Sunday, June 12, 2011

Slow Food

I love my new 1-cup Italian stove top coffee maker. Yes, I may have to make several cups to satisfy my coffee desires, but it is an enjoyable process and I don't mind. When the coffee is done, I enjoy it slowly, thinking on the complex flavors of the coffee, milk and the frothy foam on top. It is a nice way to start the day.

I have been thinking about the “process” of making and enjoying food. Jump started by my trip to Italy, I am dedicated more than ever to enjoy the process of my cooking and not just the product. Handmade foods, wine, and olive oil were abundant in Italy and can not be missed by even the casual observer. One of the best dishes I had was a simple homemade pasta dish with fresh ingredients. Not complicated, but made with fine ingredients carefully chosen for their best flavor. The dish was homemade pasta with fresh olive oil, garlic and basil. Parmesean was there for sprinkling if desired. I am sure the process of making this dish was simple, yet produced a delicious end meal. For any meal the process starts with thinking about what is available fresh and local, then to choose the freshest ingredients you can find (preferably direct from the farm/farmer) and onward to taking the time to make the dish and to chopping and enjoying the aromas of oil, herbs and vegetables. Enjoying “slow food” doesn't have to be prolonged, complicated or out of your reach......even making small changes can help build a more solid connection to your meals.
Vegetable Stand in Florence


Italy is home to the Slow Food movement, which according to their website is now “ a global, grassroots organization with supporters in 150 countries around the world who are linking the pleasure of good food with a commitment to their community and the environment”. “Slow Food was founded in 1989 to counter the rise of fast food and fast life, the disappearance of local food traditions and people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from, how it tastes and how our food choices affect the rest of the world.” The Slow Food movement urges us to enjoy quality food in an environment that is not rushed.

I realize we all live very busy lives, yet I believe we can incorporate some aspect of Slow Food into our day. My coffee maker is one example. I choose fine ingredients, relax as I assemble the pieces and slowly enjoy the product. It wasn't a big change. The Slow Food movement gives us other ideas for bringing a relaxed pace of food into our lives such as such as direct contact between consumers and producers through farmers' markets and CSAs and shopping at stores who stock local produce ( ask the retailer about the food the sell to learn about origin, production techniques, etc...). I would also add stopping by roadside farm stands, asking neighbors for the extra rhubarb, enjoying recipes based on locally available foods and savoring the meal when you sit down to eat.


With thoughts of Italy and slow food in my mind I leave you with two things. The websites for you to get more information www.slowfood.com and http://www.slowfoodusa.org/ . The other is an asparagus risotto recipe. This was one of the other most wonderful dishes I had in Italy and it now coincides with the asparagus harvest taking place now. Enjoy!

Asparagus Risotto – Risotto agli Asparagi
Recipe by Kyle Phillips
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Total time: 50 minutes

Ingredients:

1 pound asparagus
½ small onion, finely sliced
1 ½ cups short-grained rice along the lines of Arborio
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons butter or ¼ cup olive oil plus 2 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup dry white wine, warmed
1 cup grated Parmigiano
The water the asparagus was cooked in, topped off with beef broth or veggie bouillon to make 1 quart, simmering
Salt and white pepper

Clean and boil the asparagus for a few minutes or until a fork easily penetrates the tip of a spear. Use tongs to remove the asparagus from the water. Trim the tips from the stalks and set them aside. Cut the remaining green part of the stalks into one-inch lengths and set them aside too. Return the white ends of the stalks to the pot, along with the broth or bouillon.
Saute the onion in ½ the butter or the oil and when translucent, remove it to a plate with a slotted spoon. Next, stir in the rice and saute, stirring, until the grains have turned translucent, 5-7 minutes. Stir in the warmed wine and cook until evaporated. Then add the one-inch lengths of green asparagus stem to the rice, and begin stirring in the liquid, a full ladle at a time. Continue adding liquid and when the rice is almost done, stir in half the reserved tips. Check seasoning and continue cooking the rice until it is al dente. Turn off the heat and stir in the remaining butter and half the grated cheese. Let the risotto stand covered for two minutes, then transfer it to a serving dish and garnish with remaining tips. Sprinkle remaining grated cheese over it and serve.
**there was also a note you can puree asparagus before mixing it in to the risotto.**

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