Red pepper risotto

On Boxing day, I make risotto with left-over turkey. This year, the number of vegetarians has increased quite a bit, so I split the offering. I made a roasted red pepper risotto. I’m not that good at roasting the peppers, I lose my nerve a little. Also, it didn’t help that I was cooking on a Rayburn, which I was unfamiliar with. I would suggest a practice round. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 large red bell peppers (don’t try this with the long pointy ones)
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 75g unsalted butter
  • 500g risotto rice
  • 1.5 litres of stock (vegetable or chicken)
  • salt and black pepper
  • 75g parmesan

METHOD:

  • First, roast the peppers. Heat the oven to 240C. Wash the peppers and put them on a roasting sheet, and roast them until the skins are charred. You’ll need to check on them from time to time, and turn them over to make sure the skin blackens all over. This will take 30 to 40 minutes. When they are done, put them in a bowl and cover it as the peppers cool. After about 10 to 15 minutes, you’ll be able to remove the peppers from the bowl, pull out the stems and pips, and peel off the blackened outer skin. The roasted pepper will be dark and juicy. Slice the peppers. 
  • In a large pan, melt the butter, and then gently fry the onion and the garlic until the onion is soft, around 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Add the peppers and continue to fry for another five minutes
  • Add all of the rice and stir it in until the rice grains are hot and toasted, and the mixture is dry. 
  • Bring the stock to a simmer. Add the stock, one ladleful at a time, stirring each one in and cooking until it is absorbed. Continue this way until all the stock is used up, and the risotto rice is plump and tender. 
  • Season to taste and stir in the parmesan. Leave in a warm place for three minutes before serving. 

 

Lentil and Bulgar wheat pilaf

I made this to go with the lamb rib dish that I discovered. It is nutritious enough in itself not to need any meat, and it is filling. It makes a good base for adding other ingredients. Try serving it with kale seasoned with za’atar spice blend and lime juice. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 100g green lentils
  • 150g coarse bulgar wheat
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, sliced in half and then finely sliced into half-rings
  • 350ml water or stock
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • ground pepper

METHOD:

  • Rinse the lentils and soak the bulgar wheat in cold water
  • Boil the lentils in plenty of unsalted water for around 15 minutes, then drain them and set them aside
  • Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan, and cook the onions over a low heat for around 15 minutes, until they are caramelised. 
  • Drain the bulgar wheat and add to the saucepan as soon as the onions are cooked to your liking. Stir, add the lentils and stock or water. Season with salt and pepper, and bring to the boil. 
  • Cover and simmer for around 15 minutes, then turn the heat off, wrap the lid in a teatowel and replace onto the pan, and let it rest for around ten minutes before serving. 

If you are going to make this to serve with the lamb ribs, you should start making the pilau before you sort out the ribs. 

Spicy sausage burgers

The idea for this came from Madhur Jaffrey, but I wanted something much quicker and easier, based on what I had in the fridge. I started with half a pack of reduced sausages from the co-op, the tail end of a jar of garam masala, and ended up with this delicious switch. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 pork sausages
  • chopped coriander leaves or parsley
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

METHOD:

  • Skin the sausages and put the meat into a bowl with the spices and herbs, and mix. This is most efficient by hand, although it is a bit sticky. A wooden spoon does a reasonable job too. 
  • Cut the mixture into four and form into small burgers.
  • Fry the burgers on each side in a little cooking oil. 

We had these as a quick scratch meal with a yoghurt dressing, flat breads, and a green salad. 

Sausage risotto

This is a favourite. It is probably not that authentic, but it is very tasty. As usual, the technique is to make a delicious stew, and then add the rice and stock to make the risotto. I allow around 60g rice per person, and 3x as much water as rice. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 50g butter
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 4 sausages, chopped into chunks – around 200g
  • 250g risotto rice
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • salt and pepper
  • 20g porcini mushrooms
  • approx 750ml hot chicken or beef stock
  • salt and pepper
  • around 50g grated parmesan

METHOD:

