Duck risotto

The southwest of France is known for duck. duck liver, duck confit, duck breast and duck pate. On the market you can find almost every part of duck to whole ducks without the liver – the prized part – that people are currently buying to prepare their Christmas dinner.

I had some duck carcass left and turned it into a duck stock, with leek, onion, carrot, turnip, start aniseed, nutmeg and pepper. I stored this in empty apple juice bottles.

I had ordered pasta and rice from De Cecco in Italy and used some great Arborio rice and I grated some Parmesan. The combination was delicious.

I served the risotto with a grilled duck breast. Because I had to trim some of the fatty skin, I melted it in a small pan and then filtered it so that I could use the duck fat to prepare the risotto, instead of butter and oil.

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Green asparagus risotto

When the vegetable stand on our market had French green asparagus, I could not resist buying them and decided to make a spring risotto.

White asparagus are available in the south of the Netherlands; solid and straight stems that make a wonderful meal with eggs, potatoes and cream.

In France, the white variety, sometimes with violet heads, comes from the Loire valley and the sandy grounds of Les Landes.

Asparagus are low in calories and rich in antioxidants and help clear your digestive system and bladder.

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A rice dish with eggplant, beef and raisins

A long time ago, I left my parents house to study at university in the big city of Amsterdam. My mother gave me a book of recipes as I had already showed signs that I would not be eating pizzas and French fries all the time but actually do some cooking.

In my first student room – a rented room with a family in the Bijlmermeer high-rise area – I built a two-burner bottle-gas kitchen around the sink, using the hot plate of the coffee maker to slowly cook rice. That recipe book from 1981 is still in my collection and one of the dishes I made from it was called Turkish stuffed aubergines (eggplant), that used ground lamb or mutton meat.

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Milan-style Ossobuco and ceps risotto

The other day I made a grilled chicken with lemon and did not feel like throwing the remains away so I turned it into a chicken stock. Then my wife suggested I made risotto and then I saw nice veal shank at the butcher’s. The ossobuco, “bone with a hole” can be made in advance and is even nicer when reheated. It also takes several hours. Risotto is best eaten straight off the stove, because of the grated cheese, but leftovers can be reheated later.

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Guinea fowl legs stuffed with duck liver

I was not at home during Christmas and while I assisted in the cooking of meals during those days, I did not have the opportunity to prepare a festive meal. But on New Year’s eve we were at home, alone, and I could prepare a meal for two. Just a one course dinner, after the calorie boost of previous days.

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Ceps risotto with French cheese, guinea fowl and sweet beetroot

One of the things I love about cooking is they way you can use your inventiveness to make subtle changes to existing recipes and use the seasons and products at hand instead of a list of prescribed ingredients.
So it is here. The ceps risotto is a nice savoury dish for cold days to start with. There are still some fresh ceps on the market but I decided to use the dried ones from the larder.

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Risotto with lemon, ginger and yoghurt

Recently I went to a restaurant in the Paris suburb of Boulogne-Billancourt, le Bistrot de Laurent. Overall, the food and dishes were decent but I was disappointed about the risotto that was served with my tuna steak.
It was supposed to have asparagus, very late in the season, but I could hardly taste that. There was a lot of chives and much olive oil.
I decided to ‘invent’ a better risotto to go with fish.

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