Butternut Squash Risotto

butternut squash risotto

I love risotto.  It’s comforting, adaptable and an absolute doddle to make.  Which is great as the wee boy and I are home alone and not the most perky.  We are doing that energy wave thing.  You know the one?  One minute you feel absolutely fine, the next you can hardly move.

Enter risotto and it’s shining, creamy rice.

I gently saute an onion in butter on a low heat until it begins to turn translucent, then add rice and black pepper.  Stir.

Now then today, having just made some chicken stock, I added that to the rice, gradually, but it could be vegetable stock, beef stock, whatever you fancy which compliments the meat or vegetables you are using.  However, if you like to add white wine, do it before you begin to add the rest of the liquid.

Why?

Well, because you want the alcohol to evaporate leaving the flavour.  That taste sensation doesn’t have the same impact if you add the wine with the rest of the liquid.

That said, I don’t tend to add wine, not because I don’t like it in there, but because, usually, I don’t have any opened wine around.  What am I saying?  I feel I may be creating the wrong picture here.  What I mean is I don’t usually have any wine around.  I’m a ‘buy it, drink it’ kinda gal.  However, on those rare occasions when there may be some left in the bottle which has been hanging around for a few days, Nigella has a canny little trick of bagging it up, sealing it and putting it in the freezer. I admire this idea greatly but just forget to do it.

Here’s another thing, today our risotto was butternut squash which I had cooked in the oven beforehand, so added to the rice just a couple of minutes before the end.  If you’re doing mushroom risotto the technique would be different.  Still a doddle though.

Anyway, you’ll know the rice is cooked when it has a creamy, soft, nutty texture.  I have taken to adding the parmesan shavings on top of the risotto, but occasionally I stir it into the rice.  As I say, it’s diversity, along with it’s comforting textures, are just two of a risotto’s many qualities.

Meanwhile, I must now leave you and sink, graciously, into the sofa.

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Comfort food

photo (48)

Every now and then I get to the point where I just want to eat something which makes me feel slightly warm and fuzzy and reminds me of being ‘home’.  By which I mean my mum’s house when I was a child.  In my mind’s eye, everything is in a sunshine shade of polaroid.  It’s an ideology of comfort brought on by selective memory syndrome, which I think you will agree, we all suffer from occasionally.

So, favourite comfort foods?  Well, being a child in the seventies anything out of a tin has an association, but Heinz Tomato Soup has to be on the comfort food list.  As does tea and toast.

Interestingly, rice pudding aside, I don’t really go for a sweet comfort food, although am happy to be persuaded.  And then, of course, there’s always the amount of effort you need to put in to be comforted.  More often than not comfort food is needed when you are, sadly, a little under the weather. That weather often being a force ten gale with added storm.

However, I do have one foodstuff that always satisfies and something I am prepared to rustle up, on the way out of the storm, every time.  Now I realise that everyones comfort food is very dependant on their influential culinary early years, so consequently, one persons comfort is another’s chore.  But I do believe at least a few of you will glow when you find out what it is.

So, are you sitting on the edge of your seat with barely controlled anticipation?

Ok, let me share.  Mashed potato.  Hmmm.  It can be as part of something such as shepherds pie, or indeed fish pie.  It can be a feature in a plate of food my grandma used to call ‘sandcastle mince’.  Which, for anyone who may be remotely interested, consisted of the mashed potato acting as a sandcastle and the mince, carrots and peas, taking on the role of the sea.  It could be ensconced within a jacket, although I would attest that isn’t actually mashed potato.  But for me, sometimes, it’s just the best thing in the world on it’s own, with a little grated cheese on top, and if you like to live on the edge of high society (rather like myself), a sprinkling of black pepper and a dollop of Tomato Ketchup.

And I’ll let you into a little secret.  Get yourself one of those potato ricer gadgets, add lots of butter, and I promise you, your mashed potato will taste sublime and never have lumps again.

A comfort food cuddle on a plate.  Perfect.