burning.


Once you've used all your stock, have a taste: the rice should be al dente, or still retain a slight bite or chewiness, while the stock lends a creamy factor to the texture. If it's still slightly too tough, add more pumpkin purée or stock. When the desired texture is achieved, stir in your butter. If you've opted in include cheese (bless you), add now.

In a small pan, add a tablespoon or two of olive oil (coconut oil will also work well here). Add your sage leaves (carefully) and fry for about 30 seconds on each side. Don't let them get brown, only slightly crisp. Top risotto with sage and an extra sprinkle of Parmesan.



11/18/2013

pumpkin white bean soup

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One of the only things that gets me through the cold weather season is the fact that it's also soup season. Despite the fact that we haven't gotten around to those bitterly freezing evenings yet (trust me, I'm not complaining), we've still had a few hearty soups so far this year. Using some of the frozen pumpkin purée that was leftover, I put together this surprisingly creamy (despite it being completely vegan, so thanks for that, all that is pumpkin) fall soup.



For this recipe, you'll need:

4 cups of vegetable stock
2 1/2 cups of pumpkin purée
2 medium potatoes, diced
2 carrots, chopped
2 ribs of celery, chopped
1 large leek, chopped
2 cloves of garlic
1 can of white beans, any size, rinsed
1 large bunch of Swiss chard, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Begin by heating a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add your carrots, celery, leek and garlic. Sauté for several minutes, stirring constantly to avoid too much browning. Add your salt, pepper, cumin and red pepper flakes. Once the vegetables have gone slightly soft and very fragrant, add your vegetable stock, potatoes and pumpkin purée. Let your ingredients come to boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cover for about thirty minutes or until the potatoes are soft.


Meanwhile, sauté your Swiss chard (any other green will work here too, such as kale or spinach) with a little olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Set aside.

After thirty minutes have passed, give your soup a good stir. Add your greens and white beans and allow to simmer for another ten minutes. At this point, you're ready to serve. Surprisingly smooth and ultra satisfying, this soup goes great with a little Parmesan cheese grated on top or just as is. And of course, what soup doesn't go great with a side of warm, crusty bread? Exactly. Bring it on, Winter.


11/11/2013

simple spiced pear galette

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Ah, fall. Even though this season tends to get dominated by pumpkin and apple concoctions, I myself am a superfan of the pear. Any kind, doesn't matter, Bosc, Bartlett, Anjou, I'm into them all in a serious way. While I'm all about crushing into one (or two) as is, there's something to be said for pears in desserts. Pairing insanely well with things like almonds and dark chocolate, there are infinite uses for the pear as an after-dinner special.



While you may not often see a pear pie (though why the hell not, really?), a pear galette may be just the way to go. Simple enough to make on a weekday night after dinner (or to pop in the oven while you eat dinner, only to have it warm and ready to eat directly after), galettes are more of a simple-man's pie, a rustic tart, a gentle folding of pastry dough over warm fruit and spices.

For the pastry, you'll need:

1 1/4 cups of all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup chilled, unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/4 cup of ice water

For the filling, you'll need:

4 large pears, mostly ripe
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cardamom
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg, for the edges
A pinch of sanding sugar, for sprinkling (optional)
3 tablespoons of pear butter, or any jam of choice (optional)

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, whisk together your flour, salt and sugar. Cut in your cold, cubed butter with a pastry cutter or large fork until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. This will take a bit of doing, though it's best to work quickly and not overwork the dough or blend until the butter is melted. Add your ice water a tablespoon at a time until the dough comes together and is workable, though not sticky. You may need slightly more or less than 1/4 cup. Form your dough into an inch-thick disc, cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate while you make your filling.


In a large bowl, toss your pears (sliced or diced, depending of your preference), sugar and spices. Once this is completed, remove your pastry dough from the refrigerator and roll out onto a well-floured surface until it is about 1/4-inch thick.


Transfer your pastry dough onto the parchment-lined baking sheet. Spread a generous amount of your pear butter or jam of choice in the center of the dough. (Though this step is optional, it can seriously heighten then oh-hey-you-made-this factor of your galette.) Top with your pear mixture.



