Roasted Cauliflower Salad

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Is the humble cauliflower enjoying a new renaissance? Whether you work in food or simply enjoy your home-cooking time, it appears that this pearly white cluster of florets is now proudly sitting at the forefront of the pantry. We have devised creative ways to turn it into cous cous and have compounded it into pizza bases (although the jury is still out on that one…), we are using it as a potato substitute in thick, wintery soups and enjoy it raw, thinly sliced like a carpaccio. Is there anything cauliflower can’t do? It turns out, you can also roast it until deliciously caramelized and crunchy, but still tender to the bite. With the added nutritional boost provided by vitamin C, K, B6 and folate, I am pretty much convinced that cauliflower wears the crown as the healthiest cruciferous!

INGREDIENTS, SERVES 4

1 cauliflower heard, cut into florets

4 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons of baby capers, roughly chopped

2 anchovy fillets, thinly chopped

1-2 French shallots, finely chopped

1 small chillie, finely chopped

2 tablespoons of white balsamic vinegar

2 more tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil

salt and pepper for seasoning

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

METHOD

1. Pre-heat you oven to 200 C (395 F)

2. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil  and cook the cauliflower florets for 5-8 minutes, or until soft but still retaining some firmness. Drain well then tumble onto an oven tray lined with baking paper. Season with oil, salt and pepper and roast for 30 minutes or until golden.

3. Make the dressing by mixing together baby capers, anchovies, chillies, vinegar and oil. Taste for salt and adjust accordingly.

4. Pour the dressing over the roasted cauliflower florets and scatter fresh herbs on top. Enjoy warm or at room temperature as a light lunch or a side dish.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Watch Made in Italy with Silvia Collocaon DVD
Silvia’s Cucina the cookbook is available in stores and online! Silvia’s new book Made in Italy with Silvia Colloca is on sale now! Silvia’s Cucina is on  Facebook Twitter and Instagram

9781921383373

9781921383977

Sweet Potato Risotto with Balsamic Vinegar

DSC_0761

My love affair with risotto goes deeper than a simple passion for its creamy texture and irresistible savory bite, it’s embedded in my DNA. I was born and raised in the heart of Pianura Padana in the Lombardy region of Italy, where rice grows abundant and where each lombardo d.o.c (citizen of Lombardy) takes sensational pride in cooking the humble produce of our, otherwise slightly dull, flat land. Risotto is our staple dish. We may have it simply flavored with Grana Padano cheese (similar to the more notable Parmigiano, and just as delightful), or we may turn it into a more sumptuous meal with the addition of saffron strands and slow cooked ossobuco. No matter what the add-ons, and I can’t stress this vehemently enough, there will never be a worthy risotto without a great stock. This is the one time I advocate commitment in the kitchen and ditch cubes and salty powders in flavor of a wholesome home-made stock, may it be vegetable, chicken , beef or a mix of the three. Don’t skimp here, the secret to  a flavoursome risotto lies in its stock. The rest is a simple act of patience, better achieved with a glass of wine in the hand that is not busy stirring the rice…

INGREDIENTS, serves 4

For the roasted sweet potato

2-3 sweet potatoes (depending on their size), cut into chunks, skin on (well brushed)

a few springs of thyme and rosemary

1 garlic clove, skin on, bashed with the back on a knife

2 tablespoons of EVOO (Extra-virgin olive oil)

1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar

salt to season

For the risotto

1 brown onion, finely chopped

2 tablespoons of EVOO

320 gr of Carnaroli or arborio rice

1/4 cup of dry white wine

4-5 cups of chicken, beef or vegetable stock (preferably home-made)

the roasted sweet potatoes

1 tablespoon of butter

1/4 cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese

HOW TO

1. Mix all the ingredients for the roasted sweet potatoes in a bowl, toss well and tip onto an oven try lined with baking paper. Roast in a medium/hot oven for 35-40 minutes or until soft and slightly caramelized. Set aside to cool at room temperature

2. Bring the stock to a simmer. In the meantime, fry the onion in olive oil in a large heavy-sided frying pan. Add the rice and allow to be coated with the oil and to slightly toast over medium heat.

