Cold weather I can do. Cold weather partnered with an unrelenting dampness — this pervasive chill that creeps in through thin walls and windows of a home not designed to withstand it, bee-lining its way to the very core of my bones — leaves me helpless. And I’ve shivered every minute of it.
Not that I’m being dramatic, but it is still winter, and this business of really warming one’s self is a job for soup.
Like this creamy cauliflower number topped with oven-charred masala-spiced florets.
Food prepared and shared with others is among the most powerful bonding methods we humans have. And for me, risotto has a special place permanently tattooed onto my heart, connecting to memorable moments throughout my adult life.
+ Somewhere between poring over mountains of thesis research + the cooking/baking/espresso drinking/solitary rambles through southwest Minneapolis that otherwise kept my grad school self occupied/sane, an online ping from a friend of friends in high school. The note, in response to a photo of the previous night’s triumphant first risotto, challenged me to a long-distance culinary throwdown. My drawn-out reply was returned in kind, and so it all began.
+ Strolling along the Gulf Coast at daybreak, me snapping photos of shorebirds as an angry ocean roared and the salmon-hued sun rose up from behind billowy clouds. Down on one sandy knee he caught me by surprise, a dainty ring in hand, making me his fiancée. The best surprise, to which we popped a bottle of bubbles for drinking + adding to a crispy prosciutto-topped asparagus risotto.
+ Calm, pleasantly warm and sunny, a few feathery wisps of clouds leading the way down a grassy aisle in the rolling countryside on a fifteen-year Wisconsin day — our wedding. The reception held in a century barn a mix of rustic + elegant, with pumpkins, wheat, cornstalks and gourds as decorations; wine bottled and labeled by his aunt and uncle; the meal, threedifferentrisottos, prepared in front by our groomsmen, dads, uncles + new brothers-in-law as speeches were made, more bubbly was toasted, a new married life beginning.
From the first conversation I knew he was something special, and had a feeling we’d be together, making risotto — this, the fateful recipe — for many years to come.
Following my husband’s recent solo visit to Tokyo I thought, what fun to match it up with a recipe.
Many aspects of Japanese culture could be summarized as a balance of precision and minimalism. The approach to food is a delicious study of these contrasts. Traditional Japanese cuisine offers dishes that are beautiful and complex yet healthy and practical, exemplifying an effortlessly natural simplicity of diverse ingredients.
Onigiri — pronounced oh-knee-gree — are portable little bundles of rice often eaten as a snack or light lunch on-the-hoof. Nigiri means “to squeeze,” which is how onigiri are formed into the classic triangles, balls or cylinders — either by hand or with the help of shaped molds.
Some onigiri are filled with tasty surprises, like sashimi-grade tuna, salmon roe, avocado, or umeboshi (Japanese sour salted plums). Some have a strip of nori (dried seaweed) at the base to keep your hands free from the sticky rice, and some are wrapped entirely in nori or fresh shiso leaves. Other onigiri are just rice, but with seasonings mixed in prior to shaping or sprinkled on top after, perhaps furikake (a mixture of sesame seeds, nori and other seasonings), sakebushi (dried salmon flakes), or yukari (red shiso powder).
As it goes every year, I’m shocked to find that early May marks the drawdown of strawberries. Blueberries come on in branch-bending bunches in the nick of time to be sure, but for as long as we can, it’s all about those fresh-picked reds.
With today’s recipe, we give them a savory turn on a #fridaynightpizzathat evokes the flavors of spring.