Fold in the edges of your dough to cover the edge of the pear mixture, though not all of it. Don't worry about it looking perfect: the point of galettes are that they're easy and rustic. Fold without a second thought. In a small bowl, beat your egg and brush the folded edges of your dough with the egg wash. Sprinkle with sanding sugar (also optional) for additional sweetness and shine. Transfer to the oven for about 45 minutes to an hour, or when the crust is golden brown and the pears are juicy and bubbling.





11/08/2013

roasted tomato risotto

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There is something magical about the fact that several weeks into fall, we've still been receiving a bounty of beautiful, heirloom tomatoes from our farmshare with Honeybrook Organic Farm. With the coming of colder weather, our household has had a hankering for warm, comfort foods, something to cozy up to at the end of a long day. For me, risotto is just the trick to hit the spot: warm, hearty, filling and somewhat cheesy (as all comfort foods should be), it's hard to go wrong with creamy rice and roasted veggies for a perfect fall dinner.

Risotto is a bit of a process, and one you need to stick around for. You can't just pop it in the oven or leave it on the stove while you tend to other things. Trust me though, the constant stirring is beyond worth it. For this recipe you'll need:

4 cups of vegetable stock, heated through
1 cup of arborio rice
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
1 stalk of celery, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2/3 cup of fresh tomato sauce
Freshly ground salt and pepper
2 tablespoon of butter
About 2 tablespoons of grated Parmesean (optional for those who are vegan/lactose-intolerant)
Olive oil
About 2 cups of ripe cherry tomatoes, halved

The first step is to preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Place your halved tomatoes (though you could always use larger tomatoes, chopped into one-inch pieces) on a baking tray face down. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for about 20-30 minutes or until soft, which will just about be the duration of the risotto-making process.


Thoroughly heat your stock in a small saucepan. It's important to start with warm vegetable stock, rather than refrigerated or even room temperature, as this will affect the way the rice cooks. In a larger pot, add a tablespoon or two of olive oil. Add your chopped vegetables and garlic and stir constantly, so as to fry but not brown. For the correct risotto texture, the smaller you can chop your vegetables, the better. Traditionally, big chunks of onion or carrot have no place in the risotto experience.



After about 10 minutes of stirring (yes seriously), add your rice. Keep stirring and wait until you notice the rice going slightly translucent around the edges while staying white in the very center. This will happen relatively quickly and is more or less frying the rice. Add your salt, pepper and oregano, though this of course can be substituted for basil or another spice/herb of your choice. After this happens, about 2-3 minutes, add your tomato sauce. No one will judge you for using the jarred stuff (well), but as I feel in almost all scenarios: making and using your own will always win in the what-tastes-better department. Stir rapidly to incorporate.


At this point it's time to slowly add your stock and stir like a madwoman (or man, or person). Add a ladleful at a time, allowing each scoop to be fully absorbed by the rice before adding more liquid. This is the part that becomes time-consuming. Though the stock will disappear into the rice relatively quickly each time, it's important to keep stirring as to avoid sticking or burning.

Once you've used all your stock, have a taste: the rice should be al dente, or still retain a slight bite or chewiness, while the stock lends a creamy factor to the texture. That's exactly what risotto should be like. If you still find the rice to be slightly too crunchy, add more stock until you've achieved your desired texture. Stir in your butter. For our risotto, I waited to add cheese to only mine. If you're planning on adding cheese to the whole lot (thanks, Jamie), now's the perfect time to do so.

Serve topped with your roasted tomatoes and a bit more grated Parmesan and any fresh herbs that you plan to use. Crazy good.




11/03/2013

greengirleats on Instagram

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Dearest guys, girls, fellow veggie lovers or (gasp) haters, all who are vegetarian committed or curious, all who are also into rude cats, rude awakenings, and cute bike-riding boys: Are you on Instagram?


Because I am! I often share recipe previews, sneak-peaks in the process, or appreciation of the beautiful, ironic or hilarious. Find me at @helenisnotsorry or check out the #greengirleats and #eatcolorfully hashtags. Let's follow each other!