February 8, 2006
Comfort on a plate

comfort.jpgWhen I received my wonderful box of comfort from Angelika of the Flying Apple, I was delighted. I dived right into the chocolate and the Panforte Senese (a Siennese nougat-like pastry, yum). And just as I was on the point of diving into the ingredients for the Milanese risotto, the flu struck our household. Rice might have been a good remedy to our symptoms but I wasn't so sure about the saffron. I waited until we were well - and believe me, by then we were ready for some serious comfort - and finally I made the risotto. I followed the recipe that Angelika had helpfully posted on her site, determined for once to get it right. I've made risotto quite a few times, but have always felt like a distinct amateur, never sure I had "the" right rice or that I was getting the consistency right. I also admit (with a red face) that I had never used saffron, never having any in my kitchen for long. (It's all the Critic's fault, as he never brought me back a big bag from Turkey when he went there on business...)

So now I had the right rice, the saffron AND a charming recipe that called for "six handfuls of rice". Determined to follow the spirit of the recipe, I dutifully measured out six handfuls of rice (plus one more because my hands are a bit small). I also scattered a fair amount of raw rice over the stove top. I'm not the most graceful cook you'll meet, nor the neatest.

It was fantastic. Creamy, fragrant, just a tiny bite and none of the nasty stodge factor that has occasionally plagued me in the past. (I used half dry white wine and half home-made chicken broth, correctly assuming that wine would be better in such a simple dish than making up the lack of broth with industrially produced stock.) I really get the point of risotto now, in a way I never have in the past. I am eternally grateful to Angelika, not the least because I still have some rice AND some saffron left over. When I run out, I'm going to have to run down to Vienna and beg her to take me to the right shops in the Naschmarkt to replace my ingredients. But it will be worth it!

Posted by Meg in Sussex at February 8, 2006 1:58 PM | TrackBack Print-friendly version

Dear Meg, thank you for all your kind words - which are also, in a different sense, very comforting since I have got a nasty flu as well. And you know, there may be good ingredients, but the main point is the cook who uses them ! Well done ! I am really happy that you liked the result. Interestingly enough, as told in my post, I also "owe" to you that I finally have found the risotto rice I have always been looking for. Evidently when buying something for somebody else I take much more time and happen to find the right thing... By the way, it will be a pleasure to take you to the shops for replacing the ingredients, and then we can continue in my kitchen and spend the rest of the evening in our "Cantina" celebrating life.... always welcome ! All the best to you and take care, angelika

Posted by angelika on February 8, 2006 at 3:25 PM

"It's all the Critic's fault, as he never brought me back a big bag from Turkey when he went there on business..."

...just so readers are aware, my never-to-be-forgotten crime of visiting Turkey and omitting to bring back saffron, dates back 10 YEARS. Heaven help me if I return from my current visit to Mexico without jalapenos!

Posted by The Critic on February 9, 2006 at 9:04 PM

At least you've learned!

Posted by Meg in Paris on February 10, 2006 at 2:21 AM

I've heard from several different sources that the best saffron comes from Spain (some say Iran but I wouldn't know, never having tried Iranian saffron). So you can forgive The Critis :-)
We're lucky to have an authentic Spanish grocery store in the 17eme! It's on rue Jouffroy d'Abbans--can't remember the number but between Malesherbes & the train station, so not too far from you. You can get real saffron there, plus tons of other Spanish goodies.
Looking forward to tonight's party, and meeting your OTHER Other Half!

Posted by Taina on February 11, 2006 at 1:48 AM

Taina, looking forward to seeing you too!

Now I can blame myself on the saffron issue, because we were both in Spain the summer before last and it didn't occur to me to buy saffron. I know the Spanish shop you mean and will definitely have to pick some up the next time I'm in the neighborhood!

Posted by Meg on February 11, 2006 at 7:08 AM


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