Author Archives for Cindy Duffield

Scrumptious Risotto

There is something wonderfully satisfying and calming about making risotto – it needs time to do it properly but isn’t complicated. And then there’s the sheer pleasure of eating it – it definitely fits into the ‘comfort food’ category.

 

Risotto Bianco -the basis for all my risottos

Serves 6

What you need…

1.1 litres stock (chicken, fish or veg, as appropriate)

2 tablesp. olive oil

a knob of butter

1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped

4 sticks of celery, trimmed and finely chopped

400g risotto rice

300ml dry white wine

Sea salt & black pepper, to taste

What to do…

Heat the stock. Put the olive oil and butter into a separate pan and add the onion, garlic and celery. Cook on a low heat for 15 minutes without colouring. This is called a ‘soffrito’. When the vegetables have softened, add the rice and turn up the heat.

The rice will now begin to lightly fry, so keep stirring it. After a minute, it will look slightly translucent. Add the wine and keep stirring – it will smell fabulous!

Once the wine has cooked into the rice, add your first ladle of hot stock and a good pinch of salt. Turn down the heat and simmer so that the rice doesn’t cook too quickly on the outside. Keep adding ladlefuls of stock, stirring and massaging the creamy starch out of the rice, allowing each ladleful to be absorbed before adding the next. This will take about 15 minutes. Taste the rice to check that it is cooked. If not, carry on adding stock (or boiling water if you’ve run out) until the rice is soft but with a slight bite. Check seasoning.

Remove from the heat. For a basic risotto, add 70g butter and 115g freshly grated Parmesan. Stir well. Place a lid on the pan and allow to stand for 2-5 minutes. This is one of the most important elements of making the perfect risotto, as this is when it comes amazingly oozy, like it should be. Serve and enjoy that beautiful creamy texture.

Variations…

Seafood Risotto

Use fish stock. When you have just two final ladlefuls of stock to go, add in four scallops, sliced horizontally, and 2 fillets of salmon, skinned and chopped into cm-sized chunks plus, a handful of clams and/or mussels if you fancy.

Once you have removed the risotto from the heat, squeeze in half a lemon’s juice and 250g raw prawns, stir well to make sure all the prawns are totally covered by the hot rice. As per Risotto Bianco, place a lid on the pan for 2 – 5 mins before serving. Bellissimo!

Mint, Asparagus, Peas & Lemon Risotto (pictured)

Use vegetable stock. Trim and cook 400g asparagus in boiling, salted water until al dente. Chop 1 tablesp. mint.

When you have just two final ladlefuls of stock to go, add in the al dente asparagus, chopped mint and a couple of handfuls of frozen petit pois. Squeeze in juice from half a lemon and stir well.

As per Risotto Bianco, place a lid on the pan for 2 – 5 minutes before serving. Delish!

Wild Mushroom Risotto

Use vegetable stock. Fry 200g wild mushrooms (cleaned and torn up) in a splash of hot oil for a minute or two until they begin to colour. Season with salt and pepper. Add 4-5 cloves chopped garlic, a small bunch thyme leaves and 1 tablesp. butter and cook on a medium heat for 5 minutes.

Once you have removed the risotto from the heat, add the Parmesan and butter as per Risotto Bianco and stir in 1 small bunch finely chopped flat-leaf parsley. Add the mushroom mixture, squeeze in juice from half a lemon and stir well. As per Risotto Bianco, place a lid on the pan for 2 – 5 mins before serving. Divine!

Tip…

Dried porcini work fabulously in this risotto. You just need to remember pop them in boiling water for 20 minutes before cooking with them.

Inspired by…

Jamie Oliver

How easy…

Really, really easy as long as you have the time to let the rice become oozy and the flavours develop.

 

 

The Yummiest Profiteroles

One of my son’s favourites, these little profiteroles are fabulously naughty: pop them in and just revel in the indulgence that pervades your tastebuds!

What you need…

50g butter, preferably unsalted, plus a knob

2 tablespoons caster sugar

75g white flour, sifted with a pinch of salt

2 eggs, lightly beaten

300ml double cream

200g good quality dark chocolate

What to do…

Heat the oven to 220°c/200°c fan/gas 7.

Put butter and 2 teaspoons of the caster sugar in a saucepan with 150ml water. Place the pan over a low heat until the butter and sugar have melted, then bring to the boil. Take off the heat, add the flour all at once and beat energetically with a wooden spoon until the dough comes away from the sides of the pan.

Leave to cool for 5 mins, then, using a food processor gradually beat in the eggs bit by bit until you have a stiff, glossy mixture. Rinse two baking trays with cold water, shaking off any excess so they are slightly damp (this helps the choux pastry to rise). Using two teaspoons, spoon blobs of the mixture onto the baking trays. Then place in the oven and cook for about 18-20 minutes until well risen and brown. Remove the profiteroles from the oven and cut a small slit in the base of each one so they don’t collapse. Cool on a wire rack.

When they are cold, whisk together the remainder of the caster sugar and double cream until just holding its shape. Sweeten to taste. Spoon cream into a piping bag and using the slits in the base of the profiteroles, fill each bun to nearly bursting point with cream (these desserts are exuberant so no half-heartedness here – total indulgence or don’t bother!)

Break up the chocolate and put into a heatproof glass bowl in a steamer over a pan of boiling water. When the chocolate has melted, use a spoon to spread it over the profiteroles – again, no holding back – it should be dribbling down the sides in an ‘artistic’ manner. Put the chocolate-topped profiteroles in a cool room to set. Stack up on top of one another to create a mountain of naughtiness and serve. Just scrummy!

Inspired by…

BBC Good Food

How Easy…?

Really easy if you follow the instructions! The wrong flour results in flat, hard disks (I know from experience) but give them a little attention and you will be addicted!

 

 

 

 

 

Apple Roses

A lovely, almost childishly easy Autumnal dessert that is simply delightful!

Serves 6

What you need…

4 apples, cored and halved, skin on

Juice from ½ lemon

3 tablesp apricot jam

2 tablesp water (plus more for apple soak)

1 sheet of puff pastry

Cinnamon, to taste

What to do…

Preheat oven to 375ºf / 200ºc.

Put apple slices in microwave-safe bowl. Fill bowl with water and the lemon juice, making sure the apples are covered. Microwave for three minutes, until the apples are soft enough to be pliable when rolled up.

Roll out the puff pastry on a lightly floured work surface, thin enough to enable you to cut six 3-inch wide strips.

In a bowl, mix the apricot jam and water and then spoon/brush it down the centre of each strip.

Place the apple slices longways on each strip, adding more slightly overlapping slices until nearly at the end of the strip. The bottom of each apple slice should come to the middle of the strip so that when you have completed each strip, you can sprinkle the apples with cinnamon and then fold the bottom half the strip over the bottom half of the apple slices (think of the top of the apple slices being faces peeking out over the bed sheet!)

Roll up each pastry strip and place in a greased muffin tin.

Bake the apple roses for 35-45 minutes – they will smell divine!

Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Indulge – bloody lovely!

Tip…

As alternatives to the apricot jam, try 1) spreading room-temperature butter along each strip and then topping with drizzled honey or 2) for a festive version, use mincemeat – yum!

How easy…

Spectacularly and if you roll the pastry out onto lightly floured cling film, there’s hardly any clearing up!

Inspired by…

tiphero.com

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