Weekend Dinner: Rose Rissotto

ingredients  As a busy mom, I look forward to being able to cook on weekends.  Weeknight cooking is the bare minimum as far as hands on time, and ingredients.  In fact, we usually eat leftovers from larger weekend meals.  Leftovers merely require reheating.  (yay!)  Weekends enable me to make dishes requiring more extensive ingredients as well as attention to detail.

Since my boys love shrimp, and I love risotto, last weekend I created a shrimp rose risotto.  There’s something so comforting about the  texture of risotto.   Creamy, cheesy and comforting.  It’s like putting on a cozy sweater.

Want to try it? Here’s the recipe.

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 shallot minced
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup Rose Wine
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 cup of chopped greens
  • 1 cup grated dry cheese (Gruyere, romano, Parmesan or mixture)
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 3/4 pound baby shrimp
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • salt & pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs (tarragon, oregano, thyme) (optional)

Mix the liquids together and set aside. I like to keep mine in a large measuring cup  like this one so it’s easier to keep track of how much I’m using.

Warm your pan.  I use a Le Creuset shallow brassier.   Add the olive oil, saute the garlic & shallots for a few minutes.  Add the rice and swish it around in the oil and garlic mixture.  Turn down the heat.  Add a cup of the liquid mixture and stir. photo(14)

At this point heat a skillet and  melt a tablespoon of butter and teaspoon of paprika.  I like the flavor of smoky paprika, but a sweet would work well too.  Add the shrimp and quickly saute for about a minute or two, just to impart the paprika flavor to shrimp. Set aside.

Go back to the risotto.  Stir occasionally until mostly absorbed.  When mostly absorbed, add another cup of liquid.  Keep  stirring.  Do once more.  Add the mushrooms and chopped tomato. 

add last cup of mixture.  Add the chopped greens and fresh herbs.  Once liquid is mostly absorbed add the 3/4 cup cheese and shrimp.  turn off.  Let cool for a couple of minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Top with the rest of the cheese. 

I like to serve this with a light brussel sprout salad and thin crust mushroom & Gruyere pizza.  Check back for those recipes.   Of course don’t forget to enjoy with a balanced local Sonoma/Napa white wine like the chardonnay from Roche Family Winery which is still my fav. photo(13)

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Pumpkin Waffles

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If you’ve been following my blogs, you know that I love anything having to do with pumpkins.  Pumpkin lattes (see my recipe here), pumpkin scones, pumpkin patches and my own lil pumpkins. So when my husband gave me a waffle maker – which in my family we joke about gifts like these being the gifts that keep on giving time and time again — I had to work on incorporating my favorite food into a waffle.  There’s just something about the light flaky taste of a properly cooked waffle.  Add a hint of pumpkin and bamn – pure bliss!  Top it with spiced fruit or maple syrup and there’s no reason to leave the kitchen table other than to make another one.

Mouth watering yet?  Mine is as I write this.  If you want to dive into pumpkin waffles, here’s my recipe:

  • 1/2 cup pureed pumpkin (can be canned or fresh)
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar (or white sugar with a hint of molasses)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or combination of cinnamon, cloves, cardamon & ginger)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs or equivalent of egg replacer
  • 1 cup of water

preheat your waffle iron.  Then whisk together the eggs or egg replacer, brown sugar, oil until combined.

A quick word about egg replacer for fellow folks with kids with egg allergies.  I’ve tried different kinds and they seem to absorb moisture making batters more difficult to work with.  So far, I’ve had the most success with the replacer made by Bob’s Red Mill which is available at Whole Foods or delivered to your door via Amazon.

Add the pumpkin & vanilla.  Mix until combined.  Add the baking powder.  Combine.  Then whisk in the spices and flour.  If too thick then add a little more water.  If too thin, then add a little flour.

Coat your waffle iron with a non-stick spray or brush with melted butter.  Cook to your liking and enjoy! I personally like my waffles a bit crispy and crunchy with an airy center.  It’s the number 5 setting on the All Clad Waffle maker which truly has been the gift that keeps on giving.

Serve right away as after awhile they will lose their crispy factor.

Serve with  butter (my other favorite ingredient), syrup and some spiced pears or applesauce if you have it.  My neighbor just made some spiced applesauce that is so rich and flavorful.  If you haven’t made your own for awhile, try it out.  It is definitely worth the effort.

