Sunday, July 29, 2007

hot fun in the city

I can't seem to lose this weekend! Everything is turning out so well!

My friend Christina threw a pool party today, and since we weren't planning on barbecuing, we were trying to figure out what kind of sides-y foods we could make that would be substantial enough to be lunch and dinner combined.

My contributions were Thomas Keller's Macaroni Gratin from The Paupered Chef and Cat in the Kitchen (via Yumsugar)-inspired Stuffed Baguettes.



Matty and I have a Christmas tradition of making macaroni and cheese when we're at his parents', so all year, I'm on the lookout for new mac recipes to try. This recipe had the two magic words ("Thomas Keller"), so I had to try it, and was glad to be able to have an occasion to have guinea pigs. It wasn't exactly what I was going for (I was thinking more casual comfort food). This tasted super fancy. Not that that's a bad thing, by any means! I think I was just expecting more sloppy, gooey mac, and this was a more refined saucy pasta. Again - not bad, but maybe a little too shi-shi for the day after Christmas.

I didn't have peppercorns or cloves, so I just threw the bay leaf in the sauce, and I only used mushrooms because we had a vegetarian in our midst. The cheese I used was sharp provolone, again because that's what I had on hand. (Maybe if I had used a cheddar or something, it would have gone more in the direction of the comfort mac I was thinking of).

In any case, everyone loved it. I loved it. It was very, very good. I've already packed myself a Tupperware full for lunch tomorrow (and threw in some uncooked spinach leaves which will cook when I nuke the whole bad boy).



And moving on to more food everyone loved - the stuffed baguettes. Let me tell you, these were a real bitch to stuff - I had these magnormous baguettes from Trader Joe's that I ended up splitting in half, and it was still impossible. The recipe says to leave one end of the baguette intact, but I'm sorry, that was simply not working. I have no idea how long kitchen tweezers are, but between my fingers and chopsticks, I had to go in from both ends of the baguette to hollow it out and stuff it. What ended up working the best was a teaspoon measuring spoon to stuff and pack down.

And the stuffing? 101 Cookbook's Egg Salad (best egg salad I've ever had - all this time I had been overcooking boiled eggs!) and a variation on The Paupered Chef's Cucumber Mint Tea Sandwiches (recipe doubled, using chives instead of mint, and dicing the cucumber to mix in with the cream cheese mixture). The egg salad and the doubled cucumber recipes each filled about two 10-inch lengths of baguette, making about 40 slices total.

All the compliments were totally worth all the work. They might even convince me to make them again even after my first baguette had me swearing that I never would. :P

Saturday, July 28, 2007

life should be that simple


I just made myself the most magnificent sandwich known to humans. Lucques' Grilled Cheese w/ Shallots.

Except I didn't have shallots so I caramelized/burned some onions; instead of country white bread, I used my Mozzarella Olive Bread (yes, I know I'm melting cheese on bread with cheese in it - that's just how I roll); and since Cantal cheese sounded expensive, I went with the sharp Provolone I had in the fridge.

So easy to make, and bonus - I got to use my cast-iron pan. I don't quite understand my love affair with that pan yet, but I'm not fighting it. The picture is open-faced only because it was a huge mess after I put it together and cut it in half.

Looks aside, the sandwich was so brilliant. It was the perfect blend of gooey cheese with crispy, buttery bread. I've never made grilled cheese in the oven before - I just usually attack some buttered bread with a spatula and non-stick skillet. Or used a George Foreman grill in true first-year-out-of-college-living-alone fashion. The oven is obviously The Way. I can't wait to spring this one on Matty one weekend he's home.

Friday, July 27, 2007

easy road


Finally settled from the wedding trip (beautiful, perfect, everything one could want for a wedding), and recovered from everything that went into the k.d. lang show at the Greek last night. Which means I finally got to cook for myself. And not call Brie and crackers dinner (not that there's anything wrong with that).

Brie still figured into the equation, but then again, if I had my way, Brie would figure into every equation. I believe my initial inspiration for this recipe came from somewhere on the BHG website, but I wanted to simplify and use up what I had in the fridge and not have to make a trip to the grocery store. I had read somewhere else that covering up a bowl of chopped tomatoes and cubed Brie would create a yummy sauce because the acidity of the tomatoes "melts" the Brie.

