While I am not making any resolutions this year I have set some goals for myself and I thought I would share two of my food/cooking goals with you today. They are slightly contradictory, but both involve turning off the computer… Don’t worry I don’t be turning it off for that long…
First Goal: Reconnect with my lovely cookbooks.
Lately when looking for a recipe or dinner idea my first stop is the internet… Phone, tablet, desktop I’m on it searching the web or looking on Pinterest for ideas and recipes. With so much at our finger tips it is an easy first step. However I am old enough to remember a time when I would have first looked through cookbooks or a magazine for dinner ideas. I even had a little trusted note book where I would paste in magazine and newspaper clippings of recipes I liked. Please tell me I’m not the only one who did that!??! It was just a little pink notebook, but my recipe collection and notes inside it was a treasured go to. Sadly my little notebook got lost in one of my many moves while in University and then moving across the country.
The weird thing is that I love reading cookbooks. I like the stories and insights shared by chefs, they inspire and motivate me to be a better cook, to love food just a little more. Right now I’m reading Edible Selby it’s mad, inventive, kind of random and genius. The brightest of the book is the perfect escape from the dullness of Winter. But it has become very rare that when I’m menu planning for the week or planning a dinner that I turn to my cookbooks. Which is such a shame since they are a wealth of information, a master class on technique, a reference guide on food preparation and storage. Cookbooks are like old textbooks we keep around collecting dust, but when we dust them off they remind and refresh us of the fundamentals we forget along the way.
So from the new cookbooks I got this Christmas and the Cookbook Santa was VERY good to me.. Saveur, Ottolenghi, Child, and Ramsay just to name a few.. And from my favorite old classics like the Silver Spoon. I am going to cook at least two recipes a month from my cookbooks. You like my manageable goal setting?!?
Second Goal: Create more of my own recipes.
You can not reinvent the wheel. Classics are classics for a reason. And yes maybe it has all been done before BUT I want to strive to be more inventive in creating my own recipes. A bit of a contradiction to goal one but I’m hoping by reconnecting with the resources in my cookbooks, going back to basics I will gain more confidence in my technical skills and food knowledge. Then have some fun. Play a bit more in the kitchen. Because cooking is fun, or at least it should be. It is an art form, a creative outlet. And if my fun, creative playing doesn’t work out that’s okay it’s only food and you can always start again tomorrow…
The first recipe that I am going to share with you in 2015 is an attempt at goal two. My own recipe. A win in the kitchen! A bit of a complex dish flavor wise, it’s salty from the cheese, there is a rich sweetness from the roasted squash and just a hint of spice from the sausage. Together they balance each other and the crispy sage on top gives a pop and added texture. But to put it simply it is rustic, comforting and the favorite thing that I’ve cooked in a while!
The traditional process of cooking risotto one ladle of stock at a time.
I paired the risotto with Tercos Malbec 2013. This young Malbec is a great find and VERY easy on your wallet. Perfect for January!
The Tercos Winery is owned and run by brothers Pedro and Patricio Santos. They are actually the sons of the pioneering Argentine winemaker Ricardo Santos. Ricardo was the first winemaker to export Malbec from Argentina, beginning the process of making Malbec Argentina’s signature wine and making it the global phenomena it is today. Today Patricio is the head winemaker, while Pedro heads up the winery’s marketing and sales efforts. The name of the winery means “stubborn” in Spanish.. perhaps that’s why I like it so much!
I can be a little leery of a Malbec, especially the ones that fall in the cheer and cheerful category, but I’m happy I gave this one a try. It is now a staple in my wine rack. While cooking this wine came to mind as a great match for my rustic dish. On the palate are flavors of ripe red berries with a slight chocolate finish. The mild tannins matched up well next to the sausage and cheese. This wine has a smooth, long finish that won’t disappoint.
Hope you will give this recipe a try and enjoy it as much as I did!
- 3 cups butternut squash, peeled and diced
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 6 cups chicken stock
- 1½ cups of arborio rice
- 1 clove or garlic, minced
- 10 fresh sage leaves
- 3 Italian sausage, removed from casing and crumbled
- 100 grams feta*
- olive oil
- salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 425F
- Place squash on a parchment sheet lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, season with coarse sea salt and top with sage leaves. Roast for 30-40 minutes.
- Heat stock on low.
- Melt butter over medium heat and saute onions until soft, then add in garlic and cook for one minute.
- Add rice and cook for one to two minutes to toast rice. Reduce to low heat and begin adding in one ladle of hot stock at a time. Allow the stock to evaporate each time, before adding in more.
- In the meantime when the squash is ready separate the sage leaves for garnish, and roughly mash the squash.
- In a skillet cook the sausage removed from casing. Set aside and keep warm.
- Gently fold in mashed squash to the cooked risotto. Season with salt and white pepper.
- To plate, spoon risotto into a low bowl then top with cooked sausage, crumbled feta, and crispy sage.