Zucchini and Jamon Iberico Risotto with Manchego Cheese



I love risotto.  I love the variety of ingredients you can add  to the humble rice, and make it a truly gourmet meal.  Plain, with just saffron, or loaded with veggies, it really is a crowd pleaser.  I love also that you have to dedicate your time to risotto, it makes me feel like I am making something with a lot of love and patience.  Mind you, it isn’t the longest dish to prepare, but it is constant.

I remember I didn’t particularly like risotto when I first tried it.  I thought it wasn’t cooked properly.  But, of course, I later realized that like pasta in Italy, the rice has to be al dente too.  Risotto is also a tricky dish, in so that you really have to practice a few times to get it to be perfect.  My first attempts were complete disasters.  One turned out to be a sticky mess, that you could plaster walls with, the next one, watery and runny.  Only with practice and the guide of my fantastic Zio Gianni did I learn how to really cook food, with mastery and patience.  Now, I can basically make it with my eyes closed, since it was a dish that I prepared daily at my restaurant.  I can tell by sight when I am going to add the last spoonful of stock, and if you pay attention, and practice, you will too.


I decided to use some Spanish ingredients, to mix it up a bit.  I love that risotto is a blank canvas, where you as the artist can create your own masterpiece.

So, if you fancy trying this version of mine, here’s what you’re going to need:

Serves 2

1 tbsp Olive oil

2 tbsp Butter

1/2 Onion, finely minced

1 glass Dry White Wine

120 g Carnaroli rice

6 cups Chicken Stock

Salt and Pepper, to taste

1/4 cup Jamon Iberico or Prosciutto, julienned, plus a tsp for garnish

1/4 Zucchini, julienned

1 cup Manchego Cheese, grated

1 tsp Chives, minced, for garnish

In a stock pot, bring the chicken stock to a boil.  Lower the heat to simmer.  Keep hot.  In a large and deep sauté pan, add the tbsp of olive oil and tbsp of butter, over low heat.  When melted, add the onion and sauté, until very soft and translucent, about 10 minutes.  Raise the heat to high, and add the rice, and salt; cook, stirring constantly, until the rice starts to become translucent, 2-3 minutes.  Add the white wine, and let it evaporate.  Add enough stock to fully cover the rice, about 3 ladles full.  Lower the heat to medium, and cook, stirring constantly.  (Until you get the hang of it, and so it won’t over cook, taste the rice after each addition until it is almost fully cooked, but has just a little bit of bite. )  When the stock has evaporated, but there is just a little bit of film on top, add another ladle full of stock, trying the rice, and continue stirring.  This should take between 10-12 minutes approx.  On your last ladle full of stock, add the zucchini and ham.  Cook, stirring until the stock is almost completely evaporated, but still creamy.  Turn off heat, and add the remaining tbsp of butter and the cheese, and mix.  Cover and let it sit for about 2-3 minutes.  This part is called mantecare.  Mix well again, add the pepper and more salt if needed, and serve with the ham and chives to garnish.  Buon Appetitto!

From my kitchen to yours,





Two awards in one week! Wow wow wow! The Liebster Award

Wow, I feel humbled and elated to have been nominated for another award this week!  I have to thank cupcaketravels for nominating me.  Her wonderful blog that mixes amazing food, a new-found (well, sort of new) passion for cycling, and doing it all in a new country, France, is an inspiration to all of us!  Go check it out!

Now, these are the rules to follow for the award:

1. Visit and thank the blogger who nominated you.

2. Acknowledge that blogger on your blog and link back.

3. Answer the 11 questions proposed by the blogger who nominated you.

4. Select 11 people for the award.

5. Pose 11 new questions to the new nominees.

6. Copy and paste the award on your blog somewhere.

Here are my questions to answer:

1. Who was your favourite pet?

Definitely my sweet wiener dog, Kalik.  Had her for 16 years and passed away when I was 33, so that was half of my life with this amazing pup!

2. If you could do anything and be paid for it, what would it be?

Apart from what I am actually doing, which is cooking for money, so to speak, I would like to get paid to travel too…..

3. What is your all-time favourite, above-all-else- food?

Hmmm….that is particularly tricky!  I guess it would have to be a plate of gnocchi, or some tagliatelle with white truffle.

4. What was the best present you ever received?

My mum coming out of the hospital on my birthday last year.

5. What was the best present you ever gave?

A trip to 3 Michelin star restaurant Arzak to my boyfriend, 4 years ago, with a group of friends.  At the chef’s table.  Great night!

6. If there is anything you regret so far in life, what is it?

Not to have been able to spend more time with my dad before he passed away.

7. If you could go back and tell your 10-year old self one thing, what would it be?

Don’t grow up too fast.

8. What is guaranteed to put you to sleep?

Watching Formula One racing.  Something about the sounds of the cars and it’s almost always on a Sunday afternoon after a big meal…….

9. What makes you laugh the most?

Watching my dogs do silly things.

10. What is your favourite movie?

Dang, another one….I guess I would have to say Blade Runner, seen it about 30 times.

11. If you could only choose one music album to listen to for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Oy Vey!  David Bowie’s greatest hits…..I think!

Here are my nominees:


Sexy Cuisine

Maggie’s One Butt Kitchen



Eat Good Blog

Peri’s Spice Ladle



Fabulous Naturalista

Hola Yessica!



Chef Lippe

Fueled by Vegetables



Bread and Sweetpeas

Bombay Chow Party



Table of Colors

Now, here are your questions!:

1.  What is your favorite thing to cook?

2.  What is your perfect Sunday afternoon?

3.  Which is your no.1 bucket list destination?

4. White or Red wine?

5.  If you were an animal, what would you be?

6.  Most memorable kitchen disaster?

7.  Favorite childhood food?

8.  What song describes your life right now?

9.  Beach or Mountain?

10. What’s your favorite national holiday?

11.  Who is or has been your biggest inspiration?