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Daring Cooks - Strawberry Risotto with Balsamic Vinegar

Sunday, 14 March 2010

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. The main requirement was that we MUST make your own stock and the risotto base. The base consisted of wine, rice, oil, stock, cheese and butter.

I was thrilled when I found out about the challenge as I had a risotto dish in my must-make-soon list. I heard about this combo from a family friend during one of our Chinese New Year reunion dinners. He's someone who loves his food too and he was telling us about how he spent Valentine's day all alone and he cooked this awesome strawberry risotto with balsamic vinegar for himself to celebrate his solitude. Anyway, I was intrigued. The wild boar obviously thought it was weird and that was why I left it be for awhile until this challenge came up!

This is a savoury dish, not a sweet rice pudding. I was surprised by how all the flavours came together nicely. It's rich, creamy with sweet and tangy flavours from the strawberries and balsamic vinegar. The fresh basil added a nice fresh flavour to the dish and the freshly ground pepper added a nice kick to it. All in all, a nice balance of flavours. I decided to add the balsamic vinegar after cooking the risotto instead of adding the vinegar while cooking the risotto as I wanted to preserve the nice sharp flavours of the balsamic vinegar. The uncooked strawberries for the topping was a tad too sour. Not unless I get really sweet strawberries, I'd just drizzle a bit of balsamic vinegar on the rice and leave out the fresh strawberries.

Vegetable Stock

vegetable stock 5
Adapted from Gourmet at Epicurious
  • 250g fresh portobello mushrooms - cut into thirds
  • 450g shallots - halved
  • 480g (2 large) carrots - cut into large chunks
  • 2 red bell peppers - cut into large slices
  • 12g (about 6 sprigs) flat leaf parsley
  • 5g (about 5 sprigs) fresh thyme
  • 4 cloves garlic - crushed
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 can (400g) canned tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 L water
  • Pre-heat oven to 220°C.
  • Toss together mushrooms, shallots, carrots, bell peppers, parsley and thyme sprigs, garlic, and oil in a large flameproof roasting pan. Roast in the middle of oven, turning occasionally, until vegetables are lightly browned, 30 to 40 minutes.
  • Transfer all ingredients into a stockpot or a pressure cooker pot.
vegetable stock
  • Set roasting pan across 2 burners, then add wine and deglaze pan by boiling over moderate heat, stirring and scraping up brown bits, 2 minutes.
vegetable stock 3
  • Transfer to stockpot and add bay leaves, tomatoes, and water.
vegetable stock 4
  • Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, 45 minutes. OR cook under pressure for 30 mins.
  • Pour through a large fine sieve into a large bowl, pressing on and discarding solids. Skim off fats if any.
vegetable stock 6

Strawberry Risotto with Balsamic Vinegar

strawberry risotto with balsamic vinegar 7
Ingredients: serves 2
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 tbs unsalted butter
  • 200g arborio rice
  • 5 shallots - diced
  • 200g fresh strawberries - coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2 1/2 cups vegetable stock
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 handful fresh basil - torn
  • 3 tbs Parmesan (plus more for serving)
  • Red chili flakes (optional)
For topping:
  • 100g fresh strawberries - chopped into small pieces
  • 1 tbs balsamic vinegar
  • In a small bowl, mix together strawberries for topping (100g) and balsamic vinegar. Leave to macerate for about 30 mins. Place the rest of the strawberries (200g) in another plate for later use.
strawberry risotto with balsamic vinegar 2
  • Heat up olive oil and butter in a pan.
  • Add shallots, saute until softened.
strawberry risotto with balsamic vinegar 1
  • Mix in rice, fry until rice is translucent at the edges.
strawberry risotto with balsamic vinegar 3
  • Add wine and let the alcohol boil away and all the liquid is absorbed.
  • Pour in vegetable stock (1/2 cup at a time). Stir every now and then. Add more stock when liquid is completely absorbed.
strawberry risotto with balsamic vinegar 4
  • When rice is almost cooked (for me, that's after the addition of about 2 cups of stock), stir in the 200g strawberries and the last 1/2 cup of vegetable stock.
  • Mix in basil when rice is cooked. It will be a little runny, but it will thicken up as it cools down.
strawberry risotto with balsamic vinegar 5
  • Mix in 3 tbs parmesan cheese.
  • Season with salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper.
strawberry risotto with balsamic vinegar 6
  • Garnish with fresh basil and serve with some strawberries and balsamic vinegar topping, more parmesan and not to forget, red chili flakes!
strawberry risotto with balsamic vinegar 8

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