In the span of five days, I went from Maui's 90 degree temperatures, warm blue waters and white sandy beaches with palm trees, to the 30 degree snowy slopes of Squaw Valley in Tahoe. Life is feeling very full at the moment.
And as I always say, the best way to ease out of one vacation is to throw yourself into another. I have no problem doing that with gusto.
The problem is, now I'm out of planned vacations for awhile, with nothing to tide me over. That is not an enjoyable feeling. I think I'm going to have to come up with an affordable idea or two. I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to summer.
Here's a confession: spring is probably my least favorite season. Oh, I know it's when things are blooming, starting to come out of the ground, everything has a fresh taste and smell to it. It's lovely, but it's just not summer. I'm looking forward to a hot sun; swimming, windows open and down, summer tomatoes, peaches and berries. I can't wait!
But, in the meantime, there's still enough chill in the air for cozy dishes like risotto.
My fridge looked pretty bare when I came back from Hawaii, and seeing how I was leaving again so quickly, I thought the thing to do would be to rummage through the pantry to come up with a quick dinner. I had Arborio rice, sherry, an onion, chicken stock, butter, frozen shrimp and some Parmesan. Great for a basic risotto, but how to make it even better? So easy. Can't believe I'd never thought about it before. I simply browned the butter. It lent a wonderfully nutty flavor. A great way to add a bit of flare to an totally simple dish.
Brown Butter Risotto with Sherry and Poached Shrimp
8 frozen shrimp
4 cups reduced-sodium chicken stock
3 tablespoon butter, at room temperature
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 1/2 cups Arborio Rice
1/2 cup dry sherry
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
salt and pepper to taste
chives for garnish (optional)
In a medium saucepan, bring the chicken stock to a boil. Keep hot over low heat. After the risotto has been cooking for about 10 minutes, add the shrimp to the remaining broth and poach until shrimp is cooked through. Remove from the broth with a slotted spoon and set aside.
In a large saucepan, melt 3 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Cook until the butter begins to foam and then turns brown, about 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Add the onion and cook, about 3 minutes. Add the rice and stir to coat with the butter. Add the sherry and simmer until the liquid has almost evaporated, about 3 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of stock and stir until almost completely absorbed, about 2 minutes. Continue adding the stock, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and allowing each addition of stock to absorb before adding the next. Cook until the rice is tender but still firm to the bite, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in the Parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Top with shrimp and garnish with chives