December Recipes from the Test Kitchen 2013

The 2013 Christmas Stroll is Downtown Bozeman this Saturday Evening!  Warm up inside Starky’s and enjoy the Symphony Orchestra Choir performing Holiday Carols from 4:30-7:30.  10% of All proceeds during the Stroll benefit the Bozeman Symphony Orchestra! Stop in!

December Recipes from the Starky Test Kitchen 2013 “The Sunday Chef” food blog

Whew! Turkey leftovers are stowed away for future soup/sandwiches and the Test Kitchen is ready to cook some simpler Winter Fare.  We have lots of big food events coming up, so taking it easy early in the week feels pretty good on the belly.  As we stocked up on pumpkin while it was plentiful, we’re using it here for a hearty but healthy risotto & some delish pumpkin muffins to satisfy all week long.  Risotto gets passed over by home cooks as it does require some stirring and a watchful eye as it simmers; but we urge you to settle in and get comfy with the process as it is well worth the flavor and the super creamy texture. This Risotto can be vegetarian or made with turkey or chicken stock and can always be a side dish to serve with pork loin or roast chicken.  It’s hearty enough to stand alone as a main course with a little salad to start.  Here’s what the Sunday Chef is cooking this week!

risotto close up

Pumpkin Saffron Risotto

Serves 4

1 small onion, chopped

1 big garlic clove, minced fine

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 cups Arborio rice (short grain)

¼ cup Pumpkin Puree (not sweetened!)

½ cup dry white wine

4 cups broth or stock of your choice

1 big good pinch of saffron (optional but oh, so good!)

¼ cup parmesan cheese, grated

1 Tablespoon fresh sage or thyme

Salt and pepper to taste

Accompanyments:  Roasted Portobello mushrooms, sautéed kale or spinach, broccolini, any roasted or grilled meats

 risotto prep

Step 1:  pour yourself a nice glass of white wine, you’ll need some for the risotto anyway.  Chop and measure all of your ingredients and have them ready and standing by.  Heat a sauté pan with sides and add the olive oil.  When the oil is hot, add the onions and give them a stir while they cook gently over medium heat for a few minutes.  When softened, add the garlic and the Arborio rice and stir it well so all the rice gets a nice coating of olive oil.  Meanwhile, heat up the broth or stock in the micro or on the stove and add the saffron.  It will infuse beautifully.  Back to the sauté pan, add the pumpkin puree and stir for a few minutes.  Add the white wine and cook until it is almost absorbed.  Now comes the tricky part.

You will be adding hot stock to your pan very slowly, ¼ cup at a time until each addition of liquid is absorbed.  Each time you add a ladle of stock, stir it up well.  Let it bubble gently over low for a minute or two and stir again gently so it does not stick to the pan.  It takes maybe 3-5 minutes for each addition of liquid.  This is not the time to walk away or get distracted as you need to stir every few minutes (thus the glass of wine & kitchen stool). 

risotto almost there

The Arborio rice will begin to plump up nicely. Towards the end of the liquid, taste a little bit to see if it is getting chewy & tender.  Sometimes you need a little extra liquid depending on your heat level, you can add a little water or more stock If needed.  This is the time to season the risotto with salt and pepper.  Start easy and season to taste.  When the risotto is the consistency of loose oatmeal and tender to the bite, remove from the heat and add the Parmesan cheese and herbs.  (some recipes call for butter too, but it really does not need it at all.).  The risotto will thicken as it sits, so have your additions ready to go.  Steamed greens or sautéed mushrooms are perfect!

Plate it up, garnish with more Parmesan Cheese, some fresh herbs and a drizzle of olive oil.  Sit back & enjoy the masterpiece you just prepared!

risotto plates


Test Kitchen Pumpkin Muffins:

There is seriously nothing better than something cinnamony baking in your kitchen.  These pumpkin muffins are moist, have a sturdy crumb and are filled with flavor (and fiber!).  We bake them into giant muffin cups but you can go rogue and do muffin tops, minis or even pumpkin bread in a loaf pan.  The baking time will vary if you go larger or smaller with size.  The trick is to bake them until the tops are springy to the gentle touch and golden on the edges.  If the tops sink with touch, give them a few more minutes.  We also just sprinkle the tops of these beauties with chopped nuts, the roasted flavor of the nuts can get lost inside the muffin when added to the batter.

As always, get all the ingredients out, chopped, and measured before you start mixing.  With muffins, less mixing is best and they need to get into the oven asap after mixing, so you don’t want to scramble at the end.  Set up the muffin tins with paper cups (keeps them fresher) and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Have your raw sugar & nuts (if using) ready to go.

pumpkin muffins baked

Pumpkin Muffins

4 eggs

1 cup vegetable oil

2 cups sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla

16 ounces Pumpkin Puree (not pie filling)

1 apple, grated or chopped fine (with peel)

2 cups all purpose flour

½ cup whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 ½ teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 teaspoons ground ginger

½ teaspoon ground cloves

¼ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg (amazing…we urge you to get whole nutmeg!)

Raw sugar and chopped Pecans for the top (optional, but incredible)

pumpkin muffins prep 2

In one large mixing bowl, add all the wet ingredients + sugar.  Whisk it up until it is very smooth.  Add all the dry ingredients to another bowl and give them a good whisking too.  Grate the apple into the wet ingredients and we added some chopped dates just for fun & fiber (about ½ cup).  Add the wet ingredients to the dry and with a rubber spatula, fold and stir slowly until all traces of flour are absorbed and a smooth batter is formed. 

pumpkin muffins scoop

Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin tins about ¾ full and sprinkle them with the chopped nuts (they will toast in the oven).  The big muffins take about 35 minutes, medium muffins about 25-30 and mini muffins about 20.  You are supposed to let them cool before eating, but we dove in just seconds after they emerged from the oven-pure heaven with fresh coffee!  Happy Sunday cooking!

We are excited to see all of you and your families & friends over the Holidays!  Don’t forget Starky Gift Cards for an easy & appreciated Gift this season; it pleases!