Monday, November 7, 2011

Back to the kitchen, creamy coconut risotto and roasted brussel sprouts

Back to every day life and the kitchen. So here are a couple recipes to start the week properly. One recipe and quick throw together side, I would not call that a recipe... The recipe is a luscious coconut sweet risotto (or rice pudding, however you want to call it works for me). 

This all started with some left over coconut milk I had starring at me in the fridge for a while, isn't it how most recipe start? some ingredient just starring at you begging to be used. I opened a can of coconut and used 1/3 of a cup in a recipe that did not even work for me... I don't live in a very coconut friendly household so the left over just ended up in a recycled ice cream container (I love those... I also LOVE emptying them...) in the back of the fridge. I don't use a lot of coconut in general, I do have a delicious coconut flan but it calls for a whole can of cream of coconut so this was not going to work... That's when it hit me, that awesome coconut rice pudding I had in a Thai restaurant in Palm Springs a couple years ago!!! I have tried reproducing it but without success... This had to be the time... And guess what, I was right!!! I looked around for a recipe that was simple, relatively healthy, just something basic, this is what I used as inspiration and it turned into a delicious, creamy, slightly coconut-y delight. The recipe inspired me because of the simplicity of the ingredients and the fact that the technique was very similar to a risotto so I could only imagine the result.
The best way I can describe it is risotto meets sweet condensed milk with a dash of coconut, very satisfying and comforting. That recipe was a little bit of an adventure, I did not check my rice when adding it, everything was going well, I added my second ladle of milk when I noticed black specks in it... much bigger than those delightful vanilla grains... you guessed it BUGS!!! this is why I usually keep flours and rice in air tight containers... so I started everything, readjusted my recipe and it went fine. So no joke, use air tight containers!!!!

For 2 people (assuming you agree to share...)

- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/2 c Arborio rice
- 1 c coconut milk
- 2 c milk (I use skim)
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or extract)
- 2 tbsp sugar

- Mix milk, coconut milk, vanilla paste and sugar in a small sauce pan and bring gently almost to a boil
- Melt the butter over medium heat in a medium sauce pan, add the rice and cook until the rice is a little translucent and the butter starts to brown, beurre noisette, this will give a slight nutty flavor to the rice, be careful not to burn the butter though.
- Add the hot milk 1 ladle (about 1/2 c) at a time like, watch out the milk will bubble up when you add the first ladle this is why you want a sauce pan with high sides. 
- Cook the rice stirring constantly until the milk is gone, do this, one ladle at a time until you are left with one ladle of milk.
- Add the last ladle of milk mixture cook it but stop before the milk is completely gone, as it cools the rice will thicken and absorb some more milk. The rice should be tender, but not mushy. 
- Serve hot, cold or at room temperature, depending on your liking, some toasted coconut would probably make a great topping.


The next recipe is not really a recipe it is more like a quick side... I have seen many recipes for brussel sprouts online recently and this made me crave them, as a result I grabbed 1lb of them at the store on Friday, the challenge being that I have a boy friend who does not like brussel sprouts, I could just make the best out of it and be happy not to have to share but I am always up for a challenge so I decided to try to hide the taste, it almost worked... They turned out a little dark to my liking so I adjusted the recipe accordingly.

Little story while I am at it, like most dog owners I do have to share the kitchen whenever I cook and today was no exception. The girls are very funny though, they have very different techniques one uses her beauty while the other one uses her brain... Ariel, my oldest one stares at my with her cutest look hoping that I will cave in and toss her something (Ok, that works sometimes, I have to admit... they are really adorable....). Trysta on the other hand noticed that most of the time the food ends up on the floor so she spends her time staring at the ground waiting for something to "magically" appear (that works very well too....). So today I realized when dropping brussel sprouts leafs when going from the garbage bowl to the stove top that I have 2 of the only dogs on Earth that consider brussel sprouts leafs as treats... I SWEAR I FEED THEM!!!! they do have vegetarian tendencies :).

 For 2 people
- 1lb of brussel sprouts
- 4 slices of crispy bacon
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- salt & pepper
- 1 tbsp lemon juice (optional)

- Preheat the oven to 425F
- Cut the stem of the brussel sprouts and half the bigger ones, you want fairly uniform sizes
- Line a baking sheet w aluminum foil (makes for easier clean up) spread the sprouts, drizzle with oil, season and toss thorougly
- Cook in the oven for 30 min, tossing them after 15 min (my sprouts were on the small side so you might want to cook them longer if you  are lucky enough to find meatier ones)
- Toss in a bowl with crumbled bacon, you can add 1 tbsp of lemon juice if you want, I was just not in the mood for it today

Note: I cooked the bacon on a cooling rack on top of a foil lined baking sheet along side the sprouts, I usually cook the whole slab at a time and then keep the rest in the fridge to add to salad, veggies or just breakfast... (snack...)

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