Friday, June 8, 2007

Risotto


Risotto is just how Italians cook rice, so don't be intimidated by this fancy sounding dish. Although most people associate rice with Asia and pasta with Italy, rice is a very important part of the Italian diet--especially in the North. When cooking risotto, it's important to use the appropriate type of rice. Use either arborio or carnaroli rice. Arborio can be found in many grocery stores, although where I'm currently living, one must go the "health food store" to find it. What makes this rice special is that the outer starchy layer gets rubbed off during cooking and gives the dish a wonderful, creamy consistency. Notice in this picture how the grains are sort of translucent on the outside with a white kernel in the middle.

Risotto can be made in an endless number of varieties with additions of various vegetables, herbs, cheeses, meats, and seafood, added to the basic recipe. Yes, the recipe does include white wine, which makes it taste divine. For the Utahns out there, that does mean a trip to the state liquor store which can be a little daunting for a first-timer. Just buy something white, in a bottle (nothing from a box please!) that's on sale. Don't worry too much about which kind--sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, pinot blanc, pinot grigio, whatever. Yes, the alcohol does cook entirely out and you are left only with a wonderful, acidic bite that really makes risotto a treat. If you absolutely can't stomach the thought of buying booze, just substitute more broth and know that you will never truly live. For the batch in this pictures, I stirred in cubes of cooked butternut squash (toss it in the microwave with a little water until it's soft, probably around 8 minutes) and frozen peas right at the end before adding the cheese. To me, nothing says springtime like risotto with peas.

12 comments:

The Ramptons said...

Tay,
I am soooooo excited you are doing a food blog!!!
Great Job, I will definately be reading it

Anne said...

Risotto is one of my FAVORITE things you delight me with, dear husband/chef of mine. Blaine and are sooooo lucky! :)

emilyanne said...

Now THIS is something to smile about. Do you mind if I "Blink" you? (that is Blog Link all smooshed up into one word.) Just so you know, Nate and I comment, at least once a week, to each other that you are one of the neatest people we know.

lori said...

Ah! This could very possibly be one of the happiest days of my life! THANK YOU for sharing this talent, Taylor! Our tastebuds are sooooo excited!!

kate said...

Yes! Finally! I was a dedicated reader even before you started... Mark will also be grateful as now he might get dinner made for him!

Sugar... said...

I'm so excited! I really do like cooking, but I always get scared to venture out...now I have an excuse! By the way, did you go on a mission to Italy?

Christina said...

Do you have any tricks to peeling the butternut squash? I tend not to buy it because I find it so difficult to peel! Thanks for the ideas!

Taylor said...

Geez guys--thanks for the warm reception to the blog world. Emily--go ahead and blink me by all means. In fact, anyone can. Heidi--no, I served in Paraguay. I did, however, cook in an Italian restaurant for a year. I LOVE ITALIAN FOOD. To me, it is the truest form of cooking. I might do a whole post about it some day. Christina--Good question. I ruined a peeler once on one of those things. What I do is cut it in half, scoop out the seeds, then cut the halves into 1.5-2 inch slices and peel the slices with a paring knife. The little slices are way more manageable. If you're just going to puree it anyway for a soup or something though, just slice it in half, scrape out the seeds, and bake it, then scoop out the flesh.

Traci said...

Great site Tay, I am excited for all your tips. Now, a little story for you. My mom had some friends in town this weekend for Shakespeare and wanted to take them somewhere good in Ashland. I said, "Hey I just read a comment from Anne on Liz's blog about a place where Taylor use to work that sounded good, you should try that!" I was really proud of myself knowing somewhere cool and hip to eat in Ashland (which is usually NEVER the case). Well, I was feeling cool until they came back saying...."uhh did you know that the cheapest plate there cost $27!!!" They were happy with the food though so not a total loss. It just rained on my "thinking I am cool and hip enough to know Ashland" parade. Serves me right!

danielle said...

YEAY YEAY YEAY!!! I think this is my favorite blog ever! I am so glad you are doing it. One of my favorite things ever is the curry you taught me how to make...a long time ago. Anyway, I can't wait to see what is next. By the way, I am cooking risotto at this very moment. WIth you on dinner and Anne on cupcakes...how are you both so thin????

liz said...

I just can't believe no one has commented on your Utah liquor store tips yet. I'm going to work up my courage to go there one of these days -- I know perfectly well that wine is the reason all of that restaurant food tastes so yummy.

Melis said...

So fun! I made risotto last week, which is a hit with the kids. I will be glad to try this new recipe