14 November 2007

Risotto pumpkin rosemary


Last week I went to a cooking course held by head chef Etienne Krebs at the Ermitage restaurant in Montreux-Clarens, Switzerland.  I had been looking forward to this course for weeks…. counting the days, not sleeping the night before, arriving a half hour early… the word ‘eager beaver’ comes to mind. However I was not disappointed. In a small class of 12, he showed us step by step how to make a terrine of rabbit, fois gras & nuts, a fillet of sole on a bed of sautéed endives with a caramelised beetroot sauce (a great success), followed by a savoury wild bolet crème brûlée, sautéed frois gras & caramelised onigons , finishing with a basil pumpkin risotto accompanied by tiny tender frogs thighs! The finishing touch was a desert of poached pears with a delicate spiced cream sauce (which I plan to make and post), and a dark bitter sweet chocolate tart.

A highlight of the course was that I learned interesting little TIPS :  dried or frozen bolet mushrooms have a stronger perfume and are better to use in the crème brûlée than the fresh garden variety!! Caramelised onions can be made and stored for future use. Also by heating a few cups of vegetable oil in a pan you can fry whole basil leaves for decoration (they stay green & will keep if stored in an air tight container between layers of wax paper for say a week). Re the sautéed endives – lemon juice stops them from turning brown, and the sugar takes away the bitter taste. For an easy cutting method : holding the white end of the endive, point it down at an angle, and starting with greenish part, cut the endive as if your were shaving a pencil with a knife – fast and easy and leaves the bitter core behind that you don’t want.

As for the risotto, Chef Krebs let us in on a little SECRET….. in his restaurant, where time is of the essence, he has developed a method of cooking the risotto in TWO STAGES: follow your traditional risotto recipe, but cook the rice until you have used only HALF of the bouillon (stock). Remove from the heat and let cool – then store in the fridge covered with plastic wrap. When the time comes to make the risotto for your guests, simply remove it from the fridge a little in advance to bring the rice to room temperature, then continue making your risotto as before, using the rest of the bouillon etc. This can be a handy trick if you are pressed for time and have people coming over for dinner after work.

Inspired by this cooking course, I have created my own risotto recipe keeping in mind the suggestion a friend of mine Alice gave me, to use pumpkin & fresh sprigs of rosemary.

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Here are a few HINTS for those who have never made riotto:

  1. Use the best quality short grain rice= Carnaroli. Alternatively you can use Aborio rice which may be easier to find.
  2. Don’t wash the rice, or you will loose the starch which helps make the risotto creamy
  3. Use the best quality Parmesan “aged Parmigiano-Reggiano” if possible
  4. Watch the rice while cooking and stir constantly
  5. Do not omit the final ‘mantecare’ stage– this is the last traditional step of adding butter & Parmesan to the finished risotto, giving it that deliciously rich & creamy texture.
  6. Serve immediately, as when the risotto cools it thickens and looses some of its creamy quality.


RISOTTO : for approx. 4 people

  • 300 grams Carnaroli short grain rice
  • 1 small white onion
  • 50 ml white wine
  • 1 bouillon cube (for the vegetable stock/broth)
  • 1.5 litre boiled water (use a little more or less as needed)
  • 360 grams potiron pumpkin
  • 2 whole garlic cloves
  • 3 large sprigs of fresh rosemary (or 12 fresh sage leaves)
  • 3 tablespoons of butter (see instructions below)
  • 50 grams of grated aged Parmigiano-Reggiano parmesan

Potiron pumpkin preparation.

  1. Start with this step. Cut the pumpkin in 1/2. Remove the seeds and the skin. Now chop into appox. 1 cm cubes.
  2. In a skillet (frying pan) on low heat, cook the pumpkin cubes with 1 tablespoon of butter, the rosemary sprigs and whole garlic cloves (do not chop them), until the flesh of the pumpkin is slightly soft allowing a sharp knife to pass through, but not overcooked! Add a little water if the pumpkin gets too dry. Remove the rosemary and set aside.

Start the risotto.

  1. First make the stock / broth = boiling the water in a kettle, then combining with the bouillon cube in a large cooking pot over low heat on the stove.
  2. Next finely chop the onion and saute it over medium heat in a large skillet with 1 tablespoon of butter, until the onion softens and turns translucent.
  3. Now add the rice and mix well with the onions, so that the rice becomes coated with the butter. Let the rice toast in the pan for a minute or two.
  4. Now add the white wine. Stir and allow the wine to be absorbed by the rice.
  5. Next using a ladle, add 1 to 2 ladle’s full of simmering stock to the rice, then stir slowly and consistently until it has been absorbed. Keep adding ladles full of stock to the rice all the while stirring. When 3/4 of the stock has been used, add the pumpkin cubes and then finish adding the stock. Taste the rice as you cook, it is ready when it has a firm texture but not crunchy. If you prefer it a little softer you can always add a little more hot water, stir to absorb.
  6. Finally, reduce the heat to low, and stir in the final tablespoon of butter, grated Parmesan, salt and pepper to taste. Remove from the heat. The risotto should be rich, creamy &  fragrant.
  7. Serve immediately sprinkled with Parmesan and topped with a bit of finely chopped fresh rosemary.


