Sunday, June 28, 2009
Poor "F"...this forlorn letter gets a bad rap in our culture. All I have to do is mention the "F" word and many of you can taste soap. It is certainly not the desired letter of any student.
But when it comes to parties, there are a trio of "F" words essential to a good time. Friends. Food. Fun. I'd like to propose a fourth...Farm.
Okay, I know for lots of us urban types the idea of a farm party conjures up images of hoedowns, square dancing, twangy music, and Pabst Blue Ribbon. Not exactly on the coolometer and sure to ruin your Manolo's (or maybe not since this is more of the Keens/Birkenstock region of the country).
Ever since our first glimpse of "Farm to Table" on PBS, my husband and I have been dying to try the just-picked, chef-prepared, out-in-the-orchard meal. You know, strawberries picked off the plant right over there and sliced into your salad. Or roasted chicken that was scratching around in that pen just this morning.
Northwesterners are really lucky to have so many options for locally grown food. And so my husband decided to do a little research because my 30th birthday was fast approaching and he loves to spoil me with great parties and gifts (yes, I have a great man).
And this is where Google came in handy. He quickly came across Dog Mountain Farm, located in Carnation, WA just 30 minutes from Kirkland. The owners David and Cindy Krepky have teamed up with local chefs to present Farm Dinners to the public. Eight years ago they bought this land and have spent their time transforming this wooded hilltop into a beautiful food-producing bit of acreage. Farm Dinners are their way of sharing the place they love with others and garnering interest in local, sustainable crops and animals.
This seemed the perfect way to usher in my thirties. Fortunately, FoodBuzz agreed, helping sponsor a really great evening by featuring my party in their 24, 24, 24 for June.
Chef Eric Wright (the W Hotel, Sorrento Hotel Hunt Club, former executive chef of Cactus restaurants) prepared the evening's meal and also educated us on the Slow Food Movement. He is the founding member of the Slow Food Snoqualmie Valley Convivium, part of the greater movement. Slow Food started in Rome as a protest against fast food, namely a McDonald's opening up across from Rome's iconic Spanish Steps. It's goals are quite simple...slow down, cook fresh food, enjoy your meals.
All week I kept checking the weather forecast, scared to death that it would be cold and rainy. It was needless worrying, or as my mom would say "borrowing trouble." I couldn't have asked for a nicer day. Clear, sunny, and very warm (a little hot, in fact, as my pink shoulders can attest).
Upon arrival we were greeted with a Spanish sparkling wine (Cava) and a Spanish tortilla with farm-fresh eggs, roasted asparagus and pepper, topped with goat cheese and begonia petals. Come to find out, Spanish tortillas don't actually contain what we think of as a "tortilla". It is more of a frittata type of idea.
Then came the farm tour, which had me thankful I'd bought the flats instead of those racy heels (although I should have gone with the 8 1/2 like my sister warned...and ended up with some blistered feet). Owner Cindy was our guide.
We met the draft horses, beautiful dapple grays who craved each other's company, performing every head turn in tandem. Cindy said, "Life is short. I want my horses," purchasing them from an Amish farmer in Pennsylvania.
The orchard is full of fruit trees. Cider apples, all manner of pears, quince trees, cherry trees. Honey bee hives help everything pollinate. They lost a few apricot trees to the very cold weather this past winter.
Their standard is no spraying with anything. So, if a plant variety has insect problems, they yank it and plant something else.
The vegetable garden teemed with greens, peas, and weeds. Lots of weeds. In fact, she doesn't pull most weeds which totally surprised me. But she's the certified Master Gardener, so maybe I'll defer to her knowledge and stop pulling mine!
We peeked at all of the chickens and ducks, some kept for their eggs and some for their meat. Her French breed chickens are showcased in some local restaurants including Boat Street Cafe. Due to her recent layoff from her corporate job (a blessing, she assured me) more birds are in the meat category now. It pays the bills better than eggs.
The most amazing plants, though, were the hothouse tomatoes. Who knew that tomato vines could reach 35 feet in length? They are grown two roots to a bag of sawdust. No soil! They get all their nutrients from the "vitamin" water which is dispersed to the plants via a solar panel system. Therefore, when the weather is sunny and warm, the plants are fed quite often, growing rapidly. During cold, dark times, the plants "sleep".
