Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Best Homemade Cheeseburger

Looking for the best cheeseburger recipe? Look no further than Parts and Labour's Chef Matty Matheson's ridiculously simple and delicious recipe for making the perfect cheeseburger. I love this recipe because it rivals some of my favourite craft burger shops cheeseburgers (P&L Burger, Holy Chuck Burger, and Burger's Priest) and focuses on the simplicity of ingredients and execution, no bells and whistles here! 

My boyfriend and I have made Matty's perfect cheeseburger many times now, and they always come out, well, perfect, with rave reviews from both friends and family. Recently we decided to switch up his classic recipe a little bit, and make a double bacon cheeseburger, because why the hell not! Although our massive double bacon cheeseburgers had difficulty standing upright on the plate, they were insanely delicious and one that we will certainly be making again this summer! 

Check out Matty's video on the Munchies channel to find out how you can make the perfect cheeseburger at home! WARNING: Matty's use of the F-bomb makes this video NSFW.

Follow me on Instagram to stay up to date with all of my latest food adventures!

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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

10 Tips For Making An Outrageously Delicious Soup Without A Recipe

Roasted Red Pepper Soup
1) Begin With Balance
When gathering your ingredients, make sure to have one word on your mind: balance. Making a soup is all about finding the perfect balance of flavours, so when gathering your ingredients keep in mind what flavours each ingredient will give off. Most soups like to begin the same way, with the holy trinity mirepoix: onions, carrots, and celery. When preparing your mirepoix, keep in mind that carrots have more sweetness than onions and celery, so if you're making a sweeter soup like sweet potato, feel free to cut back on the carrots.

2) Sweat Baby Sweat
When cooking your vegetables (particularly your mirepoix) on the stove be sure to simply sweat the vegetables (cook without colouring) as opposed to brown them. This will allow them to release their flavour without affecting the integrity of your soup. Though some soups benefit from roasting the vegetables, allowing them to get a fantastic caramelized flavour. 

3) Season From Start To FinishNever leave seasoning until the end. Always start seasoning (adding a bit at a time) from the moment you sweat your mirepoix. This will allow you build your flavour and add complexity. If you don't believe me, try making the exact same soup twice, but season one from the start, and season the other just at the end. Trust me, you'll notice the difference! Also remember that dried herbs are best used earlier in the cooking process, while fresh herbs tend to be best when added towards the end of cooking. When seasoning, always remember the golden rule: You can always add but you can never take away! 

4) Consider Using a Sachet
Worried that you won't remember to season your soup as you cook? Make a sachet out of cheesecloth filled with different herbs and spices. Fasted the sachet tightly with kitchen twine and tie to the handle of the pot. When your soup reaches your desired flavour, remove the sachet! Traditionally a sachet is filled with peppercorns, parsley stems, fresh thyme, and dried bay leaves. 

5) The Immersion Blender Is Your Friend
One of my favourite tools for making soup is my immersion blender, allowing me to quickly and effectively blend my soup without having to dirty up another pot or bowl.
    Cremini Mushroom Soup
6) Embrace The Sieve
For a silky smooth soup, strain your soup through a fine sieve to remove any lumps. Allow your soup to be brought back to a boil and re-taste for seasoning. The sieve may have removed any lumpy herbs or peppercorns, which could affect the final taste. After straining your soup, it's a good idea to consider what type of mouthfeel you want for your final product. Your soup may be fine as is, but consider adding a splash of cream or perhaps another splash of broth to create the ideal viscosity. 

7) Add Acidity
Taste like your soup is missing something? Add a touch of acidity! A simple squeeze of a lemon or a splash of vinegar or wine can do wonders for a soup, taking it from bland to va-va-voom!

8) Add Heat
If you've added acidity to your soup and still feel like it's missing something, try adding a touch of heat! Even if you're not looking to add a spicy flavour to your soup, adding a pinch of heat (in the form of a dry spice like cayenne pepper or chilli pepper, or through hot sauce) adds another layer of flavour to your soup. Don't think of it as adding heat, think of it as adding flavour.

