For some reason, I haven’t felt like cooking recently. In an attempt to get my groove back, I made ‘the absolute tastiest’ dish I could imagine – and I think it was a success! I love blogging about food – it has given me balance, confidence and courage in a time where I am feeling uncertain about the future. Applying to jobs as a recent graduate is a daunting task. Sending out many resumes without a response can be frustrating.
Speaking of frustrating things, this dish may frustrate some. Risotto needs to be carefully monitored because the rice must slowly absorb the chicken broth. The end result is worth it – the creamy texture of the rice, the crisp asparagus and the soft melted Parmesan-Reggiano is unbeatable. The fresh shiitake mushrooms and the artichoke hearts give it texture and variety. For entertaining or a date night a risotto is a perfect choice with its rich and luxurious flavour .
In the fall, I will be doing some volunteering in an elementary school classroom and taking some additional qualification courses in hopes of further developing my skills. I truly enjoy helping children learn and I am very excited for the opportunity to be in a classroom again. The feeling of September is like no other because it is a month of endless possibilities, each year you learn and develop more skills and are able to pursue more ideas. I love seeing the inquiring young minds that are eager to learn.
Follow these directions very carefully and you will have ‘the absolute tastiest’ dish ever! (I found this recipe on the blog Smitten Kitchen.)
Makes 4 main-course servings.
5 cups chicken broth (40 fl ounces)
1 cup water
1 pound thin to medium asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1/4 inch thick slices, leaving tips 1 1/2 inches long
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
3/4 pound fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded and caps cut into 1/4 inch thick slices
2 large fresh artichoke hearts, cut into 1/4 inch thick slices, prepared*
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice (10 ounces)
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 ounces finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1 cup, though I used half)
Bring broth and water to a boil in a 4-quart pot. Add asparagus and cook, uncovered, until crisp-tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer asparagus with a slotted spoon to a large bowl of ice and cold water to stop cooking, then drain and pat dry. Keep broth at a bare simmer, covered.
Heat oil with 1 tablespoon butter in a 4-quart heavy saucepan over moderately high heat until foam subsides, then saute mushrooms, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, then transfer to a bowl.
Cook onion in 2 tablespoons butter in saucepan over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add wine and cook, stirring, until absorbed, about 1 minute.
Ladle in 1 cup simmering broth and cook at a strong simmer, stirring, until absorbed, about 2 minutes. Continue simmering and adding broth, about 1/2 cup at a time, stirring frequently and letting each addition be absorbed before adding next, until rice is just tender and looks creamy, 18 to 20 minutes. (Save leftover broth for thinning.)
Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 cup cheese, remaining tablespoon butter, and salt and pepper to taste. Gently stir in asparagus, artichokes and mushrooms, then cover pan and let stand 1 minute. If desired, thin risotto with some of remaining broth. Serve immediately with remaining cheese on the side.
* An excellent way to prepare the artichoke hearts is to remove all the outer leaves, choke and stem of a whole artichoke, leaving just the heart. (I used canned artichoke hearts, thus avoiding removing outer leaves.)
Cut the heart into 1/4 inch slices and toss it immediately in a bowl filled with the juice of one lemon. Make sure each and every edge, angle and side of the hearts gets coated in lemon juice, or they will brown very quickly.
In a small pot, boil water with a good glug or two of white wine, a splash of white vinegar and possibly a touch of a smashed garlic clove or a bay leaf.
Drop in the artichoke hearts with all of their lemon juice, and simmer them for about 10 minutes, or longer if needed for them to become tender. Drain and set them aside.