Monday, November 27, 2006

Hay Hay Its Donna Day #8: Risotto

I have finally managed to join Hay Hay it’s Donna Day! I have wanted to take part ever since I first read about its inception at Barbara's. I had been charmed by Donna Hay from the very first time I came across her cookbooks in my favorite bookstore. Her simple yet luscious sounding recipes, always accompanied by brilliant food styling and photography, reeled me in. And then came those cupcakes that I, and many others, could not get enough of (it was in fact the theme of the very first Donna Day). And then I finally gave in to fate and got my own subscription. During all this time I tried to join HHDD, but as life, timing, and weird chance would have it, I never made it.

Until now! I was getting more vigilant about checking the HHDD announcements and came upon Cenzina’s posting for HHDD # 8…risotto! I couldn’t believe my luck. As I had started making my own stock, I had been wanting to try my hand at risotto. It would be my very first time to attempt it! So my first risotto and my first Donna Day coincide...

You can find the original recipe at Cenzina’s beautiful blog il cavoletto di bruxelles. She’s the host this month and the winner of last month’s HHDD. Her photos are fantastic!

Choices, choices…what would I do for my maiden risotto (and my first HHDD entry)? I decided to make a mushroom risotto because I seriously heart mushrooms and can eat them for days on end. Unfortunately, this tropical paradise is not exactly teeming with them, so I used a mix of dried forest mushrooms (although next time I will try this with fresh shitake or oyster mushrooms, as those are readily available here). As I had to reconstitute (I love that word…make me feel like Dr. Frankenstein) the mushrooms, I decided to replace some of the stock with the mushroom liquid as it just smelled so good and woodsy. Also, because I was in a celebratory-risotto-initiation mood, I decided to use cava (a sparkling wine from Spain) instead of white wine. Cheers to me! And cheers to Donna Day!

Forest Mushroom & Cava Risotto
(Click here for original recipe)

  • 200 grams carnaroli rice
  • 750 ml chicken stock
  • Dried forest mushrooms, reconstituted in hot water (1 ½ cups mushrooms when reconstituted)
  • 250 ml liquid from the mushrooms
  • 200 ml cava
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 50 grams grated parmesan cheese
  • 25 grams butter
  • 4 Tablespoons olive oil
  • sea salt & cracked black pepper
Prepare the mushrooms:
Place dried mushrooms in a bowl and pour hot water (just boiled) over them. Let rest until soft (30 minutes to one hour). Squeeze liquid out of mushrooms and roughly chop. Save the liquid!

Get on with your risotto:
- Place your stock and the mushrooms’ liquid in a heavy bottomed saucepan over low heat and bring to a simmer.
- Put the oil and chopped onion in another heavy bottomed saucepan and let cook for one minute over medium-high heat, until the onion is soft.
- Toss in the mushrooms and stir.
- Add the rice and stir until all the grains are coated with the oil.
- Turn the heat to high and add the Cava, letting it evaporate (watch it bubble and fizz!)
- Gradually add the hot stock one cup at a time, adding new stock when the previous cup has been absorbed, stirring constantly.

The whole cooking process should take 18 minutes. To be sure, taste the rice at the end, it shouldn’t be hard but definitely not too chewy either (al dente). I think I cooked mine a bit too long and that’s why it came out a little dry.

Once risotto is ready (al dente), take it off the heat, and stir in the butter and parmesan cheese. Add salt & pepper to taste, stir well, and let it rest for a few minutes.

Aside from my risotto coming out a tad on the dry side, everything else was just lovely and thrilling. I gently stirred the rice with a wooden fork (as I read here that using a fork avoids crushing the grains) and watched in wonder as it all came together. Pour in the stock…rice sips it up…repeat…watch the little white grains getting fatter and fatter. The smell was just amazing, and the flavor was wonderfully, intensely mushroom, with a mellow depth from the cava.

I’ll definitely be repeating this. Donna’s The New Cook has some interesting risotto recipes...

Thanks Cenzina for choosing such a smashing theme!


Tanna said...

Wow, Joey that looks wonderful. I really enjoy risotto and mushrooms!

Mila Tan said...

What a lovely comfort food tidbit this is, thanks for experimenting and trying a new dish for us to vicariously enjoy. Do you have all the Donna Hay cookbooks yet?

in-JeN-iosiTy said...

joey you're risotto looks so good! i love risotto. i remember the wild rice risotto they have at circles...sooo yummy!!! ;)

Barbara said...

