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February 26, 2007

Blogging Chef

Some pictures from the upcoming episode of Blogging Chef, for which I was a sous blogger. I can't possibly explain the absurdity of this event to you, at least not until the video is posted so you don't think I'm making this up. Suffice to say that Spackerman whipped up the finest risotto I've ever had, Jane Galt made the spiciest macaroni and cheese I've ever tasted, and Will Wilkinson and I got into a long argument about corporate social responsibility. Pictures here. I'll explain everything later.

February 26, 2007 | Permalink

Comments

All the mentions of Spencer I've seen from the social side talk about his (now famous) risotto. Is he a one-trick dog?

My how tame that group looks in still pics. No food fight or sloppy drunks.

Looks fun however, but hope you share the details on how this event was different than having folks over for dinner.

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | Feb 26, 2007 7:16:11 PM

Good to see the farmer and the cowman can be friends.

Posted by: Sanpete | Feb 26, 2007 7:16:17 PM

Umm, where are the photos of the food?

JimPortlandOR: Risotto is endlessely adaptable. Anyone who can cook it consistently has much more than a pony, s/he has a stable!

Seriously Ezra. You gotta show the food.

Posted by: Klio | Feb 26, 2007 8:11:37 PM

Risotto is a beautiful thing, and if you get good risotto rice, not that hard. A good pan helps -- something with rounded sides (like a chef's pan, shaped like this), which lets you stir effectively without missing some of the rice. Other than that, though, risotto's just about stirring.

Posted by: nolo | Feb 26, 2007 8:40:20 PM

nolo -- to be sure, short grain starchy rice is essential for risotto. If you don't know that much, it's better to wait a while before cooking up a pot.

And I agree that a good saucier, with the rounded sides, can help in achieving that final creamy steaming slightly firm hearty yet light ethereal goodness.

But I'm sorry to disagree. Stirring alone will not a good risotto make. I can make a very credible risotto in a pressure cooker, for instance. I can also make it in stages, ready in only a few minutes, instead of 40. [Hah, like I'm gonna tell you the secret!] I can make it with cheese, mushrooms, asparagus, STRAWBERRIES.

Never scorn the risotto making skills. Simplicity is always harder than it seems. N.B. I'm in no way related to this Ackerman person.

Posted by: Klio | Feb 26, 2007 10:49:07 PM

Klio, what would you advise someone who doesn't have a pressure cooker to do in order to make a decent risotto *besides* stir? (other than avoid canned broth, but I assume you know that).

Inquiring minds want to know.

Posted by: nolo | Feb 26, 2007 10:58:12 PM

nolo, canned broth is acceptable. Indeed, if you get the right broth almost preferable because the rice grains needs seasoning as they go. I am a very big fan of Swansons Organic line of broths -- low enough in sodium that I don't feel I'm taking risks with my health, very fresh tasting and altogether worth the small extra expense. Available in chicken, beef [no one's beef broth is any good, this is the best], vegetable and I think fish, but maybe not. I have to go check my pantry. Okay, I checked. No seafood broth from Swansons. The others are extremely good and much better than Muir Glen. Maybe Trader Joe's has some tasty ones, I live in Oklahoma so I wouldn't know. Yes, I'm bitter about that.

Next, you need some good fats -- fats conduct flavor and rich mouth feel. Butter and olive oil work very well here; the butter is yummy, the oil keeps it from burning. Sweat your aromatics in this. Onions of course, and later a little garlic. You might add some herbs depending on the final produce -- thyme is always nice.

DO NOT ever rinse your rice -- you do not want light and fluffy here. Arborio, carnaroli &c. are the way to go as you've pointed out. I've never tried it with valenciano rice, but if all you have nearby is the hispanic aisle of your local supermarket, I say why not?

Next, deglaze with an alcohol. White wine is the traditional way to release the alcohol soluble flavors, but red wine is also okay and beer might be good, I think. You try it and let me know. Vermouth will certainly do in a pinch. Under no circumstances ever use the thing called cooking wine. It's salted and nasty. Never cook with something you wouldn't drink.

Your liquid must be boiling hot. Get it to a rolling boil, keep it at a simmer. I usually add a ladleful at a time but I just saw a cooks illustrated tv show where Julia added half the liquid at once and it seemed to have worked for her. Whichever method you adopt, let the liquid nearly disappear before you add more. Your ratios will depend, but think about 1 part rice to 2-3 parts total liquid.