Also serve with thick cut bacon; the perfect salty treat to compliment.  In fact, I made these for my son’s 4th birthday.  And, we had a friend who gave us some fresh thick cut bacon – it was a to die for combo!  It’s just one of the many benefits of living out here in the sticks.

So try it out, and let me know how it goes!  Wishing you happy times baking up memories.

Enchiladas the Quick and Easy Way

photo(11)Living in the wine country has lots benefits, including being home to many wonderful taquerias.  For nights when going out to eat isn’t an option, it is easy to fake it at home. This recipe including baking time takes about 30 -40 minutes.  Rather than labor over making enchilada sauce and tortillas, which is always a fun activity especially with kiddos, I buy my enchilada sauce and tortillas at my favorite taqueria.   I buy enough sauce so I can use half and freeze the other for a a rainy day.

Then, add a few other premade items and you’re on your way.

Preheat oven to 350.  Mix together chopped chicken, 1.5 cups of cheese, the chopped greens, 1 cup of enchilada sauce and 1 cup of red pepper & tomato soup.  Take a baking dish, 13 x 9 works well.  Coat the bottom with a little bit of the soup.   Fill your tortillas with the mixture, about 1/2 cup worth.  Then roll and place in the baking dish.  Do the same with the rest of the tortillas.  Once all of them are in the dish, then top them with the rest of the sauce  (enchilada sauce + soup) and cheese.  Bake until warm (about 20 minutes).  Serve with hot sauce.  Enjoy!

Celebrating Fall

photo(10)Fall is one of the most amazing times of year out here in the wine country.  The vines turn colors that rival the most beautiful sunsets.  It is surely a special season providing much to celebrate.

It also gives the perfect reason to teach two little boys about the season.  Yesterday, my 4 year old was looking up at the trees in the backyard.  He was looking in wonder watching the leaves dance to the ground.  Red, yellow, orange and brown – our backyard is such a gorgeous palate.

So, there’s no better time to bring the colors inside.   At least that’s what we’ve done.  I had my boys collect their favorite leaves and then arrange them on our dining room table.  Watching them do it was the most insightful experience.  My older son decided to sort the leaves into colors prior to placing them on the white cotton tablecloth.  He then arranged them by size and placed them neatly in a straight line all the way around.  My nearly 2 year old son, piled them in a heap.  Developmentally I’m not sure what the relevance is of their two different organizing strategies.  But I think that the end result  is a masterpiece representing both of their visions of how the leaves should be.  In my world, it’s perfection to say the least.

At the end of the day though, the leaves are just a reminder of how gorgeous the world is around us.  By pointing it out to my boys, as they get older, hopefully they’ll take time to smell the roses or watch the leaves dance to the ground.   Have you done it lately?  I urge you to try it.

For more thoughts, kids arts projects and ideas on fall, and recipes check out my other blog at modernmamamary.com.

What’s in your backyard?

teepee

Today was one of those days when after a morning adventure down at the Sonoma County Regional Park, the boys just wanted to explore the backyard.  They found some pretty long sticks.  In an attempt to keep them from sword fighting, I asked the boys if they wanted to build something.  I already knew that the boys would want to do this as both of them love building anything.  Inspired by a friend who just built a teepee for a party they’re throwing, I thought about recreating a mini version for the boys.

The entire process was fun and a reminder of why life out here in the country is so fabulous.  After finding the long sticks, the boys helped hold up the sticks while I tied them together with green rope.  Wrap it up in an old sheet secured with clothespins, and voila – a cozy spot where a child can chill, giggle and make believe.

As soon as it was done, the boys crawled in and spent time laughing. I’ll never know what exactly they were laughing about (nor does it matter).  One thing is for sure though I will always be tickled pink by the memory of creating a space where they were so happy to be themselves.

Sometimes The Best Things Are In Your Own Backyard

The other day, my husband and I did something quite radical in our domestic world;  we went on a date.  Not to an event, not to a fundraiser, not to a party, but just the two of us.  At first, … Continue reading

Life is the Perfect Loaf of Bread

photo(27)The other day, I went to a local landmark, the Grist Mill.   Eons ago in the 1800s, it operated just as that, a grist mill.  Joshua Chauvet who settled in Glen Ellen around 1850 started it.  He opened a winery, the grist mill and a brickyard.  Everyday, I am reminded of this entrepreneurial man, as his bricks decorate my home.  And, they are surely gorgeous in a rustically historic way.   Today, the grist mill is  part of a darling little shopping village called Jack London Village.  In it there are restaurants and even a chocolate shop which in my opinion is not to be missed.  Across the way is Eric Ross winery, which is worth a visit.  Try the Albarino, totally delicious.

