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Method Man

August 9, 2008

I’m been thinking of my fairy-cook-mother sister a lot these days.  I recently unearthed one of the original recipes she’d scribbled out for me when I was off to my first New York kitchen. “This is a suggestion, not an Rx,” she wrote out in in large cursive letters across the top.  Standing in front of the open fridge last night, trying to figure out what to whip up before the wife got home, I realized those words have become my mojo, my mantra, my approach to cooking. No prescriptions, just suggestions of flavor marriages, colors, tastes, and textures.

When the wife and I first started cooking together, I realized that we had two distinct styles. I’m a Method chef (a la Strasberg and Brando) and I like to think of cooking more like jazz — fluid, improvisational, made in the moment. The wife uses the Meisner Technique (think David Mamet) she’s measured, consistent, taking risks but can repeat performances on a dime. While I like to start things all at once to create a harried chaos and get into character, she’s scientific and calculating in her approach. I like liberal guidelines, suggestions of flavors that might go well together, and I get impatient when I have to follow instructions.  Thankfully our styles mesh well together — she’s mastered baking and other precise arts which I gladly enjoy, I improvise every night to make sure she’s well fed, and we both like chopping to Wu-Tang Clan’s Method Man.

So I ask you faithful readers, kind of cook are you?

I’ve written before about the ease of risotto and its endless variations, but last night, in honor of my sister, I made her original risotto suggestion of fresh tomatoes, basil, and creamy cannellini beans.

The Original Risotto a la Lisa

For recipe…The Original Risotto a la Lisa

2 medium onions diced,  I happen to have a red and a yellow

3 tomatoes, seeded and diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 bunch basil, torn

1 can of cannellini beans (great white northern beans), thoroughly rinsed.

1/2 cup dry white wine

4 cups vegetable or free range chicken broth

2 cups Arborio rice

1/2 cup or so finely grated parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons olive oil

kosher salt, fresh pepper

In a deep pot, saute onions in olive oil until translucent, add garlic, then rice until glistening (2 minutes). Add wine and stir occasionally until absorbed. In a separate pot, bring broth to a boil and let simmer. Add 1/2 cup of broth at a time to the rice and cook down, stirring occasionally (every couple minutes or so) to make sure the mixture doesn’t stick to the bottom. When you’ve used all the broth, the rice should have an al dente texture with a little give. A few minutes before the rice is ready, stir in tomatoes, basil, parmesan, salt and pepper to taste.

Makes six servings.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. amy permalink
    August 10, 2008 12:58 am

    I LOVE risotto! It can be simple or complex based on what ingredients you have available. I’m glad your recipe doesn’t call for peeling tomatoes-I don’t know how to do that.

  2. August 18, 2008 5:08 pm

    peeling tomatoes is easy – just stick ’em on a fork and hold them over a gas burner for a moment until the skin splits – always feel better if i rotate them a little, but i don’t know if that’s required. once the skin splits, it’s easy to peel it off and also to open and de-seed them.

  3. lastomach permalink*
    August 22, 2008 3:27 pm

    Good tip Michelle. You can also very quickly blanch them in boiling water and the skin will peel right off.

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