To say I love Holly Smith and the food she serves at Café Juanita in Kirkland would be a gross understatement. I met Holly a few years ago when a friend “bought” her at the Seattle Men’s Chorus Auction, and invited us to his home to share a multi-course, wine-paired dinner she hosted with some of her staff from the restaurant. It didn't hurt that she was totally down with our snarky banter and was willing to go with the bitchy flow in the room! The food completely blew my mind—so much that for birthdays and celebrations, when David asks, “Where would you like to go” the answer is an unwavering, “Café Juanita”. (If you go, eat her signature dish…..the rabbit will completely change your life. When in doubt, Eat The Bunny Eat The Bunny Eat The Bunny. She also makes a foie dish that will make you weep with joy).
Because I am her biggest stalker fan, I often search the net for her recipes I can try at home. I ran across this risotto recipe and made it this weekend. It Blew. Our. Minds. The sweetness of the grapes and the tangy cheese are incredible together. Don’t be daunted by trying to procure the cheese. In Seattle, you can get it at PFI for about 10 bucks. Otherwise, if you have a good cheesemonger you should be able to hunt it down.
David proclaimed this to be the best risotto I’ve ever made at home, and I have to agree.
What’s your favorite risotto recipe?
Roasted Grape Risotto with Hazelnuts and La Tur Cheese
Recipe from Holly Smith, Chef/Owner of Cafe Juanita
•1 bag seedless red Grapes from California
•>1/4 cup fennel seed
•1/2 teaspoon chile flakes
•1 tablespoon thyme
•1 teaspoon salt
•1/4 cup olive oil
Mix all ingredients together. Roast at 400 degrees F until soft and caramelized golden. Take out and leave at room temperature.
•1 cup hazelnuts roughly chopped
In a 350 degrees F degree oven, roast hazelnuts until lightly browned, for approximately 6 to 8 minutes. Let cool. Reserve for later.
•2 1/2 cups Carnaroli rice (Arborio is acceptable substitution)
•7 to 8 cups chicken stock (vegetable stock may be used as well)
•2 medium yellow onions, finely diced
•1 pound unsalted Plugra butter at room temperature
•8 shallots finely minced
•1/2 cup verjus
•1 1/2 wheels of La Tur Cheese
•1 cup roasted hazelnuts (recipe above)
•Roasted grapes (recipe above)
Melt 4 ounces of butter in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add diced onions and shallots and cook over medium to high heat, stirring until uniformly caramelized. While the onions are cooking, bring the stock up to a simmer in a separate pot. It is always best to add hot stock to your risotto. Add the rice to the onions and stir. Coat all kernels well. Add the verjus and stir. Add 4 cups of hot stock and stir well. Turn the heat down to medium. When the rice has absorbed most of stock, begin adding 1/2 cup more at a time. Stir every minute or two until the stock is absorbed. Continue until about 7 cups total have been added to the rice. Taste and add more stock if not cooked through. When rice is just done and still very moist, turn off the heat and let rest for 2 minutes off the burner.
Divide the remaining butter into three portions. Add one portion at a time into the risotto, beating with a wooden spoon until well incorporated. Add one-half wheel of the La Tur cheese and stir vigorously. Fold in the roasted grapes and stir gently. With the remaining wheel of the La Tur, divide into 6 sections and roll in the reserved roasted hazelnuts. Divide and plate the grape risotto onto six plates. Garnish each with hazelnut La Tur cheese.
This is one of those recipes that makes enough to serve a crowd (10 servings) but you will really want to sit in a dark corner in front of the TV with a huge spoon and eat it all yourself. I’ve made this quite a few times since buying this book, and it’s always a crowd-pleaser. The crème fraiche / whipped cream mixture adds some nice tang to combat the sweetness of the Budino, and the creme fraiche also stabilizes the cream.
My surprise in this was in the making of the butterscotch. I know it should be self-evident from the name, but this is the first time I did a butterscotch recipe containing butter and scotch. I know, I know--I'm clearly not going to be a Rhodes Scholar any time soon.
I did not make the cookies this recipe called for because…well….that would be baking.
(Thanks to Matt Wright for the photo help with this one. This is one of the recipes we photographed at his house, as he patiently tried to teach the Baketard to be less of a Photogratard.)
