Sunday, April 26, 2015
26 April 2015
Wow, what a weekend! After a few weeks of intensive practice, I took to the dance floor at the Bluff's Conference Center with my professional partner and dear friend, Christi Hinkley, to Dance for the Children at the Service League's Annual Ball! Christi and I had a blast, and we were overwhelmed by the generosity and loving support of our dear friends and loved ones. In addition, we were very proud of the amount of money we raised to directly support our local children in need. We danced second of seven couples, and our routine consisted of a mash-up of a slower, big band era throw back of Olivia Newton-John and Gene Kelly's "Whenever You're Away From Me" from Xanadu and ended with a much faster swing version of "Runaround Sue." Christi was so kind to humor me with an Olivia Newton-John song, and she stretched my comfort zone with her swing! As usual, the Service League did an outstanding job with the event, and we had so many friends in attendance, including the three VIP tables of awesome fans that donated good money to sit up front and watch us perform. I have to thank another dear friend, Pat Gold, for talking me into being a "celebrity" dancer at this event. It has been a wonderful learning experience and personal growth moment, and it gave me the confidence to know that I'm never too old to be a dancing fool. In addition to the exceptional cause, the other most fulfilling part of the experience was working with Miss Christi and getting to know her even better. While it was difficult to find time to rehearse between my work schedule, travel, city council and everything else, I always looked forward to sneaking across the street to the Academy of Dance Arts to lace up my shoes and do a little soft shoe with my muse. Her positive energy, kindness, patience and sense of humor made it all worthwhile.
So at the height of my anxiety on Saturday morning before the event, another adorable female friend, Meghan Griffin, appeared at my door with a pound of diversion – RAMPS! I love ramps, a local wild leek-like plant that has become a culinary obsession for famous chefs. Meghan was aware of my obsession and my previous endeavors in ramp butter, so she kindly shared some of her bounty with me. Her bright smile and a plastic bag of these pungent beauties were all I needed to take my mind off of my time step and grapevine moves, and I will be eternally grateful.
After a lethargic Sunday of physical and emotional recovery, I knew I had to put the gift of ramps to good use for tonight's Sunday supper. With my exhaustion at an all time high, I settled on a relatively simple Wild Ramp and Asparagus Spring Risotto. It was flavorful, comforting and the perfect ending to an interesting weekend.
So if you ever get a call from the Service League asking you to Dance for the Children, don't freak out. Just follow Samuel Beckett's advice, "Dance first. Think later. It's the natural order."
- Wild Ramp Risotto with Asparagus and Peas
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbs butter
1 minced garlic clove
2 cups arborio rice
1/3 cup dry white wine
6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 cup grated parmigiano reggiano
1 bunch ramps, cleaned, cut into 1/4-inch pieces, leaving green tops intact
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup fresh English peas
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh parmigiano reggiano to garnish
Heat the broth over low heat.
Over medium heat, sauté the finely chopped onion in olive oil and butter, until translucent. Add the garlic. Continue stirring for another minute. Add the rice, stirring until the grains are slightly toasted, about 2 mins. Add the white wine.
Once the wine is absorbed, add a cup of the warm broth, continually stirring. As the rice absorbs the broth, continue adding broth a little at a time, constantly stirring until the rice is al dente (approximately 20-25 minutes).
Add the 1/4 of parmigiano reggiano, ramps, asparagus, peas, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir for 2 to 3 minutes until the green tops of the ramps are wilted, and the asparagus and the peas are cooked, but still crisp.
Transfer to individual bowls or one large serving dish. Garnish with shavings of fresh parmigiano reggiano and chopped parsley. Serve immediately.