Risotto with radishes, kale, and lemon

April 25, 2013 § 4 Comments

risotto radishes kale lemon 1

Before we get to risotto, I have a few little announcements to make, housekeeping style.  I trust the risotto can wait a couple moments, even though it is not known to be the most patient of rice dishes.  But anyway, as I mentioned a little bit ago, this here little blog is undergoing a spiffing up process.  It’s like Five and Spice is going on Project Makeover!  That’s not a real show is it.  Extreme Makeover?  Anyway, that’s beside the point.

The point is that some major, and (so!) exciting renovations are happening, led by the (brilliant) ladies of Wooden Spoons Kitchen.  In order to make it all work, starting sometime on the later end of tomorrow (Friday) the site will be down for a while.  It will stay down over the weekend while the magic happens in the background.  Then on Monday morning it’ll be back with its brand new look and also at a new URL.  Instead of being at wordpress.com the site address will be plain old fiveandspice.com (took me long enough to make the change, right?! Some weird Estonian company or something had snagged that URL, I think in hopes of getting me to buy it from them. But when their lease on it expired, I snapped it up.  Take that!).

I’ll have the old site set up to redirect, so old links will all still work and whatnot, but just know that henceforth you’ll be able to look for me at that new address. Now this is important (hence the bold typeface) if you subscribe by email, that should keep working without interruption (at least in theory.  Fingers crossed.) but if you subscribe via an rss feed/reader type of thing, you will have to resubscribe.  But, this should be easy enough, right?  You did it once!  I bet you can do it again.  (I, on the other hand, have no idea how to subscribe to an rss feed.  I am a luddite.  This is why other people are in charge of moving the site over, and holding my hand, and talking to me in reassuring voices the whole time.)

risotto radishes

So, with that taken care of, let us turn to the risotto. « Read the rest of this entry »

Lemony risotto with shrimp and peas

June 12, 2012 § 13 Comments

Do you all already love risotto?  I feel like most people do.  Like it usually comes naturally.  I’m pretty sure I’m the odd duck in this one, but for me, well, it took me a while to hit my risotto stride.

When I first heard of risotto back who knows when at this point, I was immediately enticed by it.  It looked like the rice version of creamy macaroni and cheese or maybe the rice version of pasta Alfredo.  My impression of it was that it was a bowl of super cheesy, creamy rice.  And how could that be anything but delightful?  Right?

The first time I ever actually tried risotto was at the dinner we went to to celebrate my college graduation.  It is a well known fact that a college graduation merits a celebratory dinner at a snazzy Italian restaurant wherein the graduate also gets to choose the wine.  At least, I felt it ought to be a well known fact, and made sure our plans reflected this.

I wasn’t actually the one who ordered the risotto.  I ordered lobster ravioli because at that time lobster ravioli was my culinary grail.  The ultimate in fancy food (I don’t think I’d ever actually had lobster before that, come to think of it.  What a dinner of firsts!).  It was one of my best friends who came along and who ordered a vegetable risotto (she was being vegetarian at the time, I believe).  I was delighted with her choice because it meant I could steal a few forkfuls.

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Chicken and pumpkin tagine with garlicky couscous

December 8, 2010 § 3 Comments

I love having people over for dinner. Love it! Throwing a “dinner party,” inviting “guests,” that’s kind of stressful and I develop this performance anxiety about it (though, I find it exhilarating at times as well). But, having folks over, gathering them around the table, making new connections, strengthening old ones, and most importantly filling everyone up with delicious food, now that is one of my favorite things in the world. In fact, I think it may actually be one of my greatest life aspirations, more so than work or other achievements, to make sure that my table is a warm and comfortable place where people always feel welcome to drop in for a moment and then stay for a whole meal and conversation.

Because of this, I have a tendency to improvise and experiment when I’m cooking for friends who come over, just as much as when I cook for myself. I know the general wisdom is that you should never try out a new recipe when you’re having company, and in concept I agree. But, I still find myself standing at the stove, pulling out random spice jars and saying to myself, ‘let’s see if this works’ even as I’m waiting for the ring of our doorbell (which, on a side note, is the most awful doorbell sound you could possibly imagine and always makes me jump a foot and half when it goes off) and know that people are about to come piling in, excited to be fed. Sure, there have been a couple of unfortunate incidents with rubbery, flavorless chicken, or curdled mango-cream sauce, but life went on, and overall it has worked out for the best. And there’s been more fun for everyone! « Read the rest of this entry »

Cucumber and yogurt salad with lemon

July 12, 2010 § 5 Comments

Some friends and I have a “band” that we started last year, known as The Muddy Gospel Band (we have also considered calling ourselves The Iran Contra-dance Affair, but I’m not sure that’s actually funny to anyone else).  Those quotation marks around “band” are key to understanding our level of professionalism and talent.  (Though we did do a single recording session last year, orchestrated by a sound technician who also happened to be a finalist in the International Beard and Mustache Competition, natural category.)  I mean, I don’t want to shortchange us, we’re all decent to excellent musicians and singers, but our method of practicing is approximately this:  randomly get together every couple of months, share supper, then grab some beers and sing your way through old gospel songbooks, Gillian Welch’s, and Dave Rawlings’ albums, finally end with some quality Bob Dylan.

Our four part harmony is not spot on; we crowd around a computer screen to read what the lyrics to the song we’re singing are; our mandolin player only knows 4 chords (er, that would be me); but the experience is always transcendent.  The stress, the anxiety, the conflict that seem to come with the territory of participating in this wonky world of ours, become transparent, wispy, insubstantial.  They float away like dandelion puffs on the breeze of our voices.  Every day, when I listen to the news or browse headlines online, I’m bewildered and saddened by our collective insanity and  apparently bizarre priorities.  Each time I share a meal or sing with friends, I rediscover some things that are true and good, and find a new little foothold to balance on.  Our Muddy Gospel practices have both, accompanied by lots of good old-fashioned belly-laughs.  “I don’t know what tomorrow brings.  It’s alive with possibility.  All I know is I feel better when I sing.  Burdens are lifted from me…” (that’s from “Method Acting” by Dave Rawlings – seriously awesome song) « Read the rest of this entry »

Grilled bread with thyme pesto, lemon cream, and a fried egg

June 10, 2010 § 16 Comments

Okay, before my perpetually wandering mind meanders off into some story or digression, let me make sure I get my main point across right away.  And that is: do not rest until you make this sandwich!! It is unbelievable.  I may henceforth reserve the word luscious to be used only in describing this sandwich.  It came to me in a passing flash of inspiration, and I’m so glad I trusted the inspiration enough to follow it.  Lemon, thyme, and garlic are one of the all time great flavor combinations – woodsy, tangy, nutty bright – and the textures combine crispy, crunchy, and creamy while the fabulously goopy egg pulls everything together in one delightful, messy sandwich perfect for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

I took one bite, held it up to my face and asked it, “where have you been all my life?” (Yes, I have that kind of relationship with sandwiches)  I polished it off, and just sat there kind of hugging myself in (slightly smug) sensory glee.  The thyme pesto and the lemon cream are steps that take some more effort than one might generally expect to have to put into sandwich making.  But, be not deterred!  They’re still quite easy (each only takes a few minutes to pull together), and then you’ll have extra spreads that will last a couple of weeks in the fridge so you can keep making more and more and more sandwiches!  (Or add them to pasta, or grilled meats or fish.)

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