Squid Ink Risotto with Seared Scallops

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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vromans back





Nothing was more important to me than my dearest Memphis – above.  Nothing.  He was a little rescued gift from the universe after my 4-year-old pug, Grisbi, died suddenly & mysteriously.  Then – on June 20th – Memphis left me the same way – suddenly & mysteriously – at 4.  I am bereft.

It has been difficult to get into cooking & blogging.  Everything reminds me of Memphis & then everything seems so pointless and so trivial.

Anyway, I have had this cuttlefish ink in my fridge forever – but I never tried it because I gave up seafood three years ago.  Today – I decided to break my no seafood thing (for the second time in a week) and make this risotto.  Early this week – I made Fiery Shrimp fra Diavolo with Squid Ink Pasta – seen below.


People are often intimidated by risotto but I do not understand why.   It is simple to prepare & only takes about 20 minutes.  This black risotto here is no exception.  It is simple & delicious.  What people should be intimidated by is scallops.  They are often fishy & too often overcooked into rubber.  I managed to pull the scallops here off perfectly & I will share how.  It was not difficult.



Squid Ink Risotto with Seared Scallops



Fresh jumbo scallops – maybe 3 or 4 per person

1 cup Arborio rice

4 cups vegetable stock

3 TBS butter

3 TBS olive oil

1 large shallot (or small onion) – diced

1-6 garlic cloves (I used 6) – chopped

1/4 cup dry white wine (optional)

Squid ink (or cuttlefish ink) – about 3 or 4 teaspoons

1-3 tsp crushed red pepper – or to taste (optional)

10 cherry tomatoes – halved (maybe extra to quarter & use as garnish)

2 red chilies (optional) – diced – some reserved as garnish


Parsley – chopped – as garnish







Wash the scallops in cold water & pat VERY dry with a paper towel.  Sprinkle with S&P.  Set aside.

Bring the vegetable stock to a boil & reduce to a simmer.

Heat TWO TBS of olive oil & TWO TBS of butter in a stock pot over med-high heat.  Add the shallots or onion & saute until soft & just beginning to brown.  Add the rice & tomatoes & stir for a minute or two.  Add the garlic & saute one minute.  Add the wine & then the ink & red chilies & crushed red pepper(if using).  I added the ink in increments until it got the nice rich black.  You may or may not use all the ink suggested – your call.  Add the stock 1/4 cup at a time – letting it get absorbed before adding the next cup.  Stir the rice the entire time.  Reserve about 1/2 cup stock.   Season with S&P.  Test that the rice is cooked & then cover it & remove it from the heat.







In a frying pan, heat 1 TBS olive oil & 1 TBS butter (more if you have more than 4 scallops) and heat on high until very hot.  Add the dry scallops.  They should sizzle upon contact with the oil.  Do not fumble with them.  Let them sear 1-2 minutes each side – depending on their thickness.  Ideally – they should only be moved once – when you flip them.  They should be crusty on two sides by a bit translucent in the center ( bit rare) – unless you like them cooked well done.  Leave them on longer for a well done scallop.  Know they will keep cooking a bit even after removed from the heat.

Stir the remaining stock into the risotto & stir.  It should be what the Italians cal “all’onda.”  That means “wavy” or “with waves.”  The risotto should be creamy enough that tapping the bottom of the plates makes it spread out.

Plate the risotto, top with scallops & chopped parsley (and chopped red chilies or tomatoes) as garnish.





Vegan Roasted Golden Beet Risotto with Parmesan & Beet Greens Pesto

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or just print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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vromans back

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I love beets.  I always have.  I have discovered, however, that many folks don’t think they like them – until they have fresh ones roasted.  I have converted more than a few people from beet-haters to beet-lovers.  And why hate them?  They are really a lot like carrots – sorta earthy & sweet.  Who hates carrots?

Anyway – risotto is easy – despite its reputation.  So – though this recipe has a few steps – they are all easy & you end up with a fuckton of yummy, vegan risotto!  If you are not vegan – you could stir in some real Parmesan or – even better – some goat cheese.  If you ARE vegan – you, too, could opt to stir in a vegan creamy cheese – like cream cheese or any of the brands that make soft, spreadable vegan cheeses.  Or – go with no cheese.  Your call.

The pesto is easy & makes great use of the beet greens but you can omit it – or make it with kale or some other greens – even traditional pesto – with basil.

If I were not on a diet – I would have tossed a few chopped walnuts or pistachios on the bowls as garnish.  If you are in a “giving zero fucks” mood – toss some motherfucking nuts on there & get your chow on!  I ain’t judging!

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Vegan Creamy Golden Beet Risotto with Parmesan & Beet Greens Pesto

Serves 4-6


for the beet greens pesto (this makes way more than you will likely use on this dish but you can freeze it or put in on pizza, toss it with pasta or use it as a sandwich spread)

Tops to several beets (I used the tops to about 6 beets – both red & golden) – washed VERY, very well & stems trimmed off

Several kale leaves (only because I had them – so this is easy to omit – if you want to) – ribs removed

2-6 garlic cloves (according to your taste for garlic)

1/2 cup nuts (I used raw almonds but walnuts, pecans, pistachios or pine nuts will work)

1/4 cup oil

1/2 cup water (more or less)

1/4 cup vegan Parmesan (or a TBS or 2 of nutritional yeast)


for the golden beet risotto

4-6 large beets (I had 3 large golden beets & 3 small red ones) – I like a lot of veggies in my risotto to lower the carb hit

