»
S
I
D
E
B
A
R
«
Risotto (This time with mushrooms and eggplant)
Sep 24th, 2012 by

This is a perfect dish to welcome fall in New England.

This is a perfect dish to welcome fall in New England.

You can add many things to risotto but mushrooms (especially porcini) are my favorite. I made this dish up last night with vegetables I had on hand: crimini mushrooms and eggplant. Feel free to omit the eggplant, it’s just as good.

Making risotto is not hard, but it is an art. The key is adding small amounts of liquid to the rice, only enough for it to be absorbed a minute or two at a time. This ensures the dish will be not only flavorful but will have the correct texture: think al dente (with a little bite); never soggy or water-logged.

And of course, the main thing you do, is stir, baby, stir. (Tip: Be sure to scrape the bottom of the pan while stirring and lower the heat if you think the liquid is evaporating too fast or if there is a danger of the rice burning.)

Ingredients:

  • Arborio rice (1 pound). Accept no substitutes, this is what makes risotto, risotto.
  • Chicken broth (About 44 ounces). You can use home-made stock (the best), or canned broth, or some bullion cubes with water or a mixture of all. You can also use a little white wine. Last night I used a combination of canned broth, chicken bullion cube, and a porcini bullion cube with hot water. Whatever liquid you use, be sure to heat it up before you add it to the rice.
  • Onion (1 small or a 1/2 of a large onion; chopped)
  • Olive oil (About 1/4 cup; enough to cover the bottom of a medium-sized pot; plus more to coat the eggplant and mushrooms.)
  • Mushrooms (About 8 oz.; chopped)
  • Eggplant (1 small or 3/4 of a large eggplant, sliced thin)
  • Nepitella (About 1 tablespoon. A mixture of dried basil and mint will also work).
  • Parmesan cheese (About 1/2 cup, grated; or to taste)
  • Butter (About 1-2 tablespoons)
  • Pepper (Just a sprinkle, to taste)

What I did:

Heat olive oil in a medium-sized pot over low heat. Add diced onion and cook until translucent.

Add rice and stir. Add more olive oil if needed, just enough to coat the rice. Cook for a minute or two, stirring occasionally.

Ladle in the liquid, just enough to cover the rice and stir. When liquid is absorbed, add more liquid, just enough to cover and stir. Continue doing this until risotto is done (about 45 minutes).

In between stirring the risotto, coat a cookie sheet with olive oil and salt (kosher is best). Put down a layer of eggplant and brush tops of eggplant slices with oil and salt. Bake in a 400-degree oven, turning over when bottom is brown. Do the same with the mushrooms. Add nepitella to the cooked mushrooms and set aside.

When risotto is done. Stir in eggplant and mushrooms. Stir in butter and parmesan cheese. Add pepper to taste.

This dish takes about 45 minutes to make if you work fast. Add another 15-minutes to 30 minutes if you work at a leisurely pace.

You can serve this as a main meal (serves four) with a side salad; or as a side dish. And if you’re out to impress, try serving it as a side-dish inside a parmesan basket.

Find more recipes in the Food section.

Chard Stuffed With Risotto and Mozzarella
Aug 6th, 2012 by

Nice is a fun city that does a great job of blending the old and the new.

Nice is a fun city that does a great job of blending the old and the new.

Guests at my house said this was one of their favorites.

Guests at my house said this was one of their favorites.

Here’s a recipe from one of my favorite restaurants: La Zucca Magica, in Nice. It’s an Italian vegetarian restaurant that has gotten much acclaim from guide books and the New York Times.

We didn’t have this dish at the restaurant but I made it when we got home using a recipe posted on the New York Times site. You can either take a look at that written recipe or watch the YouTube video of NYTimes writer Mark Bittman.

There are multiple flavors and textures that work well together in this tasty delicacy. The fresh healthy green of the soft swiss chard leaves; the savory taste of saffron; the bite of the lemon zest; and the sweetness of the Parmesan and fresh mozzarella cheese all make your taste buds dance.

I served this as the third course in a three course meal. Although none of the courses contained meat, the three courses were very filling. The first course was a cantaloupe gazpacho with crispy prosciutto. The second course was a tomato stuffed with pasta salad (I’ll post the recipe for that course next).

Until then, mangia!

Find more recipes in the Food section.

Parmesan Basket With Risotto or Rice
Mar 21st, 2012 by

Make these individual parmesan baskets and you'll impress your guests.

Make these individual parmesan baskets and you'll impress your guests.

This is a very special, yet very simple recipe, I got from my brother-in-law Billy Kelley, who spends several months each year in Florence, Italy. He isn’t a cook. He’s an artist who paints in his studio all day and then goes out to eat in some of that city’s best restaurants.

A few years ago he brought me back a small booklet from Trattoria del Carmine which contained several recipes including this one. They filled the parmesan cheese basket with a yellow squash risotto. Here I stuffed it with a plain risotto made with onions and celery.

You could use a light rice dish too. Just be sensitive not to overpower the crisp tangy taste of the parmesan cup. Be creative. Use your imagination. What else could you fill this with?

Ingredients:

  • Imported parmesan cheese (Don’t skimp here. I once tried using the cheese they sell in a jar at the supermarket and it didn’t work. The cheese would not melt and it made me wonder if it was cheese at all.)
  • Equipment: A nonstick frying pan.

What I did:

Warm up the nonstick frying pan.

Sprinkle a tablespoon or two of the cheese in a circle in the hot pan.

Let the cheese melt until it becomes an intense yellow color.

Detach the sheet of cheese with a spatula and place it flat over a small cup or 2-3-inch ramekin. Poke it down into the cup or ramekin with your index finger to give it a bowl shape.

Once it cools, remove it from the cup or ramekin. Put it on a plate and fill it with risotto or whatever you decide will work.

Find more recipes in the Food section.

»  ©2010 RootsLiving; Substance: WordPress   »  Style: Ahren Ahimsa