Quattro Fungi and Toasted Pine Nuts Risotto


Your little dose of aphrodisiac…

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Food in my view is an all-encompassing experience, engaging all your senses, giving you a sense of euphoria! Add Friday to this mix and it is reason enough to celebrate.
 
My ideal Friday is coming home to my wonderful kitchen and cooking an easy but equally delicious and indulgent meal for Ji and I. What better a way to unwind! Cooking  on a Friday night may feel like climbing the Everest for some but believe me once you start enjoying the cooking experience as much as the eating experience, your life will never be the same again.
 
On my way home from work last Friday I was tossing up what to cook for dinner. I knew I had two luscious globes of broccoli in the fridge, but my mind and belly felt like something a little more indulgent. The chill in the Melbourne air  also called for some rich, decadent, flavour packed comfort food. 
 
Contrary to my popular choice of comfort food this meal is all about celebrating the humble yet gastronomically glamorous Italian food! I chose to make a mushroom risotto, a perfect dish to spice up your night in. Mushrooms belong to the family of natural aphrodisiacs, add a glass of wine and company of your better half to the mix – that’s what nirvana feels like!
 
Ingredients: 13  Cooking time: 60 minutes
Serves: 4
  • 1.5 cups of brown arborio rice or medium grain rice
  • 500ml of white wine (I used a chardonnay)
  • One cup each of assorted mushrooms (I used dried shiitake and fresh oyster, Swiss brown & button mushrooms)
  • One medium-sized onion chopped
  • Six to eight pods of garlic finely chopped ( there is no such thing as too much garlic)
  • One cube of vegetable or chicken stock (I used Massel vegetable stock cube)
  • Five tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1.5 litres of water
  • Salt to taste
  • Tablespoon of butter (optional)
For the garnish
  • Handful of toasted pine nuts
  • Finely chopped continental parsley
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Start by preparing the mushrooms. Slice the swiss  brown and button mushrooms (prior to slicing them remove the stem). Add one cup of hot water to the dried shiitake mushrooms and soak them for about 10 to 15 minutes until soft. Strain the shiitake mushrooms, don’t throw the water away as we will use it for stock (this stock is key in bringing out the flavour). If you have dried porcini mushrooms its even better, prepare them in the same way as the shiitake mushrooms.

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In a saucepan add olive oil followed by onion and garlic. Cook the onions for 10 – 12 minutes on medium heat, until they are lightly browned. Now add the vegetable or chicken stock cube, this should be easily available at your local supermarket. Stir the onion mix until the stock cube is nicely incorporated.

Add 1.5 cups of uncooked rice, I used medium grain brown rice.  Coat the rice with the onion garlic mix and cook for five to seven minutes on a medium heat. Brown rice in my view is a great option because of the great nutty flavour and crunch. Plus face it brown rice will be slightly kinder to your waistline than white rice.

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Time to get naughty!! Add 500ml of white wine to the rice, I used a Bethany Chardonnay.  Keep stirring until the wine reduces. Brown rice requires a lot of liquid to cook, so add stock of the shiitake mushroom and three cups of water (approximately 750ml of water). Keep stirring. 

The key to a creamy risotto is either lots of cream and butter a.k.a calories or a woman/man with a good arm that can keep stirring. When the water has reduced add the remaining water, cover the saucepan with a lid and cook the rice for 30 – 40 minutes on medium heat.

Check the rice to see if it’s cooked, remember brown rice tends to be crunchy and  holds it form better than white rice.  So don’t fret if the rice is still visibly separate, nobody likes a gluggy sloppy risotto! 

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Add the mushrooms, cover the lid and cook the risotto for another 10-15 minutes. Season with salt as desired. To make the risotto glisten you can add a spoon of butter and give it a good stir, this is optional!

Garnish this bad boy with toasted pine nuts, fresh parsley and grated parmesan. Serve hot and let your Friday night in sizzle with this lip smackingly delicious beauty!!!

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