I’m back! I know, I am guilty of neglecting my blog for two months now. It’s not that I didn’t make anything delicious and photograph worthy in those two months….trust me..I did! I found it difficult to balance my new work life and fasting ( which is now over!) during the optimum daylight hours for taking photographs of all the beautiful food that I have made and eaten.
I went to the Neighbourgoods Market today in Braamfontein – a block away from my office. I found the most exotic, fresh, (expensive) mushrooms. I couldn’t resist and decided that the close of winter calls for a creamy mushroom risotto!
to serve 6:
1 cup of chopped celery
6-7 baby fennel bulbs
3tsp crushed green chilli
4 tbsp butter
150g mixed mushrooms ( I used Shitake, Porcini a must, Pink Oyster, Shimeji, White, and an abnormally large mushroom that I can’t remember the name of)
3 cups Arborio rice
1 cup Monis white grape juice
1/3 cup Parmesan
1/3 cup fresh cream
Most people will find it odd, maybe offensive, that I haven’t included vegetable stock in the recipe as most risotto dishes would.
The problem is:
1) They all have onion and garlic in them
2) It tastes like crap.
3) Its an excuse for not flavouring something in an original way and relying on the yucky flavour of stock to make up for it.
Please keep in mind that it is best to use a shallow dish when preparing any risotto in order to maintain even cooking, a generous distribution of flavours, and less mushing!
Keep Calm and Cook:
Soak the Porcini mushrooms in 1.5 cups of warm water for 20minutes.
Remove and strain once the mushrooms are hydrated. Do NOT throw the liquid away!
Gently heat 1tbsp of butter. Fry the chilli, and a tsp of cracked black pepper.Saute the celery and baby fennel until slightly translucent.
Add the remaining liquid of the Porcini mushrooms to a saucepan of 1.5 cups of warm water, and keep aside on low heat.
My favourite part:
Julia Child had a very good reason. “Never crowd the mushrooms”, unless you want mushy mushroom stew.
Add the mushrooms one handful at a time. I tend to saute the tougher/more dense mushrooms first as they usually need slightly more cooking time. Carefully saute all the mushrooms. Add another tbsp of butter to assist in bringing out all of the nutty, earthy flavours of the different mushrooms.
Once the mushrooms are cooked, add the Arborio rice and saute until a translucent coat is formed around each grain.
Add the grape juice and simmer for 5 minutes.
Add a ladle of the Porcini liquid to the risotto, and gentle stir. As the liquid gets absorbed by the Arborio rice, gradually add the remaining water over 15minutes, whilst gently stirring in between.
Once the risotto is cooked – (I prefer mine slightly more cooked than al dente), stir in the cream and Parmesan.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Allow to sit for 10 mintues.
Serve with an extra dash of cream or Parmesan!