Saturday, May 22, 2010

Sasha & Brad's Kitchen: Mushroom Saffron Risotto

Risotto is one of my husband's favorite dishes.  We make a number of different risottos, usually with me designing the recipe and Brad executing the recipe on the stove.  I decided to combine saffron and cremeni mushrooms to make a new risotto.  I love the flavor of saffron in just about anything. I used to be lucky enough to have saffron powder (which is fantastic, by the way if you can get your hands on it) that my mom brought back from Thailand.  With that all gone, I realized that it's a bit hard to come by, so I had to go with the more traditional saffron threads to achieve the saffron flavor.  The flavor is a bit milder with the threads than it was with the powder.

We used chicken stock in preparing this recipe, as I usually do with my risottos.  However, if you want to go vegetarian, you can prepare it with a homemade mushroom stock.  This would likely be fantastic, and is something that I have been meaning to try out, but we never seem to have the time on weekdays, which is usually when we make risotto.

Sasha & Brad's Saffron Mushroom Risotto
2 cups organic low sodium chicken stock (or homemade mushroom stock)
1 onion, diced
2 T of butter
1 cup arborio rice
2 T canola oil
About 12-16 oz of cremeni mushrooms (sliced, with the stems removed)
pinch of saffron threads
1/2 cup of white cooking wine
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

To prepare the risotto, saute the chopped onions in 2 tablespoons of Canola Oil and two tablespoons of butter.  Next, add a cup of the arborio rice and stir for a couple of minutes.  Next, add the chicken stock, one cup at a time to the rice, along with the white cooking wine. Make sure to add the stock in one cup increments as the stock reduces, stirring every couple of minutes while the risotto cooks, allowing the stock to reduce, gradually.

In the meantime, saute the mushrooms in canola oil in a separate pan. Midway through the third cup of chicken stock reducing, add the mushrooms and the saffron to the stock and rice. Continue reducing until the third cup of stock has fully reduced and the risotto has the proper consistency (tacky, not runny).  You can add the grated parmesan cheese as the final step and serve hot.  This dish was a real mid-week treat!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Sasha's Kitchen: Banana Pecan Muffins

I love muffins.  They are perfect for breakfast, brunch or any other time of day.  And they can be easy to make, and much healthier than cupcakes.  I like to make my muffins with canola oil, rather than butter so they are healthier.  My favorite muffins are blueberry muffins and banana nut muffins.  I created my own recipe for banana pecan muffins a couple weeks ago that worked out just perfectly.  I made these in my mixer to combine the ingredients, but you really can make this recipe without a stand mixer. I made these for a saturday or sunday brunch, but the rest of them were enjoyed over the remainder of the week as perfect snacks.

Sasha's Banana Nut Muffins
7 T canola oil
1 1/4 milk
1 egg
1/2 tsp salt
2 pureed bananas
2 cups flour
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 cup sugar
1 T baking powder

To prepare these combine the dry ingredients.  Beat the egg well with a fork and combine the egg, followed by the canola oil, banana puree and milk.  Stir in the pecans.  Fill a silicon muffin pan with the batter (which should be enough to make a dozen muffins).  Bake in an oven preheated at 350 for about 20 minutes.

This is an easy baking recipe (and when I say easy I mean it, coming from the gourmet chef who still always screws up peeling hard boiled eggs) and is one kids are sure to love, too.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Sasha's Kitchen: Food & Wine Pairing: Maple-Glazed Tuna with Potato-Pear Salad and Wagner Vineyards 2007 Riesling

Last  night we had a wonderful three course Saturday night dinner.  I made a wonderful bruschetta using black truffle oil for the appetizer, and then we had a recipe from Marcus Samuelsson's cookbook, New American Table, maple-glazed tuna with pear potato salad.  For dessert, we had my newest cupcake recipe, some pretty little coconut cupcakes.  For today, I'm writing about the tuna, but the other recipes will appear on the blog soon.  The truffle oil was such a nice addition to my cooking and well worth the $15 I spent on the bottle.  I plan to use it in making truffle creamed spinach next week.

At any rate, I am a huge fan of Marcus Samuelsson's culturally infused style of American cooking, with all the cultural influences from his own background as many of the different cultural and culinary traditions that make of America.  I'm not sure that this recipe has too many of those unique influences, but it is still a great recipe.  The salad was the perfect pairing for the sweet glaze on the tuna.

Wagner Vineyards' 2007 Dry Riesling, from a wonderful Seneca Lake winery in the Finger Lakes Region was a great pairing with the fresh fish and the sweetness of the maple-mustard glaze. I love so many of the finger lakes wineries because of my affinity for excellent Rieslings - and they make some of the best in the world.  Wagner's Riesling was crisp with plenty of citrus, and hints of apple or tropical flavors as well.  It was a nice smooth Riesling with a gentle sweet finish.  We really enjoyed it - thanks for sending me the wine, Wagner :)

Maple-Glazed Tuna with Pear Potato Salad (from Marcus Samuelsson's New American Table)
1 T dijon mustard
2 T maple syrup (use the real thing, please)
juice of 1 lime
1/4 cup olive oil
Four six oz tuna filets (I only made 2, but made the full salad and glaze anyhow)
salt and pepper
4 cilantro sprigs

1/4 lb olive oil
1 lb baby yukan gold potatoes (cut into quarters)
2 bosc pears (I used three for extra pear flavor)
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 clove of garlic
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1 1/2 tsp curry powder
salt and pepper
juice of 1 lemon
1 1/2 cups of shredded baby spinach (the original recipe only called for 1 cup, but I prefer a bit more)

First, whisk together the mustard, maple syrup, lime juice and a tablespoon of olive oil and set aside for the glaze.

Season the tuna with salt and pepper on both sides.  Heat 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the tuna and cook for 30 seconds on each side. This should be enough to sear the outside of the tuna, but the inside should remain raw.  It goes without saying that to make a recipe like this you must use the freshest, high quality tuna. I also sliced the tuna before serving, but that was mainly for presentation.

Remove the fish from the pan and glaze with the maple-mustard sauce on both sides. Garnish with the cilantro and serve with the pear-potato salad.

To make the salad, heat 1/4 cup of olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat.  Add the potatoes and saute until golden, about 12-15 minutes. Add the pears, red onion, garlic, almonds and curry powder and saute another five minutes.  Toss with the lemon juice and baby spinach after removing from the heat.

This was a delicious combination!
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