A food blog on Italian dishes in a Finnish kitchen would not have been feasible twenty years ago. Not only had the internet barely been invented and the most interesting log of the time was carried by a weird lady on Twin Peaks but also it would have been next to impossible to find half of the ingredients of the recipes in the Finnish supermarkets. Yet although in today’s Helsinki you can buy everything from carnaroli rice to organic Italian clementines, there are still some ingredients that require considerable effort to obtain or at least some creativity to substitute.
This recipe is from another Italian magazine – the Italian Elle. Their web pages contain quite an impressive range of delicious-looking dishes! The list of the ingredients for this risotto is quite short but yet long enough for my impatient (Italian) temper to miss one of them when shopping: the Taleggio cheese. I’m not sure if I have ever even tried this cheese in my life, and it certainly wasn’t available in my corner store where I dashed in the middle of cooking the risotto (don’t worry – I didn’t leave the stove unattended!). For substitute, I got some Swiss Gruyère and it worked quite nicely. The full flavour of the salty cheese is nicely balanced with the acidity and sweetness of the oranges. Based on my Google research, it seems that Gruyère wasn’t too far off from the Taleggio thingy either!
All in all, whilst I certainly appreciate the availability of Italian and other international food in Helsinki these days, I think it is also nice that not everything is imported. That way we still have room for some culinaristic (substitute) adventures at home, and some different flavours to look forward to when travelling!
2 organic oranges
1 leek finely chopped
100 g Taleggio cheese
Rinse the oranges and grate their zest. In a (non-stick) pan, gently fry the leek and the orange zest in some olive oil. Add the rice and roast the mixture for a few minutes. Pour in some wine and stir until the liquid has evaporated. Start gradually adding the broth and continue stirring to prevent the rice from sticking to the pan. At the mid point of the cooking, add the juice of the oranges into the risotto, and a few minutes before the end of the cooking, the Taleggio (/ Gruyère/ whatever cheese you can find in your supermarket) diced. Season with salt, pepper and parmesan to your taste.