Showing posts with label risotto. Show all posts
Showing posts with label risotto. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of National Geographic's "Tasting Italy"--Served Up with a Recipe for Saffron Risotto (Risotto Alla Milanese)

It's always a good day when I get a gorgeous cookbook to drool over and I am excited to be today's stop on the TLC Book Tour for Tasting Italy: A Culinary Journey from National Geographic with America's Test Kitchen. Accompanying my review is a recipe for a gorgeous and tasty Saffron Risotto from the book. 

Publisher's Blurb:

The experts at America’s Test Kitchen and National Geographic bring Italy’s magnificent cuisine, culture, and landscapes–and 100 authentic regional recipes–right to your kitchen.

Featuring 100 innovative, kitchen-tested recipes, 300 gorgeous color photographs, and 30 maps, this illustrated guide takes you on a captivating journey through the rich history of Italian cuisine, region by region. Rich excerpts feature the origins of celebrated cheeses, the nuances of different wine growing regions, the best farmer’s markets in Venice, and more. Intriguing prose illuminates key ingredients, from olive oil and how it’s made to the various pasta shapes of Northern Italy. In every region, the food experts at America’s Test Kitchen bring it all home, with foolproof recipes for standout dishes as well as hidden gems: Piedmontese braised beef in lustrous red wine sauce, crispy-custardy chickpea flour farinata pancakes from Genoa (achieved without the specialty pan and wood-burning oven), and hand-formed rustic malloreddus pasta of Sardinia that is a breeze to make.

Hardcover: 384 pages  
Publisher: National Geographic (October 23, 2018)

My Review:

The combination of National Geographic and America's Test Kitchen make Tasting Italy much more than a cookbook. It's a travelogue celebrating the history of food in Italy through each of its regions and it is a big book and very beautiful. The 300 color photos and 30 maps show tempting food and gorgeous scenery, as well as illustrate the special ingredients, food grown or raised, historical facts, and stories about each area. I have only spent a few hours reading through it so far and I find myself beguiled by the beauty of Italy and its rich history and the interesting facts from pasta shapes to Italian cuisine influences and the origins of customs and recipes. With America's Test Kitchen involved, you know that each of the 100 recipes included have been fully vetted in the kitchen and each recipe is accompanied by a beautiful photo and a story about how the recipe came to be. I have a feeling that this book will become a nightstand addition in order to work my way through the 384 pages and savor each region's bounty each night.

Recipes that especially caught my eye and that I tagged to make include Potato Gnocchi with Fontina Sauce from Valle d'Aosta, Warm Anchovy and Garlic Dipping Sauce from Piedmont, Chickpea Flour Pancake from Liguria, Bread Dumplings from Trentino-Alto Adige, Grilled Polenta with Whipped Salt Cod Spread from Veneto, Barley and Bean Soup from Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Stuffed Flatbreads from Emilia-Romagna, Tuscan White Bean Soup from Tuscany, Vegetable and Farro Soup from Umbria, Fried Stuffed Olives from Le Marche,  Roman Gnocchi from Lazio, Linguine with Seafood from Abruzzo & Molise, Lemon Sorbet from Campania, Tomato and Burrata Salad with Pangrattato and Basil from Puglia, Fiery Macaroni from Basilicata, Grilled Swordfish with Salmoriglio Sauce from Calabria, Tuna with Sweet and Sour Onions from Sicily, and Fried Zucchini from Sardinia. Lest you think the book is all vegetable, fish and seafood dishes (what I eat), there are plenty of recipes featuring chicken, pork, lamb, and beef such as Chicken Under a Brick, Milk-Braised Pork Roast, Orecchiette with Sausage and Cream, Grilled Steak with Olive Oil and Lemon, Braised Oxtails, Chitarra Pasta with Lamb Ragu, and Braised Savoy Cabbage with Pancetta to name a few. 

Tasting Italy would make a wonderful holiday gift and is a book that will be equally adored by Italophiles, cooks, foodies, travel junkies, and armchair travelers alike. I have not had the pleasure of going to Italy (yet), but Tasting Italy makes me want to book a trip there.

