This risotto might be very basic in itself but it’s brought to life by the punchy flavors of the topping. Combined with the smooth creaminess of the rice, the garlicky breadcrumbs add a well sought-after crunch. Here served with some king prawns, you could as well try any kind of seafood: a few clams, mussels or squid . Drop by your fishmonger and soundly yield to any temptation knowing this dish will do them justice.
Quantity: 4 portions
- 2 tbsp Olive oil
- 2 knob of Butter
- 1 Small onion finely chopped
- 2 Celery stick finely chopped
- 300 g Arborio rice
- 125 ml Vermouth
- 1,2 L Vegetable stock
- 1 handful freshly grated Parmesan
- Zest of 1/2 lemon
- 2 garlic cloves
- 3 anchovies in oil
- 1 cup croutons
- 2 tbsp Olive oil
- 12 Tiger prawns
The basic risotto recipe was taken from one of Jamie Oliver’s cookbook. You can follow the method here: http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/rice-recipes/a-basic-risotto-recipe
For the topping, make a incision on the back of each prawns and devein them. Leave the shells on, it adds a light smokiness to their taste while protecting them from overcooking. Coat them with a 1 Tbsp of olive oil and season with sea salt and pepper. Cook in a dry pan over high heat, they are ready once the flesh turns pink and opaque , it should take about 3-5min. Once cooked, keep warm to one side.
In a pestle and mortar, mash the garlic gloves, the anchovies, the lemon zest and 1 Tbsp of olive oil into a paste. Add the croutons and keep smashing until you get a rough sandy texture. Fry for 2-3 minutes in the same pan as used for the prawns, over a medium-high heat. Take off the heat when the preparation becomes fragrant and the crumbs get a little bit darker.
Spoon some of the risotto in a bowl and top with the pangrattato and 3 grilled prawns. Finish it off with a nice gluck of olive oil and some saved Parmesan.
Lentil and bacon soup… and a wedding!
I apologize for not posting anything during the last 3 weeks. The reason is: I got MARRIED!!! I don’t think anything could have prepared me for the stress and excitment preceding the celebration, and I really thought I could do it all! But I struggled during the last few weeks and I had to let some things go.
The wedding took place about 1 hour North of Montreal, Canada, my hometown. We had a wonderful time with our friends and family and although it was cooler than expected, I think everybody enjoyed themselves. I wouldn’t have done anything differently.
I am now back in London a married woman and after long months of intense preparation, I have now regained some of my free time to work on what I love: cooking. Following this eventful time of our lives, where running around and eating on the go, or not eating at all, was the standard, Arthur (my husband!) and I felt like eating something homey, conforting and not too heavy. And so, the first thing I cooked as a Mrs was this earthy soup. It was everything we needed.
Here’s how to cook my perfect post wedding soup:
1 large or 2 small carrots
1 celery stick
4 bacon rasher
1 garlic clove
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp turmeric
250 g red lentil
1,25 L chicken stock
Cut all the vegetables into small cubes, about 1x1 cm, and slice the bacon in thin stripes.
In a large casserole (needs to contain at least 2L) add a few glucks of olive oil and the bacon. Stir occasionally to make sure it doesn’t catch at the bottom. When it starts to colour, add the vegetables and cook for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and spices, stir well and cook for another 2 minutes.
In the meantime, rince the lentils in a lot of water and prepare the chicken stock. Personnally I like to simply boil the kettle and add the stock cubes with the water directly in the soup when needed. It prevents making another bowl dirty.
Add the lentils and stock to the soup and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
And Voila! Your soup is done. We’ve enjoyed it with thick slices of bread and pâté campagnard. Perfecto!
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Mediterranean pissaladière with marinated mozzarella and tomato salad.
London sometimes gets quite muggy. Particularly this summer as we’ve been blessed with hot temperatures. Whenever the weather is like this I always fell like eating something light and fresh. Mediterranean food embodies this perfectly with their olive oil, lemon, fresh tomatoes, fish, and so on… Since I couldn’t get my hands on a sea breeze to cool our flat, I settled on a warm onion tart and a refreshing salad.
