the new nate berkus fall ’13 collection for target is killing it. that is all. i’ve got my eye on that gorgeous gold candleholder, and a pair or two of those marble trays. oh mr. berkus, i love you, lots.
i made this the other night, and let me tell you, it was balls to the wall awesome. never made risotto? never fear – it’s not nearly as complicated as it might seem. i adapted this recipe to my liking, which meant adding more rice, more wine, and skipping the mussels. what can i say? seafood’s not my style (though i can holler at shrimp from time to time!). roasted tomatoes with thyme, however…that is my style. big time.
there’s nothing like the sound of freshly sliced tomatoes hissing and popping in your oven (sidenote, i just accidentally wrote “pooping” instead of popping!). every time you hear that crackle, you know there’s some sweet tomato-y goodness coming your way.
the wonderful thing about risotto is that once you’ve got the base recipe down, the dish is endlessly customizable. i’ve made beet risotto, mushroom risotto, asparagus and sweet pea with lemon risotto…you really can put just about any flavor into this creamy rice and it’ll be irresistibly delicious. i’d actually never made tomato risotto before, but after eating it the other night, i’m pretty sure i’ll be adding this recipe to my regular rotation.
one of the things i love most about risotto is that it forces you to relax. the dish requires constant attention on the stovetop, so you can’t do anything but stir. and drink wine, and chat with friends, or listen to music, or let your mind drift. there’s no multitasking, no, “i should prep my lunch while this cooks” or “i could be cleaning the bathroom right now” (these are legitimate thoughts i have, by the way). all you can do is stir, and breathe, and let me tell you, you want to breathe, because onions sweated in butter and salt and pepper smell incredible.
so, let’s get cooking, shall we?
here’s what you’ll need:
for the roasted tomatoes:
4-5 large tomatoes (i chose plum, but you could do any kind, really)
about 2 rows of vine tomatoes (about 2 cups)
salt and pepper to taste
for the risotto:
1 small onion, diced
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
salt and pepper to taste
1.5 cups of arborio rice
1/2 cup of wine, poured liberally (and a glass for you to drink while you stir)
6 cups of chicken stock
1/2-3/4 cup parmesan cheese
here’s what you’ll do:
*start by roasting your tomatoes. slice the big ones, leave the little ones be. spread them out on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, then sprinkle with salt, pepper, and thyme. add a few sprigs of thyme onto the sheet as well – they’ll infuse the tomatoes with extra deliciousness. bake at 350 for 25-45 minutes (mine took almost 50; every oven is different). you’ll hear the tomatoes pop and sizzle as they cook. you want them to look wilted, but not too smushy, when they come out. the image above is a good indicator of what you’re going for.
*note: you can do this step ahead of time
set aside 1/4 of your roasted tomatoes in a bowl. you’ll use them later.
now, blend or food process the remaining 3/4 of the tomatoes until they resemble a thick soup. you’ll be stirring this goodness into your risotto in a bit. set aside.
put your stock onto a second burner and heat thoroughly. you’ll use the stock to cook the rice.
to make the risotto itself, put your diced onion and your butter into a large saucepan. cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes, until the onions have sweated, the butter has melted, and the kitchen smells like your favorite italian restaurant. now, add your rice. cook for about a minute, until the rice turns clear and the pan begins to crisp. dump in your 1/2 cup of wine (feel free to add more, the alcohol burns off anyway) and stir. scrape the bottom with a wooden spoon as you stir to fully deglaze the pan and get all those delicious little browned butter bits up.
add about two ladles-full of chicken stock (though you can use veggie if you’d like to make this recipe vegetarian) into your rice, and stir. turn the heat down to low, and leave it there. for the next twenty minutes, you are a slave to your stove. all you need to do is stir, add more stock, stir, add more stock, and so on and so forth, until your rice is cooked all the way through, and your risotto is a beautiful creamy texture. again, this should take about 20-25 minutes. if you don’t use all your stock, don’t worry! once your rice is done, mix in about 1/2-3/4 of freshly grated parmesan cheese. mmm, cheesy.
now, take your blended roasted tomatoes, and mix those in as well. now, your risotto should be creamy, cheese, and a beautiful tomato red. go ahead, stick your spoon in and have a taste. hallelujah, it’s delicious, isn’t it?
now, take those tomatoes you reserved earlier, and stir them in as well. if the pieces are too big, feel free to cut them into bite sized bits first.
dole out into soup bowls or small pasta bowls. this should serve around 4-5 people for dinner. sprinkle a bit of parm on the top, and garnish with a small sprig of thyme. et voila, a delicious dinner!
my personal favorite?
who do you love, a duet with mayer’s girlfriend, katy perry. listen hard to this one, folks. the lyrics are beautiful, and her voice sounds ethereal and amazing on the track.
“My boy, he ain’t the one that I saw coming
And some have said his heart’s too hard to hold
And it takes a little time, but you should see him when he shines
‘Cause you’d never want to let that feeling go”
listen now, thank me later
last night, after a delicious dinner and a successful ikea furniture building session with my friend sophie, i mentioned that i had a tinder date scheduled for this week. i explained how i didn’t exactly have high hopes because a) tinder is for sex, and i’m kidding myself thinking it’ll ever result in anything real and b) my last tinder date went well (i thought), until the guy kept putting off our second date until i told him he could tell it to me straight, i could handle it. he never told me anything again. as in, stopped texting me completely. so, that was a success. not.
i’ve written on here before about how hard it is to date in new york. how most men aren’t even looking for anything serious. it’s like all the guys here spend their lives believing they’re living in one giant strip club: they can look, they can touch, they can do whatever they want, but at the end of the night, they never have to see the woman again. suffice it to say this is a frustrating dilemma for many of the women in this city.
