Spring in the snow : Broad Bean Risotto

As my out of season addiction with the Broad Bean continues, I thought I’d try something a little more warming….seeing as Spring seems to be dressed up in Winter clothing for now.

I love risotto. I learned how to make it when I lived in Venice almost 20 years ago. It was actually my American flatmate who taught me and I’ve been in love with the wonderful Arborio grain ever since. You can make risotto with pretty much anything, that’s the beauty of it. Whenever we’re low on things in the fridge but want something delicious and comforting, risotto is the dish to turn to.

When you know the basic formula you don’t really need to use a recipe, but there are always little tips and secrets to pick up if you take the time to look around. This recipe for Broad Bean Risotto with Mint is nothing out of the ordinary but there is something in here which I certainly wouldn’t have thought of had I made it without a bit of research. Taken from The Eagle Cookbook and found on The Guardian website, this is a delicious, easy and very pretty risotto which was a pleasure to both make and eat. I used mint but also some parsley to garnish – it worked.

Risotto with broad beans and mint

You could use fresh, but not frozen, peas instead of broad beans and you could also substitute basil, marjoram or oregano for mint.

Serves 5–6 as a starter

About 3kg/ 6½lb fresh broad beans (400g/14oz podded and shucked weight – see above)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (optional)
About 2 litres / 3½ pints vegetable or chicken stock
150g/5oz unsalted butter
2 onions, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
300g/11oz arborio rice
A glass of white wine
A bunch of mint, chopped
About 75g/3oz Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

The first thing I do for this recipe involves a food processor and is entirely optional. I put roughly half the broad beans in a food processor with the olive oil and pulse them roughly for about 20 seconds to make a loose paste. If the paste is too stiff, add a drop of water and pulse again very quickly. This adds a creamy base to the risotto and makes the colour a little more intense.

Broad Beans ready to be pasted

Broad Beans ready to be pasted

Put the stock in a pan and bring it to simmering point. Gently heat 100g/4oz of the butter in a separate pan, add the onions and garlic with a little salt and fry gently until tender. Do not let them brown. Turn the heat up high and pour in the rice. Stir it with a wooden spoon for about half a minute, coating it with the butter; do not let it stick to the pan. Add the wine and let it bubble fiercely for about a minute, stirring gently all the time. Quickly stir in the broad bean paste, if using, then reduce the heat and start to add the hot stock in stages as described on pages 92–93. When the rice is done, remove from the heat, add the rest of the butter and cover the pan until it has melted. Stir it in with the broad beans and mint, then add the Parmesan and some seasoning. Serve immediately

risotto

risotto plate


Another Ottolenghi treat : a really really easy one

It’s cold. Really really cold. And because it’s cold we need warming, nutritious, comforting food. We need it to be quick and easy and relatively painless. This is all of those and the only downside was that I didn’t make more of it – I halved the recipe to feed 3 of us and I should never do that.

I’m a bit of an Ottolenghi fan but even I can find all the spices a little too much to handle at times. This recipe uses the softest of spices which makes it a treat without being overly fussy. It’s also incredibly easy to make and I shall be probably be cooking it very often indeed. I actually think this one could turn even the most hardened of Ottolenghi cynics.

I forgot to take a picture in all the excitement so here it is photographed straight from the pages of Jerusalem

 

photo

 

Chicken with Caramelised Onion & Cardamom Rice

  • 40g Sugar
  • 25g Barberries (or Currants, Sour Cherries & Cranberries)
  • 4 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 2 Medium Onions
  • 1kg Chicken Thighs
  • 10 Cardamom Pods
  • 1/2 tsp Whole Cloves
  • 2 Long Cinnamon Sticks, broken in two
  • 300g Basmati Rice
  • 550ml Boiling Water
  • 5g each Chopped Parsley, Dill & Coriander
  • 100g Greek Yoghurt mixed with 2 tbsp Olive Oil
  • Sea Salt & Black Pepper

