It's gotta be one of the best feelings in the world, watching as something that was once just a concept, just a dream, come to fruition with such success! It's been only two weeks of having the sip & Savour Ontario Farm & Artisan Market open for business, but already our little dream-come-to-life has been filling me with so much inspiration! Getting to work at the market each Thursday, interacting with the farmers, artisans, and chefs who work so hard to come into the city to proudly sell their wares and share their love for Ontario, has been such a fulfilling experience for me. I love getting to explore all the new produce, products, and dishes on display each week, with my imagination going wild at the possibilities for play in the kitchen.
So incredibly overwhelmed by the spectacular selection on opening day, it took me a while to decide what exactly I would make from my market finds on day one. With my grocery bag already filled with 100-Acre Bakery Walnut Sourdough and Sundried Tomato Sourdough bread, Mad Gringo Hot Sauce BBQ Sauce, Albion Hills Farm Pepperettes, and Allison's At The Best Frozen Chicken Curry Pot Pies, and my belly full of a steak and grilled bell pepper sandwich from Localista food truck, I had to stop getting distracted by food I could begin devouring immediately, and start thinking about a special meal I could prepare for the weekend.
After chatting with the lovely couple from Waymac Mushroom Farm about all of the incredible health benefits of mushrooms, particularly shiitake mushrooms, I couldn't get the idea of a savoury shiitake mushroom risotto out of my head. Anne from Waymac assured me that although I was more familiar with creminis for risotto, the shiitakes would leave me very pleased with my results. With a paper bag full of Waymacs gorgeous shiitakes, I made my way over the stunning presentation of vegetables at Highmark Farms tent, with my sights set on fresh leeks. Although the bright green asparagus would have been a delicious addition to the risotto, I wanted something that would compliment the shiitakes, but not overpower it. With their delicate yet distinct flavour that can be compared to a very subtle garlic and onion flavour, leeks were the perfect accompaniment to the shiitakes.
Come Sunday night, after a busy weekend, I couldn't wait to attack my market finds in the kitchen by preparing a special market-inspired Shiitake Mushroom & Leek Risotto for my mom and my boyfriend Chris. With Chris being Italian, I was a little nervous that my risotto wouldn't be up to par, but thank goodness for those market finds, with their big fresh flavours, and wonderful textures, my risotto turned out pretty damn awesome...if I do say so myself! I was so proud of the results, and kept rejecting my lemon chicken, that was also served that evening, to go back for more servings of risotto. As if I wasn't amped up enough at the idea of cooking with my market finds each week, after finding such success with my market-inspired Shiitake Mushroom & Leek Risotto, I was downright giddy walking through the market this week, dreaming up what market meal I would create next!
Be sure to come by the sip & Savour Ontario Farm & Artisan Market at Avenue Road and Roe Avenue each Thursday from 3:00 - 7:00 pm!
4 tbsp cold butter, separated
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 leek, white and light green parts only, finely chopped
1 Ib shiitake mushrooms, sliced
2 cups arborio rice
about 3/4 cup dry white wine
approximately 900 mL low-sodium chicken stock*
salt & white pepper to season
about 2/3 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated
a handful fresh parsley, finely chopped, to garnish
- Place chicken broth in a medium pot on the stove. Bring to a boil, and reduce to simmer.
- Heat a large skillet to medium heat. Add 2 tbsp butter and melt. Add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally for 1-2 minutes. Add the leeks and cook another 2-3 minutes. Add the shiitake mushrooms and cook until liquid has been released and evaporated, and mushrooms are softened.
- Add the arborio rice to the mushroom mixture and coat in vegetable and butter mixture and heat through, about 1-2 minutes.
- Add just enough wine to cover mixture and cook until reduced by half.
- Pour in 2 large ladles of chicken stock and cook, stirring constantly. You want your mixture to remain soupy at all times. As the rice soaks up the liquid, continue to add ladles of chicken stock in, seasoning with salt and white pepper at each new addition. Continue repeating this process, while tasting for seasoning often, until the rice has reached an "al dente" texture (about 20-minutes). Finish by stirring in 2 tbsp cold butter and grated Parmigiano Reggiano. Garnish with parsley and additional Parmigiano Reggiano and serve immediately.