I am a big fan of risotto. Once a week I’ll make a different risotto, with curry, seafood, chicken, spicy sausage – there are no limits to your imagination. There are three steps to obtain the ideal risotto: solfriggere – tostare – cuocere, which I will explain in the recipe itself. Enjoy.
© pitiross 2014
INGREDIENTS – serves 6
- 500 g Arborio rice
- 1 large onion, chopped in small pieces
- 2 litres chicken or vegetable broth
- 60 g butter or 60 ml olive oil
- 200 ml red wine
- 500 ml passata di pomodoro (tomato purée)
- 2 cloves garlic
- Some salt and pepper
- 1 tbsp oregano
- 1 small chorizo sausage, chopped in small cubes
Prepare the broth and keep it simmering. The next step is to soften the onion in a pot in the butter or olive oil for about 5 minutes (don’t let it turn brown). Add the garlic (chopped or mashed to a paste, whichever you prefer). Now add the rice and stir until every grain is coated with the butter (olive oil). Slightly increase the temperature and add the wine, which has to be left to evaporate completely.
Now we start adding the broth with a soup ladle, one at a time. After the first ladle of broth, add the tomato purée, the chorizo sausage, and the oregano. Leave the rice to set a bit between each addition of broth, stirring to prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pot. This process takes about 20 minutes to obtain a nice risotto that is just “al dente”. After about 15 minutes take care that you don’t add too much broth, otherwise your risotto will end up runny. Once the cooking process is finished, let the rice rest for about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
You can check the perfect consistency of your risotto by slightly tilting the pot with the risotto to the side. If you see a wave-like structure in the risotto, it is cooked to perfection. Some people like to add cubes of cold butter to the risotto at this stage, however, I prefer it without.
Serve freshly grated Parmigiano with the risotto.
This is a great way of “recycling” stale white bread. It’s very moist with a rich flavour.
INGREDIENTS – makes about 15 squares
- 600 g stale white bread, sliced
- 1 tin evaporated milk (standard size, about 380 ml, you can also use the “light” version, if you’re calorie conscious)
- 200 ml water
- 2 tsp vanilla essence
- 4 tbsp sugar
- 4 tbsp cocoa powder
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 pinch ground cloves
- zest of one orange and mandarin
- 200 ml orange juice (you can also squeeze one fresh orange)
- 250 g mixed dried fruit
- 100 g hazelnuts, whole and roasted
- 80 g margarine, softened
- 200 ml dark rum
Grease an ovenproof baking dish with butter. Place the stale bread in a large bowl and add the milk and vanilla essence. Now use your hands to mix the bread with the milk, resulting in a mushy mix. Set the mixture aside for about 5 minutes so the bread can soak up all the milk. Once done, add all the remaining ingredients and mix with your hands until you obtain a smooth texture. Pour the mixture into the oven dish and spread to a uniform layer. Bake at 200°C for 30 minutes. The pudding can be served warm with vanilla custard or cold. It’s also delicious with a cup of tea.
With Easter round the corner, I would like to share with you a delicious recipe from Malta. These sweets are prepared before Easter during lent and cut on Easter Sunday. Being a fan of Hello Kitty, I had decided to adapt the recipe a bit and that was the result:
Large Hello Kitty figolla
Small Hello Kitty figolli
INGREDIENTS – makes 4
First the dough:
- 800 g self-rising flour (if you use normal flour, you’ll have to add the appropriate amount of baking powder for 800 g)
- 200 g castor sugar
- 280 g butter
- 3 eggs
- Some lemon zest
- 1 tsp vanilla powder
- 1 pinch of salt
Now the filling:
- 200 g ground almonds
- 150 g castor sugar
- 100 g icing sugar
- Some lemon zest
- 1 tsp vanilla powder
- 1 egg
And last but not least – the decoration:
- 2 bars chocolate cake covering (you can also use plain chocolate with 70% cocoa – that’s what I usually do. If you prefer white chocolate or milk chocolate, feel free. In fact, the figolla in the photo has a white chocolate covering)
Preheat the oven to 170 °C. Put the flour in a bowl and mix it with sugar, butter, and lemon zest, add the eggs and mix until the dough is smooth, add some water if needed. Put aside.
For the filling just mix, all ingredients until you get a smooth paste.
Now roll out the dough on a floured surface using a rolling pin, cut out the desired shape (in the photo I used a drawing template of Hello Kitty. Just make sure that the image you choose does not have any small parts, as it will be hard to fill them and they might break off when you transfer the figolli from the baking tray to your cooling rack). Spread the filling evenly on the dough and cover with another piece of dough identical in shape to the bottom layer. Bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes.
Once the figolli have cooled, cover them with chocolate and decorate to your liking (i.e. hundreds and thousands, chocolate eggs, smarties – anything that tickles your fancy)
A local supermarket offered a cupcake maker as part of their customer loyalty scheme and I got myself one. Mainly so my youngest son could make some cupcakes on his own, however, even I enjoy it (although I am usually not into baking gadgets, apart from my trusted oven). It makes 7 cupcakes at a time, 6 hearts and one flower, and all this in 10 minutes. Great!!!
