Sunday, March 14, 2010

Daring to do it: Risotto

My first Daring Cook's challenge!! So exciting!!

The March 2010 Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Eleanor of Melbournefoodgeek and Jess of Jessthebaker. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make risotto. The various components of their challenge recipe are based on input from the Australian Masterchef cookbook and the cookbook Moorish by Greg Malouf.

I have made risotto once before, and liked it, but it wasn't something that I thought of to make regularly. I tend to try not to keep too many different types of rices in the kitchen, as space is kind of an issue. But I was psyched to try it again, and knew that this would be a lot of fun.

One of the things I love about the Daring Kitchen is that people are encouraged to take the recipe and put their own spin on it. Right away I knew this would be necessary, as chicken stock wasn't something I was about to be making in my vegetarian kitchen. Vegetable stock, on the other hand, was something I had been wanting to make for a LONG time. I had in my freezer baggies full of onion peels, broccoli stems and asparagus trimmings, just waiting for the opportunity to turn them into stock. I added the frozen booty, along with some fresh carrots, bay leaves and spices to the stoneware of my crock pot, filled it with water and set it simmering. At the end of the day, after a trip through the strainer, I was left with some beautiful vegetable stock! The flavor was a little blander than I had hoped, but this is probably because I tend to under-salt things. So next time I make stock, (and I am already stockpiling "scraps" in my freezer for the next time!) I will know to add a lot more salt, and maybe some soy sauce...

It was then time to determine what kind of risotto I would be making. One of the ways our meal plans are determined is by the weekly circulars. This particular week, broccoli was a good price, so I decided to make roasted broccoli and garlic risotto with pecorino Romano cheese. So I set the stock to simmer, got the broccoli and garlic into the oven to roast, and started sauteing the onion. In went the rice to toast a bit, then it was time to make the risotto. Risotto is one of those things that seems like it ought to be really complicated, but it isn't. It is just needs a good amount of attention. So Hubby was on Little Girl duty while I added stock and stirred and simmered away!
Then end result was well worth the effort!!

The saltiness of the cheese balanced the "mildness" of the stock beautifully. The roasted broccoli and garlic gave such a nice flavor making the dish really just superb. I was so excited to have a) made such a yummy risotto and b) successfully done my first challenge!


I didn't leave well enough alone. Having this extra arborio rice in the house, and loving desserts as much as I do, I knew I had to try a dessert risotto. For this I knew I wouldn't be using my vegetable stock. It might not have had the flavor I had hoped for, but it certainly wasn't at all dessert-y!! So my dessert stock was vanilla soy milk infused with a vanilla bean, a cinnamon stick, some brown sugar and some nutmeg. Using this, I made a strawberries and cream risotto. If you have ever had rice pudding, this tops it! The creaminess of the risotto makes for a decadent dessert! For those who aren't convinced about risotto because of the texture, try it as a dessert - it not only expands the flavor possibilities, it makes the creaminess make sense!

Thank you so much Eleanor and Jess for hosting this challenge and bringing risotto back into my life! And thank you to the Daring Kitchen for welcoming me in and letting me Dare along with you!!


  1. A veggie risotto and a sweet version WOW you really went all out on this challenge. And your photos are so beautiful and great to hear that they were both so delicious. And yes stock does need a fair amount of salt especially veggie stock great you used up your cache of frozen veggies. Well done on this challenge. Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

  2. I can't eat savoury risotto because I have a severe issues with the texture, but I LOVE sweet rice pudding. A strawberries and cream risotto sounds awesome!!! I made a chocolate coconut risotto with poached cherries.

  3. Welcome! I too make stock/broth from veggie "leftovers" ex. ends of asparagus, hard stalk of broccoli, onions esp. the inbetween of the skin and the next layer etc. I usually keep them in the freezer and when i have enough i let them simmer away.

    I like that strawberry and cream combination.

  4. Congrats on your first challenge! I have to start keeping a frozen scrap bag in the freezer...great idea. Your risottos turned out amazing

  5. both versions sound fabulous and welcome to Daring Cooks ! I hoped to try a sweet version as well as my savoury one but ran out of time.

  6. Well done! They both look great esp the pudding...I should have made a sweet version too!

  7. Love the color and richness of your chicken broth. The risotto must've tasted superb with a stock like that! And extra props for making a risotto dessert!

  8. First challenge - amazing job..congrats!! Both your risottos look amazing and I'm looking forward to seeing all the great dishes you come up with in future challenges :)

  9. I absolutely adore your strawberries and cream risotto parfaits. Your looks and sounds delicious too! To get the rice slightly al dente, I usually just taste a grain or two with a disposable plastic spoon in between the ladling. Most recipes should instruct you to that point, though :)