1.28.2017

The Gift of Food

By now, you know that I love nothing more than cooking a meal for my friends and family. Whenever we have guests coming over, I ask about dislikes, preferences, diet restrictions, and allergies.

While sometimes I joke that I am "gluten intolerance intolerant," I know that there are people who really cannot tolerate gluten in any form. Or dairy. Or any number of other ingredients. 

Heck - I, myself, can't eat garlic. That usually sends most every host or hostess into a panic. I think they would rather attempt a meal without gluten!

When someone has a dislike, an allergy, or a dietary preference, I just want them to be honest and tell me. I am happy to make them something that will make them happy. In the end, that's what makes me happy.

Allergic to bivalves? I will do some research to make sure I know what is - or isn't - a bivalve. Hate Brussels sprouts? No worries - I won't make them for you and try to convince that mine are different (and that you will love them). If you want to avoid carbs to lose weight, I am happy to cook with nary a carbohydrate in sight. Just tell me.

Recently, our friend Sara was going through a slew of dietary tests to identify a problem she had been having. When we invited her to dinner she balked, saying she didn't want to have us deal with her long no-no list.

Thanks to Jennifer and Pat for the wonderful lobster & crab towels!
I told her I would love the challenge. And this risotto is the result. Never mind what is not in the recipe; the ingredients in it are delicious. I can't wait to make it again.

~ David

Risotto ai Frutti di Mare

6 cups shrimp or fish broth *
olive oil
6 large sea scallops, quartered
32 small-medium shrimp, fully peeled and deveined
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
2 lobster tails (optional), cut in half lengthwise.
1 large shallot, minced
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1 cup moscato (Chardonnay works well, too)
2 large plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon, or more to taste
finely grated zest of 1 organic lemon 

Bring stock to a simmer on the back burner.

Heat a skillet over medium high and add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the scallops and shrimp and sauté, stirring, until opaque. This will take just a few minutes. Stir in the paprika and cook 30 seconds. Scrape seafood into a bowl and set aside. Err on undercooking the seafood, as it will cook more later. Do not clean the skillet.

If using the lobster tails, place the halves, cut side down, on an oiled cookie sheet and broil for 4-5 minutes until the shells are bright orange-red. Remove from the broiler and let cool. Once cool, carefully remove the par-cooked meat in one piece and place in the skillet used for the shrimp and scallops; set aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large kettle over medium heat. Add shallot and cook until softened and clear. Add rice and increase heat to medium-high. Sauté until rice is opaque but not browned. Add the moscato and stir until reduced and spoon leaves a trail when dragged through the rice. Add a ladleful (1/2 cup) of shrimp broth and continue stirring until, once again, liquid is reduced and the spoon leaves a trail. Continue adding broth and stirring until you have but 1/2 cup broth left. Add the tomatoes, tarragon, and lemon zest.

Reheat the shellfish skillet to medium-high, drizzling the lobster tails with a little olive oil. Sauté the lobster tails for 1-2 minutes until done.

Add the scallops and shrimp to the risotto along with the final 1/2 cup broth. Continue stirring, but do not cook until the spoon leaves a trail. You want the risotto to be al ondine – “to the wave” - when you serve it, as it will thicken as it cools slightly upon serving.

Divide among four large flat bowls and top each portion with half a lobster tail. Serve immediately.

Serves 4 as a main course. Alternatively, this quantity will serve 8 as a first course - the lobster tails can be chopped and divided among the 8 portions.

* Whenever I buy shrimp, I place all the uncooked shells in a re-sealable bag and keep it in my freezer. In addition to the shrimp shells, I also add pieces of shallot, onion, carrot, celery, and fennel. Then, when I need shrimp stock, I fill a saucepan with these frozen shells and vegetables, and add water, a little white wine, salt, peppercorns, a couple of bay leaves, and a few sprigs of thyme, and then boil it down. Generally, if I need 4 cups of broth, I add a couple of extra cups of liquid and reduce it to the 4 cups I need. This ensures the concentration of the flavors. Simply strain and use as needed.

34 comments:

  1. this risotto looks great! And great is the idea to freeze uncooked shrimp shells. Thank you David!
    Anna

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Anna! I think that saving shrimp shells may be one of my favorite tips ever learned!

      Delete
  2. From this gorgeous recipe I can't tell what her list of no-no's could be. It seems perfectly complete. GREG

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aside from gluten, it was a pretty long list - but, as you can see, Greg, no one suffered terribly.

      Delete
  3. Hi David, What a thoughtful host you are, I completely understand when you say your happy to make something that makes someone else happy. I love that about cooking.

    This dish is absolutely gorgeous in everyway. The shrimp and scallops look perfectly cooked. Well done!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Cheri - I think as the comments come in, all my foodie friends will be saying the same thing: we just want to make our guests happy!

