31 Jul 2016

half and half risotto

I get pretty excited when I find a new lunch or dinner recipe that’s easy to make, delicious, and healthy. I don’t ask for much, do I? If it can be flexible enough to suit whatever’s in season — or in my fridge — it ticks even more boxes, and might just be a recipe that I’ll add to my list of regulars.

I’ll admit I’ve only made this half and half risotto once, but I know I’ll make it again. Easy? Yes, because risotto is just add one thing after the other and give it a stir (at least it is with me). Delicious? The dark outer leaves of the new-season savoy cabbage had a pleasing bitterness, the leeks were sweet, and the lemon added a nice tang. And healthy? With peas and mushrooms and cabbage, there’s a good serve of veg in every bowlful.

The half and half mix of traditional arborio rice and trendy quinoa makes for a nutritious blend I’m sure, and a lovely light and creamy texture. I’ve made risotto with all rice of course, and risotto with all-quinoa, but never thought to combine the two (even though I do all the time in my rice cooker). It works! I’d have to say it’s the best of both worlds.  

A good risotto recipe must be infinitely adaptable for all kind of ingredients and flavours — a good base to work from. And I can see this one will be — maybe I’ll try pumpkin next time, or silverbeet and peas, or zucchini in the summertime, or asparagus…

So hurrah to having a new favourite!

Half and half risotto
Adapted from ‘Superlegumes’ by Chrissy Freer.
  • First some prep. Thaw out a cup of frozen peas, slice up the white of a leek (and a little bit of the lighter green part), roughly chop 200 gms mushrooms and a few garlic cloves (to your taste). Shred a few leaves of dark savoy cabbage (sorry I’m not very precise here — but you’ll know how much cabbage you like).
  • Weigh out 150 gms arborio and 100 gms white quinoa, and rinse it well.
  • Set 1 litre of liquid to simmer — I used a combination of water, homemade and bought vegie stock. Boil the kettle too, as you’ll probably need to add more liquid as you cook (risotto can be so imprecise, and thirsty).
  • Okay, let’s get cooking! In a deep casserole pot, sauté the leeks in oil until soft. Add the garlic and the leaves from a few sprigs of lemon thyme.
  • Add the rice and quinoa and stir till well coated with the oil.
  • Add 80mls white wine and simmer for a few minutes.
  • Now add the simmering stock. Be lazy like me and add it all in one hit. Stir well and after about 20 minutes, test the grains (you want them soft) and watch the liquid levels. You may need to add more from that boiled kettle to ensure the risotto doesn’t stick, has enough liquid to cook the grains, and is your preferred ‘wetness’. I like my risotto a little sloppy.
  • When the rice is about 5 minutes away from being done, add in the mushrooms, cabbage and peas to cook.
  • When those veg are just done, add the fine zest of one lemon — and why not, add the juice of half of it as well. Enjoy!

24 Jul 2016

individual bread + butter puddings

Since we’re all about putting your own spin on things chez Dig In, here’s a neat twist to an old favourite: individual B&B puddings. I would say guaranteed portion control, but as I ate two hot out of the oven and two later than night, fridge-cold and creamy, that’s not really valid.

I got the idea from a library book; one of those London bakery–café books that are very popular (or at least plentiful on my library’s shelves). I remember thinking ‘individual puddings — how cute!’. I probably also thought ‘portion control!’ but that, as I said, has been massively disproven.

I didn’t copy out the recipe because I have my own that’s my ‘go-to’. This time I used torn-up panettone sploshed liberally with sherry, then I poked in some chunks of rich medjool dates, and to the custard I added the zest of an orange. It was a fine combination of flavours, hot or cold.
And cute — very. As I tucked into my first one, I thought that these were definitely brunch-style café offerings. I imagined them served on a shiny white plate with an artful dollop of greek yoghurt and maybe a swirl of blueberry compote around the plate — and a hefty trendy-café price tag. I’m getting carried away, because these are not pretentious at all! They were just a very good spin on a traditional pudding.

So I’m not going to give you a recipe — as I said, I used my go-to and I’m sure you also have a family favourite. The point therefore of this post is perhaps to inspire you to play around with your favourite too.
Individual bread + butter puddings

Instead of cooking these in a bain marie, which is standard B&B pudd practice, I simply lowered the temperature to 160. I made 8, and they took about 30 minutes to cook.

A note to self: use papers to line the tins next time. Perhaps those café style muffin papers that are like a plain piece of parchment pushed in to the tin, all folded and pointy. That would make them easier to remove and make the tin easier to clean!

17 Jul 2016

vanilla + thyme roasted pears

Cooking day. Lentilaise again, this time with my own roasted tomatoes, frozen at the peak of their summer richness. A handful of dried lentils.

And blitzing all the base veg (including some broccoli stalks — extra greens!) in the food processor first. An even better version.

Trays of roast veg: dad’s pumpkin, spiked with lemon zest and Moroccan spices. Kipfler potatoes, just salt and rosemary — so good. I kept gobbling them, hot from the baking tray, even though they were meant for weeknight dinners.

Then roasted pears. The week before I’d roasted the pears with harissa and lemon zest, alongside parsnips and pumpkin. But this time I followed a tip off from Lizzy and enjoyed a gorgeous after-dinner treat — and a perfect send-off for the last of dad’s beurre bosc pears. Honeyed, herby and meltingly tender fruit soaking in a rich speckled syrup. I may have to buy some pears to make this again.

Vanilla + thyme roasted pears
Adapted from Liliana’s Kitchen.
  • Preheat oven to 180.
  • Halve and core 4 beurre bosc pears and add them to a baking dish so they are one snug layer, cut side up.
  • In a heatproof jug, combine ¼ cup honey, ½ cup boiled water, the juice of ½ a lemon, and ½ tspn speckly vanilla paste.
  • Pour this over the pears (scraping out those speckles) and sprinkle over some fresh lemon thyme leaves from a few sprigs. Place a small dot of butter in each pear’s hollow.
  • Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Then remove the foil, baste the pears in the juices (you can even turn the pears over if you wish) before returning to oven, uncovered, and cooking for another 20 minutes or so, until fruit is tender.