edible adventures from the centre of the universe

30 June 2006

Reports of my Demise, Et Cetera

I seemed to have disappeared for a while there, didn't I? What happened? Well, it turns out that the Stanley Cup Finals are hella distracting when your favourite team is playing, and following said Finals with a move into a new place leaves no time for blogging. Now that we're all settled into our condo, regularly scheduled programming will recommence. Probably.

As anyone who has ever moved knows, it's not so fun. Especially when you're going such a short distance that hiring a moving company is hard to justify. In our case, this short distace was "across the street" and we recruited a group of our wonderful friends in place of movers. While the actual move went surprisingly quickly thanks to everyone's help, the daunting tasks of unpacking and building IKEA furniture took a full five days. I can't imagine how long it would have taken if I did not take the week off of work.

Once everything was finally put away, I decided to break in my beautiful new kitchen with a relatively time- and labour-intensive dish: risotto. Risotto is amazing comfort food: creamy, starchy, cheesy, delicious. It was the perfect choice after several days of heavy lifting, bruises, and extremely sore feet.

For years, I had been meaning to make a summery risotto recipe from my copy of Joy of Cooking: All About Vegetarian. The ingredients: fresh corn, ripe tomatoes, basil, and tart lime juice sounded like they would combine beautifully. However, this recipe requires that a lot of dishes be used, and without a dishwasher I never felt up to the task. Now that we have a dishwasher, I thought that this would be a great recipe to try out the new kitchen with.

Risotto requires a lot of attention - it needs to be stirred almost constantly, as you add a little liquid at a time until you have the perfect consistency: creamy and tender, with each grain of rice still having a slight "bite." The care that goes into risotto makes it hugely rewarding to eat - there's a satisfaction in the fact that this is not a dish that can be "thrown together" Sandra Lee style. This is real hands-on cooking, and it tastes fantastic.

Fresh Corn Risotto with Basil, Tomato, and Lime

1 cup diced seeded peeled ripe tomatoes
2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
1/4 tsp salt, or to taste
5 cups vegetable stock
2 cups corn kernels (use fresh corn if possible)
2 tbps butter
1/2 cup chopped green onions (white part only)
1 and 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
salt & pepper to taste
fresh grated parmesan cheese (use parmigiano reggiano if possible)

1. Combine tomatoes, basil, lime juice, and 1/4 tsp salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
2. Puree 1 cup of the corn kernels in a food processor. Set aside.
3. Bring stock to a simmer in a small pot. Keep this pot of stock simmering for the remainder of the recipe (warm stock needs to be added to the rice as it cooks).
4. Melt butter in a separate large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat until foamy. Add green onions and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes.
5. Add rice to the large pot and stir to coat the grains in butter. Add the wine to the rice and stir until absorbed. Add 1 cup of the warm stock, and cook, stirring over medium-low heat until the stock is absorbed. Add the remaining stock, 1/2 cup at a time, cooking and stirring until the liquid is almost completely absorbed before adding more, about 15 minutes in all.
6. Stir the pureed corn and 1/2 cup stock into the rice. Continue to cook, stirring and adding stock as needed until the rice is tender but with a slight firmness to the centre of the grain, 5 to 10 minutes more.
7. Stir the corn kernels and tomato mixture into the rice. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
8. Spoon the risotto into bowls and top with a generous amount of grated parmesan. Dig in.

Serves 4 to 6.

Recipe from Joy of Cooking: All About Vegetarian, by IS Rombauer, M Rombauer Becker,and E Becker