Wednesday, 3 March 2010
Ten years ago, in a room decorated with images of Winnie the Pooh (don’t ask!) my husband and I shared our very first kiss. Three years ago on this same day, we were married.
Love isn’t easy. There are a lot of things we have to suffer through.
He puts up with my insatiable curiosity, my requests for him to fetch me things and my tendency to tell complicated, exaggerated stories. Repeatedly.
I have to put up with his forgetfulness regarding domestic responsibilities, his fondness for all things XBOX and the fact that he’s a vegetarian. (Sorry veggo friends, but it’s tough to love a veggo).
But one thing we both share is a love of food and wine, and for Valentine’s Day we cooked this vegetarian risotto from a Jamie Oliver cookbook that my little sister, Stinky, gave us for our wedding gift.
Jonas has a bit of a man-crush on Jamie Oliver, and frankly I think he could do a lot worse.
In fact, for the record my Dad also has a man-crush on Jamie.
So when Stinky, who had spent some time waitressing at Fifteen when she lived in London, gave us this cookbook for our wedding gift, both Jonas and Dad were giddy as school girls when they opened it up and saw Jamie's own words scrawled across the pages.
It’s a nice full circle, to get a special little token from family, on a subject we both adore and from a chef we both admire for his imagination and yet simplicity.
So who was better placed to “cook” our Valentine’s Day dinner than Jamie?
As Jamie described in his book, this risotto is almost like a Waldorf Salad. The apple is fresh and sweet against the strong cheese and the walnuts provide perfect roasted crunchy texture. And while Jamie uses marjoram in his recipe, I switch to fragrant, sweet sage to combat the spiciness of the gorgonzola.
Sage, Apple & Gorgonzola Risotto
Anna’s adaptation of Jamie Oliver’s recipe. Serves 8.
1 knob of butter, for frying
2 tablespoons olive oil, for frying
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
400g/14oz risotto rice
2 wineglasses of dry white wine
700ml/1¼ pints hot vegetable or chicken stock
1–2 small handfuls of freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus a block for grating
200g/7oz gorgonzola cheese, diced
2 crunchy eating apples, cored, halved, and finely chopped, tossed in lemon juice
a small bunch of fresh sage, leaves picked and chopped
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
a handful of walnuts
extra virgin olive oil
1. Heat the stock.
2. In a separate pan heat the olive oil and butter, add the onions and garlic, and fry very slowly for about 15 minutes without colouring.
3. When the onions have softened, add the rice and turn up the heat. The rice will now begin to lightly fry, so keep stirring it. After a minute it will look slightly translucent.
4. Add the wine and keep stirring — it will smell fantastic. Any harsh alcohol flavours will evaporate and leave the rice with a tasty essence.
5. Once the wine has cooked into the rice, add your first ladle of hot stock and a good pinch of salt.
6. Turn down the heat to a simmer so the rice doesn’t cook too quickly on the outside. Keep adding ladlefuls of stock, stirring and almost massaging the creamy starch out of the rice, allowing each ladleful to be absorbed before adding the next. This will take around 15 minutes.
7. Taste the rice — is it cooked? Carry on adding stock until the rice is soft but with a slight bite. Don’t forget to check the seasoning carefully. If you run out of stock before the rice is cooked, add some boiling water.
8. Turn off the heat, beat in your butter, Parmesan, gorgonzola, chopped apple and sage. Check the seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed.
9. Put a lid on the pan and leave the risotto to rest for a minute so the cheese can really ooze into it.
10. While you’re waiting, gently heat the walnuts in a pan. Then either take the risotto to the table and let everyone help themselves, or divide it between individual serving plates. Put a block of Parmesan on the table for grating over. Sprinkle with the walnuts and drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil before tucking in.
Note: Jamie used marjoram instead of sage.