Tales of food, sex and friendship




Posts Tagged ‘Pumpkin Risotto’

Roast Pumpkin Risotto

February 10, 2011


Risotto is so easy to make, if you have patience. This recipe normally makes Ana swoon but at a recent lunch with Marc, her heart just wasn’t in it. So make sure that when you tackle this you give it your all – and serve it up to someone you love!

One half Jap or Kent pumpkin (or about 500gms of any other pumpkin you like to roast)

2 cups Calasparra or Abrorio rice

2 shallots

2 cloves garlic

1 litre vegetable or chicken stock

75 gms butter

Olive oil

Pine nuts

Parmesan

Parsley

Cut the pumpkin into cubes, toss in olive oil and roast for about 25 minutes or until crisping at the edges. Make sure the pumpkin is soft all the way through – this is important for flavouring the risotto.

Melt the butter, adding a splash of olive oil so that it doesn’t burn. Finely dice the shallots and sautee in the butter, about 5-10 minutes or until softened. Add crushed garlic cloves and briefly stir through onion mix. Add the rice, ensuring all the grains are coated in the butter and oil and have started to become translucent. Pour about one cup of the stock over the rice mixture and turn to low heat. You don’t want the rice swimming in stock; you want it to gradually soak up the liquid.

Keep returning to the rice and adding more stock until it is almost cooked through. A good way to test is take a single grain and flatten it against a countertop with the back of a knife. It should break apart in a star if cooked properly.

While the rice is cooking, separate about half the roasted pumpkin. Start another pan on low heat, add some olive oil and cook a handful of pine nuts slowly for about 2 minutes or until toasted. Set aside.

When the rice is almost finished, throw in half the pumpkin and stir through, mashing it a little so it colours and flavours the rice. Add the toasted pine nuts, parsley, parmesan and salt and pepper to taste. For an extra bit of richness, stir through another 50 grams of butter or finish off with a dash of cream.

Serves two.

Season 1: Episode 11

February 8, 2011

Ana took a deep breath as she stood outside Marc’s door. She had been successfully avoiding him for weeks now – ever since she’d decided to get serious with Tom. Well, apart from the run-in by the elevator, of course. Replaying what he’d said later in her head, Marc’s words still hit a nerve a week later.

“What do you see in him?” he’d snarled. “He’s a boy scout. You need a real man, Ana. We both know he’s not right for you.”

This past week Marc had been attentive – too attentive – inviting her for lunch, sending her flowers to the office and to her home, and texting and calling at all hours of the day and night.

“We’ve got a really important job on,” she’d explained to Tom, barely able to contain her anger that she’d been forced to lie to him while Marc repeatedly phoned during a romantic dinner.

It’s ridiculous, Ana thought to herself as she stood outside Marc’s office, that I have to break-up with my married boss to be with my boyfriend.

She knocked on the door.

“Come in.”

Ana walked into the familiar office. She knew every inch of it.

She couldn’t look at his mahogany desk without remembering the way Marc would bend her over it, lifting her skirt with one hand whilst firmly gripping her breast with the other and pushing into her from behind. She remembered the first time it had happened. They’d been working late on a project. The tension between them had been palpable and, well, one thing had led to another. She had been wearing her most ‘sensible’ underwear that day and was mortified when Marc had pulled them off her and held them up with a bemused expression.

“Ana. Always full of surprises, aren’t you.”

From that day on she had made sure it was nothing but lace everyday. She became the Imelda Marcos of lingerie. She had changed so much of herself for him.

Ana looked at the photo on his desk of his wife, Nancy, and – as always – felt a pang of guilt. Shaking her head in remorse, she directed her attention at him.

“I was hoping we could have lunch today, Marc.”

He laughed. “You’ve come to your senses, then, have you?” Checking his watch he added, “I’ve got an hour free now. Let’s go.”

Ana inhaled deeply to calm herself. What had she ever seen in him?

