Butternut Squash Risotto

>> Monday, September 26, 2016

Butternut Squash Risotto

It amazes me that risotto cooks up so creamy and tender just from the right amount of liquid stirred in at the right time. The original recipe I found for squash risotto called for a lot of butter and oil, but I don't miss it a bit in our lower-fat version. Butternut squash deserves its name; it tastes buttery to me.


1 average-sized butternut squash, seeded, peeled, and cut up
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2/3 cup onion, chopped
2 oz pancetta or bacon, finely chopped
2 cups arborio rice or medium-grain rice
5 cups vegetable or chicken broth
3 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste


Steam or microwave the squash until fork-tender.

In a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat, heat the oil. Add the onion and bacon and stir until soft. Add the rice and toast it slightly, coating it with oil.

Butternut Squash Risotto

Slowly stir in 1/2 cup broth, stirring until absorbed. Continue to add broth in half-cup portions, stirring each time until absorbed. Before adding the last cup of broth, stir in the squash, parmesan, and salt and pepper; stir until well mixed.

Stir in the last cup of broth. When the broth is absorbed and the rice is al dente, the dish is ready.

Serves 4.


Pork Medallions and Mushrooms in Brandy Cream Sauce

>> Monday, September 12, 2016

This is one of those absolutely exquisite dishes that I dream about for weeks after tasting it. If you really want to make a special meal for someone, this is the one to make. I made it for Joe's birthday this year and it was a very happy birthday for him!

The New German Cookbook, where we got the inspiration for this recipe, translates the dish as Schweinemedaillons en Weinbrand-Sauce. I confess I don't know how to pronounce this, though I should know more German than how to be polite and order a beer.

Anyway, the sauce is the most exquisite part of this dish. Once I cleaned my plate, I ran my finger over the dish to get the last bits of gravy. The night we made this, I intended to make fresh egg spaetzle (tiny German dumpling-noodles), but it was getting late, so I just cooked up some rotini. It was a mistake. Please, please go all the way and make the spaetzle, which is more tender than pasta and will soak up the luscious sauce. It's really not hard to make spaetzle. My family recipe is here: Detzner Spaetzle Recipe.

This would also be good over mashed potatoes or rice, instead of spaetzle.


1 pound pork tenderloin, sliced 1/2" thick
4 tbsp butter
1/4 cup brandy
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup beef broth
1 pound mushrooms, cleaned and thinly sliced (the recipe book called for Black Forest or Polish black mushrooms; we used baby portobellos)
1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 cups half-and-half
Salt and pepper to taste


Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.

Melt 2 tbsp of the butter in a large skillet, then brown the pork on both sides over a medium-high heat. Set in a baking dish and cover with foil, then keep it warm in the oven.

Pan-roasting pork loin medallions

Pour the brandy and wine into the skillet and simmer over medium heat, scraping up the browned bits. Add the broth and boil, uncovered, until reduced by half. Pour the brandy mixture over the pork and return it to the oven.

Pork medallions and mushrooms roasting in juices

Melt the last 2 tbsp of butter in the skillet, then saute the mushrooms, onion, and garlic until soft. Add the pork and sauce back into the skillet, then stir in the half-and-half. Simmer on low for 10-15 minutes, until the cream sauce thickens and reduces by half. Add salt and pepper to taste, and serve with rice, noodles, or potatoes.

Serves 4-6.

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