Tag Archives: risotto

roasted pumpkin & smoked tofu risotto

Today is creative Wednesday, this afternoon I have prepared roasted pumpkin for tonight’s dinner but I have not planned what to go with it. While I was cooking the risotto, I thought just pumpkin and risotto sound a bit plain so I looked into the fridge, not much available really as we will be away for the weekend so did not stock up much. Previously I would grill some tiger prawns to go with the pumpkin risottobut I was a bit lazy. The reason why I rustic roasted the pumpkin is because it requires least effort to prepare with extremely satisfactory results. And I can spend more time with Marc.

The idea of using Smoked tofu was inspired by my favorite vegetarian restaurant in Basel/ Zurich called Tibits. They use a lot of tofu in their dishes, so I thought just be brave and give a try. I asked Peter if he dared to try my creative dish, he said I had to right and in the end he had second. He was still having a teleconference when I placed his plate in front of him and I could see his face looked surprised when I spontaneously decided to crush a little amaretti biscuit on top, a little sweetness matched well to the pumpkin : ) I am truly proud of my dish tonight and very happy with the inspiration I had in the last minute! Sometimes you just have to try, if you never try, you never know. I love smoked tofu, they keep quite long in the fridge and becomes handy and is a great alternative to meat.

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Tuscany Part 1: Garfagnana & Tuscan risotto recipe

Marzalla, Largetto

This was where we stayed on the upper floor in a farmhouse in Pescia with our own pretty walkway filled with the frangrance from the Oleander.

Tuscany has been on my wishlist years ago since I watched the movie “Under the Tuscan Sun”. Last week I finally got a chance to spend a week there. A week stay is actually too short to see everything. Tuscany is so big that it is divided into 5 regions: North, East, South, West and Central. This time we stayed in a very pretty farmhouse in Pescia, Northern Tuscany. We only managed exploring our nearby surroundings, Western Tuscany (Pisa) and just touched on Chianti (Central Tuscany).

To get there, we drove down there from Switzerland in less than 7 hours. The only thing we have to pay attention is that the traffic through the San Gottardo tunnel can be so busy that you can be stuck in the traffic for hours so that morning we left home pretty early and arrived Pescia at about 3 o’clock in the afternoon.

I am grateful that I was recommended by my friend Carmen to this farmhouse: Agriturismo a Pescia – Azienda Agricola Marzalla and saved a lot time to look further. Another big advantage is that Peter and Ann who are responsible to take care of this place, they can speak multiple languages and English of course. Through this trip I have learnt a lot from them, not just about the surroundings but also a lot of cooking and gardening tips. Peter used to be a chef in Switzerland, once we started talking about food and cooking, we could not stop.

Day 1

On our first day we did not do much apart from settling ourselves comfortably in the apartment, unpacking and had a very nice Tuscan dinner just nearby. Unfortunately I was too tired that day and forgot to take my camera with me, so you have to use some imagination here I am afraid.

  • Complimentary salad which is a typical Tuscan bread salad with tomatoes, tuna and onion. The typical Tuscan bread is unsalted, it’s not commonly eaten at breakfast,taste very plain but more so used  in their cooking such as salads or soups. 
  • Tuscan antipasti (cold meat & crostini)
  • 1°secondi: zucchini flowers tagliolini
  • 2° secondi: smoked carpaccio with wild porcini mushrooms (freshly picked) and parmesan cheese.

We were then so full that we were not able to have any desserts. The restaurant’s owner was very friendly and offered us a limoncello as digestivo.  Here in most restaurants, they always cook what are available that season and in the surrounding. You do not need to go a very fancy restaurant to have good food. The best is to ask the locals there for recommendations.

Day 2


We had a relaxing scenic drive to mountainous Garfagnana, it was said this part of Tuscany is the least explored and it is very true as we did not see crowds of tourists. The weather was hotter day after day, we had to have gelato every day to cool down a little.

Castelnuovo di Garfagnana

Castelnuovo di Garfagnana

Ponte del Diavolo, Barga di Lucca

Ponte del Diavolo at Bagni di Lucca

On our way, we passed by some mobile farmers selling and of course we have to stop and have a look. We bought some Tuscan tomatoes and local honey. Later we all thought that the tomatoes we bought that day were the most tasty.



I have taken Jamie’s Italy cookbook with me, at first I thought would it be rather silly to take a whole hardback with me. Peter asked me just to take along with me. And I can tell you that I am so thankful that I have taken this with me, I understand so much more about Tuscan cooking.

As usual I could never follow the recipes totally, I was inspired and adapted one of his risotto recipes and created our dinner that evening. Thanks to Peter & Ann of letting us to pick their garden herbs, it made my Tuscan cooking experience more real. We had tomato mozzarrella as starter and then risotto as our main course.


