Monday, November 23, 2009

Recipe of the week

One of my favorite things in the world to cook is risotto and when I do get the chance to eat out I am extremely fussy about how a risotto should taste and look. I really believe that it should never be so thick that it can be moulded and the rice should never be over cooked. To me it's a cardinal sin to serve over cooked stodgy rice.
I will try during my blog career to add a recipe each week that can be cooked at home but to a professional kitchen standard. This week it is a couple of my favorite things (just in case you didn't read the little spiel before) and they are risotto and butternut squash. Unfortunately in Ireland Butternut seems to be the only squash readily available. During my time working in Chicago one of the things I could not get over was all the different varieties of squash they harvest. If there's one thing I miss about the states then that would be it.
I hope this recipe is used and people will enjoy it as much as I do.
Happy cooking

Roasted Butternut Squash and Sage Risotto
Toasted Pine nuts


1 large Butternut Squash
2 Garlic cloves, peeled
2 tbsp Olive Oil, plus extra for drizzling
about 15 Sage leaves, chopped
flaked Sea Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper
3 large knobs of Unsalted Butter
1 large onion, finely chopped
400g/14oz Arborio Rice
2 glasses White Wine
1 litre/1¾ pint hot Chicken or Vegetable stock
good handful of freshly grated Desmond Cheese (if not use Parmesan), plus extra to serve
75g/3oz Pine nuts, to serve

1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
2. Cut the butternut squash into 6-8 wedges, remove the seeds and place in a roasting tray. Finely chop the garlic and add a generous glug of olive oil, half the sage leaves, sea salt and pepper. Tip into the tray and rub over the butternut squash with your hands. Roast in the oven for 40-50 minutes until softened and becoming golden in colour (without browning too much).
3. Once the squash has cooked, cool slightly, then scrape the soft flesh away from the skin into a bowl. Lightly mash with a fork or potato masher until it is fairly chunky in texture. Scrape any sticky juices left in the roasting tray into the bowl and keep warm while making the risotto.
4. Heat the olive oil and a good knob of butter in a deep, heavy-based frying pan or saute pan. Gently fry the onion until softened. Add the rice and stir for about a minute until the grains are coated with the oil and butter. Pour in the wine and stir continuously until it has cooked into the rice. Add a good ladle of hot stock and the remaining sage and season well with salt and pepper. Turn the heat down so the stock is simmering gently. Keep adding ladles of stock as it cooks into the rice, stirring and moving the rice around in the pan. After about 15-20 minutes the rice should be soft but still have a bit of bite left in it. Whilst making a risotto one of the most important things is to taste constantly. The texture of the risotto should be thick and creamy, but not too loose. Add extra stock if necessary. It may seem tedious standing and stirring but the end result will be worth it.
5. Remove the pan from the heat and gently stir the roasted butternut squash into the risotto with the Parmesan, the remaining butter and seasoning to taste. Add any extra stock if the risotto seems particularly thick. Cover with a lid for a couple of minutes as this will give the risotto an even creamier texture.
6. During this time, place the pine nuts in a fairly hot frying pan and toss around until golden. Spoon the risotto into warmed bowls and scatter with the pine nuts, extra Parmesan and drizzle with a little olive oil.

Sunday Lunch

What is it with Irish people and Sunday lunch? From experience it seems to be that if you are out for lunch on Sunday then it gives you a God given right to moan about everything. Is it because you know that you are back to work in one more day that makes people grumpy!!!!!

Yesterday we had a lovely family in for lunch for a Christening. Absolute pleasure to deal with and really friendly. Turns out the lady who booked it, Sharon, is a friend of the girl, Alison, who used to cut my hair about 8 years ago in Shay Dempseys salon in the Four Seasons. Small world. Definatly in Ireland anyway. So Shaorn is not included in my rant above.

Good luck to legend and friend Neven Maguire who launched his new cookbook "Home Chef" in the Nationel concert hall last week. A tidy piece of literature and well worth going out and buying. While there a copy of "Zest" should also be purchased. Great cause and when are you ever going to get a book with over 62 nation wide establishments all together.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Just set up my Blog

Hi all. I have just started my blog so please forgive me if you can obviously see that I'm very new to this and am struggling to get started. I hope to use this blog to talk about things that I really believe in and give some updates as to what is happening in the culinary world, well maybe not "world" but Ireland at least. Also what is happening in my cooking life and share any discoveries that happen along the way.
Looking forward to keeping you updated and hearing from you,
Happy cooking