The books were delayed in getting to us so I managed to cook just one recipe from Tasting Italy, but what a recipe it is, a gorgeous bowl of golden-hued Saffron Risotto (Risotto Alla Milanese) from Lombardy. Lombardy, in Northern Italy is right under Switzerland and is considered "the industrial heart of Italy" with Milan, the regions capital, being the heart of the country's fashion scene. Lombardy is also one Italy's largest agricultural areas with its combination of mountains, plains and plentiful water. Meat and dairy are prevalent in the region and mascarpone cheese and bresaola (dried beef) originate from there. With its plains of of wheat, corn, buckwheat and rice, polenta and rice are more common than pasta, which only became popular after World War II. There are abundant fruit and vegetables grown there such as melons, pears, apples, asparagus, and pumpkins. 

For me the Saffron Risotto cried out most to be made. Simple but luxurious and flavored with exotic saffron, the dish is often served on its own as a primo, or used to accompany a platter of Osso Buco (Braised Veal Shanks). I love risotto and have about twenty recipes on the blog. I also had the last of a small bottle of saffron that a friend brought me from Spain to use, along with the Carnaroli rice called for in the recipe from the gourmet section of my local grocery store (although the book indicates that Aborio rice can also be substituted). 

Tasting Italy notes: "The dish's origin is a subject for debate. One legend claims that it was invented in the 1500s by a Milanese glassmaker who earned the nickname 'Zafferano' because he used saffron often to make gold stain. When he was jokingly  challenged to add it to risotto, he did! However, the recipe's first appearance in an Italian cookbook wasn't until the 1800s. Perhaps it originated form Milan's ties to Spain, or a Milanese affinity for the golden color, or possibly the idea that saffron was beneficial to health."

Saffron Risotto
Recipe from National Geographic's Tasting Italy
(Serves 6)

3 1/2 cups chicken broth (I used non-chicken stock)
3 cups water
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 onion, chopped fine
salt and pepper
2 cups Carnaroli rice
1/4 tsp saffron threads, crumbled
1 cup dry white wine
2 oz Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated (about 1 cup)

Bring both broth and water to simmer in medium saucepan. Cover and keep warm over low heat.

Melt butter in Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add rice and saffron and cook, stirring frequently, until grain edges begin to turn translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add wine and cook, stirring frequently, until fully absorbed, about 2 minutes. Stir in 3 1/2 cups warm broth, bring to simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, until almost fully absorbed, 10 to 12 minutes.

Continue to cook rice, stirring frequently and adding warm broth, 1 cup at a time, every few minutes as liquid is absorbed, until rice is creamy and cooked through but still somewhat firm in center, 14 to 18 minutes. Remove pot from heat, cover and let sit for 5 minutes. Asjust consistency with remaining broth as needed (you may have broth left over). Stir in Parmigiano and season with salt and pepper to taste before serving.

Notes/Results: So creamy, rich and delicious and you can't help but smile at the sunny golden color. The saffron is fully present in the flavor but the wine and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese add to the complexity of taste. I'm not used to adding so much of the liquid at the beginning (3 1/2 cups of the broth mixture) but it worked beautifully and toasting the saffron (and the onion) in the butter broke up the threads of the saffron releasing the color and flavor throughout the rice--it also adds to the richness of the dish. I was content to spend some time stirring the rice (it was my zen moment to recover from a busy day) until it reached it's maximum creaminess while still having a slight firmness, then curling up on the couch with a bowl of the deliciousness while watching the election returns. I would happily make this recipe again. 

Tasting Italy is my tenth foodie book entry for the Foodies Read 2018 event. You can check out the November 2018 Foodies Read linkup, hosted by Heather at Based on a True Story, to see what everyone is reading this month.   

I'm sharing this post with the Weekend Cooking event at Beth Fish Reads, a weekly event that is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. For more information, see the welcome post.

