Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Arborio Rice Pudding

Arborio Rice Pudding - ButterYum
Who needs a little comfort?  How about some creamy rice pudding?  How do you like yours, hot or cold?  With raisins or without?  Me, I like it cold without the raisins, but if you like it hot, so be it... you like raisins, no problem.  This recipe is easily adapted to suit your taste.  There are, however, a few things to keep in mind when making it.  Milk, rice, and sugar all burn easily, so be sure to use a good quality heavy-bottomed sauce pan - tri-ply, enameled cast iron.. something along those lines.  The next thing is to keep an eye on the mixture while it's cooking - you don't want to go check your email in another part of the house and lose track of time, (been there, done that!) - stay in or near the kitchen and you should be good.

Arborio rice on the left - long grain rice on the right
Lastly, I like to use Arborio rice.  You can use long grain rice if that's all you have, but Arborio is the same rice used to make risotto, and we all know how creamy risotto is, right?  That's because Arborio has a higher starch content than long grain rice, so naturally it makes a creamier rice pudding.  Arborio is a bit more expensive than long grain, but you only need 1/2 cup of rice to make 4 servings.

Arborio Rice Pudding
make four 1-cup servings

1/2 cup Arborio rice
4 cups milk (skim works just fine)
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup raisins (optional)
1/2 to 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract (to taste)
1 egg yolk (optional, but will add a bit of luxury to the finished texture)
Sprinkling of cinnamon (optional)

In a medium heavy-bottomed sauce pan, place rice, milk, sugar, and butter; stir.  Bring to a boil; stirring occasionally.  Add raisins if using; reduce heat to a gentle bubble and stir frequently for 20-30 minutes until the rice is plump and creamy (see note below) - don't walk away during this step.  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and optional egg yolk if using.  Serve immediately or transfer to a storage container and cover the surface with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming; chill completely.  To speed the chilling process along, pour onto a large rimmed cookie sheet before covering with plastic and placing it in the fridge.  Sprinkle with a little cinnamon before serving.

Note:  If you plan to serve the rice pudding hot, cook to desired serving consistency.  If you plan to serve it cold, it will firm up when chilled so stop cooking when the consistency is a bit looser than you want.  If you find your chilled rice pudding is too firm, stir in a little cream or half and half. 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Symphony Brownies - Redux

almond toffee brownies symphony
Symphony Brownies - ButterYum
After spending way too much time in the kitchen last weekend, I've been taking it easy and don't have anything new to post, so I thought I'd republish these goodies and let you all know I'm still alive and kicking.  See you again soon.

brownies almond toffee symphonyI couldn't resist trying these brownies when I heard all the oohs and ahhs from friends who were sampling them at a recent get together.

Wow, were they good... and I was totally hooked on the crunchy little sweet bits inside! I knew I had to find out more about these wonderful little morsels of joy - so off I went to find their maker, who was more than happy to tell me all about them. Only one catch, there was no recipe... nope, these little bits of goodness were made from a boxed brownie mix and candy bars (what? yes, it's true).

The scratch baker in me thinks these have got to be even better when made from a scratch recipe, but if you're not into that, or if you want a super fast, no-fuss brownie that will have you fighting off the compliments and recipe request, here's what you'll need:

Symphony Brownies
makes one 9x13 pan

1 18.3oz box brownie mix (recipe for a 9x13 pan)
3 large Hershey's Symphony Almond and Toffee Bars (about 12 ounces)

Mix the brownie batter according to the directions on the box. Pour 1/2 the batter into a 9x13 cake pan. Unwrap the 3 chocolate bars and lay them side-to-side in a single layer on the brownie batter. Top with remaining batter. Bake according to the directions on the box. Cool completely before cutting.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

SuperMoon, March 19, 2011

Supermoon over Virginia, March 19, 2011 - ButterYum

My head is spinning from the crazy week we just had, but I'll be posting again soon.  In the meantime, did you see the "Supermoon"?  That's the term used for a rare phenomenon that occurs when a full moon is at its closest point to the earth.  The last time we had one was almost 20 years ago.