Oh that sounds wonderful Joey....and I hope you had a glass of Cava while you were stirring the rice. I'm so glad you have finally entered HHDD. Thank you for supporting us.

Brilynn said...

Hurrah! Risotto and Donna Hay is a good day indeed.
I like your addition of cava.

christine said...

Yum, I love risotto also. You've just inspired me to buy a new bottle of truffle oil and some wild mushrooms to make again.

Shelly said...

Oh my that looks so yummy! I hate to admit this but I have NEVER cooked risotto! This looks so good!

Anonymous said...

I've seen Donna Hay's cookbooks in the store but I've never tried her recipes. I didn't even know who she was until HHDD started showing up on blogs! After reading your entry I think I'm going to have to study up and get to know her books better. :)

Ari (Baking and Books)

ChichaJo said...

Hi Tanna! I enjoy risotto (with mushrooms) to so I guess it was high time that I made it :)

Hi Mila! I enjoy trying new things even if I sometimes end up with horror stories (like a chocolate cake people thought was ube pie!). I don't have all her cookbooks (yet!)...she has quite a number and you know how much cookbooks are here! She has a new one coming out soon that I'm waiting for though :)

Hey Jen! Thanks! It was kind of drier than it should be but not too shabby for a first try :)

Hi Barbara! Yes, the best part about cooking with wine and spirits...having some yourself! Heehee :) I'm glad too that I finally made it! Can't wait for the next one! :)

Hi Brilynn! Thanks for stopping by :) The cava was great...I love substituting bubbly for regular wine :)

Hi Nens! Oooh...I knew there was something I forgot to add...the truffle time! :)

Hi Shelly! I have never cooked risotto until this one! Try it :) You just have to stir and stir (play some good music while doing this)...and the end result is yummy! :)

Hi Ari! What I like about her recipes are their simplicity...simple but flavorful. They are easy to make for novice cooks like myself, but are still delicious. And there is the beautiful pictures...I guess the novice cook in me still looks for the pretty pictures! Heehee :)

wysgal said...

I have no idea who Donna Hay is, but now I'm a bit intrigued to do some research.

I love cooking risotto because I always end up drinking a few glasses of whatever wine I use in it. It makes all that laborious stirring a bit easier. =)

Midge said...

Hi, Joey. That risotto looks marvelous and the Cava sounds like an interesting addition to it.

Incidentally, I was thinking of you last week when I was at Butter Diner. It's this relatively new resto in the Araneta/Gateway area that does fabulous all-day breakfasts. =^w^=

canDIshhh said...

Joey! Your risotto looks so good!

christine said...

Midge, that Butter Diner sounds great! Jo, I need to make another "excursion" to that part of town. :)

ChichaJo said...

Hi Wysgal! Aaah...the wonders of cooking with wine ;) Donna Hay is like an Australian Martha but cuter (sorry Martha!)...her recipes are easy to follow and delicious (at least in my experience), and she manages to put a bang in even the most basic there is something laid back about her attitude that I god, I realize this sounds as if I am some deranged stalker-type. I'm not Donna, I swear!

Hi Midge! The cava worked very well I think :) That Butter Diner sounds good...all-day breakfasts plus the word "butter" in their name...hmmm...definitely something I would like! :)

Hi Candishhh! Thanks! :)

Hi Nens! As I now don't live in that part of town, it will be an excursion for me too! And we should bring C and drop him off at Taco Bell...hahaha :)

Mae said...

Oh, this looks perfect! I've wanted to subscribe too but not sure if i can since i'm in an island off the coast of UK. I'll check it out and see...

ChichaJo said...

Hi Mae! Thanks! :) I get my subscription through a company that handles getting many foreign magazines subscriptions here...otherwise I don't think I could get it here either...

kathryn said...

Lovely recipe Joey - I can imagine all those lovely wild mushrooms smelt (and tasted) fantastic. I've never heard of cava before - in fact i did a double-take as I thought you were talking about kava - which I definitely can't imagine putting in a risotto!

Sigrid said...

Looks nice!V Sorry I just discovered your entry, I'll put it on the roundup as soon as possible, thanks for participating!!

ChichaJo said...

Hi Kathryn! I, on the other hand, have never heard of kava before...I had to look it up, haha! And would have done a double take too...that would have been some funky kind of risotto! :)

Hi Cenzina! Thanks! :) And no worries! I enjoyed this round...finally joining Donna Day and getting to make my first risotto in the deal :)