I know my strengths as a cook: flavor, texture, color combinations mostly. I’ll be the first one to admit I need to challenge myself more often and practice my technical skills. It’s not good to go stagnate, in any field. So I resolved to try new things and continue to learn recently. I did a couple of simple, classic, yet (for me) slightly scary dishes last week. The two dishes I decided to (finally) check off aren’t terribly complicated. But they do take some technical skill, real attention, and patience. Authentic risotto and perfectly poached eggs are two things I’m embarrassed to admit, that I’ve never even tried to make before. I haven’t tried because I really, really, really hate to fail.
I decided it was finally time to give Risotto Milanese a go when I got an extremely thoughtful, fitting, and color-appropriate Valentine’s Day gift from Nick. He gave me a generously filled bottle of gorgeous, aromatic, Spanish Saffron.
So, like everyone who undertakes Risotto Milanese for the first time, I went on the search for the perfect recipe. I found it over at The Paupered Chef. Two recipes actually. They differ in a couple ways, but outside of the bone marrow addition in the first link, no major changes. I couldn’t find any bone marrow, so I used butter. I am looking forward to trying it next time though! But I’ll need to order it ahead of time. My last note on the PC recipe is I split the difference of the saffron between the two recipes, using about 3/4 of a teaspoon. I would say that 1/2 teaspoon is plenty for the size of the batch. I also added 1 bunch chopped fresh asparagus and 1/2 bag of frozen peas when I added the last of the broth.

Risotto Milanese with Spring Asparagus and Peas

Risotto Milanese with Spring Asparagus and Peas

This one has wonderful step-by-step instructions that were essential in arriving at a perfectly textured risotto! So many thanks to Nick Kindelsperger for the hard work!
Even after my gentleman caller and I shoveled down two bowlfuls each there were plenty of left overs. So the next day I decided to make risotto cakes topped with my next challenge – the perfect poached egg. All I did for the risotto cakes was form small cakes from about golf ball-sized amounts of left over, chilled risotto. I gently pressed them on all sides into a bed of Panko seasoned with salt and pepper. Then I pan fried them in olive oil over medium high heat. Be careful not to move or handle them too much, they will fall apart. Try to wait until the first side is nicely browned, then flip only once. This is the final product, here (again the next day!) served over some wilted spinach with garlic and lemon.
Risotto Cakes and Wilted Garlic-Lemon Spinach

Risotto Cakes and Wilted Garlic-Lemon Spinach

While these kept warm in the oven, I tackled my eggs. I was a little nervous to mess these up since Nick was standing right there! But I did a little research and found this FANTASTIC video on the subject!
I followed the instructions exactly and wound up with the most beautiful and delicious egg I’ve ever made – ON THE FIRST TRY! I was so excited!!




I’d love to tell you that Nick raved about it. But he didn’t get to even try it. He got a phone call that his cat was really sick, so he had to leave just as I was tipping the eggs in. Booo! Oh well. I really enjoyed it! It was the best breakfast I’ve had in a very long time! I will definitely be making poached eggs every single weekend for the foreseeable future!