Friday, March 29, 2013

barefoot contessa's spring green risotto

For those of you who have been following my blog for a while, I've confessed on many occasions that I'm obsessed with cookbooks.  I can sit for hours reading recipes, looking at beautiful photos, and dreaming of how to improve my food styling skills.  Barefoot Contessa's (Ina Garten) cookbooks are among my favorites.  I adore not only her cookbooks, but also her show on Food Network.  She makes one feel that they can create as beautifully as she does, with her simplistic explanations; yet, creations that are consistently lovely and sophisticated.  Cooking aside, I can't get enough of her and Jeffrey's genuine, sweet, flirtatious kindness for one another. 

Spring Green Risotto is one of my many favorites of Ina's.  When I first discovered this recipe, it was the mascarpone incorporated in it, that jumped out at me.  New to mascarpone in risotto, I thought how perfectly creamy it would make it, and it does not disappoint!  Lemon juice and zest balance the mascarpone nicely, so  no need to think the mascarpone will diminish any of the risotto's savory flavor.

A beautiful, spring green color palette of vegetables highlight this delicious risotto.  Each vegetable's complex flavor compliments the other, to superbly come together and create one of the most delightful risottos you'll ever taste!  Spring Green Risotto's versatility makes it divine as a vegetarian dinner entrée, but just as wonderful as a side next to your favorite fish, meat or poultry.  Should I mention how marvelous it would be added to your Easter menu - instead of the normal scalloped potatoes?! :)

Wishing all my readers a beautiful weekend, and a Happy Easter!

Until next time...mangia!  xox


Barefoot Contessa's Spring Green Mascarpone Risotto
servings:  4 dinner or 6 appetizer/sides

Recipe adapted from Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics


1 1/2 tablespoons good extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts (2 - 3 leeks depending on size)
1 cup chopped fennel (video on how to prepare fennel in Carol's notes)
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
2/3 cup dry white wine
4 - 5 cups simmering chicken stock
1 pound thin asparagus (cut diagonally in 1-1/2 inch lengths - discard the tough ends)
10 ounces frozen peas, defrosted (see cook's tip about peas in Carol's notes)
1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano, plus extra for serving
3 tablespoons minced fresh chives, plus extra for serving

Create the Spring Green Mascarpone Risotto:

Heat the evoo and butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat.  Add the leeks and fennel and sauté for 5 to 7 minutes, until tender.  Add the rice and stir for a minute to coat with the vegetables, oil, and butter.  Add the white wine and simmer over low heat, stirring constantly, until most of the wine has been absorbed.  Add the chicken stock, 2 ladles at a time, stirring almost constantly and waiting for the stock to be absorbed before adding more.  This process should take 25 to 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, blanch the cut asparagus in boiling, salted water for 4 to 5 minutes, until al dente.  Drain and cool immediately in ice water.

When the risotto has been cooking for 15 minutes, drain the asparagus and add it to the risotto with the peas, lemon zest, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper.  Continue cooking and adding stock, stirring almost constantly, until the rice is tender but still firm.

Whisk the lemon juice and mascarpone together in a small bowl.  When the risotto is done, turn off the heat and stir in the mascarpone mixture, plus the parmigiano-reggiano and chives.  Set aside, off the heat, for a few minutes, sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste, and serve hot with a sprinkling of chives and parmigiano-reggiano.

Carol's notes:

Here is an excellent, short video from on how to prepare fennel.  This isn't a commonly used everyday vegetable, so thought it would be helpful to see how simple it is to do.  You will need to go one step further and chop the fennel after it is sliced in the video.  Be sure to save your fronds for garnish!    The video is located here.

Did you know fresh peas flavor deteriorates in only one day after picking?  So unless you are using them in 24 hours, a better choice is to use frozen peas in recipes.  -A great cook's tip from America's Test Kitchen.

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Friday, March 22, 2013

meyer lemon ricotta pancakes with macerated strawberry coulis

It's Friday, but not just any Friday.  This lovely, sunny, freezing cold Friday in late March contains twelve hours of college basketball - and all weekend long too!  The remote control needs to stay close as I write my post, to surf four different games on four different channels, happening all at once.  Absolutely love March madness!!! With a son and daughter involved in multiple sports through school, and then both Virginia Tech graduates, I've been a sports fanatic forever.  I lived for their games, and when they were in college, made any excuse to visit and tailgate with them on weekends for Hokie football games.  Since my adorable niece and brother-in-law are both IU grads, the Hoosiers are my sentimental favorite, and team on my bracket sheet to go all the way!