If you don’t have time to make a home-made dough, I don’t see the shame in buying ready-made pastry. I don’t always plan ahead what I’ll cook in the evening and I often have to rely on little tricks like these. That night I bought puff pastry and skipped the dough section of the recipe. It was just a matter of unrolling it on a baking tray and lightly running a knife around the edges (don’t go all the way through) therefore liberating the layers during the cooking process to create a nice crust. The pissaladiere has a perfect balance of sweetness (from the onions and peppers) and saltiness (from the olives and anchovies). Serving it with the soft and lemony mozzarella salad creates a delightful harmony, perfect to beat the summer heat.
Pissaladiere recipe (in french): http://aladistasio.telequebec.tv/recettes/recette.aspx?id=55
Salad: Year of plenty book - Yotam Ottolenghi
North African spiced lamb tagine
There was a very good deal on aubergines at the supermarket the other day so I stocked up. However, a few days later they were still sitting in my fridge and I was faced with the difficult question: “what the hell am I going to cook with those?”
I really wanted to cook a tagine that week but I had never done one with aubergine. I didn’t even know if it was a match. But after some research I stumbled upon this precious recipe - it was perfect.
If you follow it to the letter you’ll end up with a mountain of dishes to clean afterward and I am not up for that. So here is how I got around the issue. But first I just want to say that I had less meat than required (about 700g instead of 1kg) and more aubergines and the result was absolutely fine. I am 100% sure no one could know.
First brown your meat in your tagine or casserole dish. While it does its thing, chop the onions, the celery, the garlic and grate the ginger. Take the meat out and put aside in a bowl. If needed, deglaze the dish with a bit of water and pour it with the meat (you want to “clean” the pan of the sticky bits). Fry the onion and celery in the same casserole as the meat and follow the rest of the recipe. There will be no need to transfer to a tagine since you are already using it - You save yourself from cleaning 2 unnecessary dishes just by using the right one from the beginning and cooking everything in it. It might take a bit more time, but you are saving some on the cleaning. Again, instead of using a pan to fry the aubergine I’ve roasted them with a bit of olive oil and salt and pepper. Once there in the oven, you can forget about them instead of having to stir once in a while if it was done in a pan.
It makes a tagine a bit thicker than what I am used to. This is due to the amount of tomatoes in the recipe which makes it look more like a stew. The flavors are hitting the right spot tough, and being a big fan of coriander, that’s what I’ve used instead of mint (I just think it’s better). The aubergines will meltaway and the lamb gives little resistance too. You will be left with the most comforting mouthful.
Huevos rancheros, with peppers.
I bought, back in February, some lovely greda de pomaire dishes on a trip to Chili. I had eaten at a restaurant were they served my chicken pil pil in one of these beauties and I fell in love with its look and the idea of a bowl that can go from oven straight to the table. There’s nothing new there, but their shape and size (perfect for 1) were different then what I had seen before - A le creuset mini casserole is too small for a main and often other clay dishes have a flat bottom and not very high sides.
The recipe I cooked might not be Chilean, but the dish cups it perfectly. It is sweet, silky and rich. I had some red peppers hanging in my fridge so I decided to add them to the onions, taking inspiration from the basque dish piperade. To me these flavors works so well together you can’t go wrong.
It takes a bit of time to prepare, but it’s not too involving. During the 45min to 1hr of cooking you will have to be in the kitchen maybe half of that time, just to keep an eye on things and stir if needed. The result is a very satisfying vegetarian meal. Digging in with a piece of tortilla is so pleasurable you won’t even realize there is no meat involve.
Fried chicken wings and fresh salads.
Finger licking food, hot weather, flourishing garden and good friends, what more can you ask for? Not much!
The fried chicken being the show stopper, that’s what I’ll talk about. The recipe calls for thighs but I felt like wings that day and went with that. The good thing about wings is they are small and I didn’t have to finish the cooking in the oven like I would have for bigger pieces. The were ready to eat right out of the fryer.
Arthur being quite sensitive to spice, I was cautious and cut the Tabasco and cayenne pepper quantities by half. But it wasn’t as spicy as I thought it was going to be. I will give the full quantities a try next time. The double layers of spiced flour make for a extra crispy outside and the seasoning was pretty spot on — the celery salt is a very nice addition.
As I enjoy a bit of kick on my wings, I’ve served them with a bottle of Frank’s buffalo sauce. It was so good we ate the whole plate and there’s was enough for 4-5 people. Will do them again and again and again.
Lemon infused tajine with spicy kefta.
Depending on how quick you are in the kitchen, this will either be a perfect week night recipe or a weekend one - shaping meatballs takes times, but once you get the grip it gets easier and faster.
