Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Ice Storm A'Comin'

I must have been in denial about the severity of the reported ice storm moving into the area. When Stella and I went to the store tonight we only got hot chocolate, marshmallows, shrimp, butter, cake mix (?), shiitake mushrooms, and red and yellow peppers. No candles, no batteries, no kerosene heaters....so I'm either optimistic, clueless, or just plain stupid. Here's hoping our power stays on!

Friday night I made risotto for a very small dinner party. I was trying to be hostess and cook at the same time and didn't give the rice the constant, stirring attention that a good risotto requires. It turned out gummy instead of creamy. I hate kitchen failures so tonight I wanted to right my previous wrong and try again.

I had planned on a shrimp and vegetable risotto and threw some other random ingredients in with ultimately successful results.

I started about 3 hours before dinner by making a vegetable stock. Y'all this is so easy, there's really no reason for you not to make it. I tossed an onion (skins and all), a few carrots, a few stalks of celery, garlic cloves, dried thyme, salt, and pepper into a pot with about 5 quarts of cold water and let it simmer away until it reduced by half. I drained the stock and put it in a smaller pan and kept it warm on the back burner.

Here we have the veggies I found in the fridge: green onions, asparagus, yellow squash, green beans, red peppers, shallots, and garlic:
And the fresh herbs that I chopped and set aside to add in at the very end of the process: flat leaf parsley, rosemary, and basil.
Here we have shallots and garlic sizzling in 2 TBS of butter:
To which I added about 2 cups of arborio rice (the only kind of rice you can use for risotto). I usually only like to use whole grains, but you've got to use the white arborio for risotto because it has the high starch content that turns creamy when it's stirred constantly. In addition to the constant stirring, you've got to add the warm stock little by little, only adding more when the previous addition is completely absorbed.
Here I'm adding some Pinot Grigio because I had it on hand and it adds one more layer of delicious flavor.
We're not there yet. You can see that it still needs quite a bit more liquid. It should look very creamy and not taste chewy.
I've been stirring and adding the warm vegetable stock, ladle by ladle, for at least 30 minutes here and felt it was time to add the vegetables. I started with the firmest veggies - asparagus and green beans, then a little later added the red peppers, then a few more ladles later, the yellow squash.
Here are my add-ins: frozen pre-cooked shrimp (not usually my favorite, but it sure is easy) and toasted pine nuts. I'm waiting to add these after I've run out of stock and the vegetables are cooked:
Chopped herbs and pecorino romano to be added at the VERY last minute:

Voila! Stella came into the kitchen and was all, "It smells SO GOOD in here!" Yeah, baby. There were so many delicious flavors in this dish, and the fresh herbs mixed in at the very end added a punch of fresh, bright flavor to a dish that gets its richness not from fat, but from the homemade stock, the creamy rice, and all the little details and additions. Standing over the pot constantly made all the difference this time around. Oh yeah, and the wine was very good and a perfect complement. The price is right too!

Ice storm? What ice storm? I don't hear the tree boughs creaking and snapping under the weight....not yet anyway.


jennifer erwin said...

Yummers. I never find vegetables that look that fresh in my fridge. They die so quickly in there.

Alannah said...

I try to wash all my vegetables when I bring them home, then wrap them in paper towels and put them in big ziploc bags. that seems to help prolong them for a while.

jdbauer said...

I might have to try this risotto on the Heady Pepper! Mmmmmm!!!

stephanie said...

I can't wait to go home and cook a good winter vegetable soup. Watching the clock. The office is cold today...