Thursday, 15 April 2010

Creamy Mushroom and Broccoli Risotto and of Mantovese Caviar Canapes and other Delights

 A few weeks back, as the Italian Spring sunshine became stronger, the Italian Folk and I headed to one of the most beautiful towns in Lombardia, Mantova.

The old town grew within the castle's walls and I can't begin to tell you how beautiful it is!
Here a few tasters.
The Castle...

Inside the casle:
But probably the most stunning feature of this fantastic city, is the fact that the old town is surrounded by the most beautiful lake:
Once inside the castle, we walked up and down the cobbled streets and marvelled at the architecture. That is, until I came across these in a coffee shop window display...
And these
Not to mention these!
The Italian folk, realising that it had become a matter of the utmost urgency that I sample these beauties, kindly offered to interrupt our tour and we headed straight to the counter and ordered one of each.
We shared a few bites here and there, and the general veredict was that the second, simplest one was the best! Shredded lettuce, topped with some soft cheese, smoked salmon, caviar and a sprinkle of parsley.

I wanted to have seconds and thirds but I knew the Italian folk were keen to move on and show me the rest of this beautiful city. And so we did.

All was going well, until, well we came across these.
Delicious lemon tarts. Oh and these:
A delicious buttery, crumbly pie, very similar in taste to shortbread but filled and topped with nuts.
The typical Mantovese sweet!

So, as you probably have guessed it, we had to go in and get some of both.

There were so many more delicious things to drool over, not to mention the incredible architecture, atmosphere, lake, you name it!

I felt drawn to post about Mantova because, not only was it a truly delicious experience, but also not many people abroad know of the place, but I can assure you it's well worth visiting.
Many yummy flavours in many different ways.

So what's Mantova got to do with Mushrooms and Broccoli Risotto, I hear you say.
Where can I start?
Since I moved to Italy I have learned so much about cooking, but one lesson still stands out the most. Cook it simple with the best possible ingredients.

I come across so many recipes that add a bit of this and a bit of that, to enhance the flavour.
All I can say is, like with those delicious goodies I tasted in Mantova, if the ingredients are good and you keep it simple, you will feel every individual flavour on your first bite.
No need to complicate things, hide or enhance flavours.

One thing the Italians have taught me is to love my ingredients just as much, if not more, as you love the final product.

So there you go.
For this recipe, you will need a good Arborio Rice, good fatty bacon or pancetta, good quality fresh vegetables, real butter and a great wine!
Not to mention Parmigiano Regianno!
Just be a bit bold, forget the pre-grated stuff.
Get yourself a nice block of good parmesan and grate away. So worth it!!

Also don't overworry about having to constantly stir the risotto. Just make sure you keep an eye on it. The reason why you need to stirr it often, is so it the rice doesn't burn.
Go on, enjoy it, have some fun in the kitchen!!

Buono Apetito!
Creamy Mushroom and Broccoli Risotto
Serves 4 generously

1 large cup of Arborio Rice
1/2 litre of vegetable or chicken stock
A large knob of salted butter
Lots of broccoli forets (you know me, don't do exact measures, the more brocolli the better!!)
Again as many Mushrooms as you like, sliced.
Half a cup cup of diced pancetta or smoky bacon
4 large chopped shallots or one large onion
2 chopped large cloves of garlic
1 cup of good quality white wine, not too dry
Half a cup or more of freshly grated parmesan
Salt and pepper to season

Blanch the broccoli forets in some boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove and drain.
In the meantime bring your stock to a boiling point. Homemade stock is always better of course, but if you haven't any, just add your stock cubes/jelly/syrup into some water and bring it to a boiling point. Let it sit on the stove simmering.

Melt your butter on a medium heat in a large, deep frying pan.
Add your bacon/pancetta and fry until golden.
Add your chopped shallots and fry until translucent.
Add your chopped garlic.Gently fry for 2 minutes.
Add your arborio rice and fry for one minute or so until opaque. Keep stirring so the rice doesn't burn.
Add your broccoli and sliced mushrooms and season lightly with salt and black pepper. Stir it all well together.
Add your white wine and allow it to reduce until it's almost gone. Again, keep an eye on it and stir from time to time so the rice doesn't stick. Sorry if I keep repeating myself, there!
When the wine has evaporated, start adding your stock. Ladle by ladle. Whenever the stock evaporates you add another ladle until the rice is fully cooked. Keep stirring and tasting for texture as you may not need all of the stock, it depends on the quality of the rice.
Add your freshly parmesan cheese about 4 minutes before final cooking and stir it in well.
Top it up with some more parmesan when you serve if you like!
So there you go!!
A nice, yummy, full of veggies, Spring Risotto!

Fresh Vegetable Risotto on Foodista


  1. wow this post was totally awesome

  2. I agree, great post! How lucky to live near such beauty. And you know, those canapes remind my of my beloved tiny sandwiches, so I am all over it! So true about simple good ingredients - your risotto looks perfecto!

  3. Oh Ruth, oh Ruth, oh Ruth! I am drawn to that town - I need to walk those streets - while taking bites of caviar of course. And the risotto - a thing of beauty. I shall make it this week -with broccoli or fresh spring peas - but I shall make it. This has brought me such sweet tastes and smiles.

  4. Ummmm, Ruth, that Risotto. Dang!

    One day in this life time, I hope to visit Italy.

  5. What a treat of a post! I feel like I have been on holiday!

  6. What a treat of a read - talk about a trip that appealed to all your senses what a wonderful adventure, thanks for sharing.

    I cannot wait to try your delicious recipe!

  7. I'm one of the few Americans that know who taught the French to cook- The Italians!

  8. I had mushroom risotto before, but sounds really interesting and delicious with the addition of broccoli.

  9. you make me smile we do the exact same thing when we visit new places, i made my second risotto today love it yours looks yummy

  10. Wow, nice risotto...and the pictures are so pretty, the castle the the way, the canapes look yummie!

  11. Mmm... the mushroom risotto sounds so creamy and delicious, excellent!

  12. Your risotto sings to me!!

    i also love your lovely pics of the city & of the food of course!!

  13. Love your blog. Just cooked the risotto for my flatmate and it was amazing. Thanks so much for the recipe.

  14. Amazing pictures, plus the recipe is incredible, so far the best I have had.

  15. Great article with excellent idea! I appreciate your post. Thanks so much and let keep on sharing your stuffs keep it up.spiritual food