* * *

Tom had been pacing outside the jewellers on Little Collins Street for about 15 minutes. He had told Ana that he had to fly to Sydney that morning for a week of client meetings, but there was something he wanted to take care of first, something he didn’t want her to know about. Tom had made a decision. He knew that he was probably being rash and impulsive, but he loved Ana and wanted to marry her. More than anything he’d ever wanted, he wanted to marry her! He beamed in delight at the thought. Pushing open the door to the boutique jeweller, he stepped inside.

* * *

Ana and Marc sat in silence in the small Italian café, tucked just off Little Collins Street. Ana had wanted to go somewhere where they wouldn’t run into anyone she knew. She pushed her pumpkin risotto around the plate. Marc had ordered it for her – without consultation. Ordinarily, she would have loved it: the sharp tang of Parmesan cutting through the sweetness of the pumpkin.

Marc ate hungrily, putting large forkfuls of risotto into his mouth. “Not hungry?” he asked putting his hand on her thigh.

She brushed him off and forced herself to eat a mouthful.

Grow some balls, she chided herself angrily, just tell him it’s over!

* * *

It didn’t take Tom long to pick the perfect ring. As soon as he saw the 1.25 carat brilliant cut diamond nestled in the simple platinum band he knew it was the one.

“And may I ask the lucky young lady’s name, Sir?”

Tom smiled as he thought of her.

“Ana.”

***

Marc had finished eating and had ordered himself an espresso.

Ana was folding and re-folding her napkin. “Marc,” she began nervously. “I don’t think that we should see each other any more… romantically.”

Marc stared at her, as though she was speaking another language.

“It’s just… I don’t think it’s fair on your family…”. She stammered on for a few more seconds as Marc sat there in silence, watching her with steely eyes.

Suddenly, he exploded. “Fair?” he hissed. “Fair? Well, you thought it was pretty fair when you were seducing me at the office drinks with my wife in the next room. You thought it was fair when I left my family on Christmas Day so I could come and fuck you. What’s changed, huh? Why is it now suddenly unfair?”

Ana looked around her, mortified. Thankfully the lunch rush had died down and the waiter was in the kitchen.

“I’ve just been spending more time with Tom and, it’s not fair on him either…” she whispered.

Marc grabbed her wrist, his eyes narrowing. “What’s not fair, Ana, is selling yourself short for a guy like that.” He let out a cruel laugh. “Is this punishment for the Maldives? Come on, Ana. We both know that you are never going to leave me. You can’t. You don’t know how.”

Ana shook her hand loose and shakily walked towards the door of the café, gulping huge breaths of air as she plunged into the street, wiping away tears. Seconds later, Marc followed her out.

She didn’t see Tom standing on the other side of the street, obstructed by a group of school children. But he saw everything.

***

At first, Tom didn’t understand what was going on. Why was his Ana having a fight with this man? Then he saw the man grab Ana and pull her into a passionate embrace, kissing her neck. At that point, Tom turned around and stumbled down the street.

He’d seen enough.

***

Ana used all her force to push Marc off her. Wiping her mouth, she felt back in control.

“Don’t ever do that again,” she said in a dangerously low voice.

Marc tried to grab her around the waist. She fended him off.

“Ana. Babe. I know, I’ve been neglecting you, and this is you punishing me. I get it. Look, why don’t I take you away for the weekend. I can make it up to you just the way you like.”

Ana looked at Marc, not even trying to conceal the disgust in her eyes.

“It’s over. I don’t want you to call me and I don’t want to see you.” She felt remarkably calm as she added, “Oh, and I quit. Effective immediately.”

***

Ana dialled Tom’s number as she left her office, a box of personal belongings under one arm. She wanted to arrange a time to tell him everything face-to-face. About quitting her job, about the idea of starting her own agency, and about Marc. For the first time in her life, Ana wanted to be completely honest with the man she loved.

Tom’s phone went to voicemail. She sighed, left a quick “Call me back. I love you” and hung up.

Ana felt a pang of melancholy when she remembered he’d left for Sydney that morning. Well, she thought to herself, I guess it will just have to wait until next week.

***

Standing on Little Collins Street, the engagement ring in his pocket, Tom stared at his phone, a message telling him Ana had called.

How could he have been such an idiot?