One of the great things about demonstrating food is the chance to meet some truly passionate people. This was definitely the case last Saturday, we were in the middle of a two day book signing tour of all the Paper Plus bookstores in the Bay of Plenty, which are a slightly strange experience where some people are genuinely interested in our book and some just want to buy stamps. Toby from Paper Plus Tauranga wanted us to do a signing and cooking demonstration at the Tauranga Farmers Market, an opportunity to good to miss!

Toby and Anne

The idea was to do a cooking demo to anyone who happened by, of course the type of person who goes to a farmers market is already a food lover so getting an audience wasn’t a problem.

So what to cook, well the whole point of a farmers market is that you get what’s in season. So having taken a spin around the market I decide to do a simple risotto with some of Franks Sausages and some of the fantastic herbs and veggies from various growers. for olive oil we borrowed a bit from Bert at Viridis grove. What could be better.

What I realised while demonstrating was that my search for food heroes was over, they were all here, not just the wonderfully passionate growers and producers but also the people who were choosing to do their food shopping in that school playground early on a Saturday morning. Food is all about choices and the first one we need to make is the choice to care about our food supply. So if you care then search out your nearest farmers market and start making a difference. I’ll be at the Rotorua Night Market on Thursday 18th November, demonstrating three dishes from 5pm.

Ok thats me off my soap box, I promised you some recipes. Since the risotto was made up on the day I thought I’d give you the standard recipe with some variations.

Easy Risotto

The main point to remember when making risotto is that any liquid which you use, whether it is stock, wine or cream, should be boiling hot before you add it to the rice.  This will stop your risotto from “clumping”.

For 2 – 3 main servings:

1 cup Ferron risotto rice

2½ cups stock, boiling

½ onion or 2 shallots, chopped

1 – 2 cloves garlic, chopped

Extra virgin olive oil

100 ml white wine

Salt and pepper

Parmesan, grated

Extra hot stock, olive oil or butter


Heat the wine gently (and saffron, if using.)  In another large pan, heat a little olive oil and sweat the “soffrito” slowly – garlic, onion and any other root vegetable being used (e.g. carrot, leek).  Add the rice and heat through for 1 – 2 minutes (called toasting).  Add wine and allow to reduce.  Add the boiling stock all at once, bring back to the boil and add seasoning.  Cover and simmer for 15 – 18 minutes.

Add flavourings, rest for a few minutes and then stir through parmesan, a little extra stock,  gently heated cream, extra virgin olive oil or butter – the amount depends on how ‘allonde,’ or creamy, you like your risotto.

Suggested additions:

  • Porcini: Soak 15g Gigante porcini in 250ml warm water for at least 20 minutes.  Strain and use some of the stock in risotto.  Add sliced porcini at half way point.  Add heated cream at the end, along with parmigiano and chopped Italian parsley.  Drizzle with Ceruti Truffle oil.
  • Smoked Mushrooms: As above, but use Aromatics Smoked Mushrooms instead of porcini.
  • Smoked Salmon : Add chopped leek to the initial ‘soffrito’.  Before adding parmesan, add chopped, cooked Aoraki Smoked Salmon.
  • Chorizo & Saffron : Add a pinch of crushed saffron to the wine/stock and, before you add the parmesan at the end, fold through 2 cooked, chopped chorizo sausages.
  • Pumpkin: Cook cubed pumpkin slowly in EVO with garlic and some red wine and add with the parmesan.
  • Lamb, Feta & Capers: Add 1 – 2 seared lamb fillets, marinated in Giusti Balsamic Vinegar and Olivo Infused Olive Oil (Lemon or Porcini) plus 2 tablespoon salted capers, soaked and rinsed and 100g cubed Zany Zeus Creamy Feta.

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