Tag Archives: risotto

Beetroot Risotto

Inspired by Frugal Feeding’s gorgeous golden beetroot risotto, here’s my red beetroot risotto, which is adapted from Maggie Beer’s recipe. That gorgeous brilliant colour that beetroot imparts in dishes, also likes to stain, so make sure you have gloves handy unless you want pink stained fingers. Make sure the stock you add is hot – you need it to continue to cook the rice as soon as it hits the pan, and regular stirring will bring out that wonderful creaminess from the grains.

Ingredients makes 4-6 servings

  1. 1 medium beetroot
  2. 1 onion, diced
  3. 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  4. 1/2 cup Arborio rice, uncooked
  5. 2-3 cups hot chicken stock
  6. good handful of grated Parmesan cheese
  7. salt and pepper to taste
  8. Wedge of lemon and chopped flat leaf parsley to serve
  9. Optional: horseradish to serve


  1. Cook the beetroot first. In a saucepan of cold water, cover and bring the water to boil. Lower temperature and simmer until beetroot is tender – approximately 20-30 minutes
  2. Once the beetroot is cooked, grate and set aside. Reserve some of the cooking liquid
  3. Saute onions in some oil on low heat until translucent
  4. Add garlic and cook for a few more minutes
  5. Add the uncooked rice and stir well to coat the grains with the fragrant oil and cook for a few more minutes. This will give you time to make sure your stock is hot
  6. Add the stock, a ladle at a time, and stir, stir, stir, until it is absorbed – you can also use some of the reserved cooking liquid
  7. When you have added 3/4 of the stock, stir in the grated beetroot
  8. Continue till the rice has a rich, creamy texture, taste for seasoning
  9. Serve hot, topped with the grated Parmesan, the flat leaf parsley and a good squeeze of lemon – these add depth and freshness to the earthy flavour of the beetroot and really bring the dish alive
  10. Optional – serve with a dollop of horseradish

Lobster night at Blu, Four Seasons, Landaa Giraavaru, Maldives

Sardinian style marinated lobster, tomatoes, onions and olives

Work has finally died down to a point where I have my weekends back (yay!) and I’m writing my posts a bit backwards, so this post is from our recent trip to the Maldives.

There were four restaurants at the Four Seasons featuring various cuisines from Arabian, to Chinese, to Italian and a simple grill.

Blu was our favourite restaurant I think simply because it was where we started many of our evenings, enjoying cocktails at the bar. Sipping your cocktails with the Indian Ocean in front of you, surrounded by decor that exactly matched the perfect blue of the ocean is the only way to go daahlings 🙂

Chilled pea and mint soup with lobster

On Monday nights Blu serves a lobster degustation menu. We figured that lobster when you’re on an island in the middle of the ocean might, just might, be kind of spectacular.

First course was a lobster salad with Sardinian style marinated lobster, tomatoes, onions and olives. I often find lobster can be heavy and even tough, but this was poached perfectly so that it retained the sweetness and the flesh was light and tender.

Second course was a chilled pea and mint soup with lobster. Beautifully presented at the bottom of a chilled martini glass, the soup is poured over the lobster at the table. The freshness of the pea and mint soup was refreshing in the relative humidity of the evening.

Lobster with reginette pasta, asparagus puree and thyme

Pasta was next with lobster with reginette pasta, with an asparagus puree and thyme. The pasta was perfectly shaped to hold the delicate tomato-based sauce,

Lobster gratin with parmesan and black truffle sauce, wilted spinach and baby carrots

The main course was a half lobster gratin with parmesan and a black truffle sauce. It almost seemed a shame to top off a fresh lobster, served in it’s half shell with parmesan but with classic flavours like that, it was the killer dish of the evening.

Coconut risotto with passionfruit puree and shaved chocolate

Dessert was a coconut risotto with passionfruit puree and shaved chocolate. The combination of the creamy, rich, warm risotto and the tartness of the passionfruit with the melted chocolate was both surprising and delicious.

The food at all four restaurants was just delicious, mainly because they served beautifully fresh seafood, usually very simply prepared. Add the warm hospitality of all the staff, and dining out each evening was just such a joy.

24 Apostles

Amarone risotto

Well, the second time we went to the 12 Apostles, actually. We had had such a fun and delicious experience there a few nights earlier, and there was so many dishes that went unordered, we felt we simply had to go again.

D and I were intent on trying dishes that we would not normally order. This time around, again on recommendation, an amarone risotto, a gorgeous dish of saffron shrimp au gratin and my first taste of monkfish.

The amarone risotto tasted exactly as you would expect a risotto that was made with a heady, heavy, sweet red wine instead of stock. With no other ingredients or accompaniments, the flavour was a little strong for my liking – not sure if it’s habit or preference, but the flavour of risotto for me is usually quite delicate. Still, I’m glad I tried a speciality of the region – presumably because they have a large supply of amarone (so jealous). And the risotto was cooked perfectly – with a good amount of bite and lots of gorgeous starch from the grains.

Saffron shrimp au gratin

The shrimp came on a bed of wilted spinach, smothered in cheese and then oven-baked so that the cheese melted over the shrimp. Oh. My. Goodness. Heaven on a plate. I never think of combining shrimp with cheese but that sweet and savoury mix worked beautifully together.

