Friday, January 30, 2009

Cibus Corner: Seafood Risotto

In the interest of mixing things up a bit, I've enlisted my sister Jane (aka "Babs"...don't ask how she ended up with that nickname, I gave it to her years ago and I'm still not sure precisely why, other than it annoyed her, but it ended up sticking) to author a weekly post on cooking. Having had the luxury of enjoying many of her home cooked meals, I can attest first hand that she's an amazing (and very creative) chef. And with that brief introduction, I'll hand the keyboard over to her. Take it away, Jane! --

Chef Babs

If you are anything like me, then you appreciate nothing more than a simple, good recipe. While I admit that I love the Food Network and often watch in awe as Mario and Emeril whip up something exquisite, I must admit that whenever I attempt these more complicated dishes I am left thinking that it was probably not as good as the time it took me to make it. Food for me is a hobby, not a profession and I find that the recipes that I repeat are the dishes that are delicious, not too complicated with the ingredients, and take me an hour-and-a-half (maximum) to make. During the week, I prefer 45 minutes or less. When it comes to baking, I find that simple is always best and that a shortcut here and there often improves the outcome, though I'm not one for the semi-homemade results of a certain Food Network star (*ahem* Sandra Lee). Besides, I wouldn't know how to make a tablescape to save my life.

We celebrated my mother’s 60th birthday on Wednesday and, while the formal party isn't until this weekend, I did make her a special birthday dinner. This recipe is healthy, fairly easy to prepare (though it is a little more fussy than I would do on a regular week night), and is a great go-to recipe for an informal dinner party or a romantic night in. (Note: this recipe serves 2, so double for a family of 4). It is a recipe from Cooking Light, so in order to give them full-credit, I am attaching a link to the recipe rather than simply copying it here. Tip: Substitute fat-free half-and-half for the heavy cream. The recipe only calls for two tablespoons, so no one will notice the missing fat and you'll get the same rich, creamy texture.

I paired the risotto with a salad made from fresh greens, pears, almond slivers, and Gorgonzola cheese topped with light balsamic vinaigrette. I also served it with a crusty baguette and a bottle of moderately priced cab. I must say it was a huge hit and no one even realized it was healthy! The dish itself is fairly rich tasting (even though it is healthy) so a dessert is not necessary. If you are having a dinner party and feel you need to serve a dessert then I would go with something light, like a fresh fruit tart or an exotic flavor of sorbet. There is nothing I love to cook more than cookies and cake, but for this dinner it would be too heavy and take away from the simple elegance of the dish.

Next week: Easy breakfasts that will wow partners, kids and guests alike!


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