All right, for those of you who couldn't care less about basketball, I'll move on to why you stopped by - for some absolutely, positively incredible pancakes, not to mention the coulis!  I'm not bragging - just saying.  These have become my favorite pancakes of all time.  When I made them again recently for my blog,  I ate the first one off the griddle, (as usual, to make sure they taste good - smiling) always feeling like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman - when she uses her hand to take the pancake off the elegant silver tray, and stuffs it in her mouth!  Love that scene! 

Perfect for Easter, a spring or summer brunch, and of course dinner, you are going to love these  meyer lemon ricotta pancakes, and their quintessential strawberry coulis!  Created especially for the divine strawberry sauce, to savor the pancakes myriad of flavors, please don't ever pour a heavy maple syrup over them.    That would be like a sin! ;)  Light and fluffy in texture, ideally sweetened, fruity and refreshing, I can't say enough about them.  Yes, they do take a bit longer than making regular old pancakes from a box, but so worth your time.  Just pour yourself a cup of hot coffee, (or a mimosa) put on an apron, and enjoy creating!  Give them a try, and let me know if you agree.

Until next time...mangia!  xox


Almost forgot to tell you:  I now have a handy-dandy pinterest button that appears at the top right of each photo, when you hover with your mouse.  You can "Pin it" directly from the photo to pinterest now, just by clicking the button.  I was so excited to figure out how to add this to my blog!  It's the little things... ;)

Meyer Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with Macerated Strawberry Coulis
Serves 4


for the macerated strawberry coulis:
1 quart strawberries, hulled and quartered (1+1/2 pounds or 4 cups quartered)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup orange juice

for the pancakes:
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus a pinch for egg whites
1 heaping teaspoon baking powder
4 eggs, separated
1 heaping cup ricotta cheese
3/4 cup milk
2 meyer lemons, zested and juiced
butter, for cooking the pancakes
powdered sugar, for dusting

Create the Coulis:

Toss the quartered strawberries with the sugar and orange juice.  Cover and let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.

After the berries and sugar have macerated and become very juicy, remove 1/2 of the berry mixture, put it in a food processor and puree until smooth.  Return it to the rest of the berries and set aside until ready to use.  (If you don't have a food processor, or mini processor, a potato masher will work fine.)

Create the Pancakes:

Sift together all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl.  In another bowl, combine the egg yolks, ricotta, milk, lemon zest and lemon juice, and mix until it comes together.  Make a well in the dry ingredients, add the wet ingredients to the well, and whisk until well combined and uniform throughout.

Preheat a griddle.

In another bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they form stiff peaks.  Fold the egg whites into the flour mixture in thirds.  Do this quickly and gently so the pancakes will be light and fluffy.

Melt small pats of butter onto the preheated griddle, and spread it around with a paper towel to remove any excess butter.  Ladle about 1/3 cup (or desired size) batter onto the prepared griddle.  When the top of the pancake is full of holes, (like bubbles have risen to the surface and burst,) the pancake is ready to flip.  Flip the pancake and cook until the bottom is golden brown.

Remove the pancakes from the griddle to serving plates.  Top with the macerated strawberry coulis and garnish with powdered sugar.

OMGoodness - delicious!!!

Carol's notes:

You can adjust the sugar in the pancake batter back to 1/2 cup, if you prefer them less sweet.  If the batter is too thick, add extra milk, a little at a time.

I cook them on a cast iron griddle, because I adore the old-fashioned look and results of the pancakes, but feel free to use your griddle of choice.

To prepare the strawberries - I feel like an advertisement here, but one of my favorite new gadgets I bought last year, is a strawberry huller.  I picked it up at the Williams-Sonoma outlet store for almost nothing, and don't know how I ever managed without it.  It removes the leaves and stems at the same time, and almost the entire strawberry remains.  It's this exact one found here, and is definitely worth the money.  It can be found at many other locations.  I've used it for hundreds of strawberries since buying it!

This lovely recipe was adapted from Anne Burrell.

