Saturday, May 28, 2016

Spring Garlic Butter

Spring garlic, aka green garlic, is what you get when you harvest garlic plants early, before the cloves and bulbs form. It's milder than its mature cousin, and tender enough to use a good portion of the stalk. Some people even use the leaves. Here I've used it for a spring version of classic garlic butter. Super simple, dangerously delicious, excellent over asparagus (or mixed grilled veggies, or steak, or...) Use melted, or let the butter firm up again and use it solid.

2 stalks green garlic, minced
3 Tbsp butter

Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add the minced green garlic and let it cook briefly in the butter, then remove from heat.

Garlic Roasted Asparagus and Shiitakes

Save this for when it cools down enough to run the oven for a few minutes. Or try it on the grill in a grill basket.

1 - 1 1/2 lbs asparagus, in 2-inch lengths
1/2 lb shiitakes, stemmed and halved if large
6-8 cloves garlic or 1-2 stalks green spring garlic, minced
Olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Toss asparagus, shiitakes, and garlic in a mixing bowl with a drizzle of olive oil.Add a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Spread out in a single layer on a baking pan. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until veggies are done the way you like them.

Serves about 4.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Brown Rice, Ramp, and Feta Risotto with Spinach and Beans

My kids were so keen on my first brown rice risotto that I had to try another one. You can make just ramp feta risotto part of this as a side dish, or add the spinach, beans, and optional pine nuts for a meal - either served over the risotto or stirred in. This was inspired in by in-season ramps and spinach, plus a nice big block of feta from Upinngil Farm.

Olive oil
1 large shallot, minced (optional)
1 1/2 cups short grain brown rice
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock, warm
1 bunch ramps, thinly sliced (stalks and leaves, about 2-3 cups total)
3-4 ounces crumbled feta
6-8 ounces spinach, stemmed and chopped
1 1/2 cups cooked kidney beans
1 cup pine nuts, lighted toasted (optional but good)
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat a little olive oil in the pressure cooker. Add the minced shallots, if using, and saute for about a minute. Add the rice and saute over medium heat for a minute or two, until partly translucent. Pour in the warm stock. Cover and lock the pressure cooker and bring to pressure. Cook at high pressure for 15 minutes. Release pressure. Stir risotto. If needed, simmer for up to several additional minutes, stirring frequently, until the risotto reaches the desired consistency,

While the risotto cooks, heat a little more olive oil in a medium skillet. Add the ramps and saute for about 1 minute. Remove from heat.

Also while the risotto cooks, saute the spinach in olive oil and add the beans until heated through.

When the risotto is ready, stir in the ramps and feta. If desired, stir in the spinach and bean mixture; otherwise, serve mounts of risotto in bowls or plates and top with spinach and bean mixture. Sprinkle pine nuts on top.

Serves 4-5.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Creamy Gorgonzola Barley with Spinach

Spinach is pretty plentiful now that spring is here. This creamy side dish, which has a texture somewhat like risotto, is strongly flavored by the Gorgonzola. It would go well alongside a grilled steak. Alternatively, add some cooked beans and call it a main dish. A food processor makes quick work of finely chopped the spinach.

1 cup pearl barley
3 cups water
10 ounces spinach (or so), stemmed and chopped very fine
2-3 ounces crumbled Gorgonzola or similar blue cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Place the barley and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, mostly covered, until the barley is tender and all the liquid is absorbed, about 20-30 minutes. Stir in the Gorgonzola until it melts and is evenly distributed, then stir in the spinach. Finely chopped, it should wilt quickly in the heat of the barley. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 4-6.

Brown Rice Risotto with Chorizo, Kale, and Beans

Yes, you can make a passable risotto using brown rice, and doing it in the pressure cooker cuts the cooking time to make it quite reasonable. Feel free to substitute spinach or whatever local greens you can find this time of year.

2 Tbsp butter
2 medium shallot or 1 small onion, minced
1 1/2 cups short grain brown rice
3 1/2 cups chicken (or veggie) stock, warm
1 lb chorizo, sliced or crumbled
4-6 cups chopped kale
1 1/2 -2 cups cooked cannelini
 Salt and pepper to taste
3 ounces goat cheese

Melt the butter in the pressure cooker. Add the shallot or onion and saute over medium high heat for 2-3 minutes. Add the rice and saute for another 2 minutes or so. Add the warm stock and stir. Cover and lock the pot and bring to pressure. Cook on high pressure for 15 minutes, then release pressure. Stir the risotto. If needed, continue to simmer over medium low heat, stirring frequently, until any remaining liquid is absorbed and the rice reaches the desired consistency.

While the rice cooks, brown the chorizo in a large skillet. When cooked through, add the kale and saute until tender. Stir in the beans. Add salt and pepper to taste and remove from heat.

When the risotto is done, stir in the goat cheese. You then have a choice: either stir the chorizo, kale, and beans into the risotto, or serve over top of the rice.

Serves 4-5.