Tomato Based Risotto


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I have to admit winter is my favourite month to cook. The cooler weather makes me hungry and I spend more time in the kitchen when it is not favourable outside. There is something so comforting about a hot healthy meal on a cold winter’s evening.

One of my favourite meals to prepare is risotto and I find it very easy to whip one up if we have more around our table than I was expecting. There is a myth that risotto is difficult to cook. I have never found this, and there is no need to stand over the pot stirring the whole time just as long as it doesn’t boil or stick to the bottom.

This recipe is for a tomato based risotto. You can add any vegetables that are in season. I added fresh peas and zucchini and some left over roasted pumpkin that I blended into the stock and tomato puree. Fresh peas take a little longer to cook than the frozen ones or canned but they are so full of flavour and I don’t mind if the peas are a little crisp.

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Here is the recipe.

Ingredients

1 can of tomato puree
1 litre vegetable stock
100g butter
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 rosemary sprig, finely chopped
250g risotto rice
4 pieces of well cooked pumpkin (mine was pre roasted)
1 cup of shelled fresh peas. (you can substitute frozen or canned peas)
1 zucchini sliced finely
Some Basil, roughly torn
5 tbsp grated parmesan or more if you like.  Reserve some for decorating before serving.
Freshly ground pepper

Method

Firstly put the oil and butter into a large saucepan and melt and stir together.  Add the diced onion, garlic and rosemary.

Now add the Aborio rice and stir until every grain is coated in the mixture.  (There are a few types of risotto rice but Aborio is the easiest to find). Stir for a little while longer and then add the stock and the tomato puree all at once. This is also when I added the cooked pumpkin mashing it into the stock mixture while stirring. Once the pumpkin is pureed into the liquid you can leave the risotto on a low heat, just stirring now and then.

Prepare you shelled peas, zucchini and torn basil. After around five minutes add the vegetables and half of the torn basil and stir again.  The rest of the basil can be used for garnish. Eventually the stock and tomato puree will start to be absorbed by the rice. You can add salt and pepper to your taste at this point. I don’t usually add salt as the cheese is salty enough.

The only tricky part in making risotto is making sure you keep enough liquid around the rice to keep it from going “gluggy”. You can do this by keeping an eye on it while it is cooking and if you feel the liquid is not enough you can add half a cup of water at a time until it is the consistency you want.

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I always make too much risotto and end up with left overs. You can just re heat in a pan with a little water or stock or my other favourite thing to do is to make risotto balls. I have the recipe on an earlier post but here are a few photos of how they come together. You leave the risotto overnight in the fridge and then roll it into balls and leave those in the fridge for a few hours. Then coat and fry. These ones had an olive in the middle.

Delicious and great as a lunch box treat.

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Eataly New York


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If you visit New York you must discover Eataly  Situated on Fifth Avenue near Madison Square Park this place is a feast for your eyes and your taste buds. The owners of this establishment are in love with food just like me. You can sit down and eat here, buy your groceries, pick up something special to eat later, and loads of other things to occupy food lovers. You can watch the professionals make pasta, purchase some and then choose the cheese and the sauce that you want to serve with it. You could even sign up for a cooking class. Oh how I wish I lived near a place like this!

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We stopped and had lunch at one of the restaurants called “Le Vedura” Just next to the produce department this restaurant focuses on vegetables. The seasonal vegetables lightly fried in olive oil where amazing. Of course you can enjoy a glass of wine with you meal and don’t forget to take the stairs to the roof top where there is a seafood restaurant.

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Have you ever seen so many mushroooms? Some of them I had never seen before! Wonderful fresh produce is on show and it is hard not to go home with too much.  Unfortunately I did not have a kitchen to cook in while staying in New York. Next time I will rent an apartment so I can buy all these wonderful ingredients and take them home to cook with. Fresh pasta with mushrooms would be so delicious.

Will write up the recipe for fresh mushrooms with pasta on the next post. Buon Appetito!

 

 

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New York New York


Some people say “Home is where the heart is” however that causes conflict for me. My heart belongs to my family like most of us but my family is not in the place where my heart sings. Now that I have returned from my American tour I know that it is not just travelling that I enjoyed when I lived in France it was France itself. I enjoyed New York and Washington and I think I could live in New York but it does not feel the way I felt when I was in Paris or France. Do you think it is possible to have stored memories in your genes? Is this why I feel so right when I am in France? God knows I will never be french, as much as I try.

It was my first time to “The Big Apple” and I was filled with impressions from TV shows and movies where New York seemed to be a formidable place that only some people would be able to conquer. However it was quite the opposite. It was easy to navigate and the people were so friendly and helpful. I enjoyed my interludes with the local people. One day we were walking through Chelsea trying to find the Magnolia Bakery when a very nicely dressed older woman asked if she could help us. We ended up talking about how she had lived in the area most of here life and that she was the last of her family in New York.

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Magnolia Bakery was crowded when we found it and the window was full of cakes that had that home baked look. I joined the queue and ordered some cupcakes to try. They were moist and the icing was the best part.

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With icing on our lips we decided to keep walking and discover what else was in the area. The streets were so pretty with tulips flowering. The weather was just right, cool but not too cold.  I loved the way you see so many dogs going for walks with their owners and dog walkers. Lots of them were “muts” too. They weren’t as keen as Australians on designer breeds and pedigrees. Being an animal lover I stopped and talked to people about their pets. This one named Smudge, was especially wonderful.

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One of my favourite things to do when travelling is checking out the local produce. We walked to Dean and Deluca and Eataly and enjoyed finding many things we do not have in Australia. Look at these juicy green fern-like vegetables! They are called fiddleheads and are only available fresh in Spring. You can use them like any other green vegetable and serve with pasta or in a salad.

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And how about fresh Garbanzo beans! They are also know as chickpeas and can be eaten fresh from the pod. I have never tasted fresh chickpeas and how good did they taste! I wished I had a kitchen so I could go home and cook with all the amazing things we saw. I got the impression most people in New York eat out or buy something ready made like in Paris. The choices were unbelievable and lots of healthy options.

New York certainly is an amazing city with so much to discover, I look forward to telling more about my adventures in the next post.

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