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Thursday, April 15, 2010

If Life Gives You Lemons, Make Risotto!

This week's meals have more than made up for last week's disastrous, hotter than hell fire, tacos.  If you read Tuesday's blog, you read about the wonderful meal I made Sunday with Meyer Lemons.  Lemon just seems so right for spring suppers.  It's light and refreshing and adds a subtle flavor most people love.

We also had chicken tetrazini and meatball sandwiches this week, both a hit with my family.  The meatball sandwiches are really easy.  Look on January 19th's post for the meatball recipe and cook the meatballs in purchased spaghetti sauce such as Newman's Own, about 30 minutes, turning over gently after 15 minutes.  Serve on toasted hoagie rolls with your favorite cheese on top.  There might be a fight for any leftovers.

Back to the lemons.  Risotto has a bad reputation for being difficult to make but it's really not.  If you have plenty of time and want a special meal, you can make risotto.  The secret is to add the liquid slowly and to stir constantly.  Risotto is a great accompaniment to seafood, chicken or red meat.  One person can grill some shrimp or chicken while the other makes the risotto.  Finish with a simple green salad or grilled vegetables.  You will have a dinner to impress anyone.

Lemon Risotto
2 large shallots, chopped
2 to 3 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cups aborio rice (do not substitute other rice)
1/4 cup dry white wine
6 cups chicken broth
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley or 2 tsp. dried
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice, Meyer or other kind
4 tsp. lemon zest
Saute the shallots over medium high heat in the olive oil till tender.  Add rice and stir 1 to 2 minutes more as the shallots lightly brown.  Add wine and stir till absorbed.  Continue adding chicken broth 1/3 cup at a time and stirring until absorbed.  May need to reduce heat slightly.  The rice will become creamy as the liquid is slowly added.  This process takes 30 to 40 minutes.  When all the liquid has been added, the rice should be done.  Add the parsley, lemon juice and zest.  Serve as soon as possible as it will dry out and become sticky.

Lemon, lime or orange zest is easy to do if you have a microplane grater.  Check at the local cooking stores and ask for one.  To zest the lemon, wash and dry it first.  Then lightly rub the lemon against the blades, turning the lemon frequently so you only get the yellow outer part.  Don't zest the white pith underneath as it is bitter.  A little zest adds so much flavor to all your cooking that you will want to use it often.

The weather has been just lovely this week and I have been getting out as much as possible.  We forget how much good the outdoors does for us, mentally and physically.  Mulching a small bed or putting in a few flowers will give you such a peaceful sense of accomplishment.  Walking your dog and admiring all the newly green trees and plants will also do you both good.  I hope you are taking advantage of this wonderful gift of spring.  Enjoy your risotto and have a good weekend.             

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