The 2010 March Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Eleanor of MelbournefoodGeek and Jess of Jessthebaker. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make risotto. The various components of their challenge recipe are based on input from the Australian Masterchef cookbook and the cookbook Moorish by Greg Malouf. You can download the recipes here.
I’ve always had big problems with risotto. HUGE problems! There is something about the texture of risotto that makes my stomach turn. So I was less than enthusiastic when I read what the challenge would be this month. Risotto! Aaaaahhhh. I knew I wouldn’t be able to make risotto and eat it.
So I pondered, and pondered, and pondered some more. Then it dawned on me: what about a sweet risotto? I checked back with the challenge guidelines and realized sweet risotto was allowed. YAY! I LOVE rice pudding, and I figured a sweet risotto would be very similar to rice pudding. Of course, I didn’t want to just cook rice pudding – that’s not a challenge at all. So I googled, and googled, and googled some more, and as luck would have it, I didn’t only find wonderful and yummy ideas for a sweet risotto, but also the anwer to my texture problem with savoury risotto – ARANCINI! Arancini are fried risotto balls, stuffed with mozzarella – I knew my kids would LOVE them! Thus, I decided to make both: a savoury risotto for making arancini, and a sweet risotto.
You can find the challenge recipes here. I used slightly different recipes because I wanted to make vegetable stock instead of chicken stock. I didn’t want to use preserved lemons or pumpkin for the risotto either, but decided to give the savoury risotto a different flavor. If you want to print out the recipes I used, here’s the pdf file.
Tomato Chilli Risotto
Ingredients for the vegetable stock
- 2 carrots, peeled*
- a piece of celeriac, chopped*
- some parsley stalks*
- leek, chopped*
- 1/2 onion, peeled
- 1 tomato
* In Germany you can buy a “Bund Suppgengemüse” (“Bouquet garni pour bouillon” in French or literally “Bunch of soup vegetables” in English), i.e. these vegetables are sold held together with an elastic band.
Ingredients for the risotto:
- 3 tblsp olive oil
- 1/2 onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled but left whole
- pinch of dried chilli flakes (I used more)
- 7 oz risotto rice (I used arborio)
- 1 cup canned tomato purée
- 2 large basil leaves, torn
- 3/4 oz parmesan cheese, grated
- Put the “Suppengemüse”, onion and tomato in a pot with 6 cups of water. Add salt and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes, then reduce the heat to the lowest it can go and leave the pot over the heat.
- Heat the olive oil in a wide heavy-based pot. Sauté the onion and garlic over low-medium heat for about 5 minutes.
- Stir in the chilli flakes and rice and cook for another minute.
- Add half the tomato purée, the basil and 1 1/2 cups of the hot vegetable stock.
- Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring continously.
- Add the rest of the tomato purée and the remaining vegetable stock and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring continously.
- When the risotto is cooked, fish out the garlic cloves and throw them away.
- If you want to make arancini, store the risotto in the fridge until needed.
Tomato Chilli Arancini
- 1 batch cold tomato risotto (see above)
- 6 tblsp grated parmesan cheese
- 3 eggs
- 5 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into small cubes
- 11 oz panko (Japanese-style breadcrumbs)
- some flour
- Mix the risotto and parmesan together in a bowl.
- Lightly beat 1 of the eggs and and gradually stir into the risotto.
- Moisten your hands with a little water, take a heaped tablespoon of mixture and roll into a ball.
- Push a mozzarella cube into it and squeeze the ball to close the opening. Do this with the rest of the mixture.
- Lightly beat the other 2 eggs in a flat bowl (you might want to add some milk – I did that).
- Put the flour on a plate and the breadcrumbs on a second plate.
- Roll the balls in the flour, then in the egg-milk mixture and finally in the breadcrumbs.
- Chill for at least 35 minutes.
- Preheat the oven.
- Bake the arancini in the oven for about 30 minutes at 400°F.
Makes about 60 balls.
Of course, you can deep-fry the arancini, but I’m too scared of these huge amounts of hot oil.
White Chocolate Cherry Ripe Risotto (aka Chocolate Coconut Risotto with Poached Cherries)
I still have lots of sour cherries in my freezer, and was looking for a nice meal I could use some of them for. I picked these cherries last summer at a PYO nearby, pitted them and stuck them in the freezer because I had soooo many left after having made sour cherry jam. This risotto was awesome. I absolutely love the combination of coconut and chocolate, and the added cherries were just divine. Audax let me know that in Australia there is a famous candy bar named “Cherry Ripe” which contains chocolate, coconut and cherries (it’s Australia’s oldest chocolate-bar brand, invented in 1924) – thus the name for the risotto. This candy bar must be incredibly yummy. If I EVER go visit Australia, I’ll look out for these bars. I made a big amount of risotto so I would have some left for making sweet arancini – but you don’t know my family. We loved it sooooooo much, that we had the leftovers the next day. Thus, no sweet arancini. I had the idea of putting a chocolate chunk in the middle and rolling the arancini in a mixture of panko and coconut flakes – oh well, next time….
- 300 grams cherries, pitted
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- Mix sugar and water in a pot and stir over gentle heat until the sugar has just melted.
- Add the cherries, stir to coat and let simmer until the cherries have softened (about 15 minutes).
- Let mixture cool before using.
The stock is made of milk, cream, vanilla extract and poaching liquid.
- 3 oz of butter
- 2 cups risotto rice (I used arborio)
- 6 cups milk
- 2 cups cream
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 1/2 oz coconut flakes
- poached cherries (see above)
- 3 1/2 oz white chocolate, grated
- 3 1/2 oz dark chocolate, grated
- Drain the poached cherries and save the poaching liquid.
- Add the coconut flakes to the poaching liquid.
- Combine milk, cream and vanilla extract in a bowl.
- Heat the butter in a wide, heavy-based pot over medium-low heat, stir in the rice and cook for a couple of minutes.
- Add 1 cup of milk mixture; when the liquid is absorbed, add another cup, stirring continously.
- When the liquid is absorbed, add another cup of milk mixture and 2 tbslp of the coconut-poaching liquid mixture. Stir continously.
- Repeat this, until about 2 cups of milk mixtures are left: add 1/2 cup of poached cherries.
- Continue adding milk mixture and poaching liquid.
- When the risotto is cooked, remove from heat and add white chocolate. Stir to combine.
- Cover and let sit for a couple of minutes.
- To serve, spoon the risotto into bowls, arrange cherries and sprinkle with dark chocolate.
Thanks, Eleanor and Jess, for a wonderful challenge!