March 24, 2014 at 11:17 AM ET
Food star Laura Vitale kicked off this week's Fresh Cooks Live: TODAY's Spring Cookalong on Monday by whipping up risotto primavera, raw vegetable and mozzarella salad, garlic bread and blueberry turnovers. Aside from cooking this Italian meal, which you can watch from start to finish, Vitale also took to Twitter and Facebook to answer some of your cooking questions.
Q: Why does my risotto turn out sticky and gooey?
A: With risotto, people mostly take all the liquid and dump it in. That’s going to make it thick and hard and it’s not going to turn out. You need to feed it gradually. Ladle in liquid one ladle full at a time. Once you see that the liquid has been cooked out, add another ladle in.
Q:Which is better on a knife: a glass or wood-cutting board?
A: Wood. I never use glass.
Q: My husband loves meat. Can you tell me a good meat to add to this meal?
A: You could add sausage or ground turkey (if you want to keep it lean). On the side, you could make lamb chops, veal scaloppini…There’s a ton you could do!
Q: What rice do you use to make risotto?
A: I use Arborio rice. There’s a lot of starch and it makes the risotto very creamy.
Q: What are you favorite pans to cook with?
A: Non stick is my favorite, like Analon. All-Clad is better in restaurants when you have the right burners for it.
Q: What are some simple ways to spice up your chicken? Grilled chicken can be so boring, but it’s my go-to meat for dinner!
A: Herbs, citrus and spices are your friend! A mixture of chopped rosemary, thyme, garlic and lemon zest will give boring chicken lots of bright flavor. A combination of ground cumin, coriander, chili powder, fresh chopped cilantro, lime zest and lime juice will totally spice things up!
Q: I want to know if you can use frozen blueberries in the turnovers. If so, what do I need to do that?
A: Yes, just make sure you thaw them ahead of time.
Q: What is your best egg soufflé recipe that could be incorporated as a dinner?
A: I don’t have an egg soufflé recipe currently on my website, but I do have an amazing Nutella soufflé recipe. Give it a try!
Q: Do you have anymore chicken ideas?
A: Lots! From grilled chicken to truffle roasted whole chicken and a classic chicken cacciatore. You can find these recipes on my website.
Q: Romano vs. Parmigiano-Reggiano?
A: Parmigiano all the way!
Q: Any suggestions for cooking with tofu?
A: Always remember that tofu will take on any flavor you apply to it. Try marinating it, like you would chicken breast and give it a good sear either in a hot skillet or even on a grill pan. Happy cooking!
Q: How can I cook a fast and cheap vegetarian meal?
A: When cooking with in-season veggies, like the veggies I used on today’s segment, they will always be the best bang for your buck! In season means it’s growing wild and therefore it’s very affordable. Try some recipes from my website under the vegetarian tab.
Q: What would you substitute risotto with if it’s not available?
A: You can substitute in any other rice, but risotto rice is the only rice that will give you the right texture.
Q: Bake, cook, BBQ or other method for spring?
A: I prefer searing or sautéing in the spring. After the long winter, I stay away from braising or slow cooking.
Q: What’s your favorite vegetable and fruit in season now at the grocer?
A: I’m loving artichokes and asparagus at the moment. I haven’t been able to get my hands on any spring fruit quite yet!
Tune in to TODAY on Tuesday to cook live with Sorted, the British cooks behind the YouTube cooking show Sorted Food. Check out what recipes they will be cooking up here so you can cook along in the kitchen!