What to do behind Enemy Lines? (second date risotto)
First of all, thank you all for the kind response to my first blog. I hope all your first dates went as well as my first blog (special thanks to my readers in Latvia and Peru). And that you’re up for a second one. If you haven’t had the chance to read it just click here: First Date Pasta
When I was a little Dennis I used to dream about being a spy. I pretended to be James Bond whilst playing with my little brother and I was often sent to bed before dinner because I hit him to hard with my plastic guns. I think every little boy of my generation wanted to be Zorro, James Bond or Indiana Jones. Nowadays the kids aren’t interested in super spy’s anymore and the only moustache we will grow is because of Movember not because we are still dreaming of becoming a bandit from California.
So, how are my childhood dreams and beating the crap out of my younger sibling related to your second date? And when are we gonna talk about food? The characters above always ended up saving the world, fought against corruption, hooked up with a pretty lady or ladies in between, and were a gentlemen at the same time. Is being a gentlemen the key to success? It certainly is a factor but being prepared is the most important thing, they always had a plan, ‘And we love it when a plan comes together’.
Your first date was an easy date, you were cooking on your home turf. It was your own kitchen, music and war and then it’s easy to impress. Now you have to perform behind enemy lines and you don’t know what to expect. A woman’s kitchen is like a maze, behind every door there will be a new surprise and you will never find the tools you need. If you want to bake a pie you will have everything you need but finding a sharp knife will be almost impossible. It is possible that your your lasagna will explode in the microwave because she was sure it was an oven. So like James, Zorro and Indiana; be prepared and leave nothing to chance. Because your mission will be a difficult one already.
For the second date we will be cooking a pumpkin risotto. (This recipe is inspired by Jamie Oliver’s pumpkin risotto.)
Second Date Risotto
Cooking in a kitchen that is not your own is very difficult, even more with the pressure of ensuring the date will be a successful one. So if you have the chance to have a sneak peak in her kitchen, do it! Look for a good frying pan with a non-stick coating and the music installation. If she catches you; say you were looking for the fridge to make her some breakfast.. Or, just act odd, thats what we men do best. Why the music installation? You will like to play some good music while cooking your risotto. This recipe will take about an hour to cook so this tune will be will keep you entertained.
Tools and Ingredients:
Pack your backpack with the following (only if you’re not sure about her kitchen and yes, you will look masculine, because the kitchen tools are packed next to your Swiss army knife and ducktape):
- Frying Pan
- Baking dish (only if not present)
Ingredients (for 2):
- 1 white onion (sliced in dices)
- 1 red onion (sliced in rings)
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1 Pumpkin (medium seized)
- Celery (about two stems diced)
- Bacon (in slices)
- Some mixed (pumpkin) seeds
- Herbs (fresh thyme and sage)
- 2 spoons of mascarpone
- Parmesan cheese
- 200 grams of Risotto rice
- 2 bottles of white wine (one for the cooking, one to ease the nerves)
- 500ml of chicken stock
Ok let’s get started. The most important thing about this risotto is that we divide it into two halves. Firstly the pumpkin, secondly the basic risotto. We will start with the pumpkin first but don’t forget to be a gentlemen and pour yourself and your date a glass of wine.
Let’s pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius, make sure it’s an oven and not a microwave (I keep on saying that). If you don’t have an oven please comment below and I will send you the recipe in which I don’t use an oven.
Ok, let’s start with the pumpkin. (The first time I wanted to cook a pumpkin I started peeling the whole thing). It took me about an hour and I almost killed the pumpkin twice. But you don’t have to worry about that, because the great thing about pumpkins is that you can eat the skin. So slice the pumpkin into dices. The dices may be big, but it’s nice if you can fit them into your mouth and get rid of the seeds. Spread the dices evenly in a baking dish, together with some nice olive oil, the red onion rings and two cloves of garlic. Just squash the garlic beneath your knife blade and put them in. Don’t forget pepper and salt mix it together with your hands and put it in the oven for 25 minutes.
After 15 min you can start cooking your basic risotto. Risotto is tricky and in every cooking show around the world they will tell you something else. I believe the road to perfection with risotto is the frying pan, the heat under the pan and with that a little James Bond wisdom. When you use a good pan you just don’t have to stir the risotto, you simply have to shake it. Thus, it’s risotto shaken, not stirred. It will keep your rice intact and it will simply taste better.
But before we start shaking, you need to put your pan on a medium fire.Throw in some olive oil, the garlic (sliced), onion (white) and celery and just let it simmer for around 10 minutes. Make sure the fire isn’t to high, you don’t want to get any color on your veggies.
Reduce the fire on your veggies and get your pumpkin out of the oven. Lay down the bacon on top of the pumpkin. Also add the seeds and the sage and thyme. Before you add the seeds just mix it up with the herbs, salt, pepper and some olive oil. Then put it back into the oven for another 10 minutes.
Now you can add the risotto rice to your onions garlic and celery. Just stir it 3 or 4 times so every grain is covered with oil. Add some pepper and salt and let the rice bake for around 2 minutes. Make sure the fire is low and don’t let your rice burn. After the two minutes you can add 1 glass of wine, make sure it’s a big one. And then you start shaking, just gently move the pan until the wine is totally reduced. Then add the half of the chicken stock and start shaking again. Because of the non-stick coating in the pan the rice will not burn, but don’t put the fire to high, just play with it.
Your risotto is halfway done, so no you have to start finishing the pumpkin. The ten minutes are over, so get it out of the oven again. Make sure your pumpkin is soft and your bacon is getting crisp. If that’s the case put in the pumpkin in the oven for the last 5 minutes.
Back to the risotto. Every time the fluid is reduced just add a little bit of the stock. No big gulps just a bit at the time. Shake the pan and of course you might add an occasional stir to it. Make sure you keep on adding the stock until your risotto is almost cooked. So keep on tasting during the process. If your pumpkin is ready before your risotto. Just get it out of the oven. When you have reached the almost perfectly cooked risotto, add the bacon from to the rice. Just shake and then add the pumpkin and the seeds. Make sure your cloves of garlic don’t end up in your risotto. Add two table spoons of mascarpone and stir your risotto until it’s soft and creamy. Finally add some pepper and salt and a some Parmesan cheese. One last stir and shake, and you can plate up. Give yourself and your date a nice portion of pumpkin risotto and finish the plate with some drips of olive oil.
Dinner is ready. You have been stirring and shaking the whole time and whilst doing that, you have been entertaining your date like a real gentleman. So now it’s up to you to finish the date with some adventure, you may decide for yourself if you want to be James Bond, Zorro or Indiana Jones.