“Ne joue pas avec la nourriture !” (Don’t play with your food) my mum used to tell me while I was quietly sitting in front of a plate that was probably bigger than my entire face. “Mais je ne joue pas ! (I am not playing!)
I was thinking, already. Making food plans.
All right, I can confess that I am just adding this last part. I really had no idea that one day, I would enjoy to play with food so much. For all of those times when I was told not to play with my food when I really wanted to play with it, I can proudly and freely have my revenge now. Maman probably did not know that all of the ideas stuck in my child’s head would one day serve a good purpose.
It all happened as a result of a bad experience.
Wednesday, Oct 18, last week.
I was appreciating the sunny day as I had been feeling sick from stomach flu. Yes, I brought it with me from France. Those usually travel very well! I am rarely sick, so not been able to eat much of anything felt quite foreign. I din’t like it at all! In fact, as soon as I started to feel better, I developed specific food cravings from the lack of eating solid foods since soup had been my diet for a few days. I decided to make risotto. “Je veux quelque chose de parfumé et de léger,” I thought (I want something fragrant and light). I had a few vague ideas, nothing precise, except that I was craving green vegetables which I had not had for a few days. I did not think much and chose to use store-bought vegetable broth to cook my risotto. I prepared my ingredients and started. I took my organic vegetable broth, opened it and poured its contents into a pot. Quoi ? Qu’est-ce que c’est que ça ? Ah non ! (What? What is it? No!) To my surprise, it was deep orange “I don’t want that!” What I really wanted was a color-neutral but flavorful broth. Nothing more. Because I had started the whole cooking process, I could not stop there. My risotto turned out nice in texture, and in the end, the color was no longer bothering me that much, but as to the taste, it was just not what I had anticipated. In fact, the broth had overpowered the whole dish, taking over the rest of the flavors added to the risotto. Where was the lovely little touch of Vermouth I had poured? What about the Fava beans and zucchinis? Not even to mention the subtle touch of cumin used to cook the vegetables. Disparus ! (Gone!)
“Qu’est-ce que je vais faire ?” (What am I going to do?) I thought.
I decided to start again, but this time, with my own personalized homemade vegetable broth. I would put and give it the color I want!
Homemade Vegetable Broth — Bouillon de légumes maison
There is no possible comparison. I had read about it and knew it, but it felt like a discovery once again. Every single time I make my own stocks/broths, it becomes more obvious: you achieve the best results in a dish you prepare if you use homemade stocks, especially in food like risotto. Homemade vegetable is easy to improvise with your favorite herbs, and whatever vegetables you have handy. The enhanced taste is guaranteed. In mine, I decided to add fennel greens kept from fennel bulbs cooked the day before, along with carrots, celery branches, a large onion and a few herbs. I loved the subtle anise taste that the fennel gave, especially combined with the star anise I added. The color was perfect: light and clear. This time, I knew the broth was not going to color my food in an unwelcoming way. I could play with it in the way I preferred.
The Risotto Play — Le jeu du risotto
Green and white in color, Fava beans, diced zucchinis, cumin, and savory are combined in a flavorful risotto served with grilled ocean perch fillets. But, in addition to this list, this risotto recipe plays on two things:
-1- The Broth: I will have to say it once more: making your own broth is not difficult. In fact, I do not know anything simpler than homemade vegetable broth.
-2- The Timbale Shape: Rather than present your risotto right from the pan, you can decide to give shape to it and make a small timbale. Nothing easier than this either, and it surely gives a nice twist to your presentation.
Who now can say I cannot play with my food?
This time, it is just L’s fault. Impossible to resist and not participate to the monthly theme organized on Flick by her: Still Life With. This month’s theme is all about Playing with Food. We all have this bit of fun inside us. Maybe you want to play too!
Vegetable Broth for the Risotto
For 4 + 1/4 cups water, you need:
- 2 carrots
- 2 celery branches
- 1 leek
- 1 onion
- 5 pink peppercorns
- 1 star anise
- A few twigs of fennel greens (optional, I used them because I had them)
- 2 twigs of parsley
- 1 twig of savory
- 1 whole garlic clove, peeled and sliced in halves
- Salt and pepper
- Peel, wash and cut the vegetables. Place them in a pot and cover with the cold water. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 20 mns, covered.
- Place in a large bowl and let cool down. Cover and let infuse all night in the fridge before filtering the broth the following day. Season with salt and pepper.
Vegetable Risotto and Fish
- 1 1/2 cups Canaroli rice
- 4 cups (1 quart) homemade vegetable broth
- 3 small zucchinis, diced (like a brunoise)
- 1 dash of cumin powder
- 1 large onion
- 7 oz Fava beans, peeled
- 8 small ocean perch fillets
- 1 garlic clove, whole
- Twigs of fresh savory
- 1.5 oz freshly finely grated pecorino
- Olive oil
- 9 Tbsp vermouth (ou dry white wine)
For the fish
- Chop a garlic clove. Place it in a dish, season with salt and pepper, pour a dash of olive oil and add 2 twigs of savory, then coat your fish in the marinade. Place in the fridge for 30 mns.
