Chef Juje

A messy adventure in learning to cook

Archive for the category “Thoughts”

Life Lessons in Risotto {plus a basic risotto recipe}

Oh, Risotto.

My first attempt at risotto was a giant, giant, GIANT fail. I thought I was doing everything right but an hour into the process the rice was  still not absorbing any of the liquids. Frustrations grew high, patience grew short and our stomachs growled louder and louder. I didn’t get it. I tried SO HARD to do this well and all I got was tough rice in chicken stock.

For better or for worse I am not one to let things go so the following evening I embarked on my second adventure in risotto.  Future Mr. Chef Juje was away so I slyly headed back into the kitchen, computer and Arborio rice in tow.  I studied my rouxbe video, took copious notes and totally psyched myself up for this next attempt.  I’m nothing if not passionate.

Risotto Notes:

Guess what??  For as much as the first attempt was a fail the second attempt was a big success!  I just used onions, rice, stock and garlic, then finished with mascarpone at the end.  I actually ate it so fast that I forgot to take a picture while it was still in its prime (riosotto doesn’t hold well for long).   The future-Mr. even brought it for lunch the next day.  It says a lot when something I cook is better than the smorgasbord — plus milk — he can get for $2.50 at work.

I posted this to my facebook but I think it’s worth restating here.  Somewhere along the line in becoming a grownup I got the strange idea that things should come easily. That if you try your best the first time you should succeed.  I’m glad that’s not the case.  As I learned here, sometimes – no matter how hard you try, no matter how much you study the recipe or read blogs or consult with others — you’re going to need to just try it again. And maybe again and again and again.

{By the way, for those of you wondering, it was the HEAT!  My heat was too low the first time.  Make sure the rice is simmering.}

Introducing Fancy Fridays

I love 30-minutes-or-less meals as much as the next cook, but sometimes you want to just really pull out all the stops and make a really impressive feast.  Depending on the stage of your cooking career, these can vary from a dish that simply challenges you to a truly gourmet extravaganza.

In future weeks, I hope to share with you some of my experiences making dishes that stretch my skills and that use less familiar (to me!) ingredients or techniques.  I mean, really, how else am I going to make it to Chopped?!

I’m curious — what are some fancy-pants meals that you’ve made and enjoyed? Any tips on navigating uncharted cooking territory?

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