Archive | February, 2011
When I lived in Milan, Italy for a semester, I was studying fashion. And although I was not fully aware of it, I was studying food too. I remember strolling down the streets reading every menu I’d walk by and wanting to stop in every fresh market we stumbled upon.
One of the really fun things that I was able to participate in was cooking classes at the school I attended, NABA Nuova Accademia Di Bella Arti, the New School of Art. I think the classes took place every Wednesday and we were the first group of students that were able to take these classes. I can’t tell you how much I looked forward to those lessons. I should have recognized my love for food right then and there!
The women who taught these classes were very knowledgeable and taught us how to make great things, like risotto.
In this photo we were actually just about to make risotto. And every now and then they let us do some chopping, slicing, mixing. But what we loved best? Eating!
If you have never had risotto, it takes a lot of time, patience and love. The rice needs to slowly cook to become creamy and break down.
And every now and then they let us do some chopping, slicing, mixing. But what we loved best? Eating!
So the other week I’m flipping through a Rachael Ray magazine when I see a recipe for risotto and realize that I’ve never made risotto since I’ve gained my awesome risotto skills! And it isn’t like I’ve just returned folks, this was 3 years ago.
What does a girl do? Make some of course!
Lemon-Artichoke Risotto (recipe compliments of Rach herself)
You will need:
•2 cups chicken broth
•4 TBS butter
•2 cups arborio rice
• 1 1/4 cups drained artichoke hearts
•Grated peel of 1 lemon, 2 tsp lemon juice
•2/3 cup parmesan cheese (or a handful)
•A shake of parsley
•1/3 cup walnuts, chopped and toasted
1.) Begin by melting 2 TBS butter in a saucepan and add onion until they are softened.
2.) Meanwhile, bring the water and chicken broth to a boil. I chose to use bullion cubes instead of chicken broth because that was what I had on hand. If you decide to also do this, just use 1 cube per cup of water. So I used 2 cubes with 2 cups of water and 4 additional cups of water.
3.) Once onions are softened, add rice and stir until rice is toasted.
Can I pause for a minute to tell you how much I love that arborio rice comes packed tight like this? I know, it sounds weird but I love how it’s hard as a rock and then you cut into the bag and the rice becomes all loose and ready to cook!
Nice and toasty
4.) Now here comes the slightly tricky part. Risotto is all about patience and allowing the rice to break down and become creamy. Add 1 cup of the broth mixture and bring to a simmer while constantly stirring and liquid is absorbed. Keep the risotto simmering low and continue to add a small amount of liquid at a time until it absorbs. You will know when to add more as the liquid absorbs. Don’t stop stirring!
5.) Towards the end of the cooking, add artichoke, lemon peel, lemon juice, walnuts and remaining butter.
Oh glorious, creamy risotto.
Now plate your risotto to make it extra yummy.
On a plate that says yum.
Was it made by Italian women in an Italian kitchen in Italy good? Well, no. But it was made by an Italian girl with a lot of love and patience and that’s good enough for me
I would also like to suggest you check out two bloggers and friends that I know outside of the blogosphere
To say that the kitchen in Jay’s apartment is small would be an understatement. It is teeny tiny. And if you thought that would stop us from trying to cook in it, you’d be wrong.
We do try to stick to simple things and what simpler than pizza?! Jay had a great idea to make naan pizza and I agreed.
To give you an idea of what we were working with…this is the only counter space available and we sure did load it up with great ingredients.
While Jay started prepping the naan I was slicing up some peppas.
We spread a little olive oil on the naan for some flavor.
Some mozzarella cheese.
Followed by cheddar cheese.
And some grilled chicken.
Jay accidentally began spreading the cheese on my pizza so I had to spread the sauce on top. Kinda like boardwalk pizza I suppose.
I added some grilled chicken and peppers on mine.
I also made some green beans for some color and nutrition.
And the results…
Not only did we create a delicious meal but we also had fun doing it! Who says you can’t cook in small spaces?
So what did everyone do for Valentine’s Day? If you braved the restaurant crowds I hope you had some patience. Jay and I celebrated early but we still had a great time!
On Friday, we dined at Dante & Luigi’s, which is said to be the oldest restaurant in Philadelphia! We had been there once before for my graduation and our experience was better than the first time.
The restaurant is very old Italian and you feel like you’re sitting in your Grandma’s kitchen. You might as well be, because the food is that good.
We started off with a few drinks. I had a glass of the house Pinot Noir and Jay had a Peroni.
We were also given some excellent crusty Italian bread that I dipped in olive oil.
It’s pretty rare for us to get appetizers, let alone share one, but we decided to try an antipasto freddo, a cold appetizer of imported prosciutto, provolone & Sicilian olives.
I also had a simple house salad and Jay had the ceasar salad. I was kicking myself after that I didn’t get that tasty salad!
For my entree I chose a dish my sister ordered last time we visited.
Farfalli & Mushrooms: Bow tie pasta with a trio of mushrooms in a basil cream sauce.
This pasta dish is unbelievably delectable. I rarely order pasta at restaurants but this is something I can’t pass up. The sauce is so flavorful and the mushrooms just melt into the pasta. Definitely one of the best Italian dishes I have ever had.
And Jay had chicken parm.
He said that this is now the best chicken he has ever had.
We had to get dessert to celebrate Valentine’s Day! Any excuse, right And Dante & Luigi’s makes homemade gelato! How could we pass that up?
We shared some chocolate gelato, which was perfectly creamy and rich. A perfect way to end our great night!
After dining here for the second time, I can confidently say that Dant e& Luigi’s is not only one of my favorite restaurants, but also some of the best Italian food I’ve had at a restaurant.
As a reminder, vote for my cupcake! And in case you missed the update on my last post, you can now vote once a day. I appreciate all your votes and support. Just click the button below and click the vote button.