3. Add the white wine and allow for the alcohol to evaporate, stirring gently. Pour yourself some wine, while you are at it…

4. Turn the heat down and start adding the stock a ladleful at a time, while stirring gently. Taste for salt and adjust accordingly. Keep adding stock until the rice is cooked, this will take around 18 minutes. Add the cooked sweet potatoes.

DSC_0730

5. Turn off the heat and add a generous dusting of parmigiano, a tablespoon of  butter and one ladeful of stock. Season with salt and pepper and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, if needed. Stir vigorously to release the starch and create the classic all’onda* texture. Cover with a lid and let it rest for a few minutes to  create the perfect mantecatura, creaminess

DSC_0753

DSC_0805

DSC_0846

Silvia’s Cucina is on FacebookTwitterPinterest and Instagram

Risotto with Porcini Mushroom

DSCN0310

Richard and I spent the best part of yesterday afternoon perched up on a builders plank, unsafely plonked onto our window sill and the top of the staircase, in the attempt to hang seven, beautiful, paintings made by Richard himself over the course of the last two weeks. A gargantuan task, if you add the demands of a 4 year-old on a sunny Saturday afternoon and those of a 12 month-old, desperately wanting adult attention! After we hung the seventh frame, we had just about 3 minutes to contemplate and admire the fruits of such hard labour and marvel at the fact that no one got injured in the process, when the paintings started to drop from the wall one after the other…I could think of only one solution to the problem: comfort food! And a glass of wine…Risotto sprang to mind, as I had just made a rich and flavorful vegetable stock. If you have read my other posts on risotto you know by now that the only ingredient that will determine the taste of your finished dish is the quality of your stock. Home-made always wins. Your risotto will only taste as good as your stock. You do the maths!

INGREDIENTS, serves 4

2 handfuls of dried porcini , soaked in warm water for 30 minutes. (They need to be soft and rehydrated before you can use them)

1 leek, well washed and sliced thinly

1-2 springs of thyme

3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon of butter+ 1 more just before serving

350 gr (2 cups) of Carnaroli or Arborio rice

1/2 cup of dry white wine

2 lt of stock, brought up to a gentle simmer

1/2 cup of freshly grated Parmigiano

Parsley leaves

Salt and pepper to taste

HOW TO

1. Stir fry  the leek gently with oil and butter, add the thyme springs, 1 couple of tablespoons of water and  pinch of salt. Cover with a lid and stew for 5 minutes over low heat to soften the leeks.

2. Add therice and toast with the leeks until translucent. Be mindful to stir your rice well.

3. Add the white wine and allow for the alcohol to evaporate, stirring gently. Pour yourself some wine, while you are at it…

4. Turn the heat down, add your softened mushroom and start adding the stock a ladleful at a time, while stirring gently. For added mushroom flavor, add the porcini soaking liquid to your stock. Taste for salt and adjust accordingly. Keep adding stock until the rice is cooked, this will take around 18 minutes.

5. Turn off the heat and add a generous dusting of parmigiano, a tablespoon of  butter and one ladeful of stock. Stir vigorously to release the starch and create the classic all’onda* texture. Cover with a lid and let it rest for a few minutes to  create the perfect mantecatura, creaminess

DSCN0321

 DSCN0316

DSCN0313

Serve it with freshly ground black pepper and parsley leaves.

