No Burner Left Behind

In contrast to our simplistic dinner last week, tonight BIV ventured into a series of complex recipes. We began simply enough with a nice loaf of cibatta bread purchased from the local bakery complemented with a wonderful French goat ch eese.

While we snacked on the uncomplicated (yet, tasty) appetizer, we started the prep work for the rest of our dishes. Our main course was comprised of a red wine-stained risotto along with a side dish of rainbow chard. The risotto was creamy and flavorful when topped with sauteed pears, walnuts and a creamy blue cheese.

Yield: 10 servings (serving size: about 1/2 cup risotto, about 1/4 cup pears, about 1 tablespoon cheese, 1 1/2 teaspoons nuts, and about 1/2 teaspoon parsley))


  • 1 cup pear nectar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 (14-ounce) cans fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1/4 cup chopped shallots
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup Chianti or other dry red wine
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 2 firm Bosc pears, peeled, cored, and cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled blue cheese
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley


Bring first 3 ingredients to a simmer in a medium saucepan (do not boil). Keep warm over low heat.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add shallots, thyme, and garlic; sauté 2 minutes. Add rice; cook 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in wine; cook 2 minutes or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Add broth mixture, 3/4 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of br

oth is absorbed before adding the next (about 30 minutes total). Stir in salt and pepper.

Heat remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons of oil and butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add pears; sauté 4 minutes. Serve pears over risotto; sprinkle with cheese, nuts, and parsley.

Our dessert tonight was an almondy treat. SH had recently inherited a container of vanilla almond milk and SB was us to the challenge of finding a yummy use for the milk. She made triple threat almond cupcakes that no only used the almond milk, but also almond paste and sugar coated almonds. These cupcakes were both labor and ingredient intensive but the result was tender, nutty and very tasty. You can find the recipe on the blue diamond website.


New Year and New Blog Entry!

You may had noticed that we have taken some time off and have not been regular bloggers in the recent months. But we have now regrouped and are ready to return to the blogosphere :) and to hopefully return to a regular schedule.
Tonight's dinner was predominately from the recently published Gourmet Today. SB stared off the evening with a great ricotta cheese appetizer that was creamy and hard to stop eating!Next we had a butternut squash soup, a wonderful recipe from Gourmet Today . The soup was simple and flavorful and was topped with a luxurious roasted red pepper mousse. This was warm and comforting while also providing refreshing new textures and flavors.The main course tonight was a simple pasta dish. This is probably one of the simplest main dishes BIV has ever put together! The Spaghetti was simple in the amount of time and technique required, but did not deliver a simplistic result. I can not recommend this dish enough - in less than 30 minutes you had a flavorful and hearty main dish. We served the pasta with roasted Brussels sprouts tossed with lemon - a perfect accompaniment.

Cacio e Pepe

For this recipe, you need to grate the cheese with the ragged-edged holes of a box grater for ease of melting. Don't use the small teardrop-shaped holes or a rasp, as your cheese will clump up in the bowl.

Yield: Makes 4 first-course servings
Active Time: 20 min
Total Time: 20 min
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
1/2 lb spaghetti
2 1/2 oz very finely grated Pecorino Romano (3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons) or Parmigiano-Reggiano plus additional for serving

Toast peppercorns in a dry small skillet over moderately high heat, swirling skillet, until fragrant and peppercorns begin to jump, 2 to 3 minutes. Coarsely crush peppercorns with a mortar and pestle or wrap in a kitchen towel and press on peppercorns with bottom of a heavy skillet.

Cook spaghetti in a 6- to 8-quart pot of boiling salted water until al dente.

Fill a large glass or ceramic bowl with some hot water to warm bowl. Just before spaghetti is finished cooking, drain bowl but do not dry.

Reserve 1/2 cup pasta cooking water, then drain pasta quickly in a colander (do not shake off excess water) and add to warm pasta bowl. Sprinkle 3/4 cup cheese and 3 tablespoons cooking water evenly over spaghetti and toss quickly. If pasta seems dry, toss with some additional cooking water.

Divide pasta among 4 plates, then sprinkle with pepper and 2 tablespoons cheese (total). Serve immediately with additional cheese on the side.

And what would a BIV dinner be without a great desert? I don't know because we never finish the evening without one! Tonight we had homemade brownies topped with a scoop of peppermint ice cream. Again simple, yet delicious.