mushroom and parsley risotto

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I sometimes think that risotto is one of the most versatile dishes I know. Almost anything can be put in with the rice, and a delicious dish will always be the result. With a bit of time spare at the weekend, you can really put in the effort to create something amazing. For example, roasting vegetables and garlic in olive oil, and then taking effort to infuse the risotto rice with Moroccan spices, before combining the two for a dish full of colour and flavour. Or, say, a sweet potato and rosemary risotto – taking time to whizz up the sweet potato in a blender for a brilliant bright orange colour. Maybe, if you’re going to roast vegetables and garlic, you’d like to roast tomatoes to complement the earthy flavour of a turmeric-yellow risotto. Just to name but two examples. If you’re interested. But just as easily, within 20ish minutes, you can add mushrooms, tease out and enhance their flavour with parsley, and have a satisfying dinner.

Ingredients

  • Button mushrooms, to taste, halved
  • Arborio risotto rice, approximately 100g per person
  • 250ml hot vegetable stock per person
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely sliced
  • Grated cheddar cheese, to taste
  • Knob of butter
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil

Method

  1. Heat in a large saucepan a little olive oil with some butter, and add the risotto rice. It is important to remember that the size of the pan must reflect the amount of rice – keeping it on ‘one level’ during cooking ensures half doesn’t out-cook the rest! This means you will have an evenly cooked meal. Stir the risotto rice in the oil and butter continuously, until the edges of each grain become slightly transparent.
  2. Add the sliced garlic, and fry until it smells aromatic. Then, add a ladle of hot stock, and stir. It is incredibly important to add the stock gradually – as it is added, it is absorbed by the rice, cooking it. If it is added too quickly, it will evapourate away but the rice may remain slightly raw. DSCF7055
  3. Half way through adding the stock, stir in the mushrooms, and sprinkle with the parsley. They will cook in the stock, and will darken in colour and reduce in size. Keep adding the stock to the mushrooms and the rice. As it is added, it should begin to form a small sauce, and the rice should be tender but with a slight ‘bite’ in the centre. Add another ladle of stock as the previous one is absorbed almost fully – if you run out of stock, just use boiling water. This process should take around 20 minutes.
  4. Keep on the heat for 5 minutes more to ensure it is all warmed through. Risotto is not meant to be thick, but creamy and spill onto the plate – if yours is too stodgy, add a little more hot water.
  5. Once the risotto is cooked, take it off the heat, add a knob of butter, and place a lid on the pan. Leave for 2 minutes, and add the grated cheddar.
  6. Leave the risotto with a lid on again for around 5 minutes, to allow the flavours to combine, absorbing the butter and cheese for extra ‘ooze’.
  7. Pour the risotto into a deep bowl. Drizzle a little oil over the top, if it needs further breaking up to ‘ooze’. Season, top with a little more parsley, and serve.

 

Guest Post: Jan’s stuffed turnips in red pepper sauce

During the Christmas holidays, I had a two week internship at delicious. magazine. Whilst there, I managed to get hold of a Dutch copy, which I duly sent to my Dutch (cooking-enthusiast) uncle, as the only person I know who would appreciate such a publication; language being the main barrier to all other known cooking fanatics! Although my (food-fussy) aunt was slightly dubious about his choice of Dutch fare, even she was convinced by the end product…

comments from a fussy eater:

Tip number 1.

It helps if you check you have all the ingredients at the outset.

It took Jan 3 shopping trips before the dish was complete. He doesn’t do lists, so kept forgetting to purchase the herbs, then the parmesan.2013.01.06-17 copy

Tip number 2.

Don’t judge a book (or indeed a root vegetable) by it’s cover. Consider that my life experience of turnips was the popular children’s book, The Giant Turnip and a sliced and diced tasteless root vegetable in winter soup. In reality, the turnip pre-prep is aesthetically pleasing with its barely blushing base and creamy skin.

Tip number 3.

You don’t have to eat the skin. I didn’t, in spite of the constant encouragement of my husband to do so. I figure, it’s got a thick outer skin for a reason and that reason is to keep the insides in, which is why stuffing this amazing little vegetable works so well. I never eat the skin of a jacket spud either and don’t intend to start changing my rules for root vegetables.

Tip number 4.

2013.01.06-26 copyPortion control. Jan cooks for an army anyway, but did we really need 4 turnips – 2 each? At one point Jan was concerned that all the turnip he had patiently scooped out, wasn’t going to fit back in. If I was inclined to eat the skin, then perhaps not 2 turnips, but as I delicately manoeuvred around the skin to access the filling, I decided that the filling of 2 turnips was sufficient. Especially, when combined with the beautiful, albeit it brightly coloured paprika & pepper sauce.

Tip number 5

You have got to try this recipe. The turnip had an exquisite aftertaste and the chestnut, herb mix was divine and provided texture. I liked the little lids, even though I didn’t eat them, they looked cute and appetising. When you begin to describe turnips as cute and appetising, you either need to seek professional help or you’ve hit on a recipe thatmakes this dish sublime. I think the Dutch know when they’re onto a good thing. No-one likes a smug chef, but the mighty turnip and Jan need to be on a pedestal for this fabulous dish.

