My friend Judy Witts Francini aka Divina Cucina is another local Bay Area girl, a San Francisco pastry chef who has been cooking, living, and teaching cooking in Italy for the last 30 years. If you're going to Italy, Judy's the person to get in touch with for classes, culinary tours, and anything you might want in food and wine. Very often late at night California time and early morning back in Florence, Judy and I text each other and talk food, and Italy. She happens to live in a village outside of Florence and buys her olive oil from Mrs. Gori of Villa Il Pozzo one of the Gori ancestral homes.
Butternut Squash Risotto
Here's What You Need:
1 Butternut squash
1 shallot, or 1 garlic clove thinly sliced
1 small piece of ginger, peeled and minced
1 cup of peeled and cubed Butternut squash
1 tsp toasted crumbled saffron
1 cup arborio rice
2 cups water
1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
Here's What To Do:
Cut the butternut squash into cubes and set it aside.
Thinly slice one shallot, or if you prefer, 1 garlic clove.
Peel and slice a 1 inch piece of ginger and chop it finely.
Set all of it aside.
Measure out 1 cup of arborio rice and a tsp of saffron.
Heat 1 Tbs of olive oil in a pot, swirl it around so that the bottom of the pot is coated in the oil.
When the oil is hot, toss in the ginger and shallot or garlic.
Stir everything around until the shallot or garlic is translucent, and starting to brown.
Add in the toasted crumbled saffron.
Stir it around so that it is coated with saffron, ginger, and shallot or garlic.
Add in the arborio rice and stir it around until it is hot to the touch.
Pour 2 cups of water into the mixture in the pot.
Bring it to a boil, then cover the pot, and turn down the heat.
Let everything cook for about 14 minutes. The water should be absorbed by then.
Stir the rice for the first time, then add in about 1/2 cup grated Parmesan...
...and another 1/2 cup of water and start stirring for real. The stirring will give the risotto a creamy texture without actually adding any cream.
Check for salt and add what you feel it needs.
Place it into individual bowls.
And get ready for the balsamic vinegar.
I always use Barrel Aged Balsamic from Sonoma Harvest.
Shave a bit of aged Parmesan over each serving.
Then drizzle a bit of aged balsamic over that.
Serve it up, and Florentine dinner is on the table.
My ancestors couldn't have enjoyed anything better. Poking around in a bunch of family documents I read about a dinner given by one of the Goris and among the guests was The Sforza Duchess, and some Medicis. I don't know if this was on the table, but it should have been. Coming up next, a return to Indian food, I meet the champagne of Basmati Rice, and more clean eating for a clean New Year! Follow along on Twitter @kathygori