  • Melt half of the butter in a pan, and gently fry the onion and sausage until the sausage is cooked. 
  • Meanwhile, soak the porcini mushrooms in half a cup of hot water.
  • When the sausage is cooked, remove the soaked mushrooms from the water, chop them finely and add them to the pan, with the tomato puree and the mushroom water, to make a simple stew. Simmer for around 15 minutes. Keep an eye and add a little stock if the mixture is beginning to stick. 
  • Add all of the rice, stir to coat in the stew, and then cook gently. Add the stock one ladleful at the time, adding more stock only when the last bit has been absorbed. After 20 minutes, all the stock will be in and the rice will be cooked. 
  • Take the pan off the heat, and stir in the rest of the butter and half the parmesan cheese. Adjust the seasoning; I like a lot of pepper
  • Serve with more parmesan cheese on the side. 

I think the real version uses proper Italian sausages, but these are hard to come by locally. 

Spicy tomatos with eggs – two ways

I made this last night, scrambled egg style, and for lunch today, omelette style. Both delicious. This was a regular dish in our student days, from Madhur Jaffrey’s classic book ‘Eastern Vegetarian Cooking’.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes, or around 450g peeled chopped tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp whole black mustard seeds
  • 4 chunky spring onions, very finely sliced
  • 3 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped or crushed
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ginger
  • 1 pack fresh green coriander
  • 1 hot green chilli, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • black pepper
  • 7 large eggs

METHOD:

  • Prepare all of the ingredients before you start, because once the oil is hot, everything needs to be ready. To speed things up, I put the fresh coriander, green chilli and ginger into a small spice grinder, and blended it. 
  • Heat the mustard oil in a heavy pan over a medium flame. When the oil is hot, put in the mustard seeds. When the seeds pop, put in the spring onions and garlic, and fry for about three minutes. Don’t let them brown. 
  • Add the tomato, ginger, coriander and chilli in, and fry for another six minutes; make sure the mixture is not watery. Add the salt and pepper and check that it tastes OK,
  • Beat the eggs with a pinch of salt. If you are making a scrambled version, make sure the tomato mixture is bubbling hot, and tip in the lightly beaten eggs. Turn the heat down and stir gently until the eggs are all cooked to your liking. 
  • For the omelette version, beat the eggs with a pinch of salt and a couple of tablespoons of water. The egg mixture should be bubbly and well-mixed. Take a large clean frying pan, melt a blob of butter until it is beginning to foam.
  • Pour in half the egg mixture, and when it is beginning to set, add half the tomato sauce. Fold in half, and slide onto a warmed plate. Do the same for the second omelette. 

I served this with a carrot salad. The sauce can also be served as a relish for a larger meal, or even with pasta. Prepared ahead, it can be frozen ready for the next time. 

Masala omelette for one

Madhur Jaffrey’s book, Curry Easy, is the winner tonight. I am home alone, Mr B is in Inverness getting his van fixed. Rather worryingly, he just texted me to ask if our AutoAid car rescue thing is still valid. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 eggs
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • a pinch of cumin seeds
  • 1/8 tsp whole brown mustard seeds
  • 1 slice off a red onion, chopped, about 1 tsp or so
  • 3 cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • a pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander leaf

METHOD:

  • Beat the eggs in a small bowl and season with salt and pepper
  • In a small omelette pan, around 15cm across, heat the oil. When it is hot, add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds. Stir. 
  • When the seeds start to sizzle and pop, turn the heat down to medium, add the onion, give it a bit of a stir, and then add the tomatoes, cayenne and coriander leaf. Cook for another minute, until the tomatoes start to soften. 
  • Add the eggs, stir quickly to mix, and then put a lid over the pan and cook until the mixture is nearly set
  • Fold the cooked omelette, and serve with a small salad and some toasted flatbread. 

Spaghetti with courgettes

This year has been a bit slow for growing vegetables, the lack of sun has not helped at all. I have now got a lot of carrots, some broad beans, we’ve had a couple of crops of mange tout peas as well. I headed up to Tagsa Community Gardens to get some chard to cook with the beans, and ended up coming away with a couple of delicious courgettes. 

