I would love to have been a jolly soul this morning but after last night's visit to the Helsinki beer festival I missed this morning and am struggling this afternoon. I drank way too much different stuff and am reaping the whirlwind. That is a good thing in a way.
Yet surprisingly my mind turns to my trip into town to meet Deb, Cecilie, Quinn Tom, Dave & Hanna. I'd been at work so they were ahead of me. The sun was shining, I had managed to dress myself to the point where I looked like I knew what I was doing (believe me that is an achievement). The train ride into Helsinki was OK but I wanted to close my eyes in the sun but as there was nowhere to sit I settled for resting my head against the door as we rolled along. As we pulled into the station the train for St Petersburg was flling up with people. I remember seeing that there was a member of staff at every door dressed in a very Russian way with enormous hats. Then the ride on the metro was uneventful except for the girl standing on the platform in front of me. What was strange about her was that the way she stood, forced by her odd shoes and the insane tightness of her jeans made it seem as if her knees bent the wrong way. Finally I remember the strong light as I walked down the street to the mamouth old cable factory. It was piercing and even from behind my sunnies it was too strong to really see what was in front of me. The wind was vigourous but I was happy.
The movie last was week - Tha Band's Visit - was also good. I know the proposition of a film in Hebrew, Arabic and Englsih with Finnish & Swedish subtitles doesn't sound so good but it was nice little vignette and very in keeping with "If no one speaks of remarkable things" in so far as it saw the beautiful in the mundane and the two combined to make me quite sad.
Today despite the way I am feeling the kitchen will be busy. I am going to make Mushroom and roast pepper risotto followed by baked rhubard. Risotto is an act of love and probably the dish I love to cook more than any other. For me the challenge with risotto is to continually simplify it. Less is more. So please make sure of a couple of things. Home made stock. Unsalted butter. Dry Vermouth. Remember there are 4 stages to a risotto.
2) Rice in
3) Other ingredients in
4) Butter and parmesan
If you use these 4 stages to know where you are a risotto is simple to make.
Garlic finely chopped
Carrot finely chopped
Celery finely chopped
Onion finely chopped
110g Arborio rice
350-400ml Chicken stock
Red Peppers roasted to intensify their sweetness and then cut into strips
Mushrooms finely chopped and fried in butter and with lots of ground pepper
Heat the oil in a pan, and gently fry the garlic, onion, carrot and celery for a few minutes. Add the rice and let it fry for a minute or so. Then add the vermouth, let it be absorbed and the harsh vapours to disappate. Now add a ladel full of stock and begin stirring. As the stock is absorbed add more one ladel at a time. As it cooks check the seasoning. Do not add to much salt too early as the cheese will add saltiness. Keep stirring. When the stock is nearly one ladle from been all added put in the mushrooms and the thyme. When all done remove from the heat and add the butter and cheese. Stir in and put a lid on the pan. Leave for two minutes. Check for seasoning one last time. Serve with the red pepper on top.
Update: The risotto was very good, however I think cracked pepper would be better than ground pepper with the mushrooms and we found out that we had no parmesan! However as those of you who read this blog no we try not to wasit anything so we had a stash of parmesan rinds in the freezer. They were swiftly pulled out, warmed up and enough cheese was coaxed off them to save the day.