According to NASA, a Supermoon is 14 percent larger and 30 percent brighter than usual. The next Supermoon will occur in 2029.  See you in a few days.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Lemon Garlic and Parm Pasta

Lemon Garlic and Parm Pasta - ButterYum

Packed full of bold flavors, this pasta dish is not for wimpy taste buds - you have to really love lemon, garlic, and Parmesan.  Due to the lingering odiferous characteristics of the dish, be sure all your dinner guests partake.  This pasta is equally good served hot or at room temperature.

Lemon Garlic and Parmesan Pasta
serves 4-6

1 pound thin spaghetti, cooked to perfection
1 1/2 cups reserved pasta cooking water
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup parmesan cheese (reserve a little for garnish)
1/2 cup finely chopped parsley (reserve a little for garnish)
salt and pepper to taste (heavy on the pepper)
Garnish - grated lemon zest, crushed red pepper flakes, reserved parmesan and parsley, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

Note: have all the ingredients ready to go as this sauce is made in the short time it takes to drain the cooked pasta.  Be sure to reserve 1 and 1/2 cups of the pasta cooking water. (directions for Pasta 101 found here)

Using the same stock pot the pasta was cooked in, heat the olive oil over medium heat; add the crushed garlic and saute for a minute or two until very fragrant.  Add the lemon juice and only 1 cup of pasta cooking water (reserving the other 1/2 cup in case you need it later).  Stir and cook for a minute or so; season with a little salt and lots of fresh cracked pepper (watch the salt - the pasta water and cheese are very salty).  Remove pot from heat; add the drained pasta to the pot, add the parmesan and parsley; mix well (add more pasta water if needed).  Garnish with grated lemon zest, crushed red pepper flakes, parmesan, parsley, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Mozzarella en Carozza - Valastro Style, Baby

Mozzarella en Carozza - ButterYum
Have you checked out Buddy Valastro's new cooking show, Kitchen Boss?  It's great.  He cooks all my favorite foods just the way my mother did when I was growing up.  She didn't, however, make these Italian Grilled Cheese sandwiches.  My girls are lucky I'm not my mother ;).   They've both proclaimed these to be the best sandwiches ever.  Oh yeah, baby - they're that good!

Let's make one - first, we schmear some sun-dried tomato pesto onto 2 slices of bread, then we add a nice slice of  fresh "Mootz" (mozzarella cheese).  Buddy's version didn't include the basil, but my plant was sitting right there and hey, what can I say, I couldn't resist!!

Okay, now we squish the two pieces of bread together and dip the whole thing in beaten egg...

...then into seasoned breadcrumbs (shake off the excess), and fry in olive oil over medium heat until the breadcrumbs are nice and brown, and the cheese is melted and gooey.  Be careful not to overheat the oil - if it starts to smoke, it's too hot.

Oh man, you gotta try them.
Estremamente Deliziosa!

Mozzarella en Carozza 
adapted from Buddy Valastro, The Kitchen Boss (aka The Cake Boss)
makes 4 sandwiches

8 slices sandwich bread
4 slices fresh mozzarella, about 1/4-inch thick
4 tablespoons sun-dried tomato pesto
4 large fresh basil leaves
2 eggs, beaten
1 - 1 1/2 cups Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
1 cup olive oil
extra sun-dried tomato pesto for dipping (optional)

Spread 1/2 tablespoon of sun-dried tomato pesto on each slice of bread.  Top 4 slices of bread with 4 slices of fresh mozzarella and a large basil leaf.  Top with remaining 4 slices of bread (tomato pesto should be on the inside of the sandwich); give each sandwich a little squish to keep them together as you dip them in beaten egg, followed by seasoned bread crumbs.  Shake off excess crumbs.  Fry sandwiches in olive oil over medium heat until golden brown on all sides, being careful not to let the oil overheat.  Serve with additional sun-dried tomato pesto for dipping.