Absolute Press, £20
‘U ris u ness in l'acqua e il mor in du vin'. According to Valentina Harris, it's an old Italian saying that translates as ‘don't drink water when eating risotto', and is the opening statement of her updated and revised book,Risotto! Risotto!
Harris doesn't go any further into the reasons why, but during her 40-year career she was educated in Italy, has published more than 30 books on Italian food, and is president of the London chapter of Les Dames D'Escoffier. In summary, she probably knows a thing or two about risotto, so I'm willing to trust her and swap the water for a wine glass.
Separated by ingredients, from cheese and egg risottos to meat, vegetables, and also a small chapter on fruit, alcohol and sweet risottos, each recipe has its own accompanying story or suggestion. The courgette risotto with deep-fried mozzarella-filled courgette flowers caught my eye. However, finding myself with no courgette flowers, I gave the beetroot and the spinach and walnut risottos a go. The recipes are simple enough to follow, and following them to the letter resulted in one of the creamiest beetroot risottos I've ever made, which is saying something for a dish I cook on a weekly basis.
The book ultimately offers an appreciation of the origins of the humble grain. After all, to truly innovate a dish one must understand the basics and origins to take it forward. A chef may enjoy the risotto rice glossary, to motivate them to explore further than Arborio to see how different varieties change the texture of a dish.
And more adventurous dishes such as the Champagne risotto and dessert strawberry risotto with freshly milled black pepper could serve as inspiration.
Personally, I expect it to become a regularly-thumbed friend on my own shelf. I just need to start growing my own courgettes.
If you like this, you may enjoy these:
â¢My Simple Italian by Theo Randall
â¢Polpo: A Venetian Cookbook (Of Sorts) - by Russell Norman
â¢Home Cook - by Thomasina Miers