So I’m still spending a goodly chunk of my time repeating over and over (both in my head and out loud), “I work for the BBC. I work for the BBC,” in hopes that one of these times, it will sink in. This strategy is not working at all, but it’s the best one I can think of, so I’m keeping it up. It’s hard because there’s really not much I can do yet. My roommate’s moving out at the end of this month, and while I guess I could box up the things I know will go into storage, it just seems easier to let her get her things out first, and then start tearing down my own. I can’t start making the transport arrangements until I get my contract, so I don’t really know when I need to have everything ready, and that impacts my plans to go over and look for a flat, all of which makes me strongly suspect the whole lot is going to happen at once, and be one of those deals where suddenly I have to do everything in, like, three days.
I’m keeping the panic at bay by walking around the city looking at things, and also by cooking. Speaking of which, a few people have started yelling at me about never giving up the recipes for things I make frequently. As I always tell them, it’s not that I’m being secretive and mysterious so much as I honestly don’t know how much of stuff I use – it’s largely done by feel and instinct and smell and so forth. But last Saturday’s dinner was pretty straightforward, and while I can’t guarantee the proportions are exactly right, they’ll get you pretty close. The rest is up to you. So, without further ado, I give you Saturday Dinner (I made it for 8, but the below will feed 4 hungry folk):
Roasted Cornish Hens
1 granny smith apple, diced
1 orange, peeled and cut into bits
1/2 sweet onion, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
olive oil (i prefer to use garlic-infused, but that’s up to you)
parsley/sage/thyme blend (usually called “poultry seasoning” or somesuch
1. Preheat your oven to 375.
2. Rinse the hens, inside and out, and pat them dry. You can throw the giblets away or use them as finger puppets, whatever you like.
3. Mix up the seasonings in a small bowl (this will keep you from getting olive oil all over your spice jars). No, I don’t know how much of everything. You’ll probably need more than you think you will – I go heavy on the paprika and poultry seasoning and lighter on the salt and pepper.
4. Rub the hens with olive oil and the seasoning mix, stuff them with the apple/onion/orange mixture and arrange them in a roasing tray, breast-up. Try and get some of the seasoning under the skin.
5. Drizzle the hens with a little more olive oil and put ’em in the oven. They’ll take about 1.5 hours, or until they reach 180 internal temperature.
1 cup d’arborio rice, uncooked
1 – 1.5 cups mushrooms, sliced (I use a mix of button and baby portabbellos, usually)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup sweet onion, chopped
3-5 fresh sage leaves
2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. olive oil
several cups (maybe 3-4?) chicken stock (or whatever kind of stock you have – I made this once with duck stock and it was amazing)
1. Sautée the onion in the butter and olive oil for about 3 minutes, or until it starts to turn clear.
2. Add the rice and garlic and sautée another 2 minutes or so.
3. Add the mushrooms and sautée another 2 minutes, then add about 1/2 cup of stock.
4. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook until the liquid is absorbed, then add another 1/2 cup. Again, cook until the liquid is absorbed and add another 1/2 cup. Keep doing this until the risotto is al dente. About halfway through, crush or coarsely chop the sage leaves and throw them in. Around the same time, you may want to add a little sea salt and pepper, to taste.
Optional: you can use a little wine or sherry as part of the liquid, but if you’re going to do that do it early in the cooking process.
Word Up: The whole process will take somewhere between 35 minutes and an hour, depending on how big of a flame you’re using, so start early. Risotto is best when it’s fresh, so don’t let it sit too long before you serve it. I know, I know – timing’s a bitch.
Blanched Asparagus with Lemon
1-1.5 lbs. asparagus, cleaned and trimmed
a little sea salt
1. Bring water to boil – enough to cover the asparagus.
2. Add the asparagus. Wait for the water to return to a boil and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
3. Drain asparagus. Squeeze some lemon over it, and then sprinkle with sea salt. Ta-dar!
So that’s that. For dessert, we had vanilla ice cream with a berry-Frangelico reduction, courtesy of Travis. I prefer fruity things after a meal like this – the risotto’s rich and the birds are warm and filling, and a big chocolate concoction always seems like overkiill to me. But chacun à son gout, as they say.
The party, by the way, was awesome. From cooking to the always-kooky stylings of 2 Many DJs to feeding the neighbors to the long-overdue tête-à-têtes to the dancing in the living room, I had an absolute blast. Thanks again to all who came over – it was truly a charmed evening, and the end to a pretty much perfect day. We’ll have to do this again. Soon.