Life is slowly getting back to normal, two young puppies notwithstanding….
I actually had a few minutes yesterday to upload my photos from Italy (along with the puppy photos).
I'm in the middle of making our last big family meal (mon mari's brother and s-i-l leave to go back home to Hawaii tomorrow) but thought I would sneak a minute to post my great discovery in Assisi: Summer Truffles
Everyone expects photos of the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, so here it is:
I rather liked the ancient Roman Temple of Minerva:
Only the facade was left. Like any good Catholic city, in 1539 the inside was transformed into the Church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva:
I was wandering down a narrow street when I happened on a small butcher shop / grocery store.
Naturally, I had to explore further.
I picked up a jar of 'summer truffles'. I'd never heard of summer truffles and was attempting to read the label. (It turns out they're the same as winter truffles, but harvested in early summer with a milder taste.)
The butcher waved me over to the counter and pointed to fresh summer truffles and said something in Italian.
I responded with my oft-practiced phrase of 'I'm sorry, but I don't speak Italian' (in Italian, of course).
I then asked if he spoke English.
We proceeded to have a lengthy discussion in Italian, English and French, punctuated by flailing hands and arms, about truffles.
I told him I was planning an Asparagus Risotto for dinner, that evening, for 13 people…. How could I incorporate these lovely truffles?
It being the south of Italy, he, of course, didn't know risotto but he would explain what to do if I were making pasta.
I was to get a large skillet very, very hot then add olive oil.
Just enough – but be generous.
Toss in some cloves of garlic, cook for a few seconds and remove…. just for flavor.
Then add the truffles and cook very, very quickly.
No, small pieces.
I should chop them?
No, grate them.
Yes, yes, yes! Exactly like Parmesan!!!!
So I did.
And it was good.
6oz (175gr) asparagus
2/3 cup Arborio rice (or other rice specifically for risotto – Carnaroli or Vialone Nano)
1/2 cup (4oz, 125ml) dry, white wine
2 cups plus 2 tbs (17oz, 500ml) chicken stock
1 small onion or half of large one
1 tbs butter
1 tbs fresh or dried chives
3/4 cup (3oz, 90gr) Parmesan cheese – freshly grated
Heat chicken stock and keep hot over low heat.
Prepare asparagus, cutting to 1 1/2 inch length, reserving tips. Finely chop onion.
In medium sauce pan heat butter; add onion and sauté until transparent then add rice and sauté, stirring, for 2 – 3 minutes until rice has white center. Add white wine and stir. When wine is almost absorbed add a 1/2 cup of stock and all of the asparagus, except tips, and stir. (No need to stir constantly but do stir from time to time.) When stock is almost absorbed add another 1/2 cup and continue adding 1/2 cup at a time and stirring. Before the last 2 '1/2 cups' are added put in the asparagus tips and the chives. Before the last 1/2 cup is added taste a few kernels of rice. They should be just 'al dente' – slightly resistant to the tooth but fully cooked. If more stock is needed add it 1/4 cup at a time and waiting until almost completely absorbed. At this point risotto will be thick but not stiff – it will not hold it's shape on a plate. Add the Parmesan, stir, pour into a bowl and serve immediately.
The recipe is for 2, not 13 as in Italy….
I've already explained how to make the truffle sauce.
How many truffles?
As many as you can find!