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Mussels in white wine, chilli and tomatoes


Mussels, without a shadow of a doubt – are my absolute favourite seafood.
They are full of glorious, meaty flavour. I love how they sound as you swish them around in a pan, the clickity clack as the shells hit the edges.
They look wonderful too – the shells all black and shiny. And amazingly, in Australia anyway, they are super cheap!!!

However, mussels aren’t all fun and games.
The reality is, it takes a fair bit of work to prepare them, and sometimes the rules surrounding whether a mussel is safe to eat or not, can be really confusing.

But, don’t be afraid! Once you get a hang of how to prepare them, cooking is a breeze. The best news is …. Mussels are sooooo worth the effort!

So, here are a few tips to help you prepare mussels.

  • Buy them from reputable fish monger.
  • Once you get your mussels home, you really need to use them that day for the best results. This is one thing that shouldn’t be stored too long. However, if you can’t prepare them right away – pop them in the fridge. Just make sure you don’t leave them wrapped in plastic – they should be kept in a container and covered lightly with a tea towel, to let them breathe.
  • As you are going through your mussels, some of them may be slightly open. Give them a sharp tap on the side of your kitchen sink. If they close tightly, they are fine cook. However – if they don’t – you must throw them away. They are dead and no good to eat.
  • To prepare the mussels, give the shells a good scrub to remove any barnacles – I use a rough cleaning pad to do this (a fresh one out of the packet, not one I have used to scrub pots and pans … eewww!).
  • Remove the beard (that’s the fibrous thing sticking out of the mussel) – give it a good, strong pull and it should come off.

That’s just about it – now it’s time to cook them and I have a really beautiful recipe that can be used as either a starter or a main. This one is a perfect dish to make your significant other for a romantic dinner – clean the mussels, cut up all the ingredients and cook immediately before serving. You’ll impress your significant other with your cooking skills, but the dish won’t take too long to get on the table. Perfect!

Mussels in white wine, chilli and tomatoes

  • 500gm of mussels, cleaned and sorted
  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • 3 rashers of bacon, cut into strips
  • 1 red onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
  • 1 red chilli, finely sliced (or you can add more, if you like it really hot)
  • 1 cup of white wine
  • 1 400gm can of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 handful of basil, roughly torn

Method

Heat the olive oil in the bottom of a large, heavy-based pan.

Cook the bacon, until it’s getting slightly crisp – then add the onion, garlic and chilli and season with salt and pepper. Cook over a medium heat until onion is soft.

Turn up the heat and add the wine, allowing it to simmer briskly for a minute or two.

Add the canned tomatoes and once they start to simmer. Add the mussels.

Cover and cook for a minute or two, or until the mussels have opened (it doesn’t take long – and this is how you tell they are ready). Add the fresh basil and serve.

Important: As you serve the dish into bowls, ensure that you discard any unopened mussels. If they are closed, then they are no good.

If you are cooking this as a main course, toss through some freshly cooked pasta at the end. If not, just serve the mussels as they are, with some fresh sourdough bread to mop up all those awesome juices.

A romantic dish deserves a matching song with it. This song is by an Australian artist called Sia and featured on the Twilight Saga Eclipse soundtrack. It’s the song playing in the background when Edward asks Bella to marry him. A little corny, I know – but a very romantic moment and a truly amazing song. Google Sia and check out the rest of her music, she has an amazing voice.

Sia – My Love

If you have any questions, please feel free to post them in the comments section below. Also, if you have any other tips for cooking mussels or seafood in general – I’d love to hear from you!

