Thursday, February 18, 2010

Risotto, Cheese, and Fish. Oh my!

It was 40 degrees here glorious! 40 degrees really feels warm after 2 months straight of 25 degree weather. So I have 3 fun things to write about today, hence the title of the post.

Last night for dinner I made risotto with shrimp, and sauteed spinach on the side. I left the shrimp off the risotto so you could see everything clearly in the picture. Risotto is something that seems intimidating, but is very easy to make, and you can add pretty much anything you want to it. Last night I put yellow peppers, mushrooms, and onions in it.

For 2 people, with enough for some leftovers

1 cup arborio rice
2-3 cups chicken stock
salt & pepper
olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
2 yellow bell peppers, chopped
1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced

Saute the rice in enough olive oil to coat in a saute pan (a big skillet-like pan with higher sides) over medium-low heat. I couldn't exactly explain what the benefit of doing this is, but somehow it makes the rice cook better. After about 3-5 minutes add roughly 1/2 cup of chicken stock. The basic idea here is to keep at a very low simmer and to add chicken stock little by little for about 30 minutes, or until the rice is cooked through. Keep a close eye on it, stir it often, and keep adding the stock so it doesn't get dry and pasty. Add the vegetables after about 10 minutes, or you can saute them separately and add them closer to the end. Salt and pepper to taste.

1 lb shrimp (I used 31/40 count, but you can use bigger if you like)
salt & pepper
olive oil
2 cloves garlic, smashed
juice from 1/2 lemon

Salt and pepper the shrimp. Heat oil and smashed garlic cloves in a large skillet over medium heat. Add shrimp to pan, and squeeze lemon juice over top. Flip the shrimp over after about 2-3 minutes and cook through on the other side. The shrimp will cook pretty quickly, so don't start them until the risotto is just about done.

1 bag baby spinach
olive oil
about 1 Tbl sliced shallots

Heat olive oil, butter, and shallots in a medium skillet over medium heat. When hot, add the whole bag of spinach and keep bringing the leaves on the bottom of the pile to the top so they cook evenly. All the spinach should be cooked in just a few minutes.

Now for the cheese...

Cheese is hands down my favorite food. I love it all - hard, soft, creamy, stinky, blue, cow, sheep, or goat. A few years ago I got a promotion at CBS and my sister sent me a congratulatory cheese board from Dean & Deluca. There are several pictures of cheese in our honeymoon album. And as a wedding gift, some of my dearest friends got Peter and I cheese (and wine) of the month club. Is there anything better than to get a surprise package of cheese and wine delivered to your door? We got a cheese delivery today, pictured above: Saint Andre, Port Salut, and an English cheddar. I'm eating it right now.

And lastly, the fish.

Peter went, without me I might add, to Calumet Fisheries today for lunch. It's a seafood shack on the south side, very unassuming looking, but it just won a James Beard award. Anthony Bourdain has visited this place in his show on the Travel Channel (watch this show, it's amazing. And read his book Kitchen Confidential. You can thank me later.). So I'm turning the rest of this post over to Peter:

Hey blogosphere. Thanks for keeping my unemployed wife occupied. Anyway, the Calumet Fisheries has been on my to-do list for a while, so given the fact it was in the 40s today and work was work colleagues and I decided to venture to the far South Side of Chicago. This place is so far South that it's on the border of Indiana -- literally right below the Chicago Skyway. Calumet has been on my mind for a few weeks now. They recently won a James Beard America's Classic Award. The manager, Carlos Rosas, had to google James Beard when he found out. True story.

Anyway, after the 25 minute ride from the Loop...we arrived at Calumet and soon realized we would be eating in our laps in the car. The place is the size of a tollbooth with no dining areas. They serve the working class of Chicago and most of the patrons are locals who get the smoked fish, shrimp, and fine fried seafood to go. My dining partners and I jumped head first into the fried goodness of fried shrimp, clams, fish chips, and scallops. The best thing I tasted was probably the clams. They don't serve tartar sauce or cocktail sauce, but instead a nice sweet sauce that was something between a bbq sauce and horsey sauce from Arby's. It was wonderful. I got a half order of fried clams and fried shrimp, a side of cole slaw (amazing) and no drink. The drink would have been good in retrospect.

What is truly amazing about Calumet and what they are really known for is their smoked fish. It looked amazing with hooks still in the fish and a beautiful smoky texture. That is the real star of the show here (they smoke the fish on the premises...AWESOME). I am purposely saving the smoked salmon for my next trip. The manager, Carlos, showed us the smoke house and the buckets of freshly smoked shrimp they just pulled out. It was an amazing field trip that is right up there with the giant whale at the Museum of Natural History. I am already salivating for my next visit.

Little piece of knowledge...the Calumet fish house is perched on the 95th Street bridge...the very same bridge that Jake and Elwood jump over in the stolen police car. The famous photo of Aykroyd and Belushi standing in front of the police car with industrial mess in the backdrop is right behind Calumet. It was a very Chicago moment for me. Ok, that's my virgin blog post. Enjoy!!!

Note the frog legs on the menu

Smoke house

Smoked salmon with the hooks still in

Fried clams with the magical sauce

1 comment:

  1. loved hearing from both of you and loved the photos!