Tag Archives: Risotto

10 of my favourite online recipes

I have recipes everywhere. In cookbooks, scribbled on pieces of paper, cut out from magazines and bookmarked online and then there’s the ones that just exist in my head. I subscribe to a ton of food blogs through Google Reader which I look over while I down my morning coffee. My favourite food blogs currently have to be:

Joy The Baker – the mother of all baking food blogs
The Pioneer Woman Cooks – delicious cowgirl food
The Pink Whisk – previous runner-up of Great British Bake Off, step my step recipes and techniques
Food Stories – makes food you really want to eat. Also has a separate sandwich rating blog
Domestic Diva M.D – super entertaining with recipes too
A Cozy Kitchen – awesome food photography and recipes

I’ve just been dribbling over the home pages of these whilst retrieving the links for you. Anyway, I find that subscribing to blogs is a great way of coming across yummy new recipes which you won’t find on websites like BBC food although they are great go to’s for recipes as well. Thanks to satellite television, I can also watch recipes being made at almost any hour of the day. And with the invention of Pinterest I can also be constantly looking at pictures of food. Frankly, it’s enough to make you fat.

Another great online tool is Delicious which is where I keep all my bookmarked recipes. You can tag links as you like and since they’re all stored on the web, you can access your bookmarks anywhere from any device. I have almost 500 recipe links saved and unlike a chef’s cookbook, all of the recipes are things I know I’ve seen and liked. Here are 10 of my favourite recipes which are available online and that I’ve previously bookmarked, cooked, eaten and LOVED then cooked, eaten and LOVED again!

1. Nigella’s Mexican Lasagne

A recent addition that’s already been made and enjoyed a few times! Absolutely scrumptious and innovative recipe which uses flour tortillas to create a Mexican lasagne. I adapt the recipe my adding beef mince before the canned tomatoes but the unadulterated recipe is great for vegetarians.

2. Joy The Baker’s Polenta

I’d never ever heard of adding milk to polenta until I’d seen this and now I always make it this way. Plus I love using American cup measures – so much easier.

3. Heston’s Ultimate Mashed Potato

There aren’t many Heston Blumenthal recipes you can make on a regular basis but here is one! I think I’ve mentioned this recipe at least twice on my blog already but it… is… goooooood! I don’t have a thermometer or a potato ricer (family take note, Christmas is coming :-)) but I can still make this easily. The amount of butter required is a little alarming, but one taste and you know it’s worth it.

4. Ottolenghi’s Vegetable Paella

Another vegetarian recipe which I’ve made meaty by adding fried chorizo in at the end! Great served with some olive bread and a platter of Manchego and Serrano ham.

5. BBC Good Food Chicken Cacciatore

A really quick and inexpensive midweek recipe of chicken in a tomato and mascarpone sauce. The simple sauce is tasty over pasta too.

6. Delia’s Dhal Curry

Super cheap, healthy and vegetarian (I haven’t added meat to this one!) recipe for a dhal curry. Mr B. even liked it despite the lack of meat which means it must be a good recipe. You can add a Nann bread on the side if you want to.

7. Antony Worrall-Thomspon Goat’s Cheese and Roasted Vegetable Terrine 

Unlike Antony I don’t thieve the cheese from my local Tesco to make this! A really nice make-ahead recipe which works well as a dinner-party starter. Looks pretty impressive when served as well.

8. Nigella’s Mustard Pork Chops 

Really easy and cheap midweek meal. I use honey mustard instead of wholegrain as I found that a bit too strong in taste. Goes really well with the gnocchi that Nigella recommends as well as some buttery spinach… which I recommend!

9. Joy The Baker’s Pull Apart Cinnamon Bread

I mean, just look at it! You’re in trouble of eating your laptop screen aren’t you? I’ve made it. It was amazing. When I went to bookmark it on a social media site, I saw that 2 million others had done so before me!

10. Lorraine Pascale’s Honeycomb

Simples. Tasty. Versatile. The recipe works every time.

Happy bookmarking and cooking.



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How to… make Parmesan Crisps

I love Parmesan Crisps! These intensely cheesy little gems can be used to top anything from risotto to pasta from soup to salad! If you ask me, they look a bit chefy as well, so they are great to impress your friends with. If you have friends who are impressed by cheese. I know I do. Anyway here’s how I make them.

You will need… a couple of small handfuls of micro grated Parmesan (for 2 crisps) and a can of Fry Light or other olive oil spray.

