Friday, April 3, 2009

Bad backs and kitchen clean outs

We've officially bursting at the seams in the kitchen, and as I was home nursing a certain someone the other day, bedridden with a bad back from rough housing too much over the weekend (perhaps throwing your nephew upside down over your shoulder wasn't such a great plan... ; ) so I decided to tackle the storage space issue and clean out the fridge, freezer and cupboard and see what I could turn into a nice meal to cheer Steve up. On hand, amidst many other things, was a quarter of a canister of risotto from god knows when, some truffles from a trip to Italy that seems like a lifetime ago that I can't believe we haven't used yet; an open quart of chix stock; some aged gruyere (I'm embarrassed to admit how long that has been languishing in our fridge), and half a bag of frozen peas. Risotto! All I had to buy was some fresh parsley, which I probably could have skipped, and some nice salad greens - which I'm sure Steve would tell you I should have skipped ("who needs salad when you have risotto"), but it was a nice touch.

Below is a shot of the finished dish, which was really yummy, if I do say so myself. Not so shabby at all.

Truffled Mushroom Risotto with Peas
2 cups uncooked risotto
6 cups chicken stock (I used the college inn white wine type and it worked really well)
1 tsp. saffron threads
2 Tblsp butter, plus 3 Tbsp for end of cooking
2 Tblsp olive oil
6 shallots, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, crushed
1/3 cup dry white wine or dry vermouth
2 tsp. truffle slices from a jar (optional)
1/4 cup aged Gruyere (Parmesan is typically used, but I had Gruyere), plus a bit more for topping
3/4 cup peas
salt and pepper
1/3 cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped, plus a bit more for topping

In a medium sized saucepan, heat chicken stock to a simmer. Crumble in the saffron threads. Heat a shallow, heavy-bottomed saucepan (I like a wide one with a lip of 3 - 4") over a medium flame. When warm, add 2 tblsp. butter, and oil and shallots. Stir 1 min. and add mushrooms and garlic. Saute until translucent, about 5 -7 min. Add rice and stir, until the edges of the grain start to turn translucent, about 4 min. Add wine and stir until absorbed. Add 1/2 cup of stock to the pan and stir well. Continue to stir until it has nearly been absorbed. Continue to add stock, 1 ladle at a time (approx. 1/2 cup), stirring continuously, with each addition of stock. As Susan says, you want to keep the rice thinly veiled with stock at all times. It should bubble evenly and gently, never boiling and it should not dry out or be flooded with stock either. When you sense you are a few minutes away from being done, add the peas and truffles with the next ladle of stock. Cooking time is approx. 18 - 20 min. When the grains taste done but still have a little tooth to them (al dente), turn off the heat and stir-in the cheese, 3 Tblsp butter, and parsley.

Serve topped with a sprinkle of parsley and cheese, and a bit of freshly ground pepper.

Microgreens salad with pomegranate balsamic vinaigrette

The pomegranate molasses (a little goes a long way, so be sure use just a few drops) adds a really lovely tangy and subtle sweetness to the balsamic.


equal parts olive oil and balsamic vinegar (I used 1/3 cup ea.)
2 drops pomegranate molasses
salt and pepper to taste
Micro Greens or any type of salad greens


Shake oil, vinegar, and pomegranate molasses together well. Season with salt and pepper to taste and toss on salad greens before serving.

1 comment:

Slowish Food said...

This looks delicious. Risotto is one of my favorites, but I always haul out the standard leftover ham/peas/mushroom combination. What a smart idea to use risotto as the base and come up with a pantry-clearing combination!

I discovered pressure-cooker risotto a couple years ago and it changed my life. I love standing and stirring quietly for 20 minutes, but it doesn't work so well in my life these days!