Yesterday I had the honors of going to my friend Sam’s house for dinner with her family. She lives about 20 minutes away from me and it seemed as though that entire 20 minutes was filled with her warnings about each individual I was going to be meeting that evening. That is one of my favorite parts about family. There are always crazy aunts, swearing uncles, and drunk grandparents, or those same adjectives switched around accordingly. That, to me, is what makes family. Unusually odd families who like to laugh, be sarcastic, and mess with new guests are the most fun.
I arrived at Sam’s beautiful house, was instantly put to work in the kitchen, and at that point I knew it was going to be a great night. I was asked to wash, halve, and stuff fresh figs with blue cheese for an appetizer:
I think figs are beautiful. And to be completely honest, I am not a fan of figs (I have only had them cooked), nor am I a fan of blue cheese (I like EVERY other kind), but I did not want her family to think of me as a picky eater so I just took a bite out of one and surprisingly I really enjoyed the two flavors together! I felt like Remy in Ratatouille when he takes a bite of the cheese and the strawberry at the same time and the music goes off into the background.
Mr. Sam was in charge of making the entree, which was lamb Osso Bucco. Osso Bucco is a braised (YAY) shank of commonly veal, but the market was out so he went with lamb. First, he seared the meat on all sides (Oh, by the way, I had already talked to them about my new blog and wanted to incorporate this so I would not look like a freak taking pictures of everything going on in the kitchen):
Then, he added the mirepoix (carrots, celery, onion), but also included butternut squash and sopressata 🙂
Sam and I were assigned to make the pizza and the risotto, so we began with the pizza because the smells in the kitchen were already watering everyone’s palate and we knew that the lamb would not be ready for another 2 hours (“low and slow”). We stormed her cabinets and refrigerator looking for anything to put on the pizza and we decided on a sauceless pie with mushrooms, roasted red peppers, sopressata, brie, and cheddar. I do not know if it is because I could have eaten my own foot at that point or not, but those flavors went together perfectly! The saltiness from the sopressata, the creaminess from the brie, the savory mushrooms, the sweetness from the peppers, it was hitting my mouth in all the right spots. Here is what it looked like when it came out:
After we scarfed down the entire pizza (as a group, I promise), Sam and I got started on the risotto. I used to hate risotto. It is probably because there were a lot of things I “hated” (a.k.a. never tried) before I came to culinary school, but now I love it, at least when it is done correctly. It takes at least 20 minutes to make, and it is pretty amazing because the little piece of arborio rice sucks up on average 8 cups of chicken stock, or whatever liquid you are using! That is a lot! But by adding a little at a time, and stirring it constantly, it transforms itself into a creamy, sticky, comforting delicious dish. Sam decided to put mushrooms in it and I was not going to argue with that.
So we finished the risotto and still had a good hour left on the lamb so Sam and I went and caught up which was severely needed, as I have not seen her ONCE this year! As time went on and our conversation lingered, Mr. Sam came in to inform us it was ready and we somehow got hungry again. In fact, I already took a bite out of my juicy, tender, lamb shank before realizing I should have taken a picture!
Yes, I had bread too…oh well! It was very worth it and I ate very healthy today to make up for it. That is one of the hardest lessons I have learned. You cannot continuously put yourself down for eating more than you should, but to make up for it the next day! Tomorrow is a new day, and the faster you realize that, the easier you will be on yourself. 🙂
I would like to make a “shout-out” to a great friend of mine, Wes.
He specifically requested to be in my blog, so here it is. He is one of my boyfriend’s best friends out in AZ and he has the heart of a lion. Hey Wes!
Well, Day 6 tomorrow. Africa! I have my practical tomorrow, and I will certainly explain all of that to you….until then. Adios!