Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Austin Trip

We took a trip down to Austin the day after Christmas to see the grand parents. It was nice trip and the babies came out with a ton of schwag.

Grandpa and Beck working the tow truck

Grandpa and Ella (aka "What ever she wants") sharing smiles.

Sweet girl and a snowman

The first girl in 51 years in our family gets a lot of attention

My dad and his mom.

Ella taking a ride on great granny's scooter

Grandma and her lil buddy

He is stuck on full speed ahead an his dial goes
all the way up to 11.

Me and my boy.

A chilly day at Barton Springs.

My sweet snaggle tooth.

No trip is complete with out an obligatory stop at
our favorite watering hole.

Mmm...Mexican Martini with Sauza Tres Gen
and Cointreau. Perfection.
I really enjoyed the juxtaposition on this one.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Butternut Squash Risotto

This is pretty much a winter staple at our house. Add panchetta or chicken if you like.

3 boxes of chicken or veggie stock/broth
2-3 cups of Aborio rice or Carnaroli if you can find it
1 Medium onion diced
1 shallot diced
4 cloves of garlic
Olive oil
White pepper
Bay leaf
1 Medium butternut squash
Blackstrap molasses
White corn syrup

Peel the squash and cut off the ends. Cut in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and stringy pulp. Cut into 1/2" cubes and toss in a stoneware dish or glass casserole dish. Add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and corn syrup and drizzle with molasses. Dust a little paprika on top and toss until well incorporated. Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes or until soft when poked with a toothpick.

Empty your stock/broth into a sauce pan and heat until it is just steaming. Dice up your onion, shallot, and garlic. Sautee in olive oil with the bay leaf until soft and translucent. *This Step Is Important so DO NOT SKIP IT* Add the rice and mix until the grains are coated with oil. Let this toast for a minute or two. This will help release the starches in the grain and make it more creamy. Slowly ladle stock until the rice is covered. Begin stirring and do not stop. Ever. Even if your wife is in labor. Continue to add stock as the rice soaks it up. You will know the rice is getting close to done when while you are stirring you can no longer feel individual grains hitting the spoon or spatula. Once the grains are soft through the center turn the heat down and add the squash.

Remove from the heat and grate some Parmesean or Peccerino on top. You can add sage leaves or vanilla bean to add different flavors.


Thanks Santa

The three things that will not leave my stove until April. Thanks for the new cast iron grill pan Grace and HC

Potato Leek Soup

I did this the other day and only used 1/2 cup of cream. It could have been totally omitted and it still would have come out yummy and creamy.

4-5lbs of russet or creamers peeled
Chicken or veggie broth
1 large bunch of leeks
1 medium onion
1 medium shallot
3 cloves of garlic
3 table spoons of butter
2 bay leaves

Peel and cut your potatoes into 1/2 " cubes. Put them in a stock pot or dutch over and add just enough broth to cover them. Bring to a boil and the turn down to a medium simmer and cook until soft. Cut the bottom off of the leeks and cut in half length wise (top to bottom). Soak and separate in cool water to get rid of any remaining dirt. Cut them into a small dice from the bottom to about half way up the green part. Cut your onion, shallot, and garlic into a small dice.

Strain the potatoes making sure to reserve the cooking liquid. return your pot to the fire and add the butter, leeks, onion, shallot, garlic, and bay leaf. Sautee until limp and translucent. Return the potatoes and all but about 2 cups of the broth. Let this cook together for 20 mins stirring occasionally. Now you need to puree. You can work this in batches in your food processor on use and immersion/stick blender. If you use either of theses tools be sure and remove the bay leaf prior to pureeing. Or you can grab and old school whisk and get a good forearm work out which is what I did since I forgot to charge my stick blender.

Give it a good working over adding the reserved cooking liquid if it gets a little tight. This is when you can add the cream if you like or go without. There is enough residual starch from the potatoes to thicken it up. Garnish with chives or scallions and some crumbled bacon. A healthy dose of Parmesean run through a Microplane grater is also a good idea.


Saturday, December 19, 2009

Corn and Potatoe Chowder (With or w/out ham

The wifey has been a little under the weather and requested some soup. This is a quick one that I put together for her.

3 cans of cream style corn
1 medium onion
1 shallot
3 cloves of garlic
6 strips of bacon
4 medium potatoes
1 Box of chicken stock
1 pint of heavy cream
1/2 tsp white pepper
2 cups of Guryer or Cheddar cheese and 1-2 pounds of cubed ham (optional)

Cook you bacon until crispy and let rest on a paper towel lined plate. Reserve the drippings. Cut you onion and shallot into a small dice. For the potatoes, to peel or not to peel, that is your choice. Cut them into decent size pieces. Crush up the cloves of garlic. Add the bacon drippings to a warm cast iron dutch oven or heavy bottomed soup/stock pot. Sautee the aromatics until soft adding the white pepper and salt to taste. Once they are soft and translucent add a splash of the stock to deglaze the pan. Add the corn, potatoes, cream, ham if desired and stock.

Simmer this covered for an hour or so. Remove the lid and check for consistency. If it is a little thin let it simmer for 30 mins or so uncovered. You can always add a slurry of Guar gum or cornstarch if you like. Crumble up the bacon and add it at the end. For some extra flavor throw a cup or two of Guryer or Cheddar cheese in at the end. Diced chives or green onions make a nice garnish for this and some warm cibatta rolls or crusty rustic bread for dipping.