 

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Leek and chickpea soup


It’s so freezing outside that I thought I should share with you a soup recipe that has become one of my all-time favourites. I adore leeks and seeing as they are in season, now is an ideal time to whip this up. I really didn’t like the idea of chickpeas in soup at first – but although it only has a few ingredients, the flavour is amazing. I originally saw this made on a Jamie Oliver cooking show way back when. I’ve made it my own and no longer need the recipe to guide me. Everyone I have served it to has been impressed 🙂

So – introducing …

 Leek and Chickpea Soup

  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 4 leeks
  • 3 desiree potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
  • 2 cans of chickpeas, drained and well rinsed
  • 1.5 – 2 litres of chicken stock
  • Parmesan cheese (to serve, but optional)

Cut leeks down the middle, discarding the tough green part at the top, and clean thoroughly under running water. Chop fairly finely.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan and add leeks and a few good pinches of salt. The salt will not only add flavour, but allow the leeks to wilt, without colouring. This should take about five minutes over a medium heat – ensure you keep an eye on it and stir regularly.

Add the potatoes, along with the chickpeas and cook until heated through. Add stock at this point – enough to generously cover the mixture.

Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes, or until potato cubes are tender.

Remove from heat and using a stick mixer (or blender), blitz the ingredients, but leave some chunky bits.

Blitzing ensures the soup is beautiful and creamy, but leaving some chunky bits of chickpea and leek means there is really nice texture too. However, feel free to blitz to a smooth consistency if that’s what you prefer.

Bring back to the simmer – now you can judge whether more stock needs to be added. Just add more until the texture is to your liking. Make sure you have a taste and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Serve drizzled with some olive oil and shavings of parmesan cheese.

This soup really is a meal in a bowl and also makes a fantastic lunch. You can freeze it too, if you want – but I find this one disappears out of the fridge pretty quickly!

My Groovy Kitchen Tunes track for this warm, nutty soup would have to be Dark Storm, by The Jezebels. Its title is reflective of our weather here in Victoria at the moment, but there’s something warming and hopeful about it at the same time. Curl up on the couch tonight in front of the TV, pop a blanket over you and enjoy this soup and just think, the weekend is nearly here!! Sounds like a perfect Wednesday night to me 🙂

Butter Chicken – the weeknight version


Butter chicken is one of those curries that won’t scare those opposed to heat and is great for kids. Not a chilli in site!

While curries are a bit famous for taking a very long time to cook – this version is actually quite quick (on the table within 40 minutes, including preparation) and doesn’t require going to the supermarket to purchase 10 different kinds of spice.

It’s a bit of a cheats version – but don’t let anyone make you feel guilty for that! This uses a store-brought mild curry paste. Some brands of these are better than others. I find Sharwood to be superior and the flavour is really fantastic. It’s all fine to spend a bit of time on the weekend grinding up your own curry paste, but it’s not something for during week.

You’ll notice that the quantities are enough to feed a small army – and that’s because I was cooking it not only for our dinner, but also as additional meals for my dad to put in his freezer.

So, why not cook a large batch – serve it up for dinner, then pop the rest in an air-tight container for the freezer. It’ll give you a night off when you can’t face cooking.

Butter Chicken

  • 3 heaped tbs of mild curry paste (Sharwood is my prefered supermarket variety – but there are fabulous ones at Indian supermarkets)
  • 2 large red onions, finely diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2cm nob of ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 tbs of dried ground coriander
  • 2 tbs of tomato paste (this is a key ingredient, not only for flavour, but colour as well)
  • 2 kg of chicken thigh fillets, chopped into 2cm cubes
  • 500ml of thickened cream
  • 1/2 a cup of water
  • 1 large handful of chopped, fresh coriander (optional)

Method


In a large, heavy-based saucepan add the paste, onion, garlic, ginger, tomato paste and dried coriander and cook until the spices become fragrant, about five minutes. If they start to burn and catch on the bottom of the pan, add a little water.

Add the chicken and cook over a medium heat, stirring regularly, until the chicken’s juices start to loosen the mix. This will take 5-10 minutes. Add the water and the cream and stir well. Allow to simmer over a low heat for about 10 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked and the curry is a lovely, rich orangey colour. Add the coriander, if using. and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve with basmati rice and pappadums or naan bread, if you have it handy!

