I might be the worst food blogger ever.
OK, that’s dramatic. It has been three months since my last post though, which might be a new personal record of negligence (*sobs quietly into pillow*), but I’M BACK! It feels so good to be posting a recipe again after taking some time off to get settled into my new program. This first semester at Juilliard Historical Performance, aside from being completely surreal , has FLOWN by. Between performances, lessons, gigs, being a hashtagpracticehermit, academic courses, and life in general, I’ve been a busy bee. In the last few weeks alone, my HP friends and I have performed on the radio, played for a live-streamed master class, finished a series of concerts in Boston and NYC, and are now gearing up for our tour to Holland (!) in a few weeks. I can’t believe that, at least for now, this is the new normal.
sum•mer (n): the existential struggle between wanting to be in shape and wanting to shove ALL THE FOOD INTO YOUR FACE
You know the feeling. Summertime finally hits, and you’re ready to hit the beach and show off that bod you’ve been working on. But two weeks in, you’ve had a few too many margs and entirely too many s’mores and then you realize you haven’t even hit the vacation part of your summer vacation yet and you’re like “HOW DID THIS HAPPEN” and then you end up eating more s’mores and it’s all just kind of a mess.
I know this feeling well. A week ago, I got back from spending over two weeks in San Francisco (um, hi, TONS of amazing food) at the American Bach Soloists Academy. It was a wonderful experience, but I definitely ate WAY too much. As in, I literally ate ice cream every day. And I mean literally, literally.
Raise your hand if you are READY FOR SUMMER VACATION. *lots of girls-with-raised-hands emojis*
In the eight (ack!) weeks since we last spoke over crepes, a lot has happened. I played a master’s recital, made my first ever wedding cake for my best friend’s wedding, performed some more, graduated with a master’s degree (with a former New York Yankee)… Oh. And another thing:
I GOT INTO JUILLIARD!!!!
This is probably not real life. Actually, I’m positive it’s not. I’m definitely just having the deepest and most wonderful nap dream ever. Is somebody gonna wake me up before I pee? No? SO IT IS REAL?! 😀
In all seriousness though, I’m ecstatic to be continuing my education in their historical performance program. Who wouldn’t be?! I get to play baroque violin all day every day, play with an amazing group, and learn from some of early music’s most revered artists. This has been a dream of mine ever since I began playing baroque violin, and it’s actually coming true.
….I am also a leeeetle bit wiped out though. #realtalk. This was a warm (not quite hot) mess of a busy year that turned out to be SO BEYOND worth the struggle. Preparing an audition on baroque violin while still juggling grad student life on modern violin nearly made me crazy, and I questioned my sanity every 7 minutes, basically. One thing I learned in the process, though, is that when things get stressful, you just need to power through one day, one task, and one minute at a time. Bite-sized goals on small plates… Do you see where I’m going yet?
“By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by USA Rice Federation and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.”
I can’t figure out whether or not I’m a patient person.
If we were to find ourselves on an NYC subway car, for example, and an announcement came on that we were being held until further notice, you would never hear me shout, “AWH YOU KIDDIN’ ME?” I’m a rarity in New York. Also, I can practice violin for extended periods with (relative) success and with (debatably) good concentration, which I definitely consider one of my best achievements.
But in the kitchen, I’m super inconsistent. I love the mundane aspects of cooking that a lot of people hate, like chopping and measuring. But if a dish is slow to cook on its own, and yet STILL requires my constant and careful attention, like risotto? Bye. Also, oats made on the stove. What even are those? I’m hungry in the morning… Team watery, high-risk-of-overflowing microwave oats all the way.
I have been trying to improve my kitchen patience, though. I mean, I’ve gotten SUPER picky about cutting all of my vegetables perfectly into appropriately sized, even cuts. I know that’s not really anything special, but whatever, just humor me. I think I’m doing a good job here.
Another thing I’ve been trying to do lately is balance my food groups better. With my ridiculous, often unpredictable schedule, it becomes so easy to fall into food routines – and not necessarily good ones. It becomes so easy to miss meals and then rely on snacks during lunch and dinner hours, which has become more normal than I’d like. Example: I had popcorn for dinner a few weeks ago. It was homemade though, and then I covered it in cilantro (that I dried myself – boo yah!) so I guess there was a serving of greens in there? Ugh. Also, “lunch” has recently become a spoonful of plain greek yogurt with cinnamon, pomegranate seeds, and a tablespoon of homemade granola. There was one day last week I ate that twice… In one day.
But now I feel that things are looking up, because I conquered this risotto, and have thus conquered my two biggest food-related weaknesses; kitchen patience, and food group balancing. The patience is worth it though, because this risotto is the BOMB DIGGITY. Do people say that anymore? Also, because the base of this dish is rice, it makes for a great balanced meal, which is healthy and delicious!
Because of its many benefits, the USA Rice Federation has encouraged the Recipe Reduxers to spread the love, and “Think Rice.” USA-grown rice is naturally trans fat-, cholesterol-, sodium-, and gluten-free, so if you’re watching your intake of any or all of those things (…or not), rice is a great choice. It’s also inexpensive, easy to buy in bulk, and goes well with pretty much anything you want to put on or in it. It gets this hungry-but-frugal grad student’s seal of approval, and you can definitely be “Thinking Rice” with this mighty tasty risotto! Although it takes some time, it’s pretty easy to make. It actually tastes way more complicated than it is. In the words of
my spirit animal Ina Garten, “How easy is that?!”
- 1 tbs. dried porcini mushrooms
- 1 c. boiling water
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 generous sprig sage, chopped
- 3 tbs. plus 1 tbs. olive oil
- 1 medium-large yellow onion, chopped
- 1 1/4 cups U.S.A. grown, organic arborio -or- short grain brown rice
- 1/2 cup dry white wine (I used Pinot Grigio)
- 4 cups vegetable stock
- 1/3 cup dried mission figs, chopped
- 1/3 cup pitted, oil-cured black olives, chopped
- 1/4 cup grated pecorino romano cheese
- Salt and pepper, to taste (if desired)
- Soak the dried mushrooms in the boiling water. Let soak for 30 minutes, or until fully hydrated.
- Bring vegetable stock to a boil in a saucepan. When boiling, reduce to a simmer.
- Chop garlic and sage. Set aside.
- Chop onion. Set aside.
- Chop figs and olives. Set aside.
- Once mushrooms are hydrated, strain and then reserve the soaking liquid through a cheesecloth or paper towel. Chop the mushrooms. Set aside.
- Add 3 tbs. of olive oil to a large, deep skillet over medium-low heat. Add garlic and sage and let sweat until fragrant.
- Add onion to skillet. Stir frequently, cooking until semi-translucent, about 3 minutes.
- Add rice to skillet, plus one more tablespoon of olive oil. Toss to coat, and toast for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning.
- Add wine to skillet.
- Once wine liquid has cooked off, add mushroom liquid and a ladleful of the hot stock. Stir occasionally, until liquid is absorbed.
- Add 1-2 more ladlefuls of stock. Stir occasionally until liquid is absorbed, then add more stock. Repeat until rice is al dente. Add figs and olives to pan about halfway through the cooking process (when stock is half gone).
- Remove risotto from heat. Stir in cheese, plus salt and pepper to taste if desired.
- Garnish with sage leaves, thinly sliced fig, and/or extra pecorino. Because cheese.
- Save time by chopping your garlic, sage, onion, etc. while the mushrooms are soaking and the stock is heating up.
- Kill time while waiting for the risotto to cook by drinking the leftover wine 😉