09 July 2008

Cauliflower Risotto

Risotto ai Cavolfiori
Cauliflower Risotto (with title)
I got the subtitle of this post after I just watched a rerun of Sex and the City. Samantha asks her friends if she has a pattern in the relationships she seeks. Carrie answers, "In mathematics, randomness is considered a pattern." Samantha comes back with, "Well, I'm what they call a prime number." Which kind of sounds witty except it doesn't really make any sense or fit in the context of the conversation except that it just barely has something to do with math. But dumb as it is, you kind of have to applaud Samantha for having that much self-esteem. Just recently I've been trying to get in touch with a few former consultants and thinking about the interview process for medical residency. I've been interviewed to enter schools before, but the odds were pretty good and I knew exactly what they were looking for. As I think about my interactions with the physicians, I scour my brain for every single particle of positive qualities I have. It is exhausting. I didn't whip out an index card and make a self-affirmation list, but just typing out the words on my computer made me blush. I'm not used to it.
I mean, if in an interview, someone would ask me, "What do you think is your greatest weakness?" I'm pretty sure my weakness would be saying what my actual weakness is. I fear that many interviewers actually enjoy hearing bullshit answers like "I work too hard." "I don't know when to stop giving." Okay. Would you take such a person seriously? "My weakness is eczema." How about that? Would you hire that guy?

I've burned a lot of calories, pacing around my room thinking of what kind of an impression I would make. The interviews are not for 4 months or so! Maybe I need that self-affirmation index card. "Mark, you can cook all sorts of yummy things." Yeah, own it! Ha ha ha.

I thought I would pretty much nail this risotto the first time (I wanted to know the classic way of doing it before doing the "cheats"), all I needed was patience. The problem was, it was about 35°C in the kitchen and standing around in front of a stove for 15 minutes seemed a little self-punishing. What made it worse is I had the flame on maybe too low and I ended up stirring the damn risotto for 30 minutes. On the plus side, it was fantastic, creamy, and delicious. My next attempt was not so fortunate (I'll publish that some other time).

Some various YAYs! first:

  1. My photo of the Hidden Cherry Cream Cheese Torte made it to the Top 25 of CLICK! That is awesome and totally unexpected! I really am happy to have made it that far, it's such an honor.

  2. Mrs. Pei Lin tagged me to say 6 random things about myself. Hmm, let's see (not quite random, haha):
    a. I have four scanners here at home, one is working, one is shit, one is broken, and one is missing an adapter (it was my favorite one too, sigh-- I bought it when I was in college and it was already awesome, cheap, and FAST. The company doesn't make them anymore-- they've been acquired by Benq).
    b. I just received payment for my work as a designer for the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. The posters have already gone public, yay! (will show it in the future ;) )
    c. My grandfather (mother's side) was a professor of art at the University of Santo Tomas. He was an awesome painter (a realist), photographer, and sculptor.
    d. My brother's XBOX 360 just got the 3 Red Lights of Death-- brought it in for repairs. Fucking Microsoft.
    e. We just encountered an aftershock of magnitude 5.3 on the Richter scale here, but apparently I didn't feel it. Huh.
    f. I just responded to a panic call of "Is there a doctor here?" today. The old adrenalin kicking in. Man passed out, but there was no damage, thank heavens.

  3. Dr. Em Dy asks us a few superhero-related questions for a chance to win tickets to a screening of The Dark Night.
    a. My favorite superhero is Shadowcat. Because she's intelligent and her passive powers force her to kick actual ass. My least favorite is... I dunno. Hawkeye? He looks lame.
    b. My favorite superhero movie is X2: X-Men United. It's got some really good points and the parallelism it draws to the prejudices plaguing the world today is quite poignant. (If only problems could be solved as easily.) Plus, it's got Mystique kicking ass in it. Spider-Man 2 is a close second. My least favorite is Batman forever, because it is so campy and not in a good way.
    c. I guess right now my desired superpower would be telekinesis because it has the added bonus of enabling me to fly, in addition to kicking random ass. But really, even Hawkeye's would do.

Cauliflower Risotto from Jamie's Italy
  • 2 handfuls stale bread, torn into pieces

  • 1 small can anchovies, oil from can reserved

  • 3 small dried red chilies

  • extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 head of cauliflower, leaves trimmed, flowers and stalk separated and chopped

  • 1L (4 cups) chicken or vegetable stock

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • a dollop of butter

  • 1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped

  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped

  • 1/2 a head of celery, trimmed and finely chopped

  • 400g (2 cups) Arborio rice

  • 400g (2 wineglasses) dry white wine

  • 75g (5 tablespoons) butter

  • 120g (4oz) freshly grated Parmesan cheese

  • a handful of chopped fresh parsley

  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a food processor, process the bread with the anchovies, oil from the can, and chilies (you could also just minced them together on a chopping board as I did). Heat a frying pan, add a splash of olive oil and fry the flavored breadcrumbs until golden brown; set aside.

In a large pot, add the stock and the cauliflower florets. Chop the tender inner part of the cauliflower stalk finely. Meanhile, in a large skillet, add the olive oil and dollop of butter over very low heat, then the onion, garlic, celery, and cauliflower stalk and cook very slowly for about 15 minutes without coloring. Once the vegetables are soft, add the rice and turn up the heat. Keep stirring the rice and after a minute it will appear translucent. Add the white wine and keep stirring. Once it has cooked into the rice, add the stock ladle by ladle, stirring and massaging the rice grains, until you've added about half the stock. You can then begin to add the cauliflower florets with the stock, crushing the florets as you proceed. The whole process will take at least 15 minutes. Taste the rice to see if it's cooked-- if it isn't, add stock (boiling water if you've run out of stock, which I did) until the rice is soft but still al dente. Add salt and pepper to taste. Take off the heat and stir in the 75g butter, grated Parmesan, and parsley. Put the lid on and leave for two minutes, then serve with the anchovy pangrattato and some more Parmesan on top.

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