Occasional recipes: leek and mushroom risotto

A simple recipe from Gino d’Acampo which you can find at bbc.co.uk/food: delicious, delicate and perfect comfort food for cold, dark evenings. As it includes onion, garlic and leeks it rather bigs out on the genus Allium, but when was that ever a problem?

His is for one person, ours is for three. Mostly you can triple up the quantities, but not always …

He says I say
Half an onion for 1 person. 1.5 onions for 3 would just be silly, wouldn’t it? One is fine.
1 clove garlic One of those few occasions where I almost concur with the chef’s estimate. I would go over 3 cloves … but not too far over. There are too many other enjoyable flavours floating around and you don’t want to spoil them.
100g risotto rice We allow 75g per person, and 225g for 3 works just fine.

Also …

He says I say
Heat the butter and oil in a saucepan over a medium heat Fine, if you’ve actually remembered to have any butter in. Our alternative was a “this feels right” combination of rapeseed oil, olive oil and a dollop of Tesco buttery spread.
Hot chicken stock Vegetable stock works just fine and I think makes the whole thing far more flavoursome and delicate.
Dolcelatte Or the in-store brand of anything blue, creamy and cheesy.

Wash down with something red and chuggable, and of course, don’t forget to let it simmer and mature while you enjoy that G&T first.

Occasional recipes: conchiglioni pasta with creamy roasted tomato and garlic sauce

A thoroughly delish dish that is, as it says on the packet, very easy to make. You don’t even have to worry about a thing except remember to take things off or out of their pre-set heat at the right time. Then just mix them together.

If you whack the tomatoes and garlic into the oven, then start to worry about boiling the pasta, the pasta will be just about done at the end of the prescribed half hour in the oven. Simples.

See photos below for the instructions, but, as usual, some amendments …

They say I say
Serves 4 4 people on a diet, maybe; 3 people with normal appetites.
500g cherry tomatoes Only if you’re suffering a severe deficiency of whatever tomatoes have in them. A 300g pack from Tesco works just as well.
2 cloves garlic It is to laugh. Why not try homeopathy while you’re at it? Bung the garlic in until vampires are falling out of the sky.

And having mixed, let it sit for a while to mature and blend together while you enjoy that all-important G&T.

Occasional recipes: rigatoni with chorizo and tomato

A most serendipitous discovery at a charity sale some years ago was The Essential Pasta Cookbook. Don’t you love those books with a plain, umambiguous title? No twists or spoilers here!

And from the pages of this book comes this recipe for rigatoni with chorizo and tomato, guaranteed to make you feel you’re sitting on a sun-warmed Valencian terrace even on a cold winter English evening.

Unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of the finished product, so you’ll have to take my word that it doesn’t look drastically different from the one they provide.

They say I say
1 x 250g/8oz chorizo sausage This is apparently meant to serve 4 (62.5g per person), making me think whoever wrote this must be on some kind of diet. A standard Tesco chorizo sausage is 225g and serves 3 (75g per head) quite comfortably.
375g/12oz rigatoni Unlike their parsimonious chorizo allocation, even for 4 this sounds excessive; it’s 94g per head. We go for 75g per head which is quite adequate. Incidentally, whereas I used to drain the pasta and then add it to the sauce, I have been educated into lifting it out of the water with a slotted spoon and mixing it in. This preserves a lot of the pasta water, giving far more delicacy to the overall flavour.
1/2-1 teaspoon chopped chili A good shake of chili flakes will do just as well. And it keeps the chili off your fingers, which is no bad thing.
Simmer for 15-20 minutes Not really. You can do it for the time it takes the pasta to cook, which is around 10-12 minutes for a good al dente feel. By then it has reduced enough for you to add pasta and sauce together and let it sit on a low heat while you enjoy a preprandial G&T.
Serve with sprinkled parsley We don’t use parsley, we use basil, and we mix it in at the stage where pasta and sauce are added together.

I hope you all got that thing about the G&T, right? And for wine, a good £3.99 plonk from Lidl – say, Montepulciano, for that added Mediterranean feel – will do very nicely.