Posts Tagged ‘Risotto’

Aunty Amy came to visit us on Saturday and to give Izzy her first lesson in modern Japanese culture. After Amy’s recent jaunt to Tokyo she bought back a stuffed toy for Izzy called Tortoro and the English version of the DVD movie – My neighbour Tortoro. It was so sweet watching the 2 of them sit on the sofa and watch the movie together – which is so typically Japanese – it even managed to hold her full attention for at least 30 mins! Thanks Aunty Amy!!

Having an extra person in the house is also a good reason to cook a yummy meal and with time to spare on a Saturday we decided to go all the way and make 3 courses. I suggested just 2 but as Amy pointed out – ‘there is always room for pudding’!

The first course was pretty simple – Bruschetta. No recipe to follow as is pretty simple. I sliced up some ciabatta and placed it on the griddle until it was brown and then turned over. In the meantime I chopped tomatoes and basil and mixed this with some red wine vinegar and a sprinkle of S & P. Once bread is nice and crisp then take off, rub both sides with a clove of garlic and drizzle with some good olive oil. I used some that I had flavoured a couple of weeks ago by just adding fresh basil and then leaving for a couple of weeks before decanting into a clean glass bottle. After the olive oil add the tomato & basil mix  and serve. Scrummy!!


The King was back in the kitchen for the main course – Pumpkin Risotto. Sorry if you are bored of Pumpkin but there will be more to come….the pumpkin season is such a small window that we have to make the most of it! As always it was fab – James has truly mastered this dish.

Pumpkin Risotto (courtesy of Gennaro Contaldo – Italian Year)


150ml olive oil

1 small onion, finely chopped

4 garlic cloves, crushed, but left whole

1 celery stalk, finely chopped

1 sprig of rosemary

350g arborio rice

1 glass of white wine

1kg pumpkin (clean weight), cut into very small cubes

about 1.5 litres hot vegetable stock

50g butter

100g Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

Place the stock in a saucepan on a low heat and simmer gently.

In another saucepan, heat the olive oil and sweat the onion, garlic, celery and rosemary until the vegetables soften. Remove the garlic and discard.

Add the rice, stirring well and making sure each grain of rice is coated in the oil. Add the wine and allow it to evaporate, stirring all the time.

Add the pumpkin cubes, together with a ladleful of stock & stir. As the liquid evaporates, stir in another ladleful of stock. Continue to do this for 20 minutes. remove from the heat, stir in the butter and Parmesan. Serve immediately.

Classy dinner in front of the telly! Oh well it's Saturday and X Factor is on!!

Classy dinner in front of the telly! Oh well it's Saturday and X Factor is on!!


So for pudding we originally heading towards Banoffee Pie given that there were a couple of bananas in the bowl that only had about a day left in them. That was a great idea until I actually read the recipe and the base needs to go into the fridge overnight! Then there is the tin of condensed milk in the saucepan (in order to make the toffee) which my friend Tarns had a bad accident with so all signs were pointing away from the Banoffee Pie.

This week I received from my dear friends at Amazon (we better be friends with the amount I have spent with them over the years ;-)) the new Rachel Allen book – ‘Home Cooking’. For me Rachel Allen is running a very close 2nd to Jamie Oliver and ‘Home Cooking’ is my kind of book. Full of vibrant, fresh and delicious recipes that are aimed at, funnily enough, the home cook. A worthy addition to any cookbook collection!! So I flicked through my newest acquisition and came across a recipe for Rhubarb & Ginger Bread & Butter Pudding. Never made a B & B pudding before and I have 460g chopped rhubarb in the freezer (from our first PYO of the season) and the recipe calls for 450g….must be a sign! I didn’t have great expectations as I don’t really recall ever having B & B pudding although I am sure I must have at some stage but I do recall that my Dad is not a fan. However I think even Marty would like this one especially as it is made with rhubarb which is one of his favourites.  Amy was right…..there is always room for pudding!!

