Moving house in Venice is, as you might imagine, a little more “interesting”, shall we say, than moving house anywhere else. Crouching on the back of a boat, ducking under low bridges, trying to reassure an unhappy cat with one hand and to stop some your worldly possessions being swept into the canal by a low-hanging rosemary bush with the other…yes, it was an experience. Mainly a good one, so here’s a few pictures.
Well, we’re just about settled now, but some of those sprigs of rosemary survived the journey and I thought I should cook something with them to commemorate the occasion. So here’s a recipe for “Removal Risotto”.
Half a medium sized pumpkin, chopped and deseeded
One clove of garlic
Small stick of celery
Small handful of pine nuts (or chopped walnuts)
1/2 litre of chicken stock (vegetable will do)
Butter and Parmesan (and a parmesan rind if you’ve got one)
150g risotto rice (I’ll leave the variety up to you)
Salt, pepper, some sage leaves, and – ideally – some rosemary plucked from the overhanging bushes of a canal at the precise moment that the boat containing all your worldly goods passed underneath. Or, if you can’t manage that, some rosemary.
I managed to listen to the entirety of Pink Floyd’s “Meddle” and the first side of “Atom Heart Mother”…so about an hour.
- Make spritz. You know this by now. Set this to one side, but not for too long.
- Be careful when chopping up the pumpkin – put a towel under the chopping board, use a good sharp knife and mind those fingers. Put the bits (of pumpkin, I hasten to add) in a roasting tin with a good old slug of olive oil, some chopped rosemary and sage, and season and toss with salt and pepper. Cover with foil and put in an oven at 200C for 30 minutes.
- In the meantime, make a soffrito with the celery, garlic, pine nuts and onion. Add the rice and let it toast for a bit (I’m convinced this really does make a difference).
- Throw in some vermouth (we didn’t have any so it had to be white wine) and let it sizzle. Then start adding stock and make the risotto in the usual way. At this point I threw in a parmesan rind. I think it added a little savouriness, so – if you have one to hand – I think it’s worth doing.
- Cook until the risotto is just about done, stir in the roasted pumpkin, mantecare with some chilled butter and grated parmesan, take it off the heat and cover for two minutes. Then give it a good old stir and serve, with plenty of red wine on the side.
- Just a thought but – a teaspoon of chestnut honey works really well with this. It has to be chestnut, mind – any other kind will make it far too sweet. But that sweet/savoury bitterness of a chestnut honey will work really well to balance the sweetness of the pumpkin.
So there we go. I’m sure there were more interesting things that could have been done with the sprigs we salvaged, but this is now my “Removal Risotto.”
We’re settling in here. Most things are out of boxes now, we’re meeting people in the area and, I hope, are starting to make friends. Mimi found it a bit distressing at first – she’s not the best of travellers – but she’s settling down now and appreciates having more space for me to throw balls in.
And with that, it’s goodnight from me, and it’s goodnight from Mimì (who, like me, has never had a dishwasher before and is keen to investigate it…)