9) Go For The Garnish
Think of your soup like a clean slate, the perfect canvas to express your creativity! Garnishing your soup is a great way to add a subtle pop of flavour as well as beautifying your soup to make it look like it just came off the line at a restaurant. Get inspired by fresh herbs, creams, sauces, dips, and dressings that you may already have on hand. If worse comes to worse, a drizzle of good quality extra virgin olive oil is is always a great way to finish off a soup.

10) Taste, Taste, Taste
The key to making a soup without a recipe is to taste as much as possible, and trust your instincts! 

Try your hand at making a homemade soup without a recipe and tweet me a picture of your final product: @thisgingerrose

Listening To:
The Knife - A Tooth For An Eye

Thursday, April 30, 2015

The "You Can Stay" Risotto

What's your favourite dish that your partner makes? Although my boyfriend Chris has a knack for creating magic in the kitchen with pretty much anything he touches (though he will be the first to deny it), my hands-down favourite dish that he makes is his Wild Mushroom and Saffron Risotto. Yes, I have stated how much I enjoy making and diving into a plate of my own risotto, but no matter how much practice I get, mine never seems to be as dreamy as Chris'. Chris' risotto always tastes just a bit creamier, the rice always has just a bit more bite, the seasoning is always spot on, and the presentation, well just look at that picture and try not to drool! 

We have this running joke in our home ever since I moved in in September, the "you can stay" joke. Whenever one of us does something kind for the other one (doing laundry, folding laundry, making dinner, cleaning the condo, etc.) we always joke that "ok, now you can stay." Thank goodness for this food blog of mine, which forces me to cook on a daily basis, giving me the reassurance that I "can stay." Well Chris, as long as you continue making your send-me-to-heaven risotto, you will always, and I mean always, have permission to stay. 

Listening To

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Say 'Hello' To fredi Magazine's Newest Food Expert!

Friends! I have such cool news to share! I am so very happy to announce that I have recently become one of fredi Magazine's food experts! What does this mean exactly? This means that I will have the opportunity to write a food article in each quarterly issue of fredi, as well as contribute to their food and drink blog. What's even more awesome about this exciting new endeavour? Firstly, it's been so amazing to have a super cool team to report to, who has already given me so much creative freedom in creating each new article. Secondly, it's an absolute honor to have my name and articles right next to the inspiring entrepreneur Rose Reisman, who is also fredi's food expert! 
Check out my first article for fredi on my latest obsession, Cauliflower! Inspired by a recent food hack that I created for making cauliflower "rice," I created a vibrant and fresh Green Goddess Cauliflower "Couscous" with green peas, asparagus, and a bright kick of lemon! Click here to see the recipe for yourself!

Listening To:

