Food for thought…

Like so many Sydneysiders, this long weekend was spent relaxing. I slept late, finished a compelling book (Columbine by Dave Cullen for those of you interested – I highly recommend it), started a new and equally intriguing book (The Engagement by Chole Hooper), expanded ones mind with a bunch of Festival of Dangerous Ideas talks, took a trip to the NSW Art Gallery to check out the Eugene Atget exhibition, watched footy, drank cider, ate great food etc etc. All that relaxing was a tad exhausting to be honest!

I’ve got to say though, my highlight was the Festival of Dangerous Ideas. The fact it is held at the Opera House in Spring just makes it all the more appealing. It is such a spectacular space, both inside and out! The Festival had a great range of speakers this year and my pick for best in show was definitely Tim Harford who talked at length about making more mistakes. Failure is something I think we all struggle with (god knows I’ve had my fair share, culinary and otherwise!) but he was strongly encouraging a rather receptive audience to take more chances, make more mistakes, learn from them and move on. As someone who works in public policy, this was music to my ears!

All that thinking and listening tuckered me right out and didn’t leave much time or energy for creative cooking. Perfect opportunity to rediscover old favourites I say! I can’t take the credit for this recipe, it’s my version of a Donna Hay number and well worth sharing. It is quick, easy and best of all a little bit different. Not radically so but enough to make dinner interesting. Plus it uses sage which I have fallen utterly and completely in love with.

Pumpkin, sage and blue cheese risotto (serves 4)

  • 10gm butter
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1/2 kg pumpkin, chopped into 2cm cubes
  • 2 cups arborio rice
  • 1L chicken stock
  • 100gm danish blue cheese (or other mild blue)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped sage
  • Lots of cracked pepper
  • 2 handfuls of baby spinach or rocket to serve
  1. Heat a large fry pan over medium heat and melt the butter. Saute the onions until translucent before adding the white wine.
  2. Add the arborio rice and stir until all the liquid has been absorbed.
  3. Add the pumpkin and 1 cup of the stock. Stir until the liquid is absorbed. Continue to add the stock slowly, stirring regularly and making sure all the liquid is absorbed before adding more.
  4. Once most of the stock has been absorbed, crumble in about 3/4 of the cheese, cracked pepper and sage and stir through. Add the remaining stock and stir through.
  5. Serve with the baby spinach or rocket and the remaining cheese.