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It’s been so long! But stews have been calling me. And this is the perfect transitional stew. Fresh, bright ingredients that still feel right on a warm summer night, but warm and filling enough as the weather starts to turn. Plus, anything with fresh peas and ricotta is bound to be amazing.

fregola with green peas mint and ricotta

Fregola with Green Peas, Mint and Ricotta
via bon appetit

1 1/4 cups fregola (can substitue pearl couscous, if you’re having trouble!)
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for serving
2 ounces bacon (about 3 slices), chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup dry white wine
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
Freshly ground black pepper
Kosher salt
1 cup shelled fresh peas (from about 1 pound pods) or frozen peas, thawed
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint, plus leaves for serving
4 ounces ricotta

Cook fregola in a large pot of boiling salted water until very al dente, 6-8 minutes. Drain pasta (do not rinse), reserving 1 cup pasta cooking liquid.
Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet over medium and cook bacon, stirring often, until bacon is brown around the edges, about 5 minutes. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until bacon is crisp and onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add wine, bring to a simmer, and cook until skillet is almost dry, about 5 minutes. Add broth and bring to a simmer. Add fregola and cook, stirring often, until pasta is just al dente and broth is thickened, about 5 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Add peas and chopped mint and cook, stirring, until peas are warmed through, about 2 minutes. Add pasta cooking liquid as needed to adjust consistency. Serve topped with ricotta, mint, and cracked pepper and drizzled with oil.

 

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A belated post for Hanukkah! We hosted this year and I made latkes (with a corned beef main course). I love this latke recipe for the flavor boost from the chives and the extra crisp that the panko addition gives. Short on time and energy, I used a 2lb bag of frozen shredded hash browns instead of peeling and shredding potatoes and they turned out fabulous with a lot less work.
These turned out so great, I’m thinking about making latkes more of a regular thing. One of our favorite local restaurants serves them as a brunch side option and now I’m dreaming of these with a few perfectly poached eggs. Yum!

Food52

Golden Panko Latkes with Sour Cream and Chives
via food52

6 Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and grated (about 2 pounds)
[or a 2lb bag of frozen shredded hash browns]
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
4 tablespoons finely chopped chives, or more to taste (divided use)
2 eggs
2 tablespoons flour
3 cups panko breadcrumbs (extra crispy)
1 cup sour cream
1 cup canola oil

Mix the sour cream together with another tablespoon (or more to taste if you wish) of the finely chopped chives and refrigerate.
Wash, peel and (medium) grate Yukon gold potatoes. Squeeze and drain excess potato liquid once grated. If using frozen hashbrowns, start here. I found it them easier to work with once they had begun to thaw a bit. Add salt, white pepper, and 3 tablespoons of finely chopped chives. In a separate bowl beat 2 eggs till frothy. Add eggs and flour and mix thoroughly. Form into patties about 3 inches wide and 1/2 inch thick. Cover with panko breadcrumbs on each side.
Using a large skillet, heat oil which should cover the bottom of skillet and 1/2 way up the sides of the patties. Test first by dropping a teaspoon of mixture into hot oil. It should quickly fry but not so hot it burns (just like when making falafels). The secret is getting the oil to the correct frying temperature so as to flash cook the potatoes to crispy perfection on the outside but remain soft yet cooked on the inside. Once you’ve cooked the potato pancakes serve hot immediately along with the cold sour cream & chive mixture.

If you don’t know already, I’m a big fan of wine. And a recipe that calls for a whole bottle of red wine is  something that sings to me! That and a whole lotta mushrooms. While the directions for this dish look extensive, it was something I was able to put together on a week night with a little extra time and we were still able to sit down to eat before eight at night. I made just one change – I left all the vegetables in the sauce so that it was a little heartier. It came together in just over an hour, but would be wonderful to cook at a leisurely pace on a weekend. I think I might even be ready to try the original Julia Child recipe, although the part about igniting the cognac makes me nervous!

coq au vin

Simple Coq au Vin
via simple bites

3 lbs bone-in chicken pieces
salt & fresh ground pepper
1/3 lb bacon, ideally slab bacon, diced
1/2 lb carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
2 small onions, peeled and roughly chopped
3 stalks celery, washed and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1 bottle of red wine
2 cups chicken stock
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
3 Tablespoons butter, room temperature
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 pound button mushrooms, stems trimmed
fresh parsley, chopped
12 oz egg noodles

