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A Chef’s Advice for Relaxation: Stir Some Risotto

A Chef’s Advice for Relaxation: Stir Some Risotto


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Spinach stands in for nettles in this creamy risotto run through with earthy taleggio cheese.

Credit
Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times

Some chefs meditate. Some do yoga. Others do shots. But when it comes to finding calm amid the hectic whirl of the professional kitchen, Ruth Rogers, the chef and owner of River Café in London, likes to stir risotto.

“Risotto is such a relaxing thing to make because of the slowness of it,” she said in a recent phone call. “It’s got a soothing rhythm that’s good when you’re anxious about something.”

And I was anxious about something, which is why I called. I was anxious about the nettle and taleggio risotto in the recently released “River Café London” cookbook (Knopf, 2018).

The book, a vibrantly designed celebration of the restaurant’s 30th anniversary, includes updated versions of recipes from the classic 1995 “River Café Cookbook,” along with new ones.

I would have probably passed right by the nettle risotto if it weren’t for the taleggio. Melty chunks of that funky, earthy cheese running all over the creamy rice had epic appeal, despite the nettles. I’ve had an aversion to those ever since I was stung as a kid trampling through the English countryside one summer vacation. That includes cooking them. Any recipe that begins with instructions to don thick rubber gloves for protection is just not very inviting.

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The taleggio’s rind is removed before the cheese is cut into chunks for better melting.

Credit
Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times

So I asked Ms. Rogers: Could the risotto be made with a less ferocious green that’s also easier to find if you’re not running around British fields in your shorts?



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