      Delete
  4. The ingredients in this dish seem plenty flavorful as they are, can't imagine what could be added to it! Yes, I think all of us who love to cook live to make our guests happy with delicious treats :) I know your friend just loved her delicious specialty risotto! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As I joked with Sara when we served it, "I miss the gluten!" (Just kidding...)

      Delete
  5. This dish looks amazing, especially with that lobster tail on top! You have very lucky dinner guests. Next time I'm in Tucson... *wink wink*

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Caroline - all you have to do is tell me when you and Mike are coming! We will make it happen!

      Delete
  6. A beautiful dish, David. As it happens, I have a few dozen of Australia's best scallops in my freezer. Thank you xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lucky you, Liz! Wish I was there with you and Peter to share them! :)

      Delete
  7. This is a beautiful dish. Love, love it. Thanks for sharing.

    Velva

    ReplyDelete
  8. I have to admit that I stared and stared at the fourth photo trying to make it into some kind of squash. Duh! I guess I have never seen a lobster tail that color? Did I expect it to be red? NO, being so landlocked all my life the last time I saw a lobster (except in a tank at ...Oh help, I can't remember the name of the ubiquitous chain restaurant, you know, with the "Cheddar Bay Biscuits?") was in the Keys in 1979...Or was it 77, or 78? Because I don't snorkel or dive I had to sit alone in the little rowboat while everyone else disappeared into the water. We were far enough out the I couldn't see the shore. They left me with a small nurse shark in a bucket and told me to keep it contained. There I sat, all alone with the giant sky, water, and that help....SHARK!!!! I didn't know that it was probably harmless. It was in a November, the year the Iran hostages were taken. When was that? Anyway, that dish looks so delicious!!!
    Of course, everyone eventually popped out of the sea and had found some, I think they were called ROCK lobsters. Maybe I should write all that nonsense in little story for my new grandson!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What a wonderful story, Caterina! I remember having rock lobsters in the Bahamas, and it is very different for the Homarus americanus that we got in New England. The nice part about rock lobsters is they don't have those huge pincer claws, which really hurt if employed around your finger... You should definitely collect stories like this for your grandson!

      Delete
  9. This risotto looks fabulous, especially with that lobster tail. I have many friends that either don't like or eat certain foods. Just like you I like to please them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maybe we are lucky, Gerlinde, to want to make everybody happy. I know that culinary allergies and dislikes really send some host/esses into fits!

      Delete
  10. A beautiful looking risotto David, I'm sure it was a hit.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Karen - no complaints at the table!

      Delete
  11. That risotto looks absolutely gorgeous!

    On a less positive note, as someone like me who's been around the block, haven't you noticed that there are just a lot more people these days with allergies, food preferences and strong dislikes? Cooking for a crowd used to be so simple: just double or triple the recipe. Now I feel it's like walking through a mine field... !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Frank.

      And, yes, I have noticed it. I really don't mind when people have serious medical issues, but the pickiness and fad diets do make it hard ot put together a dinner. Maybe we should announce the menu when we send the dinner invitation? That way, people can accept or not depending on the food and their preferences!

      Delete
  12. Ok, we're sitting on a Lima-bound bus right now and I'm salivating incessantly. Geez, I wonder why?

    Risotto, for a start. I haven't had a decent one in almost 6 months. And then there's the seafood you've used. Two of my favourites!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, John, while you might not have had risotto for a while, you are having some incredible culinary adventures which are making ME salivate! So much fun following you and Dean...

      Delete
  13. I picked up a magazine in Marseille that, I swear, has this dish pictured in glossy color! Remarkably similar! I seem to have left it in the hotel...so I can't prove it, but what a coincidence....yours looks better! It's on my list to try! Lucky friends!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, it is. A good combination and I can't imagine I am the only person who thought of it! And, as long as mine is prettier, I am fine with it! :)

      Delete
  14. I completely agree with your approach David. I just consider it a creative challenge to cook for someone with dietary restrictions. I think I need to try your risotto--looks amazing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think you will like it, Inger - so flavorful and comforting on a winter's night!

      Delete
  15. You are such a kind host, David! Have you ever seen the Venn diagram showing the world's worst dinner guest? It's the person in the center of the diagram who is allergic to nuts, gluten, dairy, seafood and is vegan, to boot! haha! It's pretty funny!

    Your seafood risotto makes me want to make it for dinner tonight! How wonderful that you were able to make such a delicious dish with restrictions! Amazing! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love the Venn diagram of the world's worst dinner guests!

      No matter the restrictions, there is always a lot of good food to make and eat!

      Delete
  16. This dish is chock full of incredibly delicious ingredients! I wouldn't be able to get enough! It's not missing a thing! And you are quite the superb host! I imagine your home exudes warmth.

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for taking the time to leave me a note - I really appreciate hearing from you and welcome any ideas you may have for future posts, too. Happy Cooking!

If you would like to receive follow-up comments, simply click the "Subscribe by E-mail" link to the right of the "Publish" and "Preview" buttons.