Written by Victoria Sanford
For me, there is almost nothing more enjoyable than sharing food with family & friends. I grew up in a home where there was always something delicious cooking in my parent’s kitchen, as well as at my grandmother’s homes. Being of Greek and Lebanese heritage, food has so much meaning and is deeply embedded in the culture. I know this is true for so many cultures across the globe, and for Özlem too; it’s one of the many beautiful things that we have in common... our love for food, family, and hosting has no bounds.
A lot of people ask me how I learned to cook, and the answer, for me, is always simple: I learned by watching, listening, and using my sense of taste and smell to decipher ingredients. My father, mother, & grandmothers were great teachers, and the lessons went far beyond simply that of food. Today, I am proud to cook in a big, beautiful blue kitchen of my very own for my family, one that I know would make my Yiayia very happy if she were here.
With all of that in mind, Özlem and I got to talking and we thought it would be so fun to host a cooking event live, and it was. Unfortunately, our live, although super fun and eventful, did not record so we are unable to share the video with those who were not able to attend. Trust me when I say, though, that Özlem, Jenn, and I had truly the best time, even if we weren’t together, and we absolutely loved cooking for and interacting with you all!
A lot of you asked us why this dish? Well, we chose something we both love to eat, something we hoped others would enjoy, and something that I happen to make well... Ergo, risotto. For those of you not as familiar with risotto, it is a Northern Italian rice dish that uses broth in the cooking process to create a creamy, rich consistency; it is apparently the most common way to cook rice in Italy (don’t I wish I could hop on a plane and head there right about now).
I absolutely love making risotto, especially this recipe in particular; it is incredibly tasty, quite filling - you can easy make it as a stand alone dish or as a side - and I love just how versatile it can be. After cooking it countless times, I find you can really play with how much or how little you use when it comes to some of the ingredients, like cheese, salt, herbs, even the type of mushroom or stock. For me, this is my favourite way to cook. That is, glancing at a recipe as a quick guide and then figuring it out as I go. I know not everyone cooks this way, so here is all that you need to know:
I N G R E D I E N T S
1 pound cremini or white mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 pound portobello mushrooms, thinly sliced
6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 shallots, diced
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons freshly chopped chives
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Black pepper to taste
Sea salt or table salt to taste
I N S T R U C T I O N S
* I begin by warming my broth in a pot over low heat (this helps to cook the risotto through more thoroughly when added to the rice, and to prevent the rice from sticking to the pan during the cooking process). I keep the broth warm throughout until it is completely used up.
* I then add olive oil in a deep pan or shallow pot (preferably a pan) that I warm on medium heat, before adding in my mushrooms. I stir these in, and cook them on medium-high heat until they are cooked through (you can do so to your preference). I then remove the mushrooms and set them aside in a large bowl layered with paper towel in order to absorb the liquid. If you would rather save some of the liquid to add in at the end for flavour, you can do this as well.
* Next, I reintroduce some olive oil to my pan (about a tablespoon or so), and add in shallots. I gently stir them on medium heat, and cook them through, ensuring they do not burn. Once they are cooked, I add in the Arborio rice and stir it in with the shallots. I do this until the rice becomes a bit translucent, almost golden in color. Before adding any stock, I pour in the wine (this is optional for those who prefer to cook without wine), and let it absorb, stirring constantly.
* After this, I ladle in the stock, constantly stirring the rice in order to prevent in from sticking/burning, and ensuring the stock is well absorbed into each and every piece of rice; the key is to make sure that all of the rice is cooked at the same rate. This step is repeated until all of the broth has been used and the rice is almost fully cooked; this may take about 20 minutes or so depending on your stovetop. Keep the rice on a medium heat, turning it up to medium high heat should you need the broth to absorb a bit more quickly, stirring all the while.
* When your rice appears to be al dente, reintroduce your mushrooms, add in your butter, and sprinkle in the parmesan cheese. Gently stir it all in, mixing it well with your rice for a nice creamy consistency. Sprinkle in your chives or parsley, and add in some pepper & salt. Everything can be done “to taste” at this point. For me, I always make sure there is a lot of parmesan and plenty of salt.
* When it is complete, eat and enjoy! This recipe pairs very well with a dry white wine, or even an off dry white, and in total the recipe should create about 4-6 servings. You can always double if you are making it for a large group!
I hope you love this recipe as much as we do! Share your experience/photos with us and tag #houseofmodalifestyleeats We will see you around the table!
From my heart to yours,