It's been a long time since my last post and the radio silence over the past few weeks and months was due to the fact that I had tons of exams and was burying my head in books... so much so that I didn't leave the house for weeks on end and forgot my father's birthday - and not ANY birthday, either, it was his 60th. No, don't say anything, I've had enough stick from everyone around me already and I will have to live with the repercussions of the whole incident for the rest of my life, so cut me some slack for now.
So that you don't think I am an entirely horrible person, I'll have you know that I DID realise my mistake out of my own accord and did NOT have to be prompted, I DID call him the morning after and he DID get a present - and I even sent my daughter on a surprise visit to his birthday celebrations (which I couldn't attend as I was writing my exam that day). I hope this went some way towards a reconciliation...
And if it didn't, I am planning on making this wonderful risotto for him: creamy indulgence, the sweetness of the chestnuts intensified by a drizzle of honey just before serving... I just know it's going to bring tears of joy to his eyes and it's a wonderful way to see out the winter (yes, I am hopeful that the sunshine we enjoyed last week was NOT our summer and that there's more, warmer days ahead of us).
I'm back in the kitchen now, despite another exam coming up at the end of May, but I have done some intense cooking yesterday and more to follow today - lots of recipes to share with you, including my first attempts at cooking Turkish and Bistro food out of my newest cookbook acquisitions - so hang in there!
Chestnutrisotto and a drizzle of honey*
(serves 4 generously)
2 small white onions
½ stick of celery
40 g butter
300 g risotto rice (I prefer vialone nano)
100 Noilly Prat or dry white wine
900 ml vegetable stock
10 chestnuts (roasted and peeled)
2 sprigs thyme
1 clove garlic (crushed)
20 g butter (ice-cold and cut into little cubes)
100 g parmesan
a drizzle of honey
If you can, prepare the chestnuts the night before so they soak in the aroma of the marinade.
Place the chestnuts in a pan on the stove, add the plucked leaves of thyme and the garlic, then cover with good-quality olive oil. Bring the oil to a simmer, leave to gently simmer for about 20 minutes (the oil must never get hot enough to brown the garlic), then transfer to a bowl and leave to cool. Rest, covered, overnight, if possible.
Chop the onions and celery very finely, melt the butter in a pan and fry onions and celery until softening without browning. Add the rice and stir for a minute, then deglaze with the Noilly Prat. Turn heat onto low and cook until the wine has almost evaporated. Add a third of the stock, cook until almost evaporated. Add another third and repeat the process. As you add the last of the vegetable stock, also add the ice-cold butter and 6 of the chestnuts, chopped.
Just before serving, stir in the parmesan and some of the scented oil. Use the remaining oil for a marinade or a dressing for a salad, with some lemon juice.
Decorate the risotto with the remaining chestnuts, chopped or whole to your liking, and as much of the thyme leaves as you can. Drizzle with some runny honey as you plate.
* Inspired by a recipe in Wienerin Food & Style, December 2008