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Food Hacks Recap

Eggs-In-A-Ham Basket
Eggs-In-A-Ham Basket - Taking an extra couple minutes on your weekend morning to prepare breakfast doesn't have to be a chore, well, that is if you have a handy food hack up your sleeve! Introducing my Eggs-In-A-Ham Basket, the answer to your weekend morning hunger woes! With as little as five-minutes of prep time and 20-minutes of baking in the oven, you can deliver a delicious dish that will make your belly happy and put your mind at ease! By simply fitting slices of ham into greased ramekins, cracking an egg inside, and topping with cheese and barbecue sauce, you have done all the work required for the ultimate quickie morning bite. It's just that easy, and all the more appetizing than a bowl of cereal!
Valentine's Day Cake
Valentine's Day Cake - With Food Hacks on the brain this past Valentine's Day, not to mention a busy schedule and a limited budget, I turned to my collection of hacking tips and tricks to come up with something interesting and striking for my loved one. Ever since I was first appointed the title of being Kraft's 'Ultimate Food Hacker,' I have been dying to try a hack for making a heart-shaped cake, using only one square pan and two circle pans. The hack looked so incredibly simple to execute, and the results were gorgeous! Sure enough, my heart-shaped cake turned out beautiful! It was absolutely delicious, and featured some of my boyfriends favourite flavours, pistachio and orange! 
Banana Peanut Butter "Ice Cream" In Chocolate Bowls
Banana Peanut Butter "Ice Cream" In Chocolate Bowls - I recently heard of a hack for making ice cream that sounded far too simple to be true. The hack apparently took mere minutes to make, required only a food processor, and was even dairy free! I didn't believe it was possible! The hack stated that by blending frozen, chopped bananas in a food processor, you will be left with the best ice cream! With low expectations, I began making this wild sounding "ice cream." To my complete shock, the "ice cream" turned out incredible! Creamy and sweet, I couldn't believe how much this mixture of bananas and fixings tasted just like ice cream! What was equally wild was the chocolate serving bowl that I served the ice cream in! By dipping the ends of small balloons into melted chocolate, letting it set, and carefully popping, I had created the tastiest serving bowl ever! 
Spicy Chicken Hard Tacos
Spicy Chicken Hard Tacos - How does one cater taco night to reflect both hard and soft taco shell enthusiasts without having to purchase both types? You know the answer! With a food hack! By simply draping small, soft tortillas over the bars of an oven rack and baking until crisp, you will have the most perfect hard taco shells ready to be stuffed with your favourite fillings! What I love about these homemade hard taco shells is that the width between the bars of the oven rack creates a flat base for your shells, eliminating the issue of having your hard tacos topple over and spilling the filling onto your plate. 
Waffled Has Browns
Waffled Hash Browns - Just like the waffle iron stepped in to deliver an incredibly crisp crunch to my Grilled Chicken Caesar Wafflewich, the waffle iron once again acted as the perfect tool for achieving the ultimate hash browns! When I say 'ultimate' I truly mean it, because these babies were, dare I say, better than any hash browns I have ever had at any restaurant! With the most dreamy, crunchy crust, and a light and soft interior, it's insane to think just how simple these hash browns were to prepare. What I really loved about making hash browns with this method was being able to step away from the waffle iron as the potato shreds cooked, allowing me to prepare the rest of my breakfast spread and set the table. Crispy, soft, with an herbaceous hit of ranch dressing, your breakfast table is begging for these!
Mini Corn Dog Bites
Mini Corn Dog Bites - Corn dogs have got to be one of the most fun carinal foods, but truth be told, they aren't exactly the easiest thing to make at home. They're messy, they're repetitive, they require deep-frying, and they can only be cooked a couple at a time. Let's face it, I wasn't planning on making corn dogs at home anytime soon until I came up with the easiest way to make this beloved fusion dish using a mini muffin tin. A mini muffin tin is the perfect tool for this hack, allowing you to create tiny, bite-sized corn dogs by filling the muffin cups with cornbread batter and a hot dog surprise in the middle. No mess, no repetition, no deep-frying, no problem! 
Mexican Cauliflower "Rice:
Mexican Cauliflower "Rice" - Though there are so many fantastic new ways to prepare cauliflower that have caught my attention lately, there's one cauliflower dish that has me the most inspired. Thanks to its insanely simple preparation and absolutely delicious results, I can't stop obsessing over cauliflower "rice"! Cauliflower rice is just as it sounds - simply cauliflower made to look, feel, and taste just like rice. All it takes to achieve this wonderful rice-like texture is a quick pulse of chopped cauliflower pieces in a food processor. Cook in a skillet with a little butter until tender-crisp. That's it! Can you believe it's just that easy to hack cauliflower into a low-carb, high-fiber comfort food favourite?
Crispy Stuffed French Toast
Crispy Stuffed French Toast - There's nothing worse than soggy french toast! What makes french toast really incredible is the inside is soft and fluffy from the infused egg custard, and the outside gets nice and crisp. It's not always easy to achieve that crisp exterior, risking the chance of burning the outside or drying out the inside, and that's where the food hack comes in! By coating the egg-soaked bread in crushed cereal, you will easily be able to achieve that mouth-watering crisp exterior that breakfast dreams are made of! To enhance that textural contrast even further, I stuffed the french toast with velvety Philadelphia Cinnamon Brown Sugar Cream Cheese! Hungry yet? 
Mini Deep Dish Pizzas
Mini Deep Dish Pizzas - With pizza nights holding a special place in my heart, I was so excited to try a hack for making mini, individual deep-dish pizzas using store-bought biscuit dough baked in muffin tins! What drew me to this hack was memories of making my own personal pizzas with my family. I love that this hack encourages personal expression, allowing each member of the family to dress their pizza as they wish! 

