Saturday, 14 January 2012

Artichoke and goat's cheese risotto with chilli gremolata

I came up with this recipe last week when my vegetarian friend Amy came for dinner. I love risotto, it's so simple and flavoursome. I find restaurants often overload the rice dish with cream and butter, which ruins it for me and for my waistline. This risotto takes the strong flavour from the goat's cheese to add richness, so you don't need to add too much. The gremolata is an Italian seasoning usually made of parsley, lemon and garlic it can be added to meat dishes or pasta and I've added chilli to this one for a contrast with that creamy goat's cheese.

Serves 2 greedy girls

4-5 shallots, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
250g risotto rice
250ml white wine
1.5 pint vegetable stock
1 jar marinated artichokes
100g strong goat's cheese
25g parmesan, grated

For the gremolata
handful of parsley, finely chopped
zest of 1/2 lemon
1/2 a red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 In a large saucepan, fry the shallots in a little olive oil until soft and starting to brown, then add the garlic and fry for a minute or two longer. Add the rice and give it a good stir to coat the rice in oil.
2. After a couple of minutes add the wine and stir and season well. Then spoon in a ladle of stock wait until nearly all of the liquid has been absorbed before adding another ladle of stock. Repeat until all of the stock has been used or the rice is cooked yet still has a bite to it. If it is too dry add more stock.
3. Meanwhile combine the gremolata ingredients in a small bowl and give it a good stir.
4. When the risotto is nearly cooked add the artichoke hearts. Tear the goat's cheese into strips, reserving two slices. Add the goat's cheese and a big pinch of parmesan and stir until melted. Taste and season if necessary.
5. Spoon the risotto into bowls it should not be too firm and should have a slight creamy sauce consistency. Add a slice of goat's cheese to each bowl and sprinkle with the gremolata and parmesan and serve.

Try this with fennel as well simply add chopped fennel to the frying onions and garlic.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Curried parsnip soup with caramelised onions

January is such a gloomy month, the joy of Christmas is over, the coffers are running low and it's oh-so-cold out. Well, for me, it's the perfect time of year to hide away in my kitchen and cook up some nutritious and delicious delights. Soups are quicker than you think to make and a whole pot can last you all week for work lunches – perfect if you're watching the pennies. Why not while away an afternoon making this velvety sweet soup? Guaranteed to spice up the darkest of January nights.

2 onions
1 inch stick of ginger
3 cloves of garlic
5 parsnips, diced
1 pint vegetable stock
400ml coconut milk
2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp cumin seeds
natural yoghurt

1. Finely chop one onion, the ginger and garlic. Fry the onion in a little oil in a large saucepan until just starting to brown and then add the ginger and garlic. Fry for a couple of minutes and then add the parsnip.

2. After a couple of minutes more pour over the stock and bring to the boil. Leave to simmer for 10 minutes.

3. Add the coconut milk, garam masala, ground cumin and coriander and simmer until the parsnip is completely soft. Meanwhile slice the remaining onion into thin slices.

4. Using a hand blender, pulse the soup until completely smooth. Leave on a very low heat to simmer.

5. In a frying pan, fry the onion in a little vegetable oil and add the cumin seeds. Fry the onion on a low-ish heat for 5-8 minutes until they are caramelised and dark in colour.

6. Ladle the soup into bowls and top with the caramelised onions, drizzle with yoghurt and serve with bread.