Stir-Fried Rice with Sambal

Stir-Fried Rice with Sambal

– makes 4 servings
Ingredients

1 tablespoon of the sambal of your choice
4 tablespoons oil
4 eggs
4 cups day-old rice
1 teaspoon sweet soy sauce
Cilantro, to garnish


Heat the wok with the 1 tablespoon of oil. Crack the eggs into the wok, two at a time, and fry until the whites are browned on the edges but the yolk is still runny. Set aside.

Add the sambal to the wok and stir fry over low heat for just a few seconds. Add sweet soy sauce and the rice and stir around to mix the grains evenly with the seasonings.

Transfer the rice to bowls and top with an egg. Garnish with cilantro and serve immediately.

Nonya Sambal

1 1/2 to 2 1/2 teaspoons belacan, pressed into a disk 1/4 inch thick
1 shallot
3 cloves garlic
5 fresh red chilies, such as red Holland, Fresno, or cayenne, stemmed and coarsely chopped
6 fresh green bird’s eye chilies, stemmed and coarsely chopped
The juice of one lime


Toast the belacan, pressed into a disk, in a foil packet set over the burner.

Place the toasted belacan, shallots, garlic, and chiles in a small food processor. Pulse until you have a paste with a slightly chunky consistency.

Transfer the paste to a small bowl. Leave it in the bowl for eaters to spoon at their own discretion, or used in a stir-fried dish. Leftover sambal may be stored in an container for up to a week in the refrigerator.

Javanese Sambal

4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon belacan, pressed into a disk 1/4 inch thick
5 shallots
3 cloves garlic
12 fresh red chilies, such as red Holland, Fresno, or cayenne, stemmed and coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon palm sugar, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon salt


Heat the oil wok over medium heat. Add the disk of belacan and brown it on both sides, turning just once so as not to break up the disk more than necessary. Using a sloted spoon, remove the disk from the oil and allow it to cool.

Place the belacan, shallots, garlic, chiles, palm sugar, and salt in a small food processor. Pulse until you have a paste with a slightly chunky consistency.

Over medium heat, reheat the oil. Place the paste into the oil and saute. Lower the heat to low, stirring occasionally. Continue to saute for 8 to 10 minutes, until the oil separates from the paste and the paste itself is a few shades darker. Salt to taste.

Transfer the paste to a small bowl and allow to cool completely before using. Leave it in the bowl for eaters to spoon at their own discretion, or used in a stir-fried dish. Leftover sambal may be stored in an container for up to a week in the refrigerator.

Irish Chocolate Stout Stew

Ingredients

3 pounds beef stew meat
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons butter
1 large yellow onion, roughly chopped
1-1/2 (12 ounces) bottles or cans chocolate stout (though any good stout will do)
1 quart beef stock
3 pounds boiling potatoes, quartered
1 pound carrots, cut into one-inch chunks
Salt and pepper


Liberally salt and pepper the beef and roll it in the flour.

Melt the butter over medium-high heat in a large (6 to 8 quart) pot, and brown the meat on all sides. Reserve the meat in a separate bowl.

Add the onions to the pot, cooking until softened (about 8 to 10 minutes).

Deglaze the pot with the stout; drink the remaining 1/2 bottle. Once you’ve scraped up all the deliciousness, return the browned meat, and add the stock, potatoes, and carrots.

Lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, for about 1-1/2 hours or until the vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. Adjust the seasoning to taste.

