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I went to Wellington’s largest bookfair a few days ago, and bought a new cookbook. Actually, that’s a lie. I bought about ten new cookbooks, but I’m not telling my flatmates yet. My cookbook collection has already overflowed the shelf, and they now tetter on top of the fridge, prompting pointed comments. “You can’t seriously cook with all those.” No. “Then can’t you get rid of the ones you don’t use?” No. “But you don’t use them.” Yes, but I might use them. They just don’t get it.Anyway, my new plan is super sneaky. I introduced a couple of new ones on monday, and cooked from them that night. This risotto was delicious, perfect, and I can’t talk about it without rambling, so I won’t. I’ll just say that I don’t think that anyone is going to try to evict this book anytime soon.

Asparagus Risotto (Serves 4)

2 small onions

100g butter

4 bay leaves

3 bunches asparagus

4 cups vegetable stock

1.5 cups white wine

1.5 cups white rice

parmesan cheese, to taste (optional)

Finely slice the onions, and fry them with half the butter in a large pan/wok, until translucent. Discard the bottom 1-2 inches of the asparagus, and chop the rest into ~1 inch pieces. Add to the onion, and fry for a few more minutes. Add the rest of the butter, and the rice. Stir the rice so that the grains are fully coated and slightly toasted, then add the wine and a little vegetable stock. Let it cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is almost absorbed, then add more vegetable stock. Make sure the mixture always stays wet and soupy. The risotto is ready when the rice is cooked, but with firm rather than mushy grains. Remove from the heat, stir in parmesan if desired, and serve at once.

Source: adapted from Susanna Gelmetti’s ‘Italian Country Cooking’, a wonderful and beautifully presented book

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