My cousin Emma was recently wedded to her gorgeous blushing bride, Kate, and I couldn’t be happier to see them both finally tie the knot. There were so many things that were exceptional about the day but the thing that sticks out most in my food obsessed brain of course was the ‘cheese cake’ – a 4 tier cake made ENTIRELY of cheese, glorious cheese. Its no surprise that it wasn’t finished and much to my delight I managed to snaffle myself a luscious cheesy doggy bag and what better way to use it all up than a dinner party with cheese as the centrepiece.
• 1 butternut squash (cubed, around 2cm2)
• 2 tbsp of butter
• 6 tbsp olive oil
• 500g aborio rice
• 1.5L Vegetable Stock
• 500mL extra hot water (substitute for white wine if desired)
• 150g parmesan or any other similar hard cheese (finely grated)
• 3 garlic cloves (crushed)
• 2 med brown onions (diced)
• 8 leaves of sage (1/2 scrunched to release oils, 1.2 chopped into fine ribbons)
• 4 tbsp parsley (chopped)
• Juice of ½ lemon
• Salt and pepper to season
Chop butternut squash and bake in a 180 degree oven with 3 tbsp of olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper, this should take around 20 mins for the 2cm cubed pieces. You want to be aiming for a nice browning on the outside. In the meantime…
Boil your water and stock on the stove and leave on a very gentle simmer just keeping it hot. Adding hot stock ensures you don’t slow the cooking process by keeping everything the same temperature.ie. if cold/ warm stock is added more time is need to return to the original cooking heat.
In a very large saucepan add the butter, 3 tbsp olive oil, garlic and onion and stir for a minute until butter is melted.
Add the Arborio rice and stir continuously until it looks pale and kind of translucent (this is important step which locks some of the starch in the rice so that the grains don’t completely fall apart over the length of time and amount of stirring, it also gives a slightly toasted nutty flavour).
If you’re adding wine now is the time to do it, it needs to be the first liquid added so the heat can burn off the alcoholic content. If you’re like me and you don’t like the flavour wine lends itself to in cooking then you can add a squeeze of lemon juice for the acidity at the end of the dish.
Add in all of the sage leaves.
Reduce the heat significantly to a slow simmer and add around 200mL of your stock and water mixture from the pot at a time stirring.
When half the stock has been added remove ½ the butternut squash from the oven and add to the rice mixture, don’t be scared if it’s not cooked through, it will cook whilst the risotto does. Remember to constantly stir the mixture so it doesn’t stick.
Continue to add 200mL at a time till all stock is finished and rice is ever so slightly ‘al dente’ (al dente means it is firm to bite, not hard but has texture).
The risotto should be the consistency of creamy lava, it shouldn’t clump nor should it be soupy.
Squeeze in the juice of half a lemon and stir.
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Hugs & Nonsense
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