Johanna: The Improviser

Never quite follows the recipe. Doesn't really measure. Tastes with her fingers. Somehow, it always works.

Running and relationships

Posted: December 14, 2009 | Author: Johanna | Filed under: Johanna | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments »

A few months ago, I took up running. It seemed like everybody I knew was doing it in some way, and some of my friends were doing amazing things, like running half-marathons for cancer research, and running the whole damn NYC Marathon with a bum knee. Around the same time, my dear friend Bakezilla made some cookies for a guy on a first date.
The running has continued. I’ve run in several races.
Bakezilla’s thing with her guy has also continued, and a few weeks ago the time came for us to meet this boy, so that Bakezilla could see whether he meshed with her friends, and I could scope him out and tell her if I got the serial killer vibe from him.

SPOILER ALERT: He’s not a serial killer. Not even the slightest hint of anything but nice guy.

In any event. After one Sunday morning of running in a race, Jesse and I were at a diner, sharing our post-race traditional brunch (corned beef hash, what what) and I realized that I had no real plan for the dinner I was cooking that night for Bakezilla and Boy. Risotto had been suggested, which is always a good move for me, because it’s such a one-pot favorite, and because it’s so easy to make while still interacting with guests.
While discussing the dinner and what I’d make, my brain’s tumblers clicked into place and I came up with a hearty, delicious offering that would also be interesting and vegetarian:

Risotto and Green beans

Pumpkin-Sage Risotto with Brown Butter

This dish has a lot of advantages. #1, it gives you a chance to roll your eyes and mutter under your breath that I must be at least half starch at this point, since I make risotto and blog about it so much. #2, it gives you a chance to put your dinner where your mouth is, and use the techniques that I talk about all the time. And #3, it gives you one more dish in your arsenal for vegetarians, for pumpkin-fiends, and for people who you want to like you, as much as you want to like them.
I make this in my Le Creuset braiser, because it has a flat bottom, shallow sides, and lots of area for the rice to suck up broth. I’d recommend a similar pan, if you can find one, or a big, straight-sided skillet.
You start this like any other risotto, sauteing an onion in butter, adding the rice and sauteing it, and then working the salt and stock in. In this case, I used vegetable stock. Near the end of cooking, add about half a cup of canned pumpkin, and 3 tablespoons of browned butter. You can adjust this to taste, especially if you’re making this for a crowd. I ended up with about 3/4 cup of pumpkin, I think. The browned butter is pretty crucial, as it lends a nice nuttiness to the risotto.

To brown butter, you put it in a pan over low heat. First, it will melt. Then, it will foam. Then, the foam will disappear. At this point, don’t walk away, because the butter will begin to smell nutty. As soon as you get the faintest whiff of nuttiness, TAKE THE BUTTER OFF THE HEAT. Browned butter becomes Burned butter in a matter of seconds, and the pan stays hot after you take it off the heat, thanks to the wonders of carryover heat. So please, I’m begging you. Don’t burn your butter, and then blame my risotto. It’s just not fair.

I put chopped sage leaves in with the butter while it was browning, and sprinkled more throughout the dish right before I served it. The sage meshed well with the brown butter and pumpkin, and the parmesan that I always add to the tail end of risotto echoed the nutiness of the brown butter. I served this with my typical green beans: blanched for 2 minutes, shocked in ice water, sauteed with shallots and lemon zest.

I can confidently say that it’s delicious. And that Bakezilla’s Boy is a win. I mean, anyone who eats 3 helpings of my cooking, picks out a great wine, AND helps make a pie? He’s a keeper. :)

4 Comments on “Running and relationships”

  1. 1 Bakezilla said at 3:39 pm on December 14, 2009:

    This was legit delish. I loved this, and might even try to make it on my own. Thanks for a great meal, and I’m glad you liked the boy, I kind of do too. :)

  2. 2 Rita said at 6:26 pm on December 15, 2009:

    Vegetarian? Check.

    Pumpkin fiend? Check.

    You, my friend, have made my day.

    I can also vouch that Bakezilla doesn’t mingle with serial killers. :)

  3. 3 Johanna said at 6:28 pm on December 15, 2009:

    Excellent!! Next time I’m testing a pumpkin recipe, Rita, be available. You don’t want to miss out. Promise!

  4. 4 Ben said at 11:07 pm on December 16, 2009:

    It should be added that Johanna cooked this meal without taking her eyes off the football game on TV……and it still came out amazing. Anyone who thinks vegetarian food is rabbit food should try this risotto. It is hearty and delicious. The green beans were excellent, too. That, plus the amazing company (which can’t be duplicated with a recipe), made for a heck of a fun evening. Thanks for having us over. – The Boy

Leave a Reply

Johanna: The Improviser

Never quite follows the recipe. Doesn't really measure. Tastes with her fingers. Somehow, it always works.

Alyssa: The Triple Threat

Can do it all. And modest to boot.

Bakezilla: We Use Mixers Too

She likes to bake. Actually, baking is the only thing she does. It's a passion.

Rita: The Kosher Chick

Restrictions have nothing on her.