Thursday, April 26, 2012

Italian cuisine a la Piero Rivolta

When Piero Rivolta, entrepreneur and novelist—his latest novel is Journey Beyond 2012 (New Chapter Publisher, due out May 1st) — relocated to the United States from Milan, Italy, he sailed his boat, filled with cases of good Italian wine, across the Atlantic Ocean. By the time he arrived in Miami, he had only two cases left.

Along the way, he also learned to cook for himself out of necessity. In Italy his family had a cook, and his wife Rachele would make special dishes with his help.

When Rachele went back to Italy from time to time, Piero started to cook for himself again. “I decided, if I wanted to eat what I like – simple and tasty, and with fresh ingredients – I’d have to do it myself,” he says.

He didn’t read cookbooks, just experimented with what was in the cupboards. When he invited friends over to share his meals, they were impressed and encouraged him to continue his “experiments.” So did his wife when she returned from Italy and tasted his dishes. Since then he has been cooking in the evenings to relax and enjoy himself.

Here are two of his favorite recipes:

Risotto with Radicchio

In a large pot

·         chop an onion
·         sauté in light olive oil
·         add salt
·         add chopped radicchio leaves
·         put in the rice – use Arborio (or a similar risotto rice)and stir for 30 seconds
·         add white wine to cover the rice (about half an inch)
·         keep stirring until the wine gets absorbed, but keep the rice moist
·         add broth (if you don’t have it ready, use beef or chicken bouillon with water) and keep stirring
·         after 20 minutes or so, test the rice – it should be “al dente,” not cooked to the point of becoming mushy)
·         switch off heat, put a lid on the pan, and let sit for 2 minutes
·         add a big dab of butter and a good portion of grated parmesan cheese (if you want it softer, add a tablespoon of yogurt or sour cream) and stir together

Serve with parmigiano reggiano sprinkled on top.

Although risotto goes very well with dry white wine, this radicchio recipe can be served a red wine, especially in cold weather. Try a Nebiolo or if you want a stronger taste, a Barolo.

Megan Mallan, Creative Commons license

Shrimp à la Piero
 It’s best to use unshelled shrimp – ideally prawns – but they’re easier to eat if they are first shelled; in which case, put the shells in a small pan, add a bit of water and cook them while you do the rest. Keep the broth to add to the sauce.

·         take a big skillet
·         put in a lot of chopped garlic
·         use extra virgin olive oil
·         heat with strong flame until the garlic becomes lightly brown
·         add chopped chili peppers and chopped Roma tomatoes
·         cook for about 5 minutes and mash the tomatoes in the pan
·         add shrimp
·         add some broth from the cooked shells
·         cook for another 5 minutes
·         add a glass of bourbon (Jack Daniels) – you can flambé it if you want
·         add some cherry tomatoes cut in half
·         cook for another minute or so to blend the flavors

serve with a good Italian white wine.

Glen McLarty, Creative Commons license

Look for Erin O'Riordan's review of Journey Beyond 2012, coming soon!

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