Risotto and Writing a Cookbook

I don’t know exactly what this blog will look like in terms of content in a few months, but I know that the main reason I am starting it is that I need to practice writing recipes.  I don’t cook with them really, so by forcing myself to blog about what I’m cooking and put up the “how to,” I will make a new habit, a habit of consistency.  

I’m writing a cookbook, mostly as a fun and cheap gift to give to friends and family.  Actually, I’m expanding on and changing a cookbook that I wrote two years ago – I only made three copies because I wrote it by hand and it took forever.  This one will not be hand-written.  

But here’s the thing – I don’t really like cookbooks.  I guess its more that I love cookbooks to look at and read and think “mmmmm” but I abhor cooking with them.  So it feels a bit strange to write one out, and try to put the kind of cooking that I love to do into such a rigid and final form.

I used to want to be a writer.  Not necessarily of cookbooks.  But not necessarily not of cookbooks.  I have two other books.  One which is finished and sold, but will sadly probably never see the light of a printing press, and another which I haven’t been able to finish, despite working on it intermittently for over two and a half years.  So, of course, instead of finishing that second book, the one which someone might actually want not only to buy but to publish and sell – I’m starting a cookbook which I will photocopy and possibly staple-bind.  Hallelujah.  


Taking a break from the “Table of Contents.”  Surrounded by “recipes” which don’t really look like recipes at all, more just a list of ingredients that I could somehow put together into a singular delight… I’m trying to decide, do I include the carrot soup that I made with ginger or the carrot soup that I made with peanut butter?  Pumpkin Gnocchi or Pumpkin Risotto?  Stuffed peppers?  Stuffed Squash?  Tofu Burger?  Black Bean Burger?  I’ll have to decide.  And then I’ll have to figure out a way to turn these lists of foods into actual quantifiable and follow-able recipes.  

The idea is a “four seasons” cookbook, with foods that lend themselves to a specific time of year, but maybe the idea of cooking seasonally has been totally lost now that people shop at supermarkets which feature jicama, and watermelons in November… 

Here is a risotto I made for some friends.  No one had ever had risotto before, and they didn’t understand why it was taking me so long to cook it, but once I got it on the table they finally figured out what they had been missing all along!  Well worth the long cook-time.

Pumpkin Risotto:

  • 1 1/4 cups fresh pumpkin, diced
  • 2 cups vegetable bouillon
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • Olive oil
  • 3/4 cup arborio rice
  • Parmesan cheese 
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  1. Cook pumpkins in simmering water 2-3 minutes until tender, then drain. 
  2. In a small pot, bring the stock and water to a simmer.
  3. In a saucepan, saute the onion in olive oil over medium-low heat until its soft and translucent. 
  4. Add rice, stir & cook for 1 minute. 
  5. Add 1 cup of the stock & water and simmer until all the liquid is absorbed, stirring often (or continuously). 
  6. Continue this process, adding 1/2 cup liquid at a time until the rice is tender (15-20 minutes). 
  7. Stir in pumpkin, cheese, and butter.  Season w/ salt and pepper, and serve warm.

3 Responses to “Risotto and Writing a Cookbook”

  1. 1 Sarina November 13, 2008 at 4:59 pm

    Wow. It’s just about dinnertime and that photo is making me salivate. I wish you luck with the cookbook. I think you’re off to a great start. Maybe you’ll get THIS one published.

  2. 2 Susan November 24, 2008 at 9:56 am

    I’ve made risotto a few times, and I get better at it each time. I think I might try this one. I’m sure writing recipes is tough, but….I assume you use the olive oil to saute the onions? And I’ve always stirred it pretty much the whole time–your recipe doesn’t include much stirring. And I think most people will prefer to substitute canned pumpkin for the fresh. At least that’s what I’ll do.

  3. 3 capri November 24, 2008 at 10:26 am

    Susan, yes thank you for your comments! Those are the exact kind of helpful criticisms I am so desperately in need of as I go through these dishes and write them into recipes! I have updated the post to reflect your suggestions, and will change it in my cookbook as well.

    I have never cooked with canned pumpkin, so I don’t really know how to use it, but I would assume that the consistency of canned pumpkin is softer than that of fresh, so it probably only needs to be blanched for a few seconds so it is heated, rather than cooked to get tender. Maybe not though.

    Also, in stirring, I have found at least in my own kitchen, that there is a strange VERY fine line between not stirring enough or stirring too much, and when I stir consistently usually my risotto comes out too mushy. My method, which I’ll admit I picked up from watching “Molto Mario” is to stir initially, then let it sit for 1 minute, then stir another 3-4 minutes, then off for a minute, and so forth. The result is usually a perfectly creamy risotto that isn’t quite as mushy.

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