Note: A review copy of "Tasting Italy" was provided to me by the author and the publisher via TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for this review and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own.   You can see the stops for the rest of this TLC Book Tour and what other reviewers thought about the book here.  


Tuesday, August 28, 2018

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "After Nightfall" by A.J. Banner, Served with a Recipe for Cauliflower Rice Risotto Primavera

I'm happy to be a stop on the TLC Book Tour for the After Nightfall, a new psychological suspense novel by A.J.Banner. Accompanying my review is an easy and delicious Cauliflower Rice Risotto Primavera, inspired by my reading.

Publisher's Blurb:

Beware of friends with secrets…

Imagine your closest friend utterly betraying you. Years later, when she seeks forgiveness, you invite her to your engagement party as a gesture of reconciliation. But seething hostilities rise to the surface, ruining everyone’s evening. After an awful night, your friend’s battered, lifeless body is found at the bottom of a rocky cliff.

Newly engaged Marissa Parlette is living this nightmare. She should be celebrating her upcoming wedding, but she can’t shake the image of her friend lying dead on the beach. Did she fall? Was she pushed? Or did she take a purposeful step into darkness? Desperate for answers, Marissa digs deep into the events of the party. But what she remembers happening after nightfall now carries sinister implications: the ugly sniping, the clandestine meetings, the drunken flirtations. The more she investigates, the more she questions everything she thought she knew about her friends, the man she once trusted, and even herself.

Bestselling author A. J. Banner keeps readers on a razor-sharp edge in this intricately plotted novel of psychological suspense…in which nothing is as it seems.

Paperback: 256 pages

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (August 7, 2018)

My Review:

Although her other books have been on my TBR list, After Nightfall is the first book from A.J. Banner that I have managed to read. It's a quick read with a good premise and plenty of twists and turns packed into 250-ish pages. I liked that all of the characters had  suspicious behaviors and/or secrets to hide and that had me suspecting everyone. I was certain several times that I had identified the person responsible for Lauren's death--only to be convinced a chapter later that it was someone else. It definitely kept me turning the pages to the end to finally discover the guilty party. Where the book fell a bit short for me was in the characters. I had a hard time liking most of them for various reasons and the main character, Marissa, had me wanting to shake her quite a few times throughout the story. (This bummed me out because my niece is a grade school speech therapist like Marissa and so I wanted Marissa to be stronger and represent!) ;-) The characters that I liked the most were minor players in the drama--a couple of neighbors and Marissa's supportive best friend. Then again, me not liking the characters made them seem all the more suspicious and maybe that worked in the end by keeping me guessing. I breezed through After Nightfall and enjoyed reading it, liking Banner's writing style--her wording, pacing, and how she built the tension. I look forward to delving into her first two novels.


Author Notes: Born in India and raised in North America, A. J. Banner received degrees from the University of California, Berkeley. Her previous novels of psychological suspense include The Good Neighbor and The Twilight Wife, a USA Today bestseller. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and six rescued cats.

Connect with A.J. on Facebook and Instagram.  


Food Inspiration:

There was food to be found in After Nighfall, including spiral pasta with olives, wine, sparkling apple juice, buttered rolls, prosecco, prosciutto, Ligurian minestrone soup (described as soup with vegetables and garlic), macaroni and cheese, sandwiches, chocolate cake, leftover pasta, eggs, omelet with onions and tomatoes, rice, banana nut bread, cotton candy, apples, chocolate chip cookies, whiskey, vodka, chamomile tea, lemon cupcakes, mango kale salad, risotto primavera, fish and chips, a salad of butter lettuce with radishes and onion with mustard dressing on the side, blackberry cheesecake, apricot marmalade, hard-boiled eggs, peanut butter on toast, scotch, mint tea, a gin and tonic, appetizers and cake, fruit punch, a stir-fry of vegetables, spaghetti carbonara, cereal, peanuts, and huckleberries.

