It’s hard to believe that Christmas is six weeks today! I usually don’t give much thought to Christmas until after my son Dan’s birthday on 27th November, but this year I’m much more organised (for both) and have already started my Christmas shopping – a lot of it thanks to QVC offers, to be honest. More on that later, when I tell you about my latest Today’s Special Value purchase, but I thought I’d start with a recipe today as I promised I would, and sometimes I run myself a bit short of time on a Friday morning.
Having been gifted some allotment-grown butternut squash by Dan’s girlfriend, Katie’s parents, I made a risotto and it was even more tasty than usual – here’s the recipe:
Butternut squash, sage and pine-nut risotto
- 300g of Carnaroli or Arborio rice
- 800ml vegetable stock (boiling water with 1 stock cube)
- 1 generous glass white wine
- Half a medium butternut squash
- 50g pine nuts
- 50g finely grated parmesan cheese
- 1 onion
- 1 clove garlic
- Bunch of fresh sage (approx. 20 leaves)
- 50g butter
- Olive oil
- Peel and deseed the butternut squash and cut into 1cm chunks. Place in ovenproof dish with a drizzle of olive oil and half the sage leaves finely chopped. Mix to coat the squash with oil. Place in oven at 200C for 30 mins.
- Chop the onion and press the garlic. Put the butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a wok or deep sided pan. Over a fairly low heat, melt then gently fry onion and garlic until translucent. Add the rice and stir until each grain is coated.
- Keeping the vegetable stock at a simmer, add 1 ladle to the rice mixture, and when absorbed add the glass of wine. When that is absorbed, add another ladle of stock. Add the roasted butternut squash and stir well, then continue adding stock as each ladleful is absorbed.
- In a small frying pan, dry fry the pine nuts over a low heat to toast them. When there is only one ladle of stock remaining, add the toasted pine nuts and the rest of the finely chopped sage to the risotto, then the remaining liquid. When that is absorbed, stir in half of the parmesan cheese and cook for a further 2 to 3 mins. The whole process should take around 25 to 30 mins.
- Serve with the remaining parmesan cheese sprinkled on top
I haven’t done a huge amount of cooking this week as I’ve been working every day except Tuesday, but I did do Tomato and Olive Pasta Penne and Cauliflower and Broccoli Cheese – both easy, no-recipe-required meals. I like to cook with fresh ingredients, but of course they are not suitable for the Reverse Advent Calendar, which is now starting to fill up nicely.
Thanks for your suggestions of some Christmas goodies in your comments on last week’s blog – mince pies, chocolate biscuits and sage & onion stuffing now bought and ready to add as the month progresses. Thanks again if you’ve also been inspired to do a box for your local food bank this year.
As well as being at QVC on Monday, I also had my next appointment with my physiotherapist, (brutal) Brittany, as she is based in Chiswick, where our studios are located. She checked on my progress and in her words was ‘very impressed’ – a massive accolade coming from her. She has changed some of my exercises to make them more challenging and given me a few new ones to work on before I see her in early December – apparently, if it isn’t ‘hurting’ it isn’t working!!! I’m probably halfway there in terms of my rehab and retraining of muscles that have been misused for years, but at least I’m moving in the right direction.
I also had my first Facetime call with my mum this week, using her part-time carer, Suzanne’s iPad. I’ve been trying to think of a way for Mum to be able to ‘see’ me and in particular my sister who lives in Scotland, but wasn’t sure whether Mum would be keen on trying to get to grips with the technology. She loved being able to see me and Chris, the garden and Wilfie while we were chatting, so we are going to do it more regularly once I’ve organised an iPad for her.
Speaking of Wilfie, he’s a very clean cat, always licking himself, which I guess is why his coat is so glossy. But climbing into the laundry basket might be a step too far even for him!!!
So to my QVC purchases: in the past week I’ve ordered three Molton Brown items, the Yankee Candle Today’s Special Value in Snow in Love (do let me know what you think of it if you ordered on my recommendation), yesterday’s Hotel Chocolat Today’s Special Value and today I’ve pre-ordered the L’Occitane Today’s Special Value.
I’ve gone for the Aromatic option, but it also comes in ‘Warm’ featuring almond, and in ‘Fresh’ featuring verbena. It is a 6 piece gift-boxed collection, which also comes with a separate tin for the bar of soap. Check out the website for more details but I think it’s an excellent offer at under £50.
You could also have a look at the Black Friday Event offers, which have gone live on our website today while you’re there. The event lasts until 29th November and there are some fabulous Christmas gift ideas.
So, after my three hours on-air today, I will be hurrying home for 8 p.m. to read you a few more chapters from my very first book, One Hundred Lengths of the Pool, which was not a novel, live on Instagram (juliagroberts) and my Facebook page (JuliaRobertsTV). My then publisher, Random House, had organised for me to sign the 5000 hardback copies to sell on QVC – I can’t begin to tell you how daunting it is to walk into a room and see that many books that all need signing!
Kathy Taylor’s husband took the front cover photo, but my husband took the photo of me for the back cover – quite proud of him actually! That was taken in 2012, not long after my CML diagnosis, so I was more than happy to keep my face out of shot with all the medication I was on. I’m sure many of us are missing our trips abroad, I know I am, but according to the weather forecast we could have 16 degrees in the UK this coming week… unseasonably warm, but I’m certainly not complaining.
I’ll see you next Thursday after a few days off, where I will mostly be making a start on writing my ninth novel along with more QVC shopping no doubt! Enjoy your weekend.