Saturday, January 1, 2011

A good start to the new year

So the new year is upon us and I can't help but feel a little winded by how quickly it has arrived. For me 2010, complete with it's ups and downs of which there were plenty of both, really did go more quickly than I could have anticipated. I do have a lot of good memories of the year. I turned 21, got my first tattoo, graduated from university, celebrated my 1st anniversary with my boyfriend which has been my longest relationship so far, together we went to Paris, Vienna and London, I've been doing more photoshoots, making jewellery and fascinators. I must admit though towards the end of the year I spent a few weeks eating whatever took my fancy really, wheat, cheese, lots of chocolate and now I've gained a few pounds from all the Christmas indulging and feel pretty unwell in myself. 

Today has been marked by a return to me friendly food. Breakfast and lunch were made by the Mammy, we had spelt flour pancakes for breakfast and homemade bean burgers with mix leaf salad and wholewheat pitta breads for lunch. For dinner I made one of my old reliables. A big pot of risotto. Everytime I make one its different to the last because I use whatever vegetables are in the fridge, nuts from the cupboard, quorn chicken pieces or goats cheese and whatever herbs we have that I think smell like they go with the protein I used. 

Tonight was a green risotto, with courgettes, green pepper and wilted spinach leaves, chevre and crushed hazelnuts. Since you can already see how I prepped my veg, I can skip that bit. :) Next I heated some vegetable oil in a biggish pot. When the oil was hot I added the chopped onions and roughly half a tea spoon of salt. Apparently this stops them from burning in the pot....well according to some guy who was on Come Dine With Me. So far I have found this works, but then it could honestly be a bit of a placebo effect because I watch the onions more carefully to see if they do burn and prove that guy wrong...

Anyway...Once the onions had begun to soften, I add the risotto rice. For tonight I used 200g for 2 people and we still have a little left over in the pot. That'll be saved for a little bed time treat me thinks. :) Generally I cook the rice for a couple of minutes until the edges of the grains go translucent, this is when I crumble up a stock cube and pour in enough hot water from the kettle to cover the top of the rice and give it a good stir. Tonight I added the courgettes and the green peppers after a couple of minutes because I wanted them to have a long cooking time so they'd be nice and soft when the risotto was finished. When the water simmered down to the same level as the rice, I added more water and stirred it well. I also added about half a soup spoon of ground nutmeg and 3 small crushed cloves of garlic. 

I don't time my risottos when I cook them. Instead I taste the rice every so often while its cooking. When the grains start to become soft I know it won't be long before it's ready so I just let it finish cooking down. While it was still goey, I turned off the ring, then added the chopped up chevre, rind and all, to melt on top of the hot rice with the lid on. If you don't like the rind, don't worry about pealing if off, the cheese melts out of it so the rinds are left separately on top of the rice. Pick them out if you like. While the cheese melted I broke up the packet of hazelnuts with a rolling pin. Before serving up, I mixed in some fresh spinach leaves, which I let wilt in the heat of the rice and 2 teaspoons of green pesto. Once in the bowls, I finished them off with the broken up hazelnuts. Et voila. Yum yum yum.
That's it for tonight. Soon I'll put up some more recipes and let you know how trying Tofurky in America goes next week. 

Post Script: After posting this last night it occurs to me that I chose a recipe for something that alot of people think is a difficult thing to cook without giving any reassurances that it's actually pretty easy to make, despite the hype. I've found that the urban myth that you have to stand over a risotto and stir it constantly while it's cooking is just that. An urban myth. Last night while making mine I had plenty of time to go into the sitting room and check my facebook, respond in conversations etc. The trick is be sensible about when you turn your back on it. I do it after I've added more water and given it a good stir. Since it should be cooked at this point on a low heat and allowed to simmer, its as good a time as any to do whatever else you need to do.

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