Saturday, January 30, 2010

Risotto and Zucchini Fritters "Cooking Lesson"

Meet M and K. Last weekend, they asked me to give them a cooking lesson. See, a few weeks ago, potatoes were on sale at the grocery store. How much? 89 cents for 10 lbs!!! So, K and M did what anyone else would do, they bought 40 lbs and, of course, carried them home on their bikes. They have been eating these potatoes since. They have been very creative, making potato soup, french fries, twice baked potatoes, and a lot more. However, they told me that they have had several disasters in the kitchen and would like some help. Please note, their disasters were still eaten, they just suffered through them. I really couldn't have asked for two better students. (Pictured with vegetable bouillon cubes, it's fine)

Here is a summary of what we learned:
-don't wash mushrooms under water, just wipe with damp cloth...although this is controversial, Alton Brown supports washing them under water, I still say just wipe them, then you don't have to dry them
-if you are using the food processor for multiple things, rinse and dry in between
-salt releases the liquid in veggies, so does ringing them out in a clean, thin kitchen towel
-how to chop an onion (food processor-less)
-don't use the woody/hard stems when chopping the fresh herbs
-green onions are the whole onion, even the white part

So....we made risotto with sauteed mushrooms on top, a recipe from Pioneer Woman. I think it went well.


2 cups Parmesan, Romano, Or Asiago Cheese (or A Mixture Of All Three)
3 cloves (to 4 Cloves) Garlic
1/2 whole Large Onion
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Butter
1 pound Arborio Rice
7 cups (to 8 Cups) Chicken Broth
1 cup (to 1 1/2 Cups) Heavy Cream
1 Tablespoon (to 2 Tablespoons) Chives, Chopped
Salt And Pepper, to taste

Grate 2 cups of cheese. Peel and finely dice 3 to 4 cloves of garlic. Dice 1/2 of a large onion.

Heat a large skillet over medium‐low heat and add 1 tablespoon of Olive Oil. Then add 1 tablespoon of butter. Throw in the garlic and onion and sauté for a couple of minutes until the onion is translucent.

Add 1 pound of Arborio rice and stir to coat the rice thoroughly. Adding 1 cup at a time, add 7‐8 ounces of chicken broth, stirring constantly after each addition. As soon as it appears that the rice has absorbed each helping of broth, add in the next helping. Do not stop stirring. This process will take at least 20 minutes. Rice is done when it no longer has a hard bite.

When more of the broth is absorbed pour in 1 to 1 1/2 cups of heavy cream. Next add the grated cheese and stir thoroughly. Add in plenty of fresh cracked pepper and about 1 to 2 tablespoons of chopped chives. Add salt to taste.

(Prep time: 15 min., Cook time: 45 min., Difficulty: Easy, Servings: 8)

We also made zucchini fritters, a recipe from Closet Cooking and Tzatziki (which I posted previously, here).

Zucchini Fritters

2 cups zucchini (grated, and squeezed to drain)
1 handful fresh herbs (such as parsley, dill, mint; chopped)
1 green onion (chopped)
1/4 cup feta (crumbled)
1/2 cup flour
1 egg
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons oil

1. Mix the zucchini, herbs, green onion, feta, flour, egg, salt and pepper in a bowl.
2. Heat the oil in a pan.
3. Spoon the zucchini mixture into the pan and cook until golden brown on both sides, about 4 minutes per side.

(Servings: 2, Difficulty: Easy, Prep time: 20 min., Cook time: 30 min.)


1.5 cups Greek yogurt
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 garlic clove
1 medium cucumber (seeded and diced)
1/2 tbsp kosher salt
1/2 tbsp dill
black pepper

Put cucumber in colander, sprinkle with salt. Let stand 30 minutes. Drain and wipe dry. In food processor blend everything except yogurt together. Add mixture to yogurt. Taste and salt. Refrigerate for two hours before eating. (i.e. you should make this ahead of time!)

Ok, so you may be wondering why "Cooking Lesson" is in quotes? Or maybe you didn't notice? Well, approximately 1 hour into the cooking lesson, the doorbell rang. K left to get it. All of a sudden, in comes someone, we will call Klean K, kind of dressed up carrying all these sandwiches and talking about everything being dirty. I don't think I have ever been more confused in my life. Especially since K, M and Scot all seemed equally confused. Klean K continued to get out her panini press and explain that she was there to share the food she made. And continued to complain about how dirty everything was, and then she put on latex gloves. If you have no idea what I am talking about, trust me, I had no idea either. Then, we asked Klean K why she was dressed up??? She said, well we are going to a party after this, just thought we would stop by and share our Cuban sliders that we made. WHAT?!?!? You made Cuban sliders??? Why isn't your fiance All-Star A, dressed up??? She says, oh, I thought he was going to dress up an then he didn't (note: All Star A is wearing a Vikings sweatshirt and sweatpants that are stuffed to make him look really large).