Stay up to date with all my food hack recipes, tips, and tricks, follow me on the Food Hacks Twitter account: @FoodHacks

Listening To

Monday, April 27, 2015

The 100 Day Project

Goals have always been something that I've struggled with. True, I've always been the type of person to set goals, but the problem arises when it comes to accomplishing those goals. I'm proud to say that I have accomplished many of the goals I've set for myself (though I still have many more to go!) but the real problem is in the struggle to accomplish them. It's not that the goals are often ever that difficult to achieve, it's more about my internal demons, my doubts and fears, that keep me and overwhelm me from moving forward in a positive way. I have a horrible habit of making small issues and stresses larger than life in my own mind, which bogs me down and tricks me from doing the things that I love and make me happy. 

I'm always looking for new ways to be inspired and motivated to achieve my goals, so when I first heard about The 100 Day Project, I was immediately intrigued. The 100 Day Project was started by the magazine The Great Discontent, which delves into the stories of inspiring millennials who are striving to achieve, you guessed it, contentment. It's about those creative people who are choosing to dig their own path and stray from the norm in order to achieve their hopes and dreams. The 100 Day Project was started for people just like me, who get overwhelmed by one final large goal. This project is not about setting a goal to achieve in 100 days, it's about consciously focusing 100 consecutive days of your life on one creative pursuit. It's about valuing the process and journey of creation, and embracing new directions and goals which may arise.

With a newfound love for food photography I knew that I wanted my 100 days to be about learning this new art form. Though I haven't exactly followed all of the rules, choosing to not post a photo of my progress on my Instagram account every single day, I can say that since beginning this project on April 6th, I have already learned so much about myself. This project has reminded me how much happiness art and creativity brings to my life. It's reminded me to focus on the little things that make me happy like being active, writing in a journal, and taking the time to be focus on my talents (so that they don't disappear!). 

The next step for me is making writing in my blog apart of my weekly routine once again. I've been focusing so much on taking photos, that I feel I've neglected my writing. I don't think it would come as a surprise to say that I've once again been overwhelming myself with the goal. I've been stressing over what the heck to write in each entry that I've forgotten how moving and effective a blog can be with just a few words. I want to make an effort to share my process with my readers (or should I say reader, hi mom!) and find the joy in sharing those pieces of my life once again. Some entries may be quite short, with just a simple caption, while others will surely be my typical long ramble of nonsense. The point is, I don't want to feel like I have to keep my entries consistent with the rest of my blog. I want to start embracing the beauty of the process once again, even if that means that my blog may look a little funny and disjointed for a bit. Then again, this process may inspire me to take my blog in an entirely new direction. Who knows! But I feel the need to express this change as a way of introducing my new perspective on creativity and goals. I hope that you enjoy following along on this journey with me. 

To learn more about The 100 Day Project, click here!

To follow my progress of The 100 day Project, follow me on Instagram

Listening To:

