Instead of a starter when I have people over I like to serve nibbles… it takes the pressure off in that I don’t have to make lots of things plus if dinner runs late people don’t go hungry.

I served some really bright green olives, sourdough bread, mozzarella and some beautiful figs.


Before the main event and my new favourite thing… risotto!

You need;
2 pints stock (chicken, or vegetable) note that if you don’t have fresh buy the best cubes you can find
2 tbsp olive oil
knob of butter
1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
½ head celery, trimmed and finely chopped
400g risotto rice
2 wine glasses dry white wine
1 small butternut squash, cut into bite sized cubes
salt and freshly ground black pepper
70g butter + more for sage leaves
handful of fresh sage
115g freshly grated Parmesan cheese
150g mascarpone cheese to serve


1. You need to roast the squash pieces first, peel and cut your squash and put in the oven for 30-40 minutes, coat in a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

2. Heat the stock.

3. Put the oil and butter in a saucepan, add the onion and garlic and cook very slowly for about 15 minutes without colouring… This is called a soffrito. You want everything to go translucent.

4. Then add the rice and very briefly lightly fry until the edges go a little translucent. Add the wine and keep stirring – it will smell fantastic.

5. Once the wine has cooked into the rice, add your first ladle of hot stock and a good pinch of salt. Turn down the heat to a simmer so the rice doesn’t cook too quickly on the outside.

6. Keep adding ladlefuls of stock, stirring and massaging the creamy starch out of the rice, allowing each ladleful to be absorbed before adding the next. This will take around 15 minutes.

7. Taste the rice to check if it’s cooked. If not, carry on adding stock until the rice is soft but with a slight bite.

8. When the rice is nearly cooked, and just before you add the final ladleful of stock, stir in the butternut squash. Remove from the heat and add the butter, and parmesan.

Season now to your taste…


Put a lid on the pan and allow to sit for 2 minutes so it gets all creamy. Meanwhile quickly heat up a big knob of butter and fry your sage leaves until it starts to brown.

Serve your risotto with the sage leaves on top and add a cool dollop of mascarpone on top, let it melt into the hot rice… its amazing trust me.


I served this with a beautiful kale salad, which I will have to share with you soon!

 And my second favourite thing about having friends to dinner? Leftovers! Figs and mozzarella and honey. Yum.



A really good Risotto

June 18, 2010

So for Date Night this week the Boy was cooking, and he made a risotto we eat a lot.
Mostly because it’s actually quite healthy (spinach and mackerel are both super foods!) and relatively low calorie for a risotto… but really because it’s sooo tasty!

You need;
1 tbsp butter
1 onion , finely chopped
250g risotto rice
100ml white wine
1l vegetable stock
1 x 240 pack smoked mackerel
2 spring onions , sliced
100g bag fresh spinach

As it was Date Night and we weren’t trying to be healthy the Boy chucked in loads of shaved parmesan as well, which was made it even better…

Believe it or not I have never made a risotto, whenever we eat one it’s the Boy who cooks them, they are one of my favourite things to eat at home with some wine in front of a movie, as there no fuss in eating them, you just spoon it until it’s gone.

So while he cooked I just buzzed around him with the camera… and lit some candles

Heat the butter in a large frying pan and fry gently for 5 mins until soft.
Stir in the rice until coated in the butter, then pour in the wine and let it bubble until it’s almost all disappeared.

Pour in half the stock, and stir, then leave to gently cook for 10 mins.
Add half of the remaining stock, stir again and cook for 5 mins more.
Keep adding stock and stirring until the rice is tender.

Peel the skin off the mackerel, scrape away any dark brown flesh, then flake.
Stir into the rice with the spring onions and spinach, then cook just until the spinach has wilted slightly.

Serve straight away with lots of black pepper, parmesan and a big glass of Chardonnay!