I think my hot kitchen also helped. But it doesn't matter how it happened because my knees nearly buckled when I tasted it. It was everything I was looking for - simple, fresh, flavor-packed. The whole-wheat pasta lends enough heft to make it a substantial meal, but the tomatoes balanced that and the creamy sauce perfectly so there was no food coma afterwards.

French Caprese (because Brie is French) Pasta

about 10 cherry tomatoes, halved
a chunk of Brie about the size of a deck of cards, cubed and rind removed
2 glugs of olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 pound whole-wheat pasta
grated Pecorino-Romano for garnish

Combine the first four ingredients in a bowl. Cover, and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes, stirring once or twice.

While Brie sits, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse in cold water. Add pasta to Brie-tomato mixture. Stir mightily. Grub.

Easy peasy.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

joy

I hope you're ready for a massive post detailing the last 3 days of my baking spree. :) They're not really in any particular order. Just everything I managed to bake after work since Monday.

Tonight, I am taking my good friend Chris Pierce to the Hollywood Bowl to see the Stax 50th Anniversary Celebration. It was his birthday on Monday, and I'm taking him to the show to celebrate, so I thought I'd bring a little dessert/present. He loves apple pie, so I'm making him my Thanksgiving Apple Maple Cream Pie. Here's what it looked like at Thanksgiving:

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

For CP, I halved this recipe and made them in four 4 1/2-inch tart pans to increase their portability for a Hollywood Bowl picnic. I had used Granny Smith apples at Thanksgiving, but I went with Golden Delicious this time around because they looked better at the store. I actually never had any of the cute little mini pies that I'm freaking pissed I didn't take pictures of (mini pies! with lattice crusts! sad), but CP seemed to like them. "As my Uncle Buddy would say, 'This pie is BANGIN'!'" Mission accomplished. :)

I also met up with our friend Marcela tonight to deliver her birthday present. Her birthday is Saturday, and I was going to be out of town for a wedding, so we met up with her before the show. She loves pistachios, can't stop talking about pistachios, and her boyfriend even said she had just mentioned pistachios when I called him up to run the idea by him, so I made her Pistachio Cupcakes from Cupcake Bakeshop.

I was fully prepared for this to be a disaster, mainly because Cupcake Bakeshop is so impressive, and I suck. :P Also, exotic ingredients terrify me because while I enjoy grocery shopping, I hate asking for help finding things. I called Whole Foods and Bristol Farms to see if they carried pistachio cream, but neither said they did. Whole Foods did volunteer that they do carry pistachio butter (like peanut butter), so I started researching peanut butter cupcake recipes to see if I had to make any adjustments to my recipe to account for any possible differences in texture between the butter and the cream.

So I'm wandering around Whole Foods, when what do I spy on the bottom shelf of the nut butters section but pistachio cream! Halle-freakin-lujah! (They also had a hazelnut cream that I'm sure is divine, and I will have to figure out a use for sometime soon). But no worries. Now I can go home and follow the recipe exactly, which is all I wanted to do in the first place. :P

Well, not exactly. I added chopped pistachios into the batter to enhance the pistachio flavor, and I also added chocolate chips because, well, they're chocolate chips. Then, I gobbed on a cream-cheese/orange-curd frosting (from a recipe below).



They weren't my favorite cupcakes ever - I thought they were a little dense, but Marcela loved them, and had eaten two by the time the Stax show was over. I also took a couple to the show to share with our box, and everyone there seemed to enjoy them as well. Good enough for me. :)

Let's see, what's next. Well, since I mentioned the frosting, let's go with the Triple-Layer White Cake w/ Orange Curd Filling I found on Simply Recipes.

I've thus refrained from baking cakes because they terrify me. So many things could potentially go wrong! The cakes could rise to different heights/levels of domey-ness. I could split them into the most uneven halves in the history of man. They could topple over. I could drag every cake crumb into the frosting. And so on and so forth.

Anyway, I thought I'd bite the bullet finally and make a cake for a surprise birthday dinner for my mom. Her birthday was actually on the 9th, and I had made it down the weekend before, but without my sister. I was taking my car to my parents' before leaving for the weekend so they could get it looked at for me, so my sister and I thought this would be a prime opportunity to have dinner with them to celebrate.

The orange curd was easy enough. Was a little egg-y when it first cooled, but it mellowed out after the overnight refrigeration. I only had two 9-inch cake pans, so I filled a 9-inch pie plate with the leftover batter to make a small test "cake" for myself.

