Additionally, awhile ago I added another page link on the right labeled My (Cooking) Bucket List. Here I started a list of the foods I would like to try my hand at sometime in the future. I'm hoping to continue this blog and add those recipes as I attempt them. Plus, the bucket list will likely grow as I find more desires in the kitchen.
This bucket list idea was partially inspired by my infatuation with competitive cooking shows-- in particular, MasterChef. I certainly do not have enough skill for shows such as Chopped and Next Food Network Star, but the home cook aspect of MasterChef makes it a potentially obtainable dream for me. However, on MasterChef there are certain types of cuisines and dishes that the contestants are expected to be able to make. Take, for example, a few weeks ago when the bottom two cooks were tasked with creating THREE souffles in one hour. Holy cow, talk about pressure. Not only are souffles technically challenging, but they needed to infuse the correct flavors and add a little bit of extra umpf to stand out. Before I would ever try out for the show (not saying I'm committing to season 4), there are some things that I need to give a once (or twice, or three times) over.
The first thing I put on my bucket list (and that has been on my bucket list FOREVER) was risotto. From what I understand this dish is really a challenge and staple for cooks of all levels. Even on Chopped and NFNS, a bad risotto can send you packing. Many of the recipes out there are designed for making risotto for four and since I wasn't comfortable enough with the dish to adapt things right out of the gate, I turned to my trusty "Serve Yourself" cookbook. Of course, it has a risotto! And a perfect one for summer-- packed full of fresh corn and roasted tomatoes topped with fresh basil.
To tell you the truth, I had this recipe on my menu for 3-4 weeks in a row until I finally made it. I am usually pretty good at sticking to the menu plans for the week (since I've already bought the groceries and planned everything out), but this risotto was just overwhelming. Mostly, I think, because I would be exhausted at the end of a work day and just not ready for a labor intensive meal. So, I'd fall back on picking up Panera on the way home or whipping up a quick salad or grilled cheese and putting off the plan. But finally, on a Saturday night, I said, "Julie, you gotta bite the bullet and do it. It's going to be yummy and you won't know how much effort it actually takes until you make it." And so I did. With no regrets. It was delicious and not nearly as scary as I had imagined. Risotto can now be crossed off the bucket list, and certainly, I will be making more. Watch out, world (or kitchen)!
Maybe you are like me and you are intimidated by risotto. For that reason, I took some pictures along the way to guide you in your risotto making. Kind of a "how to". If you're an expert, skip ahead to the recipe at the bottom that is written like normal. And certainly, as always, feel free to double or quadruple the recipe to feed your whole family. :)
Also, please note that I followed Joe's suggestion of making corn broth. When I read this recipe in his book, I asked why I had never thought of to do this before. Especially since I'm now in the middle of corn country and I can buy 8 cobs for $1 sometimes! Of course, I can't eat 8 cobs before they go bad, so I typically cut the kernels off and freeze them for future use. I never once thought to do anything with the husks, silks and used cobs. Talk about wasteful. This broth is soooo easy and flavorful! You can use it as a substitute for vegetable or chicken broth or stock in just about everything. You not only avoid the high amount of sodium in the prepackaged kind (that's why I like to make chicken stock too), but it doesn't cost you a cent more than what you were paying for the corn anyway. Some people are so smart. I'm just piggy-backing off of them; feel free to jump on as well. ;)
Okay for real, I'm on to the recipe.
Talk about the longest post ever.
Thanks for sticking with me.
First and foremost, prep your ingredients. Cut your onion and garlic, grate your cheese, and start your tomatoes roasting (sorry for the lack of photo, I wasn't committed to the how-to until after I started cooking).
Bring your corn broth to a simmer and cover.
Heat the oil and add your onion and garlic. Cook until softened.
Add the corn and rice and stir until they are coated with oil.
Add the wine first, but then add the hot broth (1/4 cup at a time*), stirring constantly until all the liquid is absorbed. *I found that about using a ladle about half full was a good approximation for 1/4 cup.
Continue to cook until the rice reaches the desired consistency.
Lastly, stir in the tomatoes, followed by cheese and butter. Serve topped with the basil leaves and extra grated cheese.
Corn and Roasted Tomato Risotto (very slightly adapted from "Serve Yourself" cookbook)
1/2 pint grape tomatoes
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
1 to 1.5 cups corn broth (see below) or vegetable stock
2 tbsp coarsely chopped onion
1 garlic clove, chopped
kernels from 1 ear fresh corn
1/3 cup Arborio rice
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 tsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp freshly grated parmesan cheese
3 basil leaves, thinly sliced
Preheat oven to 400 F.
Please the tomatoes on a baking sheet covered with aluminum foil. Toss with 1 tbsp oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper, to taste. Roast for 30 min, until the tomatoes are lightly browned and collapsed, turning halfway through.
Bring the corn broth to a simmer over medium heat in a small saucepan. Reduce the heat to low and cover.
Heat 1 tbsp oil in a small pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook about 3-4 minutes until softened. Add the corn and rice and cook, stirring quickly, until the rice is well coated, about 1-2 minutes. Add the wine and cook, stirring frequently, until the liquid is almost gone, about 5 minutes. Add in 1/4 cup hot corn broth and repeat the cooking and stirring until the liquid is absorbed. Continue to add the broth (1/4 cup at a time) and stirring constantly until the rice has been cooking for about 20 minutes total. Taste the rice to make sure it is tender but still slightly firm. Add the tomatoes. Cook for 2-3 more minutes until the rice in tender, but not mushy, adding more liquid if necessary.
When the rice is cooked correctly, stir in the butter and cheese. Add salt and pepper as you like. Transfer to a bowl and top with the sliced basil and more freshly grated parmesan.
Homemade Corn Broth (from "Serve Yourself" Cookbook)
4 ears of corn (including husks and silks and everything)
7 cups water
Rinse the corn. Remove the husks and silks, discarding any browned or blackened spots. Cut into about 2-3 inch pieces.
Remove the kernels from the cobs. I like to stand the cob upright in a large bowl and slice from the top downward. It doesn't make as big of a mess in the kitchen. Cut the cobs into 2-3 inch pieces. Freeze the kernels if you are not going to use them immediately, for another use.
Add the cobs, husks and silks to a large stockpot. Cover with the water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered for about 1 hour. No need to stir or disturb.
Strain the broth into a large bowl. Squeeze the solids to remove as much liquid as possible. Use in place of vegetable broth/stock immediately or freeze for future use.