Thursday, July 8, 2010

Mascarpone! It's Just Fun To Say!

Good evening everyone! Welcome back to Out Of The Culinary! Tonight was Maggie's night to take over the kitchen. Just like last week - she turned to one of her new cookbooks for inspiration on what to make tonight. Knowing how much I love lemons - she spotted tonight's recipe and immediately decided that it would be perfect. (There's a girl who knows how to please her target audience!) However, tonight's dish didn't go as smoothly as planned.

In the recipe's description Giada De Laurentiis states "Creamy, lemony and delicious, either as an entree or as side dish...makes a pretty, festive accompaniment to almost any springtime meal." Sounds fantastic, right? Well, we came to a conclusion after trying out this dish ourselves...Giada lied.

The Recipe: Lemon Risotto
Original Recipe Found In: Giada's Kitchen: New Italian Favorites

What You'll Need:

4 Cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
2 Lemons
3 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
2 Large Shallots
1/2 Cup White Wine
1 1/2 Cups Arborio Rice
1/2 Cup Parmesan Cheese
1/4 Mascarpone Cheese
1/2 Lemon Zest
3/5 Tsp. Salt
2/4 Tsp. Black Pepper
2 Tbs. Parsley

All the ingredients, ready to go

You ever have one of those days, where you think everything smoothly, but then it kind of crumbles right in front of you.  I should have taken work as a cue as to what my recipe would turn out as.

This recipe was pretty straight forward: add a couple of ingredients, stir a lot, mix other items, and present to hungry patrons.  And it was a fairly easy recipe - one of these days I'll get bold and do a fairly complex one.  But, I'm still getting my training feathers in, waiting until I can soar, i.e. learn more about cooking....anyway, back to the reason why you're here...

Before I started anything, I gave my lemons a quick roll on the cutting board.  According to Giada, (Tyler's Note: AND TYLER! I made that suggestion weeks ago!) this brings out more of the juice in the lemons to give it a better squeeze.  I also chopped the shallots in our mini food processor.  Shallots are like mini red onions, they give a very similar odor to red onions, but in a compact version.  (Albeit expensive - at $4 apiece) 



In a large saucepan, I pour the chicken broth and squeezed my now halved lemon.  I put a little strainer over the pan to catch the seeds (wouldn't want that in our lemony chicken broth...)  In another medium saucepan, I melted 2 out of the 3 tablespoons of butter and added the now chopped shallots and heated until they were tender.  After this, I added my rice.  Arborio rice is almost like little rice pellets, they are not long by any means.  When I opened the rice for the first time, I had to cut open this vacuum sealed package and it made a nice little "eeeeeeee" sound.  I giggled at the sound these little legumes made.

Arborio rice

After coating the rice with the butter/shallot mixture, I added the wine and the other halved lemon, squeezing the juice out as I previously mentioned.  As the liquids evaporated, I added a half a cup of the lemony chicken broth to the rice combination an waited for that to evaporate as well.  

Once this mixture was clear of free standing liquid, I added another half cup of the lemony chicken broth and stirred constantly until everything was the same consistency.  Repeat this until all of the broth is gone.  By now, the rice should be getting to a creamier state and should be tender (about 20 minutes.)

After this, I added the last of the butter, parmesan and mascarpone cheese, salt and pepper, and stirred until it was an even more creamy concoction.  Serve and sprinkle with parmesan cheese and parsley.

The End Result:

Sure, the risotto looked tasty and I was throughly waiting for that first lemony, tangy bite...  It never had that lemony, tangy bite.  Oh, it had a bite, but for the life of me, I have no idea what ingredient lead to the tanginess of the dish.  I thought about all the ingredients I included, but it's hard to pin point one key ingredient that would give such bite to a normally subtle dish.  

This was the first recipe that I had made that didn't include a picture of the dish being made.  And probably for good reason too.  I wouldn't call this a failed recipe, but maybe a 'too much of something; or 'not our taste recipe.'  If anything, this had definitely made me more perplexed than when I started tonight's journey.

Thank you Maggie. After tonight's 'flop' Maggie is, understandingly bummed. No one likes to make a recipe that falls flat. There is no way to sugarcoat this one though - I didn't like it. Like Maggie mentioned the lemon was completely missing in the recipe - you couldn't taste a hint of it - which is odd because we had great, fresh, lemons. Instead - the flavor was this odd battle of chicken broth and...well...we're not sure. I originally blamed the mascarpone cheese (which is a ton of fun to say by the way... MASS-CAR-PON-AA) However, Maggie pointed out that mascarpone is essentially flavorless. For the life of us we don't know what caused the recipe to have such a bite. I'm hypothesizing that it may have been the shallots - they seemed to have a stronger odor than onions and maybe that odor was a precursor to the bite they would's hard to say. 

In the end, Maggie (or anyone who has ever made a 'dud' recipe) shouldn't feel too badly. All she can do is follow the recipe. In the end, I think this may be a recipe of 'acquired taste'. Perhaps Giada feels these ingredients all blend well together to make a fantastic dish - I'd have to respectfully disagree. They clash - badly. Normally, Giada's recipes have turned out well - tonight is the exception to the rule.

We knew this would happen though. From day one, we said that we were going to share our cooking experiences - both the good and the bad. For most of this blogging adventure, we've been able to share fantastic, delicious recipes that have been successes. Tonight was our first real dud. It happens, and as much as Maggie would rather NOT share this experience with you tonight, the good comes with the bad and my philosophy is simple - there is no such thing as a bad cooking experience. Only something that you can learn from in the future.

Needless to say, we wont be putting this recipe in our big book. Nor do we recommend you tackle it yourself. Giada's reputation took a hit here tonight, (and Maggie's cooking self esteem took a big one too) all that we can do is get up, bring out the pots and pans and try again!

That's all we have for you tonight. We're off tomorrow (It's my birthday!) We're going to our downtown farmer's market on Saturday and plan to post some pictures and experiences from that. Sunday is still pending - we're looking at another breakfast recipe, but are undecided yet on what to do. Tune in Saturday for an update on our Sunday plans. Until Saturday,


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