So, into the oven they went. The two cake pans came out brilliantly even. The pie plate suffered a little unevenness because they were on a different rack (the one I swear is possessed), but it sufficed for my test.

I used a serrated bread knife to split the pie-cake. Wow, is that not the way to go for me. Huge uneven mess. Into the sink went the knife. Now since I only had two cake layers, I thought I'd get fancy and split each of those in half to make a 4-layer cake. Oh, sweet ambition. This time, I used thread wrapped around the cake to split the layers. Definitely not perfect, but good enough. Spread the curd on, made the divine frosting, did a fairly decent job of frosting the entire cake, bought a cake carrier to transport it, and called it a day.

And here comes the kicker. I didn't take a picture of it. I even decorated the top of the cake with a ring of blueberries! I should have taken a picture before I left my house, but in the self-induced frenzy of trying to make sure I had everything packed for my trip, emptying my trunk to make room for my massive suitcase, remembering the cake and the Chicken and Artichoke Fricassee I had also made for dinner, it just didn't happen. And then when I got to my parents', my camera was already packed in my car, and we were trying to hurry up and eat so that we could get to the airport, so it didn't happen there either. You'll just have to take my word for it that it was actually kinda pretty.

And it tasted super good. It's a spongy, tender cake that reminded me a lot of the lemon jellyroll cakes we used to get all the time at Asian supermarkets. There was a good ratio of cake to curd to frosting, and the parents both seemed to like it. Not that they would tell me if they didn't, but I'll take it.

And just when you think there couldn't possibly have been anything else, there is. :) Two elses, actually. These were going to be part of a care package for Matty and the band. The last batch disappeared within 24 hours, so I knew these weren't going to last long either, but I thought I'd send a little something.

I had started the dough for these World Peace Cookies on Saturday while I was waiting for Marcela to come over so we could carpool to Kat's birthday party and stuck them in the freezer. They were kind of a bitch to cut up frozen, so I think the next time I try these, I'll just use them as soon as they've been refrigerated for the required amount of time.

And there will definitely be a next time. I generally prefer my cookies to be a little heftier and, most importantly, chewier, but the perfect chocolate-y sandiness of these cookies made me really glad that there were so many that didn't turn out completely pretty. The pretty ones I salvaged into a plastic to-go container for the boys:



And the rest? Well, I ate them. I did put a couple into the Hollywood Bowl picnic basket, but let's be real. I ate most of them.

I can't for the life of me figure out why mine didn't turn the pretty brown that Deb's did, but that's okay. The next time, I will also have to chop the chocolate finer - I got lazy, and it was hot enough in the kitchen to be melting the chocolate as I was chopping, so I did a very rough job. I think the size of the chocolate chips is key to helping make a nicer slice. Every time I hit a chocolate chunk in my dough, it all fell apart.

And lastly, the care package included Cherry and Chocolate Chunk Cupcakes from Never Bashful With Butter. Because I still had massive amounts of cherries in the fridge, and I wanted to get rid of my chocolate chips before they melted into a bar.



These are, hands down, my favorite cupcakes ever. The cake base is perfectly soft and moist, and the frosting is ridiculously good. I used fresh cherries because I had them, and I used some of the leftover liquid from the Chocolate Cinnamon Mousse (so basically, a port and cherry preserves mixture) instead of the maraschino cherry juice.

The frosting is ri-donk-ulously good. At first, I didn't see how a bunch of dry ingredients and just a bit of butter and cream were going to turn into frosting, but you keep whipping those suckers, and sure enough, they all magically become the most decadently thick frosting ever. I could have eaten the whole damn bowl. Perhaps when it comes time for me to invest in a pastry bag, I will, and then I'll make beautiful pipings (read: get more frosting on) future cupcakes. Because this is definitely my new go-to cake base. Yum, yum, yum!

And now I'm freaking exhausted from having recounted all this, and sweating just from thinking about how long my oven was on all those evenings. Whew!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

just an ordinary day

I just realized I didn't take photos of either the Caramelized Onion Dip or the pasta salad that I made for my friend Kat's birthday barbecue at Dockweiler Beach. Not a huge loss - onion dip is never photogenic, and I already posted a photo of the leftover pasta salad from a previous gathering.

