Tag Archives: Comfort Food

Hearty Hurricane Risotto

1 Sep

This past Saturday I spent the entire day in the kitchen.  Pure hurricane heaven!  I was so excited to have power that I went a bit overboard.  I made homemade pesto, pasta sauce, Millionaires Shortbread and RisottoA word of caution, risotto is something that requires time,  time and a LOT of stirring.  Don’t worry, there’s a delicious payoff in the end.

Mushroom and Pea Risotto (adapted from Giada de Laurentiis, serves 3)

  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth (or you could use veggie)
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 1 cup of chopped onion
  • 5 oz of shitake mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, chopped
  • 3/4 cup of arborio rice
  • 1/3 cup bold red wine
  • 1/4 cup frozen peas
  • 2/3 cup grated parmesan cheese

Heat the chicken broth in a small pot over low heat and cover.  In a large pan, melt the butter and add chopped onions.  Cook until tender and translucent in color (approx 8 mins).  Add your chopped shitake mushrooms and garlic then saute until the mushrooms are tender (approx 10 mins).  Add the rice and wine to the pan, and stir until the wine is absorbed.  Yes, I recognize that risotto is typically made with dry white wine, but I had red, and was not willing to brave the storm under any circumstances.  Add a cup of the warm broth to the pan.  Stir frequently until the liquid is absorbed.  At this point your risotto should look like this.

Patience!  Your rice will still need a lot of stirring but you will get there.  Gradually add the second cup of chicken broth to the pan, stirring constantly until absorbed and add in your frozen peas.  Then, you guessed it, add the final cup of broth to the pan and…stir.  The whole stirring and adding broth process will take about 30 minutes.  You will know you are finally finished stirring when the risotto has a creamy consistency, and the last bit of liquid is absorbed.  See the picture below.

Now add salt and pepper to taste, and then stir in the parmesan cheese!!!  Final step-grab a spoon and dig in.  Well worth the wait right?

I Heart Screwtop

11 Feb

Valentine’s Day is rapidly approaching, and it’s only fitting that my first restaurant review should be a place I love.  ♥

Screwtop is a charming neighborhood wine bar in Clarendon, VA.  I’ve been there several times and have yet to be disappointed.  The staff is knowledgable and friendly, and the food is creative and whimsical.  The wine…lets just say I’d be happy to celebrate or drown my sorrows anytime with their selection!  In fact, the place is just perfect for book club; provided that book club is really an excuse to drink and nosh, instead of actually discussing a book. 

Moving on!  My most recent trip to Screwtop was with my best friend RB.  She had recently returned from a trip to South America and was really pleased the featured flights that evening were from Argentina and Chile. 

I started my dinner with the Obscurely Delicioso flight of red wines.  How could I pass them up with a name like that?  Total consumer.  I really enjoyed the Familia Mayor Bonadara and Yale Cabernet Carmenere wines.  I wasn’t a fan of the Alma de Chile Carmenere, and thought it tasted too much like the Chili Dog wine from the VA Wine Festival.  RB ordered the Chilaxing in the Andes white wine flight.  All three of her wines were light and refreshing.  

The two of us also decided order the Baked Camembert cheese with fig compote, walnuts and crusty bread.  It warmed me up from horrible cold, and was incredibly comforting.  I felt transported to a ski lodge somewhere sitting by the fire.  Heaven knows I strongly prefer the great indoors to snow.

After the cheese we decided to order… more cheese.  RB ordered the Mac’s Mac & Cheese Trio.  This included three adorable portions of pasta.  The flavors were blue cheese, traditional and truffle.  She let me sample (another plus to being best friends) and I LOVED the truffle.  The blue cheese was surprisingly good and tangy.  The traditional was fine.  I liked it, but I’d rather save room for the other two flavors and eat the truffle oil popcorn.

I ordered Wendel’s Low Country Lasagna served with a side of their yummy tomato soup.  The soup was thick and had chunks of tomato that made it seem more like a bisque.  I’ve ordered it before and it’s a real winner.  The lasagna was made with beer-braised beef and a good amount of tomato sauce.  I thought it was a nice twist on a very traditional receipe.  

All and all, I thought this was a great meal.  I love this funky little place and would order most of the items we ate/drink again.  I also thought the truffle oil popcorn was a nice touch with the wine.  Overall Rating B+ 

After a filling and rich dinner our thoughts turned immediately to a nice brisk walk.  We were so full we were busting at the seams!  Somehow (these things just happen) we decided after a few minutes that we needed to finish the night on a sweet note.  We ended up outside of Crumbs and this happened.  

My excuse-I overdid it on the cheese and simply blacked out.  That happens to people right?! 

Cold Weather Comfort Food

9 Jan

Yesterday I woke up to a gray sky, a dusting of snow, and howling wind.  I am not a cold weather person, and immediately thought it would take another force of nature to even get me outside.  It turns out that all I really needed was to peek in my bare fridge to get motivated and brave the cold to head to the store.    Today was a perfect day for comfort food.  Enter easy chicken and dumplings!

This recipe is easy and can be personalized to include all of things you like in a chicken soup/stew.  It’s also perfect for a lazy day because it doesn’t require a lot of babysitting the pot, and because I used a few shortcuts in the kitchen (rotisserie chicken, store-bought stock, Bisquick mix).

Easy Chicken and Dumplings (serves 3-4)

The soup ingredients:

  • 1 tbs of olive oil
  • 2 tbs of butter
  • half of a bag of baby carrots, chopped (about 8 oz.)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • half a rotisserie chicken, shredded
  • 1 tsp of dried sage
  • 1 box frozen peas
  • salt and pepper to taste

The dumpling ingredients:

  • 2 cups of Bisquick mix
  • 2/3 cup of skim milk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp dried sage

In a large pot, melt the tbs of olive oil and 2 tbs of butter over medium high heat.  Add chopped carrots, onions, and 2 bay leaves to the pot.  Cook veggies and  bay leaves for approx. 5 minutes or until they become tender.

Then add 6 cups of  chicken stock and tbs of dried sage.  Now it’s time to start checking the taste of  your broth.  Feel free to adjust the seasoning with a little pinch (or several pinches) of salt and pepper to your taste. 

Increase the heat to high to bring the soup to a boil.  While you wait, shred half a rotisserie chicken into bite-sized pieces and add to pot.  Remember, your chicken is already cooked, so you don’t want to overdo it!  Boil for 2 minutes while you make the dumplings.In a medium mixing bowl add 2 cups of Bisquick mix with 2/3 cup skim milk.  Add tsp of salt, tsp of pepper, and tsp of dried sage and mix with a wooden spoon until it forms a sticky dough.  This should only take a minute.

Reduce heat to medium low and drop spoonfuls of  dumpling dough into the pot.  Cook uncovered for 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes, break up the dumplings in the pot and flip them over.  Don’t worry if they fall apart, that just means you’ll have mini dumplings and some in every bite.  Once you’ve flipped the dumplings, cover the pot and cook for 10 more minutes.  As soon as you hear the timer, get yourself a ladle and a glass of milk to drink. 

YUM!  This soup is cozy and a welcome accompaniment to any movie or tv marathon.  It looks just perfect and it is, well…except for the part about adding the peas!  I completely forgot about them. 😉  If you want to add them to your soup, put them in the pot at the same time as the shredded chicken and sage.  I think they add a little bit of sweetness and some more color.

If not, I promise this soup can stand on its own without them!  My stomach is already growling in anticipation of the leftovers.