3 TBS coconut oil or olive oil

4 garlic cloves (less if you are not a big garlic fan)

1 onion – diced

2 cups Arborio (risotto) rice

1 cup dry white wine (optional – use more stock if you don’t want to use wine)

8 cups vegetable stock

1/4 cup (or more) vegan Parmesan (or other cheese – as you prefer)


Garnish – more cheese, parsley and maybe some chopped nuts (like pistachios or walnuts) – and maybe some chopped or sliced roasted beets

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for the pesto

WASH THE GREENS WELL!  Beets greens are usually very gritty.  In a food processor, pulse the nuts & garlic & cheese until blended.  Pulse in the greens & kale & oil & then only add as much water as you need to get it to the pesto texture you prefer.  I went drier than usual with this because I wanted it to sit on the risotto without blending – just so I could photograph it.  You can go wetter – if you prefer.  Season with S&P.  Set aside.

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For the Vegan Roasted Golden Beet Risotto with Parmesan

Heat the oven to 450-500 degrees.

Wrap the beets in foil.  If you are using two colors – wrap them separately or the red ones will dye the golden ones.

Cook for about an hour or until they are tender.  Allow them to cool & then rub the skin & rough parts off under running water.  Use a knife to get any stubborn places.  Dice or slice them – reserving a bit for garnish later.  This can be done a day or two in advance – just store them in the fridge.

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Bring the vegetable stock to a boil & reduce to a simmer.

Heat the oil & saute the onions until translucent.  Add the rice & stir so all the rice is coated in oil.  Add a bit more, if you need to.  Cook for about 3 minutes or until the edges of the rice start to look translucent.  Add the garlic & stir for 1 minute.  Add the wine (or one cup of stock) and cook until it is absorbed.  Add the beets (reserving some for garnish) and combine.  Now – over medium heat & stirring almost constantly, add the stock one cup at a time – allowing to to get absorbed each time.  I like my risotto a little wetter but this is a personal preference.  Cook until the rice is just tender – NOT mushy – this may or may not take up all the stock.  Stir in any cheese you are using.  Season with S&P.  Add more stock (or water) if it gets too thick.

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Serve immediately & garnish with a dollop of beet greens pesto, more beets, parsley, more cheese & any nuts you might have decided to use.

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Vegan Creamy Red Kuri & Butternut Squash Risotto

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or just print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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vromans back

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Risotto is easy.  I do not know why people get intimidated.  Sure – you stand there stirring for 20-30 minutes but that really is not that long when you consider that you can feed a family with this comforting goodness – and making a large vat takes the same amount of time as a small quantity.  I made this vegan because I did not feel it really needed the cheese most risottos use.  That said – if you are not vegan – some nice Parmesan or goat cheese might be nice stirred in.  Also – I used 2-4 times as much squash as most recipes will suggest.  My thinking is that the squash is guiltless & filling so if the risotto is the smaller part of what you eat – it just makes for a lighter meal – and most folks appreciate lighter – especially when it still SEEMS creamy & decadent.

I used a red kuri squash & a butternut – because that is what I had.  You can use any orange squash you like or pumpkin or even sweet potatoes.

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Vegan Creamy Red Kuri & Butternut Squash Risotto

Serve 6


2 cups risotto or arborio rice

9 cups vegetable stock

2 TBS olive oil

2 shallots – chopped

1 small onion – diced

4 garlic cloves – chopped

1 medium red kuri squash – peeled, seeded & cut into bite-sized pieces

1 small butternut squash – peeled, seeded & cut into bite-sized pieces (or any combo you prefer)

1/2 cup dry white wine (optional)


GARNISH OPTIONS – chopped parsley, fried sage, vegan or real Parmesan, vegan or real goat cheese, any soft & creamy cheese you like (vegan or otherwise)

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Bring the stock to a boil, reduce heat & leave simmering on the lowest flame.

Heat the olive oil in a large stock pot on MEDIUM heat & cook the shallots & onion for about 2 minutes.  Add the squashes & stir.  Cook the squash for about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic & stir.  Cook for about 1-2 minutes.  Do not burn the garlic.

Add the wine (if using) and let the alcohol cook off (which happens very fast).  Add the rice & stir to incorporate the rice.

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Add the stock, one cup at a time & stir it in.  I left mine with a lid on a pan for a minute here & there to aid in steaming the rice.  Once that stock is absorbed, add more & keep stirring.  In about 20-30 minutes – you should have stirred in most of the stock.  Reserve about a cup.  If the rice is not tended – turn the heat to low & cover the pan for a few minutes.  If you need to add the rest of the stock – you can.  I used a potato masher & mashed about half of the squash into the rice.  This is an optional step – but it makes the risotto even creamier.  Once the rice is tender – I like to either stir in more stock or some water so that the risotto is just a tad more like a thick soup.  I hate dry & clumping risotto – but others might prefer it that way.  If you like it drier – just cook it down (careful not to burn it) until it is thick enough.  If it gets too thick – add stock or water.

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I served mine looking as soupy as that above.  The rice keeps absorbing so – it will thicken up fast.  Season with S&P.

Garnish as you desire & serve.

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Mixed Vegetable Risotto with Fennel and Roasted Brussels Sprouts (Vegan – Vegetarian)

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2015

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.


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vromans back

Risotto gets a bad rap for being hard to make.  If standing at the stove, stirring, for 20-30 minutes is hard – then I guess risotto is hard but really, how hard is casual stirring?  The main mistake people make with risotto is over-cooking so – as soon as it seems al dente – add the final ingredients & serve immediately because it will keep cooking as long as it is warm.