My Groovy Kitchen Tunes track choice for the cooking of this recipe would have to be something warm and comforting, just like this dish. As soon as this song comes on, I can’t help but smile, which is how I feel when I put the first fork full of butter chicken in my mouth. The Temper Trap is my new absolute favourite band right now, in and out of the kitchen! Their album Conditions was a big feature of the playlist at our engagement party in May. Their incredible – as is this song – Fader. Have a listen!

Cooking – not only cures hunger, but enriches the soul


Over the past few months I’ve been trying to figure out what makes cooking such a challenge for people. Why don’t more people love compiling the evening meal as much as I do?

So, I asked a few of my friends on Facebook about what makes cooking challenging for them. Most of them said it was time that made it hard to get a meal on the table. Others said it was the financial stress of having to cook for a large family. Other said recipes had too many ingredients or were too hard to follow. All very useful things to know for a food blogger like me.

But, while I can create and write simple recipes that taste great and are good on the bank balance, I was wondering what I could do to change the mindset that cooking is just a means to an end – something that has to be done.

I’ve decided, it’s all about how you feel when you cook. Busy schedules, screaming kids – all while dealing with hot pots and timers and everything else that goes along with cooking. Yeah, that sounds terrible to me too!

So, I came up with a recipe to help you think of cooking as not only a means of feeding your hunger, but feeding your soul:

1. Turn the TV off, and turn your favourite tunes on.

 One of my pet hates when I am trying to cook is having the TV mind-numbingly blaring in the background. I always cooked with the TV on growing up – then I brought a house that’s kitchen was a totally separate room from the rest of the house. Well, it was my little haven of happiness. I’d have my music on, and dance around the kitchen adding a dash of this and a drizzle of that to whatever I was cooking. I know most houses are open plan – but why not turn the TV off for a while and enjoy some music. It will do your creativity a world of good, it’ll reduce stress, plus it’s unhealthy to have the idiot box on ALL the time.

2. Ask your parner /housemate / friend to sit with you while you cook, or even lend a hand!

One thing my fiancée and I love to do is spend time together while we cook. Sometimes I cook, sometimes he cooks. Sometimes I chop and he stirs. You get the drift. If we had kids, they’d probably be there too looking on and making racket. But hey, at least you’re together and communicating, and there’s nothing better for the soul then that!

3. Be confident!!

Many people see cooking as being hard, and therefore not enjoyable. I can understand that! If you watch Masterchef or My Kitchen Rules – no wonder most of us are getting a complex that our food isn’t special enough or fancy enough or it doesn’t have enough ingredients. Well, I’m here to tell you that most of the stuff that they cook on those shows doesn’t have a place in anyone’s kitchen 90 per cent of the time. Unless you are a lady or man of leisure with a whole lot of money and a stack of time on your hands, then that sort of cooking is a unrealisitic expectation to put on home cooks. As long as it tastes good and makes you happy, that’s all that matters. In saying that, I think those “four ingredient” recipes are kind of dumb – but there’s a happy medium to everything.

4. Keep your bench tidy

The most stressful part of cooking for me, really is the clean up. I hate it! So, I have a plastic bag on the bench where I throw all my rubbish, and I cook with the dishwasher open so I can turf stuff in there when I’m done using it. After I have chopped stuff up, I wash my board and give the bench a wipe. It’s actually really easy and saves sooo much cleaning up later on. In saying that, don’t sweat it too much. When I make something new and complicated, there’s mess and jars and stuff all over the place (including the odd bit of vegie peel on the floor). The trick is, don’t make stressful recipes or new things when you are short on time and patience. Be kind to yourself!

5. Remember that cooking is about love and generosity

Change your mnindset by thinking about cooking not as a chore, but as a way of showing your love for yourself and for your family. For me, my love for food stems from the satisfaction I get from having people together, in one place – enjoying each other’s company. What better way to do that then to share food? The other thing I love about cooking is the generosity of it – and the way you can be so creative and artistic all at the same time. But what is so special for me is that cooking is the way I open my heart to people – it’s the way I feel most comfortable in showing the people I care about just how much they mean to me. If the one thing you can do everyday to show the people close to you that you love them is to cook for them, then I think that’s great. It won’t always be met with a thank you – but when it comes to food, most people appreciate the effort. And, if you live alone and cook for one – think of it as your treat to yourself. I used to do that when I lived alone and could cook WHATEVER I liked, with no complaints 🙂 Fabulous!

