Prociutto and Pea Risotto

Apparently, risotto is a romantic dish.

I totally didn’t know that it was until I was talking to a coworker about making a classic, Italian risotto: arborio rice, white wine, and a bunch of parmesan cheese. He said, “That sounds awesome! What’s the occasion?”

There’s no occasion. I don’t need an occasion to make and eat a damn good risotto and it was actually a lot cheaper than you might think. Of course, I sort of made it a fancier occasion by picking out a nice local Chardonnay by Vintage Ink and plated the risotto pretty nicely.

Prosciutto and Pea Risotto

It’s nice to be classy sometimes, yaknow?

In a restaurant, this dinner for two would easily come up to $90 after tax and tips. (Or more, depending on the restaurant!)

I paid about $35, but I had to buy more of some ingredients full sized because of packaging and I included the whole bottle of wine. Here’s my cost break down, including the store:

  • Arborio rice – $3.40 for 450g (Bulk Barn)
  • Chicken broth – $2.00 for 1L (on sale, diluted slightly, Loblaws)
  • Frozen peas – $2.49 for 750g (only need 1 cup, Loblaws)
  • Green onion – $1.29 for about 5 stalks (only need 2, Loblaws)
  • Cooking onion – $0.57 for 1 medium onion (only need half, Loblaws)
  • Parmigiano reggiano – $4.75 for 88g (pre-shaved in house, Loblaws)
  • Prosciutto, shaved – $3.17 for 74g (PC brand, Loblaws)
  • Chardonnay – $16.95 for 750mL (Vintage Ink, LCBO)

Since I only needed fractions of some ingredients, the actual cost is probably closer to $30 with the wine included.

You could easily get an $11 bottle of wine and it would work just the same, but I like to drink and cook at the same time, so there you go.

The end result? Lots of cuddles and relaxation with the Monsieur. I guess risotto really can be quite romantic… (Or it’s the wine!)

Prociutto and Pea Risotto

Makes: 4 portions
Takes: About 1hr, including prep

Ingredients

1 3/4 cup arborio rice (approx. 400g)
1/2 medium onion, finely diced
1/2 cup dry white wine (I used Chardonnay, but feel free to use something else)
1 1/2 L chicken broth, low sodium or less
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
75g parmigiano reggiano, sliced or fresh grated
70g prosciutto, finely sliced, cut into smaller pieces
2 tbsp green onions, finely sliced on a slant
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt
Pepper

0. Warm chicken stock until almost boiling. Add vegetable scraps from prep into broth for extra flavour.

1. Heat olive oil in a large pan (at least 12″ wide and 2″ deep) on MED-HIGH heat. Fry prosciutto until crispy and set aside.

2. Saute onion until fragrant and barely translucent. Reduce heat to MEDIUM-LOW.

3. Stir in arborio rice and saute until the grains are shiny and somewhat clear. (This can take more than 5 minutes!)

4. Slowly add in white wine and stir rice until the wine has been fully absorbed. It may still smell a bit sharp due to the alcohol.

5. When there’s almost no liquid left, ladle in 1/2 cup chicken stock and stir rice while the stock is absorbed by the rice.

6. Repeat, stirring occasionally until the rice is al dente, about 25 minutes. It’s easiest to stir the rice and let it sit for a moment to gauge how fast the liquid is absorbed. As the rice gets cooked, it absorbs the broth more slowly.

7. Once it barely gets absorbed after stirring in a bit of broth, taste the rice to check its doneness. If it’s still a little stiff or starchy for your liking, add in another ladle of stock and stir until you’re satisfied.

8. Stir in 60g of parmigiano reggiano until fully melted. Stir in thawed peas, prosciutto and green onions and turn off the heat. Season to taste.

9. Serve garnished with freshly cracked black pepper and sliced green onions.

I didn’t know that the Monsieur wanted to watch and learn how to make risotto, so I had already started by the time he got back! Oops!

I guess that means I’ll have to make this delicious, creamy risotto again. What horrors.

xoxo,

B.elle

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Spiced Rum Walnut Coffee Cake

I haven’t baked in a while and, in my slight delirium while being sick with a nasty cold, I decided that I would bake a cake!

Spiced Rum Walnut Coffee Cake

I’m not the greatest baker by any means and this has nothing to do with New Year’s Resolutions, but I can at least follow directions pretty easily, so it can come out pretty good.

I wanted to make something with the Kraken Spiced Black Rum that I have, so I went to search for a rummy coffee cake recipe!

I found this Mocha Rum Cake recipe by Epicurious, but I modified it slightly to fit the needs of my pantry. (In other words, I had less solid chocolate than I thought so I substituted some chocolate with organic spiced hot chocolate powder with some consultation by Christine.)

