Lemon Risotto

We’d just returned from Italy with all kinds of ideas and experiences and raw materials for good food prepared at home — welcome, after being on-the-go for so much of September, October and November. We had a few lemons (from the Biomarkt) and shallots and garlic to use up, plus arborio rice and Pecorino Romano cheese from our grocery expeditions.

The original recipe came from our swell How to Cook Everything app (thank you Mark Bittman!), but the version below has our enhancements in it.

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 large shallots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Large pinch saffron threads
1½ cups arborio rice
½ cup (120 ml) dry white wine
4 to 6 cups (950 ml to 1400 ml) chicken or vegetable stock
2 to 4 tablespoons softened butter
juice of one lemon
zest of one lemon
½ cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese

Heat the oil in a large, deep nonstick skillet to medium. Then add the shallots, garlic and saffron, and cook, stirring constantly, until they soften, 3 to 5 minutes.

Add the rice and cook, stirring constantly, until it is glossy and coated with the oil, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the white wine. Stir and let the liquid bubble away.

Use a ladle to begin adding the stock, a ladlefull or so at a time, stirring after each addition. When the stock is just about absorbed, add more. The mixture should be neither soupy nor dry. Keep the heat at medium to medium‐high and continue stirring.

Don’t plan on doing anything else while this risotto is going — you gotta keep stirring it. It’s going to take a while to get to that perfect texture. Plan on an a half-hour, but check it occasionally after 20 minutes. You want it to be tender but still with some resistance upon chewing; it could take as long as 30 minutes to reach this stage. When it does, stir in the butter and lemon zest and at least ½ cup of cheese. Taste, adjust the seasoning if necessary, and serve immediately. Throw some more grated cheese on it, if you like.

We used peppercorn Pecorino Romano, so we didn’t need any additional salt, pepper or other seasoning. You will need some of those flavor boosters if you choose a less burly cheese.

We found this recipe went exceedingly well with Roasted Brussels Sprouts.

Zippy Crunchy Salad

We bought too many apples for use in a somewhat successful apple pie experiment this weekend. We bought too many carrots for use in a partially satisfying falafel/veggie burger experiment this weekend. I bought a bag of lemons on a whim this weekend and they are already starting to look questionable (Bio-Zitronen…).

So I invented a salad.*

I pulled on my Microplane Kevlar glove purchased at Pryde’s Old Westport, hauled out the mandoline from my mom (thanks Mom!) and julienned up three or four Yellow Delicious apples, crinkle-cut one big carrot’s worth of discs, squished in the juice of one lemon and dumped a little sugar (I’d guess about a teaspoon and a half) to take the edge off the citric acid.

Hol. E. Kau. That is some tasty stuff. Make sure you haven’t burned the roof of your mouth on anything recently though — you’ll be reminded of it during the consumption of this salad.

*I found some recipes online calling for yogurt or mayonnaise and raisins and stuff like that. I’m sure those would be fine, but I’m more than happy with my version. Probably almond slivers would be a nice touch, too. Maybe next time on those.