Have a think about these tips and if you do nothing else – cook with music on. For me the two go hand in hand. Sometimes it’ll be Kings of Leon, other times Paramore – at the moment, it’s this awesome song by a great band called Stateless. It’s chilled, relaxing and very cool!

Now because I think music and cooking are a recipe for happiness, I’m going to share with you what I think are the most inspiring tracks when it comes to cooking in all my future posts!

But in the mean time, if you normally cook with music, what’s flicking through on your Ipod at the moment? Share your inspiring tunes in the comments section below!

Be Inspired~

Lisa

 

Happy Birthday Uforic Food!


Today is Uforic Food’s first birthday, and as you can see, it’s the start of something new!

As a birthday present, the blog has received a complete makeover! What do you think?

Personally, I love it! 🙂

Over the past 12 months I have learnt a whole lot about blogging. I have posted more than 100 times and have a bunch of dedicated followers, who I thank so much for joining the Uforic Food community and the journey so far.

In the last year you have watched me dish out 30 Recipes in 30 Days – which was an awesome challenge – as well as share countless stories about my love for food, how it has grown over time and some of my family’s secret recipes.

But knowing that this big milestone was approaching, I have taken the time to think about where Uforic Food is going.

I decided the most important thing to me is to inspire people to cook, despite the fact that life is busy and hectic and crazy and there just aren’t enough hours in the day. I want to help you be a success in the kitchen.

Uforic Food is all about fabulous flavour and simplicity wherever possible. Let’s have fun cooking, instead of it being a chore. They’ll be no whacky concepts or ingredients you can’t understand. I won’t write recipes that make you have to buy 10 different kinds of sauce that are only going to sit in the cupboard because you have no other use for them.

My aim is to help you feel confident about cooking and therefore it’s all about being creative. There is nothing more rewarding then being able to go to the fridge, freezer and pantry – see what you have and make something out of it – without a recipe to go by, simply because you understand what flavours work well together. That kind of knowledge is true inspiration – not reading and following a recipe to the letter.

The recipes I write here, and the ones that will be featured in the cook book I am now writing (very exciting!!), won’t be created with the expectation that you are going to follow them step by step, measuring everything accurately along the way.

They’re a guide, surrounded by lots of other tips, tricks and food knowledge – to inspire you to chop and change, add flavours you like and have fun with it. Make it your own!

Many people dread cooking, do it out of necessity and buy take-aways and pre-packaged stuff from the supermarket because cooking is just too overwhelming, time consuming and difficult. But, I promise you, sign up to the new-look Uforic Food and in no time you’ll be dancing around the kitchen, adding a dash of this and a dollop of that and having a fabulous time cooking meals for you and your family.

The Weekly Cook Up will continue on Fridays, which delivers recipes ideal for cooking when you have a little more time up your sleeve, but that are suitable for freezing in batches to be thawed and eaten during the week when life is crazy and you only have enough energy to dial for pizza. Trust me, the time you invest on a weekend to cook a few dishes for later in the week will become your saving grace, not only when it comes to time, but for your health, as well as your hip pocket.

On Saturday l’ll bring you some awesome tips on not only how to feed your hunger, but enrich your soul through cooking. It’s a post I’m really proud of and hope you check it out. They’ll even be music too!

But until then, why not use one of the trusty links above to share this with your friends on Twitter or Facebook. Think of it not only as a birthday gesture to Uforic Food, but a great way to inspire your friends.

Again, thank you for following me on my foodie journey so far … and if you’re new to Uforic Food, welcome and please feel free to look through all the recipes already on offer. I’m really looking forward to connecting with you 🙂

 

 

Lisa

 P.S I would like to also thank my dearest friend and technology guru AJ (follow him on Twitter @BLKMGK01 or visit his awesome site for cool young professionals here). I know we didn’t get to do everything we had planned – but that just means there’s even more excitement to come!