Rinse chicken pieces and pat dry. Season all over with salt and pepper.
In a large oven-proof skillet (I used a French Oven), cook diced bacon over medium heat until most of the fat is rendered and pieces are browned. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon, leaving the fat in the pot, and drain on a paper towel. Add chicken pieces to the pot and brown the skin in the bacon fat over medium-high heat. Remove chicken from pot and set aside. Add carrots, onions and celery to the pot, using a little olive oil as needed to cook the vegetables. Saute for about 5 minutes until they begin to soften. Add a cup of wine to deglaze the pan and scrape the bottom to get all those flavorful bits up. Add the chicken pieces, remaining wine, stock, bay leaf, and thyme leaves to the vegetables. Stir to combine, then cover with a lid. Simmer gently over low heat for about 40 minutes or until the chicken is tender and falling off the bone. Remove the pot from the heat and, using a sturdy pair of tongs, take out chicken pieces, bay leaf, and set aside once again. Cook the sauce for 10 minutes at a low boil until it is reduced by half. Meanwhile, cook the noodles as directed.
In a small bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons soft butter and flour. Using a whisk, incorporate the paste, called a ‘Beurre manié’, into the sauce. Mix well until all the lumps are gone. Cook the sauce another five minutes, whisking occasionally, until it is glossy and coats the back of a spoon. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed.
In a separate saute pan, heat the remaining tablespoon of butter, and add mushrooms. Stir for a minute, then add a few tablespoons of water. This helps the mushrooms to release their juices. Cook over medium-high heat for another 5 minutes until the liquid is evaporated and mushrooms begin to brown.
Return chicken to the sauce in the pot, and adding bacon and sauteed mushrooms. Stir together and heat gently. Serve over hot buttered egg noodles and garnish with chopped fresh parsley.

Earlier this week I whipped up a batch of this beautiful pasta, adding in a few of my favorite ingredients (wine & onions!), and posted a picture of the lovely results on instagram. I was so surprised and pleased when a friend from work joked about sharing the leftovers and I had plenty to share! We had a fun little lunch date in my cubicle – this recipe’s for you, Jessica!
If I make it again, I’ll think I’ll go for a home made marinara, or skip it and just use twice as many diced tomatoes. The flavors here are really well balanced and this reminded me how much I love shrimp in the right dish. I’ve been meaning to cook with more seafood for a while now!

penne rosa with shrimp

Penne Rosa with Shrimp
adapted from back to her roots

12 ounces whole wheat penne
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced (I used cremini)
14 oz can diced tomatoes, drained
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 tspn salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
4 cups fresh spinach
10 ounces medium raw shrimp, peeled and de-veined
1/2 cup marinara sauce
1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt (or sour cream if you’re not counting calories)
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Cook pasta in a large pot of salted, boiling water until al dente; drain and set aside.
In a large skillet with a lid, heat olive oil over medium heat. Saute the onion over medium heat until it becomes translucent, about 5 minutes. Add in garlic and red pepper flakes, cook for an additional 2 minutes. Add in the wine mushrooms, tomatoes, salt and pepper. Cook for 5-7 minutes until the wine is reduced and the mushrooms are just beginning to get tender. Turn heat up to medium-high and add in shrimp. Cook for 1-2 minutes, or until shrimp are pink and opaque. Remove from heat, add in spinach and cover skillet. Let spinach wilt for 2 minutes. Add the yogurt, parmesan and marinara. Mix well. Fold in the pasta and stir until sauce the pasta and veggies are well coated.
Heat until just warmed through over low heat.

I may complain about risotto occasionally, but it’s worth ever moment at the stove. Particularly when it’s filled with mushrooms and garlic. Barley is a great alternative to rice, much more nutritious with a rich flavor and hearty texture. Now that it’s well and truly freezing here in Seattle, I love this dish as a healthier comfort food option, warm, filling and just right for a cold weeknight with a little bit of time.

Wild Mushroom Barley Risotto

Mushroom and Garlic Barley Risotto
adapted from kashi

3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
3 large shallots, minced (about 1/2 cup, or one small onion)
4 large garlic cloves, minced
3 cups mixed mushrooms, coarsely chopped
6 cups organic baby arugula
1/2 teaspoon chopped thyme
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups pearled barley, rinsed
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 cups beef broth with 2 cups of hot water (or 6 cups mushroom broth)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Bring broth and water to a simmer in a large saucepan. Adjust heat to maintain a steady simmer. Heat oil in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots (onion) and garlic and cook, stirring, until the shallots are softened, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and thyme and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until they begin to release their juices, about 3-5 minutes. Add the barley and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the wine and cook until absorbed, about 2-3 minutes. Add 1 cup of the broth to the barley and reduce heat to medium, stirring frequently, until nearly absorbed. Continue adding the hot broth, 1 cup at a time and stirring frequently, until the barley is al dente, about 35 minutes. Stir in arugula and cook, stirring, until it is wilted, about 1 minute. Stir in cheese and season with salt and pepper. Garnish additional cheese shavings and serve.

