Sunday, September 26, 2010

Chili Dogs

Nothing says fall like some good ole chili dogs when you're watching the big game... Yum!

So give your dawg a little extra love. Next time you whip out the grilled hot dogs, forego the classic condiments. Instead, ladle on your favorite chili, then top with cheddar cheese and sliced green onions. My own little coney dog heaven, right at home.

Now, if only Gabe and I could find the time to head to downtown Detroit. It's time for us to make our own decision on which coney dog reigns supreme: American or Lafayette? Stay tuned to find out.

And now if you'll excuse me, I have about ten more gallons of chili to eat. Not that I'm complaining or anything.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Roasted Red Pepper Risotto

My first experience with risotto left something to be desired. No, not the rice dish itself. The wonderfully rich sweet potato risotto tasted deliciously creamy and flavorful. A true delight. It was in the restaurant in which I ordered the risotto that left a sour taste in my mouth.

Here's the Cliff Note's version. Rita and co-workers decide to eat at a (semi) upscale restaurant for lunch. Rita is slightly taken aback by the lunch prices, but luckily learns that she can purchase a half-order. Rita promptly chooses a half-order of sweet potato risotto and enjoys it immensely, even though "half-order" in this semi-upscale restaurant equals approximately 1/3 c. Rita receives bill for an amount more than the price of the full order. She inquires about it with the waiter; he says the bill should be at least full price because she didn't order a salad. Yes, she is scratching her head too. An argument commences. A manager is called. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. Finally an agreement is made for approximately 75% of the full order price. Rita grudgingly pays the amount and returns back to work semi-late, subsequently deciding never to visit said restaurant again, despite dreaming about that wonderful risotto dish. Grudges... gotta love them.

So, as any self-respecting food blogger would do, I set about to make risotto in the comfort of my own home. Miraculously, this recipe for roasted red pepper risotto has sat amongst my ever-growing list of bookmarked recipes for several months. I'm glad I revisited it today. The risotto was rich and creamy, without the addition of any type of heavy cream. Fully flavored, from the roasted red pepper, garlic and a bite of lemon throughout the dish. Be sure to check out many of the other wonderful recipes at the Avocado and Bravado website; I've got several bookmarked, just from perusing today!

1 red pepper
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 c. Arborio rice
2 Tbs. white wine
4 c. chicken stock
1/2 tsp. paprika
juice and zest of 1 lemon
1/4 c. fresh Parmesan cheese
1/4 c. fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste

Set oven to broil. Wash and dry red pepper; broil until black on all sides, turning every 3 minutes. Remove from oven and place in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let cool for 15 minutes. Once cooled, peel off blackened skins and chop remaining pepper into small pieces. Set aside.

In a small saucepan over low heat, warm the chicken stock. In a separate deep saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add minced garlic and saute for an additional 30 seconds. Add Arborio rice, red pepper and wine. Cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add 1 1/2 ladlefuls of broth to the rice. Stir continuously until all liquid is absorbed. Repeat until all broth is absorbed into the rice, 25-30 minutes. Add paprika, lemon juice/zest, Parmesan cheese, parsley, salt and pepper. Mix well; serve warm.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Beef Barley Soup

Hey all, it's September. September... SeptEMBER?! I can hardly believe it, no matter how many times I repeat it. It's been a great summer in Michigan. Beautiful sunny weather and my brand-new mountain bike kept Gabe and I out on the trails during every spare minute. We took a few trips (Vermont, NYC, the beach), and we're trying to sneak one more within the next few weeks.

The only consolation I have as we work our way into September is the fact that it's soup season once again. As many of you know, soup is one of my all-time favorite foods and perfect for those cool September days (like today). Not that I didn't cook and enjoy my share of soup this summer, but there's nothing quite like a steaming bowl of soup as the weather cools down.


I went straight for the thick and hearty as the wind howled outside our window today. Chunky cubes of beef simmered in rich stock, along with delicious vegetables and pearl barley. Served alongside some crusty bread for dipping, it was a perfect way to welcome autumn.

3 Tbs. olive oil
1 1/2 lb. chuck roast, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/4 c. red wine (pinor noir)
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 medium onions, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 zucchini, diced
1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. dried rosemary
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 bay leaves
1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
1 c. pearl barley (not quick cooking)
2 qts. beef stock
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes
Parmesan cheese rind
1/4 c. fresh parsley
Cornstarch + water (optional, for thickening)
Additional grated Parmesan cheese (optional, for garnish)

Heat olive oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add chuck roast cubes and brown on all sides, about 5 minutes. May have to complete in two batches. Remove from stockpot and set aside momentarily.

Deglaze stockpot with red wine, scraping up the brown bits from the stockpot. Add garlic and vegetables and saute until slightly tender, about 5 minutes. Add cooked beef cubes, spices, Worcestershire sauce, barley, beef stock and tomatoes. Mix to incorporate. Bring to a boil, add Parmesan rind and reduce heat to low. Simmer for approximately 90 minutes, or until barley is soft and soup thickens slightly. Discard bay leaves and remaining Parmesan rind piece(s). Thicken with cornstarch mixture, if desired. Add fresh parsley.

Pour into bowls and garnish with additional Parmesan cheese, if desired. Serve alongside some crusty bread for dipping.