You can use any vegetables you like or lose anything from this recipe that displeases you.  The roasted Brussels sprouts are not necessary but they add a nice depth.  I suppose you could just chop them raw & stir them in with the carrots – if roasting is a pain in your arse.

This can be made vegan (obviously) by subbing out the dairy with vegan alternatives.

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Mixed Vegetable Risotto with Fennel and Roasted Brussels Sprouts (Vegan – Vegetarian)

serves 4


1 1/2 cups Arborio rice

5-6 cups vegetable stock

1 cup grated Parmesan (or vegan alternative) – optional

3 TBS butter (or vegan alternative – even olive oil)

1/2 cup dry white wine (not strictly necessary – so – you could sub out with more stock & a squeeze of lemon juice)

4 garlic cloves – minced

1/2 onion – diced

1 cup peas

2 carrots – diced

1 bulb fennel – sliced very thin

12 large Brussels sprouts – trimmed & halved

1 TBS olive oil

1 tsp white balsamic vinegar (optional)


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If roasting the Brussels sprouts (rather than just tossing them into the mix raw when you throw the carrots in – a viable option) – heat the oven to 400 degrees.  Toss the halved sprouts with olive oil & balsamic & salt & pepper.  Lay on a cooking sheet face down (I always use parchment paper because it makes clean-up easy & nothing sticks to it).  Roast about 15-20 minutes & then turn them & roast another 10-15 – until they are browned a bit.

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Chop them up a bit if you want – but you don’t have to.  I did.  Set aside.

While those guys are roasting – bring the stock to a boil & then reduce to a simmer.

In another heavy-bottomed pan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the carrots & onions (and raw Brussels sprouts – if you are not roasting them) – and saute for 1-2 minutes.  Add the fennel & saute another 2 minutes.

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Add the garlic & rice & stir to coat.   Add the wine (or extra stock & lemon) & cook off the moisture.   Then add the stock, 1/2 cup at a time & not adding more until the last was absorbed.  Stir as much as possible as the motion breaks down the starches more & makes the risotto creamier – and keeps it from burning.  When you are about 1 cup away from going through all the stock – test the firmness of the risotto.  It should still have a bit of a bite but, if it is very hard still, add more water or stock to your stock pot & bring it to a boil & then a simmer again.  Add the stock until the risotto is just al dente.  Stir in the peas & cheese.  If it is too thick – add yet more stock.  If it is too wet – cook it down a bit.

Serve immediately, garnished with the roasted Brussels sprouts, extra cheese & lots of fresh cracked pepper.

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Saffron Risotto with Asparagus & Fava Beans, Ziplock Omelettes, Pasta with Watercress & Lemon Cream and Disturbing Pedicures


All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.


All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.


vromans front

vromans back

YUP!  I wrote a very funny novel!  I hope you will read it!  www.BathingBook.com


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OK.  First of all, let me say that I like risotto.  A lot.  But I am finding that, when I make it, it tastes pretty much the same no matter what I use as the highlight ingredients.  That can be disappointing.  Also – there is an art to cooking it just right & to not presenting some waterlogged, mushy rice mess.  The risotto I made last night disappointed me primarily because the saffron color & flavor both somehow got lost.  That was certainly not the case with my Saffron Cream Pasta with Cauliflower.


That pasta dish was exactly as delicious as it is stunning to see.  But my risotto – not so much.  I’m not saying it didn’t taste good.  It did.  But it has no big wow factor.  So – I am going to use this blog to post a few different items I’ve made that, while I recommend them, I didn’t feel they merited their own post.

But first – let me tell you about a recent experience I had at the nail salon.  This week, my friend Laura is in town from Boston.  She suggested that she & I (and her 12 year old daughter) all go for pedicures & maybe some lunch.  Sounded good to me so I picked them up & brought them to my local, strip mall nail salon.  When I go on my own, I just sit in the regular chairs & eschew the massage chairs because 1) they add $4 to the tab & 2) I think massage chairs are pretty lame.  But, Laura & her daughter were already planted in them & Laura insisted that I join them for the experience.  As I crawled into my chair, Laura said, “Hey!  This chair is pinching my butt!”  I made some lame joke about being desperate & lonely enough to welcome a little grab ass from an electronic chair & plopped myself down.  Now, I don’t know if there is a default setting on the chairs or if the staff sets them a certain way or if you just get it the way the last resident left it but my chair was on full assault mode.  The remote control for it was more complicated than trying to set a VCR to record a TV show & so, as I fumbled, I was victim to the existing settings.  The settings included words like “flap” & “knock” & “knead.”  Flap?  What the fuck is flapping?  I knew what knocking was because it was actively happening to me.  I felt like I was at Super King in the sorry position of standing in front of an especially impatient (and rude) woman with a mustache, black socks & Jesus boots prodding me from behind, angling to cut me in line at the cheese case.  I was in the middle of trying to express something or other to Laura when the chair commenced its “lower body” massage.  I froze mid-word, clamped my mouth shut & my eyes widened in surprise & horror.  Laura looked back at me & knew exactly what had just begun with my chair.  “Right?” she asked rhetorically, her eyes as wide as mine.  And she laughed.  The butt pinching she had mentioned was no butt pinching at all.  It was more like there was a little person under the chair wearing a boxing glove – who was using that boxing glove to massage our taints.  The glove rolled around, providing pressure from front to back & back to front again.  It was very disconcerting and, quite frankly, a shocking violation.  Who thinks they are going to get a vulva massage at a low end nail salon?  Not me.  Was this some sort of “happy ending” house of prostitution?  Did this require a bigger tip?  Ugh!  And if you think sleeping in a cheap motel on a bed with sheets of questionable sanitation is gross – just think of the places that boxing glove has been!