After that education, we were all ready for dinner. Three long rows of tables sitting about 48 people (it was full!) perched beautifully in the orchard with a view of the Cascades.
First served was Green Soup featuring white beans, kale from the garden, grilled spring onions, fresh new lettuce, and herb pistou (Chef Eric explained "pistou" as pesto without the cheese). It was fabulous and brilliantly paired with Red Sky's 2007 Semillon, a crisp herbal white wine.
We had ample time between courses to enjoy the company of friends and family. With me and my husband were my parents, my sister, my best girlfriend, and our favorite friends from Portland.
Next out came the salad course. Grilled apriums (an apricot-plum mix strongly favoring the apricot), pimenton (smoked paprika) with charred Italian chicory, blue cheese, toasted almonds, and a Crianza wine vinaigrette. The dressing was amazing and quite creamy in texture. Our friends from Red Sky treated us to their 2008 Merlot Rose, in their words, "not your grandmother's rose." Bone dry and lusciously cherry in color, it was probably the favorite of most in my dinner party.
For the main course, we had grilled wild sockeye salmon (Chef Eric prefers their flavor to the King Salmon) with grilled corn cakes, herb salad (parsley and basil), cucumber-citrus-jicama salsa, and both red and green chili sauces. Red Sky's 2005 Syrah rounded out the flavors. The salmon was moist (thank goodness, nothing is worse than dry salmon!), the salsa was juicy and bright, the chili sauces had nice heat. The corn cake could have used the love of some hot oil in a frying pan, but sadly that was not a possibility in the farm kitchen setup.
And finally, Chef Eric pulled on his extensive Mexican food repertoire producing an amazing dessert. Vanilla flan with caramel sauce, garnished with cherry compote. The cherries had been cooked in Jonesy Tawney Port (Australia) which was also served in a small glass with dessert. Three cheers for this dessert!!
While the party ended shortly thereafter for most of my guests (and everyone else), there was more to come for us and our Portland friends. We opted to spend the night. They pitched their tent in the field and we slept in the newly installed yurt tent, complete with a beautiful bed, plush rugs, and a little breakfast table.
The boys dragged out a great fire pit to roast marshmallows and we relaxed the evening away watching the sun set on the Cascade mountains. Before retiring for the evening, we star-gazed at the vast Milky Way clearly visible in the dark countryside.
After a breakfast of blueberry coffee cake, fresh strawberries, melon and cherries, thick salty bacon, and two superbly cooked duck eggs we left Dog Mountain Farm, site of an amazing 30th birthday party.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
When it comes to trying new recipes, I sort of hunker down in a cookbook and stay awhile. My menu cycle is two weeks long and so this time around I seem to be hanging out with Jamie Oliver. We had the roast beef for Father's Day with those tasty little Yorkies. And today I gave in to a longtime request of my husband's...Fish Pie.
Yeah, I don't know what it is about Brits and their meat pies...but they are into them! I've done Shepherd's Pie, Chicken & Leek Pie, and now (the least appetizing sounding) Fish Pie.
This recipe resembled the Shepherd's Pie in that it is topped with mashed potatoes and lacks a pastry crust. It was simple to prepare and turned out full of flavor and tender texture. These all-in-one dinners are starting to grow on me! But it's no midwest casserole (meaning the proverbial can of Cream of Mushroom Soup). It is surprisingly fresh for, you know, something full of cream and potatoes!
But that's not all that is in the dish. There is a good lot of spinach, flat-leaf parsley, onions, and carrots (rainbow carrots are fun) which I picked up at the beautiful Wednesday Farmer's Market in Kirkland today. Kudos to the city of Kirkland for moving the market to Marina Park! It's probably the most beautiful setting for a farmer's market in the area.
Preheat the oven to 450. Boil a big pot of salted water and add:
5 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1 inch pieces
Boil 2 minutes, then add:
2 large eggs (carefully)
Boil all this another 7 minutes, then in a steamer tray atop the pot (good luck with this step...tongs were required to keep the steamer from falling in):
1 large bunch of spinach, washed and chopped roughly
Steam one minute or so. Squeeze out the spinach, remove the eggs to some cold water and drain the potatoes in a colander.
In a skillet, saute:
1 large carrot, finely diced (I used 3 small rainbow carrots)
1 large onion, finely diced
Saute for 5 minutes, then add:
1 1/3 c heavy cream
Bring just to a boil, then remove from the heat and add:
1 large handful of finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
juice from 1 lemon
2 big handfuls of Parmesan cheese
1 tsp English mustard (I forgot this ingredient...let me know if it takes this dish over the top!)
