The Pacific Northwest was good to us last week.
The crisp air of autumn had not yet arrived in Florida and I found myself becoming more and more irritable as I kept seeing images of falling leaves and apple trees elsewhere as I continued to escape the excessive heat.
I needed a change and a trip to Seattle was just the antidote. This is a hard time of year for me because I become very nostalgic for the season I loved in my youth – its distinct spicy smells and the noise of crunching leaves under my boots. Silly and a bit romantic, I know, but so powerful in my spirit.
I was in Seattle to present my book to old readers and new friends. I walked in the cold rain in such happiness and so did Jon and Miren. We explored city parks (so many in Seattle!), went apple picking, took the ferry across the Sound, and ate lots of comfort foods.
It felt like home.
But just like that, when we returned home to Florida…
… autumn arrived.
The temperatures dropped overnight.
“It’s here!” Jon shouted. We opened the windows that had been closed for months and let the outside in. It’s a powerful thing.
We have been cooking nourishing and cozy foods everyday. A bit obsessed with pho ever since I had an amazing bowl in Seattle, I tried my hand a several versions. I cannot get enough at the moment.
And then there is this winter squash, prosciutto and sage risotto that I originally wrote for Anthropologie’s magazine. I have made it twice in the last few days and delicious risotto cakes with the leftovers.
Any winter squash will work: butternut, kabocha, red kuri, calabaza… All of those on my kitchen table at the moment. “Are you collecting pumpkins?” a friend asked. “They will be cooked or baked in matter of days. You will see”
I have a long list of recipes ahead of me and grand plans that involve squash.
As it should be.
I am very thankful for the good reviews Small Plates and Sweet Treats has been receiving. Here are some things friends and fellow bloggers have been saying…
oh, and some of them even share recipes from the book…
- Heidi shared a list of my favorite cookbooks with her readers
- Lara adapted the celery root and potato soup to make it her own (must try her version with cauliflower!)
- Nikki made the seeded bread and asked me cool questions
- Sara made some of my favorite cookies from my book – the Everything cookies
- Mayssam reviewed my upside down apple and olive oil cake
- Brian made the roasted beet, citrus and greens salad
- Fresh New England shared the recipe for hazelnut butter toffee and chocolate chip cookies
- Had a fun Q&A with Aimee
- I also cooked a brown butter-candied apple clafoutis on Seattle morning show New Day NW
- Dorie had kind words about my book on her list of favorite autumn cookbooks (i’m in good company!)
Winter Squash Risotto with Prosciutto, Sage and Lemon
Serves 4 To 6
Sage and Lemon-Infused Olive Oil
½ cup + 2 tbsp (155 ml) olive oil
8 sage leaves
2 tbsp finely chopped parsley
½ tsp lemon zest
Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a small sauté pan over medium heat. Add sage and let it infuse the oil. When the oil starts to form bubbles and the sage begins to curl, remove pan from heat and let cool for 10 minutes. Transfer the mix to a blender, add remaining oil, parsley and lemon zest, and blend until smooth. Strain the mix through a fine sieve and reserve.
1 lb (450 g) winter squash, peeled, seeded and diced into ½-inch cubes
pinch of salt and black pepper
6 slices prosciutto or Serrano ham
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large shallot, minced
1 medium leek, sliced (white and green parts)
6 cups (1.5 liters) chicken stock
1 1/2 cups (300 g) Arborio rice
1/2 cup (125 ml) dry white wine
1 ounce (30 g) Parmesan cheese, finely grated
1 ounce (30 g) mascarpone cheese
Preheat oven to 400°F (200C). Toss squash in a baking pan with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until tender and the edges start to caramelize. Remove pan from oven and reserve. Cook prosciutto until crispy in a non-stick pan over medium heat. Once cooled, chop, crumble and reserve prosciutto. Heat chicken stock in a pot over medium heat.
Heat another large-pot over medium heat. Add olive oil, shallot and leeks, and cook until tender (not brown), about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add rice and stir. Add roasted squash (reserve ½ c for topping) and stir. Add white wine and cook until it evaporates and is absorbed. Add 1 c of the hot stock and stir constantly until absorbed. Add another ladle of hot stock and stir. Repeat the process until the rise is cooked al dente, 20 to 22 minutes.
Remove pot from heat, add Parmesan, mascarpone, prosciutto and half of the sage-lemon oil. Stir until well incorporated. Serve risotto immediately, topped with roasted squash and drizzle of sage-lemon oil.