Some people might think it no coincidence that Valentine’s Day and Venereal Disease share the same initials. Apart from the fact that they are equally horrible, both can mock us, drive us to despair or make us feel silly and hate people. It's easy to opt out of a commercial scam but I can't dismiss its sentiment altogether, this idea of expressing hope for love on a rainy day in February. There is but one heart-plumping answer: food.
Just read this lusty missive written by my friend Joan (who you can visit here):
Conjure luscious creaminess in your mouth along with Italian provenance and you may think of (no, not that) you may think of gelato. But forget that. For a truly scrumptious creamily mouth-coating oral experience, it has to be risotto.
Risotto: plump, warming, tongue pleasing and piquant. Good risotto is the reward of patience; the outcome of a relationship between the rice and the chef. The stirring of each granular pearl so that it becomes infused with butter, wine, stock and a medley of ingredients. Slowly cooked, it is a dish best eaten slowly, and in good company.
Risotto often presents as modest in appearance but, as mother said: don’t be fooled by appearances. The first forkful will seduce you and how sublime to know that satisfaction will assuredly follow.
What you need:
An onion (or leek or shallots) and garlic
Ingredients of choice: just about anything goes in a risotto. For this one: mushrooms, green beans (or spinach), fresh sprigs of thyme, almonds (slivered) and lemon (one)
6 to 8 cups of veggie stock and white wine (one cup for the stock, one for you)
A very generous block of parmigiano reggiano
Patience: At least half an hour to cook alone, stirring always. It’s best to have music and a glass of wine by your side at all times.
How it goes:
Heat the stock and wine together to just simmering and leave it that way
Finely chop your onion (or leek or shallots) and garlic and soften them in olive oil over medium heat (add a little butter if you like)
After a few minutes add your thyme and arborio rice (1/2 to 3/4 of a cup for two) and stir it so that it is coated in oil and starting to go transluscent. Do not let it brown or burn – death to risotto if you do.
Add grated lemon rind, slivered almonds and a squeeze of lemon juice. (If you had long cooking veggies, e.g. pumpkin, now would be the time to add them.)
Ladle in a cup of liquid – or enough to cover the rice.
When there is more mush than liquid, add more stock. Repeat for 10-15 minutes.
Add your softer chopped veggies (mushrooms, tomato, beans or asparagus) and keep doing the stock thing.
After another 5 or 10 minutes the rice isn’t really absorbing much liquid anymore. Try a granule to make sure it is firm but not chewy.
When it’s good, add a handful of grated parmesan, some pepper and a couple of tablespons of butter.
Stir rapidly to mix everything together and get it extra creamy.
Turn off the heat and let the risotto sit for a few minutes before serving. Sprinkle with shaved parmesan and cracked pepper.
Eat naked by candlelight and lick away any spills.
And who better to opine about having love on your side than Dusty Springfield...
Dusty Springfield - Just A Little Lovin' mp3 download
Dusty Springfield - Breakfast In Bed mp3 download