Sunday Dinner: Wild Mushroom Risotto

You guys, you need to make this. Can I confess something?  It was so good, I ate it for dinner and then again for a snack! Yum, and also *burp.* Excuse me during this gluttonous time.

Ok let’s get started. I basically combined/mixed and matched this recipe by Tyler Florence and this recipe by The Barefoot Contessa. With new recipes or recipes that I feel like might  “move along” quickly once I get started, I often employ a technique I used alot when I was a novice cook. I prep the whole thing out ahead. I have since learned that in the restaurant world this is called Mise en Place, but I simply think of it as covering your behind. So I before I did anything else, I went from this:


To this:


And this:


First I took these dried porcini mushrooms that I ordered online:

ImageAnd I put them in a bowl with 2 cups of boiling water. The BC’s recipe called for dried morels and Tyler’s used these porcini. How did I decide? Well morels are about $10 more for an ounce so I went with the cheaper option. I love the BC but sometimes a woman has to budget!

Then I took the carton of chicken stock and put it in a sauce pan over medium heat and let it come up to a simmer. While it was warming, I scrubbed and removed the stems from the crimini and portabella mushrooms. I used 6 oz of crimini and 10 oz of portabella, but use whatever combination of a pound you can find.

ImageThen I sliced them into about 3/4″ slices. This was about 4 slices per portabella and 3 slices per crimini.

ImageThen I minced about 4 shallots so I had about a half a cup.

ImageI also minced 2 cloves of garlic, and grated about a cup and half of parmesan cheese, but that ended up being a little too much, a full cup is probably enough, just depends how cheesy you are. Sorry I called you cheesy.

Then I took the porcini mushrooms out of the water they were soaking in and set them aside.  I grabbed a mesh strainer and a coffee filter and strained the brown water through them both.

Image I added the strained water (about 2 cups) to the chicken stock on the stove and continued to let it simmer lightly.

ImageNow, I was ready to really get down to bidness. I grabbed my dutch oven, set it over medium heat, and threw in a stick of butter. Once the butter was melted, I added the shallots, garlic and the pancetta. I used Trader Joe’s pre-chopped pancetta because I was lazy, but obviously any pancetta would do, you need about 4 oz. You could also leave it out entirely as well if you were going for a total veg dish (ditto for using veg stock instead of chicken although I think this would affect the flavor more than the omission of the pancetta.) Moving on…

ImageDoesn’t that look delicious? It gets better if you can believe it. Come on, I’ll show you!

After about 5 minutes, add all the mushrooms and if you have some parsley, chop it up and throw in a tablespoon or two.


Yum city right? Stir it around to get it all coated in the butter and then it cook for about 5 minutes, until the mushrooms start to soften and the butter is absorbed. Then add 2 cups of arborio rice and tablespoon of olive oil.

ImageStir to combine all the ingredients and make sure that the rice gets coated in the oil, then add about a half a cup of dry white wine and let cook for about 2 minutes.

Now it’s time to start adding the liquid. Add about 2 to 3 ladles worth of the chicken stock/mushroom broth from the simmering pot to your risotto.  You want enough liquid so that your rice is kind of “swimming in it” like this:

ImageYou can see from the photo above that I have also added about 1/2 teaspoon of saffron after adding the first batch of liquid. I used the cheap, imitation stuff, but if you are using the real deal, 1/4 teaspoon would be more than enough. I also added about a teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. I stirred everything thoroughly and let it cook about 10 minutes, stirring about every 2-3 minutes. I kept my heat at med/low so that the liquid in the pot was just barely simmering. Once the mixture started to feel dry, I added 2 more ladles of liquid and continued to stir every 2-3 minutes.  It took about 30 minutes to get all the liquid absorbed. I kept testing it to make sure that the rice was being cooked but wasn’t getting mushy. I ended up using all the liquid in my pan, but if your rice is done before you run out of liquid, that’s ok! When mine was ready it looked like this:

ImageThen I added about a cup of the parm, stirred until it was coated and then served it in a pasta bowl with a little more cheese and parsley on top. I poured myself a glass of the wine that I used in the recipe and then I moaned and groaned through the entire bowl (all by myself because no one was home except the dogs who already think I’m weird.) Gosh, it was yummy!

ImageSeriously, make this and make it soon.  It’s a perfect Winter Weekend delight!  Here’s a link to the recipe.

— Kate

Free Design Software – Part Two

This week I fooled around…with some software.  I checked out  It’s a free design website that allows you to create (wait for it….) floor plans!  I know, right?

Anyway, the software takes a little getting used to.  It’s not as user friendly as the IKEA kitchen software, but allows you to do much more.  I was able to create this to scale 2D floor plan of the main level of our house.  



Some of the colors look a little funky and I am going to work on that and see if I can improve it.  There’s also a 3D view but I that’s alot more involved and is going to require me to spend more time with it.  (I think I see a Part 3 post coming your way!)

What’s nice is that this allows me to really get a good grasp on the layout of the house, floor by floor.  I’m a real visual person who also struggles with spacial relationships (my mom says I’m very special), so seeing things from this view as well as the 3D are super helpful for me.  Now I am able to better understand the flow of my tiny cottage and get an idea of how big (or in my case small) the rooms really are.  Doesn’t my kitchen look tiny?

Considering that none of this has cost me any money, I would say that I would really recommend to anyone looking to make changes to their house, whether they are simply re-painting a wall or considering a major add-on.  It’s a really helpful tool even if you have to stick with it for awhile before you become comfortable with how to use it.

Happy Friday Everyone, we’ll be at Julia & Alex’s for the Super Bowl.  I’m making Mississippi Mud Pie, recipe and how-to will be up shortly.

— Kate