For my book-inspired dish I picked the risotto primavera that Marissa orders when out to dinner with Nathan. I love risotto and had been meaning to try a cauliflower rice version after buying a large bag of riced cauliflower at Costco. I grabbed a few simple veggies--sweet onion, carrot, celery, red pepper and peas and thought I'd grate up a small leftover chunk of Parmesan that needed to be used. 

Cauliflower Rice Risotto Primavera
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Serves 4)

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 small sweet onion, diced
2 small carrots, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
2  cloves garlic, minced
5 cups cauliflower rice (I used frozen)
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/3 cup coconut milk or milk of choice
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese + extra for serving
sea salt and black pepper to taste
fresh basil leaves to taste 
zest of one lemon

Heat oil in a large, heavy bottomed pan over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrot, and celery and saute about 5 minutes until softened. Add garlic and cook for another minute. Stir in the cauliflower rice and broth, cover pan and reduce heat to medium low. Let cauliflower and veggies steam for about 6 to 7 minutes then remove the cover and let the liquid evaporate for 5 minutes or so, then add the peas. Continue to cook, uncovered, until most of the liquid has been absorbed, then stir in the coconut milk and cheese and season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix in basil and lemon zest and serve topped with extra cheese, if desired. Enjoy!

Notes/Results: I have been enamored with cauliflower rice lately-especially since my doctor recommended I cut out wheat and gluten and cut down on rice and other carbs. When cooked and seasoned well, cauliflower rice works really well in soups and rice bowls and I was thrilled to see how well it worked in risotto. I did not miss the arborio rice and the guilty feeling from eating too much of it. With cauliflower rice it's about 25 calories a cup, versus 200 in a cup of arborio rice and 218 calories for a cup of cooked brown rice . I loved this risotto. I kept it light on the cheese and used coconut milk and it was plenty creamy. I will definitely make this again.

I'm sharing this post with the Weekend Cooking event at Beth Fish Reads, a weekly event that is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. For more information, see the welcome post.

Note: A review copy of "After Nightfall" was provided to me by the author and the publisher via TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for this review and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own.

You can see the stops for the rest of this TLC Book Tour and what other reviewers thought about the book here.


Thursday, March 22, 2018

Ina Garten's Parmesan & Pea Risotto

I adore risotto--it's creamy, comforting, and there is something about standing at the stove stirring it, ladling in broth and watching it transform from the hard grains of rice to something delicious. some people find the stirring tedious but I like to take the time to think, or listen to music or an audio book and just wind down and wait for the deliciousness to happen.

I was looking for an Ina Garten risotto to make (I've made her Butternut Squash Risotto and her Chive Risotto Cakes and enjoyed both recipes) and wanted something simple so when I saw "Easy Parmesan Risotto" I was all in. It was only later as I was headed to make it when I saw that the 'easy' part was that it bakes in the oven. That's just not risotto to me, so I used the same basic ingredients but made it on my stove top, audiobook on, wooden stirring spoon in hand. My changes are in red below.

Easy Parmesan Risotto
Adapted from How Easy Is That? by Ina Garten via 
(Serves 4 to 6)
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
5 cups simmering chicken stock, preferably homemade (I used vegan chicken  stock)
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, diced (I used 2 Tbsp)
(I added 1 Tbsp dried parsley)
2 tsp kosher salt, or to taste (I used a scant 1 tsp sea salt)
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
1 cup frozen peas, defrosted
(I garnished with chopped fresh chives)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place the rice and 4 cups of the chicken stock in a Dutch oven, such as Le Creuset. Cover and bake for 45 minutes, until most of the liquid is absorbed and the rice is al dente. Remove from the oven, add the remaining cup of chicken stock, the Parmesan, wine, butter, salt, and pepper, and stir vigorously for 2 to 3 minutes, until the rice is thick and creamy. Add the peas and stir until heated through. Serve hot.

Stove top: Heat the stock in a small saucepan. Leave it on low heat to simmer. In a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter and add the rice and stir to coat the grains with butter. Add the white wine and cook for 2 minutes. Add 2 full ladles of stock to the rice  Stir, and simmer until the stock is absorbed, 5 to 10 minutes. 