The recipe perfectly satisfied my cravings for North African cuisine. Its main quality lies in being quick, but this also means it lacks the rich deep flavors of traditional tajine that develop from slow cooked meat and long infused spices. The lemon and herbs lift the dish and brings it freshness, but maybe adding a bit more spices would give it an extra kick. Also avoid serving it pipping hot or you will loose a lot of the delicate flavors. The sauce needs to linger in your mouth for them to open up.
Here’s the recipe, enjoy:
- 450 g mince lamb
- 1 finely chopped onion (or grated)
- 1 small handful of chopped parsley
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- 1 tsp coriander powder
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper or paprika
- salt and pepper
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 knob of butter
- 1 roughly chopped onion
- 3 crushed garlic cloves
- 1 5x2cm finely chopped ginger
- 1 finely chopped red chili
- 2 tsp turmeric
- 1 handful chopped cilantro
- 1 handful chopped mint
- Juice of 1 lemon and 1 quartered lemon
- Courgettes, quartered (optional)
In a Tajine or in a shallow casserole fry the onion, garlic, ginger and chili in the oil and butter. When it starts to turn gold, add the turmeric, half of the fresh herbs and 30cl of water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and let simmer for 10 minutes.
For the keftas, mix all the ingredients well and form nut size balls. Add to casserole, cover and poach for 10 minutes, turning them once or twice.
Add the lemon juice and lemon slices. At this stages I’ve added some courgettes for extra veggies. Cover again and cook for another 15 minutes.
In the meantime, prepare the couscous as indicated on the package, sprinkle the rest of the fresh herbs on the tajine and serve.
From the book: tajine et autres saveurs d’orient. - Ghillie Basan - http://www.amazon.fr/Tajines-Et-autres-saveurs-dOrient/dp/2035835437
Blackened chicken and San Fran quinoa salad.
Making a recipe from Jamie’s 15 minutes meal isn’t as quick as the title may suggest when you don’t have a food processor or other kitchen gizmos at hand. But I concider spending 30-40 minutes in the kitchen to be a reasonable time for a week night recipe. So this did the trick.
Refreshing mango, smokey chicken, creamy avocado and salty feta makes a real fireball when combine together. Presentation wise, I would do things differently though, it looks a bit too messy for my taste. Maybe I’d do some skewers with the chicken and peppers. Why not cook them on the BBQ too, and serve them along side the quinoa salad… To be t5ested.
Fennel, apple and goat cheese tart
Would have never put these ingredients together, but oh how they work! It’s delicate and dare I see pretty fancy, but in an approchable way. I would serve this to guest anytime and I’d be sure to make a good impression. Imagine individual mini tarts as a starter: winner!
Portobello burger with spicy sweet potato wedges and honey yoghurt dip
Meaty, juicy and satisfactory, that’s what this burger is. From the first bite I knew I wouldn’t miss burgers if I ever turned vegetarian. And it’s probably a lot healthier than the beef patties. But next time I’ll try the deep fried version, naughty me. I’m drooling already.
- Portobello mushroom
- Dijon mustard
- Balsamic vinegar
- Cheddar cheese
- Ciabatta buns
Clean the mushrooms, remove the stalks and bath them with a mix of Dijon mustard and balsamic vinegar (previously mixed together in a bowl). Put in a hot oven (about 400-425) until they’ve “relaxed” and are about ready (I would say about 10-15 min). Top with cheese and put back in oven for 3-5 minutes more, until the cheese has melted.
Toast the buns, slice some tomatoes and onions. Make the garlic mayo by grating 1 garlic clove with a microplane and mixing it with some mayonnaise. Be careful though it can be quite strong.
Take the mushroom out of the oven and layer everything on the buns. Top with alfalfa and enjoy.
- Sweet potatoes
- Santa Fe spices (or cajun spices)
- Olive oil
- Coarse salt
Clean and cut the potatoes in 8 wedges, leave the skins on. Part boiled for about 3 minutes, drain and let the steam evaporate. Coat with olive oil and sprinkle coarse salt and plenty of Santa Fe spices. Put skin side down on a tray and but in oven for around 30-40 minutes at 425.
Honey yoghurt dip
- Spring onions
In a bowl mix the yoghurt, a bit of honey (not too much, you don’t want it to taste like a dessert) the sliced spring onions and a bit of lemon juice. Add salt to remind it it’s a savory dip and serve with the wedges to calm down their spiciness.