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Butternut Squash and Vanilla Risotto


4 cups vegetable broth

1 large vanilla bean

3 cups peeled cubed (1-inch wide) butternut squash,
about 12 ounces

2 tablespoons butter, plus 1 tablespoon

3/4 cups finely chopped onion (from 1 onion)

1 1/2 cups Arborio rice or
medium-grain white rice

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives


In a medium saucepan, warm the broth
over medium-high heat. Cut the vanilla bean in half lengthwise. Scrape out the
seeds and add them, and the bean, to the broth. When the broth comes to a simmer reduce the heat to low. Add the butternut
squash to the simmering broth and cook
until tender, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted

spoon remove the butternut squash to a side dish. Turn the heat on the
broth down to very low and cover to keep warm.

Meanwhile, in a large, heavy saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until tender but not brown, about 3 minutes. Add
the rice and stir to coat with the butter. Add the wine and simmer until the wine has almost completely

evaporated, about 3 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of the simmering
broth and stir until almost completely absorbed, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking the rice, adding the broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and
allowing each addition to of the broth to absorb before adding the next, until
the rice is tender but still firm to the bite and the mixture is creamy, about
20 minutes total. Discard the vanilla
bean. Turn off the heat. Gently stir in
the butternut squash, Parmesan, the remaining tablespoon of butter, and salt. Transfer the
risotto to a serving bowl and sprinkle with chives. Serve immediately


Porcini Chicken Risotto


1/2 pound fresh wild mushrooms,
such as porcini, shiitake or chanterelle

1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 large onion, diced

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon chopped garlic

1/4 cup brandy

1/2 pound Arborio rice

1 bay leaf

4 cups chicken stock or
canned broth, warm

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese


Wipe the fresh mushrooms clean with
a damp paper towel. Break into bitesized pieces and reserve. Soak dried porcini
in enough boiling water to cover for about 1/2 hour, or until pliable. Drain
them, reserving the soaking liquid, and rinse mushrooms under running water.
Chop into bitesized pieces and add to fresh mushrooms. Strain soaking liquid,
add to stock and set aside.

Heat oil and butter in a large saucepan over medium low heat. Cook onions with salt and pepper
until soft and translucent, 7 to 10 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until
aroma is released, about 1 minute. Add mushrooms and saute until golden. Add
brandy, turn heat to high, and scrape bottom of pan with a wooden spoon to
release brown bits.

Light alcohol with a match. When
flame subsides, add rice and saute until slightly colored, about 1 minute. Add bay
leaves and 1/2 cup stock. Bring to a boil,
reduce heat to medium, and cook until near dry.

Once the liquid is evaporated,
briefly saute rice. Then, add stock 1/2 cup at a time, constantly stirring with
a wooden spoon until absorbed. Repeat procedure, stirring constantly and
briefly sauteing between additions, until all stock has been absorbed. You must
constantly stir while cooking rice. When done, the rice should be glazed
outside and soft throughout. It takes approximately 20 minutes to add all the
stock. Stir in Parmesan cheese.
Serve immediately.