Narcissus' Echo

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A round peg in a world of square holes...

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Yum!



The sun is out, the grass is warm, a soft breeze wafts through the palm trees - sounds like good reasons to spread out of beach blanket, twirl a hula hoop and/or eat some ice cream!

What: Beach Blanket Day at Orradre
Where: Alameda Mall in front of Orradre
When: Wednesday, May 25, 3pm-5pm (Hula Hoop contest at 4pm!)
Why?: Because we like you. M - O - U - S - E. (Quick, what's that refrain from?)

And if it rains or the weather is otherwise unpleasant? It wouldn't dare!



Today, the library declared it to be Beach Blanket Day: if you are willing to wear a garland of flowers (ladies) or colored transparent plastic ruffles (men), you get to join the line for free ice cream, toppings, chocolate or raspberry syrup, whipped cream and cherries, and a towel to lounge on the grass under the shade of the palm trees while watching volunteers compete in the Hula-hoop competition. The weather was perfect too. It was nice to do my research in an outdoor setting for a change. All those countless hours poring over musty tomes in cloistered corridors really get to you. Some of the more shapely females decided to change into their bikinis to better worship the sun. The braver (or more exhibitionistic) ones tried their luck with the Hula-hoops in their bikinis. It was a terrible distraction: Foucault or sexy young things gyrating their hips (and other parts of their anatomy)? Is that even a valid question? Needless to say, I didn't get much work done until I returned to the musty corridors... where I remained until 11 PM.

If I can sum up the Catholic experience in three words, they are: Temptation and Denial.

Ahem! Now that I have been damned for lust, it's time to move on to gluttony--like they say, in for a penny, in for a pound: here are two recipes (appetizer and entrée) to whip up for an intimate dinner with your special someone, or a few close friends:

Appetizer:

CAPRISÉ

Makes about 6 servings
Ingredients:
1 log of FRESH Mozzarella (not the "Low Moisture" type) cheese
4 vine-ripened tomatoes. Firm, not too ripe. (Do NOT get the cheaper gas-ripen type)
Colavita Balsamic Vinegar
High quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Colavita if your budget can take it. If not, Star will do)
Fresh Basil (the dried form can be used if you are feeling lazy)
Focaccia Bread (or, failing at which, you may substitute with Santa Cruz MicroBakery Bread)

Directions:
Dice Fresh Basil and place aside.
Slice Fresh Mozzarella into 1/4" thick slices and set aside.
Slice tomatoes into 1/4" thick slices, discarding the top and bottom pieces.
The number of tomato slices should correspond with the number of Mozzarella slices.
On the presentation dish, arrange tomato slices and then top each tomato slice with a slice of Mozarella.
Top each combination with the diced Fresh Basil.
With a large serving spoon, generously drizzle slices with Balsamic Vinegar.
With another large serving spoon, repeat the same with Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
Let sit for 10 minutes for the flavor of the Basil to seep into the Mozzarella cheese.
While waiting, lightly toast Focaccia bread (or alternative).


Entrée:

RISOTTO alla MAMA LOCATELLI

Makes about 6 servings
Ingredients:
1 to 2 quarts meat broth
1 cup of dry White Wine
About 5 tablespoons butter or margarine
About 5 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped yellow onion or shallots
4 or 5 cloves garlic
2 cups Italian Arborio rice
1/3 teaspoon powdered saffron (if available), dissolved in 1- 1/2 cups hot broth or water
6 to 8 fresh mushrooms, chopped (more mushrooms may be used)
Salt, if necessary
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Freshly grated Parmesan for topping.

Directions:
Bring broth to a slow, steady simmer.
In a separate heavy 3-quart pot, add 3 tablespoons butter and all the oil. Over medium-high heat, sauté onion and garlic until onion becomes translucent. Add rice, and stir until well-coated. Sauté rice, onion, and garlic lightly for a minute or so, then add 1/2 cup simmering broth; cook, stirring, until liquid is absorbed. As rice dries out, add another 1/2 cup simmering broth; continue to cook, stirring. Add broth as needed for about 15 minutes, stirring constantly to cook rice evenly and prevent it from hardening and sticking to bottom of pot.
Add half the saffron broth mixture. When rice begins to dry out, add remainder of saffron. (The later the saffron is added, the stronger its taste and aroma.) When saffron broth has been absorbed, continue cooking risotto, adding hot broth as needed. (If you run out of broth, add water.)
Add mushrooms; continue cooking and stirring. Correct heat is very important in making risotto -- a slow simmer is ideal. Risotto is ready when the rice is tender and moist but al dente. Taste to determine if salt is needed -- the beef broth is usually sufficiently salty. Add a few twists of pepper to taste, and turn off heat. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and the 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese. Mix thoroughly.
Spoon onto a hot platter or into individual bowls; offer more freshly grated Parmesan as topping.


The first recipe is from a small Italian diner in Los Gatos, California. The Pastaria & Market has been voted the best pasta in the South Bay. The second recipe is from Father Locatelli's list of favorite recipes.

A bottle of Chianti, or, if your palate prefers something spicier but thinner, Bolla Valpolicella (slightly chilled), complements the meal perfectly. Tiramisu would make the perfect desert.

Bon appétit!

2 Comments:

Anonymous Greg said...

joo r makin me hungry, man!

11:45 AM  
Blogger -ben said...

for food, I presume *grin*

7:58 AM  

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