Archive for March, 2010

So this is my first month as a Daring Cook. The way it works is that there is a challenge posted every month and all the Daring Cooks are supposed to make it (or some variation of), photograph it, and post it on their food blogs. Sounds simple enough right? Lets just say that deadlines and I do not get along. Therefore, I am posting this super-late. However, this whole Daring Cooks thing sounds fun and will (hopefully) guarantee that I’ll post something tasty at least once a month.

The 2010 March Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Eleanor of MelbournefoodGeek and Jess of Jessthebaker. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make risotto. The various components of their challenge recipe are based on input from the Australian Masterchef cookbook and the cookbook Moorish by Greg Malouf.

You should know that there really is nothing terribly complicated about risotto as long as you have the time to baby-sit it. One of the requirements for this months challenge was to make your own broth and while I was very seriously tempted to use the stuff in the pretty box with a picture of the jolly Wolfgang Puck egging me on, I decided to bite the bullet and make my own. You can really use just about any broth you’d like. I opted to make vegetable broth since I had an over abundance of fresh vegetables in my fridge. I’m not going to post a recipe on here for the broth since I a) didn’t measure and b) there are a bazillion other broth recipes out there. Basically, I just threw everything into a big pot and let it simmer on the stove for about two hours. If the prospect of having the smell of homemade broth wafting through your house isn’t enough to convince you that homemade is better then you should know that risotto made with the canned stuff doesn’t hold a candle to the good stuff. Sorry Wolfgang.

What you need:

About 1 ½ cup broccoli florettes, cut into manageable bite-sized pieces

1 tbs olive oil

Pinch of salt

Pinch of pepper

2 tbs butter

½ small onion, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 cup risotto (I used Arborio)

¾ cup white wine (you could use red if you were feeling fancy I suppose)

Pot of simmering broth



Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 325 degrees (f) and line a large sheet pan with foil. In bowl, toss broccoli with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Dump broccoli onto sheet and roast in oven for about 20 minutes or until the broccoli is dark and very slightly beginning to brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.

While your broccoli is in the oven, begin risotto. Heat butter in medium saucepan and add onion and garlic. Sauté until onion is soft and translucent. Add risotto and stir. You want to make sure to coat each grain of rice and brown it every so slightly.

Add wine and stir. Do not be alarmed by all the steam. The objective here is to evaporate most of the alcohol. There will still be a little liquid in the pan. Add the stock about one cup at a time. You want the broth to just cover the rice. When all the broth has been absorbed it’s time to add another cup or so. Same process as before. Repeat this process until the risotto is the desired consistency (which is soft). Turn the heat off and stir in about ½ cup Parmesan cheese. You may add more or less depending on taste. Add salt and pepper. Then add in the broccoli.

Serve immediately. Sprinkle some Parmesan on top if you want it to look a little bit fancy.


March 23, 2010 at 11:03 pm Leave a comment

Cracker Jack

I’m not sure I know anybody that doesn’t like Cracker Jack. Popcorn, Caramel, Nuts- pretty much everything a snack should include. I’m going to admit I was a little hesitant to make this since it seemed like the whole caramel making process could turn into an epic disaster. Once you do it though, it’s a piece of cake and you’ll just want to keep making this. I decided to ignore the traditional peanuts and use roasted pecans instead. Much better in my opinion.


About 8 cups popped popcorn

2 cups brown sugar

½ cup light corn syrup

2 sticks butter (1 cup)

½ tsp salt plus about 1 tsp for sprinkling

¼ tsp cream of tarter

1 tsp baking soda

1 cup dry roasted pecans

Preheat oven to 225 degrees (f). Heavily oil two or three cookie sheets and set aside. The non-stick spray stuff simply won’t work so use the real stuff (vegetable oil).

In a saucepan, melt together brown sugar, butter, cream of tarter and salt. Bring to a boil over medium-low heat. It is extremely useful if you have a candy thermometer since you will need to know when the temperature of the mixture reaches 250 degrees (f). Once you have reached 250 degrees, it’s time to remove from the heat and whisk in baking soda. The mixture should foam a bit.

Pour the mixture over the popcorn and toss, making sure to coat all of the popcorn. Gently fold in pecans. Spread mixture onto cookie sheets, sprinkle with a little kosher salt, and bake for about 1 hour. Check on your cracker jack every twenty minutes or so and give it a stir.

When you take the popcorn out of the oven, slide mixture off of the cookie sheet and onto waxed paper. Let cool for one hour. Break into pieces and store in airtight container.

March 6, 2010 at 11:48 pm 2 comments

March 2010
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