Tuesday, 19 December 2006

It Ain't Heavy - It's My Dinner

I'm officially in the festive mood, and what better way to warm my cockles on a cold December eve than to cook a big bowl of steaming hot risotto.

It may not be the first thing one would think of when it comes to Christmas food but, in my home, this Northern Italian dish is a family favourite around this time of year.

For a classically defeatist view of risotto and a suitable rebuke from someone who understands that non-Italians can make it just as well as Italians (and probably better), see this piece on the "Grocery Guy" blog.

When I make a risotto, I seldom think of my prospective main ingredient in advance. I generally leave that decision to the gods of "use-by-date". So during my routine hunt around in the fridge, I found some shiitake mushrooms that needing using up, as well as a large pointed pepper on its last legs, so to speak.
Parking at Grocery Guy for risotto makers
Risotto parking at Grocery Guy

A shiitake and saffron risotto
My effort at a shiitake and saffron risotto
I finely chopped the pepper and added it to my usual base of garlic and sliced red onion. Then for the shiitake. I cut these as thin as I possibly could get them (less than 1mm) and sautéed them just before adding them last minute. I used crème fraîche to give the creaminess a sour note, and a little grated haloumi to add a binding effect and remove the need for extra salt.

The risotto was (as I had hoped and as confirmed by my mum) utterly to die for. So there - Andre was right. You don't have to be an Italian to cook a decent risotto. Here's my recipe.


Anonymous said...

can you tell me where the nearest chinese supermarket is to well street

Trig said...

I'm afraid you are not going to have much success. This part of Hackney has a high percentage of Vietnamese businesses and the main asian shops and restaurants near to Well Street are generally Vietnamese. Some advertise themselves as "Viet/Chinese" but you won't find a wide range of genuine Chinese produce.

The nearest large Vietnamese store is Hoang-Nam on Mare Street. Nearby Hy-Minh at the end of Broadway Market has a great selection of food produce, but is actually Turkish, just to confuse you!

Personally I would take a trip to Lisle Street and the surrounding area of Chinatown in Soho, where you will get everything you could possibly want.

Of course if you know better, please let me know.

P.S. There's a large Chinese herbalist in Dalston Cross shopping centre.

tschoerda said...

risotto is a brilliant idea! i am running out of calming food ideas over here with my troubled belly.

so risotto it is!

i doubt that mine will be as utterly to die for as yours (well, i am not a trainee chef) but i'll try my best anyway!

Trig said...

I'm sure you will make a risotto every bit as good as mine. I will be posting a recipe soon for an okra and cumin soup I just made that is also very smoothing for troubled stomachs.

Nicole said...

I would love to have some of this right now! I love the title of this post ;-)

Trig said...

Thanks Nicole.

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