J.

So here's the first description of a Sunday Dinner that's
actually an entire meal. Attendance was up to eight and there
were no alternative plans last week so I made tossed salad,
lentil barley soup, rosemary roasted chicken, and rappini
risotto.

The chicken was pretty easy. Vons had cut up fryers on sale,
so I bought two packages, or two complete chickens without
backs. I put the wings in the freezer for stock and cooked the
rest. I started with a lot of fresh rosemary from the garden.
After trimming the leaves from the branches, I'd guess I had
about a half cup, loosely packed. I put it all in my
mini-chopper with three cloves of garlic, a tablespoon of
margarine, about a quarter to a half cup of olive oil, and salt
and fresh ground pepper. I let that chop until it was pretty
smooth. I started with a quarter cup of the oil and added it
in little bits until it smoothed out. I brushed the stuff all
over the chicken and put it in a roasting pan. I have a big
Calphalon pan that will hold all four breasts, four thighs, and
four drumsticks. That went in the oven at 350 degrees
(convection) for about an hour. If I'd had a rack for the pan,
I would have used it so the chicken wouldn't sit in the
drippings, but I didn't so it did.

The salad was fairly conventional; the dressing was olive oil,
balsamic vinegar, garlic powder, and dried dill weed.

The soup was my own recipe and I used the pressure cooker (of
course). I invented it this way: start with 10 cups vegetable
stock and 1 cup of dry pearl barley and pressure cook for 18
minutes. Release the pressure, add 2 cups of dried lentils and
pressure cook for 8 minutes. Release the pressure and add two
cups of AnnMarie's marinara (or mine). Serve. It's actually
pretty thick soup and surprisingly good for being so simple. I
changed the recipe a little this time, though. I used what
stock I had for the risotto, so I used water for the soup. I
didn't have any marinara made, so I added the ingredients for
marinara to the pot when I added the lentils. All in all it
came out almost as good.

One of the things I like most about risotto is there is no
measuring, although I forget that four cups of uncooked rice
makes a ton of risotto. Two will do for eight people. I use
arborio rice which is what you're supposed to use for risotto,
but plain long grain white rice will do. Start by sauteing a
chopped onion and two chopped red bell peppers on high heat in
a little olive oil (I guess this was olive oil night!) When
the onions are limp, add the rice and let it heat up, about two
minutes, stirring. Add a cup or two of dry white wine, stir,
and turn down the heat to just simmering. As the rice cooks
and the liquid level drops, add boiling stock (I used
vegetable) one cup at a time, stirring frequently. You don't
want the liquid level to drop below the level of the rice, but
it should not be more than a quarter inch above it either.
You'll need about four times the liquid as you have rice (e.g.
1 cup rice, 4 cups stock).

While it's cooking, cook some rappini -- also known as broccoli
rabe, broccoli raab, or broccoli greens. You'll need about a
pound (one bunch?) for two cups of rice. First rinse it really
well. Trim the very ends off the stems and chop the leaves and
stems into 1 inch pieces, but don't be a stickler -- just chop
up the whole pile at once. Steam, boil, or saute it for about
5-10 minutes.

When the risotto is done it should be nice and creamy. Add
about a half cup of Parmesan, some butter or margarine if you
like (4 tablespoons or less), and the cooked rappini and stir
it all up. Serve it immediately, while it's still creamy. If
you can't find rappini, your favorite greens will do --
mustard, collard, whatever. I like the rappini because the
bitterness works well with the Parmesan and the wine. (Wait
until I give you the recipe for my rappini and sun dried tomato
pasta. The two are delicious together.)

Tomorrow is big-pot-of-chili-ballot-proposition-night.

Bruce