Monday, April 6, 2015

Chasing Dreams of The Perfect Blueberry Muffin

When I was around eight or nine years old I was invited to my friend Nikki's cottage to stay over for a few nights of pre-teen debauchery. My sister and my mom drove me up and were invited to stay for the day. Us kids spent our day jumping off the dock, playing games, exploring the forest, and making up dance routines to our Alanis Morissett cassette tape. It was one of those perfect summer days that I don't think I will ever forget, and will continually find myself attempting to recreate, nostalgic for that carefree freedom of being a rambunctious nine-year old. Despite our wonderful day full of fun and memories, the only thing my sister can remember is what we ate. Sure my sister Justine was only six or seven years old at the time, making it tricky to remember a random day up north with your sisters friends, but Justine can still remember every little detail about Nikki's mom Darlene's blueberry muffins. 
Ask Justine about those blueberry muffins and the first thing she will say is that they were the best muffins she has ever had in her life. She will then proceed to give a detailed description of the taste, texture, and ratio of blueberries to cake, and will end on a comically sad note, declaring that no other muffin has come close to being as perfect as those muffins on that special day, so many years ago. 
Recently Justine slipped into her wistful retelling of The Great Blueberry Muffins of 1996-ish once again, but this time instead of letting her fall into a pool of self pity at never again having such a moist, sweet, and perfect blueberry muffin (oh the melodrama!) I decided to take matters into my own hands and attempt to recreate more than just the wonderful memory of good friends enjoying a beautiful summer day in nature, I was going to recreate Darlene's muffins! 
Because I hadn't had the muffins since my age was a single digit, the first step in recreating "the best blueberry muffins ever" was finding a recipe that at least looked like Darlene's blueberry muffins. Pinterest came to rescue and led me to a recipe on the blog Yammie's Noshery that looked just like Darlene's. The interior image looked exactly like the pale and fluffy muffins that Justine loved so much, with the same blueberry-to-cake ratio, and even a light dusting of sugar on top just like Darlene's turbinado sugar topping. Though the muffins turned out quite tasty, they still need some work to get them near the caliber we were hoping for. The muffins were a little too sweet, a little too oily, and just a bit too dense. Although these muffins weren't the perfect ones we were hoping for, this recipe is a great start to begin playing with that I feel confident will eventually result in those muffins that Justine remembers so fondly. Below I have included a revised version of the Yammie's Noshery recipe based on my own personal feedback. Please note that I have not tested these alterations yet, I can make no promises on the result! Please give my revisions a try and let me know what you think! And Darlene, if you're reading this, care to share your beloved blueberry muffin recipe with the Rose girls? I think it's clear based on our almost 20-year search for the perfect replica that we will be forever grateful! 

Slightly adapted from Yammie's Noshery
1/2 cup white sugar
1 large egg
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup fresh blueberries
about 1 Tbsp turbinado sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 375ºF. Grease a standard muffin tin or line with paper liners (or parchment paper as I did in the photo!).
  2. In a large bowl combine the sugar, egg, oil, milk, and vanilla extract until well blended.
  3. In a small bowl stir together the sour cream with the baking powder until dissolved. Stir into the wet ingredients.
  4. Stir the flour and salt into the wet ingredients until just combined. Stir in the blueberries.
  5. Evenly pour the batter into the muffin tin about 3/4 of the way up. Top each muffin with a sprinkle of turbinado sugar and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. 
Listening To:
Alanis Morissette - Hand In My Pocket

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Recipe's I Love: Herb-Marinated Pork Tenderloin

Herb-Marinated Pork Tenderloin
This past Fall I made the big (and long overdue) move out from under my moms roof, and into a lovely, downtown condo with my boyfriend Chris.  The move sparked many wonderful changes in my life, but perhaps the most unexpected one was how it affected some of my favourite recipes. 

You know that exhilarating feeling that you get when a recipe turns out fantastic, knowing that you have a new killer dish to add to your repertoire? Anyone who has experienced that feeling, must also know how quickly that feeling can diminish the more that dish gets repeated. It becomes apart of your routine, making that first bite a little less special each time it's made. It's disappointing when you can become so disinterested in something that you used to enjoy and appreciate so much. 