Butterscotch Budino with Caramel Sauce and Rosemary–Pine Nut Cookies
Recipe from Nancy Silverton’s book, Mozza
“A budino is really just a pudding. But this budino, with its deep buttery-caramel flavor and thick, velvety texture is enough to make an Italian chef’s eyes light up. Imagine what it will do for your guests!” –Nancy Silverton
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
3 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups milk
3 egg yolks
5 tablespoons cornstarch
5 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 tablespoons dark rum or scotch
Rosemary–Pine Nut Cookies:
3 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons honey
1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons all-purpose flour, sifted
1/4 vanilla bean, scraped
1 tablespoon plus 1/2 cup butter, divided
1/2 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
2 sprigs of rosemary
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons pastry flour
1/4 cup cornmeal or polenta
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/8 vanilla bean, scraped
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons corn syrup
2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup whipping cream
3/4 cup crème fraîche
1 1/4 teaspoons fleur de sel
To prepare the budino, combine the brown sugar, water, and salt in a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Cook to a smoking, dark caramel, about 10 to 12 minutes. (The sugar will smell caramelized and nutty and turn a deep brown.) Immediately whisk the cream and milk into the caramel to stop the cooking. The mixture will steam and the caramel will seize, but will become smooth again as you whisk. Bring the mixture to a boil and reduce the heat to medium.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg, egg yolks, and cornstarch. Temper the hot caramel cream into the egg mixture by adding a cup of caramel at a time, whisking constantly. When half the caramel is incorporated, pour the egg mixture back into the remaining caramel, and boil while whisking constantly until the custard is very thick, about 2 minutes. Remove the custard from the heat and whisk in the butter and rum. Strain the custard through a fine mesh strainer to remove any lumps and divide among ten 6-ounce ramekins. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for several hours, or up to 3 days.
To prepare the rosemary–pine nut cookies, place the cream, honey, sugar, vanilla bean seeds, and 1 tablespoon butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and cook over high heat, stirring only once to ensure even cooking, until the mixture reaches 230º F on a candy thermometer. Take off the heat and whisk in the all-purpose flour. Pour the mixture into a bowl and fold in the pine nuts and 1 of the rosemary sprigs. Let the mixture stand for 15 minutes. Remove and discard the rosemary sprig. (This mixture can be made in advance, and stored in the refrigerator for up to a week. Bring it to room temperature before rolling out the cookies.)
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the remaining 1/2 cup butter and the powdered sugar until it is creamy and smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. Add the vanilla extract and salt and mix until combined. Add the flour and polenta and mix until combined. The dough will be soft. Shape the dough into a disk and wrap the disk in plastic. Chill for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 350º F. On a well-floured surface, roll out the cookie dough to 1/8-inch thick. Cut out circles of dough using a 1 1/4–inch round cutter. Place the circles of dough on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Work the pine nut mixture between your fingers, creating a thin disk about the size of a dime. Place the circle on a cut-out cookie and garnish with fresh rosemary sprigs, about three leaves for each cookie. Once all of the cookies are finished and garnished, bake them for about 15 minutes until they are golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.
To prepare the caramel sauce, heat the cream and vanilla in a medium saucepan over medium heat until simmering. Add the butter, turn off the heat, and set aside. In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup, and water. Cook over medium-high heat, swirling the pan just slightly to gauge the caramelization, until the sugar becomes a medium amber color, about 10 minutes. Remove the caramel from heat and carefully whisk the cream mixture into the caramel. Be very careful—the caramel will steam and bubble. Whisk to combine. Place the pan in a large bowl of ice water to cool.
To serve, whip the whipping cream in a chilled medium bowl until it begins to thicken. Add the crème fraiche and beat until thick and fluffy. Spoon 1 tablespoon of the warm caramel sauce onto each budino, sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon of fleur de sel, and add a dollop of whipped cream. Serve with a few cookies on the side
Another wet weekend in Seattle. Is it spring yet? Is it spring yet? Days like this scream "COMFORT", and this recipe is one of my go-tos for days like this. I found this in Rob Feenie's book, Feenies and made it for a snowy New Year's weekend away with friends. It was a big hit.
No big changes to this one. Know that when these come from the oven they will be lava-hot inside, so you'll need to allow for some resting time. Serve with a mountainous pile of bacon (as we obviously did. This is what you do when it's cold: You eat pork!)
Souffled Apple Pancakes with Cinnamon Maple Syrup
From Feenie’s, by Rob Feenie
1 quart Maple Syrup
3 sticks cinnamon
6 whole star anise
1/3 cup butter
2/3 cup brown sugar
7 granny smith apples, peeled, cored, ¾ inch dice
10 large eggs
5 Tbsp sugar
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
2 ½ cups milk
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
¾ tsp salt
½ tsp ground cinnamon
Icing sugar, for garnish
Maple Syrup: Place all the ingredients in a saucepan on high heat and bring just to a boil. Remove from the stove and allow to cool. Store syrup, with the spices in it, in a large jar in the refrigerator. Will keep for 4 months.
Apples: Melt butter in large frying pan on medium heat. Add brown sugar and stir until dissolved. Cook for 3 minutes until bubbly. Add apples and cook for about 8 minutes, or until softened. Remove from the heat.
Pancakes: Mix together eggs and sugar in a large bowl. Add flour, milk, vanilla, salt and cinnamon, then whisk well. In small batches, process in a blender until frothy. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve.
