Still wearing pajamas, I locked myself out of the house today. That was around three o’clock in the afternoon. What can I say, the day started early and I never got around to getting dressed. I made two quarts of homemade yogurt and a pot of risotto, took almost two hundred photographs, and wrote ten sentences.

I looked through the rain streaked windows on the front porch. The houses across the street were damp and quiet and the push of cars uphill had slowed. I ran around the house through the mud in leopard print slippers and hoped that no one caught a pair of hot pink penguin pants running around the yellow bungalow on the corner.

As it turned out, the back door was unlocked. I removed my slippers and walked into the kitchen. Into the smells of roasted squash, homemade vegetable stock, and sweet stewed pears where I forgot all about the mud and the pajamas and the shower less morning(s).

Risotto turned this dark rain-soaked Sunday into a warm bowl of summer. Arborio rice simmered in dry white wine, caramelized onions, and homemade vegetable broth made with ginger, parsnips, carrots, celery, onions, garlic, cilantro, parsley, and black peppercorns with a light sprinkle of salt. When the rice was cooked, roasted kabocha squash, stewed pears, blue and Parmesan cheeses transformed the plain white risotto, which on its own is a thing of beauty, into salty sweet comfort.

squash pear & blue cheese risotto

The 2010 March Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by Eleanor of MelbournefoodGeek and Jess of Jessthebaker. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make risotto. The various components of their challenge recipe are based on input from the Australian Masterchef cookbook and the cookbook Moorish by Greg Malouf.

Risotto Base

4 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion (quatered)
1 3/4 cups risotto rice (Arborio, Carnaroli, Baldo, or Vialone Nano)
4 tablespoons white wine (I used 1/2 cup of dry white wine)
4 cups homemade vegetable stock (simmering)

1. Heat oil in a pan and add onion. Fry for a few minutes to flavour the oil then discard. (We diced ours and left it in as we like onion).
2. Add the rice and stir for a few minutes to coat each grain of rice with oil and toast slightly.
3. Add the wine and let it bubble away until evaporated.
4. Add enough stock to cover the rice by a finger’s width (about an inch or two). Don’t actually stick your finger in, it will be hot. Just eye it off.
5. Cook on medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon from time to time, until most of the stock has been absorbed.
6. Repeat Step 5 making sure to leave aside approximately 1/2 cup of stock for the final step.
7. Repeat, save 1/2 cup for the final stage.
8. Once you are at this point, the base is made. You now get to add your own variation.

Pumpkin Risotto

7 tablespoons unsalted butter (chilled and cut into small cubes)
3/4 cup pumpkin (I used 1 1/2 cups roasted and pureed kabocha squash)
1 tablespoon fresh thyme (chopped)
4 tablespoons Parmesan cheese (I used 1/3 cup of grated Parmesan)
(2-4 ounces artisan blue cheese, to taste)
(2 ripe pears, stewed in wine and water)
sea salt (to taste)


1. Melt half the butter in a saucepan. Add roasted kabocha, stewed pears, thyme, and salt. Cook on low until flavors are combined. Add salt to taste. Set aside.
2. Make the base up until the end of step 8.
3. Stir through the kabocha squash mixture.
4. Add the final 1/2 cup of stock and the remaining butter and stir until both are completely absorbed. Stir in the Parmesan and blue cheeses then salt to taste. Cover with a lid and let it sit for a few minutes.


  1. Audax says

    That is one beautiful looking risotto and the colour is outstanding superbly done. And I'm so glad you won't locked out for to long LOL LOL (hot penguin pants). It sounds like the whole experience of making this risotto was lovely and so homely. Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

  2. Angie's Recipes says

    I hate it when I locked myself out…really…and I start thinking to leave my neighbour one key in case that happened again. It costs 80Euro to get someone to open the door.
    Pumpkin risotto looks very comforting and delicious!

  3. Jenn says

    Pumpkin, pears and bleu cheese – what an awesome combination! I'm glad you were able to find a way back into your house, I've done that before and it's not fun!

  4. Chef Dennis says

    Risotto is wonderful, we had some last night with my homemade Turkey Crocquettes, with a little turkey gravy….yumm….
    Risotto is so versitile, and definitely helps fill you up;
    Great job with your recipe!!

  5. Rochelle says

    I could literally feel, smell, and see the day as you described it. I can imaging how much better the smells from the kitchen and the comforting risotto made you feel once you got back inside 😀

  6. sally says

    That risotto looks & sounds delicious … very funny story too about being locked out but at least you had that wonderful risotto to come home to.

  7. climbhighak says

    Excellent combination of flavors. I have a feeling that I will be making some version of this finished with blue cheese in the near future.

  8. Confession Nook says

    green with envy here..had to skip march daring cooks challenge as I couldn't find even a single grain of arborio or carnaroli or God knows what..

    but i made our version of "risotto" which is called Arozcaldo"..yum!

    yours look fantabulous!

    thanks for dropping by at my site..=)


  9. Mary says

    It's hard to beat your risotto. You did a wonderful job with a great challenge. It sounds as though you've recovered from a day that had a few low points. I love your blog and will be back often.

  10. Cottage Cozy says

    How funny…I have done the same thing…but the last time I did it their was a roofing crew at my house putting on a new roof. Talk about embarrassing…I had to use one of their cell phones. The back door was not unlocked! lol

    The risotto looks divine!

    Fondly, Carrie

  11. Cottage Cozy says

    Just wanted to let you know that I signed up to follow your lovely blog. I look forward to keeping up with your posts!

  12. bake in paris says

    Pumpkin risotto looks delicious, and I like adding pears into it. Yummy…

    Sawadee from Bangkok,

  13. SashaInTheKitchen says

    I adore making risotto. It's my husband's speciality though :) You made this classic dish look beautiful with a nice pumpkin twist. The color is perfect. gorgeous!

  14. Lisa says

    I loved reading your lockout story because the ending was so perfect. Back door open – yummy, cozy warmth and scents..YES! Been there, done that, except I had to literally slide my arm through a window open a crack to lift it, and then squeeze myself in LOL

    Your risotto looks beautiful and I'm drooling at the thought of squash, pears, blue cheese and caramelized onions. WOW, great flavor combo!

  15. Nic (Wheeling Gourmet says

    Looks very good indeed! I have a packet of "risotto rice" (not arborio) in the pantry, and a butternut squash as well. Hmm. I was wondering what to do for dinner, I might just have to make some risotto :) Thank you for the idea.

  16. Carole says

    Great to meet you at Sarah's tonight! I am so psyched to try this risotto this week – I thought I had made every risotto know to (wo)man! But this is new and looks DELICIOUS! I will check your blog regularly now. Thanks for sharing! :) Carole, mom of princess and the frog

    • says

      Carole- It was really great to meet you and your family as well and thanks for stopping by. Hope to see you again soon and this risotto is definitely one to add to your collection!


  17. Carole says

    So glad to know about your blog. I will def check it out all the time now and can't wait to make your pumpkin risotto this week! Great to meet you tonight! Carole, Sarah's friend and mom of princess and the frog

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