Sunday, May 16, 2010

May 15th - Cream-riffic Lemon and Sage Risotto and Spicy Lemon Crab Cakes with Mango Avocado Relish

I love this Risotto.  It is so creamy it is insane.  I mean really, 'regular' risotto is creamy but the addition of the Egg Yolks adds a full mouth velvety quality that is wonderful.  The last time I made this I used Rosemary, presumably because it is the one herb in my pots that is consistently available.  Today, we had loads of Sage.  It worked wonderfully with the lemon.  However, I made the mistake of using a few extra leaves as garnish.  I will not do that again.  It was not bad but raw sage does not a garnish make.  Thankfully, I did not use too much and with the rest of the meal in combination, it did not dominate.  This risotto is designed as a side.  It is meant to be served with a Seafood of some sort and it fantastic as an accompaniment.

Cream-riffic Lemon and Sage Risotto

300g Arborio Rice
1 T Unsalted Butter
1-2 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 rib Celery, minced super fine
1-2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 ping pong ball sized Shallot, minced
1 c Dry White Wine (i.e. not sweet)
2 l Vegetable or Mushroom Broth
1 t Saffron
2 Egg Yolks
1 Large Lemon, Zested and Juiced
1 T chopped fresh Sage
Salt and Pepper

In a medium saucepan, bring the broth or stock to a boil then reduce to a bare simmer and keep on bare simmer on the side. Add the Saffron.

Chop all the veg and have ready.  For the celery, I cut the stalk in half then cut matchsticks out of the halves.  Then I minced the matchsticks.  Then, run the knife over the pile to make sure you don't have any large pieces. 

In a small bowl on the side, away fromt the heat, have the Egg Yolks ready with the minced fresh sage, Lemon Zest and Lemon Juice.  Do not whisk yet.  Actually, if you are good at multitasking, do this in the middle of the risotto procedure.

In a large sautee pan, melt 1 T of unsalted Butter and 2 T Olive Oil on medium heat.  Add the Celery and Shallot.  Sautee until softened for 2-3 minutes.  Add the Garlic and the Rice and more Olive Oil if necessary.  Stir for 2 minutes until all the rice is glistening.  Add the Wine and stir slowly and constantly.

When most of the wine is absorbed add a ladle or 1/3-1/2 c of the broth.  I added the broth through a skimmer to avoid adding any saffron threads.  You could strain all of the broth to avoid doing this for every ladel if you want.  Stir and stir and stir.  When most of the broth is absorbed add another.  You know you are ready when you 'draw' a trench in the pan and it does not close up right away.  Season to taste about 20 minutes into the ladelling.  It will take about 35 minutes.

Continue to add the broth 1 ladel at a time.  When you are 2 ladels away, whisk the Egg Yolks, Sage and Lemon.   Pour into the Risotto while stirring constantly so you do not scramble the eggs.  It will go SUPER CREAMY looking.  This is normal.  It is almost a mayonnaise quality you are adding.  When that is absorbed, add 1 more ladel.  Stir and stir.  Then add the freshly grated REAL Parmesan cheese. 

Add the final ladel and stir 2-3 times.  Dapple the top of the risotto with pea sized pieces of 2 T of butter.  Cover and set aside for 10 minutes. Serve with more Parmesan.  1-1.5 c per person spread out by shimmying the plate.

Mango Avocado Relish

1/4 c Red Onion, finely diced
1 Avocado, diced
1 Mango, diced
1 clove Garlic, minced
1 Jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 Lime, Zested and Juiced
1/2 t Cumin
pinch of Salt (aka 1/4 Salt or none)

Assemble all the ingredients in a non-reactive dish (Glass, Stainless Steel or Plastic for a short while) and set aside in the fridge for an hour.  If you want to, add 1/4 c chopped fresh Cilantro and use it as a dip. It was SOOOOO GOOD!!

D was on Crab Cake duty.  He randomly brings home fresh crab when he sees it a the market without a plan.  I need a plan for the contents of the fridge.  There is a sort of irony or oxymoron in there somewhere.  I am freeform and experimental in cooking and D is way more structured but when it comes to shopping, I have to have a plan of some form.  I cannot abide wasting food.  So when the Crab came home, I envisioned crab cakes but the combination with the risotto is too much for one person to do really.  If you are cooking for yourself or friends, I would suggest either staging the cooking to have the Crab Cakes formed and in the fridge in advance of even starting the Risotto. I have done that.  Or do a simple grilled fish instead.

Spicy Lemon Crab Cakes

We've made these a couple of times since the blog.

REAL STUFF ONLY, NO pollock or crabstick. Use canned salmon or tuna before you think of using crabstick. Seriously. We bought a decent amount of fresh picked cooked, lump crab meat from Choices. Quite a deal really. You don't need that much to make a decent crab cake and it's so worth it.

3/4 c fresh bread crumbs. (just blitz some bread in a processor, or buy, not a biggie on the crumbs)
1/3 c mayonnaise
1/4 c thinly sliced green onions
1 t grated lemon peel
1/4 t cayenne pepper (I'll try to sneak some extra in while D isn't looking :-P)
1 lb crab meat (well drained if you're using canned)
3 T olive oil
1/2 Green Onion sliced for garnish

Mix first five ingredients in a large bowl. Add crabmeat and stir gently to combine. Shape mixture into 8 1/2 inch thick cakes. Transfer to foil lined baking sheet or non stick baking sheet. Refridgerate. (you can do this well ahead) We only made half this batch. 2 each about the size of hockey puck.

Heat oil in a non stick pan over medium heat. Cook in batches. Don't crowd your pan. Cook until golden brown on the bottom and turn over. About 4 minutes a side. Now there isn't alot of filler like the cheaper or bulk restaurant variety so they are delicate. Use a lubed wide spatula. You can place on the papertowel from the prawncrackers or hold on the spatula and pat with the papertowl. Don't expect it to hold together like the manufactured kind. These will actually taste of crab. Garnish with some chopped Green Onion.

Very delicate and SOOOOO YUMMMMY!

We had a Dona Paula Chardonnay with Dinner.  Not oaky so it did not interfere with all the delicate flavours.

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