What do tomato and Gruyere tarts, beef stroganoff and jalapeno shrimp lime bites have in common? They can all be made in a cupcake pan. In Hollis Wilder’s adorable new cookbook, “Savory Bites,” the Food Network’s two-time “Cupcake Wars” champ takes inspiration from her winning salmon cupcakes to create 100 savory recipes that can all be baked in the precious tins collecting dust in back of your kitchen cabinet.
But these dishes aren’t just about being cute.
“The food trends for 2013 are all about individual, personal-sized, mini meals and portion control,” explains Wilder. And the small servings make great bites for parties.
“Let’s say you’re doing a cocktail party with delicious drinks, you can have savory bites ready. It’s so easy to plan ahead, prep, have them ready to go.” The only question now is: How will dessert top these?
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Risottos with Green Vegetables
Oven: 350°F (175°C) or 400°F (205°C)
Prep time: 45 minutes
Baking time: 15 to 45 minutes, depending on choice of crust
For the Vegetables
1 ½ cups (190 g) assorted chopped green vegetables, such as zucchini, asparagus, green beans, and frozen peas
For the Risotto
1 quart (1 L) chicken broth
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, cut into ¼ inch (6-mm) dice
1 1/2 cups (300 g) Arborio rice
5 tablespoons (75 ml) extra-dry vermouth
2 tablespoons un-salted butter
3/4 cup (75 g) grated Parmesan
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley or parsley from a tube
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the assembly
Nonstick cooking spray, for the pan
1 (15-ounce / 430-g) package ready-made pie dough (2 rounds), at room temperature or 1 (17.3-ounce / 485-g)
package puff pastry (2 sheets), at room temperature
Fresh green vegetables of nearly every variety add the flavor of a warm summer day to this heavenly risotto. Experiment with the three wrapper options, and you’ll have a completely different taste for the same meal each time. Chicken cutlets—one of the wrapper options— are wonderful for this recipe. Pair the risotto with a variety of sauces and serve for lunch with a salad or for dinner with roasted pork loin and sautéed vegetables.
Make the vegetables
If using zucchini, slice the zucchini lengthwise into 4 long planks, then cut the planks crosswise into
thin strips. If using asparagus, cut off the tips of the asparagus and slice the stalks into ¼ inch (6-mm)
slices on the bias, removing the tough end. If using peas, add the thawed peas directly from the bag.
If using green beans, trim the ends and slice the beans into ¼ inch (6-mm) slices on the bias. Blanch
the beans in boiling salted water until slightly tender but still bright green, about 2 minutes. Transfer to
a colander and immediately rinse in cold water; drain well.
Make the risotto
In a small saucepan over low heat, bring the broth to a simmer.
In a medium saucepan, heat the butter and oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring
occasionally, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the rice and stir to coat. Add 1 cup (240 ml) of the
broth and cook at a simmer, stirring constantly, until the broth is absorbed. Add the remaining 3 ½
cups (840 ml) broth, ½ cup (120 ml) at a time, stirring constantly and letting each addition be
absorbed before adding the next, until the rice is al dente, about 25 minutes. Remove from the heat
and add the vermouth, butter, Parmesan, all of the vegetables, the lemon zest and juice, salt and
pepper, and the chopped parsley. Stir to combine.
assemble and bake the risottos
Preheat the oven to 350oF (175oC) if using pie dough, or to 400oF (205oC) if using puff pastry.
Spray a 12-well classic cupcake pan with nonstick cooking spray.
If using pie dough, unroll the dough onto a flat work surface; no need to flour it first. Cut each round of
dough in half, and then cut each half into thirds, for a total of 12 pieces. Place 1 piece of dough in each
well of the pan. The dough can be draped loosely in the well; no need to press it in perfectly. Fill the
dough to the top with the risotto mixture, using it all. Bake until golden brown at the edges, 40 to 45
minutes. Let the risottos cool in the pan for 10 minutes (no longer, or they will become soggy), then
loosen the sides of each risotto with a table knife and pop them out of the pan.
If using puff pastry, unroll the puff pastry and cut each sheet crosswise into 3 equal strips, and then
cut each strip into thirds, for a total of 18 pieces. Set aside 12 pieces to use for the pan (see “Savory
Tidbit” on page 44 for ideas on how to use the extra pastry). Line each well with 1 piece of puff pastry,
stretching each piece slightly in both directions and letting it overhang the edges of the well slightly.
(Make sure any pastry overhanging the well doesn’t touch any other pastry or the pieces will fuse
together when baking.) Using a 1⁄3-cup (75-ml) measure, fill each well with the risotto mixture, using it
all. Bake until the pastry has puffed and turned golden brown, 15 minutes. Loosen the sides of each
risotto with a table knife and pop them out of the pan.
Store the risottos in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat, wrapped in tin
foil, for 15 minutes at 350oF (175oC).
To pound the chicken cutlets or breasts, place them in a large zip-top bag. Cover the bag with a
tea towel and gently pound with a mallet or the bottom of a heavy saucepan. Leave the chicken in the
bag—you can use it to toss the chicken with the rest of the ingredients. The cutlets should be 1/4 inch
(6 mm) thick. Some markets sell chicken cutlets ready to go in 11/2 - to 2-pound (680- to 910-g)
packages. Make sure there are six pieces that can be cut in half lengthwise, each half about 3 1/2to 4inches (9 to 10 cm) long, to fill the wells.
Chicken Cutlet variation
One seemingly odd choice is to use a chicken cutlet as the wrapper. I thought it was crazy as well; then
I made it, and wow! Now I know how to get that yummy risotto filling inside that thin, juicy, flavorful
chicken wrapper without drying out the chicken. The whole dish reminds me of a Greek avgolemono
soup with chicken, rice, and lemon.
Nonstick cooking spray, for the pan
6 chicken cutlets or breasts (2 pounds / 680 g), pounded to ¼ inch (6-mm) thickness and cut in half lengthwise (seeNote)
Pinch kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or parsley from a tube
3 tablespoons lemon juice
Pinch of cayenne
Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Spray a 12-well classic cupcake pan with nonstick cooking spray.
Prepare the vegetables and risotto following the instructions on page 85.
In a large bowl, toss the breasts with the salt and pepper, parsley, lemon juice, and cayenne, until well
coated. Lay a piece of raw chicken into each well, overhanging the edge. Fill each well with the risotto
mixture using a 1⁄3-cup (75-ml) measure.
Fold the chicken over onto the filling, forming a package, and bake until firm to the touch but not dry or
browned, 20 to 25 minutes.
Let the risottos rest in the pan for 5 minutes, then loosen the sides of each risotto with a table knife,
and pop them out of the pan, keeping them upright. Pour the juices in the bottom of each well over the
risottos prior to serving.