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Sunday, August 21, 2005
A is for... Arborio Rice

My boyfriend's dad, Peter, went food-shopping to Valbonne today and brought me back some lovely and juicy raspberries packed in a sweet green paper case. The thing is that i deeply love the pink on green look. I love it so much i decided to take some pictures. Then a wonderful idea came to my mind : i could do an alphabet featuring all my favourite ingredients. But the word "raspberry" starts by an "r" and the first letter of the alphabet is an "a". I had to find my favourite-beginning-by-an-a ingredient. And after a minute or so i chose riso Arborio (yes i am an Italian speaker) or less fancily Arborio rice.
The principle of Fanny's Food Alphabet was born: each day or so i will pick up a new ingredient, take a picture of it , describe it and make a recipe using it.Since i was a child, i've always loved pearls, their lovely satiness... And i now love Arborio rice for the same reasons i used to love pearls. Arborio rice grains are round, pearly looking and soft. But as you can't make necklace with them they must have something else. Hum, let me think, it might be their high-startch level. It is indeed. And this point is crucial because it allow to make the most delicious risottos.
I've come across risottos relatively late in life as my mother always said that risottos were hard work and also because i wasn't so fond in rice. But then i discovered a way to cook rice i loved and crispy basmati rice became one of my classics. As the saying goes you may as well go swimming : I had to try a risotto, tried it and became a risotto addict; i mean they're dead easy to make : just add some stock when there nearly isn't anymore and so on until you've got a smooth, al dente, lovely risotto.

serves 6

255g mushrooms (one type or a mixture - fanny : i used half field mushrooms, half girolles)
3 tbsp olive oil
1 small handful of thyme, picked and chopped (fanny : i used a tsp of dried thyme instead)
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
salt adn freshly ground pepper
1 handful of parsley, rougly chopped
1 pinch of chilli powder
a squeeze of lemon juice

Slice the mushrooms thinly, but tear the girolles, chanterelles and blewits in half. Don't cook all the mushrooms at once - do them in 2 or 3 batches. In a very hot pan heat a tbsp of olive oil and add the mushrooms and thyme. Cook for about 1min, toss them, then add the garlic and a pinch of salt. Cook for another couple of minutes and then taste - if they're nicely cooked add some parsley, a very small pinch of chilli poxder and a squeeze of lemon juice. Toss again, taste again - by now they should be pretty much perfect. Chop half the cooked mushrooms.
At basic recipe (fanny : below) Stage 2, after the first ladle of stock has been added, add the choped mushrooms, and add the remainder at Stage 3.

1L chicken stock
1 tbsp olive oil
3 finely shopped shallots, or 2 medium onions
1/2 head celery finely chopped (fanny : i didn't use any)
maldon sea salt and black pepper
2 cloves galic, finely chopped
400g Arborio rice
100ml dry white vermouth (fanny : i just used a bottle of dry white wine i had in the fridge)
70g butter
85-100g freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Stage 1. Heat the stock. Then in a separate pan heat the olive oil, add the shallot or onion, celery and a pinch of salt, and sweat the vegetables for about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and after another 2 minutes, when the veg have softened, add the rice. Turn up the heat now. At this crucial point you can't leave the pan, and anyway this is the best bit.
While slowly stirring, continuously, you are beginning to fry the rice. You don't want any colour at this point. You must keep the rice mooving. After 2 or 3 minutes it will begin to look transluscent as it absorbs all the flevours of your base. Add the vermouth or wine, keeping on stirring as it hits the pan - it will smell fantastic! It will sizzle around the rice, evaporating any hash of alcohol flavours and leaving the rice with a tasty essence.
Stage 2. Once the vermouth or wine seems to have cooked into the rice, add your first laddle of hot stock and a pinch of salt. Turn down the heat to a highish simmer. Keep addind ladlefuls of stock, stirring and allowing each ladleful to be absorbed before adding the next. This will take about 15 minutes. Taste the rice - is it cooked? Carry on adding stock until the rice is soft but with a slight bite. Check seasonning.
Stage 3. Remove from the heat and add the butter and the Parmesan, saving a little of the latter to go on the top if you like. Stir gently. Eat as soon as possible while it retains its moist texture.
This risotto is all i love about risottos : it's creamy, earthy and delicious. I heart the slight taste of Parmesan that adds a little extra earthyness. It is definitely a wonderful dish for a cold wintry day. Indeed it is just what you need when it's freezing cold outside : an easy but warming thing to make ... and to eat.

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6 sweets:
Blogger Zarah Maria said something sweet:

That's a great idea Fanny! Can't wait to see the pictures and read the stories!

21 August, 2005 23:41 

Blogger Kelly said something sweet:

Hi Fanny, the alphabet is a great idea! Can't wait to finally see the raspeberries when R finally comes around!

22 August, 2005 05:58 

Anonymous Anonymous said something sweet:

What a clever idea! Now I'm thinking, "What can be B?"....

22 August, 2005 08:21 

Anonymous Anonymous said something sweet:

Cute idea ;) I would know, what my "B" would be... and I'm curious for yours!

22 August, 2005 10:40 

Blogger *fanny* said something sweet:

Hi Zarah, Kelly, Joey and Nicky. Thank you for your comment, i'm very very pleased to see you're enjoying it. I've already found what will be for B; but shut...this is a secret!

22 August, 2005 11:58 

Blogger boo_licious said something sweet:

Hey, I love this food alphabet thing you started. Love the pix of the pearl and the rice grain.

26 August, 2005 21:44 

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