Donna Hay is an empire.She covers it all. Think: The Essential NY Times Cookbook, or Martha Stewart. She is Australia's leading food editor and bestselling cookbook author.
(Photo from Donna Hay Biography)
Her meteoric rise as a food stylist and food editor at age 25 for Marie Claire is documented here. The wealth of her recipes are here. She is an equal-opportunity recipe developer - with recipes from around the globe that encompass small bites and full menus.
Of course she has her detractors. If you are wildly successful, someone will detract. (Mozart had too many notes, Shakespeare had too many words, Meryl Streep has too many pauses.) "She's a food stylist, not a chef!" claim her critics. And so she is. She also has a feel for classic dishes done simply without an inordinate amount of ingredients that will break the bank. No wonder people love her - the recipes are accessible.
Donna Hay's output gave us a lot of choice for this week's Gourmet Women Game Changers. I chose to make her roasted cauliflower risotto. The "sea of white" seemed appropriate for January and as Minnesota has plunged into the North Pole zone (we are currently searching the sky for flying reindeer), a warming, comforting dish was required. Nothing eases winter's fury like risotto.
The problem with roasting the cauliflower first is - you nibble. There was not quite a head of cauliflower by the time I was stirring the risotto!
Roasted Cauliflower, Sage and Almond Risotto (from Donna Hay Website)
(Note I will give you my measurements - they are not exact equations! Simply what worked for me)
500 grams cauliflower, trimmed and chopped (I used one medium head)
2 tablespoons olive oil
sea salt and cracked pepper
40 grams (1/4 cup) chopped almonds
1 bunch of sage, leaves chopped
1.5 liters warmed chicken broth (I only needed 5 cups - use vegetable broth to keep it vegetarian)
60 grams butter (I used 2 tablespoons of Earth Balance Butter)
300 grams (1-1/2 cups) arborio rice
125 ml (1/2 cup) dry sherry (I used dry white wine)
40 grams (1/2 cup) freshly-grated Parmesan
100 grams (I only used 1/2 cup) Taleggio (I used a triple cream Brie) - sliced
Preheat oven to 220°C (425°F). Place the cauliflower, oil, salt and pepper on a baking tray and toss to coat. Roast for 15 minutes, add the almonds and half the sage and roast for a further 5–8 minutes or until golden and crisp. Set aside and keep warm.
Place the stock in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes or until soft. Chop the remaining sage and add to the pan with the rice and sherry. Cook, stirring, for 1–2 minutes or until the sherry is absorbed. Gradually add the stock, 1 cup at a time, stirring continuously for 25–30 minutes or until the stock is absorbed and rice is al dente. Stir through Parmesan, salt and pepper and spoon into serving bowls. Top with Taleggio and the cauliflower mixture to serve. Serves 4. Unless you've nibbled quite a bit.
It lived up to its hype. The Taleggio (an earthier, aromatic version of Brie cheese from Northern Italy) which appears at my grocer's once a month was gone - but the triple cream Brie did the trick. And to tell you the truth - the dish is rich enough without the added cheeses, so if you want to go vegan - do it. You won't be disappointed. Slightly caramelized cauliflower, sage and almonds all add texture and flavors - the cheeses just add "oo la la" flair to the dish.
You can't go wrong with risotto and for all of you who declare,
"I'm not stirring for 35 minutes!"
Well, neither do I. I add the broth in 1/2 cupfuls, give it a few stirs, answer an e-mail or read my horror-scope and go back and give it a stir, add another 1/2 cupful, stir, chop an onion, come back and stir and then dance to Camera Obscura (the cat enjoys that)... you get the picture. I take frequent stirring breaks.
As for the recipes of Donna Hay - I will be back. She has the same sensibilities in her recipes that I look for - classic, unfussy with a surprising texture or flavor here and there. And it's good for me to leave my food cocoon and continue to journey. Sometimes I remind myself that the title of my blog is "Journey of an Italian Cook" and not "The Italian Cook has Arrived."
The verdict is very good when a dish encourages nibbling. Nibble and dance - to Honey in the Sun! Risotto and Camera Obscura brought the sun into my kitchen.
Please check out what the other bloggers are doing for Week 31 of Female Chef Gourmet Game Changers. And if you want to join in the fun, e-mail Mary at One Perfect Bite. Mary started this delectable journey.
Kathleen - Gonna Want Seconds,