The onion dip was nothing to write home about, but no one complained. It was so very time-consuming to caramelize the onions and then let them cool - I don't think I'd make it again. It was a little too sweet for my taste, but I couldn't tell if the sweetness was coming from the Maui onions I used or if that was a function of the garam masala. I'm not very familiar with garam masala - I'm just glad Whole Foods carried it. In any case, I'll have to keep looking around for another onion dip recipe because I've got friends who are fiends for it.

Friday, July 13, 2007

this used to be my childhood dream


Since Thursday afternoon at about 5:00p, I've been craving this Pasta Carbonara. However, 5:00p on Thursday meant that I still had an hour of work left, the gym to hit, and two friends to see play - Rob Giles and Joe Greene. True, I could have just skipped the gym, gone home to make the carbonara, and still have made it back to the Hotel Cafe with plenty of time to spare, but what with my already sporadic gym-going habits and my desire/need to fit into a tiny vintage dress I bought for a friend's wedding (do you say "friends' wedding" when both the bride and groom are your friends?), I knew that wasn't going to happen.

You'll notice that this post is dated Friday evening. Yes, I was good and went to the gym and the shows. This post is being brought to you in a near-food coma. Man, was it delightful. And I kinda totally love how it was scaled to serve 1. I think what initially drew me to the recipe, other than my love for carbonara, was the beautiful picture of that egg yolk on the pasta. There is almost something romantic about it. Maybe it's just the nostalgia of my childhood, when a treat would be a poached egg in pho or any noodle soup-y bowl.

In any case, this recipe really made my evening. I used whole-wheat penne and pancetta instead of bacon because that's what I had on hand, but otherwise followed the recipe. While my favorite carbonara recipe continues to be this one (without artichoke hearts, and substituting 2 c. Parmesan for the 1 1/2 c. Gorgonzola + 1 c. Parmesan called for), Nick's recipe will probably be my go-to just because the happiness to work ratio is just so damn high. And I hear you're not supposed to be cream in a true carbonara anyway, which is what the Epicurious recipe calls for.

Now I must nap before going out to see Ray Don. I'll be dreaming of egg yolks.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

you can't make your heart feel something it won't


I've never had brussel sprouts before. Thought I'd try them out. You'll recall, Matty on tour (this time for 6 weeks with Cary Brothers) = me becoming guinea pig for recipes he might not possibly like. I practically have to trick him into eating vegetables, so I figured the brussels might fall into this category.

Found a recipe from Kitchen Illiterate for Cream-Braised Brussel Sprouts, figured I couldn't go wrong - doesn't cream sauce make everything right?

I tried to like these. I really did. At first bite, I thought, "Well, they just taste like cabbage, but meatier/nuttier. What's everyone's problem? These aren't that bad." And then I kept eating. And every bite started getting worse until I couldn't bring myself to chew anymore. I ended up tossing half of the ramekin I had filled. I put the other ramekin in the fridge, hoping that maybe the fridge would mellow it out, and I could try again later. I'll keep you update on what happens.

*Update* I couldn't do it. I kept it in the fridge until I couldn't stand staring at it anymore, and then I tossed those, too. I'm a terrible person.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

already miss you

Matty leaves for tour tomorrow. 6 whole weeks. It's the longest he's been gone. At least I get to see him next week when we'll meet up in upstate NY for a friend's wedding.

While the guys were out loading the tour bus, I thought I'd make a couple treats to send them off with. I figured cupcakes would be the easiest thing to deal with, so I chose Nigella's Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes, and Peach Cupcakes from 52 Cupcakes.



The chocolate cherry cupcakes were a no-brainer. I've been browsing what feels like every cherry recipe on the Interweb ever since I got that magnormous bag of cherries from my mom. This recipe didn't use fresh cherries, but it did use cherry preserves. I had plenty of that left over from the Chocolate Cinnamon Mousse, and I don't really do the jam and toast thing unless I'm at a diner at 1:00a having breakfast after a night of drinking, so I thought, what better way to get ride of all this?

Frankly, I was terrified to begin this recipe because the original measurements were metric, and while there was a US conversion, the comments basically said they were wrong. I don't have a scale to measure grams to cups, etc. so I just bit the bullet and went with a combination of advice (the 1 cup cake flour in the comments and an About.com tip to add 1 1/2 tsp. of baking powder and 1/2 tsp. of salt to regular flour to create "self-rising" flour.

