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March 26, 2014

Risotto

Risotto is an Italian rice dish cooked with stock to a creamy consistency. The stock to use depends on the risotto you cook - it can be meat-, fish- or vegetable-based. In every risotto you will need butter, onions and wine. Then you add different ingredients. For a risotto al porcini, you add porcini mushrooms and for a risotto al tartuffo you add truffle (at the end). The classic risotto alla Milanese contains saffron.

A risotto in Italy is a primo piatto (first course) followed by a main course, therefor calculate just 70 - max. 90 gram rice per person if you plan to serve more food. Please note, that you will need to buy a special kind of risotto rice (like "Carnaroli").


photos via pinterest


risotto (ricetta di base)


Ingredients for 4 persons:

300 gr     rice (riso) Arborio, Carnaroli or Vialone Nano
1 l           vegetable stock (brodo)
200 ml    white wine (vino bianco secco)
50 gr       butter (burro)
1 small   onion (cipolla)
50 gr       Parmesan cheese, grated (parmigiano)
               salt (sale)
               olive oil (olio d'olivo extra vergine)

               optional:
               garlic, celery (aglio, sedano), and other ingredients for risotto varieties*



phase 1

Heat the stock until boiling.
In a separate pan, heat the olive oil and half of the butter at low temperature, add the onions, (garlic and celery), and glaze slowly for a couple of minutes without colouring. When onions have softened, add the rice and turn up the heat a little bit.

phase 2

The rice will now begin to lightly fry, so keep stirring - with a wooden spoon - for about one minute only, when the pan seems dry and the rice look slightly translucent, add the wine and keep stirring until the wine is absorbed. The alcohol evaporates and leaves the rice with a tasty essence.

phase 3

Add your first ladle of hot stock and a good pinch of salt. Lower the heat to simmer, so the rice doesn't cook too quickly on the outside. Keep adding stock, stirring and almost massaging the creamy starch out of the rice, allowing each ladle of stock to be absorbed before adding the next. - (It is about here to add special ingredients for other varieties of risotto*!) - The whole cooking procedure will take around 15-18 minutes. Taste the rice - is it cooked? Carry on adding stock until the rice is soft but "al dente"with a slight bite. Don't forget to check the seasoning carefully. If you run out of stock before the rice is cooked, add some boiling water.

phase 4

Remove from the heat and add the rest of the butter and Parmesan. Stir well. Place a lid on the pan and allow to sit for 2 minutes. This is the most important part of making the perfect risotto, as this is when it becomes more creamy like it should be.

Eat it as soon as possible, while the risotto retains its beautiful texture. Offer at the table more grated Parmesan and black ground pepper.



Sounds easy?  More tips for you to make it a success :

Although risotto is categorised as "soup" in Italy, the consistency should be not too liquid, but creamy. If you shake the pot/pan or plate, the risotto should make a "onda", wave.

The "Arborio" rice is very commonly used, but be careful, it can overcook easily. The "Carnaroli" seems is more robust, and its price is a bit higher. In risotto that has only fine ingredents, like "alla Milanese" or in risotto typical from the Veneto the "Vialone Nano" rice is preferred.

For making risotto you need stock, not broth. See the difference here on Wikipedia.

Make sure the stock is salted enough to add taste to the risotto.

The stock you add should be boiling as otherwise it would stop the cooking process.

If you run out of stock before the rice is cooked, use boiling water.

Vegetable stock is great for all sorts of risotto. Instead of making your own stock, you can buy an instant "dado", cube from the supermarket.

In general, dry white wine is used for risotto. Red wine is used in Piedmont or for risotto with radicchio di Treviso.

Add wine up to your taste. The alcohol evaporates anyway, so no problem for kids or water drinkers.

If you add a lot and/or heavy ingredients to the risotto, like prawns or peas, then a smaller quantity of rice per person might apply, especially when you serve it as a starter. Calculate roughly 70gr rice per person when risotto is a starter, and 100 gr per (hungry) person for a main course only.

In case you have some risotto left, there are more recipes, like frittate di riso, for the next day.


App. proportion of rice and liquid (depending on the rice quality) :

RICE           WINE                                         STOCK              PERSONS
100 gr           1/4 - 1/2 (50-100ml)                    300 ml                1 pax (hungry, main course)
180 gr           1/2 glass (100 ml)                        550 ml                2 pax, 90 gr/pax
250 gr           1/2  glass                                      750 ml                3 pax, 83 gr/pax
300 gr           1/2 - 1 glass (100-200ml)           900 ml /1.0 l       4 pax, 75 gr/pax
350 gr           1/2 - 1 glass of wine                   1.0 liter                4 pax, 88 gr/pax
400 gr        1 1/2 - 2 glass of wine                   1.2 liter                5 pax, 80 gr/pax  or
                                                                                                     6 pax, 66 gr/pax  (primo piatto)
                                                                                                    


* Varieties of Risotto:
add mushrooms, dried or fresh (funghi, porcini), asparagus (asparagi), peas (piselli), broccoli, prawns (gamberi), saffron (zafferano, 30 gr for 300 gr rice), or radicchio salad after adding the wine, about five minutes after adding stock, depending of the consistency of the ingredients. Truffle, Parmesan, parsley, for example, are added at the very end.


