Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Farro Risotto with Porcini

Digging out of a blizzard, enjoy winter wonderland and cross country skiing, a risotto is just the right fare. Giada di Laurentiis was cooking a risotto with farro the other day on Giada At Home, and I was enticed. Farro is a ancient grain and looks like wheatberries. It has a nutty flavor, and it works really well in salads. 

She prepared her farro risotto like a regular risotto, and added sultanas, pine nuts, feta cheese and parseley. For me it ended with the sultanas, because I dislike anything raisins. I rolled with the basic idea and turned it into a mushroom farro risotto, adding mini portabella mushrooms, dried porcini and some pecorino. It was very flavorful and creamy, and I must say I almost like it better than the arborio rice version because the nutty flavor and creamy texture of the farro went perfectly well with the mushrooms.

(makes 2 servings)

1/2 cup dried farro (available on or
1 TB olive oil
1 shallot, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup dry white wine
salt, pepper
1 cup portabello button mushroom, chopped
1-2 oz dried porcini
3 cups of beef bouillon, heated
pecorino (or parmesan cheese)

Heat the beef stock, and add the porcini mushroom to rehydrate for 5 min. Remove and chop.

In a heavy bottomed pot, heat the olive oil and add the shallot, and saute for 1-2 min. Add garlic and saute for another 1 min. Add the farro and 'toast' it in the oil, shallot and garlic mix for ca 1-2 min. Add the white wine, stir and cook down the wine until almost evaporated (all on medium heat). 

Now, add all the mushrooms and porcini and 1/4 cup of the beef stock, and stir and slowly cook down the liquid. Once the risotto become dry, add another 1/4 cup of beef stock. Repeat until the farro is softened, about 25-30min. Always check, and stir, and add more liquid (you might need more or less than the 3 cups, but make sure to add hot broth). Once the farro is soft and creamy, take it off the heat, and grate in a few tablespoon of pecorino and stir. Serve!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Cauliflower Curry

When I asked myself what I wanted to eat for Christmas Eve, I had a clear idea: cauliflower curry. A lot of cauliflower, some coconut milk and the curry spice part. Light, yet festive. 

1 bag of frozen cauliflower (or a half head, fresh, cut into florets)
1 ts grapeseed oil
1/2 ts black mustard seeds
1/2 ts cumin seeds
3-4 curry leaves
1/2 can light coonut milk
1 ts chili flakes
2 garlic cloves
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 ts red Thai curry paste

In a large skillet, heat the grapeseed oil and add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, curry leaves, and wait until the mustard seeds start to pop like popcorn (in hot oil, ca. 30 sec.). Stir, and heat for ca 15 sec, and then add the cauliflower and the coconut milk. Mix well, and cover with a lid. Simmer on very low heat for ca 30 min, until the cauliflower gets cooked through and slightly mushy. Makes sure the liquid does not evaporated (therefore, simmering on REALLY LOW), or add a bit of water. Once cooked, add in the Thai curry paste and mix well. Serve with some blanched almonds.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Ramen, Genuine Ramen.

Nice article in about some ethnic/Asian restaurants in Maine.

"PORTLAND — It is late fall in Longfellow Square. The leaves have dropped, the grass is brown, flowers are frosted and dead. 

At least there’s ramen, genuine ramen. It’s at Pai Men Miyake, and it’s served all day and late into the night. The rich broth is made from the bones, meat, and fat of guinea hens and Berkshire pigs. After a day of simmering it is ready to be studded with sliced pork belly, fresh noodles, seaweed, and boiled egg, and ladled into ceramic bowls. This is heavy soup in heavy bowls to wrap your hands around, to hunch over slurping, to take off the chill.

Much has been made of Maine’s local food culture — the farm to table restaurants, the meadmakers and cheesemakers, the heirloom everything. There has been a lot less hype about the ethnic restaurants, many of which serve delicious, carefully made food — true to this mother’s kitchen or that night market vendor’s street cart. It is great food, but, until recently, with the exception of a handful of sushi bars, the exotic restaurants were lacking in atmosphere and service and everything else that makes a restaurant worth going to. With boring beer and wine lists, buzz kill lighting, and orchestral pop songs, they were better for lunch than for a big night out.
Now, three places have given far-away flavors a new sense of place: Pai Men Miyake; Boda, a Thai tapas and skewer bar across the street; and Long Grain, Asian street food and home cooking a couple of hours up the coast in Camden. They serve food that Mainers used to have to travel a long way for, and they do it with local ingredients and they do it in style."

Read more....

671 Congress St.
Entrees $12-$19.
Long Grain
31 Elm St., Camden
Entrees $9-$14.
Pai Men Miyake
188 State St., Portland