“OMG!  How do I turn it off?!”  I was panicking.

Laura was laughing and, sotto voce, asked, “What do you think…” and she subtly gestured over her shoulder where her 12-year-old daughter sat placidly in her chair.  Oh jeez!  Was that chair molesting her daughter, too?  These chairs had succeeded in freaking out a jaded 48-year-old & a mother of two.  What damage was that third one doing to the psyche of Laura’s innocent middle-schooler?  Methinks – in retrospect – that her chair must have been set differently because, if she was getting the full “lower body” treatment (vagina massage!  Let’s call a spade a spade here) – she gave no indication & I have a really hard time believing anybody could field the initial goosing & not have THIS reaction:

So – after much fumbling, I managed to get the pelvic exam part of the massage to stop.  But in my panic, I apparently upped the “knocking” part & couldn’t turn that off.  I tried to ask Laura but I was getting punched so hard, my speaking voice got all choppy – like I was Katherine Hepburn in the final grip of Parkinson’s.  “La-a-aur-a?  H-how do-o-oo you-ou t-t-u-uh-urn th-is-is o-o-offf?”  While I was speaking, I looked down at myself & noticed that my boobs & every other loose bit on my frame (and there are lots of bits looser than I would like) were being jostled around like a bowl of Jello.  I looked at Laura, a woman gifted in the breast department, and saw her body also looked like it was being wrestled by one of those old-fashioned fat loss jiggle machines.

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By the way – I am old enough to have belonged to a gym in Boston (Gloria Stevens) that actually HAD those things AND the stupid roller machines.


Jesus.  Had I known what this chair would get up to – I might have worn a corset or some other support device.   A full body Spanx.  Something.  A wet suit.

As Laura and I jiggled & giggled & poked randomly at the remotes to no avail – ah, yes!  Cue the creepy male proprietor.  Here he comes to position himself before the display of waggling female appendages.  He not only stood there taking it all in – he also engaged us in conversation & passed his phone between us – sharing his remarkable weight loss photos.  This effectively kept us from being able to focus on our remotes & end the shaking that would eventually take a harder toll on our boobs than gravity.  “Oh, yes!  I see!” we said, politely enthusiastic.

“Exercise & eating!  I eat a lot of cheese!” he declared.

Good for you, buddy.  Now take your “before & after” photos & your prominent moles with three-inch whiskers dangling from them & get outta here!  I need to adjust my bra straps!

Eventually, we were able to get the chairs to settle down & we got down to the business of the pedicures.  Here is a photo of Laura & me – exhibiting the post-rough-sex glow we had – courtesy of those perverted chairs with anger issues.

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Notice the Bat phone in the background?  Look at this thing.

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Maybe Fu Manchu there was more than just a thinned down, lusty boob man.  Maybe he was a superhero & this was his special superhero phone?  They also had this throwback-looking thing.

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Maybe that was his teleporter.  I have no way of knowing.  What I do know is that I got glittery, red toenails meant to draw your eye from my increasingly problematic bunions.

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Are feet copacetic in a food blog?  Likely not – and for that – I apologize.

I also know that when we went to lunch – I opted not to take any chances on this place –

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– because I still felt violated by the massage chair & was in no shape to roll the dice on the “anal beer” these guys seem so proud of.  Even if it is served ice cold.

That really is an unfortunate breakdown of a perfectly decent word, no?

Alright – now that I’ve gotten that off my chest – I can share a few underwhelming recipes!  YAY!

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I grilled shrimp for this but you can lose them if you want to.

Saffron Risotto with Grilled Shrimp, Asparagus & Fava Beans


Shrimp (optional)

2 cups Arborio (risotto) rice

1/4 cup dry white wine (optional)

4 cups stock (I make 5 just in case the risotto needs overcooking)

1/3 cup grated Parmesan

1 large shallot (or small onion)


Saffron (3 TBS of the liquid or a generous pinch of saffron threads steeped in 3 TBS hot water)

1 (16 oz) can fava beans (or white beans of any kind)

4 cloves garlic – minced (or to taste)

olive oil


1/2 lemon

Basil or parsley as garnish (I happened to have red basil)


Put the shrimp (if using) in a Ziplock bag or a bowl & squeeze the 1/2 lemon over them.  Add a glug or two of olive oil & some S&P and maybe a minced garlic clove or two.  Blend well.  Set aside.

Drain the fava beans & puree in a food processor.  Set aside.

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Hold each asparagus spear by the far ends & bend until they snap.  They will naturally break at the point that the spear is too tough to eat.  Cut into bite-sized pieces.

Heat a tablespoon or two of olive oil in a stock pot.  Add the asparagus & some garlic & saute about 3 minutes over medium heat or until the asparagus is vibrant & softens a bit.  Set aside but keep the pan for re-use.

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Grill or pan-fry the shrimp until just pink.  Set aside.

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In a clean pan – heat the stock to just simmering & keep it there.  Add the saffron to this stock.

Heat 2 TBS olive oil in the asparagus pan.  Add the shallot (or onion) and saute until soft – about 3 minutes.  Add garlic & the rice & saute for about 2 minutes over medium-high heat – stirring constantly – until the rice is translucent at the edges.

