A few weeks ago Andy got himself a full-time job (which is how we can afford to buy a house). So we're both a bit busy, and relying on easy-quick dinners many nights. One thing that we discovered at the start of the year is pressure-cooker risotto. I use the term 'risotto' quite loosely, because it is really more of a sloppy, saucy rice than the creamy, lovingly-stirred rice that is risotto. But, it's easy, it's tasty, and it hits the spot. And it's modular - we usually have pumpkin and olives, but sometimes use spinach, other times zucchini, and so on. So it's a great weeknight dinner. Most of the time. (Cautionary tale of disaster and woe beneath the recipe!)
2 T. olive oil
1 onion, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 c. arborio rice
750 mL vegetable stock
2 c. chopped pumpkin
a handful of kalamata olives
Heat oil in a pressure cooker pan and cook onions until translucent. Add garlic and stir, then add rice and cook, stirring, until the rice smells toasty. Add pumpkin and stock, put on lid, and bring it all up to pressure. Cook at high pressure for 6 to 9 minutes (we leave it on the heat for 7 minutes, then turn off the stove and let it sit for another 2). Cool by running cold water over the pressure cooker lid. Open, stir in olives and spinach, and let stand uncovered until all the liquid is absorbed. Adjust seasoning and serve.
Now, one night a few weeks ago, we got home especially late (for us, about 6.00) because we were signing the contract for our new house. So we were excited, and tired, and hungry, and perhaps a bit over-ambitious. We had some leftover potato-leek soup in the fridge. Andy wanted to mix it in to the risotto at the end of cooking, like cream. I thought there was too much, but said it would be fine to use the soup instead of stock. So we sauteed our veggies, toasted the rice, poured in some soup and a bit of extra water, and put everything on to come up to pressure. And started to smell a horrible smell. Again, I said, it will be fine, we'll just avoid scraping the bottom when it's done cooking so we don't stir up the burnt bit. But after a few minutes, and an increasingly bad smell, we had to abort. We opened the cooker to find a blackened, stanky mess.
We hate, hate, wasting food. So we tried to salvage the pumpkin. Andy scooped it out, I washed the burnt rice off, and we put it in a tupperware. Later, we realised the burnt smell was embedded in the flavour of the pumpkin, and our work was a waste - the pumpkin went into the bin anyways.
We burned some oil, to try to get rid of the smell. Still, for at least a day afterwards, our place (and my hair, and hands) had a residual burnt-risotto smell.
But this left us hungry and food-less, and 7pm was quickly arriving. Andy thought on his feet, pulled some veggie burgers out of the freezer, and started cooking up a mixture of red onion, the olives & spinach we hadn't yet added to our disastrous risotto, and some frozen red capsicum. Meanwhile, I started building the burgers - and disaster struck again, as the tin of beetroot spilled all over the bench.
But eventually, we got our messes cleaned up. We overcame our disasters. We ate burgers and celebrated buying a house.
So I can see at least three morals to this story: (1) good things and bad things happen, and you just have to get over the bad stuff and focus on the good; (2) pressure cooker risotto is a great time-saving meal, so long as you use stock and not soup; and (3) always open beetroot over the sink.