Spiced Rum Walnut Coffee Cake

Takes: 2 hours (Prep: 15 minutes, Bake: 1 hour 45 minutes)
Makes: 10-12 servings

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3 oz. chocolate, chopped
1 cup butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup hot chocolate powder (optionally spiced)
1/3 cup spiced rum
1 1/2 cup strong coffee
1 1/2 cup white sugar
2 large eggs, beaten lightly
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup walnuts, chopped

Steps

  1. Preheat oven to 300°F.
  2. Grease a 4 1/2-inch-deep (12-cup) Kugelhupf or bundt pan and dust with flour. (This will help keep the cake from sticking to the pan.)
  3. In a bowl whisk or sift together flour, baking soda, and salt.
  4. Melt the chocolate.
    (I microwaved the chocolate for 30 seconds, then in 10 second intervals with mixing because this recipe doesn’t need to temper the chocolate. If you like, you can use the traditional way of melting the chocolate in a metal bowl over a pot of boiling water.)
  5. Remove chocolate from heat and stir in rum, coffee, and granulated sugar until well mixed and fully dissolved. (It will be really runny!)
  6. Pour chocolate mixture into a large mixing bowl bowl. With an electric mixer, beat in flour, 1/2 cup at a time, scraping down side, and beat in eggs and vanilla until batter is combined well. Pour batter into prepared pan.
  7. Bake cake in middle of oven for 1 hour 45 minutes or until the tester (toothpick or otherwise) comes out clean.
  8. Let cake cool completely in pan on a rack and turn it out onto rack. Cake may be made 3 days in advance and kept wrapped well and chilled.

The spiced component of the hot chocolate really gives it an unexpected kick! This would go deliciously with some vanilla ice cream.

If you want to try it but you don’t have spiced hot chocolate mix, I’d recommend adding in about 1/2 tsp of cayenne pepper powder and a pinch of ground cinnamon or ground clove into the hot chocolate part to spice it up.

Happy baking!

xoxo,

B.elle

Roasted Lemon Chicken Legs with Potatoes and Kale

Need a dinner idea? Here’s what I made for the company lunch last Friday!

Roasted Chicken Leg LunchDoesn’t it look amazing? That leg’s sitting on a bed of sauteed kale and roasted potatoes that were in the same pan as the chicken so everything was so delicious and moist.

I even made it all in just over an hour! Most of the cook time was really just the chicken and potatoes sitting in the oven, so it’s really just 15 minutes of prep!

Roasted Chicken Legs and Potatoes

Makes: 4 servings
Takes: 1h 10m

Ingredients

3 large, bone-in, skin-on chicken quartered legs
650g red potatoes, chopped into large cubes
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
200g onions, sliced
Salt
Sage (or whatever herb you like)
Olive oil

1. Boil potatoes for about 7 minutes. Drain when almost cooked and toss with salt and olive oil.

2. Season chicken with salt and sage. Sear on both sides in oiled pan on HIGH heat for colour, takes about 3-4 minutes each side.

3. Remove chicken from pan. Saute onions and garlic in oils in pan until fragrant. Layer potatoes and chicken over onions and bake uncovered at 380F for 50 minutes.

4. Broil 5 minutes for colour and serve.

Sauteed Garlicky Kale

Makes: 4 servings
Takes: 10 minutes

1 bushel kale, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Olive oil
Salt

1. Boil water and soak chopped kale for about 1 minute, drain.

2. Saute garlic with olive oil in hot pan, then add kale. Season and serve.

It’s easiest to start the kale when you have about 15 minutes left on the chicken legs since you can chop up the kale and get the water boiling right before turning the stove on broil to get that lovely golden colour on the skin!

Now, I just have to figure out an efficient, easy way to make a chicken gravy at the same time…

xoxo,

B.elle

Bacon Potato Quiche

It’s quickly turning into Fall in Toronto and it’s making me want more and more hearty foods. Luckily, I’ve been trying new recipes by cooking lunch for the bi-weekly team meetings!

I’m not sure if it’s a good thing or not, but I’m cooking for a team of 5 (including me) and I’m the only woman here. How is that bad? It means that I’m cooking for 4 adult men under the age of 35! It’s so much food and 3 of them are French!

I cooked this last week, so you might’ve been able to see this if you’re following me on Instagram!

Bacon Potato Quiche

It went over super well! Each bite is a little different with little chunks of havarti cheese scattered around with the crunchy bacon and a fragrant hint of rosemary in the mix.

The best thing aside from the bacon is that it’s easy to get it done in about an hour with a little bit of good time management!

In fact, it’s even easier to make TWO quiches at the same time if you use the shallow 9″ pie crusts! (Remember, I had to feed 4 adult men during lunch time without much time for sides…)

Bacon Potato Quiche

Makes: 2 shallow 9″ quiches OR 1 deep 9″ quiche
6 generous servings

Ingredients

2 medium potatoes, small cubes
1/2 medium onion, small dice
1 clove garlic, minced
5-6 slices of bacon, cut into small chunks
50g of havarti cheese (or similar semi-soft cheese of your liking), cut into small cubes
6 eggs
1/2 – 3/4 cup milk
1/2 tsp dried rosemary or 1/4 tsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
Sea salt
Black pepper

Steps

0. If using frozen, take the pie crusts out of the freezer now to defrost and puncture when instructed. Otherwise, keep your prepared pie crust aside.

