This is the time of year I love. I love being able to pull on woolies and to feel cozy and warm. Especially at night when outside it is much chillier and I can cozy up with my magazines, a good book, DVD or on the rare occasion when there is something worth watching on the TV. I feel so happy at this time of the year.
However I do miss being at home. I don't miss the rain and grey skies, but I do miss beautiful colours of the trees and the build up to Christmas, which will now be well under way at the moment. Here of course there is no Christmas, but there are signs of some places cashing in on the ex pats love of this time. Not too much, but a hint of the commercial side of this holiday.
One thing I love to do on these cooler nights is to get back into the kitchen and start cooking some homely warming dishes. Often in summer it is just too hot to put the cooker on. Hard to believe I know but can be the case.
So not quite cold enough for stews and thick soups, but I have made a few delicious soups and look forward to a nice big stew cooking away all day in the slow cooker. I love the smell when I come home and the house and is filled with a nice aroma of supper. I think smells are the one thing that stimulates the brain most. Smells can transport me back into my Gran's kitchen, to Mum's kitchen on baking day and even back to the school dining room. All very evocative of good times. Great memories all prompted by the smell of cooking.
Anyway it was a creamy risotto I turned to this week. A nice comforting dish to be had any time of the year. But as the mushrooms were looking so good at the market this week a risotto seemed the obvious dish.
I used to be afraid of attempting risottos, but once you make a few then you realise just how easy it is.
I cannot buy arborio rice here but with so many choices I chose one which looked much like the one I use at home. I knew as long as I could get the starch out of it then I would be fine.
A splash of oil, a finely chopped onion, a small glass of wine and some gently boiling stock was all I needed.
I gently sweated the onion before adding the rice. I stirred to coat it in oil the added the glass of wine and stirred until it evaporated. I then started to add the stock a cup at a time all the while stirring gently, coaxing it into a nice creamy dish. There should still be a bit of a bite in the centre of the rice, so constant tasting is essential.
I fry the mushrooms in a splash of oil and knob of butter. I also season them well with salt and pepper. Once the rice is ready I season it then add the cooked mushrooms. Mixing it all together.
To finish off I sometimes add a handful of grated parmesan, or to make it a really special and extra creamy a spoonful of marscapone will do the trick. This is for special suppers only, not for mid week nights.
So soon we were tucking into a nice bowl of risotto and of course nothing to do but drink the rest of the wine which I had used to cook with. We both enjoyed it. The mushrooms were really earthy and delicious. A very satisfying supper indeed.