Archive for the ‘winter food’ Category

So, for that risotto recipe….

mushroom risotto

I must admit to using a mixture of dried and fresh mushrooms for this photo and recipe coz I’ve been far too greedy with the wild ones when I had them…  A great standby recipe for an un-planned meal as all the ingredients can be kept in the cupboard and freezer.


This has to be watched over but the good news is that all this stirring is very therapeutic! I’ve used rocket but baby spinach or other salad leaves will do. Serves 4.

large handful of dried mushrooms (or fresh if you have them)

hot water

1 litre chicken stock (made with a stockcube if you must)

2 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, chopped

400g Arborio or risotto rice

1 glass of dry white Vermouth (or white wine)

handful of rocket

2 tbsp butter

Parmesan, shaved or grated

Put the mushrooms in a bowl, cover with hot water and set aside.  Heat the chicken stock in a saucepan and keep hot.  In another saucepan, heat the olive oil and gently sweat the onion until soft (5 minutes on low heat). Add the rice and stir well to coat the grains with oil.

Pour in the wine or Vermouth and stir whilst it is being absorbed by the rice. Now add a ladle of hot stock, stirring all the time, until it too has evaporated. Keep adding ladlefuls of stock whilst stirring, each time waiting till the liquid has gone before adding another. Halfway through add the mushrooms and their liquid whilst continuing to stir the continue with the stock until the rice is cooked but still has some ‘bite’ (a total of 20-25 minutes.  Remove from the heat, stir in the butter and spinach (which will wilt immediately) and let it sit for 2 minutes. Serve with shaved or grated Parmesan.


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A forest treasure…

A forest treasure…

freshly picked ceps

I’ve come home yesterday with some jewels – beautiful freshly picked ceps, or porcini mushrooms to Italian aficionados. And NO I’m not going to tell you where I found them (professional trade secret), but I will disclose what I’m going to do with them. There’s almost a kilo so I’m going to split them in three delectable piles to make three different dishes…

First on my list is good old-fashioned, simply buttery mushrooms-on-toast – well, kind of.  But before cooking them, I have to clean them to drive out any hidden bugs. I do this by splashing a tablespoon or so of boiling water over each, then patting them dry with kitchen paper. Then I carefully brush off all the soil and leaves. Next I trim the first third and slice them thinly lengthways.

For this recipe (if you can call it that) I need:
– a handsome knob of butter
– a splash of olive oil
– a crushed clove of garlic
– fleur de sel (salt) and freshly ground black pepper
– some chopped parsley

I melt the butter with the olive oil in a fryingpan and raise the heat until it foams. I toss in the sliced mushrooms with the crushed garlic and stir until the juices start running (perhaps 2 minutes). I season with salt and pepper and sprinkle generously with parsley, transfer the mixture to a warmed plate and dive in (with the help of a few pieces of crunchy crusty French bread and a glass of deep earthy Minervois…  Oh that heavenly smell! Not to mention the meltingly rich flavour…

I’m ‘preserving‘ the second lot of ceps for a later date. For this I need:

175ml fruity olive oil
350g (cleaned) mushrooms
2 shallots, sliced thinly
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
few sprigs of fresh thyme
3 ‘meaty’ plum tomatoes, skinned and diced
a handful of black olives
a glass of white wine
juice of 1 lemon
fleur de sel and freshly ground black pepper

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large pan, add the mushrooms, shallots and garlic and fry for 3-4 minutes until golden.  Add the tomatoes, olives and white wine and bring to the boil. Simmer for another 2 minutes, then add the rest of the oil, the lemon juice and season. Allow to cool and either eat straightaway or transfer to a jar. Keep in the fridge and use within a week. (And eh, eat with lots of crusty bread to mop up the juices!).

The final few mushrooms will be used up in an unctuous risotto tomorrow night! But that is another story… Meanwhile, just enjoy this autumn picture of the river Cesse, taken just behind me house…

autumn view of the river Cesse behind my house

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