Sunday, October 01, 2006

Risotto Bianco - with pesto

Two cuisines inspire me the most, Italian and Japanese. I have been leafing through the latest Delicious trying to work out how to track down Edamame and Wakame and at the same time, checking out Jamie Oliver's Italy and became mesmerised by his white risotto.

So due to the fact we are sans children this weekend (and week in fact), I decided to make this risotto but what also compelled me to cook it was the fact that I was making pesto anyway.

I have nearly always considered risotto part of my winter/autumn repertoire but with the addition of the pesto I started to consider the possibilities, a tiny course of white risotto and pesto before some grilled quail perhaps and then a pork dish. I am considering a menu consisting number of small dishes because of the dinner we had on Friday night.

A good friend of P's invited us over to meet his new partner and she also loves to cook so they were keen to try out a number of dishes on us. We started with some olives, cheese etc. The first course was a very small bowl of pumpkin soup. They asked us what we thought the secret ingredient was, I thought wasabi as I could taste mustard flavours in fact it was tomato. Who'd have thunk it!

They then served us some ravioli which they had made and filled with spinach and ricotta and made a lovely tomato sauce, parmesan and basil all really lovely light flavours.

Then there was some lemon sorbet. And finally a whole spatchcock and sweet potato salad. Finally there was a toblerone mousse - really we were very spoiled I think and I must say they are excellent cooks! I look forward to returning the favour which got me to thinking about this risotto as one of my courses.

My pesto is usually made in a mortar and pestle. A handful of toasted pinenuts, one clove of garlic a good handful of grated parmesan and three handfulls of basil leaves. Give it all a good bash and pour in some extra virgin olive oil and keep bashing it till you get it to the consistency you like your pestos (I am assuming that there are no pesto virgins out there!) but I don't like my pesto too coarse and dry as you can see.

Jamie's recipe called for onion, garlic and celery and white wine and warmed stock. I used half an onion, no celery (would have used it if I had it) , 2 cloves of garlic and about 1 litre of stock, a big splash of white wine and about 1 cup of aborio rice.

Heat the stock in a saucepan and keep it gently simmering.

Finely dice the onion and smash your garlic. Then in my saute saucepan I heated up a big splash of extra virgin and a knob of butter and when that was nice and bubbly I added the onion and garlic and sauteed on a moderate heat till transparent. Then add the rice and stir for a few minutes till the rice is coated with the butter/oil and looks nice and glossy next add the white wine.

When the wine has cooked out of the rice, add the first ladle of stock and a good pinch of salt. Keep the heat on simmer. Keep adding the stock ladle by ladle, but making sure in between each ladle you are constantly turning the rice and incorporating each ladle of stock prior to adding the next one.

I tend to find that this process takes up to 20 minutes. After 15 minutes, taste the rice, add more salt if necessary and if the rice is still not cooked keep adding the stock and turning the rice. The mixture will become creamier and creamier. The rice is cooked when it is mostly soft and only a subtle bite is left in the middle. Have a boiled kettle handy if the rice isn't cooked by the time you run out of stock and add some hot water.

Remove from heat and add a knob of butter and a good handful of grated Parmesan. Put on the lid and let sit for 2 minutes. Mine didn't look as oozy as Jamies. I can only think the way for me to get it like his is once it is cooked, add one last ladle full of stock/water and then mix it through gently and take it immediately off the heat so as not to incorporate or evaporate the stock into rice as I had been previously doing till this point.

Hmmm think I will give that method a whirl next time.

Serve it immediately, with a big dollop of pesto, some extra pinenuts and fresh basil scattered on top and a few dashes of extra v.

Yes I know overdid it on the number photographs but I am feeling very indecisive today!


Anna said...

Wakame is available at Mrs Flannery's or any Asian shop with Japanese supplies. I've seen edamame at Yuen's at Sunnybank and I'm pretty sure at least one local Asian shop also has it at least sometimes. I'm in Logan.

Lushlife said...

Thanks for the information Anna

I have to find the time to get an Asian shop - there is one in Cannon Hill which is a bit of a drive from me or its the Valley which is a bit of an effort due to parking.

I have been to Mrs F's so I will give that a whirl for the Wakame.

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Mother of two with one of each. Wife of one.Dogless. Busy working five days a week, baking and cooking when time allows. Writing rarely these days. Wishing I had time to read more often.