I would also like to thank Adcell Group for designing the awesome new header and the very stylish Uforic Food logo. I love it!

Super-quick pasta with pancetta, olives and basil


Food that is full of flavour, but quick and kind on the budget – that’s exactly the thing I love to eat mid-week and this pasta dish is perfect.

First, lets talk flavour – olives, pancetta (or bacon is a fine alternative) are an awesome combo accompanied by tomatoes and some nice fresh basil. No basil in the house? Parsley is fine too, or even some baby spinach leaves.

The best thing about this is it’s something everyone can whip together as long as you have some form of pasta in the cupboard, tomatoes (canned or fresh), some form of bacony meat (pancetta, bacon, even some ham or salami would work really well) and some fresh herbs or other greenery. Even the olives are optional – although I think they are the highlight of this dish. I used huge green pitted olives which I sliced – but you could use kalamata olives, or even black ones – whatever is handy.

As for price and time – I think you can see it’s not something that’s going to take ages to cook – including prep, absolutely no more than 20 minutes. There’s very few ingredients and flexibility to use up what you have in the fridge – so in the cost stakes, it’s very economical too.

Ok, enough convincing – more recipe writing!

Super-quick pasta with pancetta, olives and basil

Serves: 4

  •  250gm of dried pasta (I used spirals, but anything goes)
  • 1/2 a cup of cubed pancetta (or three middle bacon rashers sliced, or even the same amount of salami would work well too)
  • 3 spring onion stalks, chopped (or a small onion, peeled and chopped)
  • 200gm of green olives, pitted and sliced (these are optional or you can use whatever olives you have around)
  • 1 400gm can of chopped tomatoes (or the equivalent of fresh)
  • 1/4 cup of white wine (only if you have it)
  • 1/4 cup of fresh basil leaves, torn (or parsley or spinach leaves would work well too)
  • Freshly ground pepper

Method

Place a large pot of water on the stove to boil – and add two teaspoons of salt. Bring to the boil and add your pasta. Cook as per packet directions.

While the pasta is cooking, in a large fry pan, add the pancetta (or whatever meat product you choose) and cook for two minutes until browning. Add the spring onion (or onion) along with the tomatoes and wine (if using) and bring up to a brisk simmer. Season with pepper and allow to cook.

Drain your pasta and add it top the sauce, along with the olives and fresh herbs. Stir through and allow to simmer for a minute or two to allow the sauce to stick to the pasta. If it looks a little dry, add some water until you are happy with the consistency.

Serve immediately with some garlic bread and a salad, if you can be bothered making one.

Can I freeze it?: Sure can – in an air-tight container for up to three months. Thaw before re-heating for best results. You may need to add some water while re-heating, as freezing can make the sauce go dry.

Be Inspired~

Lisa

Beef enchiladas with rustic guacamole

The Weekly Cook Up – Irish Stew


Irish stew is a casserole that has been the key to keeping hungry people’s tummies warm and full for a very long time.

It’s simple to make, with few ingredients and is ideal for your slow cooker. The first time I ever ate it was at an Irish pub in my hometown of Geelong – and once I’d had it, I couldn’t wait to re-create it. So, this is my version of a very, very famous stew. There’s no spice and kids are sure to like its  gravy flavour. Irish stew also only has meat, carrot and potato, so no need to negotiate with them to eat anything too fancy, weird-looking or green, for that matter.

This freezes extremely well, so why not whip up a batch this weekend.

Irish Stew

  • 1kg lamb four-quarter chops, cut into bite-sized cubes
  • 1/2 a cup of flour, which has been seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 2 large onions, peeled and finely chopped
  • 3 carrots, peeled a cut into large chunks
  • 3 large deseree potatoes, peeled and sliced into large chunks
  • Enough beef stock to cover everything (about 1 litre)
  • 1 tsp of fresh thyme leaves
  • 3 tbs of Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

Method

Place the flour, salt and pepper in a zip lock bag and added the cubes of lamb. Close the bag and toss to coat the lamb with flour.