Risotto with Italian sausage, Pecorino cheese & Thyme

risotto with italian sausages, pecorino & thyme

Serves 3


  • 2 fresh Italian Pork sausages, cut into small pieces and discard the skin
  • 12 cherry tomatoes, cut into halves
  • 1 Tuscan tomato, cut into small pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic. finely chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, discard leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3 spring onions, cut into small pieces (separate the green and white/ purple parts)
  • 1 small piece of pecorino cheese, using your fingers make into crumbles
  • Parmesan cheese, for grating (Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Pandano which is very similar but not exactly considered to be parmesan)
  • 2 small glasses of white wine
  • 2 tbsp freshly picked thyme
  • chicken stock (dissolve a cube of bouillion in a litre of water)
  • 1 cup risotto ( I used Carnaroli risotto which has a high starch content and makes the creamiest risotto; it is often preferred by chefs as the starchy centre stays chewily firm in spite of absorbing plenty of liquid.)


  • Heat up a large pan, cook the sausages and set aside.
  • Keep the fat coming out from the sausages, add in the garlic, celery and onion. Stir fry for a few minutes at medium high heat or until the onion and celery look transparent.
  • Pour in a small glass of white wine and let it bubble and evaporates. Then add in the risotto and stir until throughoutly mixed. I personally like wine a lot of I added a 2nd glass of wine to it and let it continue to bubble.
  • Now as like normal risotto cooking, gradually add in the stock and keep stirring from time to time.
  • When the risotto is about 75% cooked, add in the tomatoes and stir to mix.
  • Add more stock where necessary, in the final stage, add in the sausages, spring onion (white/ purple parts) and lastly the pecorino cheese.
  • Adjust to your cooking time according to your personal taste if you like al dente or more cooked.
  • Sprinkle the thyme and green parts of the spring onion,stir to mix.
  • Serve immediately with grated parmesan cheese.


My thoughts on this Tuscan risotto:

  • We felt the pecorino cheese is rather too strong for us when eating alone or on bread, by adding to the risotto, it makes the risotto more creamy and we are surprised that it did not few cheesey at all.
  • Normally you may not add spring onion to risotto but Peter told us that you can be as creative as you can imagine. With the rarely found purple spring onion, how can I resist : )
  • Also adding celery on top to the onion in the risotto which learnt from the cookbook is a must-try, it adds more flavor and texture to the risotto, I will surely adapt this to my future risottos.

Buon appetito!!!

Risotto with fresh italian sausages

purple spring onion

tomato mozzarella

Unforgetable summer vacation in Northern Tuscany, Italy - Travel Guide - Ruba.com

Tour, tour reviews and travel guides for best hotels, restaurants, places to see - Ruba

an unordinary asparagus bacon risotto

I was meant to finish posting this a few days ago but was distracted with other things in particular in doing the ground work for moving to my new domain. And today I have finally made it. Maybe you do not notice by my previous blog address has automatically directed you to my new blog home. I have changed the blog name slightly as Gourmet Traveller 88 and also if you see up there I have changed my tagline too. This is just the first stage of the moveover, there is still a lot to do behind the scene. A lot of hardwork but it is fun to be able to learn new things at the same time.

Last Wednesday was my hubby’s birthday, I wanted to make something special for him and coindentally I saw the 3 ingredients chosen by the previous month winner of the Royal Foodie Joust, 5 Star Foodie are: asparagus, lemongrass and almond. My hubby likes asparagus and almond. When I found that it is quite tricky to put these three ingredients together but it’s fun to be a little creative to come up with something new.

The day before Peter’s birthday, he was supposed to fly to UK but en route there was a serious car accident which made him missing the flight so I offered to cook his birthday dinner for him a little early. I came up with Baked fish filet with coriander, mint, lemongrass and almond crust and baked asparagus. The food tasted very nice but the picture was not satisfactory. So the following day I came up to a Plan B and he earned an extra Birthday lunch. We both found this risotto was very special with a tint of lemongrass taste but did not feeI heavy at all. I like the presentation of this dish more so here is my submission:

An Unordinary Asparagus Bacon Risotto



Royal Foodie Joust is a food event hosted by Jenn of The Leftover Queen. If you want to join us in this creative food event, all you have to do is to join us in the Forum.