Continue to add the stock, a ladle at a time, stirring every few minutes. Each time, cook until the mixture seems a little dry, then add more stock. Continue until the rice is cooked through, but still al dente, about 30 minutes total. Remove risotto from the heat and stir in the peas, Parmesan, and salt and pepper to taste. 

Serve hot, garnished with fresh chives and more freshly ground black pepper.

Notes/Results: Sometimes simple is best and in this case, the Parmesan and peas are perfect in the creamy rice for a simple weeknight comfort food dinner. I think you get a superior texture in stove top risotto but if you don't like the stirring, I am sure than Ina's oven version has it own merits. Do watch the salt--since you are using broth that may be salted and Parmesan that it salty. I cut it back by half--an that was using a low-sodium mock chicken stock. I enjoyed this with a glass of the white wine that I used in it and would happily make it again.

Linking up to I Heart Cooking Clubs where this week's theme is "Ina in Italy"--where we are cooking up Ina's many tasty Italian recipes. 

Also linking up at the Weekend Cooking event at Beth Fish Reads, a weekly event that is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. For more information, see the welcome post.

Friday, November 24, 2017

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "The Silent Fountain" by Victoria Fox, Served with a Recipe for Mushroom & Leek "Stuffing" Risotto with Stuffing Butter Bread Crumbs (And a Giveaway!)

It's the day after Thanksgiving and whether you are a Black Friday fan or someone who hides in the house to avoid it (that would be me), it probably time for a break. On today's TLC Book Tour, we are journeying to Italy (with some jaunts back in time to 1978 Hollywood) for a review of The Silent Fountain by Victoria Fox. Accompanying my review of this novel with a Gothic feel is a recipe for Mushroom & Leek "Stuffing" Risotto, topped with "Stuffing" Butter Breadcrumbs that is amazing and (loosely) inspired by my reading. There's also a Rafflecopter Giveaway for a chance to win a copy of the book at the bottom of the post.

Publisher's Blurb:

Hollywood, 1978 
Tragedy sends troubled film star Vivien Lockhart into the arms of Giovanni Moretti—and it seems her fortunes have finally changed. Until she meets his sister and learns that her new husband’s past holds dark secrets…

Tuscany, Present day 
Lucy Whittaker needs to disappear. But her new home, the crumbling Castillo Barbarossa, is far from the secluded paradise it seemed. Strange sounds come from the attic. The owner of the house will never meet her in person.
The fountain in the courtyard is silent—but has never run dry.

Across the decades, Vivien and Lucy find themselves trapped in the idyllic Italian villa. 

And if they are ever to truly escape its walls, they must first unearth its secrets…

Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: MIRA (October 31, 2017)

My Review:

The publisher's description of The Silent Fountain drew me in with it being primarily set in Italy, the promise of 'dark secrets' and a Gothic feel, and dual time settings and perspectives, which are are all things that I enjoy. Once I started the book, I was immediately absorbed--at one moment I was feeling all of the pleasures of the sunny Italian countryside, the next moment the menacing feel and foreboding chills of a crumbling estate with noises and odd occurrences would come sneaking in, along with a few goosebumps (called 'chicken skin' here). The writing is descriptive and the shifts in time and point of view serve to build the tension between chapters and move the story along, making it often hard to put down. Bits and pieces of the history of the two main characters, Lucy, a young British woman running to Italy from the implosion of her life, and Vivian, a faded American actress, owner of the Castillo Barbosa and Lucy's new (but mysteriously unseen) employer, unfold and their secrets are slowly revealed. 

I liked the well-executed mix of settings and stories--present day at the crumbling estate outside of Florence and the late 1970s through the mid-1980s in Hollywood and Tuscany, and I enjoyed both characters. Although Vivian is the headliner with more complexity and nuances to her story, Lucy provides a solid supporting role and her character grows throughout the book. There were some good twists that kept me guessing and although the ending wasn't quite what I was expecting, it worked with the story and left me feeling all the feels. The Silent Fountain will appeal if you like women's fiction with Gothic leanings, books set in Italy and/or romantic mysteries with a bit of depth to them. This is my first book from Victoria Fox but I will be looking into some of her other works. 

