Saturday, August 15, 2009

Friday, August 14th - Lemon Risotto and Herb Crusted Coho Salmon

I am so far behind on my photos and posts I am embarrassed. I got so far behind I was worried that I'd be tempted to give up. I will not of course. I have most of my photos even though I wasn't sensible enough to put the titles in like I did before to jar my memory. Darn it.

So I'm starting to catch up today with last night's dinner. I will do what I can do. It's all you can do right? I had meant to catch up last week whilst visiting mom and dad in Toronto. No work, D's not there to make me feel bad that I'm on the computer all the time. They don't have internet at my folks place though. I know that's not a real excuse though. I could have written and processed my photos without the internet. It was a bit of an excuse really. I did turn on my computer in the evenings to work some other photos or to play solitaire because I was bored out in Etobicoke. I did little that was productive. Oh well. There it is my confession.

Don't get me wrong. D is super supportive of my taking my photos of our food at home and at restaurants but he's not a big fan of my spending hours a night twittering or blogging. I had managed around it for a while but I'm trying to compromise. I might have to try to revert a bit to writing right after dinner though to keep up. Work is getting busier and I can't write during lunch anymore.

I've had a craving for LEMON RISOTTO for some time now. Normally, if I mention risotto, D takes charge and I let him. I think I've mentioned that when I started becoming facinated with cooking and food shows, that I had a small obsession with risotto. I collected dozens of recipes and ideas. It's the process that I love. You are involved from the start through to the end. There are few short cuts on it. The few that there are don't really work. The end result is not a true risotto. For a true risotto, you must stir.

Another reason, I've not made this before is that is is meant to be a side, in my opinion. I just can't have just 'plain' rice without some protein or vegetable. Well, my craving got the better of me last night. I first saw this recipe on Nigella or at least a version of it. I've made some changes out of respect for risotto. As well, I was short on a couple of key ingredients so I had to use a substitute.

Shamefully, one of the key ingredients to this risotto, or any risotto really is SHALLOT. Shallots (not eshallot or as the quebecois sometimes think, green onion, not D, another one) is similar to onion but finer. They're about the size of a walnut with very thin layers, the colour of a red onion. They have a slight garlicy quality. Most, if not all, risotto start with a sauteed shallot.

I did not have one. I walked all the way to the grocery and bought milk and yogurt instead. What was I thinking? I also forgot the celery and had to call D to pick it up for me. Another notable change I made was to omit the 4T of cream that she adds at the end. Cream is cheater risotto. You should get the creaminess and unctiousness naturally. I know that from the recipe, she might not have been trying to cheat but going for something else but I still, on principle, could not use it. I used 2T of butter instead. More traditional. Also, she uses a food processor mash up the shallot and celery... blech, no way! There are couple of other changes and touches that resulted in an amazing rich and lucious lemony risotto that you have to try. NOw the amounts I will give you are enough for 4-6 people. I had just enough raw risotto left in the bag that was silly to leave so I used it all. I weigh risotto.

J's VELVETY LEMON RISOTTO (Recommend vervently)
350 g of arborio rice or other risotto rice (not regular rice)
2 l lobster stock (you can use vegetable or chicken stock)
1 t saffron (optional, we have truck loads from our trip to Bali)
1 stalk of celery
1/4 sweet onion and 2 cloves garlic (OR 2 shallots)
2 T butter, unsalted
2 T olive oil
1/2 c dry white wine
Season to taste. (I add no salt. Parmesan is salty and there is some salt in the stock)

1.5 - 2 egg yolks (if you don't want to fuss with the half, go for the 2. DO NOT add the whites!)
zest & juice of 1 to 1.5 lemon(s)
2 thumb sized sprigs of fresh rosemary. If you don't have fresh, use what fresh herb you have. Try to avoid dry here. If you have to use dry, use 1/2 T rosemary dry)
1-2T butter
1/4 - 1/2 c freshly grated parmesan

1. Bring the Lobster stock to a boil with the saffron. Lower the heat to bare simmer and leave covered.
2. FINELY mince the onion, celery and garlic. I do mean fine. Go back over the pile with the knife. You don't want to0 big crunchy chunks of celery.
3. Put a large fry pan on the medium heat add the butter and oil (at least 16" diameter, bigger than 'regular'. If you don't have one that big, use a decent sized pot.)
4. Sautee the onion, celery and garlic until softened but not browned. About 5 min.
5. Add the rice to the pan. You may have to add more oil or butter. You want to coat the rice so that each grain glistens. Stir on the low-medium heat for a few minutes. I like to slightly toast the rice grains.
6. Add the wine in a broad circle around the pan.
7. Add 1 ladle of the stock and stir. You'll want the heat up high enough so that it will sing when you pour in the stock but not so high that it simmers or bubbles at all in the pan. At that temperature, the water will evaporate to fast to absorb into the rice and the rice will stick. Stir frequently. The more you stir, the creamier the end result. It is virtually impossible to mush the risotto. Really. I used the full 2 l and it was still nicely al dente.
8. Continue to add the stock on ladle at a time, stirring until most of the liquid is aborbed. It will take about half an hour to 40 min to get through all the water. If it's going too fast, your heat is up too high. Test the rice by nibbling a few grains about 20 minutes in. Cook to your taste.
9. On the side, mince the rosemary needles (no stems). In a bowl, zest and juice your lemon(s). Add the rosemary and the yolks. Whisk
10. When you're about 2 ladles away, add the parmesan into pan and stir. Add a ladle of stock.
11. Turn the head down slightly and add the yolk and lemon mixture and stir thoroughly. You don't want to scramble the egg.
12. It will immediately get this crazy creamy, porridgey look. YUMMM. Don't worry about it looking to mushy, taste it. It really was fine. keep stirring for about 5 min.
13. Add the last ladle of stock and a pat or 2 of butter, cover and set aside for 5-10 minutes

Serve 1 ladel per plate, shimmy it out so it spreads. Good risottoe flows like lava but not like soup.

While the risotto was sitting, we cooked the salmon that was prepped before.

Herb Crusted Coho Salmon

.... to come. I have to eat breakfast and go for a bike ride.

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