Cupcakes made with my universal sparkling water dough
Sparkling water dough, basic recipe
- 3 eggs
- 2 mugs of sugar
- 1 mug of sunflower oil
- 1 mug of sparkling water
- 2 teaspoons of baking powder
- 1 packet of pudding powder (custard, vanilla)
- 3 mugs of flour
- Some cake flavouring to taste (either lemon, vanilla, rum, almond or orange)
Put all the ingredients together in a bowl and mix. Best results are achieved if the sparkling water is put last. Almost anything can be added to this basic dough. If you want a light-coloured cake, use the vanilla powder, for a dark-coloured cake use chocolate pudding powder. You can also add nuts, any dried fruit or fresh or frozen fruit.
I use a standard big mug (200 ml) for measuring. Size doesn’t really matter, as long as you use the same mug for all ingredients.
One of my all-time favourites.
© pitiross @ condimentumetlingua.wordpress.com
INGREDIENTS – serves 4
- 300 g bacon (if you’re not fond of bacon, you can also use finely chopped chicken sausages – kids love it)
- 2 large onions
- 4 cloves of garlic
- some parsley, flat-leaved
- 4 eggs
- 200 ml fresh cream (if you prefer it less heavy, you can also use milk with 3.5% fat content)
- 250 g grated cheese (Cheddar, Gruyere, Red Leicester)
- salt, pepper
- 1 roll pie pastry or pizza pastry (ready-to-use, I shall post a recipe for a homemade pie pastry later on)
Cut the bacon into small cubes (or the chicken sausages), peel and finely chop the onions, peel the garlic, and squeeze it through a garlic press (in case you don’t have garlic press, a little grater normally used for lemon zest will do) and chop the parsley. Mix everything in a bowl.
Beat the eggs, fresh cream (milk), and grated cheese, season with pepper and a little bit of salt (as the bacon tends to be already quite salty). Preheat the oven to 220°C.
Line a rectangular, greased tin with the pastry, ensuring that you pull it up at the sides of the tin to form a rim of about 3 cm. If you like to have the quiche “closed” at the corners, pull the pastry a bit higher (this will be folded over the egg-bacon mix later on).
Distribute the bacon mix on the pastry and pour the egg mix on it. If you have left that extra bit of pastry, fold it over the corners now, covering the egg mix.
Bake the quiche at 250°C for about 20 minutes (on the middle rack).
This quiche is served best with a salad and a glass of white wine.
Arriba, arriba, andaleeeeeeeeeeeeee
Chilli con queso
@Family circle, Step by step
INGREDIENTS – serves 4
- 2 green jalapeno peppers
- 30 g butter
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 200 g sour cream
- 250 g grated Cheddar
- corn chips, to serve
- Roast the chillies by holding them with tongs (one at a time) over a gas flame, until well blackened (or cut the chillies in half, remove the seeds, flatten out and grill until black). Place in a plastic bag and set aside to cool. Scrape away the skin, remove the seeds, and finely chop the flesh.
- Melt the butter in a small pan. Add the onion and cook over medium-low heat for 5 minutes, or until soft and lightly golden. Add the chillies and stir to combine.
- Add the sour cream and stir until warm and thinned down slightly. Add the cheese and keep stirring until it has melted and the mixture is smooth.
Curried lentil soup
@Family Circle, Step by step
INGREDIENTS – serves 4
- 50 g ghee or butter
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 tbs Madras curry powder (hot)
- 1 tsp black mustard seeds
- 300 g potatoes, diced
- 220 g dried red lentils
- 1 litre chicken stock
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 4 tbsp thick plain yogurt, to serve
- 2 tbsp fresh coriander, finely chopped, to garnish
- Heat the ghee in a heavy-based pan. Cook the onion and garlic for 3 minutes or until just softened. Add the curry powder and mustard seeds and cook for 2 minutes, stirring well.
- Add the potato and cook for 6-7 minutes, stirring regularly, until the potato is golden brown and just tender. Add the lentils, stock and salt. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 45 minutes, skimming off any foam from the top of the soup while cooking, until the potato is soft and the soup is thick. Add extra water if the soup becomes too thick.
- Add the lemon juice and season with plenty of salt and pepper. Serve topped with yoghurt and sprinkled with coriander.
This is a recipe from North Africa. You can add spices to your liking.
INGREDIENTS – for 12 portions
- 300 ml water, lukewarm
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cube fresh yeast, alternatively 2 packets of dried instant yeast
- 100 ml olive oil
- 400 g flour
- 2 tsp coriander seeds
- 1 tsp ground cumin
Pour the water into a large bowl and add the salt. Crumble the yeast into the water or add the instant yeast. Mix everything with a hand blender. Add the oil, then the flour as needed. Add the spices.
The consistency of the dough should be slightly softer than a pizza dough. The dough must not be too heavy, otherwise it will not rise properly.
Cover the bowl with a cloth and leave to rise until it has doubled in size. Form small balls about the size of your palm, press into a flat shape and put on a floured surface. Cover with a moist (not wet) cloth and leave to rise again, until they have increase in size by roughly another third.
Put some olive oil in a deep plate. Cover your hands with the olive oil and pull the dough balls into oval shapes gently using your fingers.
Heat a frying pan with a heavy bottom and fry the dough WITHOUT oil until they are golden brown on both sides. Serve warm!
© pitiross, condimentumetlingua
I grew up with this song and it still makes me shake those limbs. I always cook with music in the background.