Serve hot. With lots more stout

Brazilian Moqueca

Soup

1 1/2 to 2 lbs of fillets of firm white fish such as halibut, swordfish, or cod, rinsed in cold water, pin bones removed, cut into large portions
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 Tbsp lime or lemon juice
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil
1 cup chopped spring onion, or 1 medium yellow onion, chopped or sliced
1/4 cup green onion greens, chopped
1/2 yellow and 1/2 red bell pepper, seeded, de-stemmed, chopped (or sliced)
2 cups chopped (or sliced) tomatoes
1 Tbsp paprika (Hungarian sweet)
Pinch red pepper flakes
1 large bunch of cilantro, chopped with some set aside for garnish
1 14-ounce can coconut milk

Rice

1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup white rice
1 3/4 cups boiling water (check your rice package for the appropriate ratio of liquid to rice for the type of rice you are using)
1 teaspoon salt


Place fish pieces in a bowl, add the minced garlic and lime juice so that the pieces are well coated. Sprinkle generously all over with salt and pepper. Keep chilled while preparing the rest of the soup.

If you are planning on serving the soup with rice, start on the rice. Bring a couple cups of water to a boil. Heat one Tbsp of olive oil in a medium saucepan on medium high heat. Add the chopped 1/2 onion and cook, stirring, until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds more, until the garlic is fragrant. Add the raw white rice and stir to coat completely with the oil, onions, and garlic. Add the boiling water. (The amount depends on your brand of rice, check the package. If no amounts are given, add 1 3/4 cup of water for every cup of rice.) Stir in 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring to a simmer, then lower the heat, cover, and let cook for 15 minutes, after which, remove from heat until ready to serve with the soup.

Back to the soup. In a large covered pan (such as a Dutch oven), coat the bottom with about 2 Tbsp of olive oil and heat on medium heat. Add the chopped onion and cook a few minutes until softened. Add the bell pepper, paprika, and red pepper flakes. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. (At least a teaspoon of salt.) Cook for a few minutes longer, until the bell pepper begins to soften. Stir in the chopped tomatoes and onion greens. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes, uncovered. Stir in the chopped cilantro.

Use a large spoon to remove about half of the vegetables (you’ll put them right back in). Spread the remaining vegetables over the bottom of the pan to create a bed for the fish. Arrange the fish pieces on the vegetables. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Then add back the previously removed vegetables, covering the fish. Pour coconut milk over the fish and vegetables.

Bring soup to a simmer, reduce the heat, cover, and let simmer for 15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings. You may need to add more salt (likely), lime or lemon juice, paprika, pepper, or chili flakes to get the soup to the desired seasoning for your taste.

Garnish with cilantro. Serve with rice or with crusty bread.

Baked Corned Beef and Sauteed Cabbage

Corned Beef

3 lbs corned beef (in package)
10 whole cloves
1/4 cup hot sweet honey mustard
2 Tbsp brown sugar

Cabbage

Olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 cloves garlic, minced
1 large head of cabbage, sliced into 3/8-inch to 1/2-inch wide slices
Salt

New potatoes, for serving.


For beef:

Preheat oven to 350 F. Drain the corned beef from the package and discard the spice packet. Lay corned beef, fat side up, on a large piece of heavy duty, wide, aluminum foil (you may have to get creative with the way you wrap the beef if your foil isn’t wide enough). Insert the cloves into the top of the slab of corned beef, evenly spaced. Spread the top with the hot sweet honey mustard. Sprinkle brown sugar over the top.

Wrap the corned beef with foil in a way that allows for a little space on top between the corned beef and the foil, and creates a container to catch the juices. Place foil-wrapped corned beef in a shallow roasting pan and bake for 2 hours.

Open the foil wrapping, spread a little more honey mustard over the top of the corned beef, and broil it for 2-3 minutes, until the top is bubbly and lightly browned. Let rest for 5 to 10 minutes, then place on cutting board and cut at a diagonal, across the grain of the meat, into 1/2-inch thick slices.

For cabbage:

1 Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil (enough to well coat the pan) on medium high to high heat in a large, wide pot (8-quart if available) or large, high-sided saut? pan. Add chopped onions, cook for a couple of minutes, then add garlic.