- beautiful, sunny meyer lemons -
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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

caramel chocolate chip cake

Yesterday it snowed here in Northern Virginia.  As usual, the meteorologists didn't get it right, it was supposed to be rain.  We went the entire winter with no measurable snow, and now we've had two storms in March.  The best thing about March snow storms?  They are gone the following day.  You can enjoy the immense beauty a new fallen snow brings, knowing it will melt so quickly that you never have to go through those dirty snow changes, the colder winter months possess.

Born and raised in Saratoga Springs, New York, and spending my first year of marriage in Syracuse, and then six years in Vermont, I am totally used to huge snow storms.  We've even had several whopper snow storms in Virginia since moving here in the early eighties.  It always amuses me how people panic over the mention of snow now. You go to the grocery store, and the shelves are bare.  Toilet paper gone?  Why?  Does snow cause one to have to use the bathroom more?

When I was growing up, my sister, brothers and I spent hours out in the snow...usually building snow forts and tunnels in the huge snow banks on the sides of the neighborhood streets.  When we would come inside at the end of the day, we couldn't wait to see what my mother had baked.  For some reason on snow days, it was usually a cake.  Never fancy, but always delicious, with a warm, cozy feeling.  With rosy, cold cheeks, numb fingers and toes, the smell of the cake entering the house, made you forget the shivering chills remaining from a long day of working on our unique snow homes.

My Caramel Chocolate Chip Cake is reminiscent of those memorable days.  Today is National Chocolate Caramel Day in the foodie world, and caramel is also the ingredient paired with chocolate for my March Chocolate Party Baking Group theme, hosted by my friend Roxana of Roxana's Home Baking.  What an ideal day to post this delicious, southern favorite!  This is my contribution; however, be sure to view all the other wonderful entries by clicking the link at the bottom of my post.

The divine, rich caramel frosting, develops  an incredible thin, crystalline crust - still boasting a creamy, silkiness next to the lovely yellow cake.  The addition of buttermilk gives the cake a tangy deliciousness which balances perfectly with the usual "too much sweetness" of a caramel cake.  The moist, tender crumb of the cake is still not too fragile, so stands up well to the thick frosting.  One word of caution - you must work quickly icing the cake, since the frosting begins to form its crystalline layer in about five minutes.  Mini chocolate chips add the final touch to each scrumptious bite of this Caramel Chocolate Chip Cake.  I decided to give the cake a little twist by using two rectangle biscotti pans, rather than the normal round cake pans.  I loved the cake loaf outcome!

Until next time...mangia!  xox


Yesterday's unexpected beautiful blanket of snow at the entrance to my neighborhood.

Caramel Chocolate Chip Cake
Serves 10 - 12


for the cake:
1/2 cup buttermilk, room temperature
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces and softened
1 cup mini chocolate chips {a handful additional for garnish, optional}

for the frosting:
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces and softened
2 cups packed dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups confectioners sugar, sifted

Create the Cake:

1.  Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease and flour (or use non-stick baking spray) two 9" round cake pans or two 12" x 5-1/4" rectangle biscotti pans, just like the ones found here.  Whisk buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla in large measuring cup.  Put flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into bowl of electric stand mixer and whisk ingredients together with a hand whisk.  With paddle attachment, beat in butter, 1 piece at a time, until only pea-sized pieces remain.  Pour in half of buttermilk mixture and beat over medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 1 minute.  Slowly add remaining buttermilk mixture to bowl and beat until incorporated, about 15 seconds.  On low speed, mix in the one cup of mini chocolate chips.

2.  Scrape equal amounts of batter into prepared pans and bake until golden, and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes.  Cool cakes in pans 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire racks.  Cool completely, at least 1 hour.

Create the Caramel Frosting:

1.  Heat 8 tablespoons butter, brown sugar, and salt in large saucepan over medium heat until small bubbles appear around perimeter of pan, 4 to 8 minutes.  Whisk in cream and cook until ring of bubbles reappears, about 1 minute.  Remove from heat, and whisk in vanilla.

2.  Transfer hot frosting mixture to bowl of stand mixer and, with electric mixer on low speed, gradually mix in confectioners sugar until incorporated.  Increase speed to medium and beat until frosting is pale brown and just warm, about 5 minutes.  Add remaining butter, 1 piece at a time, and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.