Although the grist mill is no longer milling grains for bread,one can’t help but think of bread being made when walking around.  From the large mill stones to the water wheel, there are reminders at every turn and even in the most unusual of places.

So, my particular visit was on an extremely hot afternoon around dinner time.  I didn’t want to cook so opted for some Indian, Himalayan food.  Yeti Restaurant is divine.  While waiting for my order, I sat at the bar watching the chefs cook.  An avid cook myself, I was most interested in seeing what they were doing.  A round pillow really intrigued me.  Then, the chef took a ball of dough, rolled it out.  He moistened it with water and then grabbed the round pillow.    The dough was wrapped around the round pillow.  He then, placed it in a oven. A couple of minutes later, naan.  The whole process was a dance, perfected in every-way.  Sometimes, I wonder what Joshua Chauvet would have thought of such an international delicacy being made there.

photo(28)My own bread making has room for improvement.  Bread is such a complicated process. For those of you who bake, you know how finicky sourdough yeast can be, or how the smallest of variations can impact the taste of things.  From sourdough baguettes to cinnamon rolls, I’ve had my share of baking trials.  The latest was with cinnamon rolls for a church gathering.  They literally took three days to make.  And, two of the three batches were off.  The dough was denser than usual.  Something with the yeast or flour I think.   Totally frustrated, I almost pitched them all and started anew at 10pm.  But I decided to set aside my perfectionist side and just enjoy them as they were.  They ended up being gobbled up in no time at all.

Having these experiences makes me appreciate the art of bread.  And when I find the right loaf I appreciate it in every-way savoring its smell, texture and taste.   The grist mill, the naan, a loaf from La Farine bakery in Oakland.  All to be embraced.  It’s like life.  When things all work together and create something beautiful, its time to embrace it, memoralize it and remember it.   Holding onto those times for other more challenging moments.   And, when things don’t go as planned, like my cinnamon rolls, it’s time to reevaluate and potentially roll with it.  For the good is what makes the bad bearable. It makes it worth it.

So, here’s to finding your perfect loaf.  Cheers!

The Double Eagle

The Double Eagle

The Double Eagle

I recently scored a double eagle!  In golf, a double eagle is an extremely rare score of scoring three strokes under par on one hole.  This double eagle was not in the golf sense of the term, but in the literal sense of a beautiful bottle of wine sealed in wax and decorated with leather.

You may wonder about the story behind this unique acquisition.  So, here goes, the other evening my husband and i were able to leave the kids with their grandparents and enjoy a piece of our wine country home.  It’s not the usual occurrence by any means, but a welcome change of pace.  We decided to act like tourists and pop into a local tasting venue.

This particular place, Sonoma Enoteca, showcases local small production wineries.  As luck would have it one of the winemakers, Vance Rose, was pouring a few of his labors of love.   So, we were able to learn a little about his vineyard which lays atop a breathtaking road and literally straddles Napa and Sonoma Counties.  Ironically, my Italian husband cycles past this divine spot on his Italian bike on a weekly basis. I digress.

As wine tastings usually go we started by tasting a very light and crisp white wine.   A lover of complex flavorful bold reds like Petite Syrah or Zinfandel, I was quite looking forward to trying something meatier.

So, I tried a local zin, which was satisfactory, but then something magical happened.  The winemaker poured a taste from a very different bottle.  Adorned with a leather label and sealed in wax, this wine had all the fixings of being something special.  The Double Eagle  was a red blend with Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.  It was rich, deep, yet smooth and fruity.  Sipping it was a beautiful moment.

If that wasn’t enough, the winemaker had stumbled across a bottle from the prior vintage, 2009.  As he dusted it off, it seemed like fate.  That bottle now sits awaiting a special occasion, a double eagle.

Who knows when that double eagle worthy of opening this bottle will occur.  In the golf sense it could be awhile if I’m playing that is.  My husband, well, that’s a different story.  But I’m looking forward to life’s double eagle which in my book will be three occurrences worthy of celebration.  Or maybe the wine itself will be the occasion.  I’ll let you know.