Archive for June, 2006

An Unlikely Dish: Apple & Pear Risotto

June 25, 2006

Most of my food ideas come within the first 30 minutes after I’m awake on weekends.  I present my ideas and my boyfriend either agrees, or I spend a bit more time convincing him that what I want to make will work.  This entry is a dish where a bit of convincing went a long way.

Neither of us are dessert fans, but a quantity of arborio rice and an idea to use it in an untraditional way had me concocting the following, of which I believe I will use again in the fall with much more fragrant and spicier flavours.

Apple&PearRisotto

  • 1 can bartlett pears in light syrup 
  • 1 granny smith apple with skin on, sliced thinly.   
  • 1/2 cup arborio rice
  • 1 1/4 cups unsweetened apple juice
  • 3-5 cloves
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • nutmeg and cinnamon to taste
  • 1 pat butter

Start by preparing your syrup, which should be done with patience.  Drain most of the ‘juice’ from your can of pears and combine it with apple juice, and mull with cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon over low to medium heat. 

Traditionally, risotto is prepared with wine, so I combined 2 tsp apple cider vinegar with 3/4 cup apple juice to act as an acidic starter to emulate white wine.  I’m sure this can be skipped, but the results tasted delicious either way. 

Melt butter over medium heat in a pot deep enough to handle a good quantity of rice.  A 6 litre vessel will do.  Add arborio and allow it to absorb the fat, and then add apple juice & vinegar mixture.  It should smell quite fragrant, and once the rice has absorbed the liquid, spoon or ladle in small quantities of your syrup and stir.  Allow rice to absorb syrup, and keep repeating until most of your liquid is gone.  This should take you about 25-35 minutes.

Testing the rice is important if you (like me) aren’t sure about the rice’s doneness.  But this is also a good way to determine whether the syrup is too sweet.  Add a touch of the reserved apple cider vinegar to balance out your flavour and then balance it back out with more syrup. 

Once your rice is nearly finished, add apple slices and pears, along with any remaining syrup from the can.  Cook until apples are soft, but not mushy and serve hot.  This can also be covered, refridgerated and then warmed in the microwave later if you wish…

 …I ate mine for breakfast! 

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Keep Cool

June 18, 2006

My post-work walks up Spadina have been met with the cries from vendors who for the past 2 weeks have been shouting "Mango!  Mango!  Mango!" at shoppers and I gave in on Friday. 

Mango Salad

At the price of 3 for $2, I'm not sure why I resisted for so long!  I bought the what's known here as the Thai mango, which is a bit firmer and somewhat more sour than the softer and sweeter Indian mango (I bought lots of those too) and combined it with cucumber, sprouts and a dressing with a touch of chili oil, fish sauce, soy sauce and a teaspoon of sugar. 

I also made some chicken & chive potstickers, which were just that combined with a beaten egg in a dumpling wrapper.  Fried lightly in peanut oil, these will definately be made again in the near future if I find myself entertaining.

Chicken & Chive Dumplings

I neglected to post recipes for these dishes on purpose, because they're fairly simple to make and depend mostly on what your taste prefers.  Timing for the potstickers is visual; if you prefer a chewier bite then cook them for less time than you would do so if you wanted to have them to be crispy all over.

The hardest part honestly, is the cleanup. 

Dragonfruit

June 11, 2006

I'm fascinated by Chinatown's bustle and ability to bring those who want something Dominion just can't sell regularly to those of us who are brave enough to explore.  And I'm getting a little bit more brave, week by week.  This is a dragonfruit.  A flower from a cactus also known as pitaya or Thang Loy.  I took a chance with this, since I had no idea what it actually was after passing it for weeks and its price was not really condusive to casual sampling ($4/piece) but I think now that I've tried it, I'd be interested in doing more with it in the near future.

Dragonfruit

Beyond its bold, defensive shell, the dragonfruit is quite soft and delicate inside.  Its flesh is very faintly sweet but its texture is similar to what you'd expect from a fig or a ripe kiwi fruit with lots of tiny seeds that pop when you eat them.  Articles indicate that it is fermented into wine, or made into ice cream, which paired with a very light syrup, I believe could be quite delicious.  If only I had the means to make ice cream!

Cool Salad Rolls

June 6, 2006

A recent obsession with the local Thai joint near my office has had me thinking more and more about the way I can recreate their recipes for a fraction of the cost they charge.  And so, after work last Friday afternoon I ventured up the road to Chinatown.  The shops on Spadina accept cash only, which I suppose is why their prices are so low and I'm certainly not complaining;  The $10 in my pocket bought me enough noodles, rice wrappers and produce to last us a while.

Ross and I made cold salad rolls that night as I was on-call and knew I wouldn't be able to gobble up a hot meal in one shot. We soaked rice wrappers in water, filled them with red pepper, cucumber, tofu, chicken breast, coriander, glass noodles and dipped them in a yummy sauce composed of soy sauce, wine vinegar, some peanut oil we'd infused with Thai chiles, a touch of fish sauce and garlic.   

Salad Roll 

I imagine that I'll be up to a lot more of this sort of thing this summer while the weather's hotter than Jesus' balls.