  1. […] Erika wrote an interesting post today on RISOTTO A LA COURGE ET ROMARAINEHere’s a quick excerptAs for the risotto, Chef Krebs let us in on a little SECRET….. in his restaurant, where time is of the essence, he has developed a method of cooking the risotto in TWO STAGES: follow your traditional risotto recipe, but cook the rice … […]

  2. Marjorie Says:

    Wow, I want to go to Switzerland, I want to know this chef and I want to take many cooking courses under his guidance. What a wonderful experience and the recipes he made are extremely interesting and very different, they must have been beyond delicious I just know the risotto was outstanding and thanks for your “helpful hints” re the two stages of making it. When is that cook book being published?!

  3. That cooking class sounds like a lot of fun, Erika!
    And this risotto is so creamy… delicious!

  4. chocolateshavings Says:

    I absolutely love risotto and I’m always looking for new recipes to make it! This sounds great, I’m glad you started posting again!


  5. Aimee Says:

    What a beautiful color this risotto has, Erika. I am envious of your cooking class, it sounds so inspiring.

  6. happygrub Says:

    The hint is really helpful. I only made risotto once, and when it was ready there wasn’t any hungry people to eat it. I left it to sit and it was a thick congealed mess. Never made it again.. Now with you hint I may just dare to..

  7. happygrub Says:

    PS. What’s a poitron pumpkin? Is it in that photo? Thought it was a shallot but I looked closer and I don’t think so.. How does it taste?

  8. Erika (SWEET PEA) Says:

    MARJORIE: He has several classes in the new year, I put the link in my post, perhaps we can go to one when you are in Geneva next !!! I am still not sure about doing the risotto in 2 stages, but will try it and see the results.

    PATRICIA: It was fun, and not stressful. We mainly watched and learned… which I must say was more effective than I anticipated.

    AIMEE : Thanks for dropping by. I would recommend this class and cooking classes in general. What he taught us sounded difficult but was surprisingly easy & can be adapted to everyday cooking and dinner parties. For example I would make smaller quantities and use a little less cream and butter!!! French rich cooking is great but not every day 🙂

    HAPPYGRUB : I added a 6th ‘helpful hint’ to my list, to serve immediately otherwise the consistency of the risotto changes as it cools and looses that lovely creamy texture. I found that you can always reheat the risotto in a non-stick pan by adding a little warm water. While it will not be quite as good as when served freshly made, the taste is still there and the water helps bring back the texture. Do give it a try again and let me know how the recipe turns out. As for the POTIRON PUMPKIN, it is the pumpkin in the picture – a small, very orange, sweet variety, with dense flesh. You can use other types, but this is the one I prefer as it has less water in it.
    Thanks for all your feedback and questions 🙂

  9. Erika (SWEET PEA) Says:

    JENN : hi, thanks for leaving a note. It is nice to be back. With the wedding, work & family in town I got a little behind. I too have always loved risotto, and found it easy & enjoyable to make. In the future I will try another version that my aunt suggested using sage. Off to look at your blog and see what you have been up too!!! Please keep in touch.

  10. amanda Says:

    hi erika! it’s my first time on your site and i must say, the photos are just gorgeous. you are definitely going into my feed reader.

  11. Erika (SWEET PEA) Says:

    AMANDA : thanks for dropping by and leaving such a nice note. Love meeting new people thorough the blogging world, especially those with a passion for food!! Looking forward to reading your blog.

  12. sognatrice Says:

    This looks delicious *and* beautiful…brava 🙂

  13. Fiona Says:

    This was my birthday lunch and what a treat it was !!

  14. Erika (SWEET PEA) Says:

    FIONA: lovely you are so sweet to have dropped by and left a message, it made my day, really – I have such a smile on my face. You see, your birthday lunch and all those picutres I took before letting you eat the risotto…. (I am terrible I know) was all for a good reason 🙂 xxx

    SOGNATRICE: nice to hear from you, sent you and email today to say hi. I really must take an Italian cooking class – is there a Nona you know who would like to come and visit 😉

  15. Buy Caviar Says:

    The only thing i can say now is YUMMY,,, I like the way you are writing the posts .. these are really helpful !

  16. Erika (SWEET PEA) Says:

    Buy Caviar: I think this is one of the most complimentary comments that has been left on my blog. I do take the time to make the recipes as user friendly as possible. Please leave a question if you have one, I am always happy to respond 🙂

  17. rossdibi Says:

    I love risotto and pumpkin. Really useful all your notes on the course.

  18. Erika (SWEET PEA) Says:

    Rossdibi : thanks for dropping by and leaving a note. The course was excellent and I hope to do another in the near future – will post my notes.

  19. Gabriella Says:

    Hi Erica,
    I just find your blog,and it is now the first among my favorite food-site’s..Delicious, extraordinary – yet easy to make- recipes AND interesting food notes.What els can a culinary arts lover girl wish for? Of course more of it…and perhaps lots of time to enjoy it.

    PS;Erica, please, please please post the caramelised beetroot sause!

  20. GABRIELLA: many thanks for your comment, this is one of the nicest ones I have received on the blog 🙂 Please that you have enjoyed the recipes, there will many more to come. I have put the caramelised beetroot sauce on my TODO list for you.

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