Spring is here! Not to sound melodramatic but it was a long, cold and quiet winter this year. But with the chirps of new life as the harbinger of changing seasons, my hope began to grow like the budding flowers around me. Griffin returned from time away and we rejoiced in our sweet reunion.
Just as the turning of temperature brings a whole new variety of activities, it also ushers in fresh ingredients that renew my passion for trying new dishes. I've relished improving my food palate by being adventurous when it comes to cooking. If you're trying to expand your taste buds, you don't have to do it all at once! Simple substitutes like switching broccoli for asparagus can introduce new flavors.
When I think back to my time in Europe, I am gently reminded that meals should be about two things: 1. Enjoying your company and 2. Slowing down to savour your food. I am so prone to sprinting through cooking. Even though it's my hobby and passion, I easily fall prey and get distracted that it merely turns into dashedly getting something warm onto the table.
I miss the process of slowing down and enjoying each step. But when this happens I try not to get too discouraged! I think awareness is half the battle. So remember to stop and smell whatever you're cooking. ;)
Fresh Crab & Pea Risotto
Serves 4 to 6
6 to 8 cups good seafood stock
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons good olive oil
1/2 cup small-diced shallots (2 large)
1/2 cup chopped fennel, cored
1/2 cup seeded and small-diced poblano pepper
2-3 teaspoons minced garlic (2 cloves)
2-3 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon saffron threads (You can find this in your grocery store spice aisle)
1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes
1 1/2 cups Italian Arborio rice (10 oz)
1 cup dry white wine, such as pinot Grigio (I used Chardonnay)
1/2 cup creme fraiche (I added a little more to make this creamier)
Real salt and freshly ground black pepper for seasoning
16 ounces of lump crabmeat (I used two cans of Phillips which you can find at your grocery store by the butcher in the seafood section)
1 cup frozen peas, defrosted
Minced fresh chives and freshly grated lemon zest and lemon juice for serving
Heat the stock in a medium saucepan and keep it simmering over low heat.
In another medium pot or Dutch oven (I used Martha Stewart's cookware), heat the butter and oil over low heat. You want it high enough to melt it but not hot enough to burn the butter.
Add the diced shallots, chopped fennel, and diced poblano pepper and cook for approximately 3 to 5 minutes. Raise the heat if needed and stir occasionally! Don't be so concerned about the time but make sure everything gets softened and not burned.
Stir in the garlic, thyme, saffron, and red pepper flakes and cook for 2 minutes.
Add the 1 and 1/2 cups of rice and stir to coat all the grains with the butter and oil. Once absorbed, add the wine and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes, until almost all the liquid has been absorbed in the rice.
Add 1/2 cup of the simmering stock to the rice and cook, stirring frequently. Once the stock is absorbed in the rice, continue to add more a 1/2 cup at a time and repeat the process. (This should take between 20-30 minutes depending on the type of rice you're using).
Once the rice is done, stir in the creme fraiche, and salt and pepper to taste.
Fold in your crabmeat and peas and cook over low heat for about 3 more minutes until the crabmeat has been warmed thoroughly.
Add just enough simmering stock to make the risotto moist and creamy.
Serve hot in large, shallow bowls and sprinkle with chives, lemon zest, and fresh lemon juice.