Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Roasted Artichoke Risotto

I’d eaten a ridiculous amount of red meat in the weeks preceding this, in fact the week before, when the bf was away I think every evening meal I’d had was mince of one description or another. By this point then I was craving vegetables. We started the new week off with the mushroom ragout as previously posted but that wasn’t enough.

So I decided on a risotto. Killing two birds with one stone really: my continued point-proving that actually yes, we eat a reasonable amount of risotto plus it is something that is dead simple to have as part of a meatless meal. You choose your vegetable(s) and how to prepare them then add to a basic risotto bianco.

Couldn’t be easier really.

Roasted Artichoke Risotto
serves 2

500ml chicken (or vegetable) stock (you may not need all of it)
2 tsp olive oil
1 small knob of butter
1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 stick of celery, trimmed and finely chopped
150g risotto rice
85ml of vermouth (or dry white wine)
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
20 g butter
35g Parmesan cheese, grated + extra to serve
1 tin artichoke hearts in brine, rinsed, drained and roughly chopped
zest and juice of ½ lemon
small handful mint, finely chopped
extra virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Lay the artichoke heart pieces on a baking tray and drizzle with a little olive oil. Toss around to coat the artichokes and then pop in the oven to roast for around 30 minutes until slightly criosp and charred on the outside and creamy in the middle.

Meanwhile put the hot stock in a saucepan on a low heat to keep warm on the hob.

Put 2 teaspoons of olive oil and the butter into a separate pan and add the onion, garlic, celery and a little pinch of salt. Cook over a very low heat, very gently for 15-20 minutes until the vegetables have softened but not coloured.

Turn up the heat and add the rice, stirring around for a couple of minutes until the rice is toasted . Pour in the vermouth which will bubble up madly so keep stirring until it has cooked into the rice.

Add your first ladle of hot stock. Turn the heat down to a simmer and stir occasionally until the stock is absorbed: keep repeating with additional ladlefuls of stock, only adding another when the previous has been absorbed into the rice. You don’t need to stir constantly, but reasonably often as this massages the starch out of the rice and will result in a creamy risotto.

You are done when the rice is soft but with a slight bite: this can take anything from 15 to 30 minutes in my experience. If you run out of stock (which is unlikely) add some boiling water.

Remove from the heat and add half of the artichokes, the butter, lemon juice and Parmesan. Stir well. Place a lid on the pan and allow to sit for 2 minute so that the risotto becomes creamy and oozy.

Toss the remaining artichokes with most of the lemon zest, the chopped mint and a drizzle of olive oil.

Carefully check the risotto seasoning and then divide it between two plates or wide bowls and sprinkle the dressed artichokes on top. Serve sprinkled with a little extra Parmesan and the rest of the lemon zest.

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Saturday, 3 October 2015

Mixed Mushroom Ragoût with Creamy Polenta

Another very autumnal dish here cooked, as it was, at the height of summer. Oh well. This is extremely delicious and if you were to serve it with rice or pasta then pretty quick too.

I served this with a creamy cheddar polenta that I made with 150g polenta, x4 the volume of chicken stock, 20g butter and about 60g grated mature cheddar. If you start this at the same time as leisurely prepping and then cooking the ragout it should all come together quite well about 45- 50 mins later.

Mixed Mushroom Ragoût
serves 2 generously (with perhaps a little leftover for lunch for 1 the next day)

225g mixed shiitake & brown chestnut mushrooms, wiped clean & sliced
225g mixed wild & oyster mushrooms, wiped clean & torn

2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp chopped thyme leaves
small pinch cayenne pepper
splash of marsala
1½ tsp tomato paste
2 small ripe tomatoes, chopped
1½ tsp plain flour
500ml porcini or chicken stock
5g butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
1½ tbsp chopped parsley

In a wide sauté or frying pan I actually used a paella pan for some reason), warm 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium high heat. Add onion and celery, season with a little salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are softened and starting to brown, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.

Add another ½ tablespoon of the oil and turn heat to high. Add brown mushrooms, season lightly and stir-fry until nicely colored, about 3 minutes. Lower heat to medium. Add thyme, cayenne and tomato paste. Add tomatoes, stir well, and cook for 1 minute.

Season again with salt and pepper. Splash in a glug of Marsala and when it has reduced sprinkle with the flour, stir to incorporate and cook for 1 minute more. Stir in reserved onions. Add around 200ml of stock and stir until thickened, about 1 minute. Gradually another 200ml stock and let gently simmer for 5-10 minutes. Carefully adjust the seasoning.

Just before serving, put the butter and the remaining ½ tablespoon olive in a wide sauté pan over medium high heat and when the butter begins to brown, add the wild and oyster mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper, and sauté for about 2 minutes, until cooked through and beginning to brown.

Add the garlic and chopped parsley and stir for another minute before adding to the brown mushroom mixture.

