An Invincible Summer

“Au milieu de l’hiver, j’apprenais enfin qu’il y avait en moi un été invincible.”
– Albert Camus, Noces L’Eté

In the midst of winter, I finally understood that there’s an invincible summer inside me.

Lemon Risotto Smoke Paprika CalamariOh wow. Who ever coined the recipe of Lemon Risotto, I’m forever indebted. This is ridiculously fresh and refreshing. Fresh because this is a nice change from the usual mushroom risotto. It’s not scary, unlike my beetroot risotto. And it’s refreshing because the flavor of the lemon just screams summer!!

The risotto is also good enough to eat on its own, as a meatless meal but because this is lunch, and lunch is our primary source of meat protein, I paired this with grilled calamari marinated with smoke paprika.

Lemon Risotto Smoke Paprika Calamari 2
I couldn’t eat them fast enough.

(adapted from The Cafe, Sucre, Farine)
serve 2-3

About 4 cups vegetable stock
2 tbsp butter
1 medium onion, diced
Slightly over than 1 C arborio rice
a glass of white wine
zest of half lemon
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 C frozen peas
1/2 C Parmigiano Reggiano

  • Bring vegetable stock to simmer in large saucepan over medium heat. Reduce heat to low; cover to keep warm.
  • Melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until tender, about 4-5 minutes.
  • Add rice & stir to let it covered by the butter. Add wine & stir until evaporated.
  • Ladle the stock in (the first one about two ladles of stock). Let it simmer until absorbed, stirring occasionally. Add remaining stock one ladle at a time, allowing the liquid to be absorbed before adding more.
  • When the rice is about to be cooked (it still tastes a bit hard, but most part is soft), add in the frozen peas at the same time as the stock. Let it simmer until most stock has been absorbed.
  • Stir in the cheese, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Season risotto, if needed, with salt and pepper and serve immediately.


The original recipe of this calamari adds lemon onto the marinade. And they taste wonderful. But since I’m pairing it with already lemony risotto, I omitted the lemon this time round.

(adapted from Food52)
serve 2

6 baby calamari (or 2-3 per person), tube and tentacles cleaned
1 pinch cumin seeds
1/2 tsp smoke paprika
1 garlic clove
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
About 1/4 C olive oil
1/4 tsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp lemon juice

  • With a mortar and pestle, pound the garlic and cumin seeds until they turn pasty. Add in the smoke paprika, salt, black pepper and olive oil. Whisk until they turn a consistent paste.
  • Transfer about 1 tbsp paste into a second bowl. Add the lemon zest and juice into it, mix and set aside.
  • Pour the non lemon paste into a ziplock bag and marinate the calamaris for at least 30 mins.
  • Heat up the grill with a little butter and grill the calamaris for 2-3 mins on each side.
  • Transfer the cooked calamaris onto a serving plate and sprinkle with lemony paprika paste. Serve immediately.

Note: Add a pinch of chili powder to up the spiciness a notch.



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