Sunday, May 22
Sunday with Company
Home alone and I feel in love. Sunday in Paris (again). Neko Case is singing about Pauline, she does that a lot in my apartment. Today the wind is blowing and our washing on the balcony is swaying bedraggled, the door slams, five flights down at 4 in the afternoon the café below my window is filled with couples, young families and old friends who are manging on their brunch because Sunday in Paris is brunch day for those who don’t work.
I spent a morning and an afternoon standing in this kitchen that is coloured with silver metal and decorated with large industrial pots and whisks and boxes of crushed thick salt that you would just love to let your pantry at home embrace. And there’s this list in a big black book lying on the shelf in front of you and in the page marked with a pen is today’s date. Sunday May 22nd. And on that page is a list; choux, fenouil, courgette, radis, aubergine, concombre, champignon, but it’s longer than that.
Every time something is pealed, cut, washed, dried, placed in a gigantic oven tray (that my arms are too scrawny to hold) and then covered and stored in the walk-in-fridge, you get the most rewarding task of taking that pen in your hand and pushing down the point with your thumb and then crossing that item off: choux. And then you look underneath choux and it says fenouil and so you start all over again.
But then it’s home time and I remember that my flat mate, who is currently in Amsterdam, bought me a gift the other day (the day I couldn’t be in New Zealand to meet my niece). After cooking dinner for a family that evening, I had arrived home and just sitting there propped up with so much haughtiness was a square cut piece of traditional French strawberry cream cake, the cheapest bottle of faux champagne, a card with the words ‘Congratulations Aunty Danielle’ written across the front and a pot of fresh mint, just growing all tall and lanky-like out of a black plastic pot which made me instantly think; Lemon and Mint Risotto!!!!! Nothing could be so perfect as new spring lemon with aged parmesan on this sunny warm day in Paris.
Sunday and Paris and I just had to try my new mint plant out on someone. I invited a friend, Sarah, over for dinner. On the way back to my new potted plant I stopped in at the U, the cheapest supermarché beside Canal St Martin, and I bought Arborio rice, 2 lemons, a dirty 3 euro bottle of white wine, shallots, chicken stock and parmesan and I came home and looked in my fridge and found a boite of white asparagus that I had bought from the market earlier on that week.
I want something novel, I want almond meal, I want Parmesan, I want red onion and I want thyme I thought.
Lemon and Mint Risotto
1 Tbsp butter
4 small shallots, finely diced
2/3 cup of Arborio rice
1 cup white wine
2 cups chicken/vegetable stock
zest of 2 lemons
3 Tbsp lemon juice
fresh mint chopped
In a pan allow the butter to foam slightly. Add the shallots and on low heat sauté till very tender. Add the rice and stir for around thirty seconds to fully coat the rice in the shallot mixture. Turn the heat up to med/high and add the wine all at once. Allow to bubble while stirring the hole time allowing it to evaporate fully. Add 1 cup of stock and stir every now and then. When completely evaporated, add the remaining stock in ladles, adding the next ladle of stock once the previous stock has evaporated. Continue until the rice has come to the texture you prefer (probably tender still with a firmness).
Zest the lemons into the risotto and add the lemon juice and the parmesan. Mix well and taste. Add salt and pepper and perhaps some more lemon juice here.
Stir through fresh mint just before serving.
Roasted Asparagus with Almond Goodness
Bunch of asparagus
half red onion finely diced
1 garlic cloves finely diced
100g almond meal
1 tsp fresh/dried thyme
2 Tbsp olive oil
¼ cup grated parmesan
Sauté red onion and garlic till well tenderized. Take off heat. Add almond meal, thyme, olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Mix really well with a spoon till a paste forms (you can use a processor except I don’t have on yet!).
Peal the asparagus (if they are especially fresh then you could get away without pealing them) and snap the ends at the ‘natural’ break in the stem. Place in a single layer on an oven tray and drizzle with oil, salt and pepper. Mix well. Roast till your desired texture (I prefer with a crisp, therefore 10 minutes).
On a large platter place the Almond Goodness in the centre slightly spread out. Top with aspaprgus and drizzle with the left over oil from the roasting pan. Sprinkle over the parmesan and salt and pepper to taste.