Stir the mushrooms together well and then serve over polenta.

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Sunday, 27 September 2015

Slow Cooker Boeuf Bourguignon

We’re going back a fair while here: back when I first got a slow cooker. I’d wanted one for ages, but I’d also wanted a pressure cooker and frankly we don’t have room for both. It was a tough call - I had done tons of research on both and I think deep down I kinda wanted a pressure cooker but but in the end plumped for the slow cooker for 2 reasons. The first being that winter was on the way so in theory I would be cooking lots of heart stews and the like (although as I’ve mentioned previously I’m almost as likely to cook a stew at the height of summer if that is what I fancy - the slow cooker will also be helpful then as the kitchen won’t get so hot!) and the second being that in my bun in the oven state at the time I thought it would be handy, closer to D day to knock up lots of one pot meals that we could just defrost and reheat once we were back from the hospital. And I’m happy to state that was exactly what we did.

But back to this - the question was what to do for our first meal? Well in all honesty it wasn’t that much of a competition as, to me, Boeuf Bourguignon seemed a pretty obvious choice. That said, I’d a few other ideas up my sleeve for the coming weeks and months.

Slow Cooker Boeuf Bourguignon
Serves 4

6 rashers unsmoked streaky bacon, sliced into thin strips
1kg beef shin, cut into 1-inch cubes, patted dry & seasoned with salt & pepper
300ml good red wine, divided
2 small/medium onions, thinly sliced
2 medium carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp tomato paste
2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
250ml chicken or beef stock, plus more if necessary
300g button mushrooms, thickly sliced (halve very small ones)
parsley, chopped
crusty bread

Warm a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook until the fat has rendered and the bacon is golden and crispy. Transfer the bacon using a slotted spoon to a plate lined with a paper towel to drain. Pour off all but a tablespoon of bacon fat from the pan, reserving the rest.

Return the pan to the heat and when the bacon fat is shimmering and you see a wisp or two of smoke, add a single layer of beef cubes to the pan to sear — do not crowd the pan; sear the meat in batches: you’ll probably do about 3 in all and add a little extra bacon fat as needed.

Transfer the seared meat to the slow cooker. When all the batches are done deglaze the pan with 50ml of the wine.

Pour the deglazing wine and any scraped up bits over the seared meat in the slow cooker.

Add 1 tablespoon of the leftover bacon fat (or olive oil if needs be) to the pan and reduce the heat to medium lowish. Cook the onions with ⅛ teaspoon of salt until soft and slightly browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the carrots and celery, and cook for a further 5 minutes or so until slightly softened.

Add the garlic and tomato paste, and cook until fragrant then transfer the vegetable mixture to the slow cooker.

Wipe the pan clean and warm a little more bacon fat over medium heat (using olive if no more remains). Cook the mushrooms with 1/4 teaspoon salt until they have release all their liquid, the liquid has evaporated, and the mushrooms are golden brown.

Transfer the mushrooms to a clean bowl, rather than the slow cooker, and set aside as they get added later.

Stir the beef and vegetables (excepting mushrooms) together in the slow cooker, tucking the sprigs of thyme and the bay leaf into the mixture. Pour the stock and the remaining wine over - the liquid should come about 3/4 of the way to the surface of the ingredients.

Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. When finished, the beef should fall apart easily with a fork.

Once the meat is cooked, stir in the reserved bacon and mushrooms. Cook with the slow cooker on high until the mushrooms are warmed through, about 10 minutes.

Serve in bowls with crusty bread on the side. Sprinkle with parsley before serving.

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Sunday, 13 September 2015

Lamb, Bulghur & Butter Bean Stew

Despite having thrown a little shade at Martha Stewart not that long ago it seems that I have found myself adapting one of her recipes: it is something I repinned onto my lamb recipe inspiration board and didn’t even realised it was Stewart until I decided to cook it the other day. It’s good though and dead easy so I’m glad I did.

You’ll have noticed that due to the lag of cooking / writing up blog I am totally out with my seasonal cooking and in the summer was posting a lot of stews, casseroles and the like. And recently I seem to have posted some lighter and more salady fare. The fact is though that I don’t often take much notice of what I should cook when - if I fancy quiche and salad in the dead of winter that is what I will have. And if I fancy a lamb & bulghur stew in August, as was this case with this recipe, then that is what I will bloody well have.

By the way, the original had oregano in it which I have omitted here simply as I forgot it. I didn’t miss it and in honesty I’m not sure it is necessary but if you do want to add it, do so at the stage where you stir in the spinach and feta: 1 tablespoon of fresh or 1 teaspoon of dried. 

I’d added olives to the recipe which I think was a good call as they added a nice salty tang to the finished dish: the feta does a similar job and they complement each other well so I’d probably add a little more of that sprinkled on top next time.

