ok, seriously, WHAT IS GOING ON WITH THE WEATHER?!
first it's all springy and gorgeous.
then the cherry blossoms are pulverized by frost, my parents have a foot of snow, and half of new jersey, it seems, has to be evacuated because of flooding.
then the wind starts blowing like a freaking hurricane, rattling the windows and terrifying my cat, and i was stubborn enough to wear a skirt to work anyway.
definitely the sort of monday that deserves warm, simple and delicious comforting foods. for lunch i made a toasted baguette with fresh mozzarella and pancetta crumbs, with a mug full of my sweet potato soup for extra warmth.
and i already knew what to have for dessert, since i had nearly a full loaf of chocolate chip brioche beckoning me from the kitchen table--bread pudding, obviously. and possibly some hot chocolate.
it was dinner that was causing me vexation. i thought if i had some nice beef, thai basil and some bird chiles i could whip up the warmest and tastiest stir fry i know, stolen from a cooking teacher at l'academie de cuisine in bethesda, maryland. but alas, i had none of those things.
i thought i could bake up some pitas and do a nigel-slater-style lamb-filled flatbread, but a quick recipe search of king arthur flour suggested that i would be better off making a sponge before work and baking it when i got home than starting from scratch at the late hour of 7.00pm.
finally, stuck in a late-afternoon daydream, i happened upon this recipe for apple risotto from kitchen unplugged. and suddenly i remembered that this apple risotto has been on my list of risottos to try for nearly a month, put on hold only because of the interference of passover and the cruelties of the calendar. my enthusiasm began to grow--until i remembered that i had no apples and no chicken stock at home. i tried to console myself with another kind of risotto, maybe a mushroom risotto (i did have mushroom stock and a pile of porcini), and remind myself that i've sworn off grocery shopping until i move.
no good. there was nothing for it but to stop at the grocery store on the way home and procure apples, stock, shallots and cheese.
at least it was a quick trip.
i came home and assembled my ingredients before me, but it didn't seem quite savory or comforting enough. i needed warmth of a more rib-sticking variety but still complementary to my planned dessert of bread pudding. my eyes fell upon the chicken breast leftover from sunday's chicken and miso soup. and the half-knob of young, sharp gouda. and suddenly i remembered a recipe from the new spanish table which used gouda instead of parmesan in risotto while my tongue reminded me of how incredibly good the apple-gouda combination tastes.
my path, at last, was set. i poached the chicken in a pot of slightly salty water for about 20 minutes while i prepped the risotto components and poured it all, you guessed it, right into my rice cooker. i shaved a solid 1/4 cup of risotto using my new and most miraculous microplane grater and smelled the sweet smell of browned shallots in the kitchen air.
confession time: the cheese melted most wonderfully and made up for the fact that i slightly overcooked the chicken. but the end result, as delightful as it was--and trust me, it really was delightful--could have used a little more zest.
puu's "comfort me with apples" risotto
(inspired by kitchen unplugged's apple risotto, williams-sonoma's poached chicken and carmelized onion risotto, and the new spanish table's gouda risotto and prepared according to beth hensperger's rice cooker technique)
1/2 cup arborio risotto rice
2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
1 shallot, finely diced
2 T olive oil
1 small apple, diced
2 T heavy cream
1/4 cup grated gouda cheese
2 T butter
1 chicken breast, poached and diced
coat the apples with the heavy cream. set aside.
turn the rice cooker on.
coat the rice cooker bowl with oil and brown the shallots, about 3 minutes. add the rice and saute until each grain is nearly translucent, with a white dot in the center. add white wine, if desired (i didn't) and pour in the stock, resetting the rice cooker for the porridge cycle. about half to two-thirds of the way through the porridge cycle, pour in the apples and cream and let the cycle finish. add the chicken and let it rewarm while the rice relaxes. stir in the butter, gouda, and salt or pepper to taste.
puu's WTSIM...Bread brioche cherry pudding
(adapted from the buttercup bakery cookbook)
2 cups of brioche chunks
2 cups fresh cherries, pitted
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
sugar to taste
chocolate chips for topping (optional)
preheat the oven to 350.
mix the sugar into the eggs. scald the milk and cream together and temper with the egg-sugar mixture before pouring it all over the bread crumbs (which you have hopefully placed in a 2-quart casserole dish, otherwise there will now be a huge mess of crumbs and eggy liquid all over your kitchen counter). add cherries and chocolate chips and mix it all together so that the cherries and chocolate are evenly distributed.
bake for 45-50 minutes, or until done.