I made this recipe from ‘Dear Francesca‘, a book of Italian recipes, along with stories of the family that runs Valvona and Crolla. They used double these quantities; this made a good meal for the two of us. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2-3 courgettes
  • 3 tbsp good olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • a sprig of fresh rosemary
  • 180g spaghetti or similar pasta
  • salt and pepper

METHOD:

  • Put a large pan of salted water on to boil, and then cook the pasta. While the pasta is cooking, prepare the courgettes.
  • Clean the courgettes, trip off the top and tail, and grate with a coarse grater
  • Warm the olive oil, and add the garlic, fry it gently until it just starts to colour brown, and then add  the courgettes. Turn the heat up a little and stir, cooking until the courgettes are beginning to brown a little at the edges. Add the rosemary and season with salt, and then cover, and turn the heat off. 
  • Drain the cooked pasta, and add to the frying pan with the courgettes, toss and mix everything together, and serve with black pepper. 

Carrots, goat’s cheese, thyme, sundried tomatoes and pasta

I started with this recipe from Rose Elliot’s ‘Pasta Pasta’, aiming to work out the proportions per person, allowing me to cook for one person or six. I am planning on trying a squeeze of lemon juice next time, or some pine nuts. Not sure.

INGREDIENTS per person:

  • 100g farfalle pasta
  • 50g grated carrot
  • 50g chopped sundried tomatoes
  • a sprig of thyme
  • 50g grated hard goat’s cheese
  • salt and pepper
  • A drizzle of good olive oil

METHOD:

  • Put on a pan of salted water and bring to the boil. Prepare the carrots, tomatoes and cheese while the water heats
  • Boil the pasta for around 8 minutes. For the last minute of cooking, add the grated carrot. Stir and drain, and return to the pan
  • Add the olive oil, thyme, grated cheese and sundried tomatoes, season and stir to mix. 

 

Spaghettini with mangetout, herbs, garlic and butter

This is a quick recipe involving some of the new peas and young herbs from the garden. It was quick and delicious. I had some spaghettini, which is like spaghetti but thinner and faster to cook, you could use spaghetti which is thicker, or capellini which is finer. I was cooking for myself only, so I scaled the recipe appropriately. You can scale it up as required.

INGREDIENTS:

  • Around 75g mangetout
  • around 75g pasta
  • around 20g butter
  • 4 tbsp chopped herbs, a mixture of parsley, basil and chives, or chive flowers
  • 1 small clove of garlic, crushed
  • salt and pepper
  • parmesan to taste

METHOD:

  • Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil.
  • Meanwhile prepare the peas; remove any stringy bits and cut to your preferred size, and put into a steamer, ready to cook. 
  • Mix the crushed garlic, a grate of salt, butter and herbs together in a small warm bowl. 
  • Put the spaghettini in the sauce pan, put the peas over the top in the steamer, and cook until the spaghettini is just about cooked. Drain the pasta when it is ready, and return to the hot pan. 
  • Mix the butter and herbs into the pasta, then mix in the peas
  • Serve with a dredging of grated parmesan and black pepper to taste. 

Chorizo, parsley, peas, rice

I’m working my way through a large supply of cooking chorizo. For some reason, I bought in bulk a while back and now I am trying to find good recipes. Tonight, something quick, with the celery sticks in the bottom of the fridge, plus the spring onions, mange tout peas and parsley from the garden, and a handful of paella rice. 

I took inspiration from Nigel Slater’s book, The Kitchen Diaries, but I had to work out the quantities myself. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 120g chorizo, cut into 1cm chunks
  • 6 spring onions, chopped
  • 1 stick of celery, finely chopped
  • Around 4 tbsp olive oil
  • Around 150g paella rice
  • 500ml vegetable or chicken stock
  • around 50g chopped parsley
  • 2 portions of mange tout peas
  • Black pepper

METHOD:

  • Heat the olive oil in a large pan, and fry the onion, celery and chorizo until the onion and celery is beginning to brown, and the oil is orange with the spices from the chorizo
  • Add the paella rice, and stir and cook it into the fried mixture to pick up the flavours
  • Add the stock, bring to a simmer, stir and cook until the rice is tender, around 15 minutes. Add the peas and parsley around three minutes before the end. 
  • Season with black pepper, and serve. 

I came back and ate the leftovers. It was really tasty.