1. Cut potatoes into small cubes, about 1/2 cm wide. Set to boil in salted water for 15-20 minutes, or until tender, then drain when ready.

2. Meanwhile, cut bacon and gently fry on MEDIUM heat in shallow pan until crispy. Set aside the bacon on a shallow dish lined with paper towels to drain. Retain about 1 tbsp fat in pan and discard the remaining fat.

3. Chop garlic and onion and fry in bacon fat on MEDIUM-LOW heat. Add rosemary when the onions become translucent and continue to cook for about a minute until rosemary is fragrant.

4. Arrange layers of potato, bacon, onions and havarti cubes in even layers in your pie crusts.

5. Whisk eggs and milk together. Season with salt and pepper. Carefully pour over the layered quiche filling until just covering the top.

6. Bake in preheated oven at 375F for 40 minutes. (Note: Best to check the quiche after 30 minutes to better gauge its readiness! If the middle jiggles a bit, leave it in for another 5 minutes or so.)

7. Serve!

While the quiche is baking in the oven, it’s pretty easy to get a quick green salad tossed up with some sliced cucumbers, grated carrots and raisins or a devilishly easy hot side like blanched and pan fried green beans or broccoli.

Hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

xoxo,

B.elle

Quinoa Salad with Sunflower Oil

I got a small bottle of cold-pressed sunflower oil in my March Tasting Box from Kricklewood Farms and I thought that it’d be best to try out the flavours of it in a delicious quinoa salad!

Quinoa Salad

Now, I love quinoa salad! It’s so easy to make, extremely versatile in dishes and it goes with practically every savoury flavour that you can think of. (I haven’t tried a dessert with quinoa, but that would be something I’m open to try!)

Another reason I love quinoa salad is because it’s already packed with easily digestible proteins, it’s gluten-free, and has a bunch of other nutrients like calcium and magnesium that helps maintain a balanced diet. It just has a very, very slight bitterness when it’s cooked because of the saponin it produces as part of its defense mechanisms in the wild. I know, most North American quinoa is thoroughly washed before packaging, but palates as sensitive as mine can still detect it!

Quinoa Salad with Sunflower Oil

I firmly believe that anything can be added into a quinoa salad and it will come out delicious, as long as you like the flavours that you add in. Today, I decided to put in some diced carrots, red bell pepper, cucumber and a boiled egg!

 

So, where did I use the sunflower oil? First, I used it to roast the quinoa a bit with some diced garlic.  I also used the sunflower oil to cook my diced peppers and carrots!

Quinoa Salad Prep

Finally, I used about 2 tbsp of the oil in my dressing! I used some rice wine vinegar, a bit of red wine vinegar, pinch of sea salt, freshly cracked black pepper and just a touch of sugar to help round out the flavours. I really wanted the quinoa and oil to come out instead!

It’s a great salad to have either warm or cold and it would taste even better with a bit of fresh chopped herbs and a glass of dry cider!

Cooking Quinoa

I like to use a 1:1.75 ratio for my quinoa to chicken broth ratio because I like more of a textured bite to my salads. Usually, recipes call for a 1:2 ratio.

Cooked Quinoa

The sunflower oil has a very mild taste that gets along with almost every flavour and I think it can be used in any culinary application in place of vegetable oil or olive oil! It even has an incredibly high burn point, as I accidentally discovered when I got distracted while cooking the veggies.

Quinoa Salad

Number of servings: 4

Ingredients

225g / 1 cup of quinoa
1 3/4 cup of chicken broth (or other liquid you like)
1 boiled egg, chopped
1/4 cup carrots, small dice (about 1 small carrot)
1/4 cup red pepper, small dice
1/2 cup cucumber, diced
2 tbsp + 1 tsp garlic, finely diced
50ml sunflower oil, divided
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
Pinch of sugar, to taste
Sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

1. Add 2 tsp of sunflower oil into a small pot on MED heat. Gently saute 1 tsp garlic until fragrant.

2. Add quinoa into the pot and stir until all seeds are covered in oil and lightly cooked, about 30 seconds (if that). Add chicken broth into the pot and stir.

3. Turn heat to HIGH and let it come to a boil for a few seconds. Then, turn the heat back down to LOW and let simmer, while covered, for 15 minutes. Once cooked, fluff with a fork (like you’re trying to separate the seeds by combing them with your fork).

4. Add 2 tsp of sunflower oil to a separate pan on MED-HIGH heat. Saute remaining garlic, carrots and bell peppers until cooked but not soft, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

5. Whisk together red wine vinegar, rice wine vinegar, 2 tbsp (30mL) sunflower oil, sugar and season to taste. (This would be a pretty basic dressing, if you couldn’t tell)

6. Mix together cooked quinoa, carrots, bell peppers, cucumber, boiled egg and dressing. Serve warm or cold.

Next time, I’m adding a bit of goat cheese into my salad for that extra bit of flavour! What would you add to your quinoa salad?

xoxo,

B.elle