2 Add a third of the sliced cabbage to the pan. Sprinkle with a little salt and stir to coat with oil and mix with onions. Spread out the cabbage evenly over the bottom of the pan and do not stir until it starts to brown. If the heat is high enough, this should happen quickly. The trick is to have the burner hot enough to easily brown the cabbage, but not so hot that it easily burns. When the bottom of the cabbage is nicely browned, use a metal spatula to lift it up and flip it, scraping the browned bits as you go.

Once the cabbage in the pan has browned on a couple of flips, add another third of the cabbage to the pan. Mix well, then spread out the cabbage and repeat. You may need to add a bit more olive oil to the pan to help with the browning, and to keep the cabbage from sticking too much to the pan. Once this batch has cooked down a bit and browned, add the remaining third of the cabbage and repeat.

Serve with the corned beef. Serve with boiled new potatoes. Can be made ahead and reheated.

Serve with new potatoes.

Roast Chicken with Root Vegetables

One 4 to 4 1/2 pound chicken
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled (smash with the side of a chef’s knife, makes it easier to peel)
6 thyme sprigs
3 medium-sized rutabagas (also called “swedes”), ends cut and discarded, rutabagas peeled, and any outer tough layer discarded, then rutabagas cut into 3/4-inch wedges
2 medium-sized turnips, prepared the same way as the rutabagas
4 medium-sized carrots, peeled and cut in 2-inch segments
1 small yellow onion, peeled, roots cut off but core kept intact (see the photos for Frenching onions), other end cut off and discarded, the onion then cut into quarters
8 small red-skinned new potatoes
About 1/3 cup olive oil or grapeseed oil
4 Tbsp butter, room temperature (spreadable)

A large (11-inch if you have it) cast-iron frying pan
Kitchen string


Preheat oven to 475 F.

Use a paring knife to cut away the wishbone from the neck/breast area of the chicken. You will probably have to use your fingers to feel around for it. This is a little bit tricky, but if you can remove the wishbone first, it will make the chicken easier to carve after it is cooked. (This ease of future carving is the only reason to take the bone out, so you can leave it in if you want.)

Generously season the cavity of the chicken with salt and pepper. Add three of the garlic cloves and 5 sprigs of the thyme to the cavity, using your hands to rub the thyme and garlic all around the cavity.

Truss the chicken with kitchen string. To do so, start by cutting a 3-foot section of cotton kitchen string. Place the chicken so that it is breast up, and the legs pointing toward you. Tuck the wing tips under the chicken. Wrap the string under the neck end of the bird, pulling the string ends up over the breast, toward you, plumping up the breast. Then cross the string under the breast (above the cavity and between the legs). Wrap each end around the closest leg end, and tie tightly so that the legs come together.
Place the vegetables, onions, garlic, and remaining thyme sprig into a bowl. Add 1/4 cup of olive oil (or grapeseed or canola oil) and toss with your hands until well coated. Season generously with salt and pepper.

Slather the chicken with oil and season well with salt and pepper.

Create a bed of the root vegetables in a large cast iron pan (or use a regular roasting pan if you don’t have a cast iron pan.) My father likes to leave out the potatoes at this stage and arrange them around the chicken. Place the chicken on the bed of vegetables. Slather the top of the chicken breasts with butter. (Note that we added some extra sprigs of thyme to the top, probably because my dad forgot to add them to the vegetables! But it still worked.)

Place the pan in the oven and roast the chicken for 25 minutes at 475?F. Then reduce the heat to 400?F and roast for an additional 45 minutes, or until the thickest part of the thigh registers 160?F on a meat thermometer and the juices run clear.

Transfer the chicken to a cutting board, cover with aluminum foil and let rest for 20 minutes before carving to serve. You can keep the vegetables warm by keeping them in the now-turned-off oven while the chicken is resting. Stir to coat the vegetables with the cooking juices before serving

Cut the chicken into serving pieces. Place vegetables on a serving platter with the chicken pieces arranged on top.

Serves 4.

