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Risotto with Shrimp, Asparagus and Red Pepper

Risotto with Shrimp, Asparagus and Red PepperTHE VERDICT: As far as risotto goes, this dish is relatively simple to prepare.  Risotto is always time consuming, but the process is generally the same. Once you’ve made it for the first time it should be easy to do again.  First, heat the spices to release flavours, then cook the risotto with the dry ingredients for a short time.  Then, add your initial liquid, be it stock, wine, or a combination thereof.  From there on, slowly add ladlefuls of warm liquid, reduce each time, and repeat until the rice is soft, smooth and creamy.  The main differences are what kind of liquid(s) used, when ingredients are added, and what spices are used.   This was a straightforward recipe, so I thought I’d do a more detailed step-by-step review to show people who are not familiar with this process how easy it can be.

If you want to try it yourself, here is your step-by-step visual guide (the full recipe follows below). . .

Ingredients

The ingredients are ready to go!

Saucepans Ready

As you cook the base ingredients (butter, onion, garlic, risotto), heat up the stock and/or wine in a nearby pot.

Reduction

Add about 1 cup or a ladleful of hot liquid to the rice and reduce, stirring constantly to prevent sticking. Repeat until the liquid is used up.

Pre-duction

Adding enough liquid each time to wet but not drown the risotto is a good rule of thumb. Here is the pan with the liquid added.

Post-duction

Here is the pan after the liquid has been reduced. Once your risotto looks like this, it is time to add another cup of liquid.

Ingredients

Having your ingredients ready to toss in ahead of time is important because risotto needs constant stirring and it will be difficult to prep meat and veggies while adding and reducing the liquid.

Adding Ingredients

When the recipe calls for it, add the remaining ingredients and serve.

THE RECIPE:

1kg uncooked prawns

500g fresh asparagus

6 cups chicken stock

1 1/2 cups dry white wine

30g butter

1 large brown onion, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 cups arborio rice

2 medium tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped

1/2 tsp cracked black pepper

  • Prawns should be shelled and deveined, but with tails intact.
  • Cut asparagus diagonally into 3cm lengths.
  • Combine stock and wine in large saucepan.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and keep hot.
  • Melt butter in large saucepan.  Cook onion and garlic until onion is soft.
  • Add risotto and stir to coat in mixture.
  • Stir in 1 cup of the hot stock mixture.  Cook, stirring, over low heat until liquid is absorbed.
  • Continue adding stock mixture in 1-cup batches, stirring, until liquid is absorbed after each addition.
  • Total cooking time should be around 35 minutes.
  • Add prawns, asparagus, tomato, and pepper.  Cook, stirring, until prawns are cooked and asparagus is tender.

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White Wine Marinated Shrimp with Garlic Sauteed Bok Choy

Shrimp & Bok ChoyTHE VERDICT:

This was a simple, fresh meal. The white wine marinade is pretty basic and could also be used to flavour fish or chicken. While it is a good staple marinade to have in your repertoire, we preferred the Honey-Wasabi Shrimp from Rachel Ray’s magazine that we grilled up earlier in the summer. Bok choy is one of our “go-to” veggies, and it always pairs well with shrimp. A simple saute in some garlic and oil, and you’ve got a healthy, flavourful side dish.

If you want to try it yourself…

THE RECIPE:

White Wine Marinade (source: Everyday with Rachel Ray magazine; original recipe)

Garlic Sauteed Bok Choy (source: Tonight’s Dinner)

1 head of bok choy (or several heads if you are using baby bok choy)

6 cloves garlic

1 Tbsp. vegetable oil

  1. Thoroughly rinse bok choy as it tends to contain a lot of dirt and sometimes small insects between the stalks.
  2. Separate leaves from stalks. Cut stalks into bite-sized pieces. Tear leaves into smaller pieces.
  3. Heat oil in a wok or saute pan. Add garlic and saute until just browned.
  4. Add the chopped bok choy stalks. Saute until tender.
  5. Add the leaves and cook until just heated through.
  6. Serve.

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Honey-Wasabi Grilled Shrimp with Tomato and Bocconcini Salad

Wasabi Shrimp with Tomato-Bocconchini SaladTHE VERDICT:

Both of these recipes are easy to make and extremely tasty.  We used wasabi paste for the shrimp marinade and halved the amount based on the recipe, which used wasabi powder.  Next time I’d use closer to the same amount of paste as powder, as the shrimp could have used more kick.  The tomato-bocconcini salad was inspired by the traditional Caprese, but we did a mini-version, with heirloom cherry tomatoes from the Farmer’s Market, baby bocconcini, basil and olive oil.

This was a very quick meal to throw together, but still might make a better weekend meal because shrimp tends to get rubbery when reheated. That might explain why the  recipe made just enough shrimp for dinner with no leftovers.   The salad kept well for lunch the next day. I think we might use pearl or cocktail size bocconcini next time, as the baby bocconcini was a little big.

If you want to try it yourself…

THE RECIPE:

Honey-Wasabi Grilled Shrimp (source: Everyday with Rachel Ray magazine; original recipe)

Tomato and Bocconcini Salad (source: Tonight’s Dinner)

4 or more cups of cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

1 container of baby or cocktail bocconcini

2 Tbsp. fresh basil, sliced into thin strips

olive oil

coarsely ground black pepper

  • Combine first three ingredients in a salad bowl.
  • Drizzle with olive oil.
  • Add pepper to taste.