I had enough batter for 12 cupcakes for the boys and filled a ramekin with the remaining batter as a test for myself. I didn't end up frosting them because I figured they'd be too messy to travel, and I don't think they needed frosting. The top got a little crunchy, and you could taste the cherry flavor the most there. The rest of the cake was really tender chocolate-y goodness.



The peach cupcakes were also delightful. I had run into the guitar player the week before, and we were talking about peach cupcakes (how that came about, I have no recollection). I figured I'd make some because I knew at least one person would go for them. :)

My only problem was that I had used up all my sugar (and cupcake liners, for that matter) on the chocolate-cherry cupcakes. I had to run out to get peaches anyway, so I headed over to Nature Mart, my store of choice for produce. The only sweetener they had was sucanat, so I went with it.

The batter yielded enough for 12 cupcakes, and a small loaf that I'll be eating for breakfast all week. They were really delightful. The sucanat gave an almost overpowering molasses-y/brown sugar-y taste, so I might cut back on that in the future, or use a mix of sucanat and white sugar, but I thought it was really complementary to the peaches. Again, I didn't frost because it would have been too messy, but that mascarpone frosting looks so good that I'll have to try it the next time the cupcakes will be staying in the house. Or maybe I should just make some and frost my loaf, although it'll make it a lot harder to convince myself it's breakfast. :P

Sunday, July 8, 2007

it always comes around back to you


Last day of the extended weekend. Back to the grind tomorrow. *sigh*

I had initially bookmarked the Salmon Burgers from YumSugar because they sounded like the perfect summer meal. We actually don't have a grill anymore (just a smoker which I suppose could double as a grill in a pinch), but for something like that, I was willing to stand in front of the stove for 4 minutes a side.

Now, my first experience with salmon burgers was less than ideal. My non-red meat-eating friend Kat had bought some patties from Gelson's to a barbecue. They looked really good, so I bought some the next time we had a barbecue. So sorely disappointed. It didn't taste like much. Just pink mush. That was fishy in a bad way. Blech.

I'll try anything twice, though, so I thought these would either be redemption or final proof that salmon burgers were not for me. Just before I made these, as I was making my daily run of other food blogs, I ran into a salmon burger recipe from Love and Olive Oil.

Hello! Perfect. Absolutely stinking perfect. Without stinking. I didn't have scallions so I subbed onions; I didn't have cilantro, so I subbed mint; I don't like ginger, so I left it out; and I didn't know what sambal oelek was and didn't have the patience to wander the Asian aisle, so I left that out, too. And I don't have a food processor, so I just chopped the salmon fillet up really finely.

Didn't matter. Perfection. And I had bought a frozen salmon fillet so it wasn't even very expensive at all. I made a Sweet and Sour Cucumber Salad to go with it, and included some marinated carrots and daikon that came with some Vietnamese take-out. Matty decorated his with some Sriracha (because he's insane like that), and then we sat down to a very satisfying dinner.

Lesson learned: if you want something done right, do it yourself. Don't go to Gelson's for it. :P

Saturday, July 7, 2007

without you here

Day 4. More work for Matty = me going to town in the kitchen.

First up: Mushroom Quiche from Simply Recipes. I figured I would leave Matty with some breakfast when I can't be there to make it after I do that whole go back to work thing. Wanted him to have a special couple of days before he leaves for tour. You know - give him something to miss. :P

I've made this once before - as one of the stars of Easter brunch (along with Elise's caramelized onion quiche). It's so good that it inspired my dear friend Paul's girlfriend to ask me for the recipe and tell me that it was worth learning to make a homemade crust for.

I don't have a photo because a) I had left my camera with a bridal shower that didn't have any cameras, b) I couldn't find Matty's, and c) I wasn't planning on serving it right away, so it went immediately into the fridge. By the time I took it out the next day, it was no longer photogenic, but it still tasted heavenly. :)

While the quiche was baking, I made the Chocolate-Cinnamon Mousse w/ Cherries from Epicurious, hands down the best chocolate mousse I've ever made. I used semisweet chocolate chips because that's what I had, and I substituted TJ's pumpkin pie spice mix for the cinnamon, only because I was careless, and the jars look a lot alike. I didn't really didn't taste much outside of chocolate in the final product, though. I wonder if the cinnamon would have come through any more.

