Andy Cook, executive chef of Gordon Ramsay at the London West Hollywood, likes his risotto. It's a very fine risotto, made with wild mushrooms and finished with mascarpone. The dish is not only incredibly versatile, but a kind of object lesson for chefs and for those learning to cook. When Cook teaches cooking classes in the hotel's impressive kitchen, he always makes risotto, as it demonstrates not only different cooking techniques, but also the basics of flavor and seasoning. It's also perfect for the holidays, made here with a collection of wild mushrooms from the farmers market.

At the restaurant, Cook and his staff par-cook the risotto and finish it to order. “When I worked in Italy,” said Cook, “every risotto had to be cooked from scratch. It was a nightmare, an absolute nightmare.” At home, however, cooking a pot of risotto is a lovely thing, meditative, deceptively simple, even comforting. “If you're just going to have one course, this is a great dish.”

Wild mushroom risotto

From: Andy Cook, executive chef at Gordon Ramsay at the London West Hollywood. Cook uses a selection of wild mushrooms from the farmers market, such as trumpets, chanterelles, oysters and shiitakes, but says that you can use what's in season and available.

Serves: 2-4.

2 large shallots, finely chopped

4 tablespoons of olive oil

200 grams mixed wild mushrooms, sliced

200 grams Arborio rice

1 small glass of dry white wine

750 ml. chicken stock (or vegetable stock or water), heated to boiling

1 tablespoon each of chopped tarragon, chives and chervil

2 tablespoons mascarpone

2 tablespooons unsalted butter

3 tablespoons grated Parmesan

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

extra virgin olive oil for finishing

1. In a large sauce pan over medium-high heat, saute the shallots in 1 tablespoon of olive oil for 5 minutes.

2. Add the remaining oil and the mushrooms and saute for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until they're softened.

3. Stir in the rice and cook for another 1-2 minutes. Add the wine, stir and cook until the wine is absorbed. Pour in a quarter of the stock and bring to a boil. Cook until the stock is absorbed, stirring frequently

4. Over 15 minutes, gradually stir in the remainder of the stock, adding it in slurps as each previous amount is absorbed. This will help to give you a creamy risotto.

5. When the rice is al dente, stir in the mascarone, butter and Parmesan. Check the seasoning and then mix in the herbs. Serve in warmed bowls, topped with a drizzle of olive oil. If desired, garnish with deep-fried celery leaves.

LA Weekly