Method

  1. Put the sugar in a small saucepan with 40ml of water and heat until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat, add the barberries and set aside to soak. If using currants you do not need to soak them in this way. (I used this method with my dried cranberries and it worked well)
  2. Meanwhile, heat half the olive oil in a large sauté pan for which you have a lid, add the onion and cook over a medium heat for 10-15mins, stirring occasionally, until the onion has turned a deep golden brown. Transfer the onion to a bowl and wipe the pan clean.
  3. Place the chicken in a large mixing bowl and season with 1 & 1/2 teaspoons of salt and black pepper. Add the remaining olive oil, cardamom, cloves and cinnamon and use your hands to mix everything together well. Heat your frying pan again and place the chicken and spices inside. Sear for 5mins on each side and remove from the pan (this is important as it part-cooks the chicken). The spices can stay in the pan but don’t worry if they stick to the chicken. Remove most of the remaining oil as well, leaving just a millimetre at the bottom. Add the rice, caramelised onion, 1 teaspoon of salt and plenty of black pepper. Strain the barberries and add them as well. Stir well and return the seared chicken and push into the rice.
  4. Pour the boiling water over the rice and chicken, cover the pan and cook on a very low heat for 30 minutes. Take the pan off the heat, remove the lid and quickly place a clean tea towel over the pan and seal again with the lid. Leave the dish undisturbed for another 10 mins.
  5. Finally, add the herbs and use a fork to stir them in and fluff up the rice. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed. Serve hot or warm with yoghurt if you like.

Cauliflower Pakoras – Ottolenghi

After a recommendation from an ANTW reader, I made these last night and they were wonderful. Should have perhaps made half the amount of mixture but it means we can enjoy them for a second night. Plus they have no dairy which is good for all kinds of people and the vegetables stay really crunchy and delicious. I didn’t use nearly as much oil as it says in the recipe, it doesn’t need it, and I used Rape Seed Oil rather than Sunflower. Great with plain yoghurt and mango chutney.

 

 

Cauliflower pakoras

Although fried, these snacky treats are light in texture. Makes about 25.

150g chickpea flour
100g plain flour
1½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp ground turmeric
2 tsp ground cumin
100g green beans, cut into 1cm pieces
1 medium cauliflower head, roughly chopped (400g net weight)
2 green chillies, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
30g ginger, peeled and chopped fine
30g coriander leaves and stems, chopped
30g spring onion, trimmed and sliced thin
1 tsp coriander seeds, toasted and lightly crushed
10 fresh curry leaves (or 20 dried ones), finely chopped
300-400ml sunflower oil, for frying
200g Greek yoghurt
Salt

In a large bowl, mix the first six ingredients. Make a well in the centre and slowly pour in 350ml cold water, stirring just to combine; the batter can be a bit lumpy. Add all the other ingredients bar the oil and yoghurt, plus a teaspoon and a half of salt. Stir gently to combine and set aside.

Pour oil into a large frying pan to come 1.5cm up the sides and put on medium-high heat. Once hot, scoop in a large spoonful of batter and fry for 90 seconds to two minutes on each side, until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon, drain on kitchen paper and keep warm while you cook the rest in batches. Serve warm with yoghurt.

 


Not just another Ottolenghi blog…

Ever since the wonderful Wilderness Festival, we’ve become a little bit addicted to the various culinary delights from Ottolenghi and Moro. I always like to think of myself as being a little bit behind the trends, someone once told me I would never be a visionary and so I’ve taken this on board and now store any ideas and discoveries and release them to the world when they think it’s all over…..well that’s what I like to tell myself anyway. So, with that in mind, I am very aware that these two restaurants / cookbooks / deliciousness won’t necessarily be new to many, but if like me you haven’t yet attempted them at home, may I suggest that you do….immediately.

 

Favourite books of the moment

 

We started with The Moro Cookbook and both Ottolenghi’s, Plenty and The Cookbook and most recently we’ve moved on to the wonderful new Jerusalem from Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. We’ve re-stocked our spice cupboard with things such as Zatar and Sumac and made sure there’s enough Cumin, Turmeric, Corriander and Cardamon to see us through every recipe we may attempt. To begin the feast I chose something relatively easy : Chilled Red Pepper Soup and Cauliflower Fritters, both from Ottolenghi followed by Aubergine and Tomato Pilav from Moro. Not all in one sitting, that would be ridiculous….although very very tempting.

 

Cauliflower and Cumin Fritters – Ottolenghi

 

Roasted Red Pepper Soup – Ottolenghi

And then last night came the best of the best, both from Jerusalem : Pureed Beetroot with Yoghurt and Za’atar and Butternut Squash and Red Onion roasted with Tahini and Za’atar. It was ridiculously good and so easy and really annoying that we had no one over for dinner to show off to share with.

