Baby Bro’s been having dindin with us for the last couple of nights since Mom & Dad are in Montreal doing the family obligation thing.
He was actually out of town for work last week and finally got back home on Saturday afternoon.
Sunday I made a long overdue batch of lasagne, with a three hour simmered sauce, lots of cottage cheese and of course spinach. I had originally planned on adding some sliced zucchini, but I’m not doing so well on these antibiotics. They’re kicking my ass as usual and so I’ve been bogged down with complete exhaustion on top of the never ending soreness and pain — so no grocery shopping for me to get the little extras I wanted for the lasagne. It was still tasty, but I admit, it’s not as mind-boggling as when I make the sauce and noodles from scratch-scratch. There’s nothing that can top that.
Tonight, I made: Risotto with peas, pork chops with sour cream sauce and braised romaine lettuce.
For some reason, I’ve always had a tough time with making risotto. I’ve tried and tried and tried, but I’ve never been able to get it perfectly cooked. I’ve always had one or two grains of rice here or there that are still kina hard or else it’s been super stodgy and gloppy from sitting too long.
Well, I can now confidently say that I can make a tasty risotto bianco. It just took me downloading Jamie Oliver’s iPhone app and watching a 10 minute risotto tutorial from start to finish to completely understand how to do it and not be afraid of it. Yea, go figure. I’ve watched tv shows before in the past about doing risotto, but for some reason, this time it finally clicked.
So tonight I made for the three of us, too much food, but that’s neither here nor there: risotto with peas. I had originally thought I would make risotto with peas & pesto, but after awhile I figured it would just be too many flavours going on with the pan-fried pork chops and the braised lettuce. Yes, braised lettuce has flavour, though apparently not a flavour that Baby Bro enjoys.
The recipe I used is from the iPhone App, but here’s a basic risotto recipe from Jamie’s website which doesn’t look too much different from what I used tonight, I just added just under a cup of frozen peas to the rice when it was done. I have to say, totally unrelated to anything, the man definitely has himself a cooking empire now. Wowsers.
The biggest thing that made me understand how to make risotto was not being afraid to add liquid. LOTS of liquid, in my case. I dunno if it’s because of our climate here or perhaps my rice is super dehydrated or what, but it’s always seemed to me that the quantity of stock that recipes call for has never been enough to get the proper consistency. Watching the video and being told that you can keep adding more liquid until it looks right made a huge difference. You won’t kill a risotto by adding too much liquid as you go along. Hurray! And now knowing that once you’ve finished up all the stock, using hot water to get that perfect consistency makes everything taste better, too! The flavours balance themselves out properly when you do that. Hip! Hip! Hurray! I really am quite proud ^_^
For the pork chops with sour cream sauce, I’ve been using this recipe from a Youtube channel of this guy named Freitas-Ex. His recipes rank in the comfort food category and I’ve been pretty impressed by the episodes he’s posted so far (there are quite a few). The recipe is super simple and really doesn’t take that long from start to finish, especially if you use thinner cut chops. Having made this recipe a couple of times now (oddly enough, both times I had already made friends with The Moose… hmmm), I would highly recommend using thicker cut pork chops, there’s less of a chance they’ll become overcooked and if they’re bone-in chops, even tastier.
As a side note — I’ve found over the last few times of making pork chops that a good substitution for white wine that tastes really good in a recipe is diluted apple cider vinegar. Just pour a splosh or two of vinegar into some stock or hot water and use that, it made the pork chops taste absolutely amazing and it did pretty well in the risotto, too!
Now, the whole braised lettuce thing? I was trying to get rid of lettuce and I happen to like my lettuce when it’s cooked… especially when it’s at the bottom of one of those Chinese sizzling hotpots with deep fried bean curd, bbq pork and seafood. The lettuce just sucks up all the cooking juices and becomes wonderfully juicy and flavourful. It’s just wonderful. But anyhow. Apparently my attempt today fell kind of short of the mark in Baby Bro’s opinion. Cooked lettuce, just isn’t his thing. Perhaps next time I will have to add a little soysauce. As far as I’m concerned, it tasted alright. I just warmed a little olive oil in the pan with some garlic, added 2 coarsely chopped romaine hearts, seasoned the whole lot with some salt and pepper and added maybe a quarter to one-third cup of chicken broth before I clamped on a lid and let the pot do its thing on medium low until everything was wilted down.
On the whole, dinner was a success. I’ll have to work on the braised lettuce, but as far as The Hubbs was concerned, he was quite pleased that I managed to get up the energy to make my risotto from scratch. He did buy 2 boxes of instant stuff, just in case, but the homemade was definitely a much better choice. Now I just have to decide on what to do with the leftovers. Nuke’em with some hot water so it’s like normal? Or perhaps scoop them into balls, stuff’em with some mozzarella and then pan fry til crispy? I’m thinking that last option sounds rather promising.