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Scratch DC’s Tilapia & Parmesan Risotto

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It’s common knowledge that women tell white lies to men. C’mon, ladies, let’s be honest for a moment.

We lie about how much we weigh (yes, underestimating by a pound or two still counts). We lie about how much we spent shopping—or rather, how much our handbags or haircuts actually cost. We will also occasionally make slight exaggerations to boost a man’s ego or show him some support.

As a sane and, I believe, good person, I fully believe everyone should operate on principles of loyalty, respect, trust, and honesty in all relationships—romantic, friendly, professional, or otherwise. But, I go a bit gray when it comes to harmless white lies that boost confidence, increase happiness, or prevent my future husband from checking the balance on my Bloomingdale’s card.

The funny thing is, I have an utter lack of skill in the dishonesty department, and I’ll allow you to decide whether that’s unfortunate or fortunate for me.  I will attempt to tell a lie; and most often my eyes, or dimples, give it away instantly. Or, if it actually passes, I cave and confess within 48 hours. Let’s talk about my latest attempt.

My new boyfriend is wonderful in every way. Thus, I decided I would cook him dinner. Only, I can’t cook.  But I can use the Internet with great skill!

So, I ordered from ScratchDC, a company that hand-delivers  pre-prepared ingredients for dinner for two to your door.

ScratchDC picks local, organic, seasonal ingredients, and delivers a recipe and a box full of ingredients, parceled out in the exact amount required for the recipe in itty bitty plastic containers. They include everything, even the appropriate amount of salt and pepper. The containers are marked with things like stars and smiley faces in case you can’t tell the difference between canola oil and egg wash (I couldn’t). It’s both idiot- and Bitch-proof. And, for the record, the containers are recyclable.

Scratch delivers dinner Monday through Friday and puts its menu up online a week in advance, allowing you to plan and order in advance. I selected the hazelnut encrusted Tilapia with a Parmesan spinach risotto.

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While this meal only takes 30 minutes, I allotted myself two-and-a-half hours to: (1) make dessert, (2) make myself presentable, (3) make sure the Thai delivery guy would have enough time to get here in case I botched everything up.

At 5:30 p.m., I was home at my apartment when the nice chap from ScratchDC delivered a brown paper package, tied up with strings, to my door.

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I put it in the fridge, and baked my signature cheesecake (recipe forthcoming). Put the cheesecake out to cool.  Set the table, lit the candles. Poured the water and ice into cups. Opened and poured the wine.

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Then, I unpacked the box to find everything prim, proper, and organized—my kind of operation. I read the instructions thoroughly. I followed them explicitly—I even paused to take a shower and put on lipstick while the risotto simmered.

I recycled all evidence of Scratch containers, and took out the recycling to ensure no chance of discovery.

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My boyfriend walked in the door as I was calmly, casually plating the meal.

“Wow, that looks great,” he said, before so much as a hello. “Oh, this?” I replied, “This is easy.”

Throughout the meal, my gentleman repeatedly expressed how wonderful this meal was through happy, full bites.  The evening closed with him explicitly stating, “Wow, I’m really impressed.”

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I, my friends, am a goddess in the kitchen. Sort of. <Insert wink and my lie-giveaway dimple here>

ScratchDC delivers Monday through Friday and you can check out the menu online. Here’s the instructions as they have ‘em. The tilapia is a Scratch staple. Tell him you cooked it—you just don’t have to tell him how.

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Hazelnut Crusted Tilapia w/ Lemon Basil Butter & Spinach Parmesan Risotto

You’ll need: range/burner, one medium pot, one medium pan, large pot, large pan, appetites

You’ll be eating: in about 30 minutes

Please read recipe in full so there are no surprises!

1. Hi there, we’re scratchDC and holy moly are you in for a treat – we could not be more excited to be creating such beautiful flavors with such lovely company – its a slightly complicated cook, but we’ve got faith in ya – lets get cookin!

2. Let’s get the party started by pulling out your medium pot. Fill her with THREE cups of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add your little container of bouillon (marked w/ star) and mix until it dissolves. Reduce heat to low. You just made stock!

3. While that‘s getting heated, pour your panko – hazelnut mixture onto a plate. Then unwrap your beautiful tilapia filets & sprinkle em with a bit of s&p. Time to get messy. Use your hands to coat each filet with the egg wash (marked w/ “E”). Once coated, dredge the filets in the panko – hazel mix, coating both sides completely. Let the tilapia chill on that plate while you wash your hands.

4. Now pull out your other, larger pot and place over medium heat (5-6). Add your container of butter (WITHOUT garlic). Let this melt, then add your container of onion and garlic. Simmer this for 3-5 mins

5. To your onion pot, now add your container of arborio rice. Stir to coat with the butter and cook for about 2 min then add your little container of white wine, (marked w/ a smiley) and simmer until almost absorbed 2-4 min).

6. Now we’re going to ladel a bit of the hot stock into the rice. Ladel about 1/2 cup or just enough to cover the rice. Stir as it absorbs and repeat until risotto is a soft as your eyes are heavenly… or until you run out of stock! This should take 12-20 min.

7. While that absorbs pull out your medium pan and place over medium low heat. Add your container of butter (packed w/ garlic) and saute for about 3 mins

8. While that cooks, pull out your large pan and place over medium high heat (7-8). Add your little container of canola oil (marked w/ C) and let heat.

9. Back to your butter & garlic pan. Add the container of lemon juice, sherry & chicken stock (marked w/ “L”). Bring to a simmer and cook for 2-4 mins or until reduced by about 1/2.

10. Remember to keep stirring and adding liquid to your risotto!

11. Whisk your container of cream (packed w/ lemon zest) into your sauce and simmer for 3 min then turn heat to low, roughly chop and add your basil.

12. Now back to your large pan w/ canola. Throw your tilapia on there and cook for 2-4 mins. Flip carefully and cook another 2-4 or until cooked through and nice and flaky then remove from heat.

13. When risotto is cooked, remove from heat and add your container of spinach and your container of parmesan (mixed w/ some s&p) and mix well.

14. Salt and pepper to taste, plate risotto, plate tilapia and drown in sauce, snap a few sweet pics and tag w/ #scratchDC, then…

15. DIG IN! Savor every miraculous flavor, devour every morsel and we’ll see ya again soon!

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