Wednesday, 13 May 2009

The Widow's Cookbook #2

After R died, some online friends had a collection so that I could buy bulbs to plant at his grave. In the event, they sent so much money that I could probably have covered the entire burial field with daffodils, so I spent a lot of it buying plants to create a small memorial garden in front of our house.

As I was putting in these plants one afternoon, a neighbour stopped by for a chat, and I explained what I was doing. "That's a lovely hydrangea," she said. "Did R like them very much?" "Ummm." I replied. "Actually, he hated them with a vengeance and always pulled a face when I suggested planting one in the past. So I thought I'd take advantage of the fact that he isn't here to argue to have one at last."
At which point she gave me a rather odd look and went on her way.

I have been taking a similar approach to my food lately, and have been eating things that don't bring back memories.
R was wonderfully non-picky about eating, and would happily tuck into most of my culinary efforts. But he wasn't at all keen on risotto, accusing it of being nothing more than a savoury rice pudding. And not in a good way, either. So I rarely bothered making them. I mean, who wants to spend 30 minutes stirring if there isn't going to be fulsome praise at the end of it?

I, on the other hand, love risottos. I received a posh bag of arborio rice and bottle of truffle oil for my birthday, the freezer is full of good chicken stock and the garden is starting to produce at last. So the choice for supper tonight was made for me.

I am particularly proud of my baby leeks. In early Autumn last year I found a pot of plantlets that for some reason hadn't been planted out. I put them in the greenhouse when the tomato vines came out, not really expecting them to do much. But they have done me proud this year.

So, the chopped leeks are softened with a little olive oil, then in goes the rice. Stir round until everything is nice and shiny. Add a glass of dry white wine or the first ladleful of hot chicken stock if feeling abstemious. Stir until absorbed.

Keep adding stock and stirring until the rice is just al dente. Throw in some leftover chicken and add a last ladleful of stock. When this is almost absorbed and the risotto is looking beautifully creamy, season with salt and pepper and add a good handful of freshly-grated Parmesan. Serve with the salad you made while the rice was cooking (you did remember, didn't you?), top with some chopped parsley and a generous splash of truffle oil. If you didn't receive any truffle oil for your birthday (and I do recommend that you put it on your list) a knob of butter would be nice too.

Tastes wonderful, but darned difficult to photograph satisfactorily.


  1. GR in DC14:53

    YUM - that sounds delicious!