Monday, December 14, 2009

Roasted Butternut Squash and Rapini Risotto

The last few deliveries have included a large bunch of rapini. This is another case where the box has introduced me to a new ingredient that I need to figure out how to cook.

Rapini is also called broccoli raab (or broccoli rabe). According to Wikipedia,
Rapini is classified scientifically as Brassica rapa subspecies rapa,in the same subspecies as the turnip.

Rapini has many spiked leaves that surround a green bud which looks very similar to a small head of broccoli. There may be small yellow flowers blooming from the buds, which are edible.

The flavor of rapini has been described as nutty, bitter, pungent, and "an acquired taste." The Italian cultivar is similar to, but much more bitter than the Chinese. The Chinese cultivar is of a lighter green color, not at all bitter or pungent, and more tender.

Rapini is a source of vitamins A, C, and K, as well as potassium, calcium, and iron.

Rapini is grown in California from August through March making it a great candidate for the fall garden. The informational insert that came with this week's box has you blanching the rapini for a few minutes in salted boiling water. Many of the recipes I found online confirmed this approach.

To blanch the rapini: Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil, Meanwhile, clean and cut the rapini leaves into 1 inch strips. When water begins to boil, add 2 teaspoons of salt and the greens. Stir until wilted and tender (1-2 minutes). Drain pot into colander. Fill the pot with cold water and submerge greens to stop cooking. Dry in a salad spinner.

So last night's dinner featured the blanched rapini and a roasted butternut squash (both from the box) going into a risotto. A few drops of truffle oil after plating made for a great meal on a cloudy, rainy day.

The blanched rapini is one approach but you can also explore some other strategies. Two recipes (one from Rachael Ray and another from Mariquita Farms) have you wilting the rapini in a skillet with broth or water along with the other ingredients. This local food blog makes a great case for roasting it which I look forward to trying.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Eggnog Cheesecake

This was the second dessert I made for a recent dinner party. This photo (not mine) caught my eye in a Sunset magazine one year ago. Despite the attractive photo, I never made the recipe because I was missing a key ingredient: a springform pan. I managed to pick one up eventually but I never got around to making this recipe. Recently, I rediscovered the saved magazine on a shelf and decided to make it.

The original Sunset recipe is now at My Recipes and can be found here.


  • 1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 3 pkgs. (8 oz. each) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar, divided (3/4 for cake; 1/4 for whipped cream)
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup brandy
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg, divided
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  • Break up graham cracker and place them in food processor and process until the crackers are crumbs
  • Pour crumbs into a bowl, add butter, and stir to mix
  • Pour buttered crumbs into springform pan and press mixture evenly over bottom and up side of pan
  • In a large bowl, with a mixer on medium speed, beat cream cheese and 3/4 cup sugar until smooth
  • Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down inside of bowl as needed
  • Beat in flour, brandy, and 1 1/2 tsp. nutmeg just until incorporated
  • Pour into crumb-lined pan and bake 40 to 50 minutes
  • Put cheesecake on a rack and let cool completely. Cover and chill until cold, at least 3 hours
  • Remove pan rim
  • In a small bowl, whisk together cream and remaining 1/4 cup sugar until stiff peaks form (10 minutes)
  • Dollop whipped cream onto cheesecake and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 tsp. nutmeg.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Wine Cake

I had to make the desserts for a dinner party over the weekend. Now we're not big dessert people. They say there are salt people and sugar people. We're definitely salt people. A container of ice cream can sit in the freezer for months. But a bag of chips won't last two days.

This recipe comes from my late mother-in-law and it's pretty simple and straight forward. It was always a favorite with all of the relatives. Fortunately, I was able to get the recipe. It's a great holiday recipe as it fills the house with the welcoming smell of nutmeg. It's not too sweet which is good for us salt people. The cake goes well with ice cream and/or fruit could be placed in the center.

  • 1 package of yellow cake mix (1 lb. 3 oz.)
  • 1 package of vanilla custard (3.4 oz.)
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 3/4 cup sherry (next time I might try 1 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • powdered sugar
Preparation steps:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Combine all ingredients, except powdered sugar, in a large bowl
  • Mix with electric mixer at medium speed for 5 minutes
  • Pour into greased bundt pan
  • Bake for 45 minutes
  • Let cool in pan before turning out
  • Sprinkle top with powdered sugar
Let the cake cool thoroughly before turning it out of the pan. Use a screen strainer/colander for the powdered sugar garnish. Spoon the sugar into the bottom of the colander and use your fingers to force the sugar through the screen.