My current copy of The Joy of Cooking is tattered and looking a little less than pristine. But, those are only marks of love and affection. Last night, the break from a frenetic work pace allowed me to think a little about what I wanted to cook and afforded me the time to actually put something together without worrying about time or time schedules. What a treat.
What did I make? Roasted butternut squash risotto with a kick and sauteed tiger prawns.
The prawns were easy; but, the risotto takes time and patience, neither of which I’ve had much of lately. Perhaps that’s why yesterday evening’s preparatory process was so therapeutic.
Peel, de-seed and cube the butternut squash; mix the cubes with a little ancho chili powder and olive oil; roast until tender; and, then, purée most of the roasted butternut squash reserving a few of the roasted cubes.
It’s the process of making risotto, though, that I love. Prepare the stock (in this case vegetable). Sauté a little garlic (and whatever else you want—I added a bit of crushed red pepper for a little extra kick), brown the risotto just a touch and then ladle in the stock, stir, simmer down and repeat until you have a luxurious, shiny bit of cooked risotto. Add in your flavours and cheese of choice (in this case, ~1 c of butternut squash purée and two heaping tablespoons of soft chevre) and mix completely. Then, fold in the reserved cubes of squash, serve and enjoy.
There is always a moment during the process of cooking risotto when I panic that there either isn’t quite enough stock or that I’ve added too much liquid at one point. It invariably turns our alright, and just requires a little more patience and resolving not to panic. But, panic, I do. Every single time. Yesterday, patience won out (once the panic subsided). And, dinner was lovely.
After not really having the time or energy to spend that extra time cooking lately, yesterday’s meal was a treat, both as a way to spend an evening away from my desk and in terms of a tasty bit of sustenance.
The joy of cooking, indeed.