To assemble: Preheat the oven to 425 Farenheit. Divide apples into four 8-inch (or six 6-inch) ungreased casserole dishes. Ladle the pancake batter into the casseroles (1 ½ cups for each 8-inch dish or 1-cup for each 6-inch dish). Bake in the oven for 7 minutes. Rotate the dishes 180 degrees, then bake for another 7 minutes, until golden brown and puffed.
To serve: Place each casserole on a plate. Garnish each serving with a dusting of icing (powdered) sugar. Serve with a jug of cinnamon maple syrup on the side.
This week was one of those crazy work weeks where there was no time to breathe, the days were nonstop meetings, and by the end of the week I was absolutely fried. Staying focused for "strategic planning" meetings without cutting someone or hugging yourself and rocking back and forth in your chair, moaning “Bored…bored…bored…boredboredboredbored” isn’t easy! I know, I know--Those of you who have jobs outside the corporate world would drown in the corporatespeak overload. As much as you think you won't go there, you do! I catch myself spewing out words like "leverage", "ROI" and "value proposition" way too often. And yes, I hate myself for it every time those words tumble from my mouth.
My friend Becky (I’ve told you about her amazing food before. Did you go get her cookbook yet?) and I had planned to have brunch together Saturday morning, because it had been a while since we’d hung out and caught up. Rather than going out somewhere we decided to make food for each other, drawing from our respective “death meal” lists.
If you’re someone who is focused on food and cooking, and can think of no better way to spend a Saturday than sitting on the floor with cookbooks scattered around you, interrupting one another when you find something you Want. To. Make. Now, then you probably have an idea of what I’m saying. We all have our mental list of “this would be one if the food items I want included in my last meal on this earth.” Naturally, those lists are nuanced, depending on the person. Mine involves a naked Ryan Reynolds, assorted farm animals and a jar of peanut butter.
But I digress…
Becky and I have our own lists of favorites, and when we spend time together we inevitably get to, “Ohmygod I have to make _____________ for you!” Saturday, we picked a couple of the dishes we knew the other had never tried and gave it a go. Becky made the most amazing lamb and mint meatballs with a creamy tomato and fenugreek sauce. They were melt in your mouth gorgeous and reminded me of butter chicken, even though they didn’t have a ton of dairy in the sauce. If you ask her nicely, she may even give you her recipe.
For my contribution, I made a street food dish I tried during my last business trip to Singapore, called Udang Nestum, or Cereal Prawns. Fried prawns, mixed in a caramelized, buttery, chile-blasted, curry leaf spiked sauce with bits of Nestum Cereal. Nestum is a Nestle product sold in Southeast Asia, and is similar to cream of wheat. It has a vanilla-y, malted aroma to it. It sounds a bit strange but it will knock your socks off. It’s hard to find in the US (I’ve relied on friends traveling to and from Singapore on business to procure it), but I finally managed to find a link here and figured since the ingredients are obtainable, I’d share the recipe with you. For frying the shrimp, you can sub in other flours for the cornstarch. I prefer cornstarch because I think it adds more crunch to fried foods on its own than it does mixed with other flours.
Oh, I realize indian lamb meatballs and Indonesian cereal prawns aren’t the most traditional breakfast food, but we accounted for that too. Just make a pot of coffee, fry an egg and put it over your cereal prawns (I guarantee you will be a convert forever), and add some gossip. It’s brunch!
Thanks, Becky, for taking photos while we cooked! Thanks also for destroying my New Years diet.
1 lb. prawns (Note from Marc: Becky schooled me on this one: Try to find prawns from the US, wild if possible, to avoid all of the antibiotics and crap pumped into foreign and farm-raised shrimp)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp white pepper
1 egg, lightly whisked
1 cup corn starch
2 tbsp butter
2 salted duck egg yolks (Note from Marc: You can buy salted duck eggs at any Asian market)
3 red thai chilies, sliced thinly, diagonally (Note from Marc: If you don’t love the heat, you can substitute milder Fresno chiles)
50 g curry leaves
2 Tbsp granulated or palm sugar
50 g Nestum cereal original
Peanut oil (for frying shrimp)
- Peel and devein shrimp, leaving the tail intact.
- Mix salt and pepper into the shrimp and let it marinate 30 minutes.
- Heat cooking oil in a wok. Dip prawns in egg and dust with cornstarch. Deep-fry prawns in hot oil for 3-4 minutes till golden. Drain on paper towel and set aside for later use.
- Melt butter in a wok. Add mashed salted yolks into hot butter. Stir-fry for a couple of seconds.
- Add curry leaves, sliced chilies, sugar and Nestum cereal. Quickly stir-fry for 2 minutes, till cereal changes color, getting somewhat light and crunchy. Toss in fried shrimp. Mix well and remove from heat.