Guest Post: Wild Mushroom & Asiago Risotto Cakes by Sweet Sugar Bean

We have a guest in our kitchen today…Welcome back Renee of SweetSugarBean

Hi everyone!  My name is Renée Kohlman and SweetSugarBeanis my food blog I started in January of 2011.  I live in beautiful Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, where I happily whip up delicious creations in my little green kitchen.  Being a professional chef as well as a food blogger, I’m fortunate to have turned my passion for all things food into a career I absolutely love.

Mushrooms have always been a big part of my culinary life.  Simply frying them in butter with a good crack of pepper, slices of fresh garlic and a few chili flakes makes me happy.  Versatility is their big draw – you can combine any type of mushroom with goat cheese and roll them in puff pastry for a killer appetizer, or simmer them in a simple, yet satisfying soup.  It’s always a treat to use local wild mushrooms in these dishes.  This time of year, the wild morels are thriving right in my sister’s backyard some three hours away from here.

She’s fortunate to live lakeside and these little beauties are ripe for the picking.  Even my 2 and 3 year old nieces are great at spotting them!  Every year I tell my sis that I’ll make it there for mushroom picking season, but they are fickle little beasts and their timing is “sometime in May” depending on rainfall etc and other variables conducive for morel growth.  After she was bombarding my inbox with lovely photos of these tasty mushrooms, I asked her quite nicely if she would mind putting some on the bus for me to sample.  Her sisterly love shone through and the package arrived, with two big bundles of light brown morels.  They are neat, webby little things, and I love their wrinkly textures.  Quite soft, they almost crumbled under water while I was cleaning them, so not a lot of chopping was necessary when I threw them into the risotto.  These morels smell of the earth and the forest and I’m so grateful for my stash.  I’m crossing my fingers that next year I’ll be able to go pick some of these delicious mushrooms myself!

Risotto is one of those dishes that may have a bad reputation for being stuffy or time-consuming.  And while there is a fair bit of stirring involved, the end result is well worth it.  Just have a glass of wine handy to keep you company 🙂 So you know what’s even better than risotto?  Risotto cakes.

Leftover risotto doesn’t reheat to its former glory super well, but rolled into patties and dredged in Panko bread crumbs, then pan-fried to crispy perfection, well, these are pretty glorious.  You’ll be making a batch of risotto just for this reason alone!  Don’t fret if you don’t have a generous sister nearby who’ll pick your wild mushrooms for you!  Feel free to substitute your favourite variety in this recipe.
3 tbsp butter
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup arborio rice
1 cup chopped wild mushrooms of your choice, or your favourite mushroom
a good glug of white wine (about ½ cup)
cracked black pepper
½ tsp thyme
1 tsp coarse salt
3-4 cups chicken broth
1 cup grated Asiago cheese
In a small saucepan, heat the chicken stock over medium heat.  Melt butter over medium heat in a medium size saucepan.  Stir in the onions and garlic.  Cook over medium low heat until softened and garlic is golden.  Stir in the rice until evenly coated in butter.  Add the chopped mushrooms.  Increase heat to medium high and stir in the white wine, salt, pepper and thyme continuing to stir until the rice absorbs the liquid.  Ladle in hot chicken stock and continue to stir until the rice absorbs all of the liquid.  Continue adding one ladle full of stock at a time and stirring until the rice is softened, but still has a bit of a bite.  Takes about 30 minutes or so.  When the rice is soft, stir in the Asiago cheese.  Spread in a shallow dish to cool completely. Cover and refrigerate.
To make the risotto cakes:
1 ½ cups Panko crumbs, divided
1 egg yolk
3 tbsp fresh chives
2 eggs beaten
canola oil for frying
fresh chives or pea shoots for garnish
Stir ½ cup of Panko, the egg yolk and fresh chives into the chilled risotto.  Shape into 1 ½ inch balls, and flatten a little bit.  Place these balls on a cookie sheet.  Have the beaten eggs in one bowl and 1 cup of Panko crumbs in another bowl.  Dip each ball into the beaten egg, then the Panko, and set on another bake sheet.  Pour canola oil into a skillet, just to coat the bottom and heat the pan over medium high heat.  Fry each risotto cake until golden brown on both sides, about 2 minutes per side.  Place in a pre-heated 250 degree oven to keep warm while you cook the rest.  Garnish with chives or pea shoots.  Makes about 8-10 servings.
Thanks so much Renee for being our guest! Don’t forget to follow Renee on her blog SweetSugarBean, on Twitter and on Facebook.
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