Friday, March 30, 2012

It's Actually Easy Being Green Salsa: Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

I love to cook all the time. However, when I am really stressed, I sometimes overdo it...a bit. Last week, Indiana University made it to the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA Tournament. I was home for spring break for the previous games against New Mexico and VCU. My mother couldn't wait to get me out of the house.  Mom's mantra for the week was "Deerfield is not a college town, and you can't scream with all the windows open in the house." But Mom, this is INDIANA! Unfortunately, she is not a Hoosier and did not quite understand the concept. 


Hands down, one of my favorite memories at IU will always be watching Watford hit the 3 in the last seconds to beat Kentucky. Our unranked program, beat the #1 basketball program in the nation. Thus, I was completely on edge the entire week awaiting our fate when Indiana and Kentucky would meet again in the Sweet Sixteen round. The game was at 9:45 at night. My day ended up consisting of making: Roasted Tomatillo Salsa (this recipe), Hummus, Cheese Pretzels, and Barbecue Wings. Thankfully I was cooking for a house of guys, who definitely appreciated it. Even with the nonstop cooking action all day and completely exhausting myself, I could barely watch the game. Every basket made or missed, we edged even further onto the edge of our seats. Everyone had different ways to deal. Some paced, some had to leave the room,  some yelled at the refs and I buried my head in a pillow. I had never felt so tense before. 

Even though, Indiana did not go on, we gave Kentucky a run for their money. I am so proud of everything Tom Crean has built back for our basketball program. I'll always be an avid Indiana Basketball fan, even when I'm not living in Bloomington next season. Thanks for a great four years and showing the country what potential the Indiana Hoosiers have in years to come. This is Indiana. BANNER UP! 

   Roasted Tomatillo Salsa
1 pound tomatillos, husks discarded 
3 cloves garlic, unpeeled 
2 large jalpeno peppers 
1 white onion, quartered 
juice of 1 lime 
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro 
2 tablespoons olive oil 
1/2 teaspoon sugar 
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1. Heat oven to 500 degrees.  Place tomatillos, garlic, jalapenos and onion in an ungreased baking pan.  Cook stirring once, or twice until vegetables are charred about 15 minutes: set aside to cool.  Remove stems(but not seeds from peppers: discard.  Peel garlic.
2. Transfer ingredients to a food processor; process until coarsely chopped.  Transfer to a medium bowl; stir in lime juice, cilantro, olive oil, sugar, salt and pepper until well-blended.  Salsa will keep, refrigerated, up to 4 days.

Recipe based on: Rick Bayless 
By: Maggie Dunphy

Friday, March 2, 2012

Oh No She Didn't!: Pasta Risotto

I know I have already posted two risottos, but I PROMISE, this one is definitely worth your while. The catch is that instead of cooking rice, you substituting it with my favorite college friendly simple ingredient, pasta. 

I love the Minimalist Blog by Mark Bittman from the New York Times, because he makes cooking in my kitchen quick and easy, but also at the same time concocts exciting flavors. No one likes a fussy recipe and buying ingredients you are never going to use again. This recipe is a pasta upgrade. Rather than boil your pasta in water, you slowly cook it in chicken broth. As the pasta cooks it absorbs the savory chicken broth/white wine base. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. If only I had mushrooms in my kitchen...good thing I have to go grocery shopping tomorrow!

If you are not a fan of mushrooms, you should be able to find a substitute. I recommend trying asparagus. However, even though I am not a big fan of the mushroom family quite yet, I love them in this recipe. When you saute them in garlic and then soak them in the  broth base, they pack even more flavor into the dish. The key is even if you don't like something, you have to keep trying. People's taste in food changes all the time. Don't miss out!

Unfortunately, I was out of fresh Parmesan to garnish my dish. On the bright side, spring break is in less than a week and mom will take me on a shopping spree to Caputo's! Right mom!?

Pasta Risotto

2 tablespoons olive oil, more as needed
1 shallot or small onion, chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 cups crimini, shiitake or button mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed and sliced
1/2 pound cut pasta like gemelli or penne, or long pasta broken into bits
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine or water
3 to 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
2 boneless chicken thighs, diced
Chopped fresh parsley, optional
Freshly grated Parmesan, optional.

1. Put 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large, deep skillet over medium heat. When hot, add shallot, garlic and mushrooms. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms soften and begin to brown on edges, about 10 minutes. Add pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is glossy and coated with oil, 2 to 3 minutes. Add a little salt and pepper, then wine. Stir and let liquid bubble away.

2. Ladle stock into skillet 1/2 cup or so at a time, stirring after each addition and every minute or so. When liquid is just about evaporated, add more. Mixture should be neither soupy nor dry. Keep heat at medium and stir frequently.

3. Begin tasting pasta 10 minutes after you add it; you want it to be tender but with a tiny bit of crunch. When pasta is about 3 to 4 minutes away from being done, add chicken and stir to combine. Continue to cook until chicken is done — it will be white on inside when cut — and pasta is how you like it. Taste, adjust seasoning, garnish with parsley and Parmesan if using, and serve.

Yield: 4 servings.