May 11, 2009

A night of cooking, chowing...

and mischievous photography is all it takes for a perfect post-work Friday night. Greg and I combined forces and busted out a playful little dinner using fresh herbs from his mini farm. For once someone happily lended his hands (instead of watching) and perfected his first aioli. Yay!

I need a moment to rave about fresh herbs. I know it's so easy to purchase a giant bottle of pre-chopped/minced herbs for cheap, but seriously, don't skimp; the difference is significant. As I walked to trim a few leaves of Greg's young rosemary and spicy thai basil, I could smell the aromas from about a foot away. It is THAT amazing. Think of it like fresh whipped cream versus spray-can whipped cream. It's so easy to quickly aerate that heavy cream into fresh fluffy substance that just isn't attainable through a can. Anyway, back on topic.

Dinner started with a light grape tomato and spicy basil caprese salad with balsamic dressing. I enjoyed the ramp risotto a lot, especially the heat that came from a sprinkle of the red pepper flakes. However, the cod was not so enjoyable. Lesson learned: never use frozen fish unless you want cod that "has the texture of steak." Mmmmmm, I'll pass. Plus, the cod with the meaty white wine--cringe. The lemon aioli was a nice way to mask the fish, but still, not salvageable. But regardless of the failed fish, the night was excellent.

Rosemary Panko

Caprese Salad

Tofu! Just kidding. More caprese salad.

Ramp Risotto, Rosemary Crusted Cod, Lemon Aioli

Scott Conant’s Ramp Risotto
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 ramps
1 small shallot, finely chopped
Pinch of red-pepper flakes
1 cup Vialone nano rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons Parmigiano- Reggiano cheese
Kosher salt to taste

In a wide, heavy-bottom saucepan, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat.

(1) Finely chop ramp greens and stalks, reserving greens for later. Add shallot, ramp stalks, and pepper flakes, and stir until the shallot is translucent, about two minutes. Add rice to pot and cook over medium heat for two minutes, stirring to coat rice with oil.
(2) Pour in 1/4 cup of the wine and boil untilalmost absorbed; a little liquid should remain on top of the rice. Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of hot broth at a time, stirring the rice constantly until almost all of the liquid is absorbed. Add another1/4 cup of stock, the remaining wine, and a tablespoon of olive oil, continuing to stir.
(3) Add the ramp greens and more stock as needed and continue cooking and stirring until the risotto looks creamy but is still al dente, about 18 to 22 minutes. Remove from heat and let the risotto stand for about 30 seconds. Add a drizzle of olive oil, butter, and cheese; stir until well combined. Season with salt.

I'm in love with his herbs.

We took a few polaroids, and he filmed the development of the second one. IS AWESOME!

That's me saying peace.