Like I said, moving in with Chris has ignited a lot of change in my life, but what surprised me the most was how it breathed new life into those old stand-by recipes, reminding me why I still find myself turning to them time and time again. Watching someone else get to experience those first bites of a great dish made me remember what made them so special in the first place. Suddenly the smells became more fragrant, the juices flowed more freely, and my tastebuds were more alert. It was like that first bite all over again! 
Herb-Marinated Pork Tenderloin
Though recently I had declared that I wanted my blog to primarily focus on recipes that I have personally developed myself, getting to revisit these old third-party-sourced recipes with new eyes made me want to start a new series on my blog entitled 'Recipes I Love.' With so many recipes on the Internet, it's easy to get overwhelmed and not now where to begin. It can be incredibly discouraging when you put the time, money, and effort into making a dish, only to have it fail, wasting all of those ingredients, and your precious time! This is exactly why I want to start sharing my favourites with you, so you can learn which resources to trust, and which recipes you can turn to when you're in a bind.

This brings me to the second dish in this series (the first being Ina Garten's Aglio E Olio), which also just happens to be from the lovely Ina, Herb-Marinated Pork Tenderloin. Firstly, what I adore about this recipe is just how simple the marinade is to prepare, filled with ingredients that I always like to keep in my kitchen. I also love that I can quickly prepare the marinade in the morning, and leave the raw pork tenderizing and soaking up all that flavour while bathing in it all day. Doing that little bit of work in advance means simply searing and roasting the pork come time for dinner, allowing you to relax and enjoy your night off. This dish always comes out perfect, with a great herbaceous and tangy crust, and a vibrant pink centre that will have you and your loved ones salivating! I love everything about this simple recipe and know that you will too! Give the recipe a try here and let me know if you have added it to your favourite-recipe-repertoire as well! 

Listening To:
Sufjan Stevens - Carrie & Lowell (full album!)

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

A Beginners Guide to Arancini AKA Fried Rice Balls

So you've mastered the art of making risotto, and despite it's delicious results, you've followed my advice and have left yourself some leftovers for the following day...Now what? There's not a chance that anyone could get you to revive the goopy, gluey mess you have in front of you by simply re-heating. Although some of the best leftovers are merely reheated to achieve the same level of flavour from when they were first served, reviving risotto requires completely transforming the rice into an entirely new dish, largely unrecognizable from the creamy risotto it once was. Yes friends, I am talking about the miraculous transformation of renovating risotto into arancini! 

Arancini are also known as fried rice balls (or 'little oranges', referring to their appearance), and are made by forming the sticky leftover risotto into a ball, stuffing with cheese or other fillings like meat, and rolling in a breadcrumb mixture, to be fried into crisp and creamy balls. I had previously made arancini once before last year using leftover risotto from my culinary class at George Brown. Although my results were tasty, they were nowhere near the crispy on the outside, and outrageously creamy on the inside arancini that I had gone gaga over at Italian restaurants and events. I knew a big issue was my not-so-successful attempt at deep frying over the stove for the first time (something that pretty much scared the pants off of me!), but I knew that there was more that could be tweaked. The cheese inside hadn't melted quite as much as I had hoped, and I found the arancini a little on the dry side. What was I doing wrong?

For my second attempt at making arancini just a few weeks ago, after enjoying a delicious asparagus and green pea risotto, I decided to take matters into my own hands and tuck into some arancini research online. The hands-down best resource I found was from Serious Eats, where the chef had gone through some serious recipe testing to perfect the little fried balls. Although this method for making arancini was not meant for using leftover risotto (this recipe skips the risotto all together and goes straight to perfecting arancini), I was still able to take my arancini to a whole new level and gain amazing results using this resource as a guide. 

Although one of the very first things I learned from that resource was the success of using sushi rice as opposed to the traditional Italian short-grain Arborio rice, I stuck with the arborio rice because, well, that's what I had made my risotto with the night before! The recipe also encouraged making a bechamel sauce from chicken stock and milk to stir into the sushi rice to achieve a molten, not dry, interior. Once again, because I was using leftover risotto, I omitted this step, though it did give me a great idea for next time! The next time I make arancini I would love to mimic the method of making croqueta filling, by making a thick roux-like bechamel, cooling it down so it's pliable, and rolling it into balls so it can be stuffed inside the leftover risotto rice, along with cheese. This would ensure that, once heated, the bechamel would become liquid once again, achieving that molten filling that is so desirable. 

