Friday, February 1, 2013

From the Kitchens of Bunny and Brandy

Greetings football fans!  Its time for Bunny and Brandy's annual Superbowl Recipe spectacular!  This year we have something very special.  You may have noticed by now that Our Ladies harbor a soft spot for everything Homaro Cantu does, including his twin restaurants on Fulton Market, MOTO and ING.  Recently, Chef Cantu has premiered his very first cookbook, but as can be expected with a mad scientist such as he, this cookbook is not your ordinary cookbook.  This is the Miracle Berry Diet Cookbook, so named because all of its recipes have been created completely free of refined sugar and are meant to be enhanced by the use of the Miracle Berry, a small red berry from West Africa that resembles a cranberry and does something truly amazing; it makes sour things taste sweet.  Chef Cantu's favorite trick is to have his diners take a taste of pure lemon, then eat a miracle berry (or some powder made from the berry) and then have them taste the lemon again, only to find that it has turned into instant lemonade.  Check out this recent clip of Chef Cantu on Good Morning America:

Being absolutely fascinated by the concept of "flavor tripping" we asked Chef Cantu if he might be willing to let us give our readers a little sneak peek at what exactly these recipes might look like, and much to our surprise, he said yes (honestly, the man will agree to anything on Twitter)!  So after careful consideration, we present you with the following.

*Links to the cookbook, ING Restaurant, where to get miracle berries, and more provided at the end of this post!

Blackberry Ricotta Tarts
These cheesy little pastries are just the thing for a sweet after dinner bite, or a first thing in the morning indulgence.  Because of the purple berries and golden phyllo dough crust, we thought these would be the perfect thing for any Baltimore Ravens fans at your pre-Super Bowl brunch.  Brandy found that the subtle orange flavor made these tarts lovely even without the miracle berry, but with it they became more decedent and rich.
  • 1/2 cup low-fat ricotta cheese
  • Canola oil spray
  • 5 sheets phyllo dough, thawed overnight in a refrigerator
  • 2 tablespoons of unslated butter or margarine, melted
  • 4 ounces reduced fat cream cheese (1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 2 cups fresh blackberries
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
     Drain the ricotta in a fine-mesh strainer for 20 minutes.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray six 3 inch tart pans with removable bottoms with canola oil.  
     With the phyllo sheets in a stack, trace six squares (3 squares across and 2 squares verticle).  Using a sharp knife, cut through all 5 sheets of dough along the traced lines.  Line each tart pan with 5 sheets of dough, lightly brushing melted butter between each layer.  Trim the edges of the dough flush with the top of the pans.
     In a bowl, combine cream cheese, ricotta (discard the whey), honey, egg, orange zest, vanilla, and nutmeg.  Beat with an electric mixer until smooth.  Pour an equal amount of filling into each tart pan.
     Bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes.  Let the tarts cool for a minutes or two.  Arrange the berries on the top, and drizzle a little lemon juice over the fruit before serving.  When you are ready to eat, let the miracle berry tablet dissolve on your tongue and then enjoy the dish.
     Replacing 1/2 cup of sugar with 1/4 cup of honey and the sweetness from the berry saves 22 calories per serving

Sweet Butternut Squash Risotto
The reddish golden color of the squash in this dish, plus the fact that every one knows rice is the perfect San Fransico treat, makes this sweet risotto a wonderful option for the 49ers fans at your get together.  Brandy loved this recipe as is for a slightly sweet take on a traditional risotto, or with miracle berry to make it more along the lines of a rice pudding.  Chef Cantu suggests serving this with French Toast sticks to imitate garlic bread.

  • 3 cups butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 2 cups apple juice (natural, sugar free)
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 ounces fresh goat cheese (about 3/4 cup)
     Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Toss the squash with the olive oil on a rimmed baking sheet.  Roast for 30 minutes, turning once halfway through cooking.  Squash should be fork tender when done.
     Meanwhile, heat the vegetable oil in a skillet.  Stir in the rice and cook for 1 to 2 minutes.  Combine apple juice and water and slowly add, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring frequently and allowing all the liquid to be absorbed before adding more.  Continue cooking until the rice is al dente.  Stir in the cream cheese and season with a pinch of salt.
     After the squash has been cooking for about 25 minutes, crumble the goat cheese into a small baking dish and warm in the oven for 5 minutes, or until the cheese starts to melt and brown along the edges.
     Mash half of the squash and stir into the risotto.  Ladle the risotto into bowls, and top with remaining squash cubes and melted goat cheese.  When you are ready to eat, let the miracle berry tablet dissolve on your tongue and then enjoy the dish.
     Replacing 2 tablespoons of packed brown sugar and 2 tablespoons of sugar with the sweetness from the berry saves 34 calories per serving.

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