What you do… start by grating the cheese and putting your grill on…

…then put a frying pan sprayed liberally with the Fry Light, on a medium to high heat…

…sprinkle the Parmesan in whatever shape you like in the pan. Don’t pile the cheese too high and keep the cheese gratings close to one another so that they stick together…

…after a minute or so, the sides of the crisps will start to golden and the cheese in the middle will be bubbling away…

… transfer your frying pan to the grill and give the cheese at least 30 seconds underneath it until the top of the cheese is golden too…

… very carefully loosen the cheese off of the frying pan using a rubber spatula. The cheese may still be quite gooey so you have to edge it away from the pan bit by bit and carefully…

… place the crisps onto a wire rack to cool for 30 seconds. This will make them harden up. Then you’re ready to transform an everyday meal to something that looks like it could just have come out of a Michelin star kitchen!

Oh and you can jazz up your crisps as well! Try freshly ground pepper, poppy seeds or a drop of truffle oil.


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Food Miles: Milan

I ate so much on my weekend in Italy that I was half expecting Easyjet to charge extra for increased weight on the return journey. I couldn’t help it! The food was too good!

As soon as we arrived our kind friends were plying us with prosciutto, formaggio, salami and prosecco. It’s rude to refuse hosts so we ate as much as we could just to show our appreciation (this was after having had dinner at Heathrow!). This also happened 12 hours later when it was time for breakfast. How can you say no to freshly squeezed Sicilian oranges and locally produced bread and honey? That’s right, you can’t!

Next stop was Como for lunch and a truffle binge at a little restaurant called Hosterietta. We picked a white truffle risotto and a dish of polenta with a cheese sauce, topped with dark truffles. So delicious – you just couldn’t get this in the UK without re mortgaging your home! We happened to walk past a Gelateria on our way back to the car. Everyone knows that Italian ice cream is the best so we had to squeeze one in, head freeze and all!

Back in the car, we were now on our way to Milan and grateful for the time to digest! First stop was Café Cova for an Espresso Macchiato. We downed them at the bar in true Italian style. Later our classy friends took us to two very classy drinking holes – the new Armani hotel bar and the Bulgari hotel bar. Although drinks aren’t cheap in these hotels, they ply you with tons of free food. And good free food, not just peanuts. Well there were peanuts but nice Italian ones, buffalo mozzarella, olives the size of tennis balls, Parmesan biscuits, pearl barley risotto and canapés. One can eat very well by just purchasing a couple of drinks. Despite eating really well, we still devoured some sushi at Armani/Nobu before some more much needed digestion time in the car!

Aubergine and Tomato Pearl Barley Risotto
Serves 4 as a main or 6 as a starter

This is inspired by a dish we were served at the Armani bar in Milan. I make a lot of risottos but have never made one with pearl barley. As this is heavier than a rice risotto it would work well as a starter for 6 people using the quantities given here.

– 2 tablespoons of olive oil
– 2 aubergines
– 2 teaspoons of Bouillon vegetable stock
– 1 onion, finely chopped
– 250g pearl barley
– 100ml white wine
– 50g slow roasted tomatoes (Merchant Gormet ones are good)
– 1 clove garlic, crushed
– 20g butter
– A few sprigs of thyme, leaves picked
– 40g rocket
– Freshly ground pepper

To serve:
– Freshly grated Parmesan
– Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

1. Preheat the oven to 200°/Gas Mark 6. Pierce the aubergines well and brush with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. I say this from experience as I once had one explode in my face upon opening the oven. Put on a roasting tray and roast for 35-40 minutes until tender.

2. Add the 2 teaspoons of stock to a litre of water and put on a high heat.

3. In another saucepan, heat the other tablespoon of olive oil on a medium to high heat before adding the onion. Fry for 5 minutes or so until soft.

4. Add the pearl barley to the onion and mix for a minute so it gets coated with oil. Now add the wine and give the pan a stir. When the wine has cooked off you can now start adding the stock a ladleful at a time. Do not add more stock until the last ladleful has been absorbed.

5. Take the aubergines out of the oven, cut into quarters lengthways and allow to cool before scooping out the flesh. Chop up the flesh along with the slow roasted tomatoes.

6. When you have finished all of your stock add the aubergines, tomatoes, thyme, butter, garlic and rocket to the pan and give it a good mix to combine. Add a good grind of pepper to the saucepan. Dish out onto plates before topping with some freshly grated Parmesan and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.


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Risotto Primavera

Master risotto making and I don’t think you’ll ever go hungry again. I’ve had barer than bare cupboards before and managed to make a dinner thanks to risotto! It’s cheap, filling, versatile, comforting and bloomin’ delicious!

Primavera means spring in Italian (as in the season… not a coil!). I like adding fried lardons to this springtime dish along with a healthy helping of two cheeses! The contrast of the bacon with all the vegetables tastes really good. AND you can easily just leave out the bacon if you have a veggie over for dinner. You see – versatile!