Serves 2


  • 16 spears asparagus
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup Korean Sweet Rice
  • 3/4 cup Arborio risotto
  • 100g smoked bacon diced
  • 2 sprigs coriander, finely chopped the leaves
  • 5-6 mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small glass of white wine (about 150
  • 4 tbsp ground almond

Lemon butter:

  • juice of 1 fresh lemon
  • 50g unsalted butter
  • salt
  • pepper

Lemongrass stock:

  • 8 sticks of lemongrass (only the outer layers are used in the stock, the inner most tender stalks were used for the almond crust last night)
  • 2 stalks from the mint
  • 2 tsp chicken bouillion powder
  • 800ml water



Step 1-5 can be prepared in a few hours before cooking:

  1. Soak the Korean Sweet rice in a bowl of hot water.
  2. Prepare the lemongrass stock by simmering the lemongrass stalks and mint stalks in a pan for an hour. When this is cooked, discard the stalks, use a sieve to transfer to another pan, if necessary. Dissolve the chicken boillion powder in the stock, bring to boil and then turn off the heat and set aside.
  3. Prepare the lemon butter by squeezing the lemon juice to a saucepan, pour 1/2 cup of the prepared stock into the pan, bring to boil and then at medium high heat, reduce the liquid to about half. Turn to low heat at this time and melt in the butter in two portions. Swirl or stir constantly until melt without burning the butter. Season with a little ground salt and pepper. Pour to a sauce pourer or small bowl and set aside.
  4. Trim the asparagus, cut the tips (about 6-7cm) and leave aside. Cut the rest of them into small pieces. (half of the asparagus stems was saved for making asparagus soup)
  5. Finely chop the coriander and mint leaves.
  6. Heat up a large pan, add in the smoked bacon dices (no need to use oil) and stir fry them until they are cooked. Transfer this to a bowl and set aside.
  7. Turn to medium heat, add in 1 tbsp of the lemon butter into the pan and a little olive oil into the pan. Add in the chopped garlic and then the asparagus tips and followed by the rest of the small pieces. Stir fry them for a few minutes until they are cooked and crunchy. Separate the tips and the small pieces into 2 bowls. Set aside.
  8. Clean and dry the pan, heat up again at medium high heat and add in 1 tbsp of lemon butter and 1 tbsp of olive oil, the reason why I mix with a little olive oil is because it makes the butter less easy to burn I find. Add in the onion, stir and let it sweat for 1 minute of so, then add in the Korean Sweet rice (discard the soaking water) and Arborio risotto. Stir to mix together with the onion. Stir for another minute or so at medium high heat.
  9. Pour in the white wine, turn to high heat let it boil or bubble for one and a half minute. Keep stiring.
  10. Add in the lemongrass stock bit by bit, keep stiring until the risotto becomes al dente. We like it a little bit more than al dente. Add in the chopped coriander and mint leaves in the end, stir to mix.
  11. Place the asparagus spears on the plate sides, when the risotto is ready, pour to the plates, place the bacon on top of the risotto and lastly sprinkle the ground almonds on top. This is used in place of the parmesan cheese we normally used.

Enjoy and vote for me in the Forum!

petit, chic café in Petite France, Strasbourg, France

Last month, I have spent a few good hours in Petite France and of course I would not miss the opportunity shopping in Strasbourg town centre.

It had been raining for days so I was extremely content with the hot and sunny weather, even though, most Chinese including me do not really like to get too tanned. But what could I do, I could not miss such a nice weather, I put on a stronger sunscreen which did not help much but better than nothing. I could not care less anymore.

My main objective that day was to take many nice photos of Petite France. I have visited this place more than 10 years ago but the weather was cold and rainy on that day.

Petite France quarter – “the district on the waters”, is the most picturesque district of old Strasbourg. Fishermen, millers and tanners once lived and worked in this part of town where the streets have been built level with the waterways. The magnificent half-timbered houses date from the 16th and 17th centuries. Their sloping roofs open out onto lofts where hides were once dried.



Initially I did not intend to eat in a restaurant that day as I did not feel like spending a long lunch hour in a touristic restaurant. However after a while, I stopped walking and was attracted by the cappuccino ordered by the two customers sitting outside. I was curious and looked inside and immediately I knew I have to stop here for a quick lunch or drink, the interior decoration of this café is just so stylish and artistic, simply irresistible! 

La Tinta Café: Outside it is not so noticeable, but inside I felt as if I have found a hidden gem.


Does it look like bar or spa?

Bar or spa? (this is one of my favorite pictures edited by myself)


The lunch menu is priced very reasonable, cost €10.50 with main course and dessert. I have chosen to have risotto with scrimps and strawberry chantilly.

Risotto with Scrimps, Dill, Red Peppercorns & Blanched Almonds

Risotto with Scrimps, Dill, Red Peppercorns & Blanched Almonds


C'est tres delicieux!!!

C'est très delicieux!!!

Everything is so detailed in this little cafe from furniture to tableware, you can tell the owner has put her whole heart to this place. The owner was kind enough to let me taking pictures and I promise to let her know after I have posted in my blog. She was very friendly and I was so happy that I could engage a short conversation with her with my limited French.

Look more closely to the ceiling...

Look more closely to the ceiling...

The furniture matches so well!

The furniture matches so well!

I finished with a scrumptious cappuccino.

I finished with a scrumptious cappuccino.


La Tinta Cafe

36 Rue du Bain aux Plantes

67000 Strasbourg

Looking from inside...

Looking from inside...