I’ve been dreaming of this soup for over a year, and I’m not sure why I waited so long to try making it. It was surprisingly easier than I thought and just as delicious as the bowl I had in Paris. Maybe even better. I’m thinking this would be beautiful for a winter dinner party. Anyone feel like hosting? I’ll bring the first course!

french onion soup

French Onion Soup
via smitten kitchen

1 1/2 pounds (about 5 cups) thinly sliced yellow onions
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt, plus additional to taste
1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar (helps the onions to brown)
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 quarts beef or other brown stock (for a vegetarian variation, try mushroom stock)
1/2 cup dry white wine or dry white vermouth (I used a bit of each)
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons cognac or brandy (optional)

To finish [Gratinée]
1 tablespoon grated raw onion (optional)
1 to 2 cups grated Swiss (I used only Gruyere) or a mixture of Swiss and Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon butter, melted
12 to 16 1-inch thick rounds French bread, toasted until hard

Melt the butter and oil together in the bottom of a 4- to 5-quart saucepan or Dutch oven over moderately low heat. Add the onions, toss to coat them in oil and cover the pot. Reduce the heat to real low and let them slowly steep for 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes, uncover the pot, raise the heat slightly and stir in the salt and sugar. Cook onions, stirring frequently, for 30 to 40 minutes until they have turned an even, deep golden brown. (** Or, if you’re not into all that stirring time, you can use my new favorite way – in the oven! After the first 15 minutes on the stove, stir the onions well and place your pot into a 400-degree oven for 1 hour. Keep the pot covered, but crack the lid a little so that the onions brown. Stir once halfway through).
After the onions are fully caramelized, sprinkle them with flour and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add the wine in full, then stock, a little at a time, stirring between additions. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and simmer partially covered for 30 to 40 more minutes, skimming if needed. Correct seasonings if needed but go easy on the salt as the cheese will add a bit more saltiness and I often accidentally overdo it. Stir in the cognac, if using.

For the graitinée:
Preheat oven to 325. Arrange six ovenproof soup bowls or crocks on a large, foil-lined baking sheet. Bring the soup back to a boil and divide among six bowls. To each bowl, add 1/2 teaspoon grated raw onion (if using) and a tablespoon of grated cheese. Stir to combine. Dab your croutons with a tiny bit of butter and float a few on top of your soup bowls, attempting to cover it. Mound grated cheese on top of it; how much you use will be up to you. Bake soups on tray for 20 minutes, then preheat broiler. Finish for a minute or two under the broiler to brown the top lightly. Grab pot holders, and serve immediately.

I always complain about the time it takes to make risotto, but it’s always worth the time. And this one was no exception, especially since dinner was a team effort. While I stirred away, my dear husband whipped up the delicious parsley pesto topping this beautiful creamy risotto. Swirling in a spoonful of mascarpone cheese at the end gives this risotto a richness above and beyond, and the pesto brings a punch of green and garlic that’s irresistible to a pesto lover like me.

Fennel and Brown Butter Risotto with Parsley Pesto
via small plates & sweet treats

5-6 cups chicken stock
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 fennel bulb, diced
1/2 leek, diced
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground coriander
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup parsley pesto (recipe below)
2 tbsp. mascarpone cheese
Shaved Parmesan cheese, for garnish

Pour the chicken stock into a medium saucepan and bring to a low simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low and keep it warm. Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat until the milk solids start to brown on the bottom of the pan, about 2 minutes. Do not burn the butter. Add the fennel, leek, salt, and coriander to the butter. Cook over medium heat until softened but not brown, about 5 minutes. Add the rice and stir it to make sure it is well coated with the butter, about 1 minute.
Add the white wine and stir, deglazing the bottom of the pan. Add ½ c. of hot chicken stock. Stir and cook over medium heat until the rice has absorbed the stock. Add another ½ c. of stock and continue to cook while stirring. Repeat, stirring constantly, until the rice is al dente, about 18 minutes.
Stir in parsley pesto and mascarpone. Remove from heat. Serve immediately, garnished with shaved Parmesan.

Parsley pesto
Makes 1 cup

1/3 cup pine nuts
1 clove garlic, peeled
2/3 cup fresh parsley, stems removed
1 oz. Parmesan cheese, finely grated
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup olive oil

Place the pine nuts in a dry skillet. Toast them over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and lightly golden in color, about 3 minutes. Let them cool for a few minutes. Combine the pine nuts, garlic, and parsley in a food processor. Process to a fine powder. Add the Parmesan and salt; pulse to combine. While the machine is running, slowly pour in the olive oil until a smooth paste forms.