Vegetables Every Day

Vegetables Every Day
Carrot Tarator with Beets

Saturday, September 29, 2007


We are back from Italy, we really had a wonderful trip.  Will have some pictures, along with a short synopsis of the trip posted soon.  But I thought I would start with this recipe, since our trip was book-ended with Risotto, first at an outside cafĂ© in Venice (where it was simply done with shrimp and zucchini), and last as one course of the final dinner for our cooking school (where it was elegantly done with squash blossoms and pecorino cheese).  I’m now pretty confident my risotto is authentic, and adjustable as desired for what is fresh and in season.. and great as we start to get a little cooler weather for fall.


This does call for very good chicken broth, I usually use homemade.  If not, make sure to use a high quality, low salt broth, such as Pacific Organic (use 1 quart, and dilute with a bit of water to get the extra ½ cup).
In Italy, we had once with Shrimp (small pieces) and zucchini (which was cut very small), the other had zucchini squash blossoms with pecorino cheese (sheep’s milk) instead of parmesan. 

Serves 4

4 ½ cups chicken broth
1 cup minced onion
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 ½ cups Arborio rice
½ cup white wine
2 cups vegetable  (asparagus, winter squash, mushrooms, etc)
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
¼ cup parmesan cheese
Fresh herbs

In small saucepan, heat broth to just below a simmer.  In medium heavy saucepan, sautĂ© the onions in the oil for about 5 minutes, until softened but not browned. 

Using a wooden spoon to avoid breaking the grains, add the rice and stir until it is well coated with oil.  Add the wine. When it is absorbed (it won’t take long) ladle in the ½ cup of the hot stock stirring frequently until the rice has absorbed the liquid. The heat should be at a low boil.  Continue to add ½ cup at a time, for 2 –3 minutes between each addition, until a about half the broth has been used.

Add the vegetables. Continue adding ½ cup of broth every few minutes for about 10 minutes, stirring often, until the rice is tender but firm (most all of the stock will be used). The consistency should be creamy, not dry or soupy.   Remove from heat, stir in the nutmeg and cheese.  Add salt and pepper to taste (it might not need any salt, depends on the broth, also the cheese is salty) and serve.  If desired, finish with some finely chopped fresh herbs, such as thyme, parsley, and / or chives.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously by Julie Powell

With this, I will be caught up on my book blogs… only to be hopelessly behind after our trip to Italy.
I had heard of the Julie / Julia project and the book, but never got around to reading it, thinking it was just another obsessed, foul-mouthed New-Yorker writer.  Fortunately Vy loaned it to me. 

The book is written by Julie Powell, about her 1 year self-imposed challenge to cook everything in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of Fine Cooking.  The project was motivated by feeling stuck in her job (a low level drone in a government office) as well as rebellion towards the whole Alice Waters, locovore, trendy foodie things.  I instantly connected with the author – she was a Buffy the Vampire fan (the blog was going on during the last season), found the act of preparing food very sensual, and was trying to figure out what to do next with her life.  The book is very entertaining, mixing stories about Julie Child and stories of her own family in with the trials of cooking the recipes (including treks to find bone marrow, brains and other offal).  Her husband Eric is portrayed as a saint, her friends are nuts.  Its fun to read.  

But what really struck me was not the challenge of cooking, but the blogging.  In addition to cooking every recipe, she blogged about everything she cooked. I went on-line and looked at some of the blogs. She blogged almost every day, and not just “I checked Filets to Poisson en Souffle off the list, didn’t puff but tasted good”… no, she went into details about procuring the ingredients, the moods of her husband, her cats, occasional Buffy references, how the food was prepared, what worked, what tasted good, and what didn’t.  And it was entertaining… she had a huge following (after a while, she set up a way people could donate money to help buy lamb and more butter to keep the project going – and they did).   She never talks about the challenges of blogging in the book.. things I find really hard, like making it witty (but not contrived), not offending others (however, that New York thing probably helps here), how personal to get, making a good story but not going on and on, punctuation and grammar good enough to make it readable.  It has a happy ending, she found her real calling as a writer.