At this point, the cooking lesson is only halfway through. If that. Somehow, we are supposed to continue the cooking lesson while mass chaos is erupting. So, we kinda did. Klean K just kept coming in and stirring the risotto like it was normal. And the two students, K and M with Scot, just continued to be "confused" about these people arriving.

Then, the doorbell rang again. And a bird type, red dressed man came in repeating, "ka-kaaaa" and began perching on chairs and couches. This is more or less when it got really weird. Let's call him Take-off T. He came in with Tell Tale T and Believer B. Tell Tale T had a notebook with him and was showing people different things in it. Believer B was preaching and was wearing a sweater vest. What was weirder...they brought food with them...jello cubes, greek salad, and corn fritters. I always make jello cubes and greek salad type things. And corn fritters from the bloggy???

Ok, I think, this is fine. Obv. something is going on, but at least I have these three: K, M and Scot. At that point, Scot starts racing people. Someone was eating something and he goes, I bet I could eat that faster than you. My first reaction was, Did you really just say that? My second reaction was, I've lost him. Then, M leaves and comes back with a shirt that he has written multiple eating challenges on (ex: drinking a gallon of milk, eating a tsp. of cinnamon, eating 6 saltines in 60 seconds). What? What does that even mean. People continue to come in and eventually we have: Priceless P, Paring P, Fidgety F, Righthand R, Reading R, and Hotshot H. Montona. They each brought dishes, including maple/dijon brussel sprouts, corn fritters, cabbage and fennel slaw, blackberry cheesecake, spring rolls, etc. Priceless P kept saying everything was an antique and worth a lot of money, Paring P was whittling sticks into different things and it never looked like anything, Righthand R kept saying she could see dead people, Reading R said he knew what everyone was thinking or "I knew you were going to say that", and Hotshot H Montana was Hannah Montana's forgotten sister, "Daddy broke my achy breaky heart".

At some point, I also lost K, who gradually became more and more confused. Almost to the point that it was impossible to continue any sort of cooking lesson, but somehow we managed.

Throughout all this, a few people said Happy Birthday to me. I didn't know if they were in character or not. Finally, Scot pulled me a side and gave me a note that explained what was going on. "Confused??? Well, SURPRISE and HAPPY BIRTHDAY Shapely Shanon!!! Welcome to your Surpise/Confusion Mystery Birthday Party!!!" It went on to explain that the cooking lesson was real and that K and M asked me to do it before this was planned. And that everyone made dishes inspired by me or my blog. And finally, this is a mystery party where everyone has a character to play and mine is described below.

Shanon: You are a fitness-healthy junkie. You are critical of EVERY recipe and dish you come across. You notice every health no-no, you comment on all the calories, fats, salts, etc. Of course, you know that it is not the cook's fault, but what they had to work with, and you'll show them an exercise routine to make up for the lack of healthiness in their recipe choice. You also like to make exercise fun. So you try to devise new ways to get people to exercise with you. Show them a dance routine, or teach them how they can stand up twice before getting up from a chair. You always stand up - sit down- stand up before you get up from your seat. You always open and close doors multiple times to get in that little bit of exercise and when you walk, you lift your legs really high then kick up your heels to burn a few more cals.

The other characters were really funny. One of the best was probably Take-off T, because he was this superhero bird half the time, and then all of a sudden he would change costumes and become a deaf janitor and start mopping the floor. He definitely was a huge source of confusion for me. K was a blind person, who wouldn't admit she was blind and was pretty much confused about everything. M was into eating contests but would always get full after one bite even though he thought he could eat a bunch. Scot was "Super Scot" and always had to one up everyone. If someone was stirring, he could stir faster. If someone was whittling, he could do it better.

As we finished cooking, people kept playing their characters and ate all the food:

Those are the brussel sprouts, Cuban sliders, spring rolls, my pasta salad (Scot made), corn fritters, cabbage/fennel slaw, jello cubes, and greek salad (left to right, top to bottom).

After eating was done, we all got together to solve the mystery, "who stole the cake?". We played a game of charades, which was set up to give us all the clues we needed.

After following about 20 clues, we found that the cake box was in the bike basket. And that the cake was in the shower!

Thanks everyone! That was really fun!!!! A special thanks to Scot, K and M for all their hard work in planning out the mystery and characters and the partay!

1 comment:

  1. Too funny! What an awesome thing Scot arranged. Craziest, oddest idea ever!