Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Cooking School

Signed up for Vegetarian Cuisine 1 at the George Brown Chef School. Not going meatless, just having meat, less.

Tonight was the first class, and the menu was Roasted Butternut Squash and Pear Soup, Tomato/Bocconcini Salad, Smoky Wild Mushroom Risotto and Hazelnut Biscotti. Nothing complicated, but simply delicious! These basic recipes can all be very easily adapted in a variety of ways by substituting some of the key ingredients (Maccadamia Nut Biscotti comes readily to mind).

All the recipes were great, but I especially liked the

Smoky Wild Mushroom Risotto...

  • 946 ml package vegetarian stock (Imagine brand or homemade recommended)

  • 1/2 oz. dried porcini mushrooms reconstituted for 15 minutes in 1/2 cup warm water (strain and reserve liquid)

  • 2 Tblsp extra virgin olive oil, divided

  • 1/4 cup minced shallots (about 2 small)

  • 2 small cloves garlic pureed, divided

  • 2 medium sized Portabello mushroom caps, sliced and cut into 1" lengths, gills removed (not necessary but keeps risotto from becoming stained)

  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, divided

  • 2 Tbsp finely chopped Italian parsley

  • 1 cup arborio rice

  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter

  • 2.5 oz. smoked cheddar, very finely grated

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Garnish 1.5 oz. smoked cheddar, very finely grated + chopped fresh Italian parsley

  1. Combine vegetarian stock and the reserved liquid from reconstituted porcini in a small pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and keep warm.

  2. In a large skillet, heat one tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Add one pureed garlic clove and Portobello mushroom caps. Sear and cook until mushrooms are cooked through. Stir in one teaspoon thyme leaves, reconstituted mushrooms, a sprinkling of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Remove from heat.

  3. In a large pot, heat remaining Tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add shallots, remaining garlic clove and saute a minute or two, until shallots have begun to soften. Add arborio rice, and saute one more minute. Add stock, one ladle at a time, stirring constantly until the liquid is absorbed before adding the next ladle. Continue until all the liquid is absorbed and rice is cooked al dente. (the entire process should take 20-25 minutes)

  4. Stir in remaining teaspoon of thyme leaves, fresh parsley and butter. Stir until butter is melted. Stir in grated smoked cheddar and stir until cheese is completed melted. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Garnish with additional cheese and parsley, if desired. Serve immediately.

Leftovers? Next day you can roll the risotto into balls and stuff cheese in the centre, or flatten into rice cakes, and reheat in a pan or bake in the oven.

I'd like to try this recipe using a nice Italian truffle cheese and some truffle oil. I bet it would be amazing.

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