Heat some oil in a large, heavy based casserole and cook the lamb in batches until it is sealed and brown on the outside. Set the lamb aside.

Add a little more oil to the pan and cook the onion until it is soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add the lamb back into the pan, along with all remaining ingredients.

Bring to the boil, cover and reduce heat to very low. Simmer for two hours, checking and stirring occasionally. At the end of the cooking time the sauce should be nice and thick and the vegies and meat nice and tender.

If using a slow cooker, add all ingredients to the ceramic dish and cook on high for 3 hours, or on low for 5.

Serve with some nice crusty bread and a big glass of your favourite red wine.

 

Creamy mushroom and asparagus risotto


This was the first risotto recipe I ever made, and while I have done many more since, this delicious combination has stood the test of time.

My first attempt was back when I was a 23-year-old sub-editor working the 3pm to 12am shift at a daily newspaper in a country town in New South Wales. Boredom and loneliness was often an issue for me, so I used to entertain myself by cooking up heaps of different dishes. I didn’t have to worry about feeding someone else and what their likes and dislikes were. I didn’t have to stress if the dish took forever, I was on my time, no hungry people (other than my tummy) hovering around. As a tribute to my solitude, I went a little crazy with my culinary experiments. The best part for me was that if one of my far-fetched dishes turned into an inedible mess, I would be the only one going to bed hungry.

So, I headed to the shop, brought a packet of alborio rice, and looked at the back of the packet to find this very recipe (which I have since adapted). I then proceeded to walk around and around the supermarket, finding the bits and pieces I needed. One thing I discovered about myself during this lonely phase (I learnt a lot, actually) was that without a little direction – I get totally lost and distracted in supermarkets. I used to go from the freezer section to the deli and then up to the biscuit isle, before realising I forgot the parsley in the fruit and veg section. I’d then think; “ice-cream, would be nice …”  so off I’d go to the other end of the shop.

 My fiancée would attest that I’m not much better when accompanied by someone willing to carry my basket of goodies – but I do try to stay focused!

Anyway, I digress –  back to the risotto.

I cut up all my ingredients (something I recommend doing when cooking any dish for the first time, especially when using a new technique – it keeps things a little more organised and helps with timing) and I got underway. I added rice and wine and stock and stirred it round and round as I did so. I got a little bored with the stirring, so I phoned a friend, holding the phone with one hand and my wodden spoon with the other. We had a good old chat! 

In the finish, it came out ok. Although it was a bit dry, and it got stuck to the bottom of the pan.

But I pressed ahead and served my little experiment into a nice bowl. I then took up my position on my old, uncomfortable futon couch, in my holey, but very comfy PJs you would never let a boy see you in for how unsexy they were. All this was completed with a nice drop of wine in my very best coffee mug, perched on the floor beside me. Upon the first bite, I discovered I had produced a meal that was, well, quite uncooked. Ok, it was crunchy. I obviously hadn’t persisted long enough with the ladelling of stock and stirring of rice.

But, the flavours were all there – it was just the texture that was wrong. I did eat it all too. I was hungry and it was too cold and too late to head out for Maccas.

I bet you aren’t keen to try this recipe now – but you really should. Honestly! Learn from my mistakes and you’ll do as well as my second attempt – which turned out fabulously well!

Tips to perfect risotto:

  • Taste the rice before you decide it’s ready, and continue to ladel and stir until you get the right texture, which is soft with the subtlest bite to the rice – it should be creamy and loose.
  • Heat your stock in a pot beside your risotto pan – it takes less time for the rice to absorb hot stock then cold, making it much, much quicker.
  • Use a non-stick frypan – trust me, this is a good idea!
  • Cook the risotto at a high heat and don’t stop stirring! The stirring releases the starch from the rice, making the risotto creamy.
  • Always check your seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste.
  • The other trick I discovered was that it’s worth getting someone to give you a hand with the stirring – this means employing a spouse, friend, teenager etc to do this for you. Best idea ever!

