On New Years Eve pre-party, the lovely Karen and I made dinner at my place and drank Prosecco to toast the new year. I had a butternut squash I had bought about a week ago to make soup - but never got around to it, and didn't think that soup was the best choice for a new year's pre-party boozy night. I just happened to be watching the Top Chef marathon on the Food Network earlier in the day, and one of the contestants made a butternut squash risotto. I thought ha! That's a great idea! I also had some cremini mushrooms in the fridge, and surprisingly every other necessary ingredient to make risotto. After surfing around a bit online to find recipe inspiration, I found some in this recipe on A Mingling of Tastes. I followed fairly closely, and the result? AMAZING. Like, truly fantastic. I already want to make it again.
Roasted Butternut and Mushroom Risotto (follow the link to the blog above if you want to see the original, as I have improvised a bit here)
2 1/2 cups butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into small cubes
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cups cremini mushrooms (or other kinds, up to you), sliced
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
1 L chicken broth
3/4 cup white wine
dried thyme and rosemary, to taste
s&p, to taste
1/3 cup Parmesan, plus some for serving
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and wipe lightly with oil (or if you have cooking spray use that - I don't typically buy it). On the baking sheet, toss the butternut squash with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil, salt and pepper and dried thyme. Roast until tender and lightly browned, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat half the olive oil and butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and cook until their water nearly evaporates, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low and continue cooking until tender, about 3 more minutes. Set aside.
Heat the chicken broth (it does not have to boil) in a medium saucepan and keep warm over low heat.
In a large saucepan or soup pot, heat remaining oil and butter over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook until soft but not browned. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Add the rice and stir constantly for 2 to 3 minutes until all the grains are slick and slightly opaque. Add the wine and simmer until almost completely absorbed.
Add two ladles full of broth to the risotto and bring to a simmer. Season with a bit of salt and pepper. Keep the risotto at a steady simmer, stirring continuously until the broth has evaporated almost completely. Add one ladle full of broth, stir until it is nearly evaporated, then add another ladle full. Continue simmering and stirring, adding broth as necessary, for about 20 - 22 minutes or until the rice is creamy and cooked through, but still firm to the bite. When the risotto is on its last ladle full of broth, add roasted squash. Serve immediately with Parmigiano-Reggiano at the table. Check the seasoning and add more salt and pepper to taste.
You may not use all the broth (I had about 1/2 cup left). If you run out of broth, just use hot water to finish the risotto. It’s not absolutely necessary to stir for 22 minutes straight, but you don’t want to put down your spoon for too long or leave the risotto unattended and risk scorching.
January 2, 2009
Well apparently I need to completely abandon all promises of making this a regular thing - again - as it appears I've tried that several times, all without success. I thought about making it a new years resolution...but really, I'm just going to try harder. Not only to contribute here more, but also to put more effort into trying new things - ingredients, dishes, etc. - so I can share with others!
This Christmas a good friend inspired me with a new, fantastic cookbook by James Beard Award winning author Aliza Green, entitled Starting with Ingredients: Baking. It's her second book, following the original Starting with Ingredients, which after having read the baking one (yes, I read cookbooks), I am adding to my next Amazon order.
Starting with Ingredients: Baking is, quite simply, a bible for bakers. It is a beautiful, massive book filled with recipes from around the world that are all based on - you guessed it - ingredients. Aliza Green picks 62 ingredients and describes them and their properties in great detail, then provides you with several recipes, tips and more to work with. I love this approach as it allows you to not only learn new recipes, but also to gain a better understanding of the food you're working with.
There is also a very user-friendly list up front highlighting essential tools for the baker's kitchen - but focuses only on those the home cook really needs. Websites and quality brand suggestions are also helpfully included.
The book has only been in my possession a few days, so I haven't had a chance to test any of the recipes, but they look amazing. Admittedly, I'd love to be more of a baker than I am, however beyond muffins, cookies, biscuits and the odd pie or square, I don't venture often into serious baking territory. I am still mastering the art of dough; I don't even own a cake pan; oh, and my mom is a terrific baker. So when I'm hankering for a pavlova or perfect new york style cheesecake, I just go home for a visit!
But no more. This book is inspiring me to pick up a few new tools and set out in 2009 on a mission to become a better baker.
Now, one tool I see used in so many recipes is the quintessential Kitchen Aid mixer. I don't have one (gasp!), would love one (duh), but am not really willing to part with that much cash for it. However - I can't seem to see how I'd get around it if the recipe calls for me to use the dough attachment, etc.
Do you bake? If so, do you have one of these gadgets? Is it a necessity? I'm interested to know. Am also keeping my eye on eBay for any good deals - you never know :)
Well, Happy New Year to you - may you have a year full of good food and good company!