Rhubarb & Ginger Bread and Butter pudding (courtesy of Rachel Allen – Home Cooking)


450g rhubarb, cut into 1 cm slices

2 tsp finely grated root ginger

150g caster sugar

50g butter, softened

12 slices of white bread, crusts removed

350ml single or regular cream

350ml milk

2 tsp finely grated root ginger

4 eggs

pinch of salt

2 Tbsp granulated sugar

Icing sugar, for dusting

25cm square ovenproof dish or similar-sized dish

Scatter the rhubarb in a baking dish and sprinkle with the grated ginger and half the caster sugar. Toss together and then leave to sit for about 30 mins to soften a little.

Preheat the oven to 180C. Butter the bread and arrange four slices, buttered side down, in the ovenproof dish. Scatter over half of the prepared rhubarb and top  with four more slices of bread, again buttered side down. Repeat with the remaining rhubarb mixture and bread.

Place the cream, milk and grated ginger in a saucepan an bring just to the boil. While this is coming to the boil, whisk the eggs, salt and remaining caster sugar in a bowl. Continuing to whisk, pour the hot liquid into the egg mixture until well mixed. Slowly pour this custard over the bread and leave to soak for 10 minutes. Sprinkle the granulated sugar over the top (oops forgot to do this!).

Place the dish into a deep-sided baking tray and pour in enough boiling water to come half way up the sides (known as a bain-marie). Carefully place in the oven to bake for 45-50 minutes, or until it feels just set in the centre. Remove from the oven and serve warm with a light dusting of icing sugar (forgot this too!) and some softly whipped cream.


Straight out of the oven

This post would not be complete without mentioning the X Factor – for the first time I am hooked! My faves are Stacey (how can you not love her – so funny and beautiful voice) and Jamie (go the Fro!!), but those twins…gggrrrr……they are the most annoying act I have ever seen and they need to go….NOW!! Don’t vote John& Edward!!!

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Just a quick entry as I have a bit of a back log – so many yummy recipes, so little time!

The leaves are changing and although it is a beautiful sight it is also a tad depressing. Each morning is a little darker than the last and another winter is stretching out before us – boooooo!! However one thing I do look forward to is the pumpkin harvest. Mum makes a great pumpkin soup and it is my all time favourite. Pumpkin is a popular food in NZ, especially as a roast dinner accompaniment but not so much here in the UK. Over the years I have tried to make pumpkin soup a few times but the pumpkins I managed to find were tasteless and bland 😦 That all changed last year when we went on a pumpkin seeking mission and discovered Crockford Bridge Farm and there we found the Crown Prince Pumpkin – now that is more like it! The perfect pumpkin soup pumpkin!

When we went to Hewitts last weekend for PYO I found a couple of Crown Prince’s in the farm shop and so this will be the first of many pumpkin entries!

Baked Pumpkin and Fresh Pea Risotto (courtesy of Tana Ramsay – Family Kitchen)


400g risotto rice

1 1/2 litres chicken stock

50g butter

500g pumpkin, peeled & chopped into cubes

12 slices pancetta, or unsmoked streaky bacon

Handful of fresh peas

250g grated parmesan

1 Tbsp flat parsley

Place the rice, stock, butter and pumpkin in an oven proof dish, cover tightly with either a lid or foil and bake for 30 mins at 200C.

Meanwhile, place the pancetta under the grill until crispy. Lay it onto some kitchen roll to absorb any excess oil.

Take out the risotto and remove the lid. Stir through, making sure to relieve any bits stuck on the bottom. There will be some liquid, but this will be absorbed.

Sprinkle in the fresh peas and stir through. They will cook in the stock very quickly (approx 3-4 mins).

Sprinkle over the parmesan, stir all through. This will now thicken.

Dish into bowls and lay pancetta over the top, either whole or broken into pieces. Sprinkle over the flat leaf parsley and serve.

Now James cooked this and so it is only appropriate that any additional comments come from him, here we go……

1. We used pancetta cubes and dry fried in frying pan and then rested on kitchen towel. Was then stirred through with the parmesan.

