Sunday, June 25, 2006

It Begins

Our neighborhood farmers' market finally opened, and what a glorious morning it was. I celebrated by using our local bounty in a seafood risotto and accompanying salad.

I started the risotto with fresh summer onions and garlic scapes from the market. (Garlic scapes are the curly green tops of the garlic plant, and they have a delicious mellow flavor -- and a very short season, in mid-to-late June; luckily they keep for a long time in the fridge.) I opened a dozen littleneck clams over high heat in my risotto pot, removed the meat, tossed the shells, and saved the precious juice. I quickly sautéed some shrimp and squid (tentacles only -- my fish guy gave me a discount because I didn't want any bodies!) in butter and olive oil, with awesome young garlic from the market, and set it aside with the clams. Then I began the "loving" stirring of the risotto, ladling in more shrimp stock or clam juice each time the rice absorbed the previous addition.

I've said it before, and I'll surely say it again -- making risotto is not difficult. It just takes a commitment of time and, far more importantly, love. Love the transformative process, love the rice, love the idea of the amazing dinner you're about to have, and you'll be fine. Oh, and use a bit of heat; don't keep the flame too low, or I'm afraid all that love will go unrequited.

At the end, when the rice was almost done, I added the seafood to reheat. Then, off the stove, a splash of cream, and a garnish of parsley from our little garden and some thinly sliced onion tops.

Summer is here.

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