Vegetable Stock homemade :
  • heat olive oil, add veggies, cook for 5-10 minutes
  • add salt and water (a bit more than the quantity of stock you need), lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes
  • discard vegetables
  • veggies and herbs to use: onion, celery, carrots, potatoes, garlic, parsley, thyme, sage (salvia);

If you want to read more about risotto and Italian language is okay for you, then check out this website: www.risotto.it


    Buon Apetito !

    December 29, 2013

    Between the Years

                                                                                                   Bangkok, December 2013
     
    The time between 26th and 31st December we call the time "between the years". These few days were always very special to me. It is actually when I enjoy Christmas the most, although it is basically over. The spirit is still there but without the "stress". These are relaxing days before the big countdown for a whole new year. I used to reflect the old year, month by month. There was time to read, time to write, and time to play.  
     
     
    Now, my little family lives in Asia where shops are open 12+ hours every single day of the year. There is no real difference between workdays and holidays. Time never stands still. And there is not even much change between seasons. Although this year, we are enjoying some chilly days! The Holidays in Southeast Asia are so much nicer when temperatures drop below 25 degrees!
     
    Before the time between the years, I cooked dinner for Christmas Eve and lunch for Christmas Day. We are having my husband's parents visiting from Italy, and friends joined on Christmas Day. It is nice to have the house decorated, to cook special dishes, to bake cookies, to built a gingerbread house, to wrap gifts, to light candles, to sip Champagne and to have the house filled with lovely people (accompanied by a fresh "winter" breeze)! 
     
    We also had scheduled an operation for our son to happen during the holidays in order to have lots of time for him to recover before school starts again in January. Due to a little flu (that he caught on the last day of school during swimming lesson - I told you it is chilly outside!) the op was re-scheduled to Boxing Day (26th). Don't worry, all went OK and he is out today. The days and evenings in hospital were quiet (most of the time) - like the days between the years should be - when time seems to stand still. 
      
    So I found myself with a book (Proust), a magazine (Elle Decor) and an ipad on the visitor's sofa. When the Internet was working, I visited all the pretty blogs on my blogroll. Some design bloggers had posted the most beautiful Christmas decoration of their homes, mantels and dining tables. But I have not seen any decorated chandelier. That's why I thought I can post something new: my Christmas ornaments up in the air (photo above). For me it is still Christmas (at least until 6th January). Some people even celebrate Christmas in January. And here in Bangkok the decoration will be out even longer.
     
     
    When we came home today - like it should be between the years - I started to study the manual of my Christmas gift. I got a new camera! I was looking for a more handy camera for my purse (I cannot always carry my EOS around). But I had done little research so far. And since we went on a nice holiday in October, we said that's our Christmas gift. Therefore, I was quiet surprised when I opened a present for me, and saw, my husband had made a decision (fast as always). With this camera, he said, we can "share" lenses... Now, don't want to think about what that means. I just tried the new toy as soon as the battery was charged. - And I love it!! - It is what I need: self-explaining, easy to handle, from full auto to full manual. Light, compact and surprising quality. If I would have known that my first test shots turn out so well, I would have done better staging (photo above)!
     
    Although the next photo (below) does not look that appealing ...
     
     
    ... dinner time was up, and the first occasion to prepare a risotto al tartufo! Angelo had gotten us a white truffle from Piedmont (photo above) which was seducing me with it's amazing smell whenever I opened the fridge these days. (I will post the recipe later.)
     
    We are still in-between the years. And maybe it is time for some New Year Resolutions. I have not done this in a long time. As I really enjoy "the time between the years", I should try to find some "in-between time" to embrace on other occasions. Some people do meditation, or yoga. Every night, bedtime can be a quiet time in between the days - to reflect what has been and what might come. Something that I used to do, but simply forgot. Since my son and I enjoy some quiet time at bedtime, reading and talking, already, I want to start to include reflections on the day. For him to learn, for me to remember. 
     
     
     Wishing you all a peaceful time between the Years!
     
    ***
     
     

    December 21, 2013

    Season Greetings



     
    Tanti Auguri di Buon Natale e Felice Anno Nuovo!
     
    ***
    We wish you a Merry Christmas
    and all the best for
    a healthy and happy New Year!
     
    ***
     
    Happy Holidays!