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Ingredients (enough for 4 people)

  • 1 kg or 8 Turnips
  • 25 g Butter
  • 100 g Onion
  • 2 Cloves Garlic
  • 80 g Cooked Chestnuts
  • 30 g Parmesan Cheese grated
  • 20 g Parsley
  • Olive Oil to coat prepared Turnips

Red Pepper Sauce

  • 200 g Red Peppers
  • 200 ml Vegetable Stock
  • 3 Sprigs Dill
  • 4 Egg Yolks
  • 60 Butter, cut into small blocks and kept cold

Method

  1. Turn on oven and heat to 200 C
  2. Firstly take some turnips wash and then steam them for around 30 mins, depending on their size.
  3. Whilst the turnips are cooking take the chestnuts and place on a baking tray and put in heated oven to cook for about 15 mins when they have cooled sufficiently peel them and coarsely chop. If you want you could use already prepared chestnuts, I used fresh as I had some leftover from Christmas.
  4. Once the turnips have been cooked and have cooled down sufficiently cut the bottom of the turnip off, just enough for them to stand upright when they are later put in the oven to finish cooking. Cut the tops off to make suitable lids and then scoop out the contents of the turnips and put to one side, to be mashed up.
  5. Wash and chop the parsley.
  6. Finely chop onion, and garlic and cook in a pan with the butter. Once they have sweated off add the mashed turnip, parsley, parmesan and chopped chestnuts. Once the ingredients have been combined take off the heat and stuff the turnips. Either place the turnips on a baking tray or in an oven proof dish glaze with the olive oil and then put in oven to cook for about 40 mins.
  7. Whilst the turnips are cooking chop up your red paper and put in saucepan along with your vegetable stock and 3 sprigs of dill. Bring to the boil and then let the pepers simmer for around 15 mins, until they are soft, puree the mixture and put to one side. Put a pan of boiling water on and take a heatproof bowl big enough to sit on top of the pan. In the bowl beat the egg yolks and then place bowl on top of the simmering pan along with the pureed red peppers. Continue to beat the mixture in the bowl for about 10 mins until the mixture thickens up then gradually add the butter in small amounts, once all the butter has been added season to taste.
  8. Finish browning off the turnips by turning the oven up to 220 C for the last 10 mins take out of oven and plate up pouring the sauce around them and serve.

Jan’s Thoughts: This is a very welcomed colourful and tasty dish for a winter’s day. The turnip, which can be a bland, and dare I say it humble vegetable, was transformed into a satisfying and filling dish. I did not think it was necessary to serve this dish with anything else as it was quite filling. It is also the kind of dish were the turnips can be prepared in advance and finished off later on. All that needs to be done is to make the sauce whilst the turnips are cooking, very definitely one to try.

seafood paella

What makes paella ‘authentic’ seems to be a contentious issue. Scroll through the comment section of almost any online recipe, and you won’t struggle to find the dispute. Lid versus newspaper, paella rice versus long grain, versus even risotto rice! Everyone’s having a go. One comment criticised a recipe’s authenticity, staking their claim to knowledge on their ex-partner’s brother’s father-in-law who was from Alicante. I have a friend who went to imageAlicante on holiday once (and doesn’t refrain from mentioning it), so maybe I too now understand Spanish cuisine. It isn’t the first time I’ve encountered these arguments, either: my first paella used a recipe branded as unauthentic.

But having made paella several times now, I have to come to a conclusion. What korma means to Britain, to Asia it does not. Do we squabble about it? No! Because we love the creamy, mild taste and savour those toasted nuts. And we still call it curry, even if it’s not really. If you’re still unconvinced, take a line from Shakespeare: “what’s in a name?“. The dish still uses rice, vegetables, meat or fish with largely the same cooking technique, whether in Britain or Spain. And it still tastes amazing. Paella is just the name attributed to dishes like this so people know what you’re on about! A name is by no means the most central part of a dish; that surely, would be its flavour. So very much in that vein, I urge you not to argue over whether the below is truly authentic paella. I’ll save you the trouble – growing scared of the ferocious rice-debate, I modified the paella I already knew how to make as I went imagealong. Instead, focus on what it tastes like! And if you still can’t resist, I’ll let you call it Seafood Rice. If it makes you feel better.

Ingredients

  • Short grain rice, roughly 3 handfuls per person
  • 1kg mussels, cleaned and de-bearded
  • 300g prawns
  • 750ml fish stock
  • 2 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 1 red onion, finely sliced
  • 2 bell peppers, sliced into thin strips
  • 5 salad tomatoes, diced
  • Peas
  • A pinch of saffron, soaked in 1 tbsp of boiling water
  • Smoked paprika, 1 tbsp. (or a little more, to taste)
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges
  • Fresh parsley

Method

  1. Heat oil in a large, deep frying pan over a medium heat. add the sliced onion, and cook for 5-8 minutes until it begins to soften. Then add the garlic and paprika, and fry for a further minute. Fry the prawns until slightly browned, and then remove to a plate.
  2. Add the rice to the pan, and stir to coat well in the oil and spices. Add the hot stock and the saffron along with its water, stir to ensure all the rice is submerged, then cover. Reduce to a low heat, and leave to simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Then, add the sliced peppers and quartered tomatoes to the pan. Simmer for 5 minutes, until the vegetables are slightly al dente. Stir the rice. It should have absorbed the majority of the stock, but a small sauce should still remain. If the rice has no sauce, it is in danger of sticking to the bottom of the pan, add a little more stock or hot water.
  4. Now add the mussels, peas and return the prawns to the pan. Check the level of stock, and if not too dry, replace the pad lid. Simmer for 4-7 minutes, steaming the mussels open. It’s important to monitor the mussels at this stage, as the longer the mussels cook for, the less palatable they will become. To ensure the mussels remain juicy, do not allow them to overcook!
  5. As soon as the mussels have opened, remove them from the heat. Season, and scatter with fresh parsley. Serve with a wedge of lemon to squeeze over.