Assemble the Caramel Chocolate Chip Cake:

1.  Place 1 cake round/rectangle on serving plate.  Spread 3/4 cup frosting over cake, then top with second cake. Spread remaining frosting evenly over top and sides of cake.  Garnish with additional mini chocolate chips, if desired.

Recipe Source {with slight change}:  America's Test Kitchen

Carol's note:

The addition of the mini chocolate chips is optional.  The cake is just as lovely on its own.

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Thursday, March 14, 2013

stuffed cabbage casserole

Green cabbage.  Let me count the benefits!  Ok, with St. Pat's Day on Sunday, you can obviously see my cabbage wasn't slow cooked with corned beef, simmering in a rich, stout beer.  Although cabbage cooked that way is without a doubt delicious - if you're looking for a scrumptious, healthy, nutritious option, and adore cabbage, {as I do} - I've got a savory dish you are going to love!  You will think you're eating a stuffed cabbage roll, without all the work.

In my ongoing effort to bring you some of my healthy and nutritious creations sandwiched between a parade of divine sweets, this dish is another favorite of mine.  A bit newer to my repertoire then some of my other creations, I've been making this over the last year or two, with delight every time.  I love when I can divide up portions, freeze some, and eat the others over the entire week.  This recipe fits the bill!

Loaded with fiber, and antioxidant benefits - cabbage is fully packed into this layered casserole.  A great low-cal option, one cup of cooked cabbage contains only 33 calories.  Did you know cabbage is also an excellent source of vitamin C?  Yep! - more vitamin C than the amount found in oranges.  In combination with all the other smart choices found in this lovely dish, Stuffed Cabbage Casserole is a perfect addition to your healthy menu!

Since the nutritional benefits of cabbage are found more by steaming, the sauté method used in this recipe is very similar.  When sautéed in a touch of olive oil, the cabbage takes on a delectable sweetness, which is so darn good! If you sauté too much cabbage to fit into the casserole, don't worry, just put it in a bowl and enjoy later in the week.  I actually cook more on purpose, just to have a nice size sautéed bowl of cabbage deliciousness later in the week!

By the way, you don't have to be eating healthy to enjoy this casserole.  That's just an added benefit. :}  Have a beautiful weekend!  Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Until next time...when I bring you a Caramel Chocolate Chip Loaf Cake for National Caramel and Chocolate Day {yes, a national day in the foodie world, reserved just for caramel and chocolate!}...mangia!  xox


Stuffed Cabbage Casserole
Serves 8


2 cups cooked brown rice
1 large head green cabbage, coarsely chopped {approximately 3 1/2 pounds chopped}
2 tablespoons {more or less} extra virgin olive oil, divided
salt and freshly ground pepper, for seasoning the meat and cabbage to taste
1 pound lean ground beef {I use Laura's Lean Ground Sirloin, 96% Lean, 4% Fat}
1 large onion, chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1 - 14.5 ounce petite diced tomatoes {I use Muir Glen Organic Fire Roasted Petite Diced Tomatoes}
1 - 15 ounce tomato sauce {I use Muir Glen Organic Tomato Sauce, no salt added}
1/4 cup water {just enough to rinse out the tomato sauce can}
canola or olive oil cooking spray, for your baking dish or pan
2 cups low-fat shredded cheese {I use Sargento 4-cheese Italian blend}

Create the Stuffed Cabbage Casserole:

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, with oven rack positioned in center of oven.

2.  Cook rice according to package directions, enough to yield 2 cooked cups.

3.  While rice is cooking, cut cabbage in half, cut out the core, and remove any wilted outer leaves.  Coarsely chop. Heat about 1 tablespoon evoo in a large saute pan or dutch oven with lid, add the cabbage and cook over medium-high heat until the cabbage is wilted and about half cooked, turning it over several times so it all wilts and cooks.  Season the cabbage while cooking with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.  Set aside when done.

4.  Heat 1 - 2 teaspoons evoo in a large frying pan {amount will depend on how lean your ground beef is}.  Add ground beef and cook until nicely browned, crumbling as it cooks.  Remove from pan and set aside in a bowl.

