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: 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.

See picture below for the recipe. But bear in mind:

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.

Occasional recipes: Fennel and feta linguine

Fennel & feta linguineIt’s been ages since I did any food blogging, but as I eat on a fairly regular basis there’s no reason I shouldn’t blog likewise. Well, maybe not quite as often.

This is naughty and nifty little recipe from Nigel Slater: very quick and easy to make and featuring two key ingredients I knew very little about until this became a regular. You can do all the preparing while the linguine cooks in its pan. (Do not let it overcook: if it goes slithering out of the holes in the colander, you know you should have taken it off the heat earlier.) The only difference I would make is: he says banana shallot, I say red onion, which is my go-to allium for just about everything. Except garlic. When a recipe says garlic, I go for garlic plus a lot more.

But this doesn’t have garlic. Done carefully, the fennel and the onion together sizzle away into something just hard enough to put up a token resistance in your mouth while giving you a hit of caramelised liquorice; meanwhile the feta hits you with a salty blast that stops the whole thing just being too darn sweet.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/fennel_and_feta_linguini_59137