Let’s just say I’m the least timely person ever. I know Thanksgiving was almost two weeks ago but between my brother-in-law getting engaged and Bombay life in general, plus my knack for procrastination, this post comes late. But better late than never, right?
I was missing Thanksgiving at home and I wanted to do something to celebrate it here in Bombay. We had a bit of pumpkin lying in our fridge- not enough to make a pie, but after I boiled it and gave it a whir in the mixer, I had about 3/4 cup of puree*. I decided to make Rice’s mom’s squash rolls- these heavenly, buttery, barely sweet rolls that I used to inhale when at Rice’s house on the day after Thanksgiving. I had asked for the recipe two years ago but somehow never made these until yesterday- and I can’t believe I waited so long. I let the dough pouf up enormously, punched it a bit, shaped the rolls, brushed them with butter, let them rise once more, baked them until golden, and brushed them with butter once again. Warm, airy and meltingly soft, they were everything I remembered and more, which made them perfect for my first Bombay Thanksgiving.
So the rolls were something from America, something old, and we also made something new: mushroom risotto. Risotto is one of those dishes, like sushi, that Hrishikesh always wants to make. I didn’t understand the fascination- it’s rice, I always thought- but then we made this utterly delicious brown rice risotto that was so mushroomy it was magical; we could actually taste the stock, the butter and the woodsy bits of chopped mushroom in each lovely grain of rice.
*Making my own pumpkin puree was a bit of a revelation for me; for almost a year I’ve been missing the convenience of canned pumpkin before I finally figured out that it’s easy to make myself.
Rice’s Mom’s Pumpkin (Squash) Rolls
1 ⅔ cups of milk
2 ⅔ TBSP. butter
2 packets active dry yeast
½ cup warm water
1 tsp. salt
½ cup sugar
½ cup mashed winter squash (I used pumpkin)
6 cups flour, or enough for right consistency
1. Scald milk in double boiler. Add butter. Let cool.
2. In separate bowl dissolve 2 packets yeast in ½ cup luke warm water.
3. In a large bowl, mix yeast with flour, pumpkin puree, salt, sugar, and milk-butter liquid. Knead and cover. Let rise until double in bulk (about 1 hour or more).
1. Roll out dough, cut and arrange in buttered 10” pans.
2. Brush with melted butter, cover with cloth. Let rise until double in bulk (about 1 hour).
3. Bake at 400° until golden brown, about 15-20 minutes.
4. Brush with melted butter again while hot.
adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, by Deborah Madison
For the mushrooms:
2 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup finely sliced red onion
12 ounces white mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh thyme
For the rice:
1 handful various dried mushrooms (we used trumpet, chanterelle and oyster), soaked in hot water. Once soaked, chop the mushrooms and save the water.
5 1/2 – 6 1/2 mushroom stock (we used mushroom stock cubes…)
Water from the soaked mushrooms, and additional water as necessary (total stock + mushroom water+ additional water should be between 6.5-7 cups)
2 Tbsp. butter
1/3 cup finely diced red onion
1 1/2 cups brown rice (we didn’t use brown Arborio rice, just regular medium-grain brown rice)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup cream
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/4 cup chopped parsley
For the mushrooms:
Heat the butter and oil in a wide skillet, add the onion and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
Add the mushrooms, raise the heat, and saute until browned around the edges, about 5 minutes.
Add the garlic, season with salt and pepper and squeeze the lemon juice all over.
Sprinkle with fresh thyme, stir, turn off the heat and set aside.
For the rice:
Bring the stock + mushroom water to a simmer.
Melt butter in a wide pot, add onion and cook over medium heat to soften, about 4 minutes.
Add the rice, stir to coat, and cook for one minute.
Add the wine and simmer until it’s completely absorbed.
Add 2 cups of stock, cover, and cook at a lively simmer until it’s absorbed.
Add the dried mushrooms and begin adding the stock in 1/2 cup increments, stirring constantly until each addition is absorbed before adding the next one.
About halfway through, add the sauteed mushrooms.
Check the rice; since it’s brown rice, it takes longer to cook and might still be a bit chewy. After all the stock + mushroom water is finished, add plain water in 1/2 cup increments as necessary, until the rice is done to your liking.
After the last addition of liquid, add the cream and stir with more vigor. Taste for salt and season with pepper.
Stir in the Parmesan and parsley and serve hot.