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Add the wine (if using) & cook for a minute or so.  Then, add the stock in 1/2 to 1 cup increments, stirring almost constantly and allowing the liquid to be mostly absorbed before adding more.  You might need more or less stock – depending on the softness you like – but do not add so much that the rice is mushy.   Be sure to add enough broth, though, so that the risotto is creamy.

Add the asparagus & the cheese & the pureed beans.  Serve with grilled shrimp on top & with some chopped herbs.

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OK!   Onto another recipe that I could not post because I hate all the photos I took of it.  That is really the only reason – as it is quite tasty.

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That is my Watercress & Lemon Cream Stacenate (stracnar) Pasta.  It is the same pasta I made for this dish:


That is Stracnar (Stracenate) Pasta with a Pan-Fried Cauliflower, Tomato & Clam Ragu using the labor-intensive but really pretty cavarola-boarded pasta.


I don’t expect anyone to hunt down a cavarola board & make this stuff – so – just use bowtie pasta or something.

Watercress & Lemon Cream Pasta


1/2 lb bow-tie pasta (or pappardelle or something)

4 oz cream cheese

1/2 cup ricotta

1/4 cup grated Parmesan (plus extra for garnish)

1 bunch watercress

Olive oil

2 garlic cloves – minced

juice & zest of 1 lemon

1/2 tsp salt

1 TBS pepper

1 tomato – diced (optional – but it would add nice color)

Parsley or basil or reserved watercress as garnish


Wash the watercress & remove any large stems.  Chop it up.

Heat the olive oil in a pan & add the minced garlic.  Saute 1 minute & then add the cream cheese, ricotta, Parmesan, juice & zest of the lemon and the S&P.  Blend & heat through.

Cook the pasta.  Drain & toss with the lemon cream sauce, add the watercress & serve topped with chopped herbs & tomatoes (if using) and lots of ground pepper.

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And lastly – this dish – Ziplock Baggy Boiled Omelettes.

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I saw this posted on my friend Cheryl Patrick Van Allen’s Facebook page & tried it out immediately.   Basically – you take eggs & whatever else you want in your omelette & put it all in a resealable baggy.  Squeeze out the air, seal the bag & smoosh everything around until well-blended.

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Whether camping or just serving several folks that require different ingredients in their omelettes – this is an easy way to make a bunch of varied omelettes all at one go & in one pan of boiling water.  Just be sure to write everyone’s name on their bag.

Then – boil them for 13 minutes.  Be careful the plastic doesn’t melt on your pan – a problem that actually bothers me & is a main reason I didn’t post this as a stand-alone recipe.   Folks say the omelette slips out of the bag onto your plate – and it does – but mine slipped out & looked more like an eggy heart than an omelette.

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That isn’t very appetizing.  But – it is nothing a fork & herbs & some peppers cannot fix.

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The other reason I didn’t post this before is because of the controversy about boiling in the bags that are not meant for that task.  It seems that the plastic can leak chemicals etc into your food.  Eh – but that is true of every dish you ever zapped in the microwave in or on something plastic.  I hate microwaving anything because I believe it alters the food in such a way that your body cannot even identify it as food – but I have been known to succumb to the convenience occasionally.  Still – I try to put things (even things meant to be zapped in their packaging) onto paper or glass before the nuking.

So – there you have it – boiled baggy eggy weggies!  Try at your own risk!

You know what isn’t risky?  A bottle of smiley face wine!

Bon appetit!

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Roasted Beet Risotto with Goat Cheese and Pecorino


All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.


All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

This is as easy to make as any risotto.  Risotto?  Easy?  Yes.  It is.  I don’t know why it has a reputation for being laborious.  Kind of like root canals.  People dread them like THEY cause the pain.  I had a friend recently tell me that she had rented a bunch of movies to watch over the weekend as she recuperated from an upcoming root canal.  You get a root canal BECAUSE you are in pain.  Terrible, inescapable pain – or you would never agree to a procedure that terrifies you & is, quite frankly, very expensive.  A root canal is a procedure that removes the nerve so that you will never again have pain in that tooth.  In fact, they get at that thing pretty early in the procedure so within 5 minutes of them starting – it is impossible to feel pain there anymore.  I told my friend this – to her great relief.  And, she reported back, I had been right.  I know – because botched dentistry in my past has led to my having had two of them.

Anyway, I digress.  Risotto is not the arm-ache provoking process people always bemoan.  It just takes about 30 minutes of care with some occasional stirring.  Who can’t manage that?  Especially if a creamy, delicious risotto is your reward.  And, as far as I am concerned, you can’t really screw it up.  Sure – some can be overcooked or clumpy or too wet but that is just a texture concern & I am not a texture freak.  It all tastes the same.  So give yourself a break & a treat & make some Goddamn risotto.

Oh – and at the risk of offering TMI – lots of roasted beets in your diet will turn your pee (etc) reddish – so – do not be alarmed & fear that you are hemorrhaging.  You are not.  🙂

Also – if you have some extra beet around – or roast some extra – you can use a cookie cutter & create little decorative beet toppers to put atop the risotto & impress your neighbors.  Or not.  But I think it is a cute idea.

