Ahhh, risotto. I love it. Rachel of Rachel Likes to Cook chose Butternut Squash Risotto for the October 9th edition of Barefoot Bloggers. I’m just now getting around to posting about it, but it’s one I definitely didn’t want to miss. Risotto is a traditional Italian rice dish and if you’d never had it before, you wouldn’t think it’s all that just hearing about it. But it is so GOOD. I’ve never made it myself at home before, I usually only get it when the boyfriend and I have a fancy dinner out.
What I knew about making risotto beforehand was that it’s not that hard but it’s not super easy either. The contestants on Hell’s Kitchen always seemed to mess it up, so from the show I learned that you really need to watch it close. I also knew that too much stirring was bad news. I kept all this in mind and hoped for my best effort, or at least a passable one, because this stuff right here… you know, saffron….
is freaking EXPENSIVE! I did my research and found out that it’s the most expensive spice in the world by weight because it has to be cultivated by hand. By hand?!? I instantly understood the high price then. I read that some of the other bloggers tried substituting cinnamon for the saffron. I guess this could be a solution if you didn’t want to fork over all those extra dollars. From what I’ve read though, do not try to substitute turmeric for the saffron unless you desire your meal to be inedible.
I had to use bacon in place of pancetta because I couldn’t find it at my local store. I think maybe the bacon contributed to the risotto being just a little too salty. I’m real sensitive to the taste of salt though, my Mom used as little as she could in cooking when I was growing up and we NEVER, EVER had a salt shaker on the table. To this day, it absolutely floors me when I see someone get served a meal and immediately go for the salt before even tasting their food.
Anyway, my risotto came out browner than some of the other pictures I’ve seen of it on the net, maybe the bacon was to blame for the darker color too. Other than the overage of salt, this was damn good. The butternut squash gave a semi-sweet element that was a nice contrast. The risotto may have been a little thick because I over stirred, but if it was I didn’t notice that much. Another five star recipe from Ina, I’m starting to believe this woman can do no wrong.
Thanks to Rachel for choosing this recipe. It definitely pushed me in a new culinary direction and I’m glad. My cooking skills seriously are lacking in comparison to my baking skills so anything new is a big learning experience for me. Coming up soon for the Barefoot Bloggers is Vegetable Pot Pie chosen by Deb of Kahakai Kitchen! Stay tuned…
Ina Garten’s Butternut Squash Risotto
1 butternut squash (2 pounds)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
2 ounces pancetta, diced
1/2 cup minced shallots (2 large)
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice (10 ounces)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon saffron threads
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Click here for directions!
On a related note: Unfortunately, I’ve had to drop out of a few of the food blogging groups I was a member of. Being a part of so many different ones eventually proved to be too much after a while and I was really struggling to keep up. I’ve decided to only do Tuesdays with Dorie and Barefoot Bloggers from now on.
Also, one more thing…
Thanks so much to the both of you for passing along this award to me. It really means a lot to get recognition from fellow bloggers who I truly admire!
Since Val of More Than Burnt Toast was the winner of the Barefoot Bloggers Bonus Recipe Challenge for October, she got to choose an optional bonus recipe for all the bloggers to try out. I was kind of happy inside when I saw that Ina’s Easy Cheese Danish was Val’s selection. I go in and out of Cheese Danish obsessions from time to time where I crave one every day. Taste wise, I love when this particular obsession hits. Weight wise… um, not so much!
The word “easy” is in the title of this recipe and I found out that Ina does not lie. Frozen puff pastry is one of the best culinary conveniences in the world. Without a product like this, we’d be chilling, folding, chilling and folding dough in our kitchens for hours on end. While it’s very satisfying to actually pull off making pastry doughs, sometimes it’s great to just catch a break. Love you, Pepperidge Farm! (Tip: just remember you have to plan to leave yourself about 45 minutes to thaw the dough out first.) The cheese filling is made up of a few ingredients that you simply mix together in your mixing bowl. After assembly and one 15 minute chilling period, you’re 20 minutes away from breakfast. I would recommend making these the night before so all you have to do in the morning is heat the oven and bake.
Changes I made: used dried lemon zest instead of fresh, used low fat cream cheese and ricotta, and vanilla bean paste.
I made these for a Sunday morning breakfast in bed for my boyfriend. Awww, aren’t I sweet? They went over really well. There was a *tad* too much puff pastry around the edges for me, so next time I would spread the cheese filling out a bit more. Other than that one tiny personal complaint, these were awesome!!
And with that, the October Bonus Recipe is complete. Tonight, I plan on catching up on the Butternut Squash Risotto that I missed a couple of weeks ago. Make sure you stop by More Than Burnt Toast to see what Val had to say about her choice. Then make your way over to the Barefoot Bloggers blogroll to see what everyone else is up to.
Ina Garten’s Easy Cheese Danish
8 oz cream cheese at room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
2 extra large egg yolks, at room temperature
2 T ricotta cheese
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 – 1 T grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
2 sheets (1 box) frozen puff pastry, defrosted
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
Place the cream cheese & sugar in bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment and cream together on low speed until smooth. With the mixer still on low, add the egg yolks, ricotta, vanilla, salt, and lemon zest and mix until just combined. Don’t whip!
Unfold one sheet of pastry onto a lightly floured board and roll it slightly with a floured rolling pin until it’s a 10×10 inch square. Cut the sheet into quarters. Place a heaping tablespoon of cheese filling into the middle of each of the 4 squares. Brush the border of each pastry with egg wash and fold two opposite corners to the center, brushing and overlapping the corners of each pastry so they firmly stick together. Brush the top of the pastries with egg wash. Place the pastries on the prepared sheet pan. Repeat with the second sheet of puff pastry and refrigerate the filled Danish for 15 minutes.
Bake the puff pastries for about 20 minutes, rotating the pan once during baking, until puffed and brown. Serve warm.
Makes 8 Danish