As summer slowly wanes, so too does my enthusiasm for this most unpredictable of British seasons. My fingers, eyes, legs and toes are tightly crossed for a sudden heat wave and it is precisely this mangled posture and the lacklustre weather that have driven me to cook indoors, he types, kicking the cobweb coated barbecue back into submission in the corner of the garden shed. Even the plane trees have sorrily scanned the elements before crinkling up their brown ends and drooping into a leafy sigh.
I follow a group on Linked In called Slow Food. Its basically a forum for people who value fresh, seasonal ingredients cooked lovingly and slowly. Subjects vary from how to grow your own organic vegetables to what is the best way to make maple glazed ribs or where to buy superior kitchen equipment. Its a good thread to follow and I’d recommend it to any fellow foodies.
My interest piqued at a thread on risotto, as I find making risottos great fun. A question was posted asking the group what people’s favourite risotto ingredients were and I was really intrigued by some of the answers. One contributor suggested the less you add, the better, and suggested cooking it with just olive oil, garlic, parmesan and a small knob of butter. I’d love to sample it, but time in the kitchen is so precious and I can’t resist experimenting with new and adventurous ingredients; so the one that really grabbed me was pear, walnut and gorgonzola. So last night I made it, using Dolcelatte instead of Gorgonzola as I prefer the smoothness and creaminess of Dolcelatte (although it has a 50% higher fat content …oops); then the final flourish of adding chives. It was outstanding and my guest went so far as to give it ten out of ten, so whatever happens, DO try this at home!
1/4 tsp Coarse ground black pepper
6 small / 4 medium sized shallots sliced thinly
3 cloves of garlic, chopped fine
1 glass dry white wine
700g organic Arborio rice
500ml vegetable stock
Four medium or three large Conference pears coarsely diced.
150g Dolcelatte cheese
20 g freshly chopped chives
To start with, heat a heavy bottomed pan and coarsely grind some black peppercorns in to the dry pan. The heat will release their aroma which you then capture by pouring on a good glug of olive oil and frying the shallots and garlic for two minutes. Add the rice and stir really well to ensure all the grains are coated, then thrown in the pear and walnut, pour in the wine and stir again. Keep topping up the mixture with ladles full of hot stock, and stirring constantly on a lowish heat. Maintain this action for 15 minutes and at the 10th minute add the Dolcelatte. At the end, once you’ve taken it off the heat, add the chives and stir through, then serve with some steamed broccoli or fresh salad.