Thursday, September 29, 2005

The way to a man's heart is through his stomach...

Vanessa here...

Make that Chef Virtue!

So, last night, after three glasses of pity party wine (a fine Cab by Cypress Hill), William told me that the only true way to a man's heart is through his stomach. (And he should know.) He decided it was time to teach me how to really cook. Not just making grilled cheese and flipping burgers on the George Foreman, but really following a recipe and making it work.

And could he start me with something simple? Hell to the no. He started me out with Asparagus Risotto. I mean, I watched Hell's Kitchen and heard how Chef Gordon Ramsey ripped new assholes to his chefs when their risotto sucked dirt. Who am I to think I can make it? But I read the recipe, followed the directions and voila...a gourmet dinny.

Oh! And I'm total geek and took pictures. I'm like one of those food blogs that make you think everything is so simple to do. Well, hell, when you follow the instructions, it is. Who'd a thunk it? (Okay...three glasses of red wine in my system didn't hurt.)

First we got everything read. William said it's called the mise en place which is the French term for getting everything ready ahead of time so you just have to dump it in. Here's what that looked like (see left.) Shittakes, rice, parmesan cheese, thyme, asparagus, garlic, onions and a pad of unsalted butter.

Actually, here's the recipe:

About 4 cups chicken stock or canned low-salt chicken broth
1 large bunch asparagus, about 1 pound
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cups sliced shiitake mushrooms (1/4 inch thick)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 cup Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine (optional)
1-1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1-1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (optional)


Pour the stock into a saucepan, place over high heat, and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, snap off the ends from the asparagus and peel any tough skin from the stalks. Add the asparagus pieces to the stock, reduce the heat to low, and simmer gently until the stems are tender, about 7 minutes. Remove and set asparagus aside.

Heat the olive oil in a heavy medium saucepan over medium-high heat until hot. Scatter in the mushrooms and do not move them until they begin to brown, about 1 minute. Then season with salt and pepper, and sauti until brown, about 5 minutes. Remove to a plate.

Lower the heat to medium, add the onion, season lightly with salt, and cook until soft but not brown, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook briefly. Add the rice and stir until the grains look pearly white, about 2 minutes.

Add the wine, if using, and cook until the pan is nearly dry. Adjust the heat so the rice cooks at a slow simmer. Add 1/2 cup of the stock, stir, and cook until the pan is nearly dry again. Season lightly with salt and pepper now so the flavor permeates the rice. Add another 1/2 cup of the stock and continue to stir and cook, adding stock as necessary, until the rice is three-fourths cooked, about 15 minutes. Stir in the thyme, mushrooms, and sliced asparagus tips. Continue to cook until the rice is al dente and the asparagus is bright green and just tender, about 4 minutes longer.

Remove from the heat and stir in the butter, Parmesan cheese, the parsley, if using. Taste for seasoning. Dust with Parmesan before serving. Pass more cheese at the table.

And here's how it looked when the mushrooms and asparagus were added in. William said it was one of the best things he'd ever eaten and I admit, it rocked the house. Now, all I want to do is research recipes and make them. Maybe I'll meet a nice guy one day who I can cook for. Maybe I'll have a dinner party. Like that one on Sex and the City where friend brought guys they didn't want anymore. I'll fill them with my yummy risotto. Course, their pee will stink. Not that I'll be smelling their pee, but it's just a weird thing to think about. Shut up, Vanessa.

So, whattaya think of my culinary talents? Think you'll try this?

What are your favorite recipes? Please share!

Hang loose,
Double Vee


Anonymous pam said...

Am drooling. This looks delish! Will have to try it out soon.

:) Pam

7:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ohmigod. That looks so good. And you've got all these great kitchen tools. Where did you get them all?

9:05 PM  
Blogger Vanessa Virtue said...

Thanks Pam! Definitely try it. You'll like it.

Thanks Anon. William is a shopping whore of Check it out!


9:06 PM  
Anonymous j said...

will u come cook for me, vv?

7:36 AM  
Anonymous emily said...

I'm definitely trying that!! But I can't see your second pic.. :(

7:55 AM  

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