But here's the thing - if I let this fear, lack of confidence, and worry control me, we will be missing out on some seriously incredible meals.
Thou shalt not deprive thyself of good, quality, yummy foods.
So I thought it would be a good idea to challenge myself weekly to try something new in the kitchen that scares me. I have a short list to get me started; some of these I'd like to tackle right away, and some I'll save for a later date. But here's a glimpse at what I want to conquer:
- Cooking a lobster
- Bake something GF completely from scratch (this is a big one)
- Learn to make trickier sauces and marinades
- Cook more with ingredients I'm afraid of, such as saffron and truffle oil
In chatting with a friend this week, we were discussing what we were making for dinner, and I mentioned we were making risotto. We love risotto, and we'll probably try to make it once a week using different mix-ins and flavorings. She replied that risotto scared her, and she doesn't think her husband would ever try it. I will admit, it was a daunting dish to take on the first time we tried it, but it's not hard, it requires some TLC.
We were first introduced to risotto when Sean was diagnosed with Celiac and we were going into NYC for dinner with friends. We chose Risotteria for their completely gluten free menu, and it was love at first bite. Risotto is creamy, filling, and depending on what you choose to mix into it, can take on any number of flavors. Think about it...Risotto is a blank canvas. You can mix and match any of the following to customize you're very own dish:
Base: Veggie, Chicken, Beef, Seafood, Water
Herbs: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, Thyme,
Seasoning: Salt, Pepper
Veggies: Take your pick! Butternut squash, onions, corn, asparagus, peas, pumpkin, carrots,
Meat: Shrimp, Scallops, Lobster, Chicken, Pork, Beef, Sausage, Clams
Strong Flavors: Garlic, Cayenne Pepper, Jalapeno Pepper, Truffle Oil, Ginger, White Wine
That's just a sampling. There are so many options. Vegetarian? Mix in some sauteed tofu or avocado. Serve over a bed of peppery arugula. Or make it plain and serve as a side dish to a broiled haddock or glazed salmon.
Is your mouth watering?
Making risotto is pretty basic when you strip it down. It's a grain like rice, so it absorbs liquid and expands and softens. Think of it as "slow cooked rice".
How to Make Risotto
Makes 4 servings
1 1/2c aborio rice
4-5 cups of liquid [all stock for strong flavor, or 3 parts stock/1 part water, 2 parts stock/2 parts white wine, 2 parts stock/1 part water/1 part white wine (you get the idea!)]
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp butter or Smart Balance
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
"Strong flavor" mix in
Heat your liquid in a saucepan over medium until it begins to simmer. Reduce heat slightly.
Heat olive oil and butter over medium-high heat in a deep skillet until foam dies down. Add your "strong flavor" ingredient, be it minced garlic, scallions, ginger, pepper, etc. Add in aborio rice and cook for 1-2 minutes until slightly browned. If you are using white wine in your recipe, add to the skillet at this time, along with 1 cup of your liquid from the saucepan. Reduce heat to medium and stir slowly.
Every 15 minutes or so, when liquid has mostly absorbed, add 1 more cup of liquid. Repeat until you are out of liquid. When you are adding the final cup of liquid, this is the time to mix in any spices, meat or veggies (which you would have pre-cooked) to finish the dish and blend flavors. Serve hot.
Sound easy? Now be fearless and go try it.