Thursday, August 20, 2009

Broke as a Joke Risotto

This Saturday will mark seven months since I was laid off as a line cook. It has been a rather tumultuous journey since January. I graduated from culinary school (yay!), mentally prepared myself to leave all my friends and family to move to Baltimore only to find out Matt was laid off from his job one month before I was to move, my roommate asked me to leave earlier than anticipated (thanks for the two week notice, very thoughtful of you), scrambled around Costa Mesa to find a place that accepts two dogs and two unemployed people (next to IMPOSSIBLE), and then on top of it all, there was an incident involving Hank and Matt's dad's cat. Let's just say Hank emerged victorious and the cat, well, it ended up in a box. The cat incident has estranged us from his parents and any help they would offer us.

The money is running out and because I made diddly squat at as a line cook, I barely make anything from unemployment, just enough to pay my phone bill, car payment and insurance. And you want to know the most disheartening thing is? Matt makes more money from unemployment than I do working 60 hours a week as a line cook.

So it has been an interesting past two months, complete with breakdowns and serious contemplation periods of what to do with my life (graduate school? buckle down and get a corporate job? suck it up and get paid $10/hr to work as an overworked/underpaid line cook at a chain restaurant and never see my friends or family?). All that fun stuff plus beach time, bicycling, trips to the library, quality time with Hank and George and LOTS of cooking.

As you can tell, I don't have a very big grocery budget, so many of the dishes I cook now rely on pantry staples. Risotto is a good budget dinner because you can pretty much throw anything in there: from frozen vegetables to last night's take out dinner, risotto is very versatile. I always have frozen peas and some chicken broth in my pantry so pea risotto was the obvious dinner choice. I also had some goat cheese and some cherry tomatoes leftover from the Beach Blanket Blackout Bingo Birthday Bash so I just threw that in as well. The result was a delicious, healthy dinner for less than $6 for the total meal!

TBC Broke as a Joke Risotto
serves 3

1/2 medium onion, chopped, about 1/3 cup
1 TBSP olive oil or butter
3/4 cup Arborio rice
32 oz. carton of low sodium chicken broth
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 cup frozen peas
3 oz. goat cheese
handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
Parmesan cheese

  1. Place the chicken broth and crushed garlic clove in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Set aside. Meanwhile, add butter or oil to saute pan over medium heat. Wait until it starts to foam and then add the onion. Saute the onion until translucent, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the Arborio rice and saute the rice until translucent, about 2 minutes. Ladle some of the warmed chicken broth into the rice, stirring until liquid has evaporated. Continue adding liquid in stages, constantly stirring. Wait until the liquid has absorbed before adding more. When the rice is creamy and you have used all of the chicken broth, check the seasonings. Add some salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Add the frozen peas and the goat cheese and stir to melt the goat cheese and to heat the peas. Add the halved cherry tomatoes and top with Parmesan cheese.

Please don't forget to vote for Hank and George in the Cutest Dog Contest. We could win a million dollars!


  1. YUM! it bad that I feel really awful that the cat died? :( No cats should have to die because a dog attacked them...does Hank attack other cats as well?

  2. no you should feel bad about the cat. But no dogs should have to die because they attack a cat. And yes Hank will attack other cats. He HATES cats. But I know Jeppe (the dead cat) taunted Hank. I would watch him tease Hank and then run away and hide in a place where he could still taunt Hank but couldn't reach him. Jeppe was just too slow that last time.


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