Rambling...

I didn't always love to bake and eat dessert.  It's hard to believe because a little something sweet has practically become a part of my daily life (in moderation, of course).  I really can hardly believe how much baking I do these days, particularly during the holiday season just past.  I've not only come to savor the desserts and pastries that come out of the kitchen but I've also found the process of making them relaxing and rewarding.  So I'm really grateful to have discovered this little hobby and to have started this blog in the past year.

While I didn't always bake or indulge in sweets regularly, I've always been a lover of food.  I mean, I seriously love to eat.  I'm definitely one of those people who live to eat rather than eat to live.  I think this passion for food runs on the female side of my family the strongest. 

Forgive my rambling today.  It's January and I want to say that I've been taking a break from baking and lightening things up but I really haven't.  Since Christmas, I've been baking cakes, more batches of banana bread and those amazing tri-color cookies, among other things.  There have been several pancake breakfasts and lots of chocolate tastings in between. 

But in the spirit of "taking a break", I thought I'd talk about something on the savory side today.   
I've showcased my love of pasta in the past but honestly, I love carbs in general.  Talking about a love of carbs so soon in the New Year is terrible timing, I know, but there's no denying that pasta, noodles, rice, and bread are some of my favorite things.  It has been really hard cutting down as I get older and bypassing that bread and butter on the restaurant table.  Now aside from pasta, I also love to make and eat risotto.  I remember starting with mushroom risotto years ago and my husband loved it so I started making other versions.  You can really start with a simple base risotto and add anything you wanted from meat to vegetables. 

And guess what?  My risotto are, in fact, lighter since I generally forgo the butter and cheese when I cook it at home.  I know this is sacrilege to Italians but we find that the flavor is satisfying enough without it and it's just one way to cut back a little at home. 

And in the general spirit of savory cooking where precise recipes are not as necessary as in baking, the risotto above has shrimp and asparagus.  Start by browning some shallots in olive oil before adding Arborio or Carnaroli rice.  Add a splash of white wine and then stir ladle fulls of chicken stock until the rice is cooked to al dente.  Stir in the shrimp and some blanched asparagus in the last few minutes.  You can basically add anything you like to a basic risotto.  I like it with lemon zest and shrimp, or other vegetables like peas.  You could add bacon or make it a mushroom risotto by adding different kinds of mushrooms that you like.  Risotto is a great base or side dish to go along with a protein.
This risotto above is my husband's favorite and one I love as well.  It's a shellfish risotto with saffron, which helps give it that rich golden color, not to mention a wonderful savory flavor.  You can get the recipe here; I omit the butter and parmesan cheese altogether and it is still really delicious.  It involves a little more work because you need to make a little seafood broth using some clams and shrimp shells but it is very rewarding.

So try lightening up your risotto a bit and save a little room for dessert!  Happy eating in 2012!


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