(If The Silent Fountain sounds appealing, don't forget to enter for your chance to win a copy at the bottom of the post.)


Author Notes: Victoria Fox is a bestselling author in the UK. She used to work in publishing and is now the author of six novels. The Silent Fountain is her breakout novel in North America. She divides her time between Bristol and London.

You can connect with Victoria via Facebook or Twitter


There is food in The Silent Fountain, although it is not a foodie book. I don't think you are allowed to have a novel set mostly in Italy and not have food. Some examples included herbs, lavender and tea, wine, spaghetti, pink gelato, fields of maize and barley, almonds, grapes and lemon trees, vanilla-cream muffins, soup, crackers and grapes "the color of bruises," pizza, saltimbocca, Chianti, limoncello, cheeseburgers, Bolognese sauce, iced buns, Campari and soda, chicken cacciatore, white bean salad, grappa, vodka, rabbit pappardelle, scrambled eggs, ciabatta, lobster claws, focaccia, ham, piccalilli (pickles), prosciutto, salami, tomatoes, cheese and pears, sugary pastries, chocolate tiramisu, veal, potatoes, mince pies, linguine, Sunday roast, and marinara sauce. 

Sometimes my book-inspired dished are totally from the book and other times it becomes less about the book and more about what I am craving at the moment--that I can somehow relate to the book. This is the case for The Silent Fountain. I get a lot of food related newsletter email and sometimes I read them and often I don't but the headline of one from Extra Crispy caught my attention, "Everyday is Thanksgiving When You Have Stuffing Butter." Stuffing is my favorite part of Thanksgiving and a stuffing-flavored compound butter is a pretty genius idea. The fact that the recipe was from Stacey Ballis, (a favorite foodie fiction writer of mine) only sealed the deal. I resolved to get stuffing butter into my life. 

The stuffing butter and thoughts of stuffing led me thinking of a good Italian dish to incorporate it into and pair with The Silent Fountain and I settled on another favorite, risotto. Although it doesn't appear in the book, give me a plate or bowl of risotto and I'm happy. I love the zen of stirring a big pot of risotto on the stove, listening to an audio book, and then sitting down to enjoy the fruits of my labor. 

Since my review falls so close to the Thanksgiving holidays, I resolved to introduce my beloved stuffing flavors to a vegetarian risotto of mushroom and leeks and to incorporate the stuffing butter into some crisp panko bread crumbs to top it. And, since Vivian is an American in Italy and wasn't allowed to celebrate holidays growing up, a combination of an American holiday dish with an Italian classic seems to fit. 

There are a few steps to this recipe but the Stuffing Butter can be made ahead of time and the breadcrumbs cooked in the same pan as the mushrooms, so it's not too arduous.

Mushroom & Leek "Stuffing" Risotto 
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Serves 4 as a Main, More as a Side Dish)

Stuffing Butter (see recipe below)
8-10 oz crimini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced 
5 cups good chicken-flavored and/or mushroom stock (I used a combination of both)
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 large ribs celery, chopped
2 to 3 leeks, white and green parts, cleaned well, halved and sliced thinly
2 cloves garlic
2 Tbsp sage leaves, finely chopped
1 Tbsp thyme leaves
1 Tbsp dried parsley
2 tsp rosemary leaves, chopped
1 tsp celery salt 
1 1/2 cups arborio rice 
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves, chopped 
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper 
Stuffing Butter Breadcrumbs (see recipe below) 

Prepare Stuffing Butter using recipe below. Bring the stock to a simmer in a medium-large saucepan and keep simmering on the stove.