Pan-roasted monkfish with frutti di mare

Monkfish was my main course.  It isn’t commonly found in Asia or Australia, and we’d seen it in the Venice Fish Markets – not really sure why it seems to be filleted so that it looks like it’s exploded like some alien, but assume because the only edible part of the fish is the tail (and it’s liver) – and looking at pictures of the whole fish, it’s a pretty ugly looking thing. Which is ironic because it tastes absolutely delicious. The texture of it is dense and sweet, similar to lobster-meat but not quite as heavy and is beautifully flaky. This came simply pan fried with a simple stock reduction and seafood with vegetables. I have to say, that in the whole of our trip, the Italians seem to really overseason and overcook their vegetables. Still, the fish was wonderful and I’m glad to have finally tasted this fish I hear so much about from watching travel/cooking programs.

Vanilla ice-cream with amaretti pastry and crushed hazelnuts

Of course we couldn’t skip dessert. Only this time we were more restrained and just ordered one – essentially a round ice-cream sandwich, with vanilla ice-cream in the centre, flaky amaretti pastry on top and bottom, and with the ice-cream dusted in crushed sugar and hazelnuts. The dish was warmed in a hot oven for literally 30 seconds before serving, melting the sugar and hazelnut mixture and providing you with incentive to eat it before all the ice-cream melted. I think it wasn’t on our table for much longer than it was in the oven.

I would recommend Verona to anyone who asks, and also this restaurant. Your dinner is sure to give you a true taste of Veronese food and wine, as well as its culture and history.

12 Apostoli
Corticela S. Marco 3,
37121, Verona, Italy
Tel: +39 045 596999
Email: dodiciapostoli@tiscali.it

Closed Sunday and Monday evenings

Raymond Blanc’s tomato essence risotto

Raymond Blanc’s tomato essence risotto

It’s been a little nuts in my household with visiting family and work taking up all my energy, so it’s wonderful to carve out a bit of my downtime to share some of my latest food adventures.

I want to start with a risotto transformed into something magical through the use of tomato essence as the base stock. This recipe comes from the awesome Raymond Blanc. I made a few adjustments/ommissions – not because I want to mess with the genius of this recipe, but simply because of what I had in my pantry/fridge.

The Raymond Blanc recipe is here. He has some good tips, and I’ve repeated the ones which I thought were most useful in my adaptation below. It takes some preparation time just because you need to extract the essence from the tomatoes before you can begin, so plan ahead. It’s worth it !

Ingredients (to serve two as a main or four as a starter)

For the essence:

  1. 1.25kg tomatoes – it’s vital that you use tomatoes that have tons of flavour.  Poor quality tomatoes will give you a tasteless essence.  I used baby roma tomatoes
  2. 1/2 onion, peeled and chopped
  3. 1/2 clove garlic, peeled and sliced
  4. handful of basil leaves, roughly torn
  5. good pinch of sea salt
  6. pinch sugar (optional)

For the risotto:

  1. ½  onion finely chopped
  2. 1 clove garlic, crushed
  3. 30ml olive oil
  4. 200g risotto rice
  5. 7 pinches sea salt
  6. 2 pinches white pepper
  7. 300ml hot water
  8. 300ml tomato essence (recipe above)

To finish the risotto:

  1. 1 tsp butter, unsalted
  2. 40g peas, shelled
  3. 40g broad beans
  4. 40g baby carrots, washed and sliced
  5. 20g Parmesan, finely grated
  6. 4-6 cherry tomatoes, roasted
  7. sprigs of baby herbs to garnish


Making the tomato essence:

  1. In a food processor, blitz all the ingredients together 3 times for 2 seconds each, using the pulse button. Don’t over blitz the tomatoes to a purée, as it will break down the tomato skin and give a completely different, coarser flavour. The colour will also be red, whilst we are looking for a pale gold colour, which is the heart of the tomato
  2. Allow to marinate for a minimum of 30 minutes and up to 3 hours
  3. Hang in a double folded muslin cloth to collect the liquid (I put the muslin over a strainer over a bowl), pop in the fridge and let gravity do its job for at least a few hours.  Reserve
  4. The pulp can be used to make a soup or sauce for pasta or chicken or could also be used to add into the risotto in place of the extra vegetables

Cooking the risotto

  1. Bring the water to the boil
  2. Soften the onion and garlic in the olive oil on a low heat until softened
  3. Stir in the rice and continue to cook on medium heat for 2 minutes until the grains of rice appear translucent
  4. Season with salt and pepper
  5. Add the hot water, lower heat and and stir until it has all been absorbed
  6. Repeat step 5 with the essence, cover and simmer for 20 minutes to cook *** this recipe does not call for the traditional method of cooking risotto where you need to continually add stock and stir
  7. After 20 minutes add the butter and the peas, beans and carrots, and cook for a further 5 minutes stirring continually – this will help to encourage the natural starch in the rice to give the dish that wonderfully creamy texture
  8. Taste for seasoning
  9. Serve, topped with freshly grated parmesan, roasted tomatoes and herbs