2. We used frozen peas so added slightly earlier.

3. We ended up adding about 15 – 20 mins to the cooking time as there was too much liquid left – we put this down to the heavy Le Creuset pan?

Bon Appetit! A great dish for all the family – Izzy loved it!



Most recipes are for between 4 and 6 people and there are only 2 1/2 of us most the time. Hence we often have a good amount of leftovers in the fridge. This works well for us as means that we can heat this up 2 nights later making a minimum effort dinner. Plus James will take anything in the fridge for his lunch.

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In my unbiased opinion James is The King of the Risotto! Time and time again James has served up perfect risotto’s – one of his first was on a camp stove (remember that Sals?) and was Smoked Salmon, Lemon & Thyme – delicious! Well since then he has made many more and each one is more scrumptious than the last!

This week James turned to Tana Ramsay and tried out the Asparagus & Prawn Risotto. I think to master risotto’s you need patience – something I don’t have great quantities of but James certainly does. I always end up adding big lugs of stock before the last one has been absorbed whereas James stands there patiently stirring and adding small amounts of stock bit by bit until it is a beautiful creamy consistency.

I think Risotto’s are so versatile and another great vehicle for getting vegetables into little ones that are perhaps not their favourites!!

Asparagus & Prawn Risotto (courtesy of Tana Ramsay – Real Family Food)


200g king prawns, precooked & shelled

1 litre chicken stock

100g unsalted butter

2 onions, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, crushed

250g fresh asparagus spears, cut to about 10cm long. Slice into 1cm pieces, but separate the tips of the asparagus from the slices of stalk.

225g arborio rice

200ml white wine

50g parmesan, grated

Take prawns out of the fridge to bring up to room temperature. Put the stock in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a very low simmer.

Melt the butter in a large saute pan and add the onions and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes until the onions have softened but not coloured.

Add the sliced pieces of asparagus stalk (not the tips) and cook for about 1 minute before adding the rice. Stir until the grains star to soften.

Pour over the wine and increase the heat until the wine has all but disappeared.

Reduce the heat and begin adding the hot stock a ladle at a time. it is important that you let the rice absorb all the stock before adding any more. If you drench the rice with stock, the end result will be more like slops than risotto. Continue to add the stock gradually, stirring the bubbling pan at all times.

When you have added about 2 ladles of stock left, throw in the asparagus tips and the prawns. Stir well and add the remaining stock.

Finally stir in the grated Parmesan and serve immediately on warm plates with a little extra parmesan sprinkled on top.

The King himself!

The King himself!


Lately we have also been bypassing the OXO cubes and using fresh chicken stock. Sadly not homemade but I am a working Mum and not sure where I would find time to ensure I had a selection of homemade stocks at my finger tips! I have made up the odd batch but they have been few and far between! An additional problem is my lack of freezer space – just 2 drawers! I just cannot wait to have a deep freeze in the garage!!! Anyway I think I have gone off on a bit of a tangent – the point is that I think the fresh stock makes a big difference too.

James also had the opportunity to cook using our new saute pan. We love it!! (I know that’s sad!!) My Aunt & Uncle were over earlier this year and generously gave us a Debenhams voucher and we have spent months mulling over what to use it for and then deciding what brand – what did we do before Google when making such decisions?!? Final decision? Jamie Oliver’s Saute Pan (not just because I am a fan – I had a recommendation….my Mum….can’t get better than that!!)

Final thought for today, but also the most important. If you have seen the UK news today there has been an E Coli outbreak at Godstone Farm (which we love! Izzy celebrated her 1st birthday there) and there are 12 children hospitalised which includes 3 toddlers in suspected kidney failure. The whole situation makes me feel sick to my stomach and my thoughts and prayers are with all the children & their families who are dealing with this. Keep these children in your prayers. I almost took Izzy a couple of weeks ago – could so easily have been her. Godstone is such a wonderful place for a family day out – I really hope they recover too.

Izzy's birthday tractor ride at Godstone Farm - June 2008

Izzy's birthday tractor ride at Godstone Farm - June 2008

The birthday girl and her Daddy

The birthday girl and her Daddy

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