The sunshine belies the change of season. I’m clinging on to the last rays of sun, the last days of warmth in the air. I’m walking around the park at lunchtime to break up my work day. Since I started working from home, I have had the intention of getting up early and walking in the park for an hour before I started work. Instead, I have been getting up early and lingering over coffee and writing.
My head is clear in the mornings and that hour before I begin my official work is precious. I write and savour a breakfast that in the old normal, I would be rushing through because I was always running late. By lunchtime, though, I need a break and spend an hour in the park to clear the fog.
The days are getting noticeably shorter. Soon, I will be writing in the grey of early morning and making my way around the park as the trees shed their leaves. The transition always unsettles me. When I close my laptop at the end of the day, there is comfort in the ritual of cooking something seasonal. Risotto is a signal that the air will soon have a sharper edge. Jumpers will be pulled out of wardrobes and layers will increase. But a creamy, buttery risotto reminds me that as autumn beckons, so do mash and gravy dinners, comforting stews and soups that make rainy days and grey skies almost worth it.
15g dried mushrooms, soaked in 300ml hot water for 30 minutes
150g fresh girolle (or any mushrooms you have), roughly chopped
½ onion, finely diced
150g arborio rice
1 small glass white wine
20 g butter
Vegetable or chicken stock
Chives to garnish
In a large pan, add a glug of olive oil and the onions and sauté until soft.
While the onions are softening, drain the liquid from the mushrooms into a pan and add water or vegetable or chicken stock to make it to one litre and keep on a low flame.
When the onions are soft, add three quarters of the mushrooms and cook for a minute. Add the rice, stirring so that it is covered in the oil and glistens. Cook for about two minutes. Add the wine, stirring until it is absorbed.
Add the stock ladle by ladle, stirring the risotto continuously. Wait until one ladle has been absorbed before adding the next. It should take about twenty minutes.
When the last ladle has been added and the risotto is a smooth, gloopy texture. Turn off the heat and stir in the cheese and leave to rest.
Melt the butter in a small pan and add the remainder of the mushrooms and a small clove of finely chopped garlic. Sauté for a couple of minutes until the garlic begins to colour and stir through the risotto.