So long, Winter Solstice. Thanks for swingin’ on by. In the week leading up to this darkest night of the year, not all things were doom and gloom on my end and I had many things to be thankful for. For starters, how could you not be thankful for a video clip like this. Gold.
Firstly, I finally found fabric for my wedding dress, which turned out to be a little more arduous than anticipated. Who knew how little variety there would be available here in Australia. I even had my jet-setting mother keeping an eye out on her travels through France and Spain. Fortunately in the end it was an Australian service that came to the rescue: to the wonderful staff at Tessuti in Flinders Lane, I thank you.
Secondly, my beautiful and generous friends in Geelong invited my partner and I over for dinner before offering us their old slow combustion oven that they no longer use and knowing very well how handy a second fireplace can be in a cold miner’s cottage. It was installed the following day at the country house. Friends, I thank you.
Thirdly, there was a mid-week dinner to celebrate Jess’ grandmother’s 89th birthday with the end of the evening revolving around singing, dancing and some pretend maraca shaking. Peter Allen, I thank you.
Fourthly, I had the pleasure to meet Luca Currado of Vietti winery at a trade tasting with back vintages of their Barolo Villero. As a brilliant story teller, Luca’s stories had me entertained and his wines had me captivated. I was transfixed by the 2001 vintage and impressed by the longevity of the 2006. Luca, I thank you.
Fifthly, I was able to treat my beautiful friend Susannah to a birthday lunch and dessert in Carlton. It’s the simple things.
Sixthly, I trialled a new recipe based and it came out beautifully sweet and creamy using Nonno’s home-grown Jap pumpkins. Adjusted recipe below. Nonno and Antonio Carluccio, I thank you.
Serves 4 entree
Extra virgin olive oil
4 sprigs rosemary
2 garlic cloves
The flesh of 1 small Jap pumpkin, chopped into very small chunks
1 small onion, finely chopped
300g risotto rice (Arborio or canaroli)
1L chicken stock, heated
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a tray, toss the pumpkin lightly with extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and lay some sprigs of rosemary over the top. Bung that in a hot oven for 20 minutes or until soft.
Drain away the excess water from the pumpkin and mash the mixture roughly with a fork if not soft enough.
In another large pan, heat half the butter and gently fry the onion until soft.
Add the rice and stir-fry for a few minutes.
Add a little of the chicken stock and then the mashed up pumpkin mixture.
Add more stock until it is all used and absorbed by the rice, stirring from time to time to avoid sticking to the pan. If you’re more confident with your quantities, add all the stock and have a glass of wine instead while you wait.
When all the stock is absorbed, take off the heat and beat in the remaining butter and the Parmesan and sprinkle with chopped parsley for a fresher flavour.