Tag Archives: risotto

A Winter “Risotto”

15 Feb

It seems odd posting about winter dishes when it’s almost 90 degrees outside and looks like this:

view

Ah, Southern California!

Whatever the temperature, it is still winter and for most of the country, a soul-warming bowl of goodness is a perfect dinner. Actually, this kind of dinner sounds wonderful to me even when it’s 90 degrees out.

Risotto ingredients

ingredients for winter risotto

Risotto used to make me nervous. I read over and over that it was very difficult, that you have to stir it constantly, never leaving the stove; if you look away for a nanosecond, it’s ruined. Oh and chances are whatever you do, you will ruin it.

Total BS. Risotto is pretty easy to make.  You do not have to stir it continually or even watch it constantly. True, this isn’t stew which you can leave for hours and never look in the pot but you can be in the kitchen doing other things and not be scared your risotto will get messed up. I assure you: once you make a risotto, you will make it over and over again. You probably already have on hand what you need to make a basic risotto, the variations from the basic recipe are almost infinite and risotto tastes so damn good!  It’s also great to learn because this dish is a perfect meal any time of year. Spring and Summer risottos, for instance, with fresh vegetables from the garden or the Farmer’s Market are divine.

Let me then give you a wonderful recipe. But first, a few notes on my winter risotto:

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Preserve Me A Lemon!

21 Jun

I have two bountiful lemon trees in my backyard. I love these trees and what they provide. While I use lemons most every day – in drinks, in marinades, in salad dressings, as a flavor enhancer in all kinds of dishes – I still get overrun with crazy lemons! As weird as it may seem in other parts of the world, when you live in Southern California, it gets hard to pawn off fruit. People show up to work with bags and bags of lemons, oranges, etc and usually everyone just yawns.

plums

Monday at work, from someone’s tree… these were amazing plums.

Given my lemon bounty, I started looking for ways to use the extra. I discovered my favorite a few years ago: Preserved Lemons. Preserving lemons is so easy, and the result so wonderful, there is always a big jar of preserved lemons in my fridge. Besides extending the life of the fruit, preserving lemons make the entire lemon edible. In fact, the rind becomes the best part to use, though everything in the jar, once preserved, is terrific for cooking. Preserved lemons keep nearly forever, so you don’t have to rush to use them, a wonderful perk. But use them you will, I assure you.

I’ve tried many methods for preserving lemons. The easiest I’ve tried, which is also the best, is from Patricia Wells, a wonderful woman about whom I wrote last year. I was able to spend a week with her in France a couple of years ago, a week that remains a highlight for me. During the trip I cooked once on Julia Child’s original stove from her home in France. No, seriously, I did.

I thought we were talking about lemons…

Use this method, it’s perfect. I usually double the recipe, given I am constantly overrun, but this will give you plenty to start. All you need is a pile of lemons (8-10), some course sea salt, and a container with a non-metal lid:

Preserved start

For the recipe and more info, click:

 

“Never, Ever, Ever….” Vol II

8 Mar

When I posted Never, Ever, Ever Vol I, my dear friend Jan emailed to say I made her feel guilty. Given my Catholic upbringing, my response was… success! So, here to heap yet more guilt upon you, I give you Vol. II.

Never, ever, ever buy broth. Ever. Seriously. Don’t do it.

You talkin’ to me?

This means you. Never do it.

Most important fact first: homemade broth is hands down the easiest thing you can do in the kitchen. I’m not asking you to engage in some wild Martha Stewart craziness like wallpaper your office with leftover magazine covers you first have to dye or, horrors, make a gingerbread house. Making broth at home is easy. Even easier than vinaigrette, subject of the previous guilt inducing post. As with vinaigrette, broth made at home is infinitely better, in every way, than even the best store bought broth. It saves you money and it’s better for your body and it’s better for the environment AND it tastes much better, both the broth and anything you make with it. That’s a lot of ‘ands’, all worth making your own.

Did I mention how good it tastes? I doubt anyone would open a can of Swanson’s and drink it. Yet that’s what I do every time I make homemade broth. I drink some of it from a cup by itself, it’s that good.

Even with my crappy iPhone camera you can see a big difference between the clear, pure homemade broth on the left and an expensive store bought, pasteurized version on the right:

Compare 2

Homemade broth vs. store bought

Did I mention it was easy? While I’ve included some longer instructions below, this is all you need to know:

Throw a bunch of stuff in a pot, bring it to a boil, turn it down, let it simmer, strain it… broth! That’s it. 

broth

A pot of broth simmering on the stove

It’s also, dare I say it? Fun. There are few things I have come to enjoy more in the kitchen than making broth. Chicken broth, beef broth, vegetable broth, mushroom broth… it’s effortless yet very satisfying. I first discovered the brilliance of homemade broth when learning to make risotto. I love me some risotto, all kinds. People like to create a bunch of drama about risotto but it isn’t that difficult. One evening I made risotto with my own broth rather than from the store. The difference was amazing. So I dove into making broth.

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A Fall Supper

9 Nov

(Note: I’ll be doing some posting about Thanksgiving on the Facebook page. Be sure to like the page. I won’t clutter up your newsfeed needlessly, don’t worry.)

I love fall. Love everything about it. Crisp sweater weather. Football games. The first fires of the season. Long coats in which to get lost. Gray cloudy days. Even rain.

Have I mentioned I also love to eat?

He loves fall, he loves to eat, so what could be better than a Fall Supper?

For me, Fall Suppers mean comfort food. Long braised meats. Lots of greens. Root vegetables. Apples and pumpkins. Personally, I can (and do) eat this food all year long. But it was supremely satisfying to have the first true fall supper last Sunday, serving a few of my favorite dishes I’d not prepared in a while. Some very good friends were coming over for dinner, one of whom unexpectedly and wonderfully became engaged two days before. So we turned the dinner into a small celebration. And even though it was #@%$ 90 degrees in November, we had a great fall supper which I present to you. 

This is a very easy supper to prepare, particularly if you have time to stick something in the oven the day before. Most of the ‘work’ is done well before, so you can relax and not stress the day of. 

Braised Lamb Shanks over Polenta with Roasted Brussels Sprouts

and Sautéed Winter Greens


Get the rest of the post…and the recipes…here!

Memorial Day Food and Film

24 May

The holiday weekend approaches! As I myself am going on holiday (Yellowstone, first time! Apparently it is going to, um, snow) I’m going to do a shorter less dense post with a few recommendations of, hey it’s not rocket science, food and film.

First, the food.

Savory: I stumbled on this recipe for Pasta with Carrots, Risotto-Style a couple of days ago. I had all the ingredients on hand and it sounded so intriguing, I gave it a try. Wow. This is a keeper, to be made over and over again. I’ve cooked pasta this way before, like risotto. It’s a great way to make pasta, if you don’t mind the extra stirring, as it creates a wonderfully creamy texture, much more so than when you make pasta the traditional way. With such a simple list of ingredients, however, I wasn’t expecting such a rich, satisfyingly flavorful dish. This is seriously good. It’s very savory, yet the carrots add a touch of sweet that is killer.

I used penne, given penne is what I had on hand. It worked perfectly. I also added some white wine along with the first two cups of broth. I had a bottle open on the counter, of course, and given white wine is almost always added to risotto, I figured it couldn’t be too bad of an idea here. It wasn’t. I highly recommend doing the same. Give the recipe a try, it immediately leapt onto my ‘staple’ list.

Click here for the rest of the post, more food and film picks!