Garlic and Herb Roasted Pork Tenderloin

Two pork tenderloins, about 1 pound each
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 large stalks fresh rosemary
2 sprigs fresh thyme
6 to 8 cloves garlic, peeled
1 lemon, zested
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup beer or white wine


Heat the oven to 475 F. Take the pork tenderloins out of their packaging and pat dry. Sprinkle them lightly with kosher salt and black pepper. Place in a 13×9 metal roasting or baking pan.

Strip the rosemary stalks of their leaves by pinching your thumb and forefinger and running them down the stem. Do the same to the thyme, and add the leaves of both herbs to the bowl of a small food processor, or a blender. Discard the stalks.

Add the garlic cloves and lemon zest, then, with the lid on and the motor running, slowly pour in the olive oil. It should turn into a loose paste, as the garlic gets chopped. If it sticks to the sides or doesn’t get finely mashed, add more olive oil until you have a nice paste. Smear this paste all over the tenderloin, rubbing it into all sides of the pork.

Put the pork into the oven and roast for 10 minutes. Carefully flip both pieces of meat, using tongs, and then put back into the oven for an additional 8 to 10 minutes. Check the temperature of the meat with an instant-read thermometer placed in the thickest section; when it hits 155?F, take the pork out of the oven.

Place the pork on a cutting board and cover with foil to let it rest. (The internal temperature of the meat will continue to rise as it rests. Let it rest about 10 minutes before slicing.)

Meanwhile, place the roasting pan over medium heat on the stove. Pour in 1/2 cup beer or white wine (chicken stock or even water will do, if you have nothing else!) and bring to a simmer, scraping the pan constantly. Scrape up all the dark roasted bits and extra sauce from the bottom of the pan and let simmer until reduced into a brown, slightly thicker sauce.

Slice the pork into 1-inch-thick rounds and lay out on a platter or in a bowl. Drizzle with the pan sauce and serve immediately.

Tiny New Potatoes with Lemon

1 pound teeny-tiny new potatoes, ideally no bigger than your thumb
3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 lemon, zested and juiced


Heat the oven to 450 F. Clean the potatoes and pat them dry. Toss them with enough olive oil to coat, and with salt and pepper. Spread them on a large baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes, or until they are tender enough to be pierced with a fork, and their jackets are wrinkled and crispy-golden.

Toss immediately with the lemon juice and zest, and serve.

Options: After roasting, toss with a bit of chopped mint, rosemary, or thyme. Toss with chopped cooked bacon, or pesto.

Lemon Risotto with Asparagus and Shrimp

3 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
3/4 lb asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 small onion, finely chopped
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 1/4 cups Arborio rice
1/4 cup dry white wine
3/4 lb medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1/4 cup grated parmesan
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley


Bring broth and water to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Add asparagus and simmer, uncovered, until just tender, about 4 minutes. Transfer asparagus with a slotted spoon to an ice bath to stop cooking, then drain. Keep broth at a bare simmer, covered.

Cook onion in 2 Tbsp butter with 1/4 tsp salt in a 4-qt heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.

Add rice and cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Add wine and simmer, stirring constantly, until absorbed.

Stir in 1/2 cup broth mixture and briskly simmer, stirring frequently, until absorbed. Continue adding broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring frequently and letting each addition be absorbed before adding the next, until rice is creamy and tender but still al dente (it should be the consistency of a thick soup), about 18 minutes. (There will be leftover broth mixture.)

Stir in shrimp and cook until just cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes.

Stir in asparagus, zest, remaining 2 Tbsp butter, parmesan, parsley, and pepper to taste. (Thin risotto with some of remaining broth if necessary.)

