Friday, October 24, 2008

Don't mess with me -- I'm in need of some comfort!

Well, it's been a week. I'm warning you, you don't want me to go into it too much, but its initials are P. and M. and S. Geesh!

What between that and the economy (my banker-husband says we're headed for another market crash again today) and politics (I don't think my heart can take much more of this!), I'm about ready for the weekend.

Good thing it's Friday!

When things get kind of desperate like they did this week, I do the one thing I know I can do well--cook. And eat. O.K., that's two things, but I warned you. You do NOT want to contradict me right now.

And what do I want to eat when I need comfort? Well, pretty much everything in sight, but this week it was risotto. There is just nothing like the creamy, rich goodness of a really good risotto. Now THAT does my heart good.

So today you get a cooking lesson. If you've never made risotto before, give it a try! It's really not as hard as it sounds.

My inspiration was a butternut squash risotto that I had last year in New York City at a restaurant called, ironically, Shelly's. This risotto was so yummy, I've dreamed about it ever since. Mine wasn't exactly the same as the dish I had last year, but that doesn't mean it wasn't as good. It was! I just did a couple of different things like roasting the squash first and eliminating garlic.

Now, the trickiest thing about risotto--seriously!--is that you need two pans. One, larger, for the risotto itself, and a smaller one to keep the chicken stock hot. That's the hardest part, truly. Oh, and the small matter of stirring, which we'll get to later.

So here we go! First, take a butternut squash, peel it, and cut it into small pieces. Place the squash on a cookie sheet with sides and drizzle it with olive oil (2-3 tablespoons should do ya), then sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Roast the squash in a 400 degree oven for about 20-30 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven.

Next (here's the part with the pots) warm about 7 cups of chicken broth in a pot on the stove. In a larger pot, melt 4 tablespoons butter and add one diced onion. Cook onion until it's translucent, about 4-5 minutes.

To the butter and onion, add 2 cups of Arborio rice (risotto rice) and stir to coat. Then add 1 C. white wine.

Cook the rice and wine until the wine is absorbed. It will look kind of like this:

Once the wine is absorbed, start adding chicken stock two ladels-full at a time (about 1 cup). And stir. The mixture should be a little bubbly, but not a full-out boil. Slowly cook rice until the chicken stock is absorbed, and then ladel more chicken stock over the top of the rice, stir some more, ladel some more, stir some more . . . you get the picture.

You'll repeat this process about 5 times or so, and the entire process will take about 15-20 minutes until the rice is tender. Be careful, though, that the rice doesn't get mushy. You want it al dente.

Once the rice is cooked, add the roasted squash, 1 tablespoon butter, about 1/4 teaspoon of fresh rosemary (not too much--rosemary is strong!), and some salt and pepper to taste.

Finally, the piste de la resistance . . . freshly grated parmesan cheese. About 1 cup. Add to the pot and stir.

Your finished product will look something like this:

Enjoy it with the rest of the white wine and some crusty bread.

Have a pleasant weekend, everyone!

P.S. Yes, that IS ice floating in the wine glass. See paragraph 1 above. Desperate times call for desperate measures!


  1. Came across your blog via Lysa's. The recipe looks awesome--I have some squash from my garden and I'll give it a try. I, too, am wishing for a warmer place to state--live one state north of you! cold and dreary today! God bless

  2. Shelly, your blog is such a breath of fresh air in my tumultuous life. You are such a fine writer and you always make me smile. Thank you. Can't wait to try the risotto recipe. And I totally identify with the ice cube in the wine glass.

  3. Yum! Thanks...I'm a pretty good cook but risotto and I have a bad history so I quit trying. My rice was always either crunchy or mushy. But it has been a decade, maybe I'll try again because I love me some risotto (especially mushroom).

  4. Can you just come make the risotto for me?????? It looks awesome - maybe I'll try it.