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Roasted Beet Risotto with Goat Cheese and Pecorino


2 large (large!) beets or 5 or 6 smaller ones

10 cloves garlic

1 small onion – diced

olive oil

1/2 cup grated Parmesan

1 bay leaf

1 TBS balsamic vinegar

1 cup Arborio rice

3/4 cup dry red wine plus 1/4 cup water

4 cups vegetable (or chicken) stock

Goat cheese and/or Pecorino cheese as garnish

S&P to taste

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Wash the beets & wrap them with 6 cloves of garlic in some foil & roast at 425 for between 30-45 minutes – depending on their size.  A knife should cut through them easily when they are done.  Let them cool & then peel them.  The skins might just wipe off with a paper towel.  If not – use a peeler.  Put the beets, roasted garlic into a food processor with 1 TBS olive oil & about 1/4 cup water.  Pulse until you have a rough puree.

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Heat your stock & leave it simmering.   Add the balsamic to this stock.

Mince the remaining raw garlic.  In a stock pot, heat 1 TBS olive oil over medium heat & add the diced onion & minced garlic.  Saute until the onion is soft.  Add more olive oil if the pan gets too dry.

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Add the bay leaf & the rice & stir for about a minute or two.  Get the rice coated in oil from the pan.

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Add the red wine & water (One cup total.  You can use white wine or just plain water here if you don’t want to waste good drinking wine – but the wine adds a nice flavor.)  Simmer a few minutes.  Reserving at least half a cup of hot stock – add the stock to the rice by about a cup at a time & stir it in & allow each cup to nearly cook off before adding the next.  About 15 minutes into this process – add the beet puree.  Stir to blend.  Add the cheese and S&P to taste.     Remove the bay leaf.   The rice should be cooked before you get through all the stock but if you use all the stock & the risotto gets too thick – just add some water & heat it through to thin it.

Put some risotto on each plate & top with crumbled goat cheese and/or shaved Pecorino & a nice dose of freshly ground pepper.

Oh!  And again, all my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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NO CARB Cauliflower Risotto with Caramelized Carrots, Saffron & Toasted Anchovy Bread Crumbs


All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.


Let me apologize up front for the scant photography with this recipe.  My phone completely died early in the process of making this & I had no way to document the various steps.  Sorry!

Also – let me say that this dish could be made the traditional way – with Arborio rice – or the no carb way, using just grated cauliflower or it can be made the way I did it here – with about 2/3 of the recipe comprised of cauliflower but with a cup of Arborio for added texture.  I would have skipped the rice entirely but my boyfriend is a finicky eater & textures, in particular, can put him completely off things.  Having never tried a cauliflower-based risotto, I was unsure of the sturdiness of the final result, so, I added the cup of risotto rice.  As it turned out, I could have skipped it because 1) I think the cauliflower holds up well and 2) he wouldn’t eat it anyway.

In the future, I will experiment with an all cauliflower risotto & I will better document the process.  Do not be alarmed by the lack of photos here and, therefore, intimidated to try this.  It is a very easy & delicious dish!  The anchovy bread crumbs are very optional but add a nice hint of salty flavor the the sweetness of the carrots.  I used some leftover homemade artisan bread but any bread crumbs would likely work.  I just liked how chunky the homemade breadcrumbs were.



NO CARB Cauliflower Risotto with Caramelized Carrots, Saffron & Toasted Anchovy Bread Crumbs

1 large head cauliflower (2 heads if not using Arborio rice in the dish)

1 lb carrots

3 TBS olive oil – divided

3 TBS butter – divided

1 small onion – diced

1 cup Arborio rice (optional)

1/2 cup dry vermouth (or other dry white wine)

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan

5+ cups vegetable (or other) stock

1 tsp saffron threads

1/2 tsp white pepper

Salt to taste

1 tsp sugar

1 large tomato – diced for garnish

Fresh parsley – chopped for garnish

Parmesan (or other hard cheese) – grated for garnish

For the Toasted Anchovy Bread Crumbs

1 cup fresh breadcrumbs

1 TBS olive oil

1 TBS butter

1 TBS anchovy paste (or minced anchovies)


For the toasted anchovy breadcrumbs

If using stale bread – pulse the cubed bread in a food processor until crumbly.

Heat 1 TBS each of olive oil & butter & dissolve the anchovy in it.  Add the breadcrumbs & stir until they begin to get browned & toasty.  I drained mine on paper towels to remove excess oil & set aside.


For the Cauliflower Risotto with Caramelized Carrots & Saffron

Heat the stock to boiling & then reduce heat to low & simmer – covered.

Meanwhile, with the grating blade of your food processor, grate the cauliflower into rice-like shards.  Set aside.


With the regular blade in your food processor, pulse the carrots into a near puree.


In a large stock pot, heat 1 TBS each of olive oil & butter on medium heat & add the minced carrots.  Coat the carrots with the oil & butter then add 1/2 cup of water, 1/2 tsp salt & the sugar.  Cook, covered, for about five minutes.  Uncover and cook, stirring constantly (adding a tiny bit more olive oil if it gets too dry) until the carrots begin to brown.  Remove from heat.  Puree half of the browned carrots in a blender with 1 cup warm water.  Set both carrot elements aside.

Using the same pot you cooked the carrots in, add 2 TBS each butter & olive oil & cook the onion until translucent.  Add Arborio rice (if using) & cook, stirring constantly, for about a minute.   Whether or not you are using Arborio, add the cauliflower now and, stirring constantly, add the cup of wine & let the alcohol cooks off over high heat.  Add the carrot puree (not the browned carrot – but the puree with water added) and cook, stirring constantly, until it thickens a bit – maybe a minute.

