We’re counting down now–the last week of classes is almost over; graduation is in less than three weeks, and we will be moving in about a month. We’re trying to squeeze in some last dinners with all the people we’ve meant to invite over all year, and last Thursday we had Louisa (from Scotland) and Alex (from NZ) and Matt (who we have over all the time!) over. Matt’s a vegetarian (that trouble-maker) but flexible about things like chicken stock, so I always end up making him risotto.
To start I adapted a salad I’d seen in a magazine this month (not sure which one), with apples, pancetta and almonds. The dressing wasn’t great–much sweeter than my usual dressing, and with the apples and almonds I didn’t think it had enough bite. I love pancetta or bacon in salads, though, and it was fun to figure out how to cut matchsticks of apple:
I sliced off a bit of a side, then cut slices down to the core and cut the slices into matchsticks. Easy as pie and they look great. Here’s the finished salad:
Last week the first local asparagus arrived at the Coop; a perfect risotto ingredient and fun spring event. The bunch had some very thin stalks as well as lots of fatter ones (which I prefer), so I had to add it in at three different points. My mom taught me to add the tips towards the end since they cook faster. I added the fat stalk pieces, then the big ends in with the skinny stalk pieces, then the little tips as garnish at the end.
By the way, does anyone else sort of hate the tips of asparagus? I love love love the stalks but have never liked the tips nearly as much.
Hmm, could have been a little brothier and creamier.
For dessert I used another magazine recipe, this one from Bon Appetit. Strawberries are looking gorgeous right now, so I made chocolate strawberry shortcakes, with a chocolate biscuit instead of plain. Easy recipe, though I wasn’t blown away—I prefer regular shortcakes or angel food cake.
The dough was made with whipped cream:
It’s basically sand when you dump it out to knead, and it did pull together, though it took longer than I think it was supposed to. (Sadly I forgot to take a photo of the dough.)
You can see the ones that were made from the second or third time pushing the dough together—they split open.
Pretty, pretty berries (they ended up macerating with powdered sugar and orange juice; I didn’t add grand marnier, per the recipe, because I didn’t have any.):
And a mediocre pic of the finished dessert (need. better. lighting.):
The part of this recipe that I will definitely recreate is the cream. It was half a cup of whipping cream with half a cup of sour cream and a bit of powdered sugar. The sour cream added body and tang and made it much more interesting than straight whipped cream. Yum!