Sticky Lemon Rolls with Lemon Glaze

Lemon Roll Dough
1 envelope (0.25 ounces, or 2 1/2 teaspoons) yeast;
3/4 cup milk, warmed to about 100 F or warm but not hot on your wrist
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, very soft
1/4 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 lemons, zested
2 eggs

Sticky Lemon Filling
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon freshly-ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger
2 lemons, zested and juiced *
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, very soft

Lemon Cream Cheese Glaze
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
Juice of 1 lemon
1 cup powdered sugar
1 lemon, zested


In the bowl of a stand mixer sprinkle the yeast over the warmed milk and let it sit for a couple minutes. With the mixer paddle, stir in the softened butter, sugar, vanilla, and one cup of the flour. Stir in the salt, nutmeg, and lemon zest. Stir in the eggs and enough of the remaining flour to make a soft yet sticky dough.

Switch to the dough hook and knead for about 5 minutes, or until the dough is elastic and pliable.

(If you do not have a stand mixer, stir together the ingredients by hand, then turn the soft dough out onto a lightly floured countertop. Knead the dough by hand (see this video for explicit instructions) for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the dough is smooth, pliable, and stretchy.)

Spray the top of the dough with vegetable oil, and turn the dough over so it is coated in oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a towel and let the dough rise until nearly doubled – about an hour.

In a small bowl, mix the sugar with the nutmeg and ginger, then work in the lemon zest with the tips of your fingers until the sugar resembles wet, soft sand. Stir in the juice of 1 lemon. (Reserve the juice of the second lemon for the glaze.)

Lightly grease a 13×9 inch baking dish with baking spray or butter. On a floured surface pat the dough out into a large yet still thick rectangle ? about 10×15 inches. Spread evenly with the softened butter, then pour and spread the lemon-sugar mixture over top. Roll the dough up tightly, starting from the top long end. Cut the long dough roll into 12 even rolls, and place them, cut side up, in the prepared baking dish.

Cover the rolls with a towel and let them rise for an hour or until puffy and nearly doubled. (You can also refrigerate the rolls at this point. Cover the pan tightly with plastic wrap, and place it in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. When you are ready to bake the rolls, remove the pan from the fridge, and let them rise for an hour.)

Heat the oven to 350?F. Place the risen rolls in the oven and bake for 35 minutes or until a thermometer inserted into a center roll reads 190?F.

While the rolls are baking, prepare the glaze. In a small food processor (or with a mixer, or a sturdy whisk), whip the cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add the lemon juice and blend until well combined. Add the powdered sugar and blend until smooth and creamy.

When the rolls are done, smear them with the cream cheese glaze, and sprinkle the zest of 1 additional lemon over top to garnish. Serve while warm.
makes 12

Roasted Asparagus with Poached Egg & Parmesan

1 Tbsp. olive oil
20 asparagus spears, trimmed (or tough ends snapped off)
2 Tbsp. breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon unflavored vinegar
4 large very fresh eggs (duck eggs would be nice here too)
1 2-ounce piece Parmesan cheese, shaved into thin strips
(optional: 4 strips thinly sliced prosciutto)


Preheat oven to 400 F. Toss asparagus with oil in small roasting dish then nestle together in dish. Season with salt and pepper. Roast until tender, about 10-12 minutes. Sprinkle bread crumbs over; roast until another 5 minutes. Divide among 4 plates. Cover to keep warm.

Meanwhile, bring 2 quarts of water to a boil with vinegar and salt. Lower the flame until to a gentle simmer. With a spoon, stir water in a circular motion to form a whirlpool in the center. Crack an egg into a cup. Lift the cup with one hand while you are stirring with your other hand, and as you stop stirring, ease the egg into the very center of the whirlpool. Repeat for the second egg.

Cook 3 1/2 to 4 minutes then remove with a slotted spoon and gently transfer 1 egg to atop asparagus on each plate.

Arrange several shavings of parmesan and optional strips of prosciutto over each serving, season with salt and pepper, and serve.

