Fennel and crispy prosciutto risotto

Creamy, rich risotto flavored with herby, anise fennel and served with crispy shards of salty prosciutto, now that sounds good, doesn’t it?

There are a few little tips I’d like to share with you about „risotto“.

First and most importantly is your choice of rice. Arborio or Carnaroli, are the best for this dish, the grains are short and fat, and therefore release more starch than their long grained cousins. This starch is what gives the rice a creamy and rich texture.

Second, toast the rice. This may sound strange, but before any liquid goes into the rice, you should first „toast” it in the pan with the onions and whatever other aromatics you have chosen. Just add the rice to the pan, and on a medium heat stir it until its glossy and toasty, it should take about 5 minutes. This process helps the rice maintain its structure as you are adding the liquid.

Third, the stock. Risotto is best made with a good stock, whether its vegetable, chicken etc.. the stock should be rich and flavorful. Make sure not to pour all the stock into the rice at one time. It should be added „ladle by ladle“ and between every ladle you should stir the rice, until it absorbs almost all the liquid, before adding the next one.

Fourth, although you should never leave the rice alone, try not to over-stir; you will lose the creamy texture if you do. Give the rice a good stir every 30 seconds or so, that is just enough.

Fifth, once the rice has absorbed all the liquid (about 18 mins), it’s time to let the risotto rest for about 5 minutes in order for the it to reduce in temperature a little, then you have  „mantecatura“ stage, when you enrich the risotto with good butter and Parmesan cheese.

Fennel and crispy prosciutto risotto

200 g onion, finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

200 g fennel bulb, cut into thin slices

1 tsp. fresh thyme

300 g Arborio rice

600 ml chicken/vegetable stock

70 ml white wine

6 slices of prosciutto

30 ml olive oil

50 g butter

50 g grated Parmesan

 

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 C, line a baking dish with parchment paper, and lay the slices of prosciutto on it. Place in the oven for about 13-15 mins until crisp.

Heat the olive oil in a large pan, and add the onions and garlic. Saute until they start to turn golden, and then add the fennel. Saute the fennel until it is soft, about 8 minutes. Season it with salt and pepper.

Add the rice to the fennel and onion mixture, and toast for 3 or 4 minutes (this helps the grains of rice hold their shape). Pour in the white wine and stir until it completely evaporates. Reduce the heat to medium and ladle by ladle, add the stock, stirring all the time. Allow the liquid to almost “disappear” before adding the subsequent ladle.

This process should take about 15 minutes, by then the rice should be cooked, and very creamy. Stir in the butter and Parmesan cheese right at the end, and allow the rice to stand for 5 minutes before serving.

To serve, spoon the risotto onto a plate and top it off with shards of crispy prosciutto and torn basil. Enjoy

Chicken in creamy paprika sauce (Pileći Paprikaš)

Chicken parpikash (Paprikaš) originates in Hungary, a dish packed with the summer-flavors of deep red peppers, and Moorish smoked paprika. It’s always best to use chicken on the bone for this dish, I recommend using chicken thighs and/or drumsticks. When they cook slowly in this sharp and creamy sauce, the meat simply falls from the bone. Paprikaš has, like so many dishes, been adopted into the traditional Croatian kitchen cookbook. Most popular in the north and north-east of the country (giving its closeness to Hungary), paprikaš is traditionally served with široki rezanci (wide noodles), a little like pappardelle, but shorter and wider. This is the definition of summer comfort food, and it’s even more comforting to know how easy it is to make.

Chicken in creamy paprika sauce (Pileći Paprikaš)

What you need

150 g red peppers, diced finely

200 g onion, finely diced

2 clove of garlic, crushed

150 g fresh tomatoes, chopped

2 tsp. sweet paprika

1 tsp. smoked paprika

1 tsp. concentrate

2 tsp. corn flour

70 ml white wine

100 ml water

150 g sour cream

Thyme, basil

600 g chicken thigh, leg, and wing

Method

Season the chicken well with salt and pepper. Sear in a hot pan, until the meat is golden brown, and set aside.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the same pan, sweat the garlic and onion along with the thyme, until slightly golden in color, scraping off all the brown pieces from the bottom of the pan.

Add the peppers and sauté for a few minutes. Return the chicken to the pan, skin side down and add the wine, water, both paprika, salt and pepper. Cover the pan and cook slowly for 25 minutes.

