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When I started my retirement travels - the first of which was my solo overseas trip to Italy in 2009 - I wanted a way to share it with family and friends as it happened. Hence, "My Travel Journal". However I realized I wouldn't always be on a trip and wondered what to do with the blog in between times. My daughter pointed out, wisely, that travels can also include trips to the kitchen to try a new recipe, trips to visit family, trips to my neighborhood Starbucks, or a fun day trip with a friend. You're welcome to join me on any of these journeys!

P.S. I've set up separate pages for each of my major trips (see tabs above).

I recently added an "Italian Word a Day" thingie which shows up at the bottom of every page. You see the word and can click to hear it pronounced. I've been enjoying it and I think my accent is improving as time goes by.

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December 01, 2008

Mushroom Truffle Risotto

Mushroom Truffle Risotto
(with help from Judith Jones' The Pleasures of Cooking for One and Tyler Florence)

Ingredients: (also see NOTES)
1/4 c. dried mushrooms (I used porcini)
1/2 c. warm water
1-1/4 to 1-1/2 c. chicken broth
1 Tbs olive oil
1 large-ish shallot, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
a sprinkle of dried ground thyme
2/3 c. arborio rice (or other short-grain Italian rice)
a splash of white wine
1/4# fresh mushrooms, coarsely sliced and/or chopped (I used baby bellas, not white button)
1 Tbs butter
Parmesan cheese

Soak the dried mushrooms in the warm water for 30 minutes.  Strain over a small pan to catch the soaking liquid, then pour in the broth, and heat to a simmer.  (NOTE:  I measured out the broth in a 2 cup measuring cup and microwaved it, then added the soaking water to that - always trying to use fewer pans!)

While the mushrooms are soaking, heat the oil in a small heavy pot and saute the shallots and garlic slowly for about 5 minutes until they're softened but not browning.  Add the rice and stir it around to glaze it - about 1 minute.  Pour in the wine (NOTE:  I didn't measure and think next time, I'd actually measure out about 1/4 cup - I probably didn't use that much the first time.) Cook and stir that until the wine has been absorbed.  After that, start adding about 1/3 c. of the warm broth,at a time, stirring it in and letting it absorb before the next addition.  Stir down to the bottom and up to the top, not just round and round the pan.  (NOTE:  I'm just an around and around stirrer and when the rice didn't seem to be getting softer, I started the bottom to top method and that made a difference, I think.)

So, while you're adding and stirring periodically, saute the fresh mushrooms in the butter.  Have patience - they will finally release all their liquid, the liquid will eventually evaporate and you'll just be left with beautifully sauteed mushrooms.  When you get that, then mix in the chopped reconstituted mushrooms and set aside.

When you have added almost all of the liquid to the rice, add the mushrooms, the remaining liquid and let it all cook for about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in Parmesan.


Unless this is being served as your entree, it's way more than you need for a side dish.  So I've saved my leftover risotto and am going to try making a "risotto cake" out of it.

I'd suggest starting the reconstituting process, then getting the broth heated, then slicing the fresh mushrooms and getting them started cooking, then chopping the shallots and garlic and getting them started.  I started cooking the rice too early in the whole process and then had to set it aside after I added the wine to it in order to get the mushrooms sliced and cooking.

Tyler Florence's recipe called for truffle oil and I happened to have that so I used a mix of 1 tsp truffle oil and 2 tsp olive oil. 

I found the reconstituted mushrooms kind of disgusting after they had soaked but chopped them up anyway and added them and they were fine in the risotto.  However, I also think just the liquid from reconstituting them would give plenty of flavor.

And, final note, I have trouble cooking rice whenever I make it and am not sure why.  I always seem to end up with a teensy bit of crunch in the grains.  Knowing that, and testing the rice as I went along, I finally decided after my next to last addition of liquid to cover the pan and let it cook for about 5 minutes.  That helped, but I still ended up with now a really teensy bit of crunch.  So, next time I will use a little more total liquid (adding the extra white wine may be all it takes) and maybe cooking covered for 7 or 8 minutes.  But, all in all, and for a first attempt, it was delicious!

Bon appetito!

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