Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

November 4, 2013

Lee Ward: Different pumpkin recipes; Moroccan chicken kebobs: 11/5/13

Lee Ward
The Independent

ASHLAND — I’ve had a request to rerun this recipe, one my mother made whenever she had to take cookies to an event.

GRAHAM CRACKER COOKIES

1. Cover bottom of a cookie sheet with graham crackers.

2. Bring to a full boil one stick of butter and one cup of brown sugar. Pour over graham crackers, spreading over all crackers.

3. Sprinkle a cup of chopped nuts on top and bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes.

4. Cool, then take out of pan before they stick.

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Occasionally I buy a pumpkin to carve or paint. This year, I used pastels to draw and color a giant eye on the front of a particularly round one.

However, cooking pumpking isn’t something I do routinely.

This recipe, which come from the Culinary Institute of America, makes cooking pumpkin a temptation.

Risotto con Zucca e Parmigiano, or Pumpkin Risotto with Parmesan, is a dish to try when you want something really different and something that challenges your cooking skills.

The CIA recommends using a smaller, sugar pumpkin for the dish and superfino rice such as Arborio and carnaroli. Here are a few other tips for risotto:

‰You don’t need to stir the rice constantly, especially during the first 10 minutes. Keep the rice wet at all times during the first stage of cooking, and gently stir every few minutes during the simmering to make sure it stays uniformly moist and doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.

‰One of the keys to a successful risotto is using a high-quality broth. For the best results, it should be boiling hot when you add it to the rice in the pan.

‰Use a deep stainless steel sautoir, which is a saucepan with straight sides, a heavy bottom, and a handle, to cook risotto. Absolutely avoid using a sauté pan or skillet, because the liquid will evaporate too quickly before the rice has a chance to absorb it.

‰Risotto must be served on a flat plate and eaten from the outside edge of the plate inward so rice has time to cool slightly as you each it.

The following recipe is from The Culinary Institute of America's Pasta cookbook (2013, John Wiley & Sons Inc.), available for purchase at bookstores nationwide or online.

RISOTTO CON ZUCCA

E PARMIGIANO

One 3-pound pumpkin

1 quart chicken or vegetable broth

1⁄2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, minced

10 ounces (11⁄2 cups) carnaroli or vialone nano rice

4 ounces (1⁄2 cup) unsalted butter, cubed

3⁄4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper, as needed

Sage leaves as needed (optional)

Crumbled amaretti cookies (optional)

Cut the pumpkin in half and scoop out the seeds. Peel the pumpkin and dice the flesh. Set aside.

Heat the broth over low heat; keep warm.

Heat the oil in a large pot over low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until tender and translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the diced pumpkin and continue to cook, stirring to coat the pumpkin with the oil, until it is hot, about 2 minutes. Add the rice and toast lightly, stirring frequently, about 2 minutes.

Add enough of the broth to come 1⁄2 inch above the rice, and cook, stirring frequently to be sure the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom. As the rice absorbs the broth, keep adding more, 1⁄2 cup at a time.

Once the rice has absorbed almost all the broth, and the grains are just tender (al dente), about 20 minutes total cooking time, remove the pot from the heat. Add the butter and cheese and stir vigorously until the risotto is creamy. (The pumpkin will start to fall apart; this is what should happen and gives the risotto a brilliant orange color and additional creaminess.) Season with salt and pepper if necessary and serve immediately on flat plates.

Top the risotto with a few leaves of sage fried in butter and a sprinkling of crumbled amaretti cookies.

TOP: Any type of winter squash or pumpkin will work in this recipe, including butternut, cheese, acorn, or hubbard squash. The color of this risotto will depend on the type of winter squash you use.

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Cookbook author Estee Kafra offers another different pumpkin recipe from her book “Cooking Inspired: Bringing Creativity and Passion Back into the Kitchen, The Best of KosherScoop.com.”

PUMPKIN SOUP WITH PARSLEY-SUNFLOWER PESTO

1 tablespoon oil (or more)

1 large pumpkin (about 3 lbs.)

1 Spanish onion, chopped

1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed

½ teaspoon ground ginger

½ teaspoon dried thyme

6 cups chicken or vegetable stock (or 1 Tbsp. chicken soup mix, msg-free, mixed with water)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Pesto:

2 cups fresh flat-leaf parsley

¼ cup toasted sunflower seeds

1 very small clove garlic (or half of a big one)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil Roasted sunflower seeds, extra-salted, for garnishing

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Cut the pumpkin in half and scrape out the seeds with a large spoon. Rub the inside of the pumpkin with the oil and place face-down on a cookie sheet. Bake for 35 minutes. The pumpkin will have softened considerably. Scrape out the flesh and transfer to a large saucepan. (If it’s too hard to scrape the filling out, return the pumpkin to the oven and bake longer.)

Add all of the remaining ingredients to the saucepan. Pour in just enough stock to cover the vegetables.

Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and cook over medium heat for 45 to 60 minutes or until the sweet potato is tender. Use an immersion blender or ladle batches into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal “S” blade and purée. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Pesto: Separate the leaves and small stems of the parley from the main stem. Discard the main stem. Place the parsley, sunflower seeds and garlic into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal “S” blade.

With the machine running, slowly pour the olive oil into the feed tub, combining the ingredients until the mixture is chopped and pasty. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Dollop the pesto on top of the soup and garnish with extra-salted roasted sunflower seeds.

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FRUITY MOROCCAN CHICKEN

By Estee Kafra

½ cup prunes

½ cup dried apricots

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts or 6 pieces boneless chicken legs

oil, for brushing

Kosher salt, for sprinkling

Spice mixture:

2 teaspoons ground ginger

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons sweet paprika

1 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoons turmeric

1 teaspoon ground coriander

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

½ lemon, juiced

3 tablespoons water

Soak the prunes and dried apricots in a small bowl of hot water.

 Meanwhile, cut the chicken into bite-size pieces. Combine all of the ingredients for the spice mixture in a mixing bowl, adding a bit more water if it’s too thick; it should be easy to brush onto the chicken.

 Preheat the grill to high. Drain the dried fruit. Alternating fruit and chicken, thread onto skewers. Brush the kabobs lightly with oil and sprinkle with salt.

 Grill the skewers on the preheated grill for 4 minutes. Turnover and brush with the spice glaze. Cook for about 5 minutes-brushing again a minute or two before it’s done for an even stronger flavor-until the chicken is no longer pink inside.

 TIP: These can be done on an outside grill, but for holidays or during the winter months I do it on my grill pan. If you are using wooden skewers, soak them in water for about 20 minutes before assembly to prevent burning.

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While I don’t claim to be an expert cook, I do like to cook and love to eat. Readers are encouraged to send questions about food and cooking; I’ll try to find the answers. Also, if you’re looking for a specific recipe, send your request, or if you can offer a recipe to someone looking for something specific, please send email to lward@dailyindependent.com.