5.  In the same frying pan, add a little more evoo, if needed.  Add the chopped onion and cook over medium heat until translucent and starting to brown, about 5 minutes.  Add the minced garlic, dried thyme, and paprika and cook approximately 2 minutes more.  Add the diced tomatoes with juice, tomato sauce, and ground beef.  Fill the tomato sauce can with about 1/4 cup water, swish to rinse can, and add to the pan.  Let the mixture simmer until it's hot and slightly thickened, about 15 - 20 minutes.  Last step, stir in and combine the 2 cups of cooked rice.

6.  Spray a large glass 13" x 10" casserole dish, or a 12" cast iron pan, with non-stick spray.  Layer half the cabbage onto bottom of casserole dish or cast iron pan.  Using the back of a spatula, press down the cabbage to slightly compress.  Layer half the meat mixture on the cabbage, the other half of the cabbage mixture, slightly compressing once again, and finish off with remainder of the meat mixture.  Cover tightly with foil and bake 40 minutes, or until the mixture is hot and heated thoroughly.

7.  Remove the foil and sprinkle the cheese over the top.  Bake uncovered an additional 10 minutes, so the cheese begins to melt.  Keeping the casserole in the center of the oven, turn on the broiler, and broil just until the cheese becomes slightly browned.  Serve hot.

8.  The casserole keeps nicely in the refrigerator, covered tightly with plastic wrap, for one week, or can be frozen.

Adapted from Kalyn's Kitchen.

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Friday, March 08, 2013

lemon, olive oil & ricotta cake with lemon glaze

This lovely Italian cake obviously isn't the caramel loaf cake promised in my last post.  After our week filled with cloudy days and snow, {yes, we actually got our first snow of the entire winter on Wednesday!} I wanted to post something that exuded sunshine and spring!  ...and gosh, do I love lemon!  The caramel loaf cake is waiting patiently in the wings to show itself later this month.  Speaking of spring, a beautiful bouquet of tulips, one of my absolute favorite flowers flooding the entrances of all the local markets, found a way into my grocery cart and happily came home with me - begging to be aligned next to the delightful lemon, olive oil & ricotta cake.  I cheerfully obliged!

All I have to say is thank goodness I was meeting a girlfriend for dinner the day I created this divine cake.  Other than the slices I cut for photographing, I brought the remainder for my friend and her husband to enjoy.  I seriously couldn't have resisted it, had it been left in my house.

Fresh and light, with a slight lemon tartness, this cake is the ultimate accompaniment to the end of any meal.  It would be wonderful any time of the year, ideal for Easter, and just as nice for a warm evening out on the deck, with a glass of chilled white wine.  A hint of fruity extra virgin olive oil, extremely moist from the creamy ricotta cheese, and perfectly sweetened with lemon glaze, you'll want to serve this Italian charmer often!

Until next time...mangia!  xox


Lemon, Olive Oil & Ricotta Cake with Lemon Glaze


for the cake:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large eggs, separated
1/2 cup granulated sugar
finely grated zest of 2 lemons
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons whole milk
3/4 cup of ricotta cheese {I used part skim}
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
a small amount of butter, softened, for buttering the pan

for the glaze:
1 cup of confectioner's sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice {or limoncello}
confectioner's sugar for dusting on top {optional}

Create the Lemon, Olive Oil & Ricotta Glazed Pound Cake:

1.  Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.  Line the bottom of a removable bottom quiche/tart pan with parchment paper, lightly butter the pan, and the paper.  I used a quiche/tart pan that measured 8" across the bottom, and 10" across top, with a 2 1/8" height, like this one here.  I loved the presentation it made.  You can also use an 8" - 9" round cake pan, or anything similar.  Just remember to adjust cooking times accordingly.

2.  In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

3.  In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, combine the egg yolks, granulated sugar, and lemon zest.  Beat on medium speed until the mixture thickens, is pale yellow, and forms ribbons when the whisk is lifted, 3 - 4 minutes.  Allow to sit.

4.  In a separate bowl, with an electric hand mixer, whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks.  Set aside.

5.  In another bowl, hand whisk together the evoo, milk, ricotta cheese, and lemon juice.  Slowly drizzle the oil mixture into the egg mixture in the electric stand mixer, while the mixer is running.  Reduce the speed to low, and now add the flour mixture, and mix just until combined.  Drizzle in the butter, and mix just until combined.

