Sunday, January 1, 2012

may your days be merry and bright

Okay, so clearly (in Philadelphia, at least) we did not have a White Christmas.  No, definitely not - it was gorgeous, though - around 50 degrees and sunny!  Nevetheless, I felt like the title displayed a nice blessing to begin a new year.  One which, according to some conspiracy theorists/history-ignorant human beings will be our very last one.

I say "Live it up!" then.  What better way to do so than another thrilling and incidental collaboration between my mother and husband?  I continue to be astonished by my new saute pan and am counting the days until I can comfortably add another piece of this addicting cookware to my small-but-adequate urban kitchen.

I'm fairly well convinced that food even looks more attractive in this pan.  I mean, a load of sliced red peppers sauteing with garlic, olive oil, basil, and two big bay leaves is always a beautiful sight, but I believe the reflective nature of my new pan illuminates the beauty, enhancing it even further (I know, it's difficult, but try it!)  To say I'm in love is putting it lightly.

The scent of my red peppers softening and getting all sweet and garlicky was enough to get Angst into the kitchen to be the live studio audience for The Cooking Show with Mommy...

Though I failed to be exciting enough to keep him awake.  I appreciated his support and company, though.  He appreciates warm, squishy things upon which to sleep.  Tonight's dinner was a Red Pepper Risotto, taken from the book Mister gave me for Christmas.  I'd tell you which book, but it's pretty non-descript: the title is Vegetarian and it's a compilation of recipes, so there is no author.  If it's really, really important to anyone still reading after my excessive absence, I will post the editor's name so you can try to dig it up, but it's an older book (I love how Mister knows his way around thrift stores and the store we traded a bunch of books to, for credit toward more books, when we moved last February).

This picture shows again how fortunate I am to have my new, beautiful, easy to cook with, easy to clean All-Clad saute pan.  Although I cooked the rice separately (more on why in a minute) and then added it to the pan, there is NO WAY I would have pulled that off with my 3-qt saute pan.  I would have had to cut the recipe in half to make it fit, especially since I cooked 2 cups of rice to add to that.  Rice tends to triple in volume when cooked, so that's about 6 cups of rice mixed into 3 red peppers and a 28-oz can of diced tomatoes.

By the time everything was cooked and combined, even Angst had grown more interested in dinner.  Saint that he is, Mister scooped up the sleepy kitty to show him what was on the stove.  Angst hates the stove and he hates hot food - it bites him.  That picture was snapped right before he struggled free of the Evil Man carrying him.

Anyway, as you can see, this doesn't look much like a "traditional" risotto, and if you know anything about risotto, you know I committed a cardinal culinary sin by cooking the rice by itself and just adding it to the cooked peppers and tomatoes at the last minute.  Let me explain.

Last night as we were finishing our very tasty dinner, long somen noodles sauteed with tofu, carrots, and asparagus with a homemade teriyaki sauce that didn't suck (following a New Years tradition of our Asian neighbors), Mister and I got into a discussion about his food preferences.  We were discussing the innovative but limiting fixed menu being offered by Vedge for the holiday.  I nearly choked on my noodles when Mister said, "there aren't a lot of foods I don't like, but the ones I don't like I really hate."

So I said:

  • mushrooms
  • squash
  • eggplant
  • whole wheat pasta
  • tempeh
  • quinoa
  • "squishy wheat"
  • prunes
  • raisins
  • pretty much any dried fruit, actually
  • gnocchi
  • ricotta
  • sweet potatoes
I could go on.  For heaven's sake, I even have a label on the blog for "Things Mister Hates."

So, there were two reasons I cooked the rice separately.  First, risotto takes a very long time and my hands have typing to do, so I didn't feel like wearing them out by continuously stirring rice for about an hour.  Second, and more important, another Thing Mister Hates is Risotto, so I wanted to make this as un-risotto-like as possible and it seems to have worked since he had two bowls. 

I have to admit, my favorite thing about him hating risotto is how he had forgotten and at what an inconvenient time he remembered.  Two years ago at Christmas, his father took us and his wife to Lacroix, a very fancy and very expensive French restaurant overlooking Rittenhouse Square.  For our side dishes, I selected sweet potatoes, since I never get to have them at home (see the list ^ ) and Mister chose Chestnut Risotto (to my great surprise, having avoided cooking risotto at home for this specific reason).  It came, it looked delicious, and after he picked at it for a few minutes I asked if I could try a bite.  He pretty much told me I could have it all if I wanted, revealing that he had forgotten what risotto was until it arrived.  Ahh.... adventures in fine dining.

So, anyway, Happy New year to any faithful friend who is still reading after my nearly month-long absence.  I haven't resolved to write more frequently, but I do anticipate having more to say going forward, so thank you for your patience - I hope to reward it richly this new year.  Even if it all ends on the Winter Solstice like the Mayans said it would.

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