but, as sophie so eloquently put it last night, “is it really the worst thing if my most terrible problem is that i’m single? is being single really so bad?”
the answer is split down the middle. 50% says yes, it is really so bad to be single in this city. we all (sophie and myself included) fear that we’ll die old and alone with our cats. that we’ll never find love in new york. that we’ll never find love anywhere. that online dating, and meeting men in bars, and talking to our crushes at work is futile. that we’ll be 37 and have kids on our own because we want them and we can’t bear to wait around the one any longer.
but the other side of the answer is this: that we can’t have it all, and what we do have is good. that, when you look at the whole pie, things are pretty spectacular. take myself, for instance. i have an apartment i have grown to love. i put lots of time and effort into designing it, and taking care of it, and as a result, it truly feels like home. i have a very good job – so good, in fact, that i was featured for my career on one of my favorite websites a few weeks ago. i make a decent amount of money. i have a few freelance gigs that i really enjoy. i have a cat i am positively obsessed with. my family is my rock, and my happy place. i have great friends. i’m slowly making new friends, thanks to things like bar method, and book club. i’m working actively on losing weight and getting in shape, and with my new addiction to soul cycle, i think i might just get there. i’m planning a trip to Nicaragua to visit my dear friend martha in december. it will be my first true vacation in five years, and i can’t wait.
in short, things are good. i am lucky. i have quite a bit to be thankful for. and when i subtract “i am single” from the equation, everything is amazing. it would do me well to try and remember that. because sophie’s right, really. it’s not the worst thing. it’s not the best thing, sure, but when you factor in all the other pieces of the puzzle, i could do a whole lot worse.
those of you who follow me on instagram may have caught a glimpse of my most favorite recent purchase: a cat sweatshirt from forever21. i haven’t shopped at “forevs” much in the past few years (in college, i could be spotted filling my arms with “going out shirts” at the retailer multiple times a week. oopsies, shopping addiction!), but i happened to pop in after work on friday, and boy am i glad i did. apparently, sweatshirts are really in for fall. who knew! i’m a big fan of comfy clothes, so anytime something formerly schlumpy becomes acceptable and stylish, you can count me in. f21 had a variety of chic sweatshirts up for grabs, and most were between $17-22. can you say score? i picked up two: the cat print you see in the shot above (pardon my lack of makeup and by lazy bun), and this fun “team paris” option. i made it all the way to checkout with this one as well, whereupon i realized it was slightly ridiculous to spend $60 on sweatshirts, two of which were cat themed. #crazycatlady.
you wouldn’t believe how much cat-themed stuff there was at f21. iphone cases. cosmetic bags. tshirts, crop tops, sweatshirts, skirts, blouses. cats are in, you guys. like, really in. to the point where both forever and zara are making knockoffs of the beloved charlotte olympia cat flats.
it’s safe to say i’ve been waiting for this moment all of my life – the moment when it’s cool to be a cat lady.
does this mean i can find a husband soon? want to get in on the kitty cat goodness? shop the looks below.
“I’d known since I was 5, when my parents forced me to move to California, that I was going to live in New York eventually and that everything in between was just a horrible intermission. I’d spent those sixteen years imagining what New York was going to be like. I thought it was going to be the most exciting, magical, fraught-with-possibility place that you could ever live in; a place where if you really wanted something, you might be able to get it; a place where I’d be surrounded by people I was dying to be with. And I turned out to be right.” – Nora Ephron, my first New York
it’s been a little over five years since i moved to new york. upon my arrival, i was shy, inexperienced, and unprepared post-college for what the city was about to throw my way. i thought i was ready. we always do, don’t we? i was wrong, of course. i’d idealized new york to be, like nora ephron says, the most exciting, magical, fraught-with-possibility place you could ever live in, and while this was true, it was also the scariest, toughest, most intense place you could ever live in.
and yet, five years later, i’m still here.
it was only about 2 years ago that the city started to truly feel like home. i like to think i have two homes – one in northampton, where i grew up, and two, here in new york – but the truth is, for my first few years here, i ran away quite often. i still do, of course, but now, when my metro north train chugs into grand central station, or i drive across the GW bridge and see the hudson shimmering alongside me, i get this strange tingling feeling that spreads from the tip of my hair to the bottom of my toes, and i think, i’m home.
and that feeling, in and of itself, is pretty darn magical.
last weekend, as my friend alissa and i walked home at 2am along third avenue, we saw two spotlights shoot straight into the sky from downtown, like alien invaders along lower manhattan. and we both were silent for a second, or maybe even thirty, as we looked down toward the former site of the twin towers. it’s strange being a newer inhabitant of this city on september 11th. i wasn’t here when the towers collapsed. i wasn’t here for the smoke, or the rubble, or the horrific days that followed. i can’t exactly relate to those who were here when it happened.
but i always feel a strange combination of pride and sadness on this day, even as a new york city newbie. because now that i call this city home, and i truly feel that home in my heart, september 11th approaches, and i find myself with this overwhelming sense of don’t fuck with us, combined with feelings of i’m so sorry this happened to you, new york and this is the best city in the whole entire world, i’m sure of it.
nora ephron was right. this is most exciting, magical, fraught-with-possibility place you could ever live in. it’s the most wonderful city in the world. new york, the city, picks up its people when they fall down. and you know what? new yorkers pick up their city when it falls, too. for as impatient, and as rude, and as in a hurry as new yorkers are made out to be (and sometimes are, let’s be honest), they’re also some of the strongest, ballsiest, smartest, most interesting people out there. and above and beyond all that, they’re loyal to a fault, to both their city, and their fellow citizens.
and that’s what makes new york the best place in the entire world. i’m sure of it.
new york, today is for you. i’m so happy to call you my home.