Sunday, November 6, 2011

Comfort Food. Redefined.

Comfort food comes in different and amazing varieties and generally we think of meatloaf (yum), mashed potatoes (definitely), apple pie (of course) when we think comfort food. But I’d like to add something new to this little compilation… Butternut Squash Risotto.

I walked into Architect’s house on Wednesday evening and I knew we were in for a treat. The smells enveloped me and I could not wait to sit down to enjoy this confluence of sensory bliss.

I had to look confluence up to make sure it meant what I wanted it to mean in that sentence.

It does.

We had Butternut Squash Risotto and Skillet Braised Fennel Bulbs for dinner on Wednesday evening. Before I share the delicious recipes, a word about fennel. Fennel is very flavorful little aromatic bulb popular in Mediterranean cooking. It is packed with Vitamin C, Potassium, and Iron and has been used in holistic medicine to treat intestinal ailments, eye problems, and hypertension. Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins, authors of The New Basics Cookbook, say “the taste does wonders for soups, salads, stews and sauces and because it’s aromatic and crisp, fennel is perfect served with potatoes and grains.” Buy fennel with firm stalks and bulbs, avoiding those that are brown-bottomed. Use the feathery leaves on the stalks as a garnish.

Both recipes are from Martha Stewart’s “What to Have for Dinner” cookbook…a lovely and practical book that assists with fancy meal planning!

Butternut Squash Risotto
1 medium butternut squash (most markets sell the cubes now)
5-6 cups of chicken stock (Architect made her own)
2 tablespoons of butter (you will use 1 tablespoon at a time)
1 tablespoon of olive oil
4 shallots, peeled and minced
2 cups Arborio rice
½ cup of dry white wine
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon of fresh chopped rosemary
½ cup Parmesan cheese

Cut the squash into cubes and steam until tender. Heat the stock. In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of butter. Add the olive oil and shallots and cook for 2 minutes, add the rice and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the wine, stirring until the wine is nearly absorbed. Stir in a cup of stock and the squash and simmer until liquid is absorbed. Continue stirring in stock, a ladleful at a time, until the rice is creamy and firm, about 20 minutes. Add nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste. Add chopped rosemary. Stir in the remaining butter and Parmesan. Serve topped with a sprig of rosemary.

"Constant stirring give risotto its creamy texture." Martha Stewart

Skillet-Braised Fennel
4 medium fennel bulbs
1 ½ tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon sugar
1-2 cloves of garlic, sliced thin
¼ orange juice
1 cup of water
Salt and pepper
Fresh parsley

Trim tops of the fennel bulbs and cut in half, lengthwise. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat, add sugar and stir until melted. Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add fennel, cut side down and cook until well browned, about 5-10 minutes. Turn the bulbs over and add the orange juice, water, salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and reduce to low. Cover pan and cook until fennel bulbs are soft and most of the liquid is absorbed, about 25 minutes, adding a little water if necessary. Garnish with parsley and serve immediately.

We also had a delicious “kitchen sink” salad that included fennel served in the lovely traveling salad bowl and the most exquisite desserts from Le Pain Quotidien
in Center City Philadelphia. Foodie worked on a hat that will be paired with hand warmers …I continue to work on the vest (what else is new)!

Photograph of fennel from Wikipedia.


Lisa said...

Both recipes sounds incredible. I will be trying them both this week! Fennel is my favorite veggie and I am in love with risotto so you hit the nail on the head for me.
the enchanted oven

poppilinnstudios said...

That Risotto looks wonderful! Mmmm, I'll have to give it a try! Thanks for stopping by! Have a great day!

Kathleen said...

I bet it was delicious! I just bought butternut and spaghetti squash at the farm. Only a few more weeks till they close till next year! :(