I really love risotto but often think it's just too much faff for cooking midweek for one... but i tried not one, but two risotto recipes last week and this one was delicious:
mushroom and porcini risotto - serves 6
1 handful dried porcini, soaked in 400ml hot water for 30 mins
4 tbsp olive oil plus extra for frying
500g mushrooms, sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed
salt and ground black pepper
60g unsalted butter
2 onions, finely diced
400g carnoroli rice
About 1.5 litres vegetable or chicken stock
150g grated parmesan cheese
Strain the porcini and reserve soaking liquid. Set both aside.
Heat a generous amount of oil in a frying pan and fry the mushrooms with the garlic, salt and pepper. Set aside.
Put 4 tbsp oil and the butter in a heavy-based saucepan and add the onions and a pinch of salt. Cook over a very low heat, stirring occasionally, till the onions are soft but have not yet started to brown.
Pour in the rice and cook over a medium heat, stirring, till it becomes translucent.
Add the porcini and some of their liquid and the sliced mushrooms.
Pour in the stock a ladleful at a time and cook, stirring, until the rice has absorbed all the liquid before adding some more. Carry on adding the stock until you have a creamy consistency. The rice must be cooked but slightly 'al dente', and the mixture must hold together.
Remove from the heat and add the parmesan.
Stir well and check the seasoning.
Pour the risotto into bowls and serve immediately.
And after a weekend that involved a chinese takeaway with my friend Suzanne and then delicious chocolate cake in Tunbridge Wells (thank you Sister Claire!), it's back to mid-week healthy meals.
Having checked the fridge last night, it was a case of "shit-ake!' - i'd forgotten they were in there! So i picked up a delicious organic salmon fillet on my way home, and some baby pak choi with a Nigella Bites recipe in mind. And i think this can now be my new recipe book of the week...
salmon with greens and shitake mushrooms - serves 2
2 skinned salmon fillets, preferably organic
1 clove garlic, finely minced or chopped
2 tbsp vegetable or groundnut oil
125g shitake mushrooms, destalked and sliced
400g choi sum, roughly chopped
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
pepper to taste
Grill or fry the salmon fillets - preferably in a good non-stick pan or on the smooth side of a griddle - until just cooked through and remove them to warmed plates while you get on with or finish the vegetables. (I pre-heated the oven to 150C, pan-fried the salmon flesh side down until the surface was golden and the fillet looked almost cooked, then flipped it over and placed the pan in the oven, reducing the heat to 100C while I did the rest of the cooking. It was cooked to perfection, which is almost a miracle for me when it comes to cooking fish!)
In a heavy-based pan, fry the garlic in the oil until it is warm but not catching. Add the sliced mushrooms together with the choi sum stalks, stirring everything together for a minute or so. Cover the pan and cook for about 5 minutes, remove the lid and add the roughly chopped choi sum leaves, soy sauce and sesame oil, then let it cook for another 2-3 minutes until the leaves have wilted.
Pile the mushrooms and greens on the plates with the salmon and eat!
Nigella suggests making a little sauce to go with, by mixing Colman's mustard powder into a smooth paste with a little cold water, adding a few drops of soy sauce and a scant, pulpy puree of fresh ginger. I sprinkled mine with some black sesame seeds (and then, off-camera, a very generous dollop of sweet chilli dipping sauce...).