* The way of the waves

Silvia’s Cucina is on Facebook Twitter and Pinterest

Sausage and Peas Risotto

DSC_0295

Combine the creaminess of Carnaroli short grain rice with the perfume of red wine and the savoury deliciuosness of pork and fennel sausages, with stewed sweet leeks and a generous amount of butter and Parmigiano and you have got yourself joy on a plate. Risotto is the ultimate comfort food and it is really quite straight forward to make. Having said that, I have to be pedantic and fastidious and insist you only make it if you have a great stock to cook in with. Cubes won’t cut it, I’m afraid…

INGREDIENTS, serves 4

2 sausages, sliced

2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil

2 leeks

1 tablespoon of butter +1 extra at the end

2 cups of Carnaroli or Arborio rice

half a glass of red wine

4 cups of good stock

2/3 cup of frozen peas

salt and pepper to taste

freshly grated parmigiano

HOW TO

1. Pan fry  the sausage with oil until browned and almost cooked through. Remove and set aside.

2. Slice two leeks and wash throughly to remove any grit. Stew over a low flame in the same pan with the sausage juices adding a tablespoon and butter a Cover with a lid and stir occasionally. They should turn soft and creamy in about 20 minutes.

3. Add the rice and toast in the pan with the leaks until the grains turn translucent, pour in the wine and allow for the alcohol to evaporate. Stir a little to make sure no grains are sticking to the pan, being mindful not to distress the rice too much. You want to make sure the grains keep their shape and texture.

4. As the wine dries out, turn the flame down and start adding the stock, a few ladles at a time, stirring gently. Repeat for about 16/17 minutes,until the rice is almost cooked. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust accordingly. Add a cup of frozen peas and your slices of sausage.

DSC_0238

5. Turn off the flame , add a ladleful of stock, a generous grating of Parmigiano and 1 tablespoon of butter. Stir vigorously to release the starch. Cover with a lid and rest for 3 minutes. This process is called mantecatura and it is essential in order to obtain a creamy risotto with its characteristic all’onda* texture .

DSC_0269

DSC_0274 (1)

DSC_0242

Serve with lots of Barbera and enjoy!

* The way of the waves.

Silvia’s Cucina is on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest

Roasted-Beetroot Risotto

My very first advise to you when making a risotto is to not even think about it unless you have a great stock to cook it with. Your risotto will only taste as good as your broth, so if you use those powdery mixes or even worse, those salty cubes full of chemicals, that is the flavour you will impart to your rice.
Since risotto is a bit labour intensive, it really not worth it unless you are going to show it a bit of love. Recently, I poached a chicken with garlic, tarragon onion and carrot with the intent of eating the meat with steamed potatoes and of using the stock for a risotto. It’s winter here in Australia and it had been raining for days in Sydney and last Sunday I felt like I needed to colour the day a vivid red.

INGREDIENTS, serves 4

3 beetroot bulbs

1 red onion , diced

3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil

350 gr (2 cups) of Arborio or Carnaroli rice

1/2 cup of dry white wine

2 lt of good stock, brought tot a gentle simmer

1 tablespoon of butter

1/2 cup of freshly grated Parmigiano

Salt and pepper to taste

goat cheese

HOW TO

1. Cover the beetroots in foil and roasted them in a hot oven for about 1 hour. Peel them and puree them in a food processor  with a little salt and extra-virgin. Set aside.

2. Stir fry gently the diced onion in olive oil until tender. Add your Carnaroli rice and toast with the onion until translucent. Be mindful to stir your rice well.

3. Add a glass of dry white wine and allow for the alcohol to evaporate, stirring occasionally. Turn the heat down and start adding the stock a ladleful at a time, while stirring gently.

4. Keep adding stock until the rice is cooked, this will take around 18 minutes.

5. Turn off the heat and add the beetroot puree, a generous dusting of parmigiano and a little butter. Stir vigorously to release the starch and create the all’onda* texture. Cover with a lid and let it rest for a few minutes to create the perfect mantecatura, creaminess.

The vibrant red put us in a festive mood and we felt urged to open a Prosecco to go with the risotto.

And after that, a long siesta

* All’onda means ” the way of the waves”

Silvia’s Cucina is on Facebook Twitter and Pinterest