Monday, April 6, 2009

Home risotto hurdles

You've got to love a good hurdle in life. What doesn't kill you only makes you stronger, right? Or from a more pessimistic point of view, life is just a series of hurdles (some even call it a race) and you just keep going until you run out of breath. Morbidity aside, it's the hurdles that precede achievement and all the lovely rewards associated with it.

There are always ways past a hurdle - a much less intense word than barrier - over, under, around, not so much through, but my drift is there. There's always a way but the path one chooses is what defines one and their life. And there's always the option of collapsing in front of the hurdle and just whinging.

Path choices abound us and I've chosen the path to a friend's place for dinner one particular night with the incentives of home-cooked food, chilled booze and somewhere to change into my shoes for the night out. Add to that a few laughs, cookbook and fashion consulting, and juicy discoveries and we're all but ready, albeit several hours later.

Fun times playing kitchen assistant as well, we're about 20 minutes cooking time and a few glasses of wine divergent from the Neil Perry recipe for pumpkin and pea risotto. Think onion, garlic, pumpkin, peas, arborio rice, white wine, stock, parmesan and seasoning - and it's an ideal start (and lining, I was told) for the night ahead.

Pumpkin and pea risotto cooking

I find risotto relatively easy to cook, despite constant stirring, but difficult to perfect - especially with crowds including the lactose intolerant, high cholesterols or high blood pressures, not to mention differing preferences on the softness of the rice.

My perfect risotto would be creamy (but not from the addition of cream), just a touch before al dente, loaded with various mushrooms, a bit of spinach or rocket, loads of freshly cracked black pepper and fresh shavings of parmigiano reggiano.

And my solution to edible but not superb risotto? Make it dry enough to roll into balls (additional cheese optional), a thin batter, crumbs and into hot oil for arancini. A herbed or tomato dipping sauce and you've got some pretty impressive finger food.

However, no such problems tonight as we dine on this risotto topped with sauteed baby asparagus with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. To the first time risotto chef: well done, thanks, and we really need to catch up again soon...

A sophisticated, mature dinner for a sophisticated, mature
night out. Really - who am I kidding (on the latter)?

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