Manly risotto

Risotto_IMG_6025I love a man who can whip up a perfect risotto on the spur of the moment.

• Perfect Risotto •
from Lidia Bastianich

4-1/2 cups hot chicken or vegetable stock
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, minced (about 3/4 cup)
1 medium leek, white parts only, trimmed, cleaned, and chopped
4 to 6 scallions, trimmed, white and green parts chopped separately
2 cups Arborio or Carnaroli rice
1/3 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, plus more for sprinkling
Freshly ground black pepper

Pour stock into a 2-quart saucepan and keep it over low heat. Heat olive oil in a wide 3- to 4-quart pan over medium heat. Stir in onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 4 minutes. Stir in leek and white parts of the scallions and cook, stirring, until the onion is pale golden, about 6 minutes. Adjust the heat under the pan as the onion browns so that it cooks slowly. Stir in rice; continue stirring until grains are coated with oil and “toasted” and the edges become translucent, 1 to 2 minutes.

Pour in the wine and let it boil, stirring the rice, until evaporated. (Since the rice kernel is 8 percent starch, the acidity in the wine balances and imparts flavor to the rice kernel.) Season rice lightly with salt, and ladle enough of the hot stock into the pan to barely cover the rice. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat so the stock is at a lively simmer. Cook, stirring constantly, until all the stock has been absorbed and you can see the bottom of the pan when you stir. Continue cooking, pouring in the remaining hot stock in small batches each addition should be just enough to completely moisten the rice—and cook until each batch of stock has been absorbed. Stir constantly until rice mixture is creamy but al dente; this will take 16 to 20 minutes from the time the wine has been added. When in doubt, undercookrisotto continues to cook even after it is removed from the heat. Adjust the level of heat throughout cooking so the rice is simmering very gently. The total amount of stock you use may vary for several reasons: the type of rice you are using, the shape and size of the pan, and the desired texture of the finished risotto, which can be quite dense or soft and runny, depending on your personal taste.

Remove the pan from the heat; stir in the butter and green parts of the scallion until the butter is completely melted. Stir in half the grated cheese, taste the risotto, and add salt, if necessary, and pepper. Serve immediately with cheese for sprinkling.

Martha’s recipe cards

Processed with VSCOcam with a6 presetYou know how Martha Stewart Living magazine comes with those 4 little perforated recipe cards each month? Recent, I worked two of them into our meal plan for the week. The dishes were quick, easy and good.

On Wednesday we had Paprika Shrimp with Hummus and Mint and on Thursday, Vinegar-glazed Chicken with Creamed Corn.

Processed with VSCOcam with a5 presetThe easy creamed corn was my personal favorite. It’s made with cream cheese which makes it much quicker to prepare than if you were to do a traditional bechamel creamed corn.

If you buy store-bought hummus instead of making it from scratch (like I did, the night before, while the Sid went nuts because he was ready for bed and I was food processing away), the Paprika Shrimp meal would take all of 15 minutes to prepare and get on the table. A weeknight winner for sure.

We’re having a bit of controversy over breasts vs thighs around here, Shane’s a breast guy (ironic, I know) and my folks are more into thighs (we knew that about my dad). We did the vinegar chicken with breasts, it would work equally well with thighs, or a mix of the two.Processed with VSCOcam with a5 preset

• Vinegar-glazed Chicken with Creamed Corn •
from Martha Stewart Living
25 min, serves 4

1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, breasts or a mix of the two (about 8)
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup white-wine vinegar
1/3 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 bunch scallions, white and pale-green parts chopped, plus dark-green tops, thinly sliced, for serving
1 pound frozen corn kernels, thawed and drained
4 ounces cream cheese, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup milk
Arugula, lightly dressed with extra-virgin olive oil and white-wine vinegar, for serving

Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat a large skillet over medium-high; melt 2 tablespoons butter. Add chicken; cook, flipping once, until golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in vinegar, scraping up browned bits from bottom of pan; cook 30 seconds. Add broth; simmer, turning chicken frequently, until cooked through and coated with sauce, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

Wipe skillet clean; heat over medium. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Stir in chopped scallions; cook just until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add corn; cook just to heat through, about 1 minute. Add cream cheese and milk. Cook, stirring, until cheese melts and simmers, 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Top chicken and corn with sliced scallions; serve, with arugula salad.

