Gorgonzola Mushroom Risotto

This was a rummage meal that I never intended on posting. Last weekend we were running low on groceries, and had no desire to go out in the rain (LA shuts down when it’s raining). Giada’s commercial advertising her cooking line caught my attention. Her Gorgonzola Mushroom Risotto sounded unique and elegant, and we already had most of the ingredients at home! I braved the rain for some gorgonzola and mushrooms, and was pleasantly surprised when Brent responded with an “Ohhhh yeah!” after his first bite. How can I not blog this dish with that kind of comment?

Ingredients:
4 cups low-sodium chicken stock
12 ounces mushrooms
3 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, diced
1/3 cup of frozen corn, thawed (optional-adds some color and texture)
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice or farro
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
3/4 cup (3 ounces) Gorgonzola, crumbled
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Directions:
In a medium saucepan, heat the stock to a simmer and keep warm over low heat.

In a large, heavy saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until the onions are tender but not brown, about 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms. Cook for 5-6 minutes, until all liquid has evaporated. Add the rice and stir to coat with the butter. Add the wine and simmer until the wine has almost evaporated, about 3 minutes. Add a ladle of warm stock and stir until almost completely absorbed, about 2 minutes. Continue with remaining stock, adding a ladle-ful (is that a word?) at a time, and allowing each spoonful to be absorbed, until the rice is tender to the bite and the mixture is creamy, about 25 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the Parmesan, Gorgonzola, corn, salt and pepper. Transfer the risotto to a serving bowl. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.

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Cannellini Bean and Sausage Cassoulet

Cannellini Bean and Sausage Cassoulet is a great meal to prepare on a rainy Saturday afternoon. With soaking and cooking the dried beans, it took several hours, but the end product was well worth the wait. I could have been lazy by using canned cannellini beans, but these huge deliciously buttery runner cannellini beans were heartier and did not get mushy in the oven. Mama prepared this meal this weekend too! We periodically cook the same recipe to compare tips and ideas. With Mama being in Michigan it makes me feel a little bit closer to her. Until yesterday I did not even know what a cassoulet was. With a bit of research I learned it is a French meat and bean casserole traditionally prepared in a deep, round pot. I should have guessed it was French in origin. Mama, the French teacher, picked it out. Although it will never replace someone’s presence, if you live far from loved ones, consider starting a long-distance cooking club. Bon appetit!

Ingredients: 

Beans and Sausage-

3 cups dried runner cannellini beans
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
8 fresh hot Italian chicken sausage links (about 2 pounds)
1 leek (white and pale-green parts only), cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
Salt and black pepper
5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes, drained, crushed with your hands
7 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs rosemary
Mama’s Cassoulet
Breadcrumbs-
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 cups panko breadcrumbs
Salt and black pepper
1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley (or a tablespoon dried parsley)
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

Directions:

Beans and Sausage-

Place beans in a large pot and cover with water by 3 inches. Bring to a boil; boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand for 1 hour.

Drain beans. Add fresh water to cover by 3 inches. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, until beans are just tender but not mushy, 1 1/2–2 hours. Drain, reserving 1 cup bean broth.

Preheat oven to 450°. Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add sausage and cook, turning occasionally, until golden all over, 7–8 minutes. Transfer sausage to a plate and set aside.

Place 1 Tbsp. oil, leek, and onion in same pot. Season with salt and pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened and light golden, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and stir for 1 minute. Add tomato paste and paprika; stir constantly until paste is caramelized, about 2 minutes. Add reserved 1 cup bean broth, beans, chicken broth, and next 4 ingredients; bring to a boil.

Cover and bake until beans are very tender, about 30 minutes. Add sausage (and any accumulated juices) to pot, pressing to submerge. Bake until liquid is reduced and slightly thickened, 40–45 minutes longer.

Breadcrumbs-
Meanwhile, heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet. Add breadcrumbs and cook, stirring often, until golden and crisp, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Remove 2 bay leaves. Sprinkle breadcrumbs over beans and drizzle with remaining 1 Tbsp. oil. Bake cassoulet until breadcrumbs are browned and liquid is bubbling, about 12 minutes. Let sit for 10 minutes. Sprinkle dried or parsley and lemon zest over just before serving.
Adapted from Bon Appetit

Cucumber Limeade

What do you do when you bought too many limes for your margaritas? Make enchiladas, blend them in smoothies, and refresh yourself with Cucumber Limeade.  Simple. Wonderful. You have no idea what you are missing until you try.
Ingredients:
2 cups of water
1.5 cup ice
1/3 cup sugar
2 English Cucumbers
3 limes
Directions:
Peel one and a half of the cucumbers. Place in a blender. Add ice, sugar, water, and two squeezed limes. Blend. If your blender has a million (hyperbole) blending options, choose liquefy. Pour into four glasses. Garnish with remaining lime and cucumber.