green apple risotto

dinner

A month or two ago, at dinner at a friend’s house, we tasted an apple risotto for the first time. I had never heard or thought of such a thing before, but I can’t think why not. The risotto was served as a first course, with a small piece of seared foie gras on top, and it was astonishing. I don’t generally have foie gras on hand, but I thought that there must be other flavors that would go well with the risotto. I tried it out last night, making up the risotto recipe as I went, and serving it with seared kielbasa slices and some sauteed escarole with garlic.

shallot

All I did for the risotto was chop some shallot and saute it in butter…

green apple

…then I added diced Granny Smith apple…

green apple risotto

…then tossed in a cup or so of Arborio, sauteed it briefly, then ladled in chicken stock until everything was done. A bit of grated Parmesan finished it off. It was nice, although I couldn’t help feeling I might have preferred having the apple in large slices, simply seared in butter and served on the side. Also, the escarole (which I love) was perhaps too strong a flavor here, overwhelming the delicate apple (although it went splendidly with the smoky kielbasa). Live and learn; maybe next time I’ll try serving this with scallops. And maybe a pinch of fresh thyme in the risotto? We shall see.

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crab and eggs

breakfast

In the annals of putting fried eggs on top of things, this breakfast came very close to perfection. Here’s how to make it.

crab

Take one Dungeness crab, cooked and cleaned.

crabmeat

Pick the meat out and set aside. Put the shell into a saucepan, cover with water, and simmer for about 10-15 minutes. Strain and keep warm.

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smoked salmon risotto

smoked salmon risotto

I wasn’t sure there was any higher calling for alder-smoked salmon than a bagel and cream cheese, but this risotto may have changed my mind.

smoked salmon

Some friends brought this salmon to a party at our house (very good friends, indeed). It was from Pure Food in the Pike Place Market, according to the bag, and it was the best smoked salmon I have ever eaten, juicy and tender with just the right amount of smoke and sweet. I was trying to think of some way to use a bunch of it at once, and Jon said, “What about in that risotto we’re having on Thursday?” Hmmm.

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south of the border risotto

dinner

I had assumed that we would be eating all kinds of leftovers for days after our end-of-summer party. We did have huevos rancheros for breakfast (with drunken pinto beans and cotija cheese), and chips and guacamole for lunch, but then I realized there wasn’t really much else left except for a large pile of poblano and jalapeño chiles that somehow never got used, plus some leftover grilled corn. I really didn’t want to go to the store again, so I needed to think of something for dinner based on what was on hand. In a fit of fusiony madness, I came up with a sort of Tex-Mex risotto.

peppers

I chopped two poblanos and sauteed them in salted butter (I should have added onions, which would have given even more sweetness and depth), then added Arborio rice, followed by a glassful of white wine. I brought a quart of garlic-scented chicken stock to a boil and began adding it to the rice.

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roasted parsnips and friends

parsnip

The fish guy at the supermarket had arctic char (one of our very favorite fishes) a couple of weeks ago, but we had other plans for dinner that night. I asked him if he thought it would keep until Friday if I bought some that day, and he gave me a firm “nope.” Sigh.

But char doesn’t come around every day. Feeling uncharacteristically optimistic, I bought a filet anyway and stuck it directly into the freezer when I got home. The following week, I thawed it out and improvised a meal to go with it. And it worked, hurrah!

char Continue reading

dinner by candlelight

candlelight

dinner table

A holiday that we like to celebrate in this household is the festival of Brigid, otherwise known as Imbolc, Candlemas or Groundhog Day. To us, it marks the break between the dark days of winter and the rise of spring, as the days get longer and the garden begins to bloom again. Even though we know it’s going to keep raining until July, just the fact of being able to walk home in daylight is pretty exciting.

hellebore bud

Earlier in the day, I celebrated by going out and doing battle with blackberry vines and cutting back the hellebore leaves. We have hellebore flowers coming up, as well as the first glimpses of snowdrops and violets. Hurray, flowers!

cocktail hour

Afterwards, we had a little cocktail hour. Continue reading

a good food day

November sunbreak

After a successful food safari out on the Skagit Flats on Saturday (including a truly amazing brunch at the Rhody – I mean, seriously, potato pancakes with sausages, poached eggs and hollandaise sauce!?! Not to mention those little cranberry walnut things – yum) we came home prepared for a cozy November evening inside.

We brought home bread and strawberry jam from the Breadfarm (we bought fresh macaroons, too, but somehow they never made it home), fresh leeks, celeriac, broccoli, shelling beans and chioggia beets from Dunbar Gardens, and a nice bag of groceries from Slough Food: multicolored eggs from Osprey Hill Farm, farro from the Methow Valley, guanciale (cured pork jowl) from Salumi, Humboldt Fog and Petit Basque cheeses, and a bag of fresh chanterelles. Dinner almost cooked itself!

Humboldt Fog cheese Continue reading

Mushroom risotto with kielbasa

wind in the bamboo

Yes, the weather has been nasty around here, windy, cold and wet. It snowed rather convincingly on Sunday morning but then settled back into a glum, clammy grayness. I wanted something warm, easy to eat and comforting for dinner, as you might imagine.

I had a little Arborio rice left, so I made risotto. I was going to do a plain mushroom risotto with a piece of salmon alongside, but wasn’t thrilled with our store’s fish selection (an unusual occurrence). So we went for one of our frequent emergency backups: kielbasa. It’s quick, easy and gives a great savoriness to anything you put it in. We use Hempler’s, a local brand.

slicing kielbasa Continue reading

Risotto and a rainstorm

a delicata squash

We have an abundance of squash lying around our house right now. At least one is being saved for our annual Halloween soup (more on that later), but the others are up for grabs –  especially my favorites, the delicatas.

Cook’s Illustrated ran a recipe a couple of years back that we finally tried last winter, and it’s become a favorite – a butternut squash risotto with sage and onions. Delicatas aren’t quite like butternut, but they’re sweet and easy to peel, and work very well in this recipe. Here’s how it worked out on this particular occasion:

First, my wonderful spouse peeled and cut up the squash into 1/2 inch dice for me, reserving the stringy innards and seeds. I heated some olive oil in one of my favorite pans (a lime green Le Creuset saucier) and added the squash in a single layer, left it alone for a few minutes so it browned nicely, then stirred it up and let it cook until just tender. I scooped it into a bowl and set it aside. I then added the squash innards to the pan (it needed a bit more oil) and sauteed them briefly before transferring them to a saucepan and adding a couple cups of chicken broth and a cup of water. The squash-infused broth began simmering away as I started the rice. Continue reading