Tuesday, April 04, 2006

a Miss Adventure press clipping

unfortunately, I can't post a link to my most recent appearance in a fairly important newspaper without giving away my real identity. oh, you sneaky internet stalkers have ruined the fun for the rest of us.

will you settle for a spring recipe instead?
I improvised this one the other day. I had 4 euros in my pocket and was dying for asparagus, but then had no money left over for anything else. The rest of the ingredients were already in my cupboard, so I composed this risotto with some shortcuts:

asparagus risotto
Set a large pot of water on the stove to boil (always salt water after it is boiling and use more salt than you think you should). In the meantime, finely chop a small onion and slowly saute in olive oil or butter. On a back burner heat up chicken or vegetable broth, about 5-6 cups. Grate the zest of one lemon, add to the onions. When the water is boiling, blanch a bunch of fresh asparagus, cut into 1 1/2 inch sections excluding of course, the tough ends. If they seem tough, take a vegetable peeler to the root end and remove the woody parts. The asparagus should only cook about 4 minutes.
At this point, I took a shortcut and parboiled the rice (around 1 3/4 cups?) in the asparagus water until still quite al dente but softening, then drained it like pasta (for the culinarily illiterate, parboil means partially boil). For classic risotto with a creamy texture use the best Arborio (or other short-grain) rice you can find and put it directly into the sauteeing onions to toast a bit in the oil. In that case, the asparagus should be cooked less, or maybe not blanched at all. Either way, add the rice to the pan with the onions, stir to coat the rice in oil. Give this a good glug of white wine (1/2 cup maybe?). Proceed as with any risotto, stirring constantly, adding broth in small quantities as often as the rice becomes dryish. This releases starches on the outside of the rice as the grain absorbs the liquids, creating the creamy texture. About halfway through, add the asparagus. If the rice was added raw, this process should take more or less all the broth and cook for nearly 20 minutes. If you parboiled, you'll use less broth (3 cups?) and stir for around 10, depending on how al dente the rice remained. Season this up with salt and pepper and grated parmiggiano reggiano. The texture of a classic risotto is just barely pourable, my shortcut version is much denser.

If the result is bland, you either didn't follow my directions, you used lousy supermarket asparagus, you don't know how to use salt, or your tastebuds are deficient. Maybe a combination of the above.

This is a dish to show off fresh spring ingredients. You could use the same idea for fresh spring peas or other tender vegs. Mushrooms are marvelous in risotto. Improvise a little. Asparagus and shrimp? artichokes and peas? Serve as a first course, followed with fish perhaps. buon appetito


Blogger I'm Sunburnt said...

Only you, my dear, would opt for roast piglet as part of a birthday feast. I'm sorry it didn't work out, but I hope this means that we'll be able to figure out the physics of piglet roasting over a small man-made fire in Central Park next fall.

So if you email me the press clipping I promise I won't stalk you...

PS: Italy has too many political parties. You should probably start one yourself.

April 05, 2006  
Blogger Miss Adventure said...

one can never be too careful with the potential stalkers. i had one eavesdrop on my conversation on a train and then track down my email address. among others.
what would my political party be? the roast suckling pig party? gastronomes' alliance?

April 06, 2006  

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