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Monthly Archives: November 2011

Winter season would be much less charming without a bowl of your favourite heart-warming soup. How many arguments could one have against soup anyway? With only a few ingredients, it’s one of the most humble dishes around, yet a simple touch of herbs and spices can upgrade your recipe from simply satisfying to surprisingly savorous.

As a child I never liked Belgian endive because of its bitter taste. The tangy taste of uncooked Belgian endive is still not my favorite, but I really learned to appreciate the more mellow taste of the cooked, grilled or roasted version.

Belgian endive soup: 4 pieces of Belgian endive, 1 leek, 1 liter of stock (I used a mixture of chicken and veggie stock), 2 eggs, 1/2 cup of grated parmezan or pecorino cheese, nutmeg, salt, pepper.

Boil the endives in about 1 liter of water. Make sure to keep the boiling water aside for adding to your soup later on. When boiled, leave endives to drain and chop into large chunks.

Melt some butter or heat some olive oil and add the chopped leek along with the chunks of endive and cook for about 10 minutes. Add the stock and the boiling water from the endives and bring to boil again.

Mix the soup.

Beat the eggs, season with salt and pepper and add the grated cheese. Then add to the mixed soup and whisk well.  Season with nutmeg and more salt and pepper if needed. Add some more grated cheese for serving.

One of the reasons why Italian cooking is so popular, at least in my kitchen, is because most recipes require only a few main ingredients. For some occasions I do love to broaden my horizon and try out complicated recipes that will keep me hostage in the supermarket – sometimes it just takes ages to find ingredients of which you’ve never heard of before, not to mention the hours you spend with those ingredients later on in your kitchen.

But most of the time I prefer to keep it simple. Risotti are one of my favorite Friday night dishes. Shopping the ingredients will not take you any longer than your average blitz visit to the supermarket. Which is great because after a week of work you do not want to run a marathon with that shopping cart. Preparing the food will take some time, true, but you don’t have to worry about washing dishes late at night and getting up early the next day.

The original recipe for this risotto is from The Silver Spoon (risotto al barolo con funghi). Instead of the dried mushrooms suggested in the book, I used a variety of fresh mushrooms since they are easy to find this time around. I also added 1 more tomato and a bit less of the Barolo wine, simply because I only had one bottle and I wanted to make sure there would be enough left to drink along with the risotto.

Mushroom Barolo Risotto (4 servings): 400g risotto rice, 600g variety of mushrooms (pick any kind you like), 15cl Barolo, 1 garlic clove (finely chopped), 1 onion (finely chopped), rosemary, sage, basil, 5 tomatoes, 1,5l vegetable stock, flat-leaf parsley, Parmezan cheese, butter and olive oil.

Melt a good chunk of butter and olive oil in a pan and fry the onion, garlic, rosemary, sage and basil. Make sure to keep heat low and stir occasionally.

Remove seeds from the tomatoes, chop and add to the onions. Leave to simmer at medium heat for about 20 minutes. Then add the mushrooms and leave for another 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the risotto rice and stir until the grains are all coated in oil and butter. Increase the heat on your pan to medium-high and add the wine. Cook until it has evaporated.

Start adding the vegetable stock, about 100ml at a time. Each time, stir until most of the liquid has been absorbed by the rice, then add a new portion of stock. This whole process will take about 20 minutes. You don’t necessarily have to add stock until the last drop. I had some stock left when I decided that the rice was smooth and creamy enough. Adding more stock might have overcooked the risotto. So it’s up to you and your personal taste.

Before serving, cut some flat-leaf parsley and stir in the rice. Serve with the cheese. And don’t forget to drink the rest of that Barolo wine as you are enjoying your risotto!