Monday, June 27, 2011

Risotto alle Fragole Nemese-Nemi Style Strawberry Risotto

       A couple of weeks ago I hosted some of my friends for a lunch at my house.  Now that it is nice and warm, we are enjoying lunches outside in the gazebo.  The Castelli Romani seemed to be swimming in strawberries at that point, with street vendors on every corner and a strawberry festival in both Genzano di Roma (Landi) and in Nemi.  I didn't end up going to the one in Nemi due to rain, but it is a fantastic traditional sagra that I always enjoy.  
     Strawberries are one of my favorite fruits, and I am always happy when strawberry season arrives.  Nothing beats a fresh, ripe strawberry that is chilled on a hot summer day.  They are also versatile.  I wanted to make a strawberry main dish that was not sweet.  When you are swimming in strawberries, after awhile strawberries and chocolate and strawberry desserts can get tedious.  When I first met Ettore, he worked at a restaurant at Nemi, and the first time I went there and saw the view over Lago di Nemi, I fell in love with this magical place I live in.  The owner and chef had a special creation of strawberry risotto that was unique and divine, but also rich and full of cream, which always made me sick.  I have been wanted to recreate this dish veganized for years, and now, finally, after many trials, I have accomplished my goal.  A fine rendition of Risotto alle Fragole Nemese-Nemi Style Strawberry Risotto.  A super creamy, savory, and unique dish that celebrates the best of Nemi.  

You will want to use a deep dish pan; I use one that is similar to a wok.  It is easier to control.  You will also need a food processor.  Time is about 30-40 minutes.

Ingredients for 6:

½ cup of olive oil
Splash of any aromatic white wine.  I use Frascati
3 ½ cups of Arborio rice (or other rice you like to use for risotto)
450 g of strawberries
¼ of a large yellow onion
½ of a vegetable bouillon cube or a tspn of vegetable bouillon powder
Tbsp of course Celtic salt or course pink Himalaya salts
1 cup of organic heavy soy cream


-Take the strawberries, ¼ onion, salt, olive oil and wine and process in food processor until fully blended.  It is ok to have a couple of chunks.  Let this sit in the refrigerator for at least an hour. 
-Pour this blend into the deep pan along with the bouillon and with medium heat simmer until the mixture appears somewhat creamy, I usually allow for at least 5 minutes.  Remember to stir regularly.
-Stir in the rice and simmer with medium heat for a good 3-5 minutes.  Stir continuously this will allow the rice to absorb the rich flavors. 
-When the rice has absorbed all of the liquid slowly stir in one cup of water at a time.  This will require uninterrupted stirring. When the rice has absorbed the liquid add more water.  Continue this until the rice is almost al dente.  At this point stir in the cream. 
-Continue stirring until rice is al dente, and add more water if you needed.  I usually end up stirring in about 8 cups of water when I use medium heat. 
-Serve in bowls, garnish with a couple of sliced strawberries and a few drops of aged balsamic vinegar. 

     I hope you enjoy this as much as we did.  I like this with a fruity wine or an aromatic wine.  It has paired well with Frascati, Vermentino di Gallura, and Gewurztraminer from Alto-Adige.  

Monday, June 13, 2011

What's on My Plate?

I have been super busy this season with work.  I feel like I need to set up camp at the Vatican so I can get a few more zzzz's in every night.  I have, however, managed to make time for my favorite activity, cooking.  I can tell you what is not on my plate:  decomposing flesh and animal secretions.  What is on my plate:  veganized healthy meals, zucchini from my garden, and lots of summer fruit.

 Four different types of zucchini (from my garden). From the left: Battered fried zucchini, spelt stuffed zucchini(spelt made with sun dried tomatoes, green olives, zucchini, mint, basil, and olive oil), grilled zucchini marinated overnight with olive oil, garlic, calabrian red peppers, and raw apple cider vinegar, and Zucchine agrodolce-sweet and sour zucchini with mint, garlic and olive oil. I am loving the bounty from my garden. Thanks to the awesome 
ladies for coming up!!

 Fresh Strawberries with 25 yr old Balsamic vinegar from Modena.  I broke the bottle yesterday.  A true crime against food.

 Some Zucchini from our garden.  We can't eat them fast enough.

My latest masterpice based on a wonderful dish I used to eat at Nemi.  Risotto alle Fragole-Strawberry Risotto.  This is a great dish that is not a dessert.  It is a savory risotto with a twist.  

     Recipes will soon follow.  I am sorry that I haven't had a minute to catch up my recipe writing with my cooking.  Stay tuned, and enjoy summer!