This past Saturday, I celebrated my friend Tanja’s (pronounced .. Tanya) 28th birthday. She’s not too happy about the prospect of getting closer to 30.

I laughed. At her.

And then I cried.

For me.

But I’m not crying anymore. Mostly because the risotto. and the mushrooms. and the heavy cream and butter.

Herbs (Pronounced erbs) Because I'm American and that's how we say it.

It appears most people are intimidated by the prospect of making Risotto. But in reality, it isn’t difficult. At all. You do have to stand over a hot stove and stir the pot constantly.

Please note: Barefoot and pregnant with a baby on your hip is totally optional.

Just make sure you have all your mis en place ready. All your ingredients chopped up, pre-cooked or warming in a pot.

I first sauteed a pound of sliced crimini mushrooms. Meaty little buggers that stand up to everything and impart an amazing earthy flavor to the risotto.

Mushrooms. In juice.

 My base recipe is a variation of the Gourmet Mushroom Risotto recipe I found on allrecipes.com and then combined with the final touches of the Pioneer Woman’s Risotto recipe. I found the combination to be pretty gosh darn amazing.

I cannot insist enough that you should not leave the stove for the 30 minutes or so that you will be stirring/cooking.

This would be a bad time for a potty break.

If you do it right, you will end up with this. To put it over the top (if you have some) drizzle a little bit of truffle oil on top.

Creamy Cheesy Mushroom Risotto

And if you are so inclined (which I am) serve it next to some chicken picatta.

Capers are under the parsley

And then watch your friend’s dog sadly mourn for his own helping of risotto and chicken.

Poor Alex

If you happen to have any risotto left you can do what I did (which of course I forgot to take pictures). Make some arancini. Just ball up some cold risotto, stuff it with some cheese (traditionally its mozzarella) then roll it around in some seasoned breadcrumbs and fry. Take a look at this recipe from Giada for Arancini di Riso.

Happy Birthday Tanja! And no worries.

30 aint so bad. And I will always be older than you. HA!

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