Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Welcome to my blog! And Spring Vegetable Risotto with my very first Pot Roast

After much talk, I've finally decided to start a blog instead of just posting my new recipes to Google Buzz.

So although there are no pictures from last night's dinner, I thought I'd share with you the recipes I made and let you know how they were.  My friend KCW was in town and enjoyed this meal with me.  I'd let him review, but he's not quite picky enough - he even enjoyed the tomato sauce I made the night before with whole instead of crushed tomatoes, leaving it far too thin - NOT acceptable!

Main Course:
Balsamic Roast with Mushrooms courtesy of randrok.

  • 3 pounds Chuck Roast
  • 8 ounces, weight Button Mushrooms (sliced)
  • 8 ounces, weight Baby Portabello Mushrooms (sliced)
  • 1 whole Sweet Onion, Chopped
  • 1 package (1 Oz. Packet) Dry Onion Soup Mix
  • ½ cups Red Wine (she requested "one you would drink," we all know for me this means the wine that was on sale 2 for $12 at Giant.  I may have used more than this as I used the wine to de-glaze the pan I seared the roast in and then added more to the CrockPot)
  • ⅓ cups Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 pinch Salt
  • 1 pinch Pepper
  • 1 pinch Dried Rosemary
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil


Season the roast with salt, pepper and rosemary on both sides. Sear over medium-high heat in the olive oil.
Add chopped onion to the bottom of your crock pot. Place the seared roast on top of the onions.
Put the soup mix on top of the roast, then pour on the red wine and balsamic.
Place the mushrooms on top and set your slow cooker to low. Let it go for 6-8 hours.
Couldn't have been easier to make!  I'm officially in love with the CrockPot that just finally came out of the box for the first time.  I seared it off in the dutch oven before work, threw everything in the CrockPot, set it to low 8 hours (mine has an automatic timer and turns to "warm" after the time is up), then enjoyed it once the rest of the meal was ready.  When it is in the CrockPot before cooking, it doesn't look like much juice, but it has much more once the onions have cooked all the way down. The meat fell apart - which I couldn't believe since it was the thickest piece of meat I've ever bought.  The juices turned into an au jour that was tasty poured over the meat.  I thought the meat was a bit dry (KCW disagreed, but I also think he'd be afraid to tell me it wasn't good) but the au jour helped.  The mushrooms shriveled up and turned close to black - which wasn't all that attractive, but they still tasted good.  Overall, definitely would make it again, especially due to the ease.

Side Dish: Spring Vegetable Risotto courtesy of hailskitchen
(photo credit to tastykitchen)

  • 1 bunch Asparagus, Cut Into Bite-sized Pieces
  • 2 cups Peas
  • 1 wheel Shallot, Diced
  • 3 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1 bulb Leek, White Parts Sliced (Not sure what is considered a "bulb" as I bought it in a "bunch" - I used about 3 stalks. I could have used more but didn't feel it was missing anything)
  • 1 whole Lemon, Juiced And Zested
  • 2 cups Arborio Rice
  • 6 cups Broth, Vegetable Or Chicken
  • 1 cup Dry White Wine
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Butter
  • ½ cups Parmesan Cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons Fresh Herbs: Dill, Chives, Or Italian Parsley


Bring a pot of salted water to boil. Add the asparagus and cook for about 2 minutes. Add the peas and cook for another minute. Drain and place in an ice water bath to halt the cooking. Once the vegetables are totally chilled, remove and set aside.

Bring the broth to a boil in a medium saucepan. Turn off the heat, but leave the pan on the burner.
In a large pan or Dutch oven, heat the butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallots, garlic and leeks. Cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the rice, stirring often, until it turns from opaque to translucent (be careful not to brown), another minute or so. Add the wine, stirring frequently, and cook until nearly evaporated.
Gradually stir in the hot broth about a cup at a time. Cook, stirring almost constantly, until the rice absorbs almost all the broth. Stir in another cup and repeat, keeping the risotto at a steady simmer, adding more broth until it’s almost gone and the rice is barely tender, about 20 minutes in total. If you run out of broth or if the rice isn’t tender, use hot water. Add the asparagus and peas, lemon zest and juice and herbs to the rice. Stir well to heat through and then add the cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately with more cheese and herbs.
This was YUMMY!  I'm a huge risotto fan, and I loved the veggies snuck into this one. My "healthy diet program" at work would be proud  I'm not even a pea fan normally - but with stringy Parmesan cheese and asparagus and risotto they were perfect! By stopping the cooking in the ice bath, the asparagus and peas retained a beautiful green color.  However, by the time they were leftovers today, the bright green color had definitely faded. I used a giant lemon for this recipe because I love lemony flavor, but it was still not overpowering (I think Dad and MJL still would have enjoyed it). Also, the 6 cups of broth was plenty for me to get the rice tender - I probably even could have used less, so I didn't need the extra hot water.  Also - I left out the fresh herbs because I accidentally bought cilantro instead of parsley.  I HATE cilantro!
One interesting note - I remember Rachel Ray (no I'm not a huge fan but I do have a Food Network addiction at times) once saying that when you make risotto you should add the scoop of broth, stir it in, and then not touch it until it absorbs and you add more broth. This recipe says to continue stirring constantly.  It definitely is more work to stir constantly, and I'm not sure I noticed a huge difference - although the rice did become perfectly tender in this recipe.
Overall, I LOVED this recipe and will definitely make it again!  I would only caution that you should probably halve the recipe unless you are cooking for loads of people.  This made a TON of risotto - I'll be eating it for the next few weeks.  Although it was so good, trust me this is not a complaint!


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