Mushroom Risotto (with broccoli)

I had never made my own risotto before Tuesday night. It’s not complicated, but because you have to be stirring for about 25 minutes, it can be long and tiring. It helps to have another chef in the kitchen so you can take turns!

As for recipes, I did what I usually do, which is search the web and find a couple that sound appetizing and can be made with the ingredients I have. Then I combined a few to make my own version. This method works with varying degrees of success, but this time, I am quite pleased and wouldn’t change a thing.

In fact, it was such a success that the two of us ate almost all of the risotto before I could even take a photo, so I made a fancy title in a fancy font:

Mushroom & Broccoli Risotto

What you need:

4 T butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1 pint mushrooms, cubed
3/4 cup dry white wine
1.5 cups rice
4 1/2 cups broth

Optional add-ins: 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, chopped broccoli

Bodum Frying Pan

I used the 12″ Bodum nonstick frying pan (pictured above), which we bought during the July sales here. An everyday pan like this is key, since it has tall enough sides to hold and make the entire dish.

What to do:

Melt the butter in a large pan. Add the onion and cook until soft. Add the mushrooms and cook until they’ve released most of their water and start to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the white wine and when the mixture is sizzling, add all the rice. Stir continuously.

After about 5 minutes, begin to add the broth, stirring the entire time. Add about a cup at a time and after each addition, make sure the rice has absorbed the broth before adding more. The whole process of adding and absorbing takes about 25 minutes. When there was still a bit of a watery texture after the last broth addition, we added little bits of broccoli. If you’d like to use cheese, add that just before serving.

Seth’s Computerworld Blog Launches

It’s a big day in the CraftyRachel household. My better half (at least when it comes to technology, blogging, Scrabble, scuba diving, and reaching the top shelf) is now an official blogger for Computerworld Magazine. Over the last year Seth has been occasionally writing articles for the tech magazine freelance, but they proposed he now be the new blogger for (surprise!) all things Mac.

His new blog, Apple, Ink, launched today and is a featured blog on the Computerworld blog site. It looks like this: (Don’t be confused, this is a screen capture image so the links won’t work.)

Seth‚??s Blog Featured

Guess which photographer took his picture? Why, yours truly, of course.

Now if only he can get home tonight with the metro strike, we can celebrate!

Mom’s Carrot Cupcakes

Wedding CupcakesMy mom has decided that the world can know about her secret carrot cake recipe. This recipe is so good I asked her to use it to make our wedding cupcakes. She spent hours the day before our wedding making 8 or 9 batches of these, with the help of many friends. It was a lot of work. Thanks, Mom!

They were presented on the dessert table on a wooden holder that my dad made especially for the occasion. So many of the cupcake stands are cheesy and plastic. The one he made is solid and custom made for the number of cupcakes we served. He cut three circles of different sizes, drilled holes in the centers, and then attached them to a wooden dowel. We just covered it up with some lightweight fabric and used ribbon to keep the form of the three tiers. I love it.

I have tried to make this recipe in Paris, but I just can’t get the frosting right. I’m looking forward to having it when we visit the family at Christmastime.

Cupcakes Set-up
Setting up the cupcakes on the dessert table

Carrot cake

1 c oil
2 c sugar
2 tsp. baking soda
3 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
2-3 tsp. vanilla
3 eggs
1 small can crushed pineapple
2 cups shredded carrots
1 c coconut
1 c pecans, small pieces
2 c. flour
Mom has a friend who also added dates to this recipe and it was great.

Bake 350 F for 45-60 minutes.
Cake Topper Close
The Cake Topper from Pixi et Compagnie (Paris 6e)
Photo Copyright Jason Angelini Photography (my cropping)

Cream Cheese Frosting

Blend together the following:
1 stick butter or margarine
1 block cream cheese
1 box powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

Happy Veterans’ Day, Grandpa

Veterans’ Day was yesterday, but I thought I’d reserve a special post for Grandpa to say “we’re thinking of you.” By the way, he is the original French connection: his mother came from the little farm town of Vix, near Dijon.

Grandma & Grandpa
My Grandmother and Grandfather, Summer 2007

Grandpa Leaving for China
Grandpa leaving for China

Grandpa in Korea
Grandpa in Korea, 1951

There are more photos of his company in Korea on the D Company website.

Armistice Day

Armistice Concorde 1
Place de la Concorde, November 11, 1918

November 11 is a national holiday in France; it’s just too bad it falls on a Sunday this year, so no day off! It is the commemoration of the end of World War I (or the Great War as it was called before there were two), when Germany signed the armistice and the war ended at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. In the U.S., today is Veterans’ Day, which honors veterans from all wars.

Armistice Poster
Poster announcing the Armistice. Vive la République!

I had noticed over the last few days that new blue, white, and red flowers had been placed near the many plaques around the city honoring Parisians who fell at that particular spot (most of them during World War II). Our neighborhood monument, the Pantheon, was particularly decorated today, with French flags adorning the front pillars.

Pantheon November 11
The Pantheon, November 11, 2007

On this day in 1920 an unknown soldier was laid to rest at the Pantheon. There is also a tomb of an unknown soldier at the Arc de Triomphe.

Pantheon Unknown Soldier 11 Nov 1920
Unknown Soldier laid to rest at the Pantheon, November 11, 1920

The parades of veterans commemorating Armistice Day were the largest France had ever seen: the reach of the war was far, and drew in more sons, fathers, and brothers as trench warfare for years virtually halted any military advancement on either side. Today, only three known World War I veterans are still alive in France (22 in the whole world). But the legacy of the world’s first modern war lives on, as the Great War was a major turning point in cultural and political history; the end of the long nineteenth-century. The French Third Republic survived, but the conflict laid the groundwork for the twentieth-century conflicts to come.

New York Football, Foliage, and Food

I am finally back from my busy trip to New York City. It was great being back and seeing friends, eating my favorite veggie burger at Quantum Leap, being on campus, and wandering around my old neighborhood.¬† I didn’t have time to do many social activities, but once the symposium I was helping organize was over, I had two days to relax and enjoy myself.

Park in Queens

Our friends Amanda and Jonathan hosted me at their apartment in Queens, which is close to a little neighborhood park along the river. We took their dog for a walk and enjoyed the fall leaves.

Leaves in Queens Park

Sunday afternoon they took me to my first ever professional football game: the New York Jets vs. the Washington Redskins. It was a close game, which made it interesting. I got a good fill of Americana, with all the flag saluting, pretzel eating, and cheerleading. We all had a good time and promise we didn’t take it as seriously as this picture of Jonathan would suggest:

Jonathan at Jets Game

Jets Game

The Jets were ahead almost the entire time, but in the last quarter fell behind. The score was tied, but they eventually lost the game in overtime.

A highlight of going to New York is always the food. I enjoyed some of the best Thai and Italian food last week, but one of the best dishes I had was Amanda’s mac and cheese. I have never been able to make this American classic, but think the bread crumbs, white sauce, and addition of Gruy√®re cheese is key.¬† Delicious!

Mac n‚?? Cheese