• Paprika Shrimp with Hummus and Mint •
from Martha Stewart Living
15 min, serves 4

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
4 cloves garlic, minced (2 tablespoons)
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika, plus more for sprinkling
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, plus wedges for serving
1 1/2 cups plain store-bought hummus
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint, plus leaves for serving
Pitas, warmed if desired, for serving
Romaine-lettuce leaves and sliced cucumbers

Heat a large skillet over medium-high. Swirl in 2 tablespoons oil. Add shrimp in a single layer and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring a few times, until shrimp are pink, opaque, and just cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in paprika; cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in lemon juice, scraping up any browned bits from bottom of pan. Remove from heat.  

In a bowl, stir together hummus, remaining 1 tablespoon oil, and mint. Serve shrimp and hummus drizzled with oil, sprinkled with paprika, and topped with mint leaves, with lemon wedges, pitas, lettuce leaves, and cucumbers alongside.

Lamb curry & chick peas with spinach

Processed with VSCOcam with a5 presetThere was some lamb left over from Easter. My mom said “we need to make lamb curry this week” and so we did.

The curry was super easy Rogan Josh from Jamie Oliver. For a non-meat dish we had Spinach & Chick Peas from Smitten Kitchen. We found the chick peas to be not super exciting on their own, but amazing when salt, peppered & topped with some of the chopped, fresh coconut, mint and cilantro that we had for serving with the lamb curry.

The lamb passed muster with the 7 year old, so I’m giving this recipe a big, fat thumbs up. Also/especially for not wasting leftover meat.

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• Rogan Josh Lamb Curry •
from Jamie Oliver
Serves 4   Approx time: 2.5 hours

3 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
8 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon turmeric
4 tablespoons natural yoghurt
1 teaspoon crushed black peppercorns
1 kg quality lamb shoulder, cut into big cubes
5 medium-sized red onions, halved
2 red peppers, halved and deseeded
4 fresh red chillies, deseeded
1 tablespoon green cardamom pods
½ tablespoon whole cloves
1 stick cinnamon
2 tablespoons coriander seeds
4 small dried red chillies
1 splash vegetable oil
2 teaspoons paprika
600 g tinned chopped tomatoes
½ tablespoon salt
sliced chilli, to serve
coconut shavings, to serve
chopped cilantro, to serve
chopped mint, to serve

Mix your ginger and garlic together. Put them in a bowl that’s big enough to fit all the cubed lamb in. Add the turmeric, yoghurt and black pepper to the bowl and mix together. Tip the lamb into the bowl and stir it around until it’s well coated with the yoghurt and spices. Cover and leave overnight in the fridge to marinate. 

Preheat your oven to 170ºC/325ºF/gas 3. Chop your onions and peppers roughly and whiz them in a food processor with the fresh red chillies. 

Put the pan you are going to cook the curry in on the medium heat and add the cardamom, cloves, cinnamon and coriander. Toast until they go a shade darker in colour, then pour into a pestle and mortar and grind up with the dried red chillies. 

Keep the pan on the heat and add a splash of vegetable oil. Add the whizzed onion, peppers and chilli paste from the food processor with the ground up spices and paprika. 

Cook over a gentle heat for about 10 minutes. By now, lots of delicious curry smells will be coming out of the pot. Add the tomatoes, the marinated lamb and half a pint of water, and stir well. When the curry comes to the boil add the salt, cover tightly with a lid and place in your preheated oven. You can basically forget about it now, as all the hard work is done. Just wait 2 hours and carefully take the pot out of the oven. 

Taste it, and if it needs salt, add a little; if it’s too hot, add a little yoghurt to cool it down. You can garnish with extra chilli, coconut and herbs. Serve with rice, your favourite Indian bread such as parathas, naans or chapattis, and loads of cold beer – you’re going to need it!


Easter Saturday

You probably know our Easter Saturday drill by now (but if you don’t, you can read about it here and here).

Easter Saturday is a day-long affair starting with a breakfast of hot cross buns, strawberries, mimosas and bloody marys. Then there’s a big egg hunt and after we’ve gorged on candy, an early dinner. Dinner is lots of savory pies, lots of good people, good times, and of  course good things to eat and drink.

Aside from the traditional assortment of savory pies, we had roasted tomatoes with burrata, beets with pesto, asparagus with anchovy butter and parmesan, pork & fennel meatballs with grilled bread, salad (natch), ricotta with fennel and radishes, and a leg of lamb.

This year I didn’t take pictures of the pies, or most of the desserts. I guess I was too busy having a nice time. The only dessert you’ll see here today is one of the most delicious French macaroons I’ve ever had (and I’m not saying that because it was made by an incredibly gifted 12 year old baker).

You might notice there’s something else very special in that dessert photo too.

Happy Easter Saturday!