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A thoughtful blend of original ‪‎photography‬, ‪haiku‬ and ‪calligraphy‬; a cathartic journey upon fluid images and simple words.

13 Feb 2012

Kaffir-lime risotto with saffron mussels and roasted hazelnuts

Creamy kefir lime-bay risotto with saffron mussels
It slipped almost unnoticed but our little baby just turned 3.
It doesn't look like right? Still so small and full of promises, rough around the edges but with a softy heart.

It came to life amongst the street of Paris between a narghile pipe and a chai, between wild chemistry talks and calm heart-pouring sessions between friends.

In 3 years it found many friends and supporters to make its parents proud of its stumbling through the virtual life. Still uncertain of where to go, a fall every now and then, a seldom cry for help or out of frustration.
This blog is going towards directions not forecasted if not by the stars above. Now that also St Valentine is approaching it seems like the proper moment to stop and ponder on the loves of ones life. In this era of furious expansion of our spirit, love has taken many different nuances that Dante or Petrarch could have envisioned. The lonely Leopardi sang its lovestruck song to the moon high above, while sitting in his cumbersome library of things past.
His loneliness and melancholy could have found a release valve if he had access to a computer. If only blogs were there...

Times are changing and some of us are finding solace out of their loneliness in a career-oriented life full of people and support. Love is freeing himself from his chains, his boundaries and fast embracing globalization.
St Valentine should also be the celebrations of those blogs that, as Eros' arrows, cross the cyberspace from heart to hearts.

Creamy kefir lime-bay risotto with saffron mussels
I, for one, have decided to move "Recipe Taster"'s birthday to the 14th of February leaving its "conception" time anchored to the stone paved Parisian streets in the middle of January 2009.
Its Fate was then determined, its Destiny still in becoming.

In this cold winter of snowy landscapes, a creamy risotto seemed fit for the celebrations. A touch of home and the sea, a touch of the aromatic far and unreachable future, a touch of the warm crunchy past, wrapped in a velvety blanket.

Either served as appetizer or as main course, if you are sharing table with your beloved or waiting for that special one, let my warming gift to you this Valentine be a:

Creamy kefir lime-bay risotto with saffron mussels
Kaffir-lime infused creamy risotto with saffron mussels and roasted hazelnuts

Ingredients (serve 2 as entree): 

For the Risotto: 
  • 1 tablespoon butter 
  • 1 medium onions, finely diced 
  • 1 small pinch baking soda (like the very tip of your pairing knife) 
  • 1 small pinch mace 
  • 100g short grain rice (Carnaroli, Arborio or the like) 
  • 2 medium kaffir-lime leaves 
  • 2 medium bay leaves 
  • Vegetable stock 
  • 1/3cup cream 
  • salt 
 For the Mussels: 
  • 10-12 mussels 
  • 1/3cup white wine 
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed 
  • 1 pinch saffron stems 
  • 1 tablespoon cream 
  • 1 tablespoon cold butter 
  • cornstarch diluted in cold water 
  • zest of 1/2 lime, grated

To Garnish: 
  • Toasted Hazelnuts, crushed 


To start the risotto melt the butter in a saucepan, add the onions, the bay leaves broken in three and the baking soda (this will help the onions soften fast and extract their sweetness).
When the onions will be translucent, add the rice to the saucepan and toss it in the butter-onion mixture. Tear the kaffir-lime leaf in 2-3 places to help release its flavor and add it to the rice. Cook the risotto by adding vegetable stock a little at a time (the rice should be covered with it to cook properly) until the rice is almost cooked.
At this point add the cream and bring to full cooking stirring gently so to emulsify the liquids. Taste for seasoning at this point and regulate accordingly.

In the meantime that the risotto is cooking, prepare the mussels.
If needed, scrub them under cold water and eliminate their beard. Transfer the mussels in a pot with the wine and the garlic clove. Put the lid on the pot and put it on medium high fire. Steam the mussels until all will be opened shaking the pan once or twice.

With a slotted spoon, transfer the mussels in a glass bowl and cover to keep them warm.
Reduce down the mussel jus to half a cup on medium-high flame. In the meantime, grind the saffron with a tiny bit of salt in a mortar and steep it into the cream.
Add the saffron infused cream to the half cup of mussel's jus along with the butter. Simmer the sauce gently for 5 minutes and add enough cornstarch slurry to thicken to your likings. Taste for seasoning. Discard the garlic from the sauce, add the grated lime zest and the mussels back to the pot and toss.

Serve the creamy infused risotto (leaving behind any of the leaves) with the mussels and a sprinkle of toasted hazelnuts. Pour any remaining sauce from the mussels into a little sauce-boat and serve alongside.


  1. You are awesomely amazing and kind of an overachiever :P Love you!

  2. Congratulations Al!! this blog and you have indeed grown so much and it's been my pleasure to have known you through this journey! Here is raising a toast to you, and your blog long life!! :))

    Now, can I be your Valentine please? I want a big bowl of the risotto and mussels... :D

  3. Congrats!! A flavorful plate to celebrate!!

  4. Oh - happy blogaversary! And thanks for this wonderful recipe - I only discovered last year how fab nuts can be in risotti and now I am addicted :)

  5. Hi there. Food on Friday: Lemons and Limes is now open for entries. This looks like a neat one! I do hope you link it in. This is the link . Cheers