Though there were a few steps that I had to stray from in the Serious Eats method, there was certainly lots that I did take away. The first thing was the breadcrumbs. Although the chef found the best results by using homemade breadcrumbs, he stated that crushed panko breadcrumbs were a close contender. I didn't have any homemade breadcrumbs (nor any bread to make them with) but I did have plenty of panko! I pulsed it in the food processor as recommended in order to make the crumbs finer, so that the final result would still have the appearance of looking like little oranges. 

More than just the breadcrumbs, the way in which you adhere the breadcrumbs to the rice will also aid in achieving the ultimate crisp exterior. This method recommended making a 'slurry' out of water and flour to result in a "shatteringly crisp" exterior. To get the creamy and gooey cheesy interior that was lacking on my last arancini attempt, I cut the mozzarella cheese into small cubes, adding several to each ball, so that they would melt at a faster rate. 

The final step to getting the arancini I had dreamt of was learning to control the oil. First off, I used far less oil than I had last time. There's no need to actually deep fry risotto, you can simply add a few inches of oil (about 4-inches) to your deep pot, allowing you to turn the balls as needed to evenly crisp. By adding less oil you will have so much more control over the heat. Have a thermometer handy to keep testing the temperature of the oil so that it stays around 375ºF, and adjust your stovetop as needed. Use a slotted spoon or spider to remove the balls, allowing any excess oil to drain off, and place on a paper towel-lined wire rack. While the arancini are still nice and hot, serve them with some good tomato sauce and you're good to tuck in and enjoy all that hard work! 

Yes, making arancini sounds a little complicated, especially when it takes me this long to accurately explain my process, but I promise you after that first attempt, it will all feel like play! It's actually so incredibly simple to make delicious arancini, it just takes a little research (which I've already done for you!) and a bit of practice. I was able to make my arancini in about 30-minutes on a weeknight, along with a main course, meaning it really can't be that difficult at all! If you're concerned about timing, form your arancini in advance, and pop them in the freezer until you're ready to fry. I love this idea for last-minute entertaining! 

Big thanks to Serious Eats for providing me with so much helpful information! I definitely encourage you all to check out the page and see what you can take away from it! Let me know how your attempt at making arancini went and share your results with me on Twitter: @thisgingerrose! 

Listening To:
Alt-J - The Gospel Of John Hurt

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Risotto Myth

Homemade Asparagus & Green Pea Risotto with Prosciutto-Wrapped Asparagus Garnish
It was only October of 2013 that I was nervously preparing for my evening class at George Brown Chef College, my stomach in knots over the thought of making risotto from scratch for the first time ever. I remember feeling sick with worry over making the notoriously difficult-to-prepare dish. I had heard how difficult it was to achieve the loose, yet not soupy, creamy, yet not mushy texture of the starchy rice, as well as the dedication involved to the preparation, leaving the cook handcuffed to the stove for the duration of the cooking process. Now look at me! Just over a year later, I feel like a risotto-making pro! It turns out that risottos reputation as being a difficult-to-prepare dish is actually nothing more than a myth! In fact, I even find making risotto relaxing, and simple enough to whip up mid-week when I feel like I have a fridge full of nothing! 

The trick to making risotto is patience and practice. Yes, it's true, you do need to man the stove for the duration of the cooking process, but that doesn't mean that you can't step away to begin setting the table, or prepare an accompanying dish. The trick is to allow yourself to control the product, as opposed to the product controlling you, which comes with practice. It takes practice to know when to add another ladle of broth and when to season, and when you start to trust your instincts and understand how your product and your equipment (pan, stove, etc.) works, everything becomes second nature. Of course much of what you learn about making risotto will come from physically making risotto, but I do have some helpful tips to offer you before you dive into your first successful risotto-making experience. 

