When it comes to cooking and food...there's nothing more rewarding than watching those who you cook for enjoy your food. Whether you made a simple PB&J sandwich, grilled a steak or prepared an elaborate Michelin style dish, watching people smile and happy as they eat - to me, there's nothing more gratifying. Why start out the post like this? It'll make sense in the end (I hope) so bear with me.
Some time ago, I attended a Giada DeLaurentiis book singing to get her new book, Giada at Home, signed for a special someone. We'll call her Allie for the sake of the post. Also, I would like to note that the male to female ratio at this event was probably 1:200 and I was the only male of my age standing in line. I sure didn't not feel out of place (like that double negative?). Being the overachiever I am, I got there an hour early and as I prematurely sighed in relief of how short the line was, one of the security guards tapped my shoulders and said to me, "The line starts over there" as she pointed towards the exit of the building. The line was long is an understatement. It went around the corner of the mall and then some. It was like the iPhone 4 just came out or something.
Truth be told, I'm pretty pro at waiting for stuff (if that's even a skill) and standing still so it wasn't too bad. There was a little girl ahead of me who I played hang man with and I watched her draw silly pictures on her notepad. After 3+ hours of waiting in line, I finally got the book signed. You couldn't take a picture with Giada and the time you could spend talking to her was very short. Somewhat of an impersonal event and I felt bad for the diehard Giada fans that stood in line for hours to talk to her. You want extra time with Giada at a book signing event? Bring your kid, brother/sister or your nephew with her. Giada's so nice to kids and she seemed to love talking to them. No kid? Then get the book signed for someone else like me and you'll get extra time. The conversation went something like this...
Giada: opens the book and signs her name. "Hi Al...wait. You're not Allie! So where is she? On a sunny beach somewhere? Aww...you're such a sweetheart to wait in line for her. Make sure you remind her that you're a keeper!"
I actually got to borrow the book because Allie doesn't actually cook (don't ask) and while browsing through, one particular recipe caught my eye - risotto. You see, Allie likes risottos - a lot. I remember her telling me this long, long ago when we first met and I haven't forgotten about it. The risotto is pretty good. The earthy mushrooms go well with the tangy bleu cheese and it's a hearty, comforting dish. I made this dish with her in mind and I think she would enjoy eating this one day. Someday.
Like I mentioned earlier, nothing makes me happier than watching people happy as they eat my food and especially if that person is special to you.
Gorgonzola and Porcini Mushroom Risotto
Adapted from Giada at Home, Serves 4-6
- 4+ cups of chicken broth
- 1.5 ounces of dried porcini mushrooms
- 3 tablespoons of butter
- 1 medium onion, fine dice
- 1.5 cups Arborio rice
- 1/2 cup of dry white wine
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 cup of crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
- 1/4 cup of chopped, fresh chives
1) Add chicken stock to a stock pot and bring to a boil. Add in the porcini mushroom and remove from heat. Rehydrate the mushrooms for about 30 minutes. After the mushrooms have rehydrated, remove the porcinis to a separate plate and set aside. At this point. The mushroom stock will be less than 4 cups (because the mushrooms sucked some up). So add more chicken stock until it's back to 4 cups of chicken broth and bring the stock back up to a simmer.
2) In a large saute pan over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of butter until it bubbles and melts, taking care not to brown the butter. Add the diced onions and mushrooms and cook for about 4 minutes until the mushrooms are softened and translucent. Season with a little bit of salt and pepper.
3) Add the rice and stir everything to coat the rice evenly with butter. Add wine and simmer until the water has almost evaporated.
4) Add a ladle of broth, about half a cup, at a time until the broth is almost absorbed. Continue to add the broth a ladle at a time until the rice is tender yet firm and creamy - al dente. The white grain in the middle of the rice should still be there. When that disappears, it may be an indication that the rice is overcooked. Should take about 20 minutes or so.Remove the pan from heat and add in both cheeses and salt. Taste and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper. Remove to a bowl and serve immediately on plates.