Add 1/2 cup of hot vegetable stock and stir it often – until the liquid is absorbed.  Repeat this process until all but about 1 cup of broth is incorporated.

Mix in the remaining browned carrots (reserving a small amount for garnish – if desired), the saffron threads, white pepper, the Parmesan & the heavy cream.  Add small amounts of the remaining broth to thin the risotto to the consistency you like.

Serve immediately topped with the remaining carrots (if you reserved some), diced tomatoes, fresh parsley & more grated cheese & the toasted anchovy breadcrumbs.



Truffled Celery Root Mixed Grain Risotto Tower with Roasted Beets, Pan-fried Cauliflower & Basil Jus

1 Comment


All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.


This might look intimidating but it is not.  It just requires a few easy steps.  Most of it could be substituted with other ingredients, too.  For example – hate beets?  Use carrots or corn or sweet potato instead.  Trader Joe’s mixed grain thing not available to you?


Use a regular risotto.  Celery root unavailable or yucky to you?  Make your risotto with whatever ingredients you prefer.  Don’t have fancy food mold ring to create the tower?   Use a bowl or just free form it on the plate for a more rustic presentation.

I loved this dish.  The celery root absolutely held its own despite competing with a lot of other flavors here from white truffle oil to roasted beets & garlic to the fried cauliflower to the basil oil.   This dish was served closer to warm-room temperature than what I would call hot – primarily because there are so many ingredients to time properly – but I liked it just warm.  It might also be served hotter if you don’t spend 15 minutes trying to get the perfect photo of it.

Speaking of which – I am often asked what I use to photograph the food.  The answer?  My iphone 5 and a construction lamp.  See?


That is all I have going on.  I have limited dishware & napkins etc with which to present my recipes and I am beginning to feel my images are starting to look a lot alike but that is just the reality of doing it all DIY on a shoestring budget.  But THIS dish – this will definitely wow folks on any plate.  I hope you try it.

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Truffled Celery Root Mixed Grain Risotto Tower with Roasted Beets, Pan-fried Cauliflower & Basil Jus


For the risotto

1 lb Mixed grains (or risotto or other rice)

1 large celery root – peeled & diced

2 cups milk

1 cup Parmesan – grated

White truffle oil to drizzle – (VERY optional)

For the roasted beet & garlic puree

6 small beets

4 TBS heavy cream

4 cloves garlic

For the pan-fried cauliflower

1 head cauliflower

1-2 TBS olive oil

For the basil jus (basil oil)

1 cup fresh basil

3/4 cup high quality olive oil


For the beet & garlic puree

Halve your beets (or quarter them if the are large) & drizzle them with olive oil.  Toss them with the garlic cloves & roast them & the garlic (add lots of extra garlic so you can have some extra around for future recipes) in a 400 degree oven for 30-45 minutes or until tender.  Check frequently & remove the garlic if it browns quickly & is done before the beets.  When roasted – cool a bit then puree the beets, 4 roasted garlic cloves & the heavy cream in a food processor.  Set aside.

For the basil jus

Plunge the basil in boiling water for 30 seconds.  Plunge it in cold water, drain & squeeze out the water.  Puree the basil with olive oil in a food processor.  Set aside.

For the pan-fried cauliflower

Slice the cauliflower into 3/4 inch steaks.  Heat the olive oil & fry the cauliflower until browned on both sides.

Alternatively – you could roast the cauliflower (tossed in olive oil) in a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes or until it is soft & beginning to brown.  My photo here is of florets roasted in the oven.  The assembled tower images show cauliflower pan-fried as steaks.


For the risotto

I cooked the bag of mixed grains as per the directions.

Bring the milk to a boil, add the diced celery root to the milk, reduce heat & simmer for about 20 minutes or until the celery root is soft.

Blend the celery root, the milk it cooked in & the cheese in a food processor until smooth.  Add to the cooked grains & blend completely.  Drizzle with truffle oil (if using) – sparingly, as it can really overpower the other flavors.



I used a food ring like this


and simply put a layer of risotto then beet puree then cauliflower.  I drizzled it with the basil jus & topped it with watercress.  You could build yours backwards in a greased ramekin & flip it or in a bowl & flip it – or just present it in a more casual, rustic, unformed way.



Brown Rice & Quinoa Risotto with Arrabiata & Shrimp


All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.


This is kinda outrageously good.  I began by trying to just use the brown rice but I got impatient waiting for it to get creamy so I added some cooked quinoa which magically did the trick.  This can be used like any risotto & you could add anything your imagination comes up with.  I had leftover, frozen arrabiata, so I used that.   The shrimp can easily be omitted.  Vegan cheese could be used to make the dish vegan.

As an aside – NEVER buy this stuff:


At the risk of sounding like a commercial, I thought I’d save a dollar or two & buy the cheap stuff but that was a mistake.  First of all, it foams up like a bubble bath creating a Lucy moment of a bubble lava torrent spilling out of the dishwasher.  And – not only were most of the dishes not clean at the end of the cycle – but all clear glass came out looking frosted.  Just the worst.

2-1-13 UPDATE – I just noticed thus says “gentle on hands.”  Haha!  It sucks as a dishwasher detergent because it ISN’T a dishwasher detergent.  It if for hand washing.  So- nevermind what I just said above.

Anyway – this dish is really yummy & endlessly customizable – so – get creative!