I'm surprised I had any cherries left to make the compote-y part of this dessert. I had to remind myself that fresh cherries + ruby port = no wrong in order to stop myself from consuming the entire bag of ginormous and sugar-sweet cherries my mother sent me home with plain out of hand.

The photo does it no justice. A smaller glass would have made for a much more attractive presentation. Doesn't matter, though. Just go look at the Epicurious photos and make this immediately!

Friday, July 6, 2007

risin'


Day three of 5-day weekend. Had the entire day to myself since Matty had to go into the studio and put in some work time before he heads out on tour next week. What better time to bake bread?

I actually hate making bread:
a) It's messy. I hate messy. Especially the kind of messy that includes flouring a work surface.
b) It takes too long. I don't have enough patience to wait through 2 separate risings. I suppose I could be doing something else while I wait, and although I'm a prize-winning multi-tasker, I always keep checking on the covered dough to see if it's magically doubled in size in half the time the recipe says.

So, this was more of a Zen exercise than anything else. I was looking through Kitchen Illiterate, and found a yummy-looking recipe for Mozzarella Olive Bread, and thought that this would be worth waiting for. I substituted a bunch of flour varieties - all purpose, whole wheat and white whole wheat, not to be healthy, but because that's what it took to get the right amount of flour from my dwindling pantry.

Heeding her warning that the recipe yields a massive loaf of bread, I split the dough in half and made two loaves. I used black olives instead of kalamatas, but I think next time, I'll try experimenting with those stuffed olives I like so much. TJ's carries several varieties, including my favorite, blue cheese stuffed olives. Maybe I could omit the mozzarella altogether if I used the blue cheese olives.

The loaves turned out really well! The second loaf went immediately into the freezer until the next time I see my bread-crazy sister. The first slice went directly into my mouth. Gotta test it out before serving it to people, y'know? :P

I was slightly disappointed, but only because my cheese-olive mix hadn't extended all the way to the end of the loaf. Next time, there is going to be more cheese and more olives involved.

For dinner, I sliced up some of the bread and cooked up some whole-wheat pasta, cooked broccoli my favorite way (by lining the bottom of a colander with florets and then drain the hot pasta/cooking liquid over it - perfect amount of cooked and crunch), and then tossed it together with TJ's jarred Alfredo sauce. Diced up the last two Roma tomatoes and tossed them in some olive oil and dried basil for extra veggie power, and called it a night. I wanted to keep everything else really simple to let the bread be the star, and star it was!

Thursday, July 5, 2007

stir it up


Day two my 5-day weekend (I love you national holiday that falls on a Wednesday): to welcome Matty back from his NY trip (even though we had spent the last two days on the beach together in glorious Santa Barbara), I thought some seared scallops (which I could every day for the rest of my life) and roasted corn risotto would be fancy, but easy.

Gosh, was I wrong. On the easy front, at least. Well, I guess it was easy. Not really rocket science to stir, stir, stir. But it was time-consuming as all get-out. I had picked the risotto recipe because I stumbled upon one of the best sites in creation, that of the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture. They're a big proponent of seasonal eating, and their recipe index lists appetizers, entrees, desserts, etc. by, duh, season. I'm all about celebrating seasonality/local food/farmers' markets. I don't see a point in shipping produce in from heaven-knows-where, especially when I live in Southern California, where everything is in season practically all the time.

What better way to celebrate summer than fresh roasted corn? Matty's a real snob about canned/frozen corn, too, so finally using fresh was cool.

Speaking of cool, it has been balls hot in LA for about a week now. I thought I'd be smart and start roasting the corn way before I planned on making the risotto so that I could leave it in the oven to do it's thing while I was far, far away. In the other room far.

Well, my ignorant self should have done some math when looking at the risotto recipe. 7 cups of stock were to be added to 2 cups of arborio rice. Added in thirds and stirred until absorbed before adding the next third. Which equals about an hour of stirring in front of a hot stove. Totally did not avoid the heat like I thought I'd be able to. *sigh* The best laid plans...

Well, the pounds I sweated off cooking were well worthwhile because I put them all back on eating this risotto. So very good! I can't recommend this highly enough, and I can't wait to try more recipes from CUESA. Next on my list from there would be probably be the fresh corn polenta or the spicy creamed corn. This recipe yielded a boatload of risotto, though, so I won't be trying anything new for a little while.