Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Risotto as Meditation, Daisies

Risotto as Meditation

In an exciting development, I located arborrio rice at our local Kroger. I have never made risotto, but I really wanted to give it a try, and I have been dreaming about a wild mushroom risotto that I had at San Francisco's Puccini & Penitti. It was rich, creamy, and the most wildly delicious risotto I have ever tasted. The kids were at a water park with their grandfather for the day, so the stage was set for mommy and daddy actually being able to have an adult dinner.

I found a recipe for the risotto on Recipezaar (I sound like a broken record with the Recipezaar, but it is my go-to recipe site), but I ended up modifying it so much that I'm just going to record what I did here.

I took a few pictures of the cooking, but my photos are nowhere near the photographic genius of those on Taste Spotting, et al. In fact, they aren't great at all, but I took them, so you have to look at them.

You'll need
1 cup dry white wine (yeah, wine!)
around 8 cups of chicken broth (I used 2 cans low sodium and 2 regular)
2 yellow onions
10 - 12 ounces of wild mushrooms (shitake, baby portabella, crimini, etc)
2 tbsp chopped garlic
2 cups arborrio rice
3/4 cups good grated parmesean cheese (plus some extra for a garnish)
butter to taste
salt and pepper to taste
fresh chopped parsley for garnish

I found making risotto to be a very meditative experience. I loved it. When I first saw a chef make it on TV I thought "Stand and stir rice non-stop for 30-45 minutes? You gotta be nuts!" But it was the fastest 45 minutes I've experienced in a long time. It was wierd, it was like I became one with the process and my mind was cleared and all I though about was the stirring and adding broth and perfecting the dish.

So to make the recipe, here's what you do:

1. Pour all of the broth in a stock pot and bring it to a simmer.
2. While the chicken broth is warming, finely dice the onion, slice the mushrooms, and chop the garlic (if you do that and don't use the prechopped stuff in the bottle).
3. Heat a little olive oil in a deep skillet, then add your onions, saute until they start to appear clear, add the mushrooms and garlic and saute for around 8 minutes.

Good enough to eat now, but restrain yourself!

4. Add the rice, stir it around in the pan for about 2 minutes to lightly toast it.
5. Add the wine (yeah, wine!) and stir until the wine has been absorbed into the rice.
6. Now start adding your chicken broth about a cup to a cup and a half at a time and stir constantly until the broth is absorbed. Continue in this fashion until you have used all of the chicken broth. Rest assured, all of the broth will be absorbed.

You don't think this will absorb, do you? Well, it did!

7. Stir in the 3/4 cup parmesean cheese and a little butter. Salt and pepper to taste.
8. Serve immediately. Garnish each serving with freshly grated parmesean cheese and chopped parsley.
9. Die from the deliciousness.

A couple of notes. I believe that the risotto that I had in San Fran may have been made with red wine, perhaps a merlot. There is a possibility that beef broth was involved as well. It was so rich and the end product was actually a dark brown dish. This one is a little grey when completed.

I didn't take this picture. Gobitapi on photobucket did. But mine tasted better.


I have a 70 ft border that is a combo of roses, catmint, veronica, thyme, and daisies. The daisies were so pretty this year. I have hundreds of them, but I have such a difficult time cutting them because when they are all in bloom, they look like this:


Now I have purple and golden coneflowers in bloom, but the purple coneflowers seem to be afflicted with some sort of mystery virus, so, unfortunately, I'm going to have to dig them out and dispose of them with the lawn clippings. Fortunately, it's not difficult to come across clippings of purple coneflowers, so all is not lost. The golden coneflowers look exactly like black-eyed Susan's but flower for much longer and get that great tall cone that all coneflowers produce. I'd recommend them for any sunny garden spot.

I'm still struggling with late summer, fall flowerers. Everything seems to quit blooming around the middle of August. I'd like to try some Boltonia, but I can't find it anywhere. I'd also like to plant some of my empty spots with goldenrod - it is so showy and does not produce allergenic pollen (a vicious myth). Next year I'd like to plant some cosmos and cloeme as well - I generally stay away from annuals, but they are so cottagey, no?

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