indulgences: risotto & crème brûlée

I enjoy carbs.

There, it’s out there. I don’t believe carbs are evil or that they should be entirely ignored in daily meal planning. Moderation is key to any successful diet. That said, sometimes indulging can be just what the body needs. Now, on to the gory details… last night’s indulgences included creamy parmesan rissotto with asparagus, english peas, and tomatoes followed by crème brûlée. To find out how to make it… keep reading!

I started making risotto years ago, in college. I figured it was one of the easiest gourmet meals to make at home. Time consuming? Yes. Simple? No. Easy? Absolutely. Worth it? Without a doubt. Check out the recipe below.

Onto crème brûlée… the most fabulous indulgence ever! I fell in love with crème brûlée at an early age. The soft, creamy, rich, delicate custard contrasted with the crisp, bittersweet crunch of the burnt sugar crust is enough to make me drool. Though typically a treat of fine dining, at home crème brûlée is becoming an easier option with miniature blow torches and affordable ramekins. There are so many ways to make this delicious dish, a few of which I’ve tried, but this recipe is my absolute favorite. It is the easiest, most flavorful and delicate crème brûlée I’ve ever had. Anyone could make this dish. Check out the recipe below.

What are your indulgences?

RECIPES:

Risotto

1 cup risotto (arborio rice)
1 quart chicken broth or equivalent in bouillon
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp butter
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup asparagus, ends discarded, chopped into 1 inch pieces
2 tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup fresh or frozen English peas
1/2 cup asiago or parmesan
1 T basil
1/2 cup whipping cream (or milk)

Boil chicken broth, salt, pepper, and basil in 2 quart sauce pan. Reduce heat to simmer.

In small saucepan, heat  1 cup of water to a boil. Add asparagus and peas. Reduce heat to simmer. When asparagus is tender, drain water and rinse vegetables with cold water. Set aside.

Melt butter in saute pan, add onions and saute until clear. Add garlic and risotto. Saute, stirring regularly, for 3-5 minutes.

Slowly ladle in some chicken broth until just covering risotto. Stir regularly until rice absorbs broth, then add more broth and the wine. Repeat process. When rice is almost cooked (taste – should be cooked on outside and slightly crunchy on inside), add asparagus, peas, and tomatos and cover with broth. Put a lid on the pan and the steam vegetables in the rice mixture, stirring every 2 minutes. Once vegetables are heated through, remove lid and add cream. Heat through until risotto is fully cooked. Add cheese and mix well. Serve hot, sprinkled with parmesan!

Note: The final consistency should be creamy – not runny or glue like. If runny, the risotto needs to cook off more liquid. If glue like, the risotto needs more liquid. If you run out of broth and the rice isn’t cooked, add more broth (or water or wine) whether it is up to heat or not. To save and reheat risotto, add liquid (reserved broth or water) before putting risotto in tupperware. Consistency should be slightly runny when it enters the fridge. To reheat, add 1 T water and heat on high for 1-2 minutes. Stir and enjoy!

Crème brûlée

1 quart heavy cream
1 vanilla bean split and scraped
1 cup sugar
6 large egg yolks
2 quarts hot water
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Place the cream, vanilla bean and its pulp into a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat, cover and allow to sit for 15 minutes.

In a medium bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup sugar and the egg yolks until well blended and it just starts to lighten in color. Add the cream a little at a time, stirring continually. Pour the liquid into 6 to 8 (7 to 8-ounce) ramekins. Place the ramekins into a large cake pan or roasting pan. Pour enough hot water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake just until the creme brulee is set, but still trembling in the center, approximately 40 to 45 minutes. Remove the ramekins from the roasting pan and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 5 days.

Remove the creme brulee from the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes prior to browning the sugar on top. Divide the remaining 1/2 cup sugar equally among the 6 to 8 dishes and spread evenly on top. Using a torch, melt the sugar and form a crispy top. Allow the creme brulee to sit for at least 5 minutes before serving. *Recipe by Alton Brown.

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