White: Dutch oven brisket

OK, let's talk about the blizzard of 2013. Shall we compare it to the blizzard of '78. I can't, since I wasn't here then. But we could talk about the blizzard of 2011, but why bother?

Three weeks ago, I was certainly prepared. As much propane in the tank for the generator as there was for Superstorm Sandy. And since I had been planning to visit my brother in Pittsburgh, I had cooked enough food for him and his wife, their daughter and her husband and their two children.

Who would eat what? Who knows? My sister-in-law is vegan but, says my brother, when they go out she eats everything. She said she has never cooked meat or dairy in her kitchen but I told her not to worry, I would do the cooking. My niece married an Orthodox Jew, but who knows, maybe he eats traif (non-kosher food) in other kitchens or in restaurants.

I made eggplant parm which is vegan but not made in a kosher kitchen. I made Bolognese, which is neither vegan nor kosher. Chicken soup (neither). Lemon cake (neither). Adapted Weight Watchers soup (sort of vegan but made with chicken stock but not kosher). Obviously they have their own food and my brother, who is neither vegan nor kosher, would enjoy my food.

But I never made it to Pittsburgh - flights Saturday and Sunday were canceled. Now I am flying March 1. All the food I made is frozen and ready to go, although I ate one of the eggplant parms when I was snowed in.

This weekend I am making brisket and risotto because Karen and Sue will come for dinner and neither is vegan nor kosher, although Sue is lactose intolerant. The little amount of butter in the risotto will not bother her, nor will the Emergency Chocolate Cake I will make, too.

LEE WHITE HAS BEEN WRITING ABOUT RESTAURANTS AND COOKING SINCE THE LATE 1970S. EMAIL HER AT LEEAWHITE@AOL.COM.

Coca Cola Brisket

Adapted, and with special thanks to Eunice Schaub of Stonington

This is best made the day before you serve it. I now use a large Le Creuset Dutch oven, since you can use it to reduce the liquids on the cooktop.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Line a large roasting pan with enough heavy duty aluminum foil to cover entire roast

1 whole beef brisket, relatively free of fat (can range from 4 to 7 pounds)

1 large (or 2 small) onion, preferably Vidalia or sweet onion, thickly sliced

16 ounces sliced mushrooms

2 envelopes Lipton's Onion Soup mix

1 12-ounce bottle chili sauce

1 12-ounce can Coca Cola (Not diet, you need the sugar)

Place brisket in center of foil. Sprinkle sliced onions and mushrooms on brisket; then shake contents of onion soup mix on top. Pour chili sauce, then Coke on top. Totally tent the brisket with foil.

Place in oven and bake for around four hours.

Remove from oven and place roast on large platter or cutting board and place some aluminum foil to keep moist. If you have used a roasting pan that can be cooked on top of the cooktop, pour juice and veggies into pan and turn heat to medium high to high. (If you cannot put the pan on top of a cooking element, pour juice and veggies into another pan, turn heat to medium-high to high. Cook, uncovered, until reduced, around 10 to 15 minutes. Slice brisket and place syrupy juice over top and serve immediately.

Risotto

Serves 4

Up to 1 quart low-sodium, low-fat chicken stock

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 small onion, finely diced

1½ cup arborio rice

1 cup good white wine

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

truffle oil (optional, but so delicious!)

Pour chicken stock in a pot and let simmer.

In a large skillet, add olive oil and heat. Add onions and sauté until translucent (but not browned). Add rice and sauté for maybe 45 seconds. Add 2 cups of stock, stir, put the lid on top and bring heat to high. In a few minutes (maybe 4 or 5), remove lid and run wooden spoon through the middle. If the stock is gone, add another cup of stock and begin to stir, still at high heat. Continue to add stock until rice no longer will take much more liquid and rice is chewy but not hard. Remove heat and add butter and stir. Add cheese and stir. Add truffle oil to taste. Serve immediately.

Nibbles

A week after the blizzard, I went to Peter and Lee Cove's house for dinner. They had not been in Old Lyme the weekend of the snow, and their driveway had not yet been plowed. They called Al Bond who did the work, so they were able to get into the house and, with my trusty Subaru, I arrived, too. I brought a chocolate cake and a new ice cream flavor from Haagen-Dazs, Coconut Macaroon.

Two days later, Karen and Sue had dinner at my house, after which we watched the UConn-Baylor game (sob). I had made two chocolate cakes, and at my dinner party we had the cake with Haagen-Dazs Banana Split. I usually buy that brand or Ben & Jerry's frozen yogurt, but this time the ice cream was full fat and fully luscious.

Haagen-Dazs

Available at most supermarkets in the frozen food section.

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