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A Cheating Way of Cooking Risotto

A Cheating Way of Cooking Risotto

    I love eating rice and would cook and eat rice nearly everyday. Risotto is a classic Italian cuisine, well accepted by people with different cultural backgrounds around the world. Not to mention, I love its rich and creamy texture going extremely well with a variety of vegetables or meats. The traditional way of cooking risotto is to add stock into the grains gradually and stir constantly. Generally speaking, the whole process of cooking the grains from raw to being cooked with constant stirring requires me standing near the stove at least 25 to 30 minutes or so. I happily invest all the efforts and time in cooking this fantastic cuisine as “labour of love” for my family and the end results prove the labour is well worth.

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    But there are often times, when I am tired, or have some urgent or important things interrupted or for any other reasons, yet I still want a bowl of creamy risotto, I might go for a short cut in cooking. I found a cheating way to cook risotto with similar outcome that I want. The trick is simple, just use a steamer or a wok to replace the constant stirring near the hot stove and skip the hardest part of making this dish. But I have to insert a disclaimer here. The cheating way of my approach and cooking time taken in the following recipe is to produce the well cooked rice in order to suit our Asian rice-eating buds. As for those people who love a bit chewy inside, you have to adjust the cooking time and quantity of stock. Do one or two experiments yourself to find the optimal way to suit your taste if you want to cheat in cooking risotto. Follow my first cooking hack, A Quick Way to Make Crème Brulee Without an Oven, this is my second one posted on this website. Hope you all like it and enjoy.

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    Serves 3 to 4 (Adapted from Australian Good Food, May 2010 edition)

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    Ingredients:

    • 600g (21oz) butternut pumpkin, peeled, deseeded and diced
    • 1 onion, finely chopped
    • 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
    • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
    • 1 bay leaf
    • 1 tsp thyme leaves
    • 150g (5oz) Arborio rice, about 3/4cup
    • 70ml dry white wine
    • 550ml salt-reduced vegetable stock
    • 35g (1.5oz) parmesan cheese, grated
    • 2 tbsp olive oil
      Cooking Pumpkin Risotto in a cheating way

      Method:

      1. Preheat oven to 200C (390F). Add 1 tablespoon of oil to two thirds of the diced pumpkin and toss to coat. Transfer them onto a baking pan, lined with baking paper. Bake for 30 minutes, or until tender and golden.
      2. Bring water to boil in a steamer or wok. Prepare a large deep dish and its size fits in the wok. Use a saucepan, heat stock and bring it to boil.
      3. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Cook onion and celery until aromatic for 3 minutes. Add garlic, bay leaf and thyme. Cook for 1 minute. Add rice and stir to coat. Pour wine into the mixture, stir for 1 to 2 minutes until evaporated. Add stock with the rest of the diced pumpkin and bring to boil. Carefully transfer the mixture to the large deep dish in the wok. Steam over high heat for 15 to 20 minutes. Taste a few grains by yourself until the texture is cooked to your preference.
      4. Remove dish from steamer. Stir in parmesan, season with salt if necessary, and let it stand for 3 minutes. Divide into separate serving bowls, then top with baked pumpkin and extra grated parmesan. Serve hot.

      I have passions of cooking all kinds of good foods and different cuisines for my family. Check out my food blog, Christine’s Recipes for all the dishes I have cooked, with full recipes and step-by-step instructions and photos.

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      The Gentle Art of Saying No

      The Gentle Art of Saying No

      No!

      It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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      But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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      What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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      But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

      1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
      2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
      3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
      4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
      5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
      6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
      7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
      8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
      9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
      10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

      Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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