Wine

Don’t Judge Me: Risotto with Fresh Mozzarella, Tomatoes, and Basil


I shouldn’t even try to defend myself again…my obsession with risotto lately is just getting ridiculous, with several posts like this and this and this lately (and for that apologize).  I promise, I think this is the last one for awhile…I just couldn’t help myself since recipe is basically Caprese salad mixed into risotto (which I proved earlier in the summer that I am also obsessed with) and my garden is cranking out the basil and tomatoes at a rapid rate right now.

What else can I say, if you like risotto and Caprese salad, this is sure to be a winner.  Enjoy!

  • 2 TBS balsamic vinegar
  • 4 1/2 c. chicken stock
  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 2 c. chopped leeks
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 c. Arborio rice
  • 1/2 c. dry white wine**
  • 1/4 c. heavy cream
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 c. halved grape tomatoes
  • 1/4 c. chopped fresh basil
  • 5 oz. fresh mozzarella, finely diced (or if you can find mozzarella pearls, those work perfect)

Place the vinegar in a small, heavy saucepan; bring to a boil over medium heat.  Cook until slightly syrupy and reduced to 1 TBS (about 4 minutes).  Set aside.

Bring to a boil to a simmer in a medium saucepan (do not boil).  Keep warm.

Heat 1 TBS oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add leek to pan; saute 3 minutes or until tender.  Add rice; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly.  Stir in wine, and cook 1 minute or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly.  Stir in 1/2 cup broth; cook 5 minutes or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly.  Reduce heat to medium.  Add remaining broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of broth is absorbed before adding the next (about 25 minutes total).  Stir in heavy cream, salt, and pepper; cook 2 minutes.  Remove from heat; stir in tomatoes, basil, and cheese.  Place about 1 cup risotto into each of 6 shallow serving bowls; drizzle each serving with 1/2 tsp balsamic syrup and 1/2 tsp oil.

**For wine, I’ve recently found a new favorite for cooking.  Francis Ford Coppola’s Pino Grigio is a winner in my book for a couple reasons.  First, I like the price (I haven’t paid more that $10 for it locally).  Second, someone once told me that you should never cook with wine that you wouldn’t drink…and this wine doesn’t break that rule.  This wine is delicious for drinking as well while you’re cooking and to enjoy with dinner.  I really like that its dry, but still fruity and refreshing.  Hope that helps!

Adapted from Cooking Light, September 2007

 

 

Categories: Entrees, Italian, Recipes, Wine | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Summer Drink: Sangria

Two of my best friends from college were coming to visit so when I saw this awesome recipe for White Sangria on Rufus’ Food and Spirits Guide, I knew this was the perfect occasion to try a new drink.  Thanks, Rufus!  By the way, might I suggest subscribing to his blog?  He’s got a TON of great recipes and the photography will absolutely make you mouth water!

For the recipe, I used bourbon and muscato but would love to try it again with Rufus’ other suggestions of Riesling and Cognac.  YUM!  Next time, I also plan on using a smaller variety of orange and increasing the pears and apples just because I loved the way they absorbed the flavors so well.  Breakfast the next morning?  I think so!

Categories: Drinks, Recipes, Wine | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Restaurant Review: Michael Alberini’s Restaurant and Wine Shop

While visiting my in-laws this weekend, my mother-in-law and I made our second trip ever to Michael Alberini’s in Boardman, Ohio.  The first time we went a few months ago, the food was amazing but of course I hadn’t started my blog yet.  Because of the awesome experience I had the first time there, I was really excited when my mother-in-law, Jocelyn, suggested we go there again for dinner.

It was a girls night out so we went big.  For an appetizer, we had the New Zealand Lollipops which the menu describes as “The  finest, most tender lamb chops char   grilled.  Served with homemade horseradish sauce.”  Holy cow, these things are amazing and we were glad our husbands weren’t with us because then we didn’t have to share with them.  These are some of the best lamb chops I’ve ever had and both times I’ve ordered them, they were cooked consistently to perfection.  The cool horseradish sauce is an awesome compliment and completes the flavor profile.  I highly suggest this appetizer should you ever find yourself at Michael Alberini’s.

Next was the salad.  I had the caesar salad which was incredible.  It was obvious that the dressing was fresh and the parmesan crisps doubled as cheese and croutons, something unexpected but surprisingly nice as they offered both textural and visual appeal.  Salad was served with hot rolls and butter- yummy, but nothing out of the ordinary.  Just wasted space in my stomach that could be reserved for the rest of the meal.

Now for the entrée.  Unfortunately, my entrée was a daily special so I can’t retrieve the description and I’m not sure that it can be ordered on a regular basis (so I’ll try not to gloat too much about how wonderful it was).  That being said, I chose the Surf and Turf special.  Wow.  Instead of your standard chunk of beef, I was served tender flank steak that had been marinated in some sort of Asian marinade.  The citrusy notes perfectly complimented the side of citrus risotto that was cooked to perfection.  I might have to try and recreate the citrus risotto at a later date because I think it could be the perfect starch side for some summer meals.  The “surf” part of the meal was one of the most incredible pieces of halibut I’ve ever had in a restaurant.  It was lightly seasoned and perfectly seared, locking in all the moisture.  The fish completely fell apart but in the best way possible; it was so tender and juicy!  The final component was a toasted garlic crostini that was seasoned with dried parsley and a surprising dusting of chili powder.  This was one of those meals that left me completely depressed when it was all gone.  Yes, it was that good.

And what type of wine do you drink with this type of meal, you may be asking?  Michael Alberini’s suggested Harmony Chardonnay that the restaurant described as having “tropical aromas and flavors with a vein of vanilla in the mid-palate from the oak aging, then light citrus to accent the finish – outstanding work with this varietal.”  And I honestly can’t add much to the description- they accurately described it.  Looking for an excellent, light Chardonnay for the summer?  This is it.

Bottom line: if you find yourself in the Youngstown, Ohio area, Michael Alberini’s Restaurant and Wine Shop is worth checking out!

Stay tuned for some more restaurant review coming up.  I’ll be in San Francisco for a week soon and fully intend on staking out some local joints!!

Categories: American, Restaurants, Wine | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

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