NO, THAT'S NOT a photo of risotto; it's another of the Hundred Plates, tuna-cannellini-onion salad, and it's what we just finished eating tonight, followed by the usual green salad. It's also an example of Elective Affinities, I think, as is true of most of the Hundred Plates. Colors, textures, flavors of course, all seem to play off one another. Mustn't forget the minced Italian parsley, of course, or the salt. A superb thing.
MORE SUPERB, I think, was the dinner I cooked night before last. It was the Cook's birthday, hence her night off, and I bought a bottle of very special Italian white wine to celebrate. Alas I'd hidden it to prevent her discovering it too soon and spoiling the surprise, and now of course I have no idea where it is.
I made up for it by cooking a very special risotto whose idea came from a book I chanced upon in the local library: Rice, Risotto, Pilaff & Paella , by Christine Ingram. Here's what I did: softened maybe four shallots, minced fine, in a half stick of butter. Fried a quart of Arborio rice in that, constantly turning it, until the grains began to go transparent around the edges. Threw in a bottle of "Champagne" (I used something called Veuve du Vernay, Brut, acceptable) and cooked that down. Then began adding vegetable stock, a good-sized ladleful at a time, always stirring it until it was incorporated before adding the next one.
When the rice was cooked al dente I added a half pint of cream and a good quantity, say a cupful at least, of grated Parmesan cheese; and served it with the pepper grinder and the Parmesan and a grater.
The stock: I quartered an unpeeled yellow onion, chopped three good-sized leek stalks whose whites had previously been used, added the top ends of a few stalks of celery, some thyme, and threw all that into a gallon of water, salting it as it cooked. I strained it before adding it to the risotto.
This is a pretty unconventional risotto, I know, but suitable for an illustrious occasion; and everyone liked it. It was beautiful to see, too; white, soft, creamy — too bad I was too busy, and having too good a time, to photograph it!
LAST NIGHT we were content with one of Cook's one-pot hominy dishes, deep and substantial, with sausage, onion, and tomato contributing. Always, always, a green salad after; tonight with mustard vinaigrette.