Pork Stir-Fry with Asparagus and Sugar Snap Peas

1 small pork tenderloin (between 12-16 ounces)
salt and pepper
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons sherry
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon corn starch
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 shallots, sliced thin
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch piece ginger, peeled and minced
1 pound asparagus, trimmed and sliced into 1-inch pieces
1 1/2 cups sugar snap peas
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes


Slice the pork into medallions about 1/2-inch thick. Then slice each medallion into 2 or 3 strips.* Season the strips with salt and pepper.

Whisk together the soy sauce, sherry, brown sugar, rice vinegar, and corn starch. Set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the sesame oil in a large (14-inch) saut? pan over high heat. Add the pork and cook, stirring and turning strips once or twice, until edges begin to brown and they are just cooked through, about 3 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.

Add the other tablespoon of sesame oil to the pan, and cook the shallots for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for another minute. If the garlic is getting too brown, lower the heat to medium-high. Add the asparagus, cook for another 30 seconds to 1 minute, and then add the sugar snap peas.

Pour half of the water into the pan, and scrape the bottom of the pan to pick up browned bits. You may need to add all of the water, depending on how high the heat and how brown your pan. You want to allow the vegetables to steam slightly and keep the shallots and garlic from burning, but most of the liquid should evaporate quickly.

Saut? the vegetable mixture for another 3 minutes, until asparagus and peas are bright green but still crunchy. Add the red pepper flakes. Add the sauce and the pork. Cook and stir until everything is coated in the sauce. Serve over rice.

*If the meat is too pliable to cut accurately, freeze it for 15 minutes.

Crostini with Asparagus Spread and Prosciutto

1 pound asparagus, trimmed
1 large leek (white and light green part only)
4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
1/4 cup ricotta cheese
3 tablespoons lemon juice
salt and pepper
1/2 pound prosciutto
1 loaf of ciabatta bread, sliced, or baguette rounds
butter


Boil the asparagus in a shallow pan for about 5 minutes, until tender and bright green. Remove from pan and put in an ice bath or run under cold water to stop the cooking. Pat dry.

Slice the trunk of the leek lengthwise and reserve one half for another use. Chop the remaining half. In a saut? pan, heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and leeks, season with salt and pepper, and cook until soft but not brown, about 6 to 8 minutes.

Roughly chop the cooled asparagus and add to the bowl of a food processor. Add the ricotta and leek-garlic mixture and pulse until combined. Add the lemon juice and remaining 2 teaspoons of olive oil. Pur?e until smooth, then add salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, butter slices of bread and toast until golden. Spread a dollop of asparagus pur?e on each slice, then top with a piece of prosciutto.

Caramel Risotto

1/2 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup Arborio rice
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 cups whole milk
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 cup cream

Melt butter in a large heavy stockpot and cook the rice over medium heat for 3 or 4 minutes, stirring until translucent and golden. Add the salt and 4 cups of whole milk and bring to a boil, then lower to a steady simmer and cook for about 15 minutes, or until the grains of rice are beginning to soften and swell.

Meanwhile, heat the sugar and water in a pot with tall sides. A 1-quart saucepan will do, but be very careful. Put the cream in a smaller saucepan over low heat and warm. Heat the sugar and water over high heat until boiling. Boil without stirring until it turns a dark amber color. When the color begins to turn stir with a dry, clean spoon to keep the caramelization even. Hold on and let it get fairly dark; even if it burns a little that will be better than leaving it too light. When the caramel is dark enough, pull the pan off the heat and carefully add the cream, a little at a time. This is one of the most fierce reactions in the kitchen – be careful as it will bubble up and spatter. Stir in the cream.

Add the caramel mixture to the rice, stirring well. Stir this mixture over medium-low heat, keeping it to a steady simmer, for about 20 minutes. It’s necessary to stir quite steadily to keep it from burning and to keep the rice moving.

The liquid will reduce and get darker, and the rice will swell more. It will look soupy. Keep cooking it down until it’s the thickness you prefer – remembering, however, that it will firm up considerably in the fridge. Serve with whipped cream.