Lamb, Bulghur & Butter Bean Stew
serves 2

1 tbsp olive oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
200g lamb mince
75g bulghur wheat
½ tsp red-pepper flakes
coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp harissa paste
small tin chopped tomatoes
125ml water
½ tin white beans, drained & rinsed
5-10 kalamata olives, stoned and roughly chopped
75 g spinach, chopped
50g feta cheese, crumbled, plus a little extra to serve

Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed pot (that has a lid) over a medium heat and add the onion, lamb, bulgur wheat, red pepper flakes, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring to break up lamb, until the lamb is cooked which will take about 5 minutes.

Add the paprika and harissa, stirring for a minute until fragrant.

Add the tomatoes and water, bringing to a fierce simmer then turn the heat down to low and cover. Let the stew gently simmer, with the occasional stir, until the bulgur is tender, about 25 minutes.

Add the beans & olives at about 20 minutes in.

Once the bulgur is tender, stir in the spinach and feta and cook until feta is almost melted and the spinach wilted, about 2 minutes.

Serve in bowls garnished with a little extra feta if you like.


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Monday, 31 August 2015

Yellow Bean Chicken

There are many types of bean paste available in Chinese cooking: chilli bean paste for instance (made from broad beans) as well as, of course, black bean paste. This recipe uses the most common type of bean paste made from soy beans - sometimes called yellow bean (although it isn’t actually yellow) or fermented bean paste it can, confusingly be sweet, salty or hot making it important to know which you're getting!

This recipe is adapted from one in Ching’s Fast Food, with changed made to quantities as well as the velveting method.

Yellow Bean Chicken
serves 2-3

500g skinless chicken thigh fillets, trimmed of fat & sliced
1 tbsp groundnut oil
150g green beans, trimmed & cut in half
5 shiitake mushrooms, sliced
sea salt & freshly ground pepper
2 spring onions, finely chopped
For the marinade
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine
2 tbsp yellow bean paste
4 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tbsp runny honey
1 tbsp potato (or corn) flour
1 tbsp water

Mix together the marinade ingredients and the chicken in a bowl then cover with cling and set aside for around 20 minutes.

Heat a wok over high heat until it starts to smoke then add the oil and swirl around to coat the sides of the wok. Add the chicken (and marinade) and stirfry for 4 minutes and then add the beans and keep stirring around briskly for another minute.

Tip in the mushrooms and keep stirfrying for another couple of minutes.

Check the seasoning and adjust carefully to taste if necessary then sprinkle over the spring onions.

Serve immediately with plain rice.

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Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Lamb Rogan Josh

I’d been wanting to cook lamb Rogan Josh, one of my very favourite Indian dishes, for absolutely ages: and had been gathering recipes to do so for just as long. Many that I had sourced were very authentic but authenticity, as often happens, takes time and so I decided one evening to opt for a quicker, if perhaps not as “real” version. As such I’m not sure that this is particularly authentic at all and on top of that the yoghurt lightened it much more than I would have liked. It certainly tasted great though.

Apparently (so says Camellia Panjabi) “rogan” is Hindi for “red”, referring to the deep red colour using Kashmiri chillies (although see my comment regarding adding yoghurt as above) and “josh” means “fat”, referring to the fat which should melt out of the meat during braising. As well as the use of Kashmiri chillies this recipe also uses traditional rogan josh spices cardamom and fennel. If you can’t find Kashmiri chilli powder or the dried chillies themselves, you can use a standard chilli powder and add paprika to boost the red colour instead.

Lamb Rogan Josh
serves 2 generously

550g lamb leg (or shoulder), diced
1½ tbsp clarified butter (or ghee)
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled & roughly chopped
25g root ginger, peeled & roughly chopped
400g canned tomatoes
250ml water
100ml yoghurt, whisked
½ tsp sea salt
1 tbsp Kashmiri red chilli powder
½ tbsp ground coriander
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp fennel seeds, ground
3 green cardamoms, lightly crushed
1 black cardamom, lightly crushed
½ tsp black peppercorns
3 cloves
1 bay leaf
½ blade of mace (optional)
¼ tsp turmeric

Fry the onions in the clarified butter in a large saute pan for about 20 minutes until lightly browned. Add the cloves, bay leaf, cardamom, peppercorns & mace & fry for 1 minute.

Then add the coriander, fennel, turmeric, chilli powder, paprika and coriander, frying for a minute or so more.

Throw in the meat and brown for about 5 minutes.

Blitz the tomatoes, garlic and ginger in a blender with a little water and add to the pan, cooking for a minute or so more.

Lower the heat to low and stir through the yoghurt.

Cook for a minute or two before pouring in the water and adding the salt.

Cook for about 2 hours until the meat is very tender removing any whole spices and the bay leaf and mace before serving with basmati rice.

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