In a large earthenware dish place:
1 lb fish (tilapia, cod, haddock) deboned, and cut into strips
the hard-boiled eggs, peeled and quartered
the steamed spinach
Pour the creamy sauce over the top.
Mash the potatoes with some butter, cream, salt and pepper. Spread them over the top of the fish mixture. If you're fancy, you can pipe them on. I sprinkled the top with some more Parmesan cheese. Bake for 25-30 minutes.
Serve with a crusty loaf of bread and a Newcastle.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
If you didn't already know, today was Father's Day. But you probably did know because, likely, your Facebook homepage was flooded with generic "Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there" status updates just like mine.
Our Father's Day actually started yesterday. Saturday morning was the morning we did the Daddy's breakfast choice meal. Actually, he didn't choose anything because I was sneaky and bought him something he's been begging for off and on for quite awhile now. Any guesses?
Well, SPAM of course. SPAM and eggs with rice, to be exact. It's a Filipino thing...along with the Hawaiians. They just love their salty nitrated meatish products. It was my first time. That's right. Until yesterday I was a virgin SPAMmer. But no more my dears. I've now experienced that famous WW2 gelatinous pink slice. Not too bad in crispy fried form. The lesser browned pieces were a bit too smooth, though.
The reason we had to have Saturday morning Father's Day breakfast is because my newly mohawked husband had to help rock the flock this morning at Lighthouse. This responsibility required him to get up very early...much too early for a special breakfast!
But we made up for it tonight with a true Daddy's Choice dinner. Of all the options, he was most excited about a Roast Beef complete with potatoes, wine gravy, and Yorkshire pudding (a first for me).
I've been making this Roast Beef recipe for quite a few years. I originally got it out of a Jamie Oliver cookbook...he has some pretty good protein (meat, fish, poultry) ideas. Anyways, this one (modified as always) goes as follows:
Roast Beef with Potatoes
Season with salt and pepper:
One 5 lb sirloin beef roast
(his has bones and all...but I've done many versions...tonight's was boneless and only 2 lbs)
Preheat the oven to 450. Using a casserole dish that can go on the stove top, heat a couple of teaspoons of olive oil over moderate heat. Add the roast and brown on all sides. It only takes a couple of minutes per side but it adds great flavor and sears in the juices. Remove the roast and add to the pan:
1 or 2 red onions, quartered or chopped into large chunks
Season the onions with a pinch of salt and some pepper, then add the roast back on top. Place the roast dish in the preheated oven for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat up a pot of salted water. Bring to a boil and add:
about 5 potatoes, peeled and chunked
Boil for 10 minutes until partially cooked through. Drain in a metal colander, shaking to "chuff" them up. The uneven parts get nice and crispy in the oven later.
Remove the roast pan from the oven. Add in the potatoes and rub the roast with:
4 cloves garlic, squeezed through a press
2-3 thumb sized pieces of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
Replace the pan in the oven and roast about another hour.
***NOTE: depending on the size of roast, cooking times vary significantly! Jamie suggests 12-15 minutes per pound, plus another 20 minutes at the end no matter the size. So, for my 2 pound roast...24 minutes plus the extra 20...about 45 minutes. We like it fairly rare!
While it is roasting, prepare your Yorkie batter.
1 scant c flour
a good pinch of salt
1 1/4 c milk
Mix together in a bowl.
When your roast reaches your desired temperature (rare is about 140), remove the pan from the oven. Set the roast on a board to rest, covering it lightly with foil. Remove the potatoes to a bowl. Set the roasting pan with the onions and drippings aside to make gravy later.
In a "popover" pan (I used a regular muffin tin), add about 1/4 inch of oil (plus a little butter if desired) in each cup. Set the muffin tin in the oven (still at 450) for about 10 minutes to preheat the oil. Then divide the Yorkie batter between the cups (I filled about 11 of the 12). Place the muffin pan in the oven and DO NOT OPEN THE DOOR AGAIN until the batter is baked.
Watch with amazement as the batter rises like a souffle! Jamie says to bake them 30 minutes, but mine seemed done way before that. It only took about 15 minutes.