Risotto Primavera with Crispy Lardons and Gooey Goats’ Cheese
Serves 4

– 1.2 litres hot stock made with 2 tsps Bouillon vegetable stock powder
– 2 tbsp olive oil
– 1 onion, finely chopped
– 300g Arborio risotto rice
– 125ml white wine
– 100g asparagus tips
– 100g lardons (optional)
– 100g frozen peas
– 100g frozen broad beans
– Grated zest of ½ lemon
– 15g salted butter
– Pepper
– 30g finely grated Parmesan
– 4 x 1cm cut rounds of goats’ cheese
– Mint leaves

1. In a small saucepan heat 1.2 litres of water on a medium to high heat and add the stock.

2. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in another larger saucepan on a medium to high heat. Fry the onion for 5-10 minutes until it is soft but not coloured. Add the risotto rice and mix for a minute so it gets coated in the olive oil and onions. Now add the white wine and let it bubble and evaporate off. Turn the heat down to medium.

3. Get a ladle and add the stock to the rice one ladleful at a time. The key thing to risotto is to only add another ladleful of stock when the last one has cooked off. So just keep repeating this!

4. When about ½ of your stock has gone, add the asparagus tips to the risotto so that they become tender. At the same time, throw the frozen veggies into a Pyrex dish or a bowl and cover them with hot water from the kettle to defrost them.

5. If you’re using bacon, now’s the time to put the other tablespoon of olive oil on a frying pan on a medium to high heat. When the oil is hot, add the lardons and fry them until they are nice and crispy.

6. When you’re down to your last ladleful of stock, drain off the frozen vegetables and add them too. When that last ladleful of stock has cooked down add the lemon zest, butter, a good grinding of black pepper and half of the Parmesan. Give it a good mix.

7. Drain the lardons on some kitchen towel before adding to the risotto. Dish out into bowls and top with the rest of the Parmesan cheese, a round of goats’ cheese and a couple of mint leaves. Risotto pronto!

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Munching on Munchkins

I love these autumn days – curled up indoors and looking out at the leaves falling off of the trees. Plus, I love autumn food. Most of my favourite ingredients come into season in October and November – figs, pears, aubergines, mussels… and pumpkin!

When I was younger you’d only be able to get bog-standard pumpkins in the supermarket but nowadays you can pick up a 40kg monster “Sumo Pumpkin” as well as miniature pumpkins called “Munchkins” in Waitrose. I couldn’t resist buying a few Munchkins (rather than lugging one of the Sumo Pumpkins home!) and trying a risotto recipe using them. If you’re having a Halloween party, you can adapt this recipe to fill a regular pumpkin. I would hollow out the pumpkin first and then roast the flesh in an oven separately.

Risotto Stuffed Munchkins
Serves 4

– 4 Munchkins
– 3 tbsp olive oil
– 1 onion, finely chopped
– 400g risotto rice
– 125ml of white wine (optional)
– 1 litre vegetable stock
– 250g bacon lardons/pancetta
– 1 fresh red chilli, finely sliced
– 20g salted butter
– 100g finely grated parmesan
– 150g soft goat’s cheese
– Spinach or rocket to serve (optional)

1. Preheat your oven to 200°(Gas Mark 6). Pierce your Munchkins with a sharp knife and brush with 1 tbsp of the olive oil. Roast in the oven for 50 minutes to 1 hour until the Munchkins are soft when pierced again with a sharp knife. Set aside to cool.

2. While the Munckins are cooling, make up your stock according to the pack instructions. In another saucepan, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil on a medium heat and fry the onion for 5 minutes or so until it is soft and translucent.

3. Add your rice to your onion and stir for about a minute until covered in the oil. At this point you can add the white wine if you are using. Cook until the rice has absorbed the wine.

4. Now add your stock a ladleful at a time and stir occasionally until it has absorbed. Wait for the rice to absorb the stock before adding another ladleful.

5. Meanwhile, when your Munchkins are cool enough to touch, slice off the tops and scoop out the flesh. Separate the seeds and discard them but keep the Munchkin shell and just set aside along with the flesh.

6. Heat the final tablespoon of oil in a frying pan and fry the bacon until it is crispy. Add the chilli to the pan once you have cooked the bacon for a couple of minutes and it has released some fat into the pan.

7. By now, you should have finished with all of your stock. Give your risotto a quick taste to check it’s nice and al dente and if not, just add a little more water until it’s at the right texture. Now it’s just a case of adding everything to the pan – the butter, ¾ of the parmesan, the bacon and chilli with their oil and the Munchkin flesh all go in. Give the risotto a good mix and turn the heat down to low.

8. While all of that is combining, wash and steam your spinach over a pan of simmering water or use a steamer. Or serve the risotto with some dressed rocket leaves; it’s up to you!

9. Now the fun bit! Fill the Munchkin shells with your gooey, oozy risotto. Of course it will overflow – that’s good! Sit your Munchkin lid on top at an angle for effect but not before finishing with a dollop of the goat’s cheese and a sprinkling of the leftover parmesan.

Mmm Mmm Munchkins! Happy Halloween!

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