Mix the sour cream with the cornflour and tomato concentrate and add to the pan. Turn the heat down to its lowest setting and cook for a further 10 minutes. The sauce should be rich and thick.

Just before serving, add the fresh tomatoes and basil, and check for seasoning. Serve over cooked pasta. Enjoy

Gnocchi with green beans, cashew nut and goat cheese

Gnocchi are easy and fun to make. I make them in huge batches and freeze them for later, so I always have a supply for the week. This recipe can be chopped and changed as you like. No rocket, no problem use courgette, no Parmesan, use what you have in the fridge!

All you need to make the dough is; potato, salt and flour. No butter, eggs, cream, or anything else people have been telling you about. JUST flour, salt and potato. They are as light as air, and just melt under the tongue. Potato gnocchi are from the northern part of Italy, as the climate and land there is good for growing spuds. You can find all sorts of gnocchi dating back to roman times, when they were made from old bread and eggs, but these are without a doubt my favorite.

Steam the potatoes, then mash and spread out on a cold surface. Slowly work the flour in starting from the edges and working your way into the middle. Try not to knead the dough too much or they become tough.

Gnocchi with rocket, cashew nut and goat cheese

For the gnocchi

1 kg potato

Water for steaming

2 tsp salt

250 g flour (ostro)

 

For the sauce

1 handful of baby rocket (you can use ordinary rocket if you can’t find baby)

80 g roasted and ground cashew nuts (keep some whole for garnish)

2 tsp of torn basil

100 ml of chicken stock

60 ml white wine

30 g pecorino/ Parmesan

5/6 cherry tomato

Gnocchi

Wash the potatoes and put them to steam for about 30-40 minutes, or until soft. Mash the potatoes, or put through a potato ricer and spread out on your worktop.

Add the salt, and sprinkle half the flour around the edges of the hot potato. With your hands, slowly fold the flour into the mixture, working from the outside in, until it is combined, slowly add more flour until you reach a smooth texture, with a slight spring. (You may not need all the flour)

Cut the dough into small sections and roll into cylinders, about 1.2 cm in diameter. Then cut the each cylinder into individual gnocchi about 2 cm in length. Place on a floured tray until ready to use, or freeze until a later date.

Sauce

Pick and wash the basil and rocket and set aside. Toast the cashew nuts and grind to a fine powder (set some aside for garnish). Reduce the chicken stock and wine in a small sauté

Njoki sa mladom rikulom, bosiljkom i indijskim oraščićima

1 kg krumpira

Voda

2 žličica soli

250 g oštrog brašna

Za umak

1 šaka mlade rikule (možete koristiti i normalnu rikulu ako nemožete naći mladu)

80 g tostiranih i smrvljenih indijskih oraščića (neke ostavite cijele za dekoraciju)

2 žličice trganog bosiljka

100 ml pilećeg temeljca

60 ml bijelog vina

30 g pecorino/ parmezan

5/6 cherry rajčica

 

Njoki

Operite krumpire i stavite ih pariti oko 30-40 minuta dok ne omekane. Zgnječite krumpire (da dobite smjesu kao pire) i stavite smjesu na radnu površinu.

Dodajte sol i posipajte pola brašna oko ruba vrućeg krumpira. Rukama polako dodavajte brašno u smjesu krumpira, umješavajući izvana prema unutra dok se smjesa ne poveže, lagano dodavajte ostatak brašna dok ne dobite glatku smijesu. (možda nećete trebati svo brašno)

Izrežite tijesto u nekoliko manjih komada i izrolajte ih u cilindar, otprilike 1,2cm dijametra. Zatim svaki cilindar izrežite u njoke, otprilike 2cm dužine. Stavite njoke na pobrašnjenu površinu do korištenja, a možete ih i smrznuti ako ih ne planirate odmah koristiti.

Umak

Uberite i operite bosiljak i mladu rikolu i stavite sa strane. Tostirajte indijske oraščiće i smrvite ih (neke ostavite cijele za dekoraciju). Reducirajte pileći temeljac i bijelo vino u tavi i dodajte kuhane njoke. Kuhajte dok se tekućina ne reducira i malo zgusne. Ubacite smrvljene indijske oraščiće, bosiljak, rikolu, rajčice, i sir, te začinite soli i paprom po želji.

Dekorirajte gotovo jelo sa indijskim oraščićima, bosiljkom i svježe mljevenim paprom.

Dobar tek!