A mixing job

Risotto, the Italian rice dish that has become so popular, will test your culinary skills. But if you follow a few basic rules, the outcome is very rewarding.

Risotto (photo credit: Dan Lev)
(photo credit: Dan Lev)
It is a very fashionable dish and your guests will appreciate you serving them risotto, but you will need to spend some time preparing it. Risotto is not your regular rice dish – it needs your constant attention but the result is worth the trouble.
Risotto rules of thumb:
1. Mix, mix, mix.
2. Use aromatic liquids such as vegetable consommé that give flavor to the whole dish – so use the best you can, or better yet prepare the best you can.
3. Be creative with the additions.
4. Use only the round starchy arborio rice that grows in the Po valley in northern Italy.
5. Use butter, olive oil or a combination of both.
6. White wine will lend its aroma to the whole pot.
7. Parmesan cheese will coat the rice and give it the right texture.
8. Cream will give an extra rich taste and compensate for lack of great consommé.
Most important: as long as the dish is cooking never stop mixing! For the grains to cook well but keep their al-dente texture, you must keep mixing. How will you know the risotto is ready? Turn the heat off before you run out of liquids, when the rice is still moist.
Orange vegetables and piquant goat cheese – a winning combination.
Makes 4 to 6 servings
✔ 3 Tbsp. olive oil
✔ 1 purple onion
✔ 11⁄2 cups round risotto rice
✔ 1 cup white wine
✔ 1 liter vegetable consommé (or boiling water)
✔ 100-150 gr. hard goat cheese ground or cut into small cubes For the vegetables:
✔ 25 gr. butter
✔ 2 cloves garlic, minced
✔ 1 large sweet potato cut into 1 cm. cubes
✔ 200 gr. squash cut into 1 cm. cubes
✔ Salt & pepper
Melt butter in a pan and sauté the garlic 1 minute. Add sweet potato and squash and sauté 7 more minutes until the vegetables begin to soften. Season with salt and pepper.
In a deep pan heat oil and sauté onion until it becomes transparent. Add rice and mix until all the grains are coated with oil. Add wine and steam until absorbed in the rice. Begin adding boiling consommé or water into the rice, one ladle at a time, mixing until the liquids are absorbed. Continue until all liquids are finished. The whole process should take about 25 minutes. Turn heat off when rice is still moist. Fold the vegetable mixture into the rice and serve.
Makes 4 to 6 servings
✔ 2 cups risotto rice
✔ 2 Tbsp. olive oil
✔ 1⁄2 cup white wine
✔ 2 cups vegetable consommé or boiling water
✔ 200 gr. walnuts, chopped
✔ 50 gr. pine nuts
✔ 2 sprigs thyme (optional)
✔ 1-2 cloves garlic, sliced
✔ Freshly ground nutmeg
✔ Salt & pepper
✔ 1⁄2 cup cream To serve:
✔ 2 Tbsp. raisins
✔ 2 Tbsp. chopped basil
Heat oil in the cooking pot, add rice and mix until coated with oil. Add wine and cook mixing until absorbed. Add water or vegetable consommé and cook covered for 10 minutes. Meanwhile place nuts, garlic, thyme, cream and seasoning in food processor and process shortly in pulses until crushed but not smooth. Add half of the nut mixture to the rice and continue cooking 10 more minutes, mixing constantly. Add the rest of the nut mixture and continue cooking until rice is done. Cooking time should total about 40 minutes. To serve add basil and raisins and mix.
This is a classic dish with a local twist.
Makes 4-6
✔ 50 gr. butter
✔ 2 onions chopped
✔ 1 basket champignon mushrooms, stems removed
✔ 1 basket Portobello mushrooms, stems removed
✔ 1 bag dried porcini, soaked in water
✔ 3 cloves garlic, chopped
✔ Zest of one lemon
✔ 11⁄2 cups risotto rice
✔ Salt and white pepper
✔ 1⁄2 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
✔ 1 tsp. ground coriander seeds
✔ 1⁄2 cup white wine
✔ 3⁄4 liter vegetable consommé or boiling water
✔ 1⁄2 bunch dill, chopped
✔ 50 gr. ground Parmesan
✔ 250 ml. cream slightly whipped
✔ 40 gr. ground Parmesan for serving
Melt butter in the pot and sauté onions until transparent. (about 5 minutes). Add mushrooms, garlic, lemon zest, rice and seasoning and mix well. Add wine and mix until all the wine is absorbed in the rice. Add boiling consommé or water one ladle at a time, mixing constantly. The process should take about 25 minutes. The rice should be moist. Fold dill, Parmesan cheese and cream into the rice. Correct seasoning. Serve with a little ground Parmesan over each plate.
Many Italian pasta sauces mix nuts and chestnuts. Try this one with other pastas as well, its quick and tasty.
Makes 6 servings
✔ 25 gr. butter
✔ 3 Tbsp. olive oil
✔ 1 large onion chopped
✔ 1 leek, white part only, sliced thinly
✔ 200 gr. peeled chestnuts, chopped coarsely
✔ 100 gr. walnuts, chopped coarsely
✔ 3 cloves garlic, chopped
✔ 11⁄2 cups risotto rice
✔ 1⁄2 cup white wine
✔ Salt and white pepper
✔ 1⁄2 tsp. ground nutmeg
✔ 1 tsp. ground coriander
✔ 1 liter consommé or boiling water
✔ 1⁄2 cup cream, slightly whipped
✔ 100 gr. ground Parmesan cheese for serving
Heat butter and oil in the pot. Sauté onion and leeks until transparent, about 4 minutes. Add chestnuts, nuts and garlic; sauté 4 minutes; add rice and mix well. Add wine and seasoning. Cook until wine is completely absorbed. Add boiling consommé one ladle at a time, mix well in between until liquids are absorbed and only then add another ladle. The process should take about 25 minutes. Fold the cream into the rice, remove from heat and cover. Let stand for 5 minutes. Serve sprinkled with ground Parmesan.

Recipes and photo courtesy of Al Hashulchan, Israeli gourmet magazine.