The last of the automn crops & a delicious roasted squash, oyster mushroom risotto with brown butter sage and truffle oil

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This is it, almost the end. The market is getting smaller with every week, my hats, scarves and mittens have come out of hiding and the weather has dipped. Funny how we’re never prepared to have winter arrive yet when spring shows its face, it can never come soon enough! The good news with this kind of weather is cooking. Comfort. Food.! I love it 🙂

 

I created this dish kind of as an afterthought. I had bought the mushrooms and forgotten them and needed to cook them ASAP. I originally wanted to make a seafood risotto but forgot to buy the seafood…(!) As I looked around, the winter squash looked back at me and then an idea started to form. How about roasting the pumpkin in the oven with a bit of maple syrup and Piment Espelette. The result was even better than I imagined, the roasted squash melding with the rice as I stirred, giving it a beautiful colour. Yay! Seeing as the oven was on, I might as well roast the seeds and mushrooms as well. Cooking alone means you have smaller quantities and therefore I try to only turn the oven when I have more that one dish. Multitasking = better energy consumption. You kind of have to be super organised to function this way, what can I say, the environment and its health are important to me 🙂

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INGREDIENTS

1 cup thinly sliced winter squash (with skins if variety permits) cut to 2 inch pieces, tossed with 1 tablespoon maple syrup, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 teaspoon Piment d’Espelette and salt to taste

1 cup oyster mushrooms, tossed in a dash of olive oil and salt

1 small shallot, diced

1 small sprig sage

1 tablespoon pine nuts

1 teaspoon butter

1/4 cup arborio rice

1/2-3/4 cups chicken stock

Salt and pepper to taste

Truffle oil

INSTRUCTIONS

Pre-heat oven to 375°. Place tossed squash on baking dish lined with parchment paper, place oyster mushrooms on a second dish. Roast in oven for 25-35 minutes, keeping an eye out for burning. Let cool while preparing the other ingredients.

In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat, place sage leaves face down and pine nuts. Allow butter to brown lightly. Remove sage leaves when roasted, add shallots and sweat for 2-3 minutes. Add rice and sweat a further 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add stock a few tablespoons at a time, stirring frequently and allowing rice to absorb liquid before adding more. After 15 minutes, add half the roasted squash, continue adding stock and stirring, until rice is cooked and has creamy texture, roughly 20-30 minutes. Add remaining squash, stir to blend and add more stock if needed. Serve in plate, garnish with roasted mushrooms and sage leaves. Lightly sprinkle a dash of truffle oil and enjoy! Serves one, can easily be doubled for a lunch leftover, however add more liquid to refrigerated portion, as it will continue to absorb.

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Experimenting with flavors – Blueberry, corn and cinnamon candied pecan Gelato

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In my never-ending quest to challenge my taste buds, I am trying new combinations for gelato’s. As blueberries and corn are in season, I thought, well, why not? Pecans work well with blueberries, let’s add some! Low and behold, it was delicious! I also tried something new, adding 1/4 cup alcohol to have a softer serve on the ice cream and it really works! The only mistake I made was using rum, too pungent for delicate berries and sweet corn. I’m thinking something like a dessert wine might work really well. You don’t have to add the alcohol, you will then need to remove ice cream from freezer 10 minutes before serving. Happy experimenting!

Recipe

2 cups blueberries, well rinsed

2 ears corn, steamed and grains cut from stalk

1/2 cup pecans

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon maple syrup

3/4 cups cream

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Dash salt

Instructions

Make simple syrup: bring to a boil sugar & water and allow to simmer for 2-3 minutes. Place in the fridge to chill. Cook ears of corn in boiling water for 10-15 minutes, allow to cool before cutting corn off the cob. Place corn nibblets in fridge to cool completely. Heat a small cast iron pan on medium heat, add butter and when sizzling, add pecans and cinnamon, stir to combine and allow pecans to caramelize. Add maple syrup, stirring occasionally until sticky. Remove from heat and scoop onto parchment paper and allow to cool completely before roughly chopping, set aside. Place blueberries and corn in blender with simple syrup, pulse to combine but not too much, you want small bits of fruit throughout. Add cream and blend to combine. If mixture is cold, continue to freezing in ice cream machine or place in fridge to chill thoroughly before adding to ice cream machine. When ice cream is almost completely solid, add candied pecans and alcohol if using. Remove ice cream and store in container in the freezer. Makes 6-8 portions. Keeps in the freezer up to a month. Enjoy!

 

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A colourful, mouth-watering Minestrone

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I love weekends filled with cooking. The house smells fantastic, the fridge and freezer fill up with beautiful meals that I’ll be enjoying in the following weeks. A spiced peach jam, lentil and eggplant sheperds pie, spanish lentil soup, clam and corn chowder, vichyssoise and this delicious minestrone. If I had more time, I’d document all I’ve done but sometimes you just want to get on with it!!! I’ll be running full steam ahead over the next weeks, I will start canning and pickling on top of cooking comfort food we all crave once the wearher cools. I can’t wait!

Minestrone has a flexible ingredient list according to what you have on hand and what’s seasonal. It checks all the boxes for me at the end of summer. Fresh ingredients, warmth and a hit of flavour with all those fragrant herbs from the garden. So any ingredient you see in this list can be switched to what suits your tastes and what you’ve picked up at the market 🙂

Ingredients

2-3 chipolata sausage, cut into 1 inch pieces

1 cup fresh roma beans

1 of each green and yellow zuchini, quartered

1 onion, diced

2-3 garlic cloves, minced

1 bunch kale, shredded

1 large tomato, diced

200-300 gr. fusilli or similar pasta

Sprigs of each fresh oregano and thyme

1 teaspoon each chili flakes and fennel seeds, crushed

Salt and pepper to taste

Olive oil for cooking

1 litre chicken stock

Parmesan shavings and basil to garnish

Instructions

Heat a little olive oil in a large casserole over medium heat, add onions and sweat for a few minutes then add garlic until fragrant. Add sausage pieces then zucchini, stirring frm time to time. Whe sausage starts to colour add tomatoes and beans. Stir to combine and continue to cook until tomatoes start blistering, add stock, herbs, spices and season with salt and pepper to taste. Allow to come to a slow simmer, then add kale and pasta and cook for 20-30 minutes or until pasta is cooked al dente. Serve in large soup bowl topped with parmesan and granish with basil. Makes 4-6 portions, freezes for up to a month and keeps n the refrigerator for up to a week. Enjoy!

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