Radicchio and Scamorza Risotto

15 03 2011

Scamorza Affumicate: A smoked cheese that is similar to mozzarella and provolone

I recently returned from a trip to northern Italy and have been busy working on my own versions of some of the dishes I enjoyed there. One of those dishes was a smoky risotto with sautéed radicchio that I had one day for lunch.  It was a cool, rainy day and the hearty richness of the risotto paired with a glass of Piedmontese wine was the perfect way to warm up.

Sourcing Ingredients

Scamorza is a cheese that is similar to provolone or mozzarella.  The smoked version (affumicate) is darker in colour and has a firm smoky rind and soft interior. Scamorza affumicate can be found at many cheese shops but you can substitute smoked mozzarella or smoked provolone if you can’t find it.  The scamorza rind is edible but won’t melt as easily so it can be trimmed if desired.

Radicchio at an Italian market

Radicchio is a leafy vegetable that is related to chicory.  Raw radicchio can be quite bitter but it mellows when sautéed or grilled. It can usually be found near the lettuce or cabbage in supermarkets and is easily recognizable by its bright purple leaves.

If it is your first time making risotto, you might find this primer helpful for information about ingredients: Basic Risotto.

Radicchio and Scamorza Risotto

Makes about 4 servings as a starter

(VEGETARIAN)

  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 2 cups chopped radicchio (about 1 small head), plus extra for garnish and to make radicchio ‘cups’ (optional, see below)
  • 1 cup raw carnaroli rice (you can use arborio if carnaroli isn’t available)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • About 3-1/2 to 4* cups chicken or vegetable stock – be sure to use vegetable stock if cooking for vegetarians
  • 4 oz. (113 grams) smoked scamorza cheese, cut into 1/2″ cubes (equals about 3/4 cup of cubed cheese)
  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
  • Salt, to taste
  1. In a large deep skillet or enameled cast iron pot, heat olive oil on medium-high heat.  Add onion and cook until it’s beginning to soften, about two minutes.  Add the radicchio and sauté for another two minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add rice and sauté for another 2 minutes, stirring periodically.  Pour in the wine and stir the rice.  Reduce heat and let simmer gently until the wine is completely absorbed, about 3 minutes.
  3. Once the wine has completely absorbed, add 1/2 cup of the stock.  Let the rice simmer gently, stirring occasionally.  Once the stock has almost fully absorbed (about 4 minutes), add another 1/2 cup of the stock.
  4. Repeat the process of adding the stock a half-cup at a time once it has almost absorbed. Continue until the rice is creamy and cooked through but still has a very slight ‘bite’ in the middle of the grains (al dente).  Stir the rice on occasion and keep an eye on it.  It will take approximately 6 to 7* additions of stock in half-cup increments (*Note: the rice may require a little more or less stock, depending on how absorbent it is).
  5. Once the rice is cooked to the desired tenderness, remove the pan from the heat and add the butter and cheese. Stir into the risotto until completely melted.  Season with salt to taste.
  6. To serve: If you want to make radicchio ‘cups’, trim off the root end of a fresh head of radicchio. Carefully peel back the whole leafs, making sure not to tear them. Arrange three or four leaves on a plate in a circle to make a cup shape. Fill with risotto and garnish with a small amount of fresh chopped radicchio.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

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Radicchio and Scamorza Risotto in a radicchio cup

Copyright Trish Coleman. Please contact the author to obtain permission for republication.





The Friday Five – March 11, 2011

11 03 2011

A weekly round up food and drink-related news stories:

1.  Apparently the customer isn’t always right: The New York Times reports on restauranteurs who refuse to cater to customers’ requests for things like take-out espresso, ketchup on french fries and toasted bagels. (NYT)

2.  Have you ever had a dream about food?  The Dream Mood dictionary gives interpretations for a variety of food-related dreams, from abalone to whiskey. Or it could just mean you ate too much before bed… (The Daily Meal)

3.  I think onions are a crucial ingredient for adding flavour to a lot of dishes. However, some criminals from Queens have found a new use for them: torturing their victims by sticking their head in a bag of cut up onions until they give up their money or drugs. (NY Daily News)

4.  The recently released cookbook ‘Modernist Cuisine’ has been called a “game-changer” for chefs. It comprises six volumes totaling over 2,400 pages, weighs 49 pounds and costs $625 (USD).  Judging by the (rather ridiculous) burger recipe, this isn’t exactly a starter book for nervous new cooks. (examiner.com, Eater National)

5.  Lent has just started and many people give up something for the 40 days leading up to Easter. Apparently a man in Iowa has decided to give up all food and drink – except for beer.  He is planning to consume only water and four pints of beer a day until Easter to re-create the way Franciscan monks marked Lent centuries ago – or at least that’s what he told he wife and pastor. (msnbc.com)

Have a great weekend and don’t forget to ‘Spring Ahead’ this weekend by moving your clocks forward by one hour Saturday night!

