Spring is in full swing now with all the showers and still slightly chilly mornings.  It’s around this time of year that farmer’s markets are opening back up from the winter and vegetables are also popping up (for more reasonable prices) at the stores. When I think of warmer weather, I think of citrus. There is something about lemons, lime, and oranges that are extremely refreshing the warmer months. I bought some Sauvignon Blanc from Winc called “Easy Peezy Lemon Squeezy” and decided I wanted to make a post totally dedicated to the all mighty lemon. The wine itself definitely lives up to its name. It’s very mouth-puckering and tart which would make it it perfect chilled on a summer day or even as a sangria mixed with some tropical fruit (note for future self).  One of my favorite things about this wine is that it has a screw cap top. I think that wine snobs only really care about wine having corks. I have had some great tasting wine with screw on tops. In fact one of my favorite wineries, Scheid from central Cali, uses them. These wines are useful when picnicing or taking to a party because you don’t have to fool with bringing a corkscrew along. Just open and enjoy.

This is the perfect time to work on some risotto making skills and try out Ina’s Spring Vegetable Risotto. Now that I’ve learned a few tricks from reading up on risotto making, it really has become a much simpler task that I don’t mess up anymore. Also, it’s great because you can literally throw whatever you want into it as far as meat, vegetables, flavorings, making it a great basic recipe to use up leftovers. My favorite part of this recipe is the lemon added to it. It really brings out the flavors of the vegetables and makes it appropriately spring-timey tasting.

I made a few minor changes to this recipe while I was making it. One major change was that I used some leftover creme fraiche that I had in the fridge instead of the mascarpone cheese. You can sub out the cheese for cream cheese or even plain yogurt (to give it tang). This addition is important as it really makes the risotto creamy and silky. I also added in some basil because again, it was leftover and I wanted to use it. I think it makes a great addition to the dish and adds some extra freshness.

In keeping with the lemon theme, I made Ina’s Lemon Mousse. Instead of making it in a large souffle dish, I put it in small cups for individual serving. This is something that would taste even better on a hot day in the summer as the mousse is very tangy and refreshing.

Don’t let the name intimidate you. Mousse is basically a highly flavored base similar to a pudding or curd that is then lightened with egg whites and whipped cream. In this case, it is very lemony lemon curd that makes up the base (which can be made ahead). I made mine the day before then finished it off the next day. If the idea of egg whites freaks you out, then leave them out and add extra whipped cream. Lastly, pop these suckers in the freezer for a few minutes before serving to allow the glasses to frost over and to firm it up a little bit. It’s fantastic! If you want, put the mousse into plastic cups and freeze for a few hours. The cream keeps the mixture from solidifying and it’s like lemon ice cream. SO GOOD!

Print Recipe
Spring Green Risotto
From Back to Basics by Ina Garten, Page 147
Course Main Dish
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Heat the olive oil and butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the leeks and fennel and saute for 5 to 7 minutes, until tender. Add the rice and stir for a minute to coat with the vegetables, oil, and butter. Add the white wine and simmer over low heat, stirring constantly, until most of the wine has been absorbed. Add the chicken stock, 2 ladles at a time, stirring almost constantly and waiting for the stock to be absorbed before adding more. This process should take 25 to 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, cut the asparagus diagonally in 1 1/2-inch lengths and discard the tough ends. Blanch in boiling salted water for 4 to 5 minutes, until al dente. Drain and cool immediately in ice water. (If using fresh peas, blanch them in boiling water for a few minutes until the starchiness is gone.)
  3. When the risotto has been cooking for 15 minutes, drain the asparagus and add it to the risotto with the peas, lemon zest, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Continue cooking and adding stock, stirring almost constantly, until the rice is tender but still firm.
  4. Whisk the lemon juice and mascarpone together in a small bowl. When the risotto is done, turn off the heat and stir in the mascarpone mixture plus the Parmesan cheese and chives. Set aside, off the heat, for a few minutes, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and serve hot with a sprinkling of chives and more Parmesan cheese.
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Print Recipe
Lemon Mousse
From Back to Basics by Ina Garten, page 194.
Course Dessert
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Passive Time 4 hours
Servings
people
Ingredients
Lemon Mousse
Sweetened Whipped Cream
Course Dessert
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Passive Time 4 hours
Servings
people
Ingredients
Lemon Mousse
Sweetened Whipped Cream
Instructions
  1. In a large heat-proof bowl, whisk together the 3 whole eggs, 3 egg yolks, 1 cup sugar, the lemon zest, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, for about 10 to 12 minutes until the mixture is thick like pudding. (I change to a whisk when the mixture starts to get thick.) Take off the heat and set aside for 15 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours, until completely chilled.
  2. Place half the egg whites and a pinch of salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on high speed. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and continue to beat until the whites are stiff and shiny. Carefully fold the beaten whites into the cold lemon mixture with a rubber spatula. Place the cream in the same bowl of the electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (no need to clean the bowl) and beat on high speed until the cream forms stiff peaks. Carefully fold the whipped cream into the lemon mixture. Fold in the lemon curd, and pour into a 7-inch-diameter, 3-inch-deep souffle dish. Decorate with sweetened whipped cream and lemon slices that have been cut into quarters. Chill and serve.
  3. Place the cream, sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip on medium and then high speed until the cream just forms still peaks. Spoon the whipped cream into a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip.
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