- Grill it for 2 to 3 mns under the broil or using a non-stick frying pan (on the skin side). Keep warm.
For the risotto
- Blanch your Fava beans for 4 mns in salted boiling water. Rinse-them under cold water and keep on the side.
- Dice your zucchinis like a brunoise. Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil. Add a dash of cumin and coat it so that the spice develops. Add the zucchini with the beans and 1 whole unpeeled crushed garlic clove. Add a few twigs of savory and cook for 5 mns. Keep aside.
- Heat your vegetable broth and keep warm.
- Chop the onion finely.
- Heat 2 Tbsp butter in a thick-bottomed pan or pot. Cook the onion for 5 mns until tender, then away from the heat, add the rice and coat it (1 mn).
- Put the pot back on the stove and start by adding one ladle of broth. Add 2 twigs of savory (which you will remember to remove at the end). Wait until all the liquid is absorbed before adding more broth. Continue and add 2/3 of the vegetables with the last ladle of broth.
- Stir and once the liquid is almost absorbed, add the vermouth, grated pecorino and 1 Tbsp butter. Stop the heat. Season with salt and pepper, stir gently and cover for 2 à 3 mns.
- Preheat your oven at 200 C. Take small ramekins and place parchment paper inside. Fill the molds with the risotto and place in the oven for 10 mns.
- Unmold on each plate. Add more vegetables and the fish.
Bouillon de légumes pour risotto
Ingrédients pour 1 litre d’eau
- 2 carottes
- 2 branches de céleri
- 1 poireau
- 1 oignon
- 5 baies roses
- 1 étoîle anisée
- Quelques feuilles de fenouil (facultatif, j’en avais)
- 2 brins de persil
- 1 brin de sarriette
- 1 gousse d’ail entière, pelée et coupée en deux
- Sel et poivre
- Pelez, lavez et coupez les légumes. Mettez-les dans une casserole et recouvrez-les d’1 litre d’eau froide. Amenez à ébullition et faites mijoter pendant 20 mns à couvert.
- Mettez dans un grand plat (ou bol) et laissez refroidir. Couvrez et laissez infuser toute la nuit au frigo avant de filtrer le bouillon le lendemain. Assaisonnez de sel et de poivre.
Le risotto aux légumes et le poisson
- 300 g de riz Canaroli
- 950 ml de bouillon de légumes maison
- 3 petites courgettes, coupées en petits dés (brunoise)
- 1 pointe de cumin en poudre
- 1 gros oignon
- 200 g de fèves gourganes, sans peau
- 8 petits filets de perche
- 1 gousse d’ail, entière
- Brins de sarriette frais
- 40 g de pecorino frais, râpé finement
- Huile d’olive
- 12,5 cl de vermouth (ou vin blanc sec)
Pour le poisson
- Hachez une gousse d’ail. Mettez-la dans un plat, salez et poivrez, arrosez d’un filet d’huile d’olive, ajoutez 2 brins de sarriette et enrobez votre poisson. Réservez-le au frais pendant 30 mns.
- Faites-le ensuite griller 2 à 3 mns sous le gril de votre four, ou à la poêle anti-adhésive, côté peau. Réservez-le au chaud.
Pour le risotto
- Faites blanchir vos fèves pendant 4 mns dans de l’eau bouillante salée. Rinsez-les à l’eau froide et réservez.
- Coupez vos courgettes en petits dés. Faitez chauffer 2 càs d’huile d’olive. Ajoutez le cumin et laissez revenir 1 mn pour que l’épice se développe. Ajoutez les dés de courgette avec les fèves et 1 gousse d’ail entière non pelée écrasée. Ajoutez quelques brins de sarriette et faites revenir pendant 5 mns. Réservez de côté.
- Faites chauffer votre bouillon de légumes et réservez-le au chaud.
- Hachez votre oignon finement.
- Faites fondre 30 g de beurre dans une cocotte à fond épais. Faites-y revenir l’oignon pendant 5 mns, puis ajoutez le riz hors du feu, pour l’enrober (1 mn).
- Remettez sur le feu et commencez à verser une louche de bouillon. Ajoutez 2 brins de sarriette (à enlever à la fin). Attendez que tout le jus soit absorbé avant d’ajouter une autre louche de bouillon. Continuez ainsi et ajoutez 2/3 des légumes avec votre dernière louche.
- Mélangez et une fois que le liquide est presque absorbé, ajoutez le vermouth, le pecorino râpé et 20 g de beurre. Arrêtez le feu. Salez et poivrez, et couvrez pendant 2 à 3 mns.
- Préchauffez votre four à 200 C. Prenez de petits ramequins et placez du papier sulfurisé à l’intérieur. Remplissez les moules et mettez au four pendant 10 mns.
- Démoulez sur assiette. Entourez de légumes et du poisson grillé.