Sunday, November 18, 2012

Black Friday & Orange Saturday

(Family Meal Risotto: Squid Ink with Spicy-Fried Shrimp)

"culinary mind" never stops... and I'm okay with that. The more I
obsess, the more I learn. During my "Cuisines of the Mediterranean"
course, I fell in love with squid ink while studying Spain. We made a tapas dish called Txipirones Saltsa Beltzean (Baby Squid in Black Ink Sauce) and I ate my fill everyday of the menu. The sauce was silky and the color was brilliant.

(Blurry Photo: Txipirones Saltsa Beltzean (Baby Squid in Black Ink Sauce) from Euskadi)

The squid bodies were stuffed with a hearty yet simple mixture: baby squid, serrano ham, onions, green bell peppers and bread crumbs. The sauce complemented the filling--onions, green bell pepper, garlic, tomato puree, white wine and squid ink. Clean and rich flavors. I couldn't get enough!

A few weekends later, I decided that I needed to reconstruct the flavors into my own concoction. I made a squid ink pasta with a seafood stuffing.

(Finished with a sauce of Shrimp Stock, Tomato, Garlic and Butter.)

As I mentioned before, my partner and I are responsible for making risotto for both family meal and service (we have a beet risotto on the menu at Caterina De Medici). We were asked to be creative and try new ideas for our family meal. My mind immediately turned to squid ink. My chef told me that this dish was traditionally prepared in Venice. Onions, garlic, tomato and red pepper are slowly cooked together (sofrito). The squid body is braised in its own ink and combined with the rice.

our preparation, we had leftover shrimp and octopus from the saute
station. We chopped the octopus and added it to the risotto. We breaded
shrimp in a spicy mixture and used it as a garnish.

It was delicious.

I later realized that I subconsciously made black risotto in honor of the upcoming Black Friday.

(Roasted Butternut Squash with Garlic, Cinnamon, Bay Leaf, Sage, Rosemary, Thyme, Parsley Stems, Olive Oil, Salt & Pepper.)

And because we had the unusual circumstance to have class on Saturday (because of Thanksgiving break), I dubbed it "Orange Saturday" and made Butternut Squash Risotto.

I've been learning and slowly getting better at making risotto.

During the first few days of our class, I was extremely intimidated to
make risotto. My chef hails from Italy and I wanted it to be perfect--the
way he makes it. After several conversations, I found that the best way
to make risotto is in bulk! Chef told me that risotto should ALWAYS be
made for more than two people. It is a dish to be shared. He also told
me that when making risotto in large batches the ratio of liquid to rice
is approximately 3.5 to 1.

For the Butternut Squash Risotto:

sweating the onions and toasting the rice, I added white wine until
absorbed and 2/3 of the liquid (chicken stock) over a high heat. Once
the liquid was nearly all absorbed, I added my butternut squash puree
and the remaining liquid. When the rice was cooked, I finished the dish
with the addition of  butter, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper to taste.

It was delicious, however; I still think I prefer the squash risotto I made for my family last winter, topped with mushrooms and crispy speck. Everything always tastes better when you make it for the ones you love :)

Black Friday + Orange Saturday = Sleep-filled Sunday.

I gave my risotto obsession a rest on Sunday. One of my roommates made meatballs
for dinner and they were delicious. I'm still trying to figure out different
variations and recipes traditional to Italian cuisine. The research is
well worth it :).

Risotto Style,


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