Saturday 12 February 2011

Recipe: Risotto of Celeriac and Tarragon

Not a classic combination, but delicious for all that. Intriguing, too - as the combined flavours are complementary but elusive; the Technical Dept couldn't idenify a single ingredient that had gone into the dish when I served it up to him several days ago (but he was enthusiastic for a second serving, anyway).

The secret is to dice the celeriac very finely, to start with, and then sweat it slowly so that the fibres break down, and the texture of the vegetable is indistinguishable within the finished risotto. For this initial stage, I used some leftover butter from a boned and stuffed chicken which we'd had several days beforehand, and which had the advantage of lots and lots of flavour; duck or goose fat would be good, too - but, failing that, just sweating the celeriac in plain butter should do the trick. 

For two.

Ingredients: half a small Celeriac, diced very finely (you want to have about one and a half cups, once the Celeriac has been peeled and diced); 2-3 tbs butter (or duck or goose fat, if you have it); two-thirds of a cup of rice (Carnaroli, by preference - these days, I use Baldo, but I doubt it's generally available, and Carnaroli is the next best thing); one glass of dry White Wine; approx one and a half pints of 'white' stock (chicken, duck, or veal); 2 tbs of chopped Tarragon; half a tsp of White Truffle Oil; Seasoning.

1. In a large sauté pan, over low heat, melt the Butter and in it sweat the diced Celeriac until thoroughly softened, stirring from time to time. This should take around 35 minutes. Try to avoid letting the Celeriac colour as it cooks.

2. Heat the Stock in a saucepan.

3. Once the Celeriac is properly softened, add to it the Rice. Raise the heat under the pan, and stir everything together for about a minute; add the Wine, adjust the heat so that the liquid is just bubbling, and continue in classic risotto style, adding the heated Stock by ladlefuls as the liquid in the pan is absorbed by the Rice.

4. Start testing for doneness after about twenty minutes, and continue the cooking process until the rice has lost its 'bite'. 

5. Off the heat, stir in the chopped Tarragon and the Truffle Oil; add seasoning to taste, and serve. 

Tuesday 8 February 2011

It's been a bumpy ride...

...but we hope things are now looking up. Having congratulated ourselves on surviving a close shave, we enjoyed the senior FF bouncing around, all weekend, and generally being a joy. And then, on Monday, he seemed to get very listless, and we decided not to wait until his appointment on Tuesday to have his red-blood-cell count checked, and instead took him back to the clinic immediately. The test showed his count was down again, and we ended up leaving him there overnight once more...and came home to a very glum evening, with all sorts of things not being said. 

By this morning, he'd had x-rays (nothing untoward showed up) and tests for parasites (again, all ok), and they said he'd have to wait until early evening to have an we went and fetched him home for the day, as there was no point in him sitting needlessly in a cage all day, feeling miserable, if we could have him at home and lavish TLC on him instead. 
In fact, when we went to spring him from gaol, he seemed grumpy and opinionated about being there, rather than miserable - which seemed a positive sign rather than otherwise. So, he spent the day sprawled on the Office floor, having the occasional quiet conversation with one or other of us, and then we went back again for his next set of tests early this evening. Having lost our last three four-footeds to various kinds of cancer, I think we were both quietly resigned to it being bad news. 

And it wasn't!!

He got a clean bill of health. Nothing showed up anything that confirmed our worst fears....and so, he's back on the anti-rat-poison treatment, had a shot of cortizone, and came straight home again.  He and the junior FF spent much of the evening wrestling together (junior FF hasn't known what to do with himself without his mate, when he's been in the clinic, as they haven't been apart for a day since Junior FF was ten weeks old), and now they are happily crashed out nearby....and all is well with the world.

There are many more pills to be taken and blood tests to be endured before we're entirely out of the woods...but the prognosis is now encouraging.

I think I need a drink!

Sunday 6 February 2011

Dog Days...

But in the canine-crisis sense, rather than the languid mid-summer bucolic one. We noticed last week that the senior four-footed was looking off-colour (but put it down to his age, rather than anything else) and after a couple of days of not eating, which for him is unheard of, we whisked him off to the vet on Friday morning...just to be sure that it wasn't anything serious. Not a moment too soon, it transpired, as a blood test showed that he was dangerously anaemic, and an emergency blood transfusion was organised within minutes of getting to the surgery. Fortunately, we'd taken the junior four-footed with us for the trip, and before he knew it, he'd been scooped up onto an operating table, and was giving half a litre of life-saving blood, to be immediately pumped into his partner-in-crime. Had we left it a couple of hours later,  according to the vet, then it would very likely have been too late...

It can only have been rat poison, which works by causing internal bleeding, and eventually causes the system to collapse entirely. Where he'd picked it up is entirely a mystery, though - not in the garden here, for sure, and generally when they're out the four-footeds are kept firmly on a lead. The senior FF does have a habit of nipping through to the church field next door whenever he can, though, for a general scavenge and forage, and that seems the likeliest place where he would have picked it up. Both Don Guido and Loredana say that nobody has been putting any poison down there, though...and so the matter remains officially a mystery.

Senior FF was allowed to come home yesterday morning, although his blood count is still pretty low, and he has to go back on Tuesday for another blood test. He positively rattles with pills at the  moment (he's on a course of coagulents for the next month, and antibiotics as well, for a week or so), and so it's lucky that he actually quite likes taking medication - it makes him feel important, I think, and makes the junior FF quite jealous that he isn't getting any of whatever it is.

Bit of a close call...

Tonight's Dinner

Will be at Pergoletta  in the Via dei Belli Torri. Sarah is here for the weekend (arrived in the middle of Emergency Ward 10!) and she's treating us.