November 3, 2009

A Little Housekeeping: My Impromptu Day Off and First Cooking Lesson - Part II

Here it goes, my first cooking post.

I'll start with a finished product, Roasted Red Pepper Hummus. Yum. I made it this morning, and didn't think to take any in-progress pictures. So I just have one. And I don't really feel like going through all the steps, so I'll just let you read the recipe.

This was really good with home made pita chips.

Now we'll be making some Red Pepper Risotto. I'm sure this would be even more delicious if it were Roasted Red Pepper Risotto, but as you know, my oven here doesn't work, and I used up the last of the Roasted Red Pepper Sott'olio (under oil) thatI made in my old apartment to make the hummus. 

Start with a big red pepper and an onion. I used a red onion, because my kitchen is chock full of them, but I'm sure a white or yellow onion would work just fine too.

Then dice them up.

In  the mean time you'll want to get your chicken (or vegetable) broth boiling so when you're ready to add it to the rice it'll be nice and hot.

And then we'll heat up some butter and oil.

And then we'll throw in the onions. Oh yeah. Listen to that sizzle. Onions frying up in butter.

Wait 'til the onions get translucent, and then add the peppers.

Wait a couple of minutes, then measure out one cup of arborio rice, and add it to the frying pan.

Mix it around and let the rice toast for a couple of minutes. That's part of what makes risotto so special.

Then add a ladleful of the broth, and stir it around.

When the liquid has been absorbed, add another ladleful, so on and so forth adding broth and letting it get absorbed until the rice is cooked through but still with a little crunch. Then take it off the flame.

In the meantime (and this is my own addition to the recipe) I had a little saucepan on the side with a little broth and some chopped red pepper simmering away.

Which I pureed (I do not recommend doing this with an immersion blender - which I did - It's a recipe for splatter disaster, and I have a sweatshirt to prove it).

And then mixed in with the finished risotto.

Yum. This looks delicious. But I'm not done yet. Now we get to mix in some creamy goat cheese (any chevre will do) and some grated parmiggiano reggiano.

Now that looks delicious and creamy. And it was. I had me a big bowl of that (with a little extra parmiggiano smooshed in) while I waited for my pumpkin dessert to finish cooking up.

Now on to the Pumpkin Fudge (which came out more like Pumkin Caramel, but was still delicious)

For the puree, start out with some fresh, raw pumpkin. You can obviously used canned pumpkin (canned pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie filling) but it's probably more delicious with fresh pumpkin puree.

Dice up the pumpkin.

So pretty and orange.

Scald some milk (half a cup more or less) in a little pot, and mix in the diced pumpkin.

Let it simmer, slowly over a low flame, until the pumpkin breaks down and gets all soft and mushy. It's starting to smell delicious right about now.

Then blend it up - I did it with an immersion blender, but it you don't have one or prefer a table-top blender that's fine too - and if it's still a little liquidy just stick it back on a low flame a let it reduce until you have a nice creamy puree that isn't too watery. But make sure you don't burn the bottom, purees can be tricky on the stove.

When it's finished, measure out 3/4 cup of the puree (the recipe calls for 1/2 a cup, but I added a little extra).  and pour it back into a small pot with a thick bottom. You can freeze any left over puree, usable for many other delicious pumpkin recipes.

Measure out 1 cup of white sugar

And 1 cup of brown sugar

The recipe calls for 1/2 a cup of evaporated milk. Either they don't stock that in italian supermarkets, or I just couldn't find it here, but either way, I made do with 1/4 cup of sweetened condensed milk and 1/4 cup of 2% milk.

Finally, add your standard pumpkin pie spices: cinnamon, nutmeg and a little ground clove.  I would usually add some powdered ginger too, but I didn't have any.

Mix everything together in the pot with the pumpkin puree, and get it bubbling away on a low flame.

When the pumpkin mixture has reached the softball stage (it makes a soft ball when a bit is dropped into a glass of ice water), take it off the flame and mix in 1/4 cup of cold butter.

When the butter is completely incorporated (it might take a little vigorous mixing), pour out the mixture into a greased pan, and let it cool to room temperature. Then refrigerate or freeze it. When it hardens up enough, cut it into squares and eat as many as you want. Keep refrigerated, as it can get sticky at room temperature.

There ya go. Delicious pumpkin fudge/caramel. It's delicious with a glass of milk, and I'm sure it would be even yummier smeared on a shortbread cookie or something. But I'm not even going to go near that combination for fear of gaining ten pounds by just looking at it.


Well, I hope you've enjoyed my first ever cooking how-to post, my mediocre food photography (the lighting in the kitchen is just awful, and a point and shoot with limited zoom isn't the greatest tool), and learned something new and delicious! Stay tuned for future delights from Julia's Kitchen!


Kate said...

mmmmmmmm.... delicious!

Kate said...

and today, i learned i could post a comment on your blog!! the fun begins!

Meg said...

Mmm, looks so good! :-)

Anna Elena said...

mmmmm. bookmarking both those recipes, immediately.

thanks for stopping my my little corner of the internet, BTW. Made me smile.

alexandra said...

oooh yum, this looks so good! how long does it take to cook?

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