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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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          12 Best Brain Foods that Improve Memory

          12 Best Brain Foods that Improve Memory

          Nutrition plays a vital role in brain function and staying sharp into the golden years. Personally, my husband is going through medical school, which is like a daily mental marathon. Like any good wife, I am always looking for things that will boost his memory fortitude so he does his best in school.

          But you don’t have to be a med student to appreciate better brainiac brilliance. If you combine certain foods with good hydration, proper sleep and exercise, you may just rival Einstein and have a great memory in no time.

          I’m going to reveal the list of foods coming out of the kitchen that can improve your memory and make you smarter.

          Here are 12 best brain foods that improve memory:

          1. Nuts

          The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study linking higher intakes of vitamin E with the prevention on cognitive decline.[1]

          Nuts like walnuts and almonds (along with other great foods like avocados) are a great source of vitamin E.

          Cashews and sunflower seeds also contain an amino acid that reduces stress by boosting serotonin levels.

          Walnuts even resemble the brain, just in case you forget the correlation, and are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which also improve your mental magnitude.

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          2. Blueberries

          Shown in studies at Tuffs University to benefit both short-term memory and coordination, blueberries pack quite a punch in a tiny blue package.[2]

          When compared to other fruits and veggies, blueberries were found to have the highest amount of antioxidants (especially flavonoids), but strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are also full of brain benefits.

          3. Tomatoes

          Tomatoes are packed full of the antioxidant lycopene, which has shown to help protect against free-radical damage most notably seen in dementia patients.

          4. Broccoli

          While all green veggies are important and rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, broccoli is a superfood even among these healthy choices.

          Since your brain uses so much fuel (it’s only 3% of your body weight but uses up to 17% of your energy), it is more vulnerable to free-radical damage and antioxidants help eliminate this threat.

          Broccoli is packed full of antioxidants, is well-known as a powerful cancer fighter and is also full of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function.

          5. Foods Rich in Essential Fatty Acids

          Your brain is the fattest organ (not counting the skin) in the human body, and is composed of 60% fat. That means that your brain needs essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA to repair and build up synapses associated with memory.

          The body does not naturally produce essential fatty acids so we must get them in our diet.

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          Eggs, flax, and oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring are great natural sources of these powerful fatty acids. Eggs also contain choline, which is a necessary building block for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, to help you recall information and concentrate.

          6. Soy

          Soy, along with many other whole foods mentioned here, are full of proteins that trigger neurotransmitters associated with memory.

          Soy protein isolate is a concentrated form of the protein that can be found in powder, liquid, or supplement form.

          Soy is valuable for improving memory and mental flexibility, so pour soy milk over your cereal and enjoy the benefits.

          7. Dark chocolate

          When it comes to chocolate, the darker the better. Try to aim for at least 70% cocoa. This yummy desert is rich in flavanol antioxidants which increase blood flow to the brain and shield brain cells from aging.

          Take a look at this article if you want to know more benefits of dark chocolate:

          15 Surprising and Science-Backed Health Effects of Dark Chocolate

          8. Foods Rich in Vitamins: B vitamins, Folic Acid, Iron

          Some great foods to obtain brain-boosting B vitamins, folic acid and iron are kale, chard, spinach and other dark leafy greens.

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          B6, B12 and folic acid can reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine increases are found in patients with cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s, and high risk of stroke.

          Studies showed when a group of elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment were given high doses of B6, B12, and folic acid, there was significant reduction in brain shrinkage compared to a similar placebo group.[3]

          Other sources of B vitamins are liver, eggs, soybeans, lentils and green beans. Iron also helps accelerate brain function by carrying oxygen. If your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can slow down and people can experience difficulty concentrating, diminished intellect, and a shorter attention span.

          To get more iron in your diet, eat lean meats, beans, and iron-fortified cereals. Vitamin C helps in iron absorption, so don’t forget the fruits!

          9. Foods Rich in Zinc

          Zinc has constantly demonstrated its importance as a powerful nutrient in memory building and thinking. This mineral regulates communications between neurons and the hippocampus.

          Zinc is deposited within nerve cells, with the highest concentrations found in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for higher learning function and memory.

          Some great sources of zinc are pumpkin seeds, liver, nuts, and peas.

          10. Gingko biloba

          This herb has been utilized for centuries in eastern culture and is best known for its memory boosting brawn.

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          It can increase blood flow in the brain by dilating vessels, increasing oxygen supply and removing free radicals.

          However, don’t expect results overnight: this may take a few weeks to build up in your system before you see improvements.

          11. Green and black tea

          Studies have shown that both green and black tea prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine—a key chemical involved in memory and lacking in Alzheimer’s patients.

          Both teas appear to have the same affect on Alzheimer’s disease as many drugs utilized to combat the illness, but green tea wins out as its affects last a full week versus black tea which only lasts the day.

          Find out more about green tea here:

          11 Health Benefits of Green Tea (+ How to Drink It for Maximum Benefits)

          12. Sage and Rosemary

          Both of these powerful herbs have been shown to increase memory and mental clarity, and alleviate mental fatigue in studies.

          Try to enjoy these savory herbs in your favorite dishes.

          When it comes to mental magnitude, eating smart can really make you smarter. Try to implement more of these readily available nutrients and see just how brainy you can be!

          Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

          Reference

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