 

Pureed Beetroot with Yoghurt and Za’atar – Ottolenghi Jerusalem

 

Pureed Beetroot with Yoghurt and Za’atar – Ottolenghi, Jerusalem

6 medium beets trimmed
2 small garlic cloves, crushed
1 small red chilli, seeded and minced
250g plain Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons Date syrup (or pure maple syrup works too)
1 tablespoon Za’atar
Salt
Handful roasted, crushed hazelnuts
2 tablespoons goat cheese, crumbled
2 spring onions, thinly sliced

Preheat the oven to 350°. Wash and trim the beetroot and wrap each one individually in silver foil. Place in a baking tray and cook for about an hour – until you can pierce them with a sharp knife.

Once cool peel the beetroot, cut into wedges and transfer to a food processor. Add the garlic, chilli and yoghurt and pulse until blended. Add the olive oil, date or maple syrup and za’atar and puree. Season with salt. Scrape into a wide, shallow bowl. Scatter the hazelnuts, goat cheese and spring onion on top and serve.

 

Butternut Squash and Red Onion, roasted, with Tahini and Za’atar

 

Butternut Squash and Red Onion, roasted, with Tahini and Za’atar – Ottolenghi, Jerusalem 

1 large butternut squash (around 1.1kg), cut into 2cm x 6cm wedges
2 red onions, cut into 3cm wedges
50ml olive oil
Maldon sea salt and black pepper
3½ tbsp tahini paste
1½ tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp water
1 small garlic clove, crushed
30g pine nuts
1 tbsp za’atar
1 tbsp roughly chopped parsley

Heat the oven to to 220C/425F/gas mark 7. Put the squash and onions in a large bowl, add three tablespoons of oil, a teaspoon of salt and some black pepper, and toss well. Spread, skin down, on a baking sheet and roast for 40 minutes until the vegetables have taken on some colour and are cooked through. Keep an eye on the onions: they may cook faster than the squash, so may need to be removed earlier. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

Put the tahini in a small bowl with the lemon juice, water, garlic and a quarter-teaspoon of salt. Whisk to the consistency of honey, adding more water or tahini as necessary.

Pour the remaining oil into a small frying pan on a medium-low heat. Add the pine nuts and half a teaspoon of salt, cook for two minutes, stirring, until the nuts are golden brown, then tip the nuts and oil into a small bowl.

To serve, spread the vegetables on a platter and drizzle over the sauce. Scatter the pine nuts and oil on top, followed by the za’atar and parsley.

 


Absolutely Nothing To Cook : The Key To Key Lime Pie, by Micki Myers

One of the most glorious food items that gets utterly ruined when people try to mass market it is Key Lime Pie. One of the biggest food faux pas is when people mistake or knowingly substitute your regular green limes for key limes, which are not the same thing at all. The key lime is a tiny thing, the size of a cherry, and looks like a yellowish-mottled kumquat. Its flavor is far less tart than its Hulkier cousin, too — instead it is sweet yet piquant, with none of the bitterness of a lemon. The pie made from it is designed especially to showcase this lovely citrus flavor, and is well worth making.

 

First, you’ll need to zest and squeeze 20 or so key limes. Use a plane zester and an old-fashioned glass squeezer upon which you can palm each half lime. I find myself giving it a quick press and then pinching the spent skin over the glass knob to finish it off. I also take my time, alternating with other chores; try to do them all at once and you’ll bugger up your wrist something chronic.

Make a graham cracker or biscuit crumb base. If you’re American this means zapping graham crackers in a food processor (or just buying it already crumbed); if you’re British it means doing the same with Digestive Biscuits. Mix with the melted butter and sugar, press into a tin, and bake for 5 minutes or so until it’s firmed up a bit.

Mix the zest in a bowl with the egg yolks and lime juice, then add the condensed milk. A tin of condensed milk out to be a pantry staple for emergencies. Be sure to use a spoon to scrape every last succulent, sugary drop of it from the tin rather than simply diving after it with your tongue.

