Sunday, October 5, 2008

Beet Tart and Pumpkin Risotto

Inspired by recent posts by RhubarbSky and Orangette I tried my hand at a beet tart. It was not a hit though. At least not with the rest of the horde.

Lacking a stand mixer and the patience to make do without, I just fashioned my crust by pulling out one from the freezer at the grocery. It was probably a little sweeter than it should have been, but it was easy.

Apart from that I followed Orangette's recipe exactly. I loved it, but I like beets. I have yet to convince the rest of the family of their merits but this time it just meant more pie for me. I actually made two of them, the second one I brought to work where it was a huge hit. Two factors came into play though. 1) only people that liked beets tried it and 2) I think it was a little better the second day, chilled.

I think if I get the chance to do it again (likely not for the home crowd) I may try to make a layer out of the wilted and strained greens and increase the feta to about 6oz, it could have used a little more of the salty cheese 'punch'.

Along with the tart I made a nice pumkin risotto, that did recieve a warm enough reception to make it onto a future menu. I like to cook with the little green kabocha pumpkins that litter the produce stands this time of year and this was a great way to use one. I picked out a smallish specimen and halved it, then shaved off the green rind with a sharp chef knife and diced into 1" cubes. The process takes a little patience but I wound up with enough for two meals so I just froze half of it.

For the rice I think I made about a cup and a half of arborio rice and heated a quart of beef broth. First heat the rice in a heavy skillet for few minutes with some olive oil and a little diced onion. Once the onion starts is well sauted then deglaze with a little sherry. Then add a ladelful of beef broth.

protip: if you dip the base of the full ladel back into the broth it won't drip!

The rice will readily soak up the broth, just have a wooden spoon handy to keep it from sticking to your skillet. Keep adding the broth, ladel by ladel, until your rice soft and creamy (basically I just described the instructions on the back of the rice package, you just follow those).

Normally i won't add any of my veggies to my risottos until the rice is done. I like the vegetables a little crisper to offset the creaminess of the rice, but if they are too firm without a little cooking I'll add them a little sooner, as the rice is nearing completion. Things like asparagus, carrots ...or pumpkin. Once the rice and the pumpkin are done though, add a handful of finely grated romano cheese, a can of white cannelini beans and several stalks worth of fresh basil (but not the stalks themselves). I like to use the thai basil, it has an extra anise like flavor that is brilliant here. Add pepper and salt if necessary (between the stock and the cheese it should be already pretty well seasoned).


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