Tag Archives: risotto

pumpkin risotto


This year we have a plethora of petite pumpkins – the shot below shows rather less than half the crop. Pretty, aren’t they? We decided to grow mini-pumpkins as while the husband & I love them, the daughter has them on her list of Food to Avoid If Possible. (No accounting for some tastes…) Anyway, the seed packets informed us that we’d get just 3-4 fruit per plant, so we planted quite a few, wanting to try the different varieties on offer. And most of the plants grew like Topsy & produced a dozen or so cute little pumpkins. Which, as well as looking gorgeous, taste great. I just need to come up with a range of ways to cook them.


So the other night, I made pumpkin risotto. First up, I cut two of our larger fruit in half, scooped out the seeds, & put them cut side down in a baking tray lined with a teflon sheet before baking them at 180 degrees C until soft – about 45 minutes. When they were done, the cut surfaces were slightly caramelised, giving added depth to the flavour.

While that was happening I started in on the risotto part of the meal. A thinly-sliced onion went into one of my big saucepans with 25 g of butter & a splash of olive oil, to soften over a low heat. After 5 or so minutes I added several cloves of garlic, peeled & sliced, followed by 2 c of arborio rice. I stirred all that together until the rice started to go translucent round the edges & was glisteningly covered with the butter/oil.

At which point I opened a bottle of the rather nice 2011 Villa Maria gewurtztraminer, added 250 ml to the rice – & poured myself a glass as well 🙂  – then stirred everything together & turned the heat right down, so that it was all barely simmering. Once the liquid was almost all absorbed, I started adding a litre of hot vegetable stock (again, 250 ml at a time), stirring & then leaving each lot of liquid to be absorbed before adding the next.

While this was going on I also cooked 4 large rashers of shoulder bacon in a very little butter (I find it tends to stick, otherwise) until crispy round the edges. Once that was done I drained it & chopped it into smallish pieces, before cooking 12-15 sage leaves in the fat that remained in the pan. Be careful with this – they need very little time to go crispy!

By this time the pumpkin was done & the risotto was creamy & tender. I added 1/2 c of sour cream to the rice & stirred that through, following it with the bacon & the pumpkin, scooped out of its skin with a dessertspoon to give reasonably big chunks. And then we ate it all up, with lashings of parmesan & the rest of the wine on the side. (No, Trevor, I did not drink it all!)


a very nice risotto


This morning I got a pack (around 600g) of rump steak out of the freezer to defrost, before heading off to work. I’d originally intended a warm salad (there are still a lot of lettuces in the garden & some tomatoes too), but by the end of a trying day I was thinking “comfort food!” So I stopped off at the supermarket – we needed milk anyway – & picked up some button mushrooms & a 200g packet of marscapone. And although I’d been contemplating beef stroganoff (my version of it, anyway), this is what I came up with.

First I put some dried mushrooms (what the husband calls ‘fancy’ mushrooms, ie porcini, shiitake & so on) to soak in a bowl, covered with boiling water. While they softened, I started 50g of butter melting in one of my stockpots and added a peeled, thinly-sliced brown onion &, after that had been cooking for a few minutes over a low heat, several cloves of minced garlic. (I have a garlic crusher but I usually can’t be bothered with using it; it’s so fiddly to clean afterwards!)

Next, I added 2 c of arborio rice to the pan & stirred everything so that all the rice grains glistened with melted oniony butter. Once the edges of the grains had started to go translucent I poured in the first cup of liquid. Usually I use white wine for this (a glass for the risotto, a glass for me…) but we’d none opened. For some reason the husband wasn’t interested in opening one; “aha!” he said, “what about your cider?” I thought, hmmmm, & used a cup of apple cider, then stirred everything & left the rice to absorb all the liquid while I went on to the next step: draining the mushrooms – don’t discard the liquid! you’ll need it – & slicing them (not too thinly).

By this time the first lot of liquid had disappeared, so I tipped in the mushroom liquor, opened a 1 litre tetrapak of vegetable stock & put a cup of that into the microwave to heat, & started cutting up the little button mushrooms from New World. And also one of the long ‘sweet point’ red peppers from the garden. And in went the next cup of hot stock, followed by mushrooms & pepper. It’ll take another couple of rounds of heating stock, adding it, stirring well & leaving to cook on a very low heat before the stock is all absorbed.

After the 2nd cup of stock sloshed into the pan,  I trotted off outside & fired up the barbecue, then brushed the steak with a little oil & put it on the grill – 2-3 minutes on each side – before taking it back to the kitchen, serving the risotto another helping of stock, & then slicing the meat thinly across the grain. It was still quite rare, but I knew the heat of the rice would get the meat to a state that the rest of the family would tolerate 🙂

Finally, I opened the marscapone, stirred that into the risotto, then added the meat & stirred again before checking the flavour & adding a good slosh of soy sauce. And served the meal with a bowl of finely-grated parmesan & a side of what I suspect are just about the last of the season’s runner beans, finely-sliced & steamed.

And yes! even after everyone had had seconds, there will be leftovers for lunch 🙂