Cooking Class: Stir up comfort

Risotto may sound difficult, but the results are worth the (small) effort.

By NERIA BARR
April 7, 2015 11:23
Asian risotto

Asian risotto. (photo credit: SHAY NIEBOURG)

 
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Every season is perfect for risotto – a dish of comforting creamy rice that you can play with, adding many different ingredients – but now when it is not cold enough for a heavy stew but still chilly enough in the evenings to make you desire a warm dish, the creamy comfort is perfect. For a terrific meal, simply serve the risotto with a green salad and dream up your next risotto flavors.

Risotto may sound difficult, but once you master the technique of adding liquid gradually and stirring and learn to remove it from the heat at the correct time – when it is still creamy but not too wet, and when the rice is cooked but still al dente – you’ll be able to create your own variations.

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Think of risotto as creamy rice that requires just a little TLC during the cooking. Thankfully, the classic shortgrain, starchy rice called arborio has become readily available at most supermarkets and delicatessens in Israel.

Aged cheese commonly gets added to risotto near the end of the cooking.

Imported Parmigiano Reggiano may be classic, but you can substitute other tangy hard cheeses.

We asked talented young chef Haviv Moshe of the Al Hamayim restaurant in Herzliya to give us a few of his favorite risotto recipes. Al Hamayim has been part of the Herzliya beachfront for the last 27 years. Moshe joined the establishment last year and, together with the owners, revised the menu, adding gourmet dishes based on seasonal produce.

BURNT BUTTER AND PORCINI MUSHROOM RISOTTO
Serves 4
✔ 2 cups Arborio rice for risotto
✔ 1 onion, chopped
✔ 1 leek, washed and thinly sliced
✔ 5 porcini mushrooms, soaked in 1 Tbsp. vegetable broth and chopped
✔ 2 sprigs thyme, leaves only
✔ 1 cup white wine
✔ 1 liter vegetable broth
✔ Handful roasted hazelnuts
✔ Pinch salt
✔ 1 Tbsp. butter
✔ 1 cup grated Parmesan

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In a pot over medium heat, melt butter, add the onions and leeks and sauté until transparent. Add the rice and cook for 1 minute until all the rice is coated with butter. Add the wine and cook, while stirring, until most of the liquid has been absorbed.

Add ½ the broth, mix and cook, stirring until all the liquid is absorbed into the rice. Add the rest of the broth and stir. Add the soaked chopped mushrooms, salt, thyme, hazelnuts and butter and cook covered until all the liquid is absorbed and the risotto is cooked but still has an al dente center. Taste and add salt if needed.

Add Parmesan when risotto is done; gently fold it in and serve hot.

RED WINE RISOTTO WITH GOAT CHEESE
Serves 4
✔ 2 cups Arborio rice for risotto
✔ 1 bottle good dry red wine
✔ 1 onion, chopped
✔ 1 leek, washed and thinly sliced
✔ 100 gr. butter
✔ Handful walnuts (optional)
✔ Pinch salt
✔ 1 cup grated Parmesan
✔ 4 slices goat cheese

In a wide pot, heat ½ the butter, add leek and onion and sauté until transparent, about 2 minutes. Add the rice and salt, stir and cook for 5 minutes.

Add ⅓ of the wine while stirring and cook until all the liquid is absorbed.

Continue with another ⅓ of the wine and cook, stirring until it is absorbed.

Add the rest of the wine, butter and nuts, adjust seasoning and cook until done.

If all the liquid is absorbed but the rice is not ready, add ¼ to ½ cup water and continue cooking and stirring until absorbed.

Add the Parmesan. Stir mix and serve hot with a slice of goat cheese on top of each serving.

NORTH AFRICAN RISOTTO
Serves 4
2 cups Arborio rice for risotto
✔ 1 onion, chopped
✔ 1 leek, thinly sliced
✔ 2 Tbsp. olive oil
✔ 1 cup Parmesan cheese
✔ ½ liter vegetable broth
✔ Pinch salt

For the hreime sauce:
✔3 red peppers, sliced
✔ 6 cloves garlic, sliced
✔ ½ hot pepper
✔ Bunch cilantro, chopped
✔ 2 Tbsp. olive oil
✔ 1 Tbsp. paprika
✔ 2 Tbsp. tomato puree
✔ 1½ cups water

To prepare the sauce: In a wide pot, heat olive oil and sear peppers. Add garlic and sauté until browned. Add paprika, cilantro and tomato paste and cook briefly. Add water and cook for 30 minutes over low heat. Remove from heat.

Using a hand blender, puree the sauce.

To prepare the risotto: Sauté onion and leek in olive oil for 2 minutes until transparent.

Add rice and cook for 5 minutes until coated with oil and heated throughout. Add the broth ½ cup at a time while stirring until liquid is absorbed. Add the sauce and cook, stirring until almost all the liquid is absorbed and rice is done. Stir in the Parmesan cheese and serve hot.

ASIAN RISOTTO
Serves 4
✔ 2 cups Arborio rice for risotto
✔ 1 onion, chopped
✔ 1 leek, thinly sliced
✔ 1 cup white wine
✔ ½ liter vegetable broth
✔ 2 Tbsp. olive oil
✔ 1 Tbsp. butter
✔ 1 cup grated Parmesan

Asian cooking liquid:
✔ 5 portobello mushrooms, cubed
✔ 2 cloves garlic, sliced
✔ 2 Tbsp. olive oil
✔ ¼ cup soy sauce
✔ 4 Tbsp. yuzo or lemon juice
✔ ¼ cup silan
✔ Handful fresh ginger, grated
✔ Handful green onions, chopped

Sauté the garlic and the portobello mushrooms in a little olive oil. Remove from heat and add the rest of the liquid ingredients and set aside.

To prepare the risotto: In a wide pot, heat the olive oil, add the onion and leek and sauté until transparent, about 2 minutes. Add the rice and cook for 5 minutes while stirring.

Add the white wine and cook, stirring until all liquid is absorbed. Add the broth ½ a cup at a time and cook, stirring constantly until all the liquid is absorbed.

Add the butter and the Asian liquid and cook, stirring until absorbed. Add the Parmesan and serve.

CITRUS AND GINGER RISOTTO
Serves 4
✔ 2 cups Arborio rice for risotto
✔ 1 onion, chopped
✔ 1 leek, thinly sliced
✔ ½ liter vegetable broth
✔ 2 Tbsp. olive oil
✔ 1 cup grated Parmesan

For the citrus and ginger sauce:
✔ 3 medium carrots, peeled and cubed
✔ 1 onion, chopped
✔ 1 Tbsp. fresh ginger, grated
✔ 1 cup orange juice
✔ ½ cup cream
✔ 1 Tbsp. butter

To prepare the ginger sauce: Heat a pan, add butter and sauté onion until golden. Add the rest of the ingredients and cook 30 minutes.

Using a hand blender, puree the sauce until smooth. Set aside.

In a wide pot, heat olive oil, add onion and leek and sauté until transparent. Add the rice and cook for 5 minutes while stirring.

Add the broth 1 cup at a time and stir until absorbed. Add the carrot sauce and cook, stirring until almost all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is cooked al dente. Stir in the Parmesan and serve.

Recipes and photos courtesy of Al Hamayim and chef Haviv Moshe. Al Hamayim, Sharon Beach, Herzliya, 057-944-3332.

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