Creamy mushroom and asparagus risotto

  • Tandoori Chicken Risotto
  • 600gm of chicken thigh fillets, cut into 2cm cubes
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup of pancetta, diced
  • 200gm of alborio rice
  • 1/2 a bottle of white wine
  • 4 portabelo mushrooms (or whichever ones you like), sliced
  • 1 litre of chicken stock (you will probably use less than this, but best to have it on hand)
  • 3 bunches of asparagus, trim away the woody bit, leaving the spears
  • 2 handfuls of grated parmesan (a good quality one)
  • 3 tbs of thickened cream
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Put the chicken stock into a saucepan and bring to the boil before turning right down.

Heat a little olive oil in a non-stick pan and cook the onion over a low heat, until it is beginning to soften. Add the panchetta and cook for a further two minutes or so.

Turn up the heat and add your chicken. Cook for about five minutes, then add the alborio rice.

Stir so that all the grains are coated and really hot, but don’t burn them. Add all the wine. It will bubble a lot (if it doesn’t, your stove isn’t hot enough). Stir until the wine has absorbed. 

At this point, start ladelling your stock in. Put one ladel full of stock in at a time and stir each until it has absorbed into the rice before adding the next. This will take about 20 to 30 minutes. Ensuring your stock is hot before adding it will quicken the process.

After about 10 minutes (so the rice should be half-cooked) add the mushroom and asparagus.

 The only way to tell that it’s ready it to taste it, as mentioned previously. Make sure the risotto is nice and lose and creamy – it shouldn’t be dry and stodgy.

Finish with the cheese and cream. Once you have stirred it through, you might like to add a touch more stock, as the cheese can thicken the risotto.  

Whether you have tried cooking risotto before or not – this is a great recipe and I promise, as long as you taste and stir, it will be lovely, creamy and comforting! Why not make it the next time you have an afternoon free, your next anniversary dinner when the kids are elsewhere or for your next dinner party.

This recipe really isn’t one to freeze. You can if you want, but the texture will change. Add some water when reheating if you’d like to try it.

Be inspired~

Lisa

Fabulous side dish: Smashed potatoes


Side dishes are a real challenge for me, and I think for a lot of people. You know the main thing you’d like to cook – some simply grilled fish, a nice roast chicken or even a steak – but I’m always asking myself “but what are we going to have with it??”

So, I’ve been road testing a few side dish ideas, and this one is awesome 🙂 Smashing the potatoes gives great texture, and I made this with bacon and spring onions – all great friends of the humble potato. This isn’t a pretty dish, but it’s full of flavour, simple and will compliment many different dishes. I love mashed and baked potatoes – but this is a nice change.

SMASHED POTATOES

  • 4 deseree potatoes
  • 3 rashers of bacon, sliced into chunks
  • 2 spring onion stalks, chopped
  • 2 knobs of butter
  • a little olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

Score the potatoes with a knife and cook in the microwave for 7 minutes, or until soft and tender.

Place a non-stick pan over a high heat and add enough olive oil to cover the pan. Place the potato on a plate and using a fork, smash it until it had broken up, but it still chunky. Add the potato to the hot pan, using a spatula to press it down.

Scatter the bacon on top and place small pieces of the butter across the top of the potato and bacon. Season generously with salt and pepper.

Cook until the potato is golden at the bottom, then use the spatula to turn the potato and bacon over, to allow it to brown on the other side. The potato will break apart as you do this. Don’t stress, that’s what’s supposed to happen.

Once the bacon is cooked and parts of the potato are crispy – it’s ready to serve with your favourite meal.

Hope you enjoy this recipe. As I said, it’s not pretty, but mostly importantly, it’s yummy, relatively quick and something a bit different.

What kinds of side dishes do you normally cook? Are you sometimes left stumped for ideas? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts!

Be Inspired~

Lisa

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