Top Chef's Mike Isabella Cooks a Family Holiday Feast
The runner-up in Bravo's hit cooking show shares "Jersey Italian" recipes for a scrumptious holiday dinner.
In winter, Isabella reaches for in-season veggies like pumpkin, mushrooms, and squash. And he offers this prep tip from his grandmother. "You have to put love into it, and always stir in one motion in the same circle. My grandmother always told me that when you constantly stir it in one motion, it cooks evenly, and it gets creamy and rich."
2 tbsp unsalted butter
½ cup white onion, diced small
1 cup carnaroli rice
3 cups simmering hot water
¼ cup plain (no spices or flavoring added) pumpkin purée, canned
¼ cup shredded or grated, Parmesan cheese
¼ cup pumpkin seeds, toasted
2 tbsp finely chopped chives
1. Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Once melted, add onions and sweat 4 to 5 minutes or until soft and tender but without any golden or brown color.
2. Add rice and stir to coat each grain of rice. Toast 3 to 4 minutes.
3. Add simmering hot water, a ladle (about ½ cup) at a time, and continually stir rice in one direction. Once that water has been absorbed, add another ladle of water and constantly stir in the same direction. Continue ladling the water and stirring in this way until all the water has been absorbed. The rice should be al dente at this point.
4. Add pumpkin purée and stir in the same direction to combine. Stir in Parmesan cheese.
5. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds and chives.
Makes 6 servings
Per serving: 201 calories, 6 g protein, 30 g carbohydrate, 7 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 9 mg cholesterol, 2 g fiber, 1 g sugar, 68 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 28%.
Yogurt Panna Cotta With Spiced Pears and Pistachios
When it comes to desserts, "I'm a combo," says Isabella. "I love sweet and salty. I went with the yogurt panna cotta" for this holiday menu "because the yogurt has a cool little tanginess and acidity, and it's also very healthy. Yogurt is universal."
Ingredients for panna cotta
1 envelope (¼ oz) unflavored gelatin
3 tbsp sugar
¼ tsp salt
½ cup 1% milk
½ vanilla bean, seeds scraped
1¾ cups plain 2% Greek yogurt
1 tsp lemon juice
spiced poached pears (see recipe)
2 tbsp pistachios, roasted
1. In a small pan, mix gelatin, sugar, and salt. Add milk and vanilla bean seeds, stir together, and let stand 2 to 3 minutes.
2. Place on stove over medium-low heat and bring to a simmer -- small bubbles will form around edges of mixture after about 1½ to 2 minutes. Stir until gelatin dissolves. Set pan aside for 3 to 5 minutes to cool.
3. Pour mixture into a blender or food processor. Add yogurt and lemon juice and blend 20 seconds.