While they bake, make your gravy. Take the onions in the roasting pan and add about 2 tsp of flour, mixing it in. Heat the pan over moderate heat, then add a cup or two of a big:
Red wine (plus beef broth if desired)
Bring to a simmer, cooking 10 minutes or so. Pour the gravy through a sieve, discarding the onions and other bits. Serve in a gravy jug.
Remove the Yorkies from the muffin pan with a fork (they come right out). Slice the meat and serve everything together. It's best with a mouthful of meat, potato, and Yorkie all covered in the gravy.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Oh, hey, I made another great discovery last night during International Food Night at my house. A long while back I'd posted a Mango Sticky Rice recipe, but I have an update.
Not only is my new recipe waaaay easier, it's actually quite a bit better, too. Many of you may be skeptical about the microwave used in preparation of this dish (I try to avoid microwaves if possible), but it really does a great job here.
Just a quick word on the rice used here....sticky rice, sweet rice, glutinous rice...these are all terms for essentially the same product. It is a short roundish grain. I bought mine at the Asian supermarket (Uwajimaya) in a one pound bag.
Mango Sticky Rice
2 1/2 c (one pound) Sticky Rice (Sweet, Glutinous, Etc.)
Put the rice in a large microwave-safe bowl and cover with water. Let it soak for an hour.
Meanwhile, in a saucepan over moderate heat, cook:
2 c unsweetened coconut milk
1 1/2 TB sugar
3/4 tsp salt
Bring to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes. This will be your sauce. Let it cool to room temperature for about an hour.
When your rice is done soaking, rinse it, return it to the dish and add:
2 1/4 c water
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap (yeah, this made me cringe a lot) and microwave it on high for 5 minutes. Remove the wrap and stir the rice. Replace the wrap again (you might need a new sheet of wrap) and microwave for another 5 minutes. Stir again, replace wrap and microwave for 3 additional minutes.
Remove the rice from the microwave and allow it to sit (covered) for about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat until hot:
1 c unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 c sugar
3/4 Kosher salt
Pour this hot mixture over the rice. You can let it sit for a while or serve it hot. Spoon it into bowls and top with:
2 mangoes, chopped
previously cooked and cooled sauce
I can't tell you how obsessed I am with this dessert. I love how it's not that sweet, but thick and chewy and quite a bit salty. Mangoes are soooo good, too. My husband informed me that he ate this type of dessert so much as a kid that he's a little burnt out on it still. But I've got a long way to go until burnout!
Oh, and yes, this is an old photograph from the first recipe. It was so great that I thought, "Why mess with a good thing?"
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
"Hey honey, what's for dinner tonight?" asked my husband.
"Salad!" I replied enthusiastically.
(Cue whiny voice) "Oh maaaan! Salad for dinner?" came his response.
"Yes," I chimed cheerfully. And then two words that changed the course of his evening, "Steak Salad."
There's a little restaurant down in Portland called Pok Pok that was featured this month in Food and Wine (June). This Thai restaurant is run by a decidedly pale white guy named Andy Ricker. He is passionate about authentic ingredients and will even forgo making a dish if he find something necessary to it.
What started out as a little BBQing out in his front yard, Pok Pok has added several more grilling apparatus' to the mix making it a full fledged eatery. When asked about his success he says, "Plenty of Thais could come to America and do a better job than me. My only advantage is my ability to present the food in a way Americans understand."
Enter Ricker's Thai Steak Salad Recipe (actually entitled "Warm Flank Steak Salad with Mint and Cilantro"). I've changed a couple of things which I'm sure would irritate Ricker's authenticitometer...but oh well. I don't have a restaurant reputation to protect.
In a large glass baking dish, mix:
1/4 soy sauce
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 TB minced fresh lemongrass (1 stalk)
One 2 lb flank steak
Coat the steak and let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Fire up the grill. Grill the steak for about 4 minutes on each side so that it is still pink in the middle. Let it rest for 5 minutes. Slice it in half lengthwise and then in 1/4 inch strips.
In a large wok or skillet heat together until hot:
3 TB fresh lime juice
2 TB Asian fish sauce
1 TB crushed red pepper (yes, it's a little on the spicy delicious side and might require a rinse for sensitive kiddies)
1/2 tsp sugar
2 TB freshly minced lemongrass (1 stalk)
Add in the steak, 1 TB of marinade and:
1 onion, thinly sliced (he calls for 2 shallots, but I never have those!)
