Friday 16 July 2010

Think Pink - Schiaparelli Pink Risotto with Hearts of Goat Cheese

Oh dear - you have got me thinking about food. I promise not to turn the blog into a foodie site, but maybe you would like to hear something about risotto before I hang up my pinny. Years ago when I worked in Milan, we ocasionally indulged in champagne risotto with truffles at Boeucc in Milan. It was the sort of thing one had to do because it could never happen at home. Could it? Well, I returned to London and my flat in a mansion block where I found I had a new neighbour. He was a translator and minor embassy official with a severe collecting mania for all things Russian - icons, books, music etc - even a Russian ballerina. Too beautiful to limit herself to just one admirer, the consequence was that there were almost daily deliveries of sturgeon, caviare and Russian champagne. Great in beauty she may have been but she was short in the fridge department, so quantities of all frequently turned up on my doorstep. When the cat, her bored nose in the air, started to walk away from the sturgeon, I would curry it - it is a solid fish and makes a wonderful curry. The champagne, of course, went into risotto or sometimes, even better, risotto made with pearl barley. Of course the affair couldn't last forever, and it didn't. Now, for two people, I juice 2 carrots, a head of celery (after reserving and finely dicing the white hearts) and two to four cooked beetroot - about 20 fl. oz. I toss two diced red or white onions, the diced celery heart with 5 oz of good Lombard rice - Carnaroli is nicest (but Vialone Nano will do at a pinch) in butter and allow to sweat for a few minutes before pouring 2 glasses of Vermouth. One I slosh in the pan with the risotto, the other gets a slice of lemon and some ice to lend power to the cook's stirring arm. Then I add the juiced vegetables ladle by ladle as one does - stirring diligently, admiring the great Schiaparelli pinkness of it all, sipping the vermouth, until the liquid is mostly absorbed when I take it off the heat and stick a lid on. Then I take a log of goat cheese which I have had firming in the fridge and I cut half inch slices and from these cut out heart shapes with a canape cutter. These hearts are mounted on the finished risotto when plated up. Don't try adding anything green, it just doesn't work. (The shards of left-over goat cheese can be eaten later with honey and either banana or dates on bread.) My Italian colleagues in Milan always phoned home 20 minutes before they were due to arrive in, to tell their wife to put their risotto!

1 comment:

  1. Your Russian story and very clear recipe are inspiring me to actually try to make risotto ... this year. Have to wait for the current NYC heatwave to pass us by first!

    Thank you.