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Monday, March 15, 2010

Daring Cooks' Risotto

It is officially my eleventh Daring Cooks’ challenge and a celebration of constant learning and exploring. So far DC is my best source of culinary know-how due to my limited time as a full-time worker. There are new things to learn each time. So insightful I should consider it a multi-cultural eye opener and I believe some of you agree with me on this. For all other DCs who started almost the same time as me, a toast of celebration, yeah!

This month challenge brought us to Italy where we were introduced to the most common way of cooking rice in Italy. Risotto is a traditional Italian rice dish cooked with broth and flavored with parmesan cheese and other ingredients, which can include meat, fish or vegetables. The name means literally "little rice" and it is one of the most common ways of cooking rice in Italy.Its origins are in northern Italy, specifically Eastern Piedmont, Western Lombardy, and the Veneto, where rice paddies are abundant. Risottos are made using short-grain rice, with the stock being added gradually while the rice is stirred constantly. The cooking technique leads the rice to release its starch, giving the finished dish a creamy texture (Source:

When I tasted Risotto after taking the photos, I had to say that it was really creamy and wonderful. T didn’t really like it. Well, in fact he didn’t really like anything Italian except Tiramisu. But I was in love with it. Every bite into this spoonful of creamy yet subtly grainy rice just made me want for more. And the combination of broth, sherry wine, pumpkin, thyme, and parmesan cheese simply made this dish so desirable. One spoon into another swiftly brings you to an empty plate....., that is just how good it is.

The 2010 March 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.

Serves four

1. Chicken Broth
Makes 1.75 liters

- Chicken carcasses > 1.5 kilograms
- Big onion - roughly dice > 1 or around 250 grams
- Medium leek - rougly dice white part only > 1 or about 60 grams
- Garlic - halve > 3 cloves
- Cinnamon stick > 1.5
- Dried white peppercorns > 1 teaspoon
- Dried bay leaves > 5
- Peel of lime - grate > 1 lime
- Dried cloves > 5

- Wash the chicken carcasses and place them in a big pot, add 2 liters of water and bring to a boil. Skim away any scum as it comes to the surface.
- Add the vegetables and bring back to a boil.
- Add the rest remaining ingredients and simmer very gently, uncovered for 1.5 hours
- Carefully lift out the bones. Continue simmering the stock gently for another hour.
- Carefully ladle the liquid into a fine sieve, the less the bones and vegetables are disturbed in this process the clearer the stock will be. 
The stock is now ready for use or fridge overnight.

2. Risotto Base

- Virgin olive oil > 60 ml
- Small onion - coarsely chop > 1 or approximately 50 grams
- Arborio risotto rice > 400 grams
- Sherry wine > 60 ml
- Chicken broth > 1 liter

- Heat oil in a pan and add onion. Fry for a few minutes to flavour the oil then discard.
- Add the rice and stir for a few minutes to coat each grain of rice with oil and toast slightly.
- Add the wine and let it bubble away until evaporated.
- Add enough stock to cover the rice by a finger’s width (about an inch or two). Don't actually stick your finger in, it will be hot. Just eye it off.
- Cook on medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon from time to time, until most of the stock has been absorbed. Repeat this step until 1 liter of chicken broth is completely used.
- Once you are at this point, the base is made. Set aside. You now get to add your own variation.

3. Prawn and Pumpkin Risotto

- Prawn > 300 grams
- Mushroom > 200 grams
- Small onion - corsely chop > 1 or approximately 50 grams
- Pumpkin - coarsely grate > 200 grams
- Fresh thyme - remove stem and chop the leaves > 1 tablespoon
- Salted butter - chill and cut into small cubes, divide into 2 portions > 100 gram
- Parmesan cheese - grate > 60 grams
- Chicken broth > 100 ml

- Saute chopped onion until fragrant in a saucepan.
- Add mushroom and prawn. Fry until mushroom softened and prawn become orange.
- Set aside.
- Immediately in another saucepan, melt one portion of the butter. Add pumpkin and cook until tender. Set aside (or blend for a smoother texture).
- Put the risotto base back on fire.
- Stir through the pumpkin mixture and thyme.
- Add the final 100ml of stock and hte remaining butter and stir until both are completely absorbed.
- Gently fold in mushroom and prawns. Stir moderately.
- Stir through the parmesan, stick the lid on and let it sit for a few minutes.
- Serve hot.


  1. That is one fantastic risotto! I love your plates and bowls!



  2. Your risotto looks like a real success! I love the color.

  3. I absolutely love all your pictures. Great job on the challenge!

  4. Kris, I had been waiting for your post since this morning and it was not in vain. Your risotto looks fabulous. I've not had risotto before but I loved doing this challenge. Your pictures as always are fantastic.