Brown Rice & Quinoa Risotto with Arrabiata & Shrimp


1 lb shrimp – peeled & cleaned

olive oil

4 garlic cloves – minced

1 tsp crushed red pepper

S&P to taste

4 shallots – diced (or a small onion)

6+ cups stock (I used frozen, homemade shrimp stock)

2 cups uncooked brown rice

2+ cups pasta sauce (I used arrabiata)

2 cups cooked quinoa

1+ cups grated parmesan

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp dry basil

1 tsp parsley

fresh parsley

2 tomatoes – diced


Cook your quinoa (in vegetable stock).  Set aside.


Heat 2 TBS olive oil in a frying pan.  Add the minced garlic & the crushed red pepper and after about a minute.  Add the shrimp & cook until just pink.  Undercooking is OK as they will cook further on their own & even more in the warm risotto.  Set aside.

Heat your 6+ cups of stock in a pan & let it simmer.

Heat 2 TBS olive oil in a large stock pot.  Add the shallots (or onion) and the brown rice. Fry the rice for 2-3 minutes.  The rice should become a little aromatic.  Lower heat to medium and add the dry oregano, basil & parsley.  Add one cup of the simmering stock & cook it off, stirring the whole time.  Add another cup of stock & repeat.  At this point – I got restless & added all the remaining stock, brought it to a boil, reduced the heat to low & let it simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.   Check to see if your rice is tender – erring on a tad overcooked rather than under.  If it is still al dente – add more water & steam it until it is cooked.



Add the cooked quinoa & the tomato sauce (arrabiata), the grated Parmesan & the shrimp.  Blend.  Heat it through & serve with fresh diced tomatoes, fresh chopped parsley & more grated Parmesan on top.



Risotto Fritters at Rivue in Louisville, Kentucky





All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2012

OK – in fairness to this restaurant – I was in pretty bad shape when I sat down to this meal.  The day before had been a 36 hour day with nearly 24 hours of it devoted to trying to get from Los Angeles to Louisville – and the rest to signing autographs for fans at Fright Night Film Fest (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Fright-Night-Film-Fest/63772024471).


Then – after a few hours sleep and a 10am-7pm shift at my table signing autographs & hobnobbing with the fans etc – and only two teensy weensy 6-chip-each bags of Doritos for sustenance, I adjourned to Rivue for a meal.  My boyfriend and I were seated at a window – on the 25th floor (I think) and the view was spectacular.


I put my purse on the window sill & snapped a few pictures.  Within a minute, my boyfriend looked at me – very concerned – and asked, “Are we moving?”

I looked at him & it was like one of those great rack focus things they do in films where the background and foreground condense or something and I felt like I had vertigo.  We were, in fact, moving.  We were in one of those revolving restaurants.

“I don’t feel so good,” my boyfriend, Miles, said and commenced turning green.

I looked at him as Louisville moved away from me behind him and I realized, I didn’t feel very good either.

“Oh,” I said, “let’s get offa this thing,” and reached down for my purse.  My purse was no longer on the sill where I’d put it.  Or rather – it was, but Miles and I had spun at Nascar speed half way around the room and my purse was touring the window side of every table in the joynt.  A waiter approached with menus.

“Uhm – the window stole my purse,” I said, “and I think we need to change tables.”

“Oh, don’t worry!  This happens every day,” the waiter said & wandered off to find my bag.  I watched him & felt decidedly dizzy.

“I don’t feel good,” Miles repeated.

“Save yourself, Miles!  Get off of this thing!” I said and then had a vision of being drunk & trying to walk off a moving carousel or through a fun house.  “But be careful!”

He looked at me, ashen, and I could swear his hair was moving in the breeze created by the breakneck pace of this treacherous eatery.

“In fact, I’m coming, too,” I said and gripped his arm as we staggered off the spinning disc.

We stood, dazed and trying to regain our bearings as the waiter approached with my purse.

“Here you go.  Safe & sound,” he said and held it out to me, smiling.  Smiling like Heath Ledger as the Joker.  “Where would you like to sit?”

I looked at Miles & thought he might collapse any second.  He said he felt better once on solid footing but I knew he was lying – because I was lying when I said I was better, too.

We selected a table on the stationary part of the room but it was impossible for both of us to sit at any table and not have one of us forced to – at least peripherally – see the other diners whipping past at a nauseating rate.  We ended up sitting next to each other at a four-top but I turned my chair sideways so that I pretty much had my back to Miles – and the lava lamp of furniture & humanity behind him – and faced the same direction he did.

“I think we are still moving,” he said, finally.

We weren’t but I felt it, too.  It was like being in the Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.  Brutal.  Crippling.

“Maybe food will help?”

“Maybe,” Miles said but I could tell he didn’t think there was a chance in Hell that we were gonna get outta there alive.

Well, we ordered food.  Among the items ordered were these Risotto Fritters.  They were delicious!  We had pasta, too, which was only adequate.  Or maybe the focus we both needed to keep out motion sickness at bay & keep from retching up the risotto fritters inhibited our enjoyment of the pasta.  All I know for sure is that neither of us was ever convinced the entire hotel wasn’t spinning like Dorothy’s house in The Wizard of Oz and that neither food nor alcohol did anything to make anything better.  We paid the check as quickly as possible & got out of there as fast as seemed safe – given our fragile condition.

Oh – and I know one other thing.  I know that revolving restaurants are supposed to move at a very, VERY subtle speed – not like the Teacups or the fucking Gravitron at your local carnival.  Call me crazy but – if the term “centrifugal force” comes to mind as you are trying to eat – you are moving too fast.  I’m just saying.  So – enter Rivue at your own risk!