You’ll have a luscious, pale custard. Pour this into the biscuit base, set the whole thing onto a baking sheet, and pop in the oven for 15 minutes until the heat has had a chance to work its magic on the eggs. It will still seem a bit too wobbly when you take it out, but that’s OK — the next step firms it up. Once it has cooled to room temperature, put some cling film over it and pop in the fridge for a couple of hours.

The finished pie will be diminutive in height, and a luxurious creamy color flecked with bits of pale green zest. Cut small slices; this baby’s rich.

If there’s any left, refrigerate until midnight, then sneak out of bed and polish it off.

 

RECIPE:

Crust: 14 graham crackers or digestives, 1/3 cup sugar, 1/3 cup melted butter

Custard: ½ cup lime juice, two egg yolks, 1 14oz can condensed milk

Regular cake tin; moderate oven, cold fridge.


Just peachy

I’ve been a little lazy with posts recently but if I don’t write this down now, I’m worried I might forget it.

We’re in the South of France at the moment, having a wonderful time with family and friends and eating delicious things. These holidays always very much revolve around food. Conversation at breakfast is generally about what’s on the menu for lunch and dinner and everyone is keen to offer their own contribution to the table. Last night was my turn and so baked peaches with Roquefort and Parma ham for 12 was on the menu. With my trusty sous chef looking over my shoulder by my side, we managed quite a spectacular plate of food and one I’ll definitely be making again….but perhaps in smaller quantities.

So here’s what we used and how we did it :

Peaches – we used a mixture of big round ones and the little flat ones all stoned and quartered. Allow about 4 pieces per person.

Roquefort

Parma Ham

Mixed leaves

Honey roasted walnuts

Thyme roasted almonds – or you just as easily use plain

Thyme

Salt

Pepper

Sugar

Olive Oil

First we baked the peaches on a low heat for about 30 minutes. Just all huddled in a tray and sprinkled with sugar, salt, pepper, olive oil and some fresh thyme.

 

 

Once done, leave them to cool a little – the salad is best served at room temperature.

The nuts – we bought a bag of walnuts and thyme scented almond. The walnuts we drizzled with honey and put in the oven for 15 minutes or so until the became sweet and crunchy. Once cooled, smash them all up in to little pieces with a rolling pin – the almonds too. Set aside to use later.

 

 

We cut the parma ham in to small strips and crumbled the roquefort….more about this later

Dress the leaves with a little bit of olive oil and vinegar. It doesn’t need a strong dressing as all the flavours are to come.

Place a small pile of leaves on the plate. Set the peaches on top and lay the strips of parma ham across them. Not too much. Sprinkle the crumbled roquefort – again, you don’t need too much – and drizzle some of the juices from the peaches pan over the salad. Lastly throw some of the crushed nuts around the plate and that’s it!

 

 

 


Absolutely Nothing To Eat : Linguine with Tomato and Capers

It may not sound like the stuff of culinary revolutions but this is just about one of the best spaghetti dishes I’ve ever made. It was the happy result one of those can’t be bothered, far too tired sorts of dinners. After being monumentally let down by Rico’s Pizza Shack (the most delicious wood fired pizzas served from a travelling food truck…which didn’t show up) I had to resort to something quick and tasty from a very empty fridge.

What I did have was a tin of tomatoes, a jar of capers, 2 lonely looking cloves of garlic, some fresh herbs, a packet of Linguine and ta-daah…it was delicious.


Put a spash of olive oil and some butter in a large frying pan, throw in the crushed garlic and a handful of chopped rosemary and thyme. Cook it for a minute but don’t let the garlic go brown. Add the tin of chopped tomatoes and a couple of teaspoons of capers (the small ones) or as many as you fancy. Stir it all together and cook on a medium-ish heat. I added a tiny bit of salt and some ground black pepper. I also stirred in a teaspoon of sugar but you can use balsamic vinegar or something similar if you prefer…and you have it in the house. Cook for 10 minutes or so until the liquid from the tomatoes has evaporated a bit and the whole thing looks dark and rich. It really doesn’t take long. Cook your Linguine (or Spaghetti…it doesn’t matter a bit) as normal and drain. Just before combining it all together, stir a couple of teaspoons of creme fraiche to the tomato sauce and some torn basil leaves. Add the spaghetti to the frying pan and mix it all together so every single strand is covered. Serve straight away with some more fresh basil leaves to make it look pretty.

 

Sorry my spaghetti photo is a little blurry – I was hungry.