1/2 c mint leaves
1/4 c cilantro leaves
(and 2 tsp roasted rice powder...I substituted ground sesame seeds, but you could skip this ingredient, I think)
Coat everything with the sauce, transfer to a platter and serve warm. Oh, and I threw in some Thai Basil mostly because it's growing in my back yard. I love fresh herbs! Food and Wine suggested a Shiraz, but I think a Singhai could do the trick, too.
Monday, June 15, 2009
I don't usually think of meat pies as my thing. I believe I mentioned my aversion in my Shepherd's Pie post. Just something about the words "meat" and "pie" together. But I am open to change, as some of you no doubt think impossible.
One little recipe that is changing my mind came from Food and Wine's April 2009 issue. Instead of the usual pie crust (one of the parts of "pot pie" that makes me grimace a little), there is no bottom crust and the top is a delicious sheet of puff pastry dough, baked golden and flaky. The filling is simply chicken, leeks, and onions in a creamy sauce flavored with tarragon.
The only downer to this recipe is the time it takes to prepare. First you:
Drizzle olive oil and season with salt and pepper:
3 whole chicken legs (thigh connected to the drumstick)
Place on a baking sheet and roast at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes. Allow to cool slightly, then shred the meat. Reserve any pan drippings.
Remove from the freezer and allow to thaw:
1 14 oz puff pastry sheet (all butter, but good luck finding that! the best I could do was no trans-fat dough)
In a large sauce pan (I used a cast iron skillet), melt:
2 TB of butter
1 onion chopped into 1/4 inch dice
1 large leek (white/light green parts only), halved and sliced into 1/2 pieces
Saute 5 minutes over medium heat. Then add:
1 TB grainy mustard
1/4 c flour
Stir it in and cook for about a minute. Then add:
1 c low-sodium chicken broth
3/4 c whole milk
1/4 heavy cream
reserved pan drippings
Cook over moderate heat, bring to a simmer, stirring frequently for about 5 minutes until sauce is thick. Stir in the shredded chicken and:
2 TB chopped tarragon
salt and pepper to taste
Allow to sit for 30 minutes. Preheat your oven to 375.
Spread the filling into a rectangular pan about 8 x 11 inches. Roll out pastry dough to about 9 x 13 inches. Carefully place over the pan of filling, tucking in the edges. Brush the top with:
1 TB milk
Then sprinkle with:
1 TB sesame seeds
With a sharp knife, cut three slits in the top of the crust. Place the pan on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for about an hour until the pastry is golden brown.
Remove from the oven and let it sit for another 30 minutes.
And then you get to eat it!
My oldest daughter LOVES this dish. She had three helpings...lucky for her she's got the metabolism of a hummingbird. Even the baby ate two moderately sized helpings. She was silent through the whole meal, meticulously finishing every bite.
Only the boy barely finished his first helping, but that's to be expected from him. At least he didn't complain.
All that work and there wasn't a bite left in the pan...well, unless you get the spatula out to scrape the bottom (but no one felt the need this time).
Monday, June 8, 2009
Nothing says love to my kids quite like homemade cookies. Particularly to the boy who seems to have inherited the "obsession" gene from his father when it comes to food. His soft spot (and I'm careful not to let it get to be too soft if you know what I mean) is for chocolate chips.
I grew up on the Nestle Toll House chocolate chip cookie recipe from the outside of that yellow bag. Many a happy afternoon was spent licking beaters (why didn't mom leave more dough on there??). Since then I've tried quite a few different recipes whose ingredients only varied slightly...one egg or two, milk or no milk, baking powder or just baking soda. Alton Brown has a few varieties including crunchy and chewy cookies, that I was sold on for a while.
But last year as I was visiting my sister, she made us the most delectable cookies ever. Maybe it was that she used these huge organic free-trade chocolate chips or maybe it was that we were both super pregnant, but that night while our kids pretended to be sleeping in the other room we made our way through quite a few of those cookies.
Her recipe is from the tried and true Betty Crocker Cookbook. It's the one I use most often now, although I usually only make half the recipe so there aren't too many laying around begging to attach themselves lumpily to my waist. The only tricky part of halving this recipe is that it only calls for one egg which means cracking the egg, beating it lightly, and then approximating what half an egg is before adding to the dough (usually a couple of TB is about half).
