Mushroom Risoniotto

This is a top favourite of mine, not only can it be made in 10 minutes it’s loved by both vegetarians and meat eaters alike.

Mushroom Risoniotto

Mushroom Risoniotto

The recipe is taken from River Cottage.

2 tablespoons rapeseed or olive oil
A knob of butter
500g chestnut mushrooms (see above), cleaned, trimmed and thickly sliced
150g risoni or orzo pasta
2 garlic cloves, chopped
A few sprigs of thyme, leaves only
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
About 75ml dry white wine
About 50ml double cream or crème fraîche
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
A good handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped, to serve

Put a large pan of well-salted water on to boil, so that you’re ready to cook the pasta while the sauce is coming together.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil and half the butter in a large frying panover a medium-high heat. Add half the mushrooms and cook briskly,
stirring often, until all the liquid released has evaporated and the mushrooms are starting to caramelise. Transfer to a dish and repeat
with the rest of the oil, butter and mushrooms. (Cooking in two batches like this avoids overcrowding the pan and ensures the mushrooms do not stew.)

When the second batch of mushrooms are nearly cooked, add the pasta to the pan of boiling water and cook until al dente.

Return the first lot of mushrooms to the frying pan. Add the garlic, thyme and balsamic vinegar and cook, stirring, for a minute or two.
Add the wine and cook until there is almost no liquid left. Add the cream or crème fraîche, reduce the heat a little and stir until it is just about simmering. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Drain the pasta as soon as it is cooked, add to the mushroom mixture and toss well. Serve scattered with lots of chopped parsley.

Homemade Dry Cured & Air Dried Streaky Bacon

10 days ago I received Curing & Smoking by Steven Lamb. Within minutes of receiving the book I was turning pages as fast as I could. It was immediately apparent that this is serious book on the subject but at the same time utterly readable and very encouraging for those who’ve never cured or smoked before. I couldn’t wait to get started on making my own streaky bacon and my enthusiasm to start within minutes has taught me my first lesson – ‘you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear’. Or, in this case decent streaky bacon out of supermarket belly pork which I’d rushed off and bought about an hour after receiving the book!

Next time, which wont be long, I’ll get some quality belly from the thick end with lots of fat in it. Having said that, this morning I cut some rashers from this first piece of streaky and made a bacon sarnie with home-made bread. The bacon had the best flavour of any bacon I’ve ever eaten! With a decent piece of belly to start with it must be out of this world. Here’s how it was done.

Until now one of my favourite books on cookery has been Charcuterie and French Pork Cookery by Jane Grigson but this has now been usurped by Steven Lamb’s book.

Chargrilled Vegetable Pizza

Chargrilled Vegetable Pizza

Chargrilled Vegetable Pizza

Pizza Base Ingredients (makes 2 x 12″ Pizzas)
50g Fine cornmeal (Polenta)
200g Plain flour
1tsp Dried yeast
20ml olive oil
130ml Water
1 x Good pinch of salt

I’m lazy and make the pizza dough in a bread machine which only takes 45 minutes from start to finish. You could of course make it the traditional way with lots of hand kneading.

Get the oven on now because you need it to be really hot – 250C for a fan oven or even higher if you can for a convection oven. It’s also really best if you’ve got a pizza stone which you put in the oven before turning the heat on.

While the dough was being made I used a ridged griddle pan to chargrill finely sliced courgette, red pepper and onion which I’d first mixed with a little olive oil. When the dough was ready each half was stretched out into a rough 12″ diameter disc. Each was spread with two tablespoons of ready made passatta. A few flakes of dried chilli were then sprinkled over and grated mozzarella added. The chargrilled vegetables were then divided between the pizzas, plus a few halved baby tomatoes.

Into the oven once it’s up to temperature and each pizza shouldn’t take more than 5-6 minutes baking on the stone.