Eating is a necessity. However, we choose what to eat. The choices we make reveal a great deal about us. The food you eat can tell quite a bit about your heritage, your family, your fears, your sense of adventure, your attitude toward yourself and others, and a myriad of other personal tidbits to anyone paying attention. Everything about eating is a glimpse into your soul.

I hope to reveal a little bit about myself to you through my food. I enjoy cooking. I enjoy eating. I find pleasure in bringing pleasure to others. I hope that by sharing my recipes I bring you a little bit of joy.

Cook my food. Feed it to the people you love.

Sunday, August 29, 2010


More than any other dish, risotto is Italian.  It is the most comfortable of comfort food.  Many people are afraid to attempt this dish, thereby robbing themselves of a chance at love in a bowl.  Risotto is an art, but it is not impossible. It does take more attention than cooking regular rice, but it is totally worth it. If you try making this dish and it doesn’t work out, don’t give up. After you have made this basic recipe, you can play with it and create as many varieties of risotto as your imagination will allow. This will make you happy.  I promise.

Read through the entire recipe before you begin.

Servings: 4 main course or 6 side dishes

Hardware: knife, cutting board, measuring spoons, small sauce pot, large sauce pot, large, heavy bottomed skillet (preferably cast iron) with a lid, bowl, ladle, wooden spoon, measuring cup, serving bowl

Time: Prep 10 minutes, cooking 30-40 minutes (totally worth it)

  • 3 tablespoons + 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 2 tablespoons heavy olive oil
  • 1 small onion minced ( ½ cup)
  • 1 ½ cups ARBORIO rice
    •  It is very important to use the correct type of rice
  • 1 cup of white wine
  •  4-8 cups of stock
    •  Homemade stock works best. Use whatever variety suits you: vegetable, chicken, beef, etc. If you use a store bought stock get a low sodium variety. The reduction that takes place during cooking will concentrate everything (including salt) and your risotto will be ruined. Also do not buy a low fat variety. Fat helps with the texture and mouth feel of the dish.
  • ¼ cup grated cheese (Parmesan or pecorino)
  • Salt to taste
  • Fresh chopped Italian (flat leaf) parsley for garnish
  1. Mince the onions (the smaller the better.)
  2.  Warm the stock and the wine in different sauce pots. You want them very warm, but not boiling. (If you add a cold liquid to the rice, you will cause the rice to seize up and it will not cook properly.)
  3.  Sauté the onions in 3 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Adjust the heat until the onions are bubbly and cooking slowly. Continue to sauté until the onions are translucent. Do not allow them to brown. 
  4. Add the rice. Increase the heat. Continue to sauté until the edges of the rice are translucent. This takes 1-2 minutes. Do not allow anything to brown.
  5.  Add the WARM wine. The risotto should be boiling. Stir until the wine is absorbed. (It is important that you stir the risotto practically the entire time you are cooking. You can step away for a second or two, but the texture of the dish depends upon you stirring. Also, you don’t want this glutinous dish to stick to the bottom of the pan. Using cast iron helps with this.)
    • Hint: The liquid is absorbed enough when the bottom of the pan becomes visible as you stir. So when you pull the spoon across the bottom of the pan and no liquid runs into that space immediately, add more liquid.
  6. When the wine is almost absorbed add about a cup of simmering broth. (Measure the amount of liquid your ladle will hold. Mine holds ½ cup, so I add 2 ladles. At this point precise measuring isn’t important.) The broth should be warm enough that everything is still boiling. Stir while lowering the heat until the risotto is simmering, just below boiling. Keep stirring. 
  7. Continue to stir, when the liquid is absorbed, add more stock. Continue stirring, allowing the liquid to be absorbed, and adding stock until the rice is firm, but not crunchy. This normally takes about ½ hour from the first ladle of stock, maybe longer. Towards the end the absorption rate will slow down and I only add one ladle of stock at a time. If you run out of stock, you can add hot water or more wine. 
  8.  When in doubt, under cook a little bit as the dish will continue to cook as it sits. 
  9.  Turn the heat source off. Add the rest of the butter and the cheese and stir until everything is incorporated. Add salt if needed. 
  10.  Remove from the heat and cover it with a lid. Allow it to sit for 2 minutes. Run the serving bowl under warm water and dry before using. It is always best to warm a serving dish before using it with warm food.
Garnish the risotto with parsley and serve immediately.
After you have mastered this you can play around. Try these varieties:
  • Replace the butter with olive oil and skip the cheese to make the dish vegan.
  • Use garlic and/or leeks in addition to the onions at the beginning of the dish. (Add an extra bit of oil if  you add more veggies)
  • Add a 12 oz bag of fresh baby spinach to the dish after the wine has evaporated.
  • Stir in 1 cup of any cooked vegetable during the last few minutes of cooking.
  • Add 3 cloves of chopped garlic to the onion (step 3), stir in 2 cups of chopped, seeded tomatoes with the first ladle of stock (step 7), then add ¼ cup of fresh shredded basil at step 10.
  • Stir in ½ lb cooked shrimp or cooked chopped chicken at step 10.
  • Stir in 1 cup of shredded beef or pork and ½ cup defrosted frozen peas (canned peas are mushy) at step 10.
  • Change the flavor of the stock depending upon the flavors you want to impart. (Don’t use more than ½ cup of fish stock as it will get really fishy).