Make Extra - First off before you even begin, ask yourself what you're having for dinner tomorrow. If you don't know the answer to that, or don't have a side dish, make extra risotto! Trust me, you will be thanking yourself the next day when you are turning that leftover gummy risotto into beautiful crispy on the outside, and creamy and cheesy on the inside arancini (AKA fried rice balls). 

Mince Your Onions - Whether you use onions or shallots, make sure that you mince your onion as finely as humanly possible. This will take a little extra time and effort, but the results will be worth it. Think of it this way, you want the pieces of onion to simply flavour the dish, but otherwise go unnoticed. You want them to melt right into the dish. This means cutting a very fine julienne, and then cutting a just-as-fine cross-section of that. 

Cook But Don't Colour - When cooking your onions you just want to soften them, and get them translucent. You do not want to colour your onions in any way. 

Season From Start To Finish - Just like any dish, risotto wants to be seasoned throughout the cooking process, allowing the flavours to marry and develop. I tend to season my risotto with salt and white pepper at every addition of broth. Every time I stir a new ladle of broth in, I immediately follow with a pinch of both salt and pepper.  

You Can Add But You Can't Take Away - As much as you want a well-seasoned dish, you must remember the golden rule "you can always add, but you can never take away." I find at the beginning of the cooking process I begin with very generous pinches of salt and white pepper. Because I've made risotto before and know how bland it is to start, I feel confident with a bit of a heavy hand at the start, knowing that I will not over-season. About ten or so minutes into the cooking process, begin tasting for seasoning. This will allow you to know if you should continue with generous pinches of salt and pepper, or whether you should transition to more delicate pinches. Continue tasting and seasoning, going lighter on the seasoning as the rice begins to soften.

It's near the end of the cooking process that you need to be careful. This is where you must remind yourself of that golden rule. It's always better to err on the side of caution and add too little salt and pepper (you can always add more!) than too much. You can look up every trick in the book for how to fix an over-salted or over-peppered dish, but you're pretty much stuck. Also remember that you will be adding grated parmigiano reggiano to your risotto as the final step, meaning that the natural saltiness of the parm will season your risotto as well. I like to leave my risotto slightly under-salted before adding the parm to ensure I don't over salt once the cheese is added. 

The Wooden Spoon Trick - One of the best tricks for knowing when to add another ladle of broth is the wooden spoon trick. The trick is to drag your wooden spoon (I use a flat-ended wooden spatula) down the centre of the pan and watch how the product reacts. If the spoon left an empty trail behind it and the risotto mixture isn't swimming to cover it, you are ready for another ladle. If the risotto mixture quickly pools to cover the trail, you may wait before adding the next ladle. The more you practice making risotto, the less you have to rely on this. 

Soupy Is Better Than Gluey - This is one of the most vital steps to making risotto. When you are removing your risotto from the stove to serve, you want it to be loose, but not soupy, BUT soupy is better than gluey. Am I confusing you yet? The optimal texture for risotto should be loose enough so that when you put your mound of risotto on a plate, and shake the plate side to side, the risotto should expand to the sides of the plate. If the risotto stays in the mound on the plate and doesn't expand, it needs another ladle of broth to become looser. I say that soupy is better than gluey because even soupy risotto will begin to congeal as it cools, which means that a soupy risotto may reach that perfect texture a few minutes after it is removed from the stove. An even slightly gluey risotto will begin to congeal as it cools as well, meaning that your initial gluey risotto, will become even gluier in a matter of minutes. Again, finding that optimal texture will take practice. 

Serve Immediately - As I stated above, risotto begins to congeal and become gluey the moment it is taken off the heat (this doesn't mean you can just leave the pan of risotto on the heat either, when it's done it's done!), so the moment that risotto hits the plate, it must be served immediately if you want all that patience while cooking to be worth it. 

I hope all those tips haven't scared you away from making risotto, and instead have you amped up to try your hand at making it yourself! Please give risotto a try in your own kitchen and let me know how it goes! If you should find yourself the middle of making your risotto and scared that you're doing something wrong, shoot me a tweet @thisgingerrose and I may be able to jump in and give your my two cents! 

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