Monday, January 19, 2009

Late Night Friend Time

My very good friend Roth came to town on Thursday on his way back home to Ithaca from Los Angeles. He periodically comes to the city and one of our mutual passions as I have mentioned in previous posts is cooking. The fun part is that when we have not seen each other for a while we talk first and foremost about food. Roth and I dialogue back and forth in a sort of culinary ramble or claim jumping session; recounting recent meals cooked or encountered dining out. This inevitably results in us brainstorming a menu, cooking, and then enjoying the spoils of our labor. His flight got in late and I cooked a few things to eat late night upon his arrival. We sat down at about 10:45 and did not finish the meal until midnight. I felt like a Spaniard eating dinner late in the day after a long siesta.

I cooked a tasty mostly vegetarian meal we ate over a couple of beers and a glass of dry white wine. The first course was a green salad of Boston lettuce and mache, one of my favorite fresh greens, with raspberry vinaigrette. I love fruit based vinaigrettes because they instill a bright summery flavor into winter dinners and they are delicious. Whisk together a teaspoon of both raspberry jam and whole grain mustard emulsified with balsamic and olive oil. The second course was a large bowl of what I called “creamed onions.” Roth and I have oft mused about where a green onion ends and a leek begins so I thought it would be clever to make a dish by sautéing them together. I added some cream and a bit of butter to the pan before serving and topped the green mixture with chives. The three oniony vegetables obviously worked well together and each mouthful had a different degree of intensity some with more bite than others.

The third course was white truffle risotto. My father gave me a beautiful small burlap sack of white crystals peppered with small black slivers front for Christmas. Italian Truffle Salt! He also gave me a small aluminum tube of White Truffle Paste which is basically the essence of Italian truffles to be added to pan sauces, pastas, butter, etc. Needless to say I was thrilled and this risotto was my first usage of both gifts. I sautéed onions and garlic with some truffle salt before toasting the Carneloni (or Arborio) rice and deglazing with a cup of white wine. I gradually added hot chicken stock ladle by ladle to thicken and cook the rice before squeezing in a generous tablespoon of truffle paste, a bit of cream, and grated pecorino. The risotto was deeply flavored and had a gorgeous light beige color. The only thing the creamy risotto lacked lacked was a generous showering of white truffle slices but alas these are poor economic times! I encourage you to enjoy and share delicious food and home cooked meals with yourself and others!

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