I've been eating out a lot less frequently. It is finally getting through to my little soul that I can make tastier food than most of what I can order at restaurants. Now, I am not talking about fine 4 star places, but really, the places around the Hill Country serve mostly, "only ok" food.
The "cook at home" movement began when I ate out at a local "favorite" restaurant and had a really mediocre meal, complete with a $100 tab including tip. I was mad. I felt cheated. I was cheated out of good food and cheated out of my hard earned $$.
Don't get me wrong, I like to go out, I like to be waited on and have someone do the dishes, but geeze, I know I can cook, and I know I can cook well, and I am a curious and experimental sort.
So when the urge to eat out arises – and it surely does – I think about what I'll spend at the restaurant, the time traveling to and fro, and weigh that against what food I have on hand and/or what a trip to the grocery would entail. Most of the time, I am staying home.
I bought some good cooking gadgets this year, replaced my big and small cuisinarts, bought a dreamy slow cooker on ebay, and also a wonderful sorbet machine. I let myself buy some new ingredients if they look interesting and make room for experimentation.
and I've experimented. I have watched some cooking shows, read some of my too numerous cookbooks, mostly for technique rather than actual recipes. I have produced some exceptional meals, a lot of good ones, a few real losers, and had a lot of fun.
Mark Bittman is my current love; what great talent and sense of humour. I am also really interested in Ina Garten and have had some fun with her recipes too.
But back to the risotto…
Last night, I missed a dinner out with friends because I was attending an ordination in San Antonio. I heard I missed a "great mushroom risotto" – and I thought, "yum, that sounds good."
So this afternoon I tried making my own. It's good, and here is the recipe:
I had some nice dried mushrooms from Costco so I chopped them up in the cuisinart and soaked them in hot chicken stock.
sauté one minced shallot, one clove garlic in olive oil
add one cup Risotto and lightly sauté
add broth-mushroom mix in 1-cup increments, allowing the liquid to cook down before adding the next cup of broth.
add salt, pepper, a pinch of red pepper flakes, and some grated parmesan.
continue adding broth until it is just slightly brothy. I like my risotto a bit al dente.
Total time – about 30 minutes
Total cost – maybe $4?
Cost at the restaurant was $16 per serving…That's why I made mushroom risotto on this chilly afternoon.