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Spinach Pesto with Garlic Shrimp

Spinach PestoTHE VERDICT:

My nut allergies mean that I must usually avoid pesto as it is traditionally made with pine nuts, and if you skip the pine nuts, you lose a lot of flavour. But this recipe for pesto packs a huge flavour punch thanks to the addition of spinach, which also increase its nutritional values. For parents with picky eaters (kids or spouse), this dish could be a sneaky way to sneak extra vitamins into a meal.

We are trying to eat fewer processed foods in our house, so we now fore-go the store bought dressing and add an equivalent amount of oil, vinegar, spices and parmesan cheese with positive results. This dish is quick and easy to whip up, especially if you have a Mini-Prep or other small food chopper. The only downside is that reheated leftovers tend to be a bit dry.

As for easy alterations, we have used a variety of squashes for this dish from acorn to zucchini. Other veggies could also be added like red onion or broccoli. And when you’re in the mood for a little extra protein, we find shrimp or chicken pair very well when tossed in with the pesto and noodles. We even have plans to replace the spinach with arugula this week to see how that tastes. And of course, you’re not limited to putting the sauce over pasta. Use it however you would normally use pesto.

If you want to try it yourself…

THE RECIPES:

Spinach Pesto (source: Better Homes and Gardens magazine; original recipe)

Garlic Shrimp (source: Tonight’s Dinner; original recipe)

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Wat Tan Hor Fun

Wat Tan Hor FunTHE VERDICT:

This is one of our favorite Malaysian dishes, and my dad was kind enough to teach it to me for Mother’s Day brunch.  It is quite easy to make, provided a few steps are done precisely.  Ensuring the oil has just started to smoke before frying the noodles means they will cook quickly without sticking together.  Refrigerating the noodles before cooking helps prevent sticking as well.  Removing the heat as soon as you add the egg helps keep the gravy smooth, an important part of the success of this dish.  For our brunch, we doubled the recipe, which entailed doing the noodles in 2 batches, removing onto 2 serving plates, and then using 2 woks to cook the sauce in parallel, so everyone could eat at once.  We’ll definitely be making this again soon.

The dish is wonderfully saucy, so we were able to reheat the leftovers for lunch the next day without fear of the ingredients drying out. In fact, it was equally tasty the next day, which isn’t something you can say about most leftovers.

If you want to try it yourself…

THE RECIPE:

Wat Tan Hor Fun (source: my dad)

400g hor fun (thick, flat rice noodles)

4 cloves garlic, crushed

1/2 Tbsp dark soy sauce

1 Tbsp light soy sauce

3 Tbsp vegetable or canola oil

1 Tbsp sesame oil

500ml chicken stock

salt to taste

3 Tbsp corn flour mixed well with 2 Tbsp water

10 prawns, cleaned and peeled

2 squid, cleaned and cut (about 300g)

100g pork meat, sliced

1 egg

50g choy sum (green vegetable), cut up

  • Heat the wok over medium-high heat.  Add in 2 Tbsp oil.  Wait until the oil just starts to smoke, and then fry 1/2 Tbsp crushed garlic until fragrant.
  • Add in hor fun, and stir fry quickly.  Slowly add in dark and light soy sauce until mixed well.  Make sure the heat does not drop too much while adding the liquid.
  • Remove from heat and set aside in serving plate.
  • Heat up the wok again over medium-high heat.  Heat 1 Tbsp of oil.  When it is just starting to smoke, add 1 Tbsp sesame oil and the remaining garlic and fry until fragrant.
  • Add in pork meat, prawns and squid (in that order), and stir fry for 1 minute.
  • Add in the chicken stock and bring to a boil.
  • Once boiling, put in choy sum, mix well, then slowly pour in the corn flour mixture and stir well to form a thick gravy.
  • Add salt to taste, beat in the egg and immediately turn off and remove from heat.  Stir until the egg is mixed well with the gravy.
  • Pour sauce and ingredients over noodles and combine well.

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Fresh Tomato Pasta with Garlic Shrimp and Green Salad

Fresh Tomato Pasta DinnerTHE VERDICT:

This recipe was our favourite find of last summer. As the weather has been warming up, we decided it was time to bring this dish out of the vault. It is a quick and easy weeknight meal and the leftovers make a tasty pasta salad.

For this meal, we paired it with some grilled shrimp and a green salad with citrus vinaigrette.  We love free styling salads and this was another one of our produce aisle inspirations.

To prepare for baby: Choose a small pasta noodle (e.g. macaroni) or cut your noodles to a suitable size after cooking. Make sure the tomato is finely diced. You may want to ease up on the garlic as well. We found Z wasn’t as keen about this dish as he usually is when it comes to pasta and can only conclude that the fresh garlic was too strong for him because he loves raw tomatoes almost as much as he loves pasta.

If you want to try it yourself…

THE RECIPES:

Fresh Tomato Pasta (source: Today’s Parent magazine; original recipe)

Green Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette (source: Tonight’s Dinner)

1 bag butter lettuce or your favourite salad greens

1 avocado, diced

1 cucumber, diced

1 handful dried cranberries

a few tablespoons olive oil

a few splashes of lemon juice

a few splashes of lime juice

salt and pepper

  • Toss all ingredients together in a large salad bowl. Serve.

Garlic Shrimp (source: Tonight’s Dinner)

Two dozen shrimp, peeled and deveined

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tbsp. butter

  • Melt butter in a small frying pan.
  • Add garlic and saute for 30 seconds.
  • Add shrimp and saute until cooked (shrimp will turn pink).


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