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The Perfect Risotto Recipe for Anniversaries and Apologies

The Perfect Risotto Recipe for Anniversaries and Apologies

It’s a commonly-held belief that everyone should have at least one spectacular recipe down pat so they can demonstrate their culinary prowess at a moment’s notice. Though it’s actually best to have at least ten of these memorized, having the know-how to create one gorgeous dish is absolutely imperative, and might actually be the magic key to getting you out of trouble one day.

Do take note that when I mention the creation of a dish, I’m not talking about warming up something frozen that you’ve bought at the grocery store—that’s not cooking, it’s a travesty waiting to happen. This is a meal that you create from scratch, so if you don’t yet know the difference between chopping and mincing, and think that deglazing is something you only do to windows, it’s best to do a bit of research on the basics first. Don’t worry, it’s not as scary as it sounds: chopping = cutting something fairly small; mincing = really tiny. That’s it. Oh, and use the sharp end of your knife to do all of this.

Risotto

Chopped Onion and Celery

    That really is a gorgeous word, isn’t it? Roll it off your tongue a couple of times and you’ll see what I mean. It’s an Italian dish made with Arborio rice, which gets fabulously starchy as it cooks so the dish ends up rich and creamy. There are countless variations on flavour profiles that you can create, but this is a basic recipe you can use and build upon as you see fit.

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    What you’ll need:

    6-8 cups chicken or vegetable broth (I like to use onion)
    2 tbsp olive oil
    1 tbsp butter or margarine
    1 large onion, finely chopped
    1/4 cup celery, finely chopped
    1 clove garlic, pressed or minced
    1.5 cups Arborio rice
    1/2 cup dry white wine
    sea salt black pepper
    2 tbsp minced chives
    1 extra tsp of butter or margarine 1/2 cup grated cheese, such as Parmigiano Reggiano 

    Step 1: Heat the Stock

    In a medium-sized pot heat up the stock so that it comes to a light boil, and then turn the heat down to low to keep it hot, but not bubbling.

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    Stirring

      In a separate pot (or large, deep skillet—even a wok will do), heat the olive oil and butter on medium-high heat. When it starts to sizzle, add in the onions, garlic, and celery, and then turn the heat down to medium. You should be able to sautee them at this temperature for a good 10 minutes without them going brown.

      One the vegetables have softened and the onions are translucent, it’s time to add the rice.

      Step 2: Rice 

      Once you’ve added the rice, turn the heat back up to high and stir it around immediately so that it gets a nice, even coating of fat all over it. Keep stirring it constantly, and after a minute or so you’ll notice that it starts to look a bit translucent. This is when you get to deglaze the pan so you lift all the delectable bits that the cooking vegetables have released, and the rice will get to suck the wine up into every single grain.

      *Note: make sure that you never cook with a wine that you wouldn’t serve at your table. The quality of the dish will be far better with a good wine, and you’ll get to sample it liberally as you cook.

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      Step 3: Add the Stock

      When the rice has absorbed the wine, add a ladle of hot stock to the pan along with a pinch of sea salt, and turn the heat down to medium: you want the rice to simmer, but not burn. After that ladle-ful has been absorbed, add another one, constantly stirring that rice with your wooden spoon so you coax the starch out of the grains as they cook. This will take approximately 20 minutes or so, at which point you should taste the rice to see if it’s cooked. The grains should be mostly soft, but very slightly

      al dente, meaning that they’ll be tender, but still offer a bit of resistance when bitten into.Adding Stock

        This is your opportunity to season the dish: does it need more salt? How about some cracked pepper? Stir these in as needed, and then remove the pan from the stove.

        Step 4: Final Adjustments

        It’s in this final step that you get to make the risotto your own. If you want to keep things simple, then just add in that extra dollop of butter or margarine, stir it around, and then let it sit for a couple of minutes so it gets creamy beyond measure. You can add in grated Parmigiano Reggiano, Asiago, or Romano cheese at this stage as well, and then garnish it with chives before serving.

        If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, you could do a bit of prep work before starting the risotto so you can add extras to it, such as sauteed mushrooms or other vegetables. Some great ideas/combinations to try are:

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        – Mixed fried mushrooms – Broccoli and lemon (you’d add a tbsp of lemon juice during the final step)
        – Asparagus tips – Spinach and feta (omit the parmesan)
        – Sundried tomato and basil

        Risotto

          Mushrooms, broccoli, and asparagus need to be cooked before being added, while spinach and basil can just be chopped or shredded and added in raw in the final step: the heat from the rice will cook them lightly for you. Be sure to serve this with a glass of that wine you cooked with, and consider accompanying the dish with a light salad to cut the richness of it—a light salad of arugula/mixed greens with a lemon vinaigrette would do nicely.

          There you have it! Risotto might be a bit labour-intensive, but it really is worth the effort: once you and your companion take that first bite, you’ll see what I mean.

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          Catherine Winter

          Catherine is a wordsmith covering lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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          Last Updated on September 16, 2019

          How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

          How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

          You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

          We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

          The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

          Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

          1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

          Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

          For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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          • (1) Research
          • (2) Deciding the topic
          • (3) Creating the outline
          • (4) Drafting the content
          • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
          • (6) Revision
          • (7) etc.

          Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

          2. Change Your Environment

          Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

          One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

          3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

          Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

          Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

          My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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          Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

          4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

          If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

          Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

          I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

          5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

          I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

          Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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          As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

          6. Get a Buddy

          Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

          I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

          7. Tell Others About Your Goals

          This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

          For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

          8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

          What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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          9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

          If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

          Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

          10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

          Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

          Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

          11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

          At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

          Reality check:

          I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

          More About Procrastination

          Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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