Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Roses and Risotto

Life is not a bed of roses.  How many times have you heard that saying?  Roses are beautiful and they certainly smell nice.  I caught this one with my iPhone last Friday while standing around on carpool duty after school (I was watching the kiddies, too, I promise).  There are several lovely rosebushes on campus and they seem to bloom almost year round.  Here's another--

Back to the bed of roses thing, though.  They have thorns so I am not sure why a bed of roses would be seen as comfy in the first place.  But I didn't make up the saying.  Would you want your life to be a bed of roses?  No troubles?  No conflicts?  No sadness?  No weaknesses?  If life was were (Was or were?  Who the heck knows?) always easy, would we know how to appreciate the goodness and the simple pleasures that come our way?  Or how would we find success after a long struggle or even a not-so-long one?  How would we truly find out what we are made of?  Today's post on French Word-A-Day got me to thinking this morning.  I've read both of Kristin's books, most of her blogposts, and her writing has become more personal in the last few months.  She has shared her struggles as well as her joys in the life that most of her readers envy to the nth degree (I do not think that I am only speaking for moi here).  And I like her way more for sharing her struggles.  She is now a human to me.  Her life isn't a bed of roses.  The un-named book that I am reading now is just a little too perfect for me.  I don't relate to the author, even though she is in France, eating, drinking, and speaking French.  All the chapters wrap up a little too perfectly for my taste.  Even the fictional characters I love the most have their imperfections.  For example, Cara Black's Aimée Leduc occasionally breaks down and has a cigarette or she falls for the wrong "bad boy."  We all have imperfections and weaknesses.  Does that make us less than desirable?  Or bad, even?  Certainement pas.  Those roses aren't perfect either, but that doesn't stop me from photographing or smelling them!

I've been craving risotto for the past few days.  Am I in need of a comfort-food fix?  Probably.  I finally gave in and made it, using a recipe I found at allrecipes.com.  I do not understand why making it is called "painful."  Sure, you have to stand there and stir and add liquid, but what a glorious mix of smell and mindless work.  No multi-tasking allowed.  Well... I sipped a glass of rosé while making it.

 And I listened to Buena Vista Social Club.  (The Ex-Ex wasn't home yet so I could listen to whatever I wanted without explanation.  Guilty pleasure, I confess, oui.)  Chef Érick introduced me to this group back in 2008.  We also watched a documentary film about the members of the group, made by Wim Wenders and released in 1999.  If their music doesn't move you, chances are you have lost your soul...  Give them a listen.  Find your soul. Then download one a CD onto your music device of choice.  And turn it up.  Dance around the living room.  Or the kitchen as you stir the risotto.  Sing along.  As loudly as you want.

Gourmet Mushroom Risotto
6 servings

6 c. chicken broth
2 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 lb. portobello mushrooms, sliced and chopped
1 lb. white mushrooms, sliced and chopped
1 med. onion, diced or 2 shallots, diced
1 1/2 c. Arborio rice
1/2 c. dry white wine
Sea salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 Tbsp. finely chopped chives, optional
1/3 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1.  Warm the broth to simmer; reduce heat to low.
2.  Heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil and 1 Tbsp. butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.  Stir in the mushrooms and cook until soft, about 3-5 minutes.  Remove mushrooms and their liquid and set aside.
3.  Add 1 Tbsp. olive oil and 1 Tbsp. butter to the pan and stir in the onions.  Cook about 3 minutes, until soft.  Add rice, stirring to coat with oil, about 2 minutes.  When the rice is pale gold, pour in the wine and stir until it is fully absorbed.  Add 1/2 c. of broth to the rice and stir until the broth is absorbed.  Continue adding broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring continuously, until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is al dente, about 15-20 minutes.
4.  Remove from heat and stir in mushrooms with their liquid.  Add chives, if using, and Parmesan.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve immediately.

Bon appétit à tous!

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