We've all got one; a group of friends who get together and talk about food, share recipes and techniques and generally shoot the shit. Ours just happens to be foul-mouthed and unabashed. This blog is a collaboration of authors (even occasionally male!) who share a love of booze, profanity, food and bitching.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Some things I've tried, and some upcoming projects

I dunno about anyone else, but this time of year always gets me down. I'm laid off for a few months, it's cold, I'm bored and housebound, and I get sick of cooking the same thing in-and-out. My live-in is what some people would generously call, "a picky eater," and what I call (in my less-kindly moments), "A GIANT PAIN IN MY ASS!"

It's hard for me to find things he'll eat; given his druthers, his entire diet would be made up of Little Debbies, spaghetti marinara with garlic bread, steak, cake, and ice cream. I've tried over the years to expand his palate a little, but much of the time I'll just go, "Welp, I'm making this, so grab some ramen for yourself if you don't want to eat it."

So this time of year is my time for combining recipes, combing the web for new ideas, and raiding my local library for cookbooks.

I recently checked out this book, and let me tell you, it's fascinating. I wish I'd had it when I started living on my own, because it's got helpful hints, basics, templates for cooking, suggestions...it's pretty great as a springboard.

My eye first fell on Orzo "Risotto" as I've had some orzo hanging out in my cabinets since an ill-advised attempt at soup a couple months ago. Why not use it up? And hey, it's pasta, that's like spaghetti, so maybe the Live-In will eat it (he eats plain rice and has been known to eat spaghetti with just butter and Parmesan). The recipe reads thus:
2 T butter (preferred) or olive oil
1 small onion, minced
3 c chicken, beef, or vegetable stock, plus 1/2 cup more if needed
1 1/2 c orzo
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 c freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 c minced fresh parsley leaves

1. Place the butter in a 3- or 4-quart saucepan and turn the heat to medium; when the foam subsides, add the onion and cook, stirring, until it becomes translucent. Meanwhile, heat the stock in a separate pan.
2. Add the orzo to the onion and stir once or twice; season with salt and pepper and add the stock, all at once. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low.
3. Cook, stirring every few minutes to prevent sticking, until the liquid is absorbed and the pasta is tender, about 15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. In the unlikely event that the pasta is underdone, add 1/2 cup more hot water or stock and cook another 5 minutes or so, until it is absorbed and the pasta is done. Stir in half the Parmesan and parsley. Garnish with the remaining parsley and serve, passing the remaining Parmesan at the table.

I didn't have fresh Parm, so I substituted some havarti, and I omitted the parsley and used chives instead. I thought it tasted spectacular (though this portion is a bit big for two) and was farrrr easier than real risotto; the Live-In, not as much. SIGH.

What did we have with this side? Roast Chicken, which is heavenly. Make this recipe! I used chicken leg-quarters and they were soooo juicy. The sauce, while tasty, was a bit thin for my tastes, and never seemed to thicken up. Next time I'll just make pan-gravy (like my first instinct).

I stole another recipe off SK earlier this week as well, for peanutella, which is every bit as addictive as it sounds. It made a sizable portion, so (after passing some off to some worthy bachelor friends of mine) I'm planning on using it for Valentine's presents for my friends in the form of Peanutella Sandwich cookies. How can that be bad?

I've got another Bittman recipe hanging out in my fridge for tomorrow, the Pot Stickers from the Appetizers section. Anybody know a good side dish for gyoza?

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