I was feeling adventurous this time, although I don't know where I got the confidence since my baking has been heavy on the failure side lately. Maybe the whole failure thing was the reason why I made the whole recipe this time. Less chance of screwing up the math. Don't you hate it when you're halving everything, but you forget on one ingredient like baking soda or something and dump it all in. Totally ruins the recipe!
I changed the recipe slightly, adding 1/4 of cocoa powder in for 1/4 of the flour. Mmmm...double chocolate chip cookies. I was short on the chocolate chips by about half, so I added in a cup of white chocolate chips. They look really nice in the dark brown cookies, adding a pop of contrast. As expected, they were wolfed down happily, dunked occasionally in cups of milk while watching a Sunday afternoon movie.
Betty Crocker's Chocolate Chip Cookies
(plus my double chocolate version)
1 c butter, softened (that's 2 sticks)
3/4 c brown sugar
3/4 c white sugar
Add in and beat until smooth:
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
In a separate bowl, combine:
2 1/4 c all-purpose flour (or 2 c flour plus 1/4 c cocoa powder)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
On low speed, slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture until well combined.
Add in and stir by hand:
2 c chocolate chips (or a combination...white chocolate, peanut butter, butterscotch chips)
Plop by the rounded spoonful onto a baking sheet (parchment paper makes for easy clean up). Bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes...my oven seems to need all ten minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool on the pan for a couple of minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool a bit more.
Pour yourself a mug of milk, dunk the cookie in, take a bite. Repeat the dunking and biting until it's all gone. Lick your fingers. And check your face in a mirror to make sure you don't have lines of chocolate anywhere!
A couple of weeks ago, my husband performed a sort of miracle that only husband's seem able to perform. It followed the usual guidelines for this type of miracle starting with a cook who was stumped on the night's menu, necessitating a craving in my husband when asked what he wanted for dinner. The craving blossomed until my husband decided to go shopping himself. That's when the miracle occurred. The grocery budget suddenly stretched to amazing depths allowing the purchase of two Dungeness crabs! On other occasions, the miracle has taken the form of various cuts of beef...a T-bone here, a rib eye there.
Not that the cook is complaining, though! She loves these special treats for which she can never find the money in her budget. Nothing quite says "I love you" like a big steak (seriously...no sarcasm here...my love languages are literally time alone and steak).
But back to the crab. A little trip to the Uwajimaya seafood counter and home comes my husband, crustaceans in hand. They squirmed around in the sink while the water was coming to a boil. I had to leave the kitchen for a couple of reasons. One, if someone else is cooking, it is just better that I leave so I don't make a nuisance of myself. And, two, I just hate watching creatures get boiled alive! Ugh...but they're tasty.
What a delicious treat for dinner. Sweet juicy crab meat is popular with everyone at Julie Jams' house. The only drawback is the labor intensive meat extraction for three hungry kids, not to mention snagging a bite here and there for ourselves. The baby went nuts on this meal, too!
After cleaning the grease and grime off our buttery fingers, my husband suggested boiling the crab shells and other crab, er, goodness in some water to make a crab stock. Okay...next morning, all the strained crab stock went into the freezer awaiting it's final purpose...
...which turned out to be last night's seafood risotto! Risotto is another meal that my husband cooks (geez, do I do anything around here anymore??). I did all the veggie prep just because I love using my sharp knife, taking more than a little pleasure in finely chopping the celery and garlic and leeks (in place of an onion this time).
The veggie combo (mire poix, soffritto, what have you) sauteed away in some olive oil, then the arborio rice went in. Slowly, the crab stock was incorporated along with the wine (usually a dry white, but since it was seafood we used a chardonnay), stirring, stirring until the rice was no longer crunchy, but still "to the tooth" chewy. Then the butter and the Parmesan cheese.
He sauteed a few shrimp to adorn the risotto. Some leftover grilled bread and a few slices of watermelon completed the meal. By the way, did your parents or grandparents salt their watermelon? This is a very distinct memory for me which I shared with my kids last night. We all tried it and liked it. The salt really enhances the taste. My husband's parents also salted their melons. Wow, we found more culinary common ground last night!
After the meal was over, my husband made another suggestion. Why not boil the shrimp shells to make more seafood stock? But, as I gazed over the gigantor pile of dishes, I decided we'd recycled one meal enough. The shrimp shells went into the compost pile as I filled up the sink with soapy water.