Sunday, November 18, 2012

Winter Pimm's

As the days move closer to Thanksgiving and Christmas time I am starting to want tastes that remind me of these times, pumpkin pie, turkey, corn bread stuffing, mulled wine, etc.  Lucky for me that I heard of this spirit at work and went straight out to the store to purchase some for my household and to bring to my family in America for Thanksgiving.  I made this drink as I was boiling my halloween pumpkin in order to make pumpkin pie later.  It was the perfect partner, and rather relaxed me.  Winter Pimm's is similar to the normal version where you mix it with a juice (in this case with apple juice,) with the exception you drink it warmed.  You can add bits of orange, apple, cinnamon stick and cloves, really whatever suits your taste.

A snapshot of my Winter Pimm's warming on the stove.
There is quite a bit of information regarding the history of Pimm's on the web, I rather enjoyed this blog's information: Recreating the long lost Pimm's cup

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Risotto Romance

Making risotto is really something you do for someone you love or people you care about.  I say this because although the dish seems quite simple, it requires constant attention...meaning you basically have to stand in front of the stove the entire time it cooks.  Thus the title of this post, "Risotto Romance."  I returned home from work and had time before my husband got home to make a nice dinner, so because I wanted to make him feel special, I made this risotto.  My first post about risotto you can find here: Risotto 101 .  This is a basic recipe that you can alter according to your tastes.  (For example I used vegetable stock, but you could use chicken stock and add pieces of shrimp or another meat or vegetable, or use a champagne or prosecco instead of wine...I could go on.)  This post shows an alteration of the same recipe for risotto, but it shows one how to add additional flavor with a puree. 

Here in England they call these "banana shallots," I find these quicker to cut up then others.
I am making an asparagus risotto, so I set them to boil as I prepare the risotto
Here the shallots are cooking down, (I used two.)
I want to point out a few ingredients here, I am using carnaroli instead of arborio.  The main difference between the two types of rice is that carnaroli remains "harder" at the heart of the grain, thus making a more consistently "al dente" risotto.  (Also carnaroli is a bit more expensive then arborio.)  Also I am using to make my broth a vegetable powder as opposed to a cube, I find using the powder it is easier to control my flavoring to my taste, rather then the cube that is always either too salty or not enough.  (Sometimes I use the powder in combination with one cube to add a bit more taste.)
Add the rice to cook with the shallots until you see a "white dot" appear in the middle of the grains.
When the asparagus is finished cooking, cut it up saving the tips for adding into the risotto later, using the rest to make a puree 
Here I have started to add my vegetable broth to the rice and shallots
Halfway through the cooking of the rice (normally 20 minutes)  I add the asparagus puree
Towards the end of cooking stir in the asparagus tips
Of course at the very end add a pat of butter to "tighten" the dish
The final touch is freshly grated parmigiano