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Lemon-Ricotta Pancakes with Strawberry Sauce

8 03 2011

Lemon-Ricotta Pancakes with Strawberry Sauce

March 8th is Pancake Day (a.k.a. Shrove Tuesday)!   It’s a great excuse to whip up some pancakes for breakfast (or have ‘breakfast-for-dinner’ if there’s no time in the morning).  Adding lemon zest and a bit of fresh juice gives these breakfast treats a hint of lemon flavour that is perfect with strawberry sauce. Fresh strawberries aren’t in season in most areas yet but frozen ones work just as well. Of course, maple syrup also pairs well with the pancakes and is seasonally appropriate.

Ricotta is a soft, mild cheese that can be found in the dairy case of most supermarkets. However, it’s also possible to make it at home and doesn’t require any exotic ingredients: Home-Made Ricotta.

Lemon-Ricotta Pancakes with Strawberry Sauce

Makes about 10 pancakes (recipe can be halved or doubled)

The Strawberry Sauce can simmer while you’re preparing the batter and cooking the pancakes (see recipe below).

Lemon-Ricotta Pancakes

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Finely grated zest of one medium lemon (about 2 teaspoons of zest)
  • 2 cups milk (1% or 2%)
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup ricotta cheese
  • Oil for cooking
  • Strawberry Sauce (see below for recipe)
  • Lemon zest, powdered sugar or fresh strawberries as garnish (optional)
  1. In a large bowl, add flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and lemon zest.  Use a fork to stir until thoroughly combined. Set aside.
  2. Pour the milk into a large measuring cup.  Break the eggs into the milk and beat with a fork until combined. Melt the butter in the microwave for 1 minute (or in a saucepan if you don’t have a microwave).  Let cool slightly and stir it into the milk/egg mixture.
  3. Slow pour the milk and egg mixture into the bowl of dry ingredients, stirring as you add the liquid.  Add the lemon juice and whisk until the batter is fairly smooth.
  4. Break up the ricotta with your fingers and add to the batter.  Stir until combined (there may be some small lumps of ricotta but that’s ok).
  5. In a large skillet, add a small amount of oil and heat on medium-high until a bit of batter dropped in sizzles. Working in batches, pour three or four circles of batter into the pan.  Cook until browned on the bottom, about 3 to 5 minutes. Reduce the heat slightly and flip the pancakes over.  Continue to cook until the bottom in browned and they are just cooked through.  Move cooked pancakes to a plate and repeat with the remaining batter.
  6. Top with Strawberry Sauce (below) or maple syrup and garnish with lemon zest, powdered sugar or fresh strawberry slices if desired. For an extra decadent treat, add a dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream to each serving.

Strawberry Sauce

  • 3 cups fresh or frozen strawberries
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar (or to taste)
  1. Add all ingredients to a large sauce pan.  Heat on medium-high, stirring occasionally.  Lower the heat to medium and let the strawberries simmer while the pancakes are cooking (about 15 minutes).  Use a potato masher or fork to crush the cooked strawberries.  Serve over pancakes or waffles.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

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The Friday Five – March 4th, 2011

4 03 2011

A weekly round up food and drink-related news stories:

1.  I used to love my Easy Bake Oven when I was a kid.  With the end of incandescent lighting nearing, Hasbro is re-vamping the ovens, depriving future generations of the joy of eating half-baked brownies they proudly cooked by the heat of a lightbulb. (Salon)

2.  Do you remember the McDLT? It was innovative because it kept ‘the hot side hot and the cool side cool’, which apparently was an issue with hamburgers.  Re-visit other ill-advised ideas with these fifteen Fast Food Failures. (CNBC.com)

3.  Speaking of McDonald’s, there were rumors this week that they would be rolling out the McLobster across the U.S.  Alas, the stories were false but the elusive McLobster is sometimes available in parts of New England and Eastern Canada. (Huffington Post)

4.  If you turned on the tv or radio this week, you probably heard about actor Charlie Sheen’s mad rants. Now you can whip up a timely tabloid-themed drink for your next party: The Charlie Sheen. I’m guessing it will leave a bad taste in your mouth… (The Daily Meal)

5.  In honour of the second anniversary of his talk show, Jimmy Fallon was given his own ice cream flavour by Ben and Jerry’s. He joins other celebrities with their own flavours including Elton John, Stephen Colbert and of course, Jerry Garcia. SlashFood reviewed the concoction, which is made with a vanilla base, a salty caramel swirl and clusters of fudge-covered potato chip clusters. (Eater.com. slashfood.com)

Have a great weekend!

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