food for thought

by michelle

Posts Tagged ‘butternut

leek, butternut and pea risotto with tarragon

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One of France’s fines herbs, tarragon is traditionally used with fish, chicken or eggs. Fragrant, bittersweet and with a mild anise flavour it shines in this vegetable risotto.

I like to make my risotto in a pressure cooker. To cook the rice, first toast it lightly in a good olive oil before adding double the volume of hot chicken stock and seasoning with salt. Cook at pressure for 7 minutes then release the pressure and open. If you prefer a different method, then go ahead and cook it your way. Meanwhile, in a heavy-bottomed pan heat some olive oil and fry a large finely chopped leek until wilted. Deglaze with some white wine and cook for a few minutes. Add cubes of butternut pumpkin and cook until they are just becoming tender. Add fresh or frozen peas and continue to cook a little longer then set aside. When the rice is done, add the vegetables to the rice along with ¼ – ½ a cup of finely grated parmesan, plenty of freshly ground black pepper and the leaves of 2 – 3 sprigs of fresh tarragon. Stir well to combine.


Written by michelle picker

April 24, 2019 at 12:12 am

stuffed poblanos

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Poblanos are mild chillies which originated in Puebla, Mexico. When dried they are known as ancho chillies and the fresh chillies are popular stuffed and roasted. Here’s my version.

Roast or barbecue 4-6 whole poblano chillies and 1 red pepper until they are softening and slightly charred. Meanwhile in a little oil fry 1 finely diced onion and 2 minced cloves of garlic until wilted. Add small cubes of butternut pumpkin (squash), ground cumin, dried oregano and salt to taste. Continue to cook, adding a little water if necessary, until soft. When the red pepper is soft remove the seeds, dice it finely and add it to the onions and pumpkin. Remove from the heat and add some fresh goat cheese and chopped fresh coriander (cilantro). Cut the poblano chillies in half and carefully scoop out the seeds. Lie the halves in an oven tray and fill them with the goat cheese mixture. Top them with grated cheese (something that melts easily) and sprinkle with pumpkin seeds (pepitas). Roast in a moderate oven until the seeds are browning and the filling is hot.

Written by michelle picker

April 3, 2019 at 12:18 am

garlic steak + miso pumpkin

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Japanese garlic steak. Need I say more?


Make some shallow cuts into each side of the steak and marinate in 45ml (1½ oz) of soy sauce, 1½ tablespoons of mirin (sweet cooking sake) and 2 crushed cloves of garlic for at least 20 minutes. When you’re ready to cook, heat a heavy pan (preferably cast iron) until smoking hot, smear a little oil onto the steaks and cook for 5 minutes or so on each side (for thinner steaks or ones without bones, cook for less time). Serve garnished with green onions.


I served my steak with miso grilled butternut. Cut your butternut into wedges, toss in a little oil and salt and bake in a hot oven until softening. Now heat your grill (broiler). Brush the squash with a mixture of 2 tablespoons of sesame oil, 1 tablespoon of mirin, 1 tablespoon of sake, 2 tablespoons of white or yellow miso and 1 tablespoon sugar and grill until caramelising.


Written by michelle picker

January 23, 2017 at 5:37 am

Posted in meat, vegetables

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butternut ravioli

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Filled with a sweet and savoury butternut filling, this pasta is enhanced with crisp sage, golden hazelnuts and butter.


Cut the butternut pumpkin into large wedges and place in a baking dish with 1 finely diced red onion. Season with salt, freshly ground black pepper, a grating of fresh nutmeg and some dried chilli flakes to taste. Roast in a hot oven until the pumpkin is soft and the onions quite brown. Remove to a bowl and add 2 tablespoons of hazelnut meal and 3 tablespoons of finely grated parmesan. Mix well with a fork until you have a coarse mash. You can fill your own fresh pasta or you can cheat (like I did) and use ready-made gow gee (round) or wonton (square) wrappers. It’s lovely thin dough which makes excellent ravioli. Place a spoonful of the butternut mix on each round of dough, being careful not to get it on the edges. Wet the edge of one round with water then press the other down firmly, making sure there is no air in the centre and that the edges are well joined. Place them on a floured plate until ready to cook. Meanwhile wash a generous handful of sage leaves and dry them with  a paper towel. Heat a large pot of water to a rolling boil and carefully lower the ravioli into the pot. Depending on your pasta, you will need to cook them for between 2 and 6 minutes until al dente, then drain. While they cook, heat 2-3 tablespoons of salted butter and toss in a few whole hazelnuts and the sage leaves. Fry until everything is browning and drizzle this mixture over your plated ravioli, along with some more freshly grated black pepper and some freshly grated parmesan.

Written by michelle picker

April 22, 2016 at 6:09 am