6.  Remove the mixing bowl from the stand mixer, and fold in the stiff egg whites.

7.  Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan.  Bake, rotating the pan after 25 minutes.  Bake until the top of the cake is golden, the center bounces back when touched, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean - approximately 40 - 45 minutes.

8.  Remove from pan after about 10 minutes, and cool enough to touch.  Let it cool completely on a wire rack.

9.  While the cake is cooling, prepare the glaze.  Combine the lemon juice, or Limoncello, with the powdered sugar until completely smooth, and combined.  Adjust the consistency to how you like it...thinner, add more lemon juice...thicker, add more powdered sugar.  Place the cooled cake on a serving plate, and pour the glaze over the cake and let it set up {at least 30 minutes} prior to slicing.  I kept the glaze a little on the thicker side and spread it just to the edge of the scallops on the cake.  If desired, dust a small amount of powdered sugar over the top.

Adapted from  The Brooklyn Ragazza.

Don't forget - spring forward this weekend!!!

Friday, March 01, 2013

risotto ai mirtilli {blueberry risotto}

March 1st.  Didn't we just celebrate the new year yesterday?!  The month isn't exactly coming in like a lion, but it's a cool, cloudy, dreary day, nonetheless.  The weather report this morning was calling for a "possible" snow storm next week.  We haven't had any measurable snow all winter here in Northern Virginia, so wouldn't it be typical to get our first storm when spring is preparing to show itself!  Last year, the same scenario took place.  My early spring, bright yellow forsythia shrubs, blanketed in a gorgeous pure white, bowing over from the snow's weight...were the prettiest sight ever!

It's days like today, that lend their way to a lovely, savory dish. Risotto ai mirtilli fits the part perfectly.  With our grocery stores beginning to bloom with fresh, farmer's market like bins of fruits and vegetables, what better way then to have a comforting, creamy dish of risotto - filled with lovely, plump blueberries, bursting with nutrients and flavor!  {side note:  another risotto filled with some of those vibrant green spring veggies is coming soon as well!}

Before launching my blog last July, I was in the planning stages for several months beforehand.  While searching for new and unique creations, I came across this divine recipe that fit my blog's concept of "sweet and savory creations, inspired by lovely, fresh ingredients."  It was from my Italian blogging friend Barbara, of cucina di Barbara.  The recipe is quite simple, with very few ingredients.  Coming together from the delightful flavors and textures of parmigiano-reggiano and montasio, a crisp, fruity, dry white wine, and the sweet/tart flavor of the blueberries - is all this delicious dish takes.  Excellent when fresh blueberries are starting to hit markets from now through summer, makes it a two season favorite of mine.  When the blueberries begin to burst in the final stage of cooking, changing the pale white risotto to flecks of violet-blue color, it creates the most beautiful, enjoyable plate!

Until next time...and a scrumptious, caramel loaf cake...mangia!  xox


Risotto ai Mirtilli {Blueberry Risotto}
Servings:  4 as a main meal or 8 as a side


1 1/2 cups arborio rice
4 - 5 cups vegetable stock
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (2 for cooking, 1 reserved to add at the end)
1/2 cup white wine (I've used Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay, and prefer Chardonnay)
4 tablespoons freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano, plus extra for garnish
1/3 cup freshly grated montasio cheese
1 cup fresh blueberries, plus 1 cup extra for garnishing
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Create the Risotto ai Mirtilli {Blueberrry Risotto}

In a large saute pan, heat 2 tablespoons of evoo over medium heat, add in the chopped onion and garlic until tender, approximately 3 minutes.  Add the rice and stir together with the oil, onions, and garlic until it become glossy, about 1 minute.  Once glossy, stir in the white wine, stirring constantly, until it is absorbed.  Add the vegetable stock, 1 ladle at a time, waiting for the stock to be absorbed before adding the next ladle, stirring continuously.

When the risotto is nearly done, and you are adding your last ladle of stock, add the 1 cup of blueberries at the same time.  When the last ladle of stock is absorbed, the risotto creamy, and some of the blueberries have begun to burst, stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon of evoo, the parmigiano-reggiano, and montasio and remove from heat.

Serve hot, garnished with extra blueberries and a sprinkling of parmigiano-reggiano.  Mangia!!!

Recipe adapted from cucina di Barbara.