Friday, 15 January 2010

Day 2 and off out already

This morning it is cold and rainy and gloomy outside but the less than perfect weather cannot break through the inner glow I have after an AMAZING risotto last night. I could not settle on one recipe so I ended up combining 2, and wow did it work. I'm not normally one to blow my own trumpet but this risotto was truly a triumph. the sweetness of the butternut combined perfectly with the tang of the white wine, the saltiness of the stock and the creamy yet pungent bite of the Dolce Latte blue cheese. The perfect mix of firmess and softness in the rice, undertones of sage and garlic... Yum!

I wish the same could be said for the muffins that I was making at the same time, but they did not result in the same degree of success. The first problem was that I was making them while making the risotto, and even though I am a woman and naturally gifted at multi-tasking, doing 2 things at the same time tends to result in one not being done 100% right. So after sifting the dry ingredients, beating and adding the wet ingredients, the mixture was rather runny. In fact it was the runniest muffin mixture I have ever seen. But as I was rather focused on my masterpiece risotto, I shrugged off the sense of misgiving I had at the runny mixture and filled my silicon muffin cases and threw them in the oven. After about 30 seconds it dawned on me. The recipe was for chocolate and stem ginger muffins, and there was no chocolate in them. I had forgotten to add the cocoa powder. Cursing not so silently I hauled the muffins out of the oven, scraped the mixture out of the cases and proceeded to add the offending cocoa powder and re-fill the cases. All this was accomplished in record time, and the muffins were back in the oven within minutes. In the end they turned out rather tasty, and with an exciting story to go along with them, at least they cannot be considered boring muffins.

As today is my dear better half's birthday, I am already slacking off and not cooking. Tonight we are off out for a birthday celebration dinner at the 3rd best restaurant in Manchester. Why not the first or second best you may ask? Well, the best restaurant in Manchester is out of my budget range at the moment unfortunately, and we went to the second best restaurant last year. The food at the chosen venue is 'Asian fusion' and as I love anything with a Thai influence I'm looking forward to that. The decor at the venue is reportedly rather elaborate which is always entertaining so it should be a good night. Maybe I'll take a picture and upload it if the lighting is flattering.

As I am not cooking tonight, tomorrow I may regale you with the tale of my first ever attmept at making marzipan and fondant icing from scratch, and then trying to cover my boyfriend's birthday cake. It would have been rather entertaining for anyone who was watching, but for me it was frustrating and messy and confusing. They made it look so easy in my little cake book and on 'Ace of Cakes', but as usual appearances can be deceiving.

Until tomorrow then, happy cooking x

The Risotto Recipe if anyone is interested: (Serves 4, or 1 woman and 2 hungry men)

2 x cloves of garlic
Handful of Sage leaves
Salt & Pepper
1 x Medium size butternut squash
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 good knobs of butter
1 x Onion, chopped
400g Risotto Rice
300ml or so of white wine
1l vegetable Boullion (2 Tbsp Boullion powder and 1l boiling water)
Dolce Latte blue cheese (as much or as little as you like)

In a pestle and mortar pound up the garlic, half the sage leaves, 1 tbsp olive oil and some salt & pepper.
Cut the butternut into big chunky wedges and remove seeds from any pieces that have them, then rub the butternut with the pounded up garlic oil mixture. Then bake in the oven at 200C for 50 mins or until soft & starting to brown.
After the butternut has been cooking for 10 mins or so, make the risotto.
heat 1tbsp olive oil with a knob of buter until the butter is foaming. Add the onion and fry gently until soft (10 mins or so)
Add the risotto rice and mix well allowing the rice to become coated in the onion, butter & oil, and to get hot
Then add the white wine (stand back as it may splutter a bit), and mix continuously until all the wine is absorbed.
Then add a ladle full of stock and mix until absorbed. Then add another ladle full and mix until absorbed, etc etc. Technically you are supposed to stir it constantly during the whole cooking time, but i left mine for a few minutes here and there, so don't panic if you have to do that too. Once all the stock is absorbed the rice should be almost cooked, with a bit of a bite (crunch) in it still. This is important as soggy risotto is pretty stodgy and horrible.
Once the butternut is ready, scrape the soft orange butternut out of its soft skin into a bowl and make sure you get all the olive oiley, sagey, garlicy coating as well as this has a fabulous flavour once cooked. Mash up the butternut with a fork and add to the risotto as soon as all the stock has been absorbed, along with a knob of butter. Mix well and allow to heat through well. Then add your preferred quantity of Dolce Latte and mix in until melted and combined.
Serve hot on heated plates with more Dolce Latte on top if desired.
Enjoy! :)

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