We love musical theatre. We started going when we were just kids with our respective parents, all of whom loved a good Broadway show. From my earliest memories, getting dressed in our best clothes and going to the theatre has been a huge pleasure. I've seen wonderful productions on stage - The Pajama Game to Damn Yankees to South Pacific to My Fair Lady to A Chorus Line to The Phantom of the Opera to Mamma Mia - and always look forward to the next. This time, it was Billy Elliott.
Cousin Jan suggested that we all go and she did the legwork months ago to score excellent tickets. This past weekend, five of us piled into our little station wagon and headed for the city.
It was all wonderful - the dancing teacher played to a faretheewell by Faith Prince, a veteran actress who knows how to put it across; the violence of the confrontations between police and strikers rendered into music - marvelous! And, for unforgettable musical theatre moments, the scene of young, skinny Billy dancing side by side with his potential self, fully developed to pure male power and beauty, will stay with me all my life. Thrilled me literally to tears.
Lovely fantasies for the ride home - but real life always intrudes. We were hungry. On my way out the door, I had thrown a big handful of dried mushrooms (shiitake, woodear, porcini, bolete, oyster) into a bowl of water, thinking I'd make something to go with a nice steak afterwards. Unfortunately, I forgot to thaw the steak. A quick search of fridge bins and pantry revealed the makings for a sort of risotto/pilaf kind of thing, and not much else. It was far more than the coal miners' families in the show had, they often went hungry during the strike.
While the chicken broth was coming up to temperature on a medium burner, I sautéed in a knob of butter a chopped onion and rice until the grains turned opaque, then squeezed in about two lemons worth of juice, Added about one third of the chicken broth and coarsely chopped the reconstituted mushrooms, plus three fresh ones, and added them to the pot to simmer, stirring in the other two thirds of the broth in dollops as the rice absorbed them. I hummed a little of "We were born to boogie!" as a goodly hill of grated ParmReg went in and I put the cheese block and a grater on the table for easy additions of more cheese. At the very end, I added broccoli florets, green onions and a couple of ladles full of the now richly brown water in which the mushrooms had soaked all day.
Because I used half white rice and half brown, the brown was still a little chewy at serving time but I actually liked that textural difference. The rich mushroom flavor was leavened by the lemon juice and the very slightly bitter crunch of the broccoli. And who doesn't love ParmReg? It all made for a marvelous matinée and a dance to dinner.