Melt butter in a large heavy stockpot and cook the rice over medium heat for 3 or 4 minutes, stirring until translucent and golden. Add the salt and 4 cups of whole milk and bring to a boil, then lower to a steady simmer and cook for about 15 minutes, or until the grains of rice are beginning to soften and swell.

Meanwhile, heat the sugar and water in a pot with tall sides. A 1-quart saucepan will do, but be very careful. Put the cream in a smaller saucepan over low heat and warm. Heat the sugar and water over high heat until boiling. Boil without stirring until it turns a dark amber color. When the color begins to turn stir with a dry, clean spoon to keep the caramelization even. Hold on and let it get fairly dark; even if it burns a little that will be better than leaving it too light. When the caramel is dark enough, pull the pan off the heat and carefully add the cream, a little at a time. This is one of the most fierce reactions in the kitchen – be careful as it will bubble up and spatter. Stir in the cream.

Add the caramel mixture to the rice, stirring well. Stir this mixture over medium-low heat, keeping it to a steady simmer, for about 20 minutes. It’s necessary to stir quite steadily to keep it from burning and to keep the rice moving.

The liquid will reduce and get darker, and the rice will swell more. It will look soupy. Keep cooking it down until it’s the thickness you prefer – remembering, however, that it will firm up considerably in the fridge. Serve with whipped cream.

Lemon Risotto with Asparagus and Fiddlehead Ferns

1 1/2 cups fiddlehead ferns
1 1/2 cups asparagus tips
3 tablespoons butter, divided
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 large leeks, white and light green parts only, washed well, and diced.
2 scallions, white parts only, washed and minced.
1 clove garlic minced
2 cups arborio or carnaroli rice (also called risotto rice)
1/2 cup dry white wine
approximately 5 1/2 cups hot vegetable or chicken stock
zest of 1 large lemon
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese


Start by preparing the vegetables. Boil a medium sized pot of water, and have ready a large bowl of ice water. Thoroughly wash the fiddlehead ferns, then rub them in a kitchen towel to remove any of the brown paper-like chaff. Cut off any brown tips or blemishes. Rinse again if necessary.

Blanch both the asparagus and fiddlehead ferns for about 2 minutes, until bright green, then plunge into the ice water bath to stop the cooking. Set aside.

Bring the broth to a simmer, then cover and keep warm over medium-low heat.

In a large heavy-bottomed pot, heat the oil and 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat. Add the leeks, scallions, and garlic, and saute until tender and almost translucent — about 5 minutes.

Add rice, and stir until grains are translucent at their edges but still opaque in the center, about 3 minutes. Add wine, and stir until liquid is almost completely absorbed. Add the warm stock by the cupful, stirring until rice has absorbed nearly all of the liquid before adding the next cup.

When rice is almost done (about 15 minutes), stir in the blanched and drained vegetables and the lemon zest. Stir in the last 1/2 cup of stock, then add the cheese and remaining butter.

The risotto should be creamy and tender, and the vegetables cooked but with a remaining firm bite. Serve immediately.

Note: fiddlehead ferns have a toxin that can cause stomach distress when eaten raw. This recipe lightly cooks them, leaving them with a toothsome crunch. The health department recommends cooking them for longer (10 to 15 minutes); while we’ve never had a problem eating them in this state, those with stomach problems may wish to add the fiddleheads earlier.

Asparagus with Poached Egg, Tarragon, and Chives

1 bunch tarragon
1 bunch chives
Juice of 1 lemon
Extra virgin olive oil
About 24 asparagus spears, blanched
4 eggs, poached


Whizz the tarragon, chives, and lemon juice in a blender or food processor. Add enough olive oil to achieve the consistency you like. Set aside while preparing the asparagus and eggs.

Divide the asparagus spears between four plates. Spoon the dressing over the spears and then top with the poached eggs.

Garnish with Parmesan cheese, chopped herbs, or freshly ground black pepper, if desired.