Monday, March 18, 2013

Putting an end to food waste

Foodies love food. How devastating that what we take so much pleasure in preparing, cooking and sharing is denied to one in ten people each night? OzHarvest works to right this wrong.  Founded in 2004, Ronni Kahn channelled her astonishment at the amount of food wastage there is in Australia and decided to put it into action.

OzHarvest rescues unwanted food from restaurants, cafes, hotels, retailers and food outlets and delivers it to those in need. Over the course of seven years this charity has saved over 4,400 tonnes of food from landfills and delivered over 15 million nourishing meals to 380 charities.
OzHarvest is about reducing food wastage and that applies not only on a commercial level but in domestic kitchens too. It has launched its first ever cookbook featuring recipes from 44 of the country’s most celebrated chefs focussing on just that; new ways to create a fabulous meal using leftovers already in the fridge.

This is just my thing, so I was delighted  to contribute recipes among other friends including Maggie Beer, Neil Perry, Matt Moran and Christine Manfield. One recipe I contributed is my Risotto Bianco (see below). A risotto is the perfect vehicle for almost any food and a great technique to master.  You are only limited by your imagination (and fridge) in terms of contents which can include anything from leftover roast meat, vegetables, fresh herbs to whatever you can muster!
For more fabulous mouth-watering recipes, this beautiful cookbook contains more than 120 recipes that will reduce your food wastage, save money in grocery bills and impress family and friends alike. What’s more, for every book purchased 60 meals will be delivered to those in need - doesn’t get much better than that!

For more information or to purchase the book, please visit

Risotto bianco with anything you like
Serves 4
Risotto bianco is the most basic of all risottos. Master the technique
and you can make any risotto you like. It’s the perfect vehicle for using
up leftover roast meat and vegetables or any of the variations below.

1.25 litres (5 cups) chicken, beef or veal stock
3 tablespoons (14 cup) extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
440g (2 cups) arborio or other risotto rice
125ml (12 cup) white wine
4 tablespoons (13 cup) chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley, basil and sage 
100g (1 cup) freshly grated parmesan

Put the stock in a saucepan and heat to boiling. Reduce the heat and maintain at a simmer.

Heat the olive oil and half the butter in a large heavy-based frying pan over moderate heat. When the butter has melted, add the onion and fry for a minute or two without browning. Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is translucent. Add the rice and stir well to coat with the oil and butter (it will take on a glassy appearance). Add the wine and stir until it has evaporated.

Reduce the heat to low and add one ladleful of hot stock. Stir constantly until the liquid is completely absorbed. Keep adding the stock, a ladleful at a time, stirring and waiting until it has been completely absorbed by the rice before adding the next ladle. Keep it cooking at a low simmer. After about 15 minutes taste a few grains of rice: it should be tender, not soft, yet still a little firm to the bite. It will probably take around 20–25 minutes to reach this point. When the risotto is ready it should still be a little liquid, not dry like fried rice.

Fold in the herbs, remaining butter and parmesan. If you have any leftover roast chicken or vegetables such as pumpkin, add them now. Even sliced cooked sausage is good. Taste for salt and pepper. Usually the stock and parmesan make the risotto salty enough and ground black pepper is better left to the individual. Spoon into warm bowls and serve at once.

Note  To make a mushroom risotto, use beef stock and replace the herbs with 500g mushrooms. Wipe the mushrooms clean with kitchen paper; never wash them. Leave button mushrooms whole and slice larger varieties. Saute in butter for a few minutes before adding to the risotto.

For asparagus risotto, use chicken stock and replace the herbs with cooked chopped asparagus.

Or use chicken or veal stock and replace the herbs with 250g chopped ham or cooked, crumbled bacon or pancetta and 1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley.

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