  5. Well I have to admit your photographs are cookbook quality they are so clear and elegant and really show off the recipes off so well. The colours found in your photos are astounding and astonishing. Your risotto looks so exquisitely creamy and luscious and those prawns looks perfect. Superb effort on the risotto. Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

    That first photograph is amazing. Yours

  6. Lovely, lovely presentation. It seems like i'm looking at a cookbook cover or a page of a cookbook. You take beautiful pictures. I like the additon of the butter. Those mushrooms, they look so fresh. I think shrimps were the common choice as the side dish, it worked well with my risotto version as well.

  7. Fantastic photos, I love the bright yellow and orange of your dish. The prawn is an interesting choice to pair with the risotto!

  8. Gorgeous work on this challenge!! I agree with you. DC is indeed a multicultural learning experience!

  9. Kris, Lovely post as always. I must try to risotta one of these day.

  10. How is it possible that you can make shrimps look so amazingly beauuutiful? Takes lots of SKILLs to make that happen! Love your pumpkin risotto, I can see the nice pumpkin meat intertwined in between, absolutely lovely.

  11. You did a beautiful job! Those prawns are making me hungry! Interesting that T. doesn't like Italian food - he may be the only person I've heard of who doesn't!

  12. What a gorgeous looking risotto! How can he not like risotto?? I love the stuff!! Gorgeous shots too!

  13. Kris,
    Your pumpkin risotto sounds delicious, and I love shrimp too! Beautiful images as usual:)

    Have a great week!

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  15. Your risotto looks delicious.I love the combination of flavours. And I so love your photos. The colour and the lighting is perfect.

  16. Nice job! Next moth will be your one year mark, which will really be a reason to celebrate. Congrats.

  17. Your risotto looks like a beautiful symphony of colors!

  18. Both the risotto and the photos are magnificent. :)

  19. Gorgeous as ever.Love your food styling. You are GOOD at this my friend, very good indeed!

  20. Oh gosh. The flavours sound absolutely divine, with the sweetness of the prawn and pumpkin and the heartiness of the thyme. And I love how you plated the food, with the vibrant colours and (I think, anyway) slightly South East Asian feel to it too. Wonderful!

  21. Your photos are lovely!! The risotto and shrimp look so appetizing. Your photog. skills are amazing.

  22. Your risotto is, as we say. "Lookin' good!" I'm sure it tastes every bit as good as it looks. You really have a gorgeous blog and I will be back often to see what you've been making. Have a grand day...Mary

  23. OMG your risotto looks perfect and it sounds delish!!! I would love to try some :)
    As alwasy I'm amazed with photos... wow!

    Cheers from... sunny(!) Ireland.

  24. Once again, I am speechless. Your presentations are mind-boggling. And your photos are a sheer delight.
    The shrimp/pumpkin risotto looks delicious and I can't wait to make it, although I think I will hold off until fall. I love risotto too; so sorry T. didn't!

  25. Very beautiful, indeed! I was instantly drawn to your first photo in the forum; your risotto is so creatively styled in the basket! You have a very classy blog and your photos are stunning. Keep up the excellent posts.

  26. Congraaaaaaaaaaaaatsssssss !!!!! Hey yaaa, again Congrats for you Kris :) your cake very pretty ..

  27. Love the photos! Your styling is up there with the best.

  28. Kris..I don't think I've ever seen a prawn look so beautiful. As mentioned many times above, your photos are simply the hook. That said, the pairing of those prawns with pumpkin in your beautiful risotto is such a unique and fantastic idea. I would love a taste! Then again, I want to taste ..well, devour, everything you make/bake/create!

  29. Deeba: Thanks, Deeba!

    Erushi: I am lost when it comes to a specific ethnic look of my photos. Basically I like them to be nice, and these props come from many different countries, like for instance the plate is Aboriginal. For me props could be anything as long as the overall look is aesthetics.

    Sue: Thanks, Sue!

    Mary: Thanks!

    Anula: Thank you…. How is the weather there in Ireland right now?

    Barbara: Thanks Barbara…. And I think your mustard ring with rhubarb compote is very alluring. Besides leaving the comment, I might actually try making it in my kitchen.

    Denise: Thanks, Denise!

    Fitri: Thanks, Fit! That's partially because you didn't join the competition!

    Anita: Thanks!

    Lisa: Same here, I want to indulge in having your mango risotto verrines and vanilla risotto fritters. They are simply beautiful and tempting.

    Sawadee from Bangkok,

  30. Your risotto looks very tempting indeed. I recently had some at a fine restaurant and finally saw what the fuss was all about!