Meanwhile, melt 2 Tbsp of the Stuffing Butter into a large frying pan and add mushrooms. Cook mushrooms over medium heat until they are tender--about 5 to 6minutes. Scrape mushroom and juices out of pan and onto a plate and set them aside. Use pan to prepare Stuffing Butter Breadcrumbs (recipe below) and set aside.

In a large, high-sided, heavy-bottomed pan, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high and add the celery and leeks. Cook about 7 minutes, until vegetables are almost tender. Add garlic, sage, thyme, dried parsley, rosemary, and celery celery salt and cook for 2 to 3 minutes until herbs are fragrant. 

Add the aborio rice and stir to coat it in the oil and herbs. Toast the rice until it crackles and starts to turn opaque. Add the white wine and stir until it is almost all absorbed (about 5 minutes). 

Reduce heat to medium and place a ladle of the simmering stock into the rice, stirring  until it is absorbed. Repeat, adding 1 ladle of the stock at a time and stirring constantly, (making sure the liquid is absorbed before adding the next ladle) until rice is tender but still has a bit of a firm "bite"--about 25 minutes.

Stir in the reserved mushrooms and fresh parsley and add any leftover stock as needed if you need to loosen up the risotto a bit. Taste for seasoning and add additional salt and pepper as needed. You can stir in some Stuffing Butter if you want any additional stuffing flavor (just remember you'll be topping it with the Stuffing Butter Breadcrumbs).

Serve immediately on warmed plates, sprinkled generously with the Stuffing Butter Breadcrumbs and additional chopped fresh parsley. Enjoy.

Stuffing Butter 
Very Slightly Adapted from Stacey Ballis via

Top of F11/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 Tbsp low-sodium chicken base, preferable Better Than Bouillon brand (if you can’t find low-sodium, cut back to 1/2 Tbsp or it will be too salty) (Note: I used their no-chicken paste and reduced to about 3/4 Tbsp.)
1 tsp dried rosemary leaves, chopped fine
1 tsp dried parsley flakes
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp rubbed sage (I used 1 tsp dried sage)
1/4 tsp celery seed
1/4 tsp granulated garlic (I used 1/2 tsp roasted garlic powder)
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
11/2 tsp dried chopped onion (from the spice aisle), re-hydrated in 1/4 cup warm water for 30 minutes
Bottom of Form

Drain the re-hydrated onion flakes and press dry with paper towels. In a medium bowl, mix the butter and bouillon paste until well incorporated with no streaks. Add all of the spices and the onion and mix well. 

Store in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to six months.

Slather on any available bread, top your baked potato with it, melt it down and drizzle it on your popcorn. If you want something to taste like stuffing, this is your new best friend.


Stuffing Butter Breadcrumbs
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen

3 Tbsp Stuffing Butter (recipe above)
1 cup panko breadcrumbs

In a large frying pan (I use the one I cooked the mushrooms in), heat the Stuffing Butter over medium heat. Add the bread crumbs and saute them until they are crisp and golden brown--stirring consistently to ensure they do not burn. Set aside until ready to use.

Notes/Results: Stuffing Butter is a great big LOVE, thank you Stacey Ballis! I adjusted it slightly to make it fit my stuffing memories and it certainly did. The Mushroom and Leek "Stuffing" Risotto was also amazing--it definitely has the flavors of dressing or stuffing and hits all of the comfort food buttons. The contrast of the creamy risotto and the crisp stuffing-buttery panko breadcrumbs is wonderful. Rich, delicious, and definitely more-ish (just like my favorite Thanksgiving side dish), I would happily make it again. (And I'm trying the Stuffing Butter on popcorn this weekend.)

I'm sharing this post with the Weekend Cooking event at Beth Fish Reads, a weekly event that is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. For more information, see the welcome post.

Note: A review copy of "The Silent Fountain" was provided to me by the author and the publisher via TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for this review and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own.

You can see the stops for the rest of this TLC Book Tour and what other reviewers thought about the book here.

***Book Giveaway***
The publisher is generously providing a copy of The Silent Fountain to give away (U.S. & Canada addresses only, sorry) here at Kahakai Kitchen.

To enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway below, leave a comment (Because I like to read them!) and tell me about your favorite Thanksgiving dish or favorite Italian dish, or tell me why you'd like to win a copy of The Silent Fountain

There are a couple of other optional ways to get more entries to win: 1) Tweet about this giveaway or 2) follow me on Twitter (@DebinHawaii) and/or
author Victoria Fox (@VFoxWrites). (Note: You can still get the extra entries even if you already follow these accounts.)

Deadline for entry is midnight (EST) on Saturday, December 2nd.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Good Luck!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Tomato and Mozzarella Risotto: Pantry Comfort Food Dinner

With just a few good ingredients--hopefully most of which you have in your pantry (I only had to add a ball of fresh mozzarella to my shopping list) and some stirring at the stove time, you can have this slightly decadent, comfort food dish: Tomato and Mozzarella Risotto, on the table in about 35 minutes. 

The recipe comes from British chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, our current featured chef at I Heart Cooking Clubs from his column in The Guardian discussing the benefits of having tins of tomatoes on your pantry shelves.

Hugh says, "I'm not a fan of chopped tinned toms – the supposed convenience is just not worth the disappointment in terms of the flesh-to-juice ratio. They always seem on the thin side, lacking sauciness and oomph. So I buy tinned whole plum tomatoes, tip them into a bowl and crush them to a pulp with my hands, picking out any tough, stalky ends and bits of skin. Brands do vary a lot in quality, though, and it's worth paying a few pence extra to get more tomatoes in a thicker juice..."

Hugh says, "If you don't have fresh stock, use a high-quality cube or granules. As with the gratin, the mozzarella can be replaced by cheddar, parmesan or scraps of bacon, or even left out altogether."

Tomato and Mozzarella Risotto
Adapted from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall via
(Serves 2) (Deb says serves 3 to 4)
450ml (about 4 cups) chicken or vegetable stock
1 (15-oz) tin tomatoes, crushed, with juices
1 large knob butter
1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped (I used 4 cloves roasted garlic)

(I added 2 tsp dried parsley and 1 tsp dried basil)
125g (about a cup) risotto rice

sea salt and black pepper
1 ball buffalo mozzarella

extra-virgin olive oil, to finish

Put the stock and tomatoes into a saucepan, bring to a gentle simmer and keep over a very low heat.
Meanwhile, heat the butter in a saucepan over a low heat. When foaming, add the onion and sweat it for eight to 10 minutes, until soft. Add the garlic and cook for a minute or two more, then add the rice and cook, stirring, for a couple of minutes.
Now start adding the hot stock and tomato mixture, about a quarter at a time. Let the risotto cook, stirring often, adding more stock as it is absorbed. After 20-25 minutes, the rice should be cooked with just a hint of chalkiness in the middle and you should have used up all the stock and tomato mix.

Stir in some salt and pepper, then tear the mozzarella into chunks and add. Cover, leave for a minute, then stir the melting cheese through the rice, so there are lots of nice, stretchy, melty bits. Serve topped with a generous trickle of extra-virgin olive oil, with some peppery leaves on the side.

Notes/Results: Oh yeah, this is good. Really good. I did add a few touches--just some dried parsley and basil and some leftover roasted garlic (increasing the amount) and I used good Italian tomatoes--whole and self-crushed ala Hugh's advice and good garlic-vegetable stock so it had great flavor. It's hard to tell from the photos but the fresh mozzarella does melt into the most glorious strings as I am sure you can imagine from pizza, making it fun albeit a bit messy to eat. One thing is that Hugh says it serves two and I would say it serves at least three. That's about a third of it in the bowl in the picture and that is plenty for a serving as rich as it is. If you like spaghetti and you like risotto--this recipe is the best of both worlds. I will definitely make it again.

Linking up to I Heart Cooking Clubs where the theme this week Is Pantry Suppers. You can see the Hugh, pantry-friendly dishes everyone made by checking out the picture links on the post.

Happy Aloha Friday!