If someone asked me, “What is a romantic meal?” I’m sure I would be expected to have an answer. After all, I’m a food blogger; I’m a cooking teacher. I’m married to the man of my dreams. I don’t think I do, though. (Today’s Pork Chop Parmesan with Lemon Mushroom Risotto might qualify!) Do I even know how to define “romantic”? To begin with, the word “romantic” is both an adjective and a noun. Leave it to the English major to think of that. If you just drop the word “romantic” into a conversation, I’m likely to think of Brahms, Chopin, Verdi, or Beethoven because I’m also a musician. While several definitions pop up when you search, here is one likely to make sense to most folks:
...conducive to or characterized by the expression of love.
"A romantic candlelit dinner."
It’s a wild guess, but having spent a little bit of time in Italy over the years, I don’t think you’d find Corn and Poblano Risotto on any menu there. A red or yellow pepper (peperone) risotto or rice with peas (Risi e Bisi), of course, but probably not corn or mild poblanos. Corn is reserved mostly for polenta and, loving polenta the way I do, I get that. Many peppers are cultivated in Italy (see photo below), but I don’t think poblanos are among them. Rightly or wrongly, we Americans have sort of taken risotto under our proverbial cooking wings and made it our own using favorite local ingredients. In this case, I had arborio rice; I had corn and poblanos. A meal needed to be made for good friends whose dinner with us had been delayed throughout Covid-Tide and here’s what transpired — a least a part of it. Perdonami (sorry), but I’m sincerely hoping any Nonna might forgive me for doing just as she does — using what’s available for dinner. On second thought, perhaps this is just a twist on our rice sopa seca (Mexican-style rice–literally “dry soup”), which traveled north to us along with many other wondrous meals. I like that idea but however it came to be, I’m overly glad it did.
This week marks the beginning of weekend picnics, warm holiday get togethers, nights in the backyard, weeks at the beach, days at the cabin, and all kinds of thrilling grilling on your balcony or patio! For fun, I ran through my TOP FAVORITE original summer sides on More Time at Table and brought them all together in one place just before Memorial Day. I’ll keep perusing my files and as I find other luscious things I think you’d like, I’ll stick them in. Be cool!
Working on the recipes for an Italian-Style Easter Dinner Class, I knew I wanted to include an INSTANT POT (IP) something for fun, interest, change of pace, and because so many people ask me about IP. After testing any number of recipes for an upcoming cookbook (not mine), working on translating a few of my own soup recipes to IP, and reading a couple of IP cookbooks, I decided– given the Italian theme and the stellar risotto coming out of the IP– that the recipe had to be risotto. And since it was spring, that meant asparagus. Of course it’s Lent, so fish needed to make an appearance for Friday. It needed a bit of thinking…
There always seems to be time for certain meals in your cooking rotation. Perhaps yours are something like chicken tacos, lentils with roasted vegetables, veggie chili, pork tenderloin and potatoes, grilled salmon on salad, eggs and bacon, vegetable soup, burgers, or some such round up of goodies. Is it because these are the things you know best how to make off the top of your head? No recipe needed, eh? Are they the meals it’s easiest to shop for? The ones all five of you will eat or dishes providing the needed leftovers? Easiest on the budget? The ones you have time for?
Out of all the things folks say to me about making dinner, the most common might be, “I never know what to fix.” It occurs to me that while those are the words coming out of their mouths, the problem might not be that exactly. It might be a question of, “I know how to make tacos, but not enchiladas, so I buy the ingredients and cook tacos. A lot. I don’t have the time to learn enchiladas. Other days I make grilled boneless chicken breasts, salad, chili, mac and cheese, and hamburgers because I don’t need a recipe.” Or…could be they didn’t plan a week’s meals and shop for the plan. We’ve all been there.
There are some nights when dinner just doesn’t want to get made. I’m tired or the fridge seems to hold not one good thing despite the fact that it’s full. And that is occasionally because I’ve told myself I need to use up leftovers even though I’m sick of them after the holidays. Lord. Waste not… Continue reading →
Still have some openings in upcoming classes, which begin next Thursday, April 16, 5-8pm at Shouse Appliance in Colorado Springs. There are two available spots each in the FRENCH CLASS, April 16 and in the BRUNCH class (we’re learning how to make homemade sausage!), April 25, as well in the rest of the series. Click at top on CURRENT CLASSES for list and registration info. Can’t wait to cook with you!
Orzo, the tiny rice-like pasta, and vegetables is a favorite combination of mine and you’ll see it on the blog a time or two. Or more. This particular comforting oh-so-green pasta dish, which is easily made vegan, seems to catapult spring vegetables such as asparagus, fennel, and baby spinach way up onto their long-awaited pedestal. It also feels and nearly looks like risotto minus the questionably constant stirring, angst, and jaw-clenching risotto seems to engender. While it bubbles away nearly untended, you can look to other occupations like pouring wine, chatting, setting the table, or if you’re like me, petting Rosie–just spayed and not too happy with it. Poor baby. She does like the pills that come all wrapped up in cream cheese for easy swallowing.
For other meals, I cook orzo separately and make a heartier dish or pasta salad, adding feta, tiny tomatoes, celery or peas, basil or parsley, and a vinaigrette. Either variation is easy to make ahead early on a warm day for a potluck or as a bed for that night’s grilled fish, shrimp, chicken or chops. You can find regular orzo easily in the pasta aisle of your B-flat grocery store, but there are also some brands that sell the whole-wheat variety, which adds fiber and protein. Try this:
ONE-PAN ORZO “RISOTTO” WITH ASPARAGUS, FENNEL, AND CHERRY TOMATOES