I stir in a desultory fashion. But stir you must (unless you have a pressure cooker :-) Don't forget to add a delicious grated cheese at the end. But you can also add some nice frozen peas, thawed if you think of it. If you're feeling wealthy, a small amount of saffron added at the beginning makes a nice touch. If you want color only, go for turmeric. No one will no the difference. Mushroom risotto is too complex to explain now and anyway it's springtime. Go for strawberry -- so unexpected and gloriously hued -- just mash a few pints of hulled berries and add them halfway through. A smidge of sugar wouldn't hurt.

Bon appetit. And I'm sorry for the threadjacking. But there was no one here tonight anyway. Why is that?

Posted by: Klio | Feb 26, 2007 11:43:23 PM

I've never rinsed rice for a Western dish ever, though I'm getting the idea it may be necessary in order to get certain Japanese dishes down pat. And I'm curious about using wines as a start to risotto -- I haven't done it before. I'm a Marcella Hazan purist and love a simple rice and parmesan risotto (did one Saturday, in fact). I'll try wine, but in return you have to promise me you'll think about making your own stock. It's easy and cheap and once you've done it, you'll never go back, not even to Swanson or Muir Glen.

To make your own chicken stock, you'll need a big enough pot (I spent the money for a 12 quart steel pot a few years ago, and I will never regret it), then a pound of cheap chicken for each quart of liquid. Add water to the chicken in that ratio (I usually do 6 lbs/6 qts), and bring it to a simmer (do not boil-- you don't want roiling bubbles) and skim off the foam and scum. Then add a stalk of celery, an onion, a carrot, a sprig of parsley and a bay leaf and some peppercorns, and let it simmer at a low temp for at least three hours. (if you want to style on it, add a quarter-size slice of ginger and some cloves, but they're not necessary). When it's over, strain out the meat and vegetables (if you used a whole chicken, set it aside to make chicken salad) and put the stock in freezer containers. Some people freeze stock in ice trays, but I freeze it in 2 cup containers -- it's much more useful that way.

I swear to god, if you do this, you will never use store-bought stock again. You sure won't miss the flavor of stock from a can (I swear I can taste a can from a mile away), and with a homemade stock I promise you won't need the seasoning you think you're getting from the commercial products.

Posted by: nolo | Feb 27, 2007 12:12:40 AM

ps-- making your own beef stock is no more complicated. Same thing, just soupbones.

Posted by: nolo | Feb 27, 2007 12:17:34 AM

klio

from shimmering oil
and wisps of rising smoke...
to strawberries...
so unexpected and gloriously hued.
once again...
your culinary writings
are pure poetry!!!!!!

Posted by: jacqueline | Feb 27, 2007 12:38:25 AM

Get the Impeach W postage stamp at http://cat.dmocrats.org

a widdle cat will lead them. just take a black ink pen and black out the letters you don't want to see on the stamp :)

Posted by: www.dmocrats.org | Feb 27, 2007 8:37:28 AM

Impeach Logan!

Posted by: Adrock | Feb 27, 2007 9:33:08 AM

jaqueline, thank you. I had so more to add, but couldn't. Ezra's software is calling my comments spam.

Posted by: Klio | Feb 27, 2007 10:35:15 AM

You rinse rice for Persian dishes.

Posted by: Jackmormon | Feb 27, 2007 11:39:12 AM

klio...

very disappointing that you werent able to have more posted. your culinary writings are marred by the thought of "spam"...
....i hope one winter's night, we all get to hear about the lyrically detailed preparations for mushroom risotto....and imagine a lovely plate of it.
...klio's mushroom risotta for a snowy evening!

Posted by: jacqueline | Feb 27, 2007 5:23:19 PM

OK, since this is a food thread, I want to put in a plug for the inimitable Michael Ruhlman's food blog: htp://blog.ruhlman.com.

Tony Bourdain has been known to guest-blog there on occasion. fun fun.

Posted by: fiat lux | Feb 27, 2007 8:00:21 PM

klio...
noting the slide in the stock market today...
maybe waxing lyrical on spam
would be helpful
to preserve what is left of our stock portfolios!!

Posted by: jacqueline | Feb 27, 2007 8:28:03 PM

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Posted by: judy | Sep 26, 2007 11:36:53 AM

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