Tag Archives: spelt

Brown Rice Risotto With Mixed Mushrooms

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It wasn’t so long back that I would never have thought brown rice can become irresistible and fit for a fine dinning experience. I always liked it and thought it was OK, but for a dinner party……not really.

Well here that theory is blown out of the water. Continually searching for healthy options around classic meals I went round the block and back with risotto using barley, kamut and spelt. Quinoa will work but is nowhere near the consistency of a good risotto and really, it is not a risotto. A risotto is with rice, in this case round brown Italian rice.

Using the round brown Italian rice is perfect for this dish. Health food shops and sections at the supermarkets will stock it. It might not even say it on the packet in the supermarket, just look for the smallest roundest grain. Cooking the rice a bit longer than directed gives it a similar richness to what butter gives  which is that creaminess. Brown rice is very forgiving as it will retain a bite even when it goes a bit over. The ‘bite’ in risotto is so important. So over cook it a little to add a rich texture. You can lose the parmesan easily, yeast flakes would work as a substitute and therefore becoming a vegan option or it stands alone with the depth of the mushrooms.

Brown rice outweighs the health benefits of any white rice. A dish like this has a certain air of originality about it as well.  Making healthy food taste good is very popular at the moment.  If you are familiar with brown rice then you will know what a chore it can be to cook time wise which is why I pre-cook this for twenty minutes before starting the recipe.

Ingredients (serves 4)

200g round brown Italian rice
200g chestnut mushrooms (use any mix of mushrooms, these are just easy to get)
150g portobello mushrooms
75g dried mushrooms
2 cloves of garlic
2 litres of veg stock (cubes or powder)
150ml white wine, sherry or vermouth
30g parmesan
1 green chilli (optional)
100g spinach
Maldon salt and black pepper
1 spring onion or chives
1 lemon

Prep list

Soak the dried mushrooms for twenty minutes (the dish is noticeably better with them and I saw them in all supermarkets when I was back in the UK). Cook the rice in boiling water for 20 mins and drain. It doesn’t matter if it’s a bit sticky.

MixedmushPeel and cut the shallots into small squares. Brush any dirt off the chestnut mushrooms, do not wash though as this gives the mushrooms a sliminess which tends to put people off them. Cut into similar sized squares as the shallots. Cut the portobello mushroom into thick slices. Chop the soaked mushrooms as finely as possible. Press the garlic to a pulp. De-seed and chop the chilli. Grate the parmesan. Make up the stock which needs to be kept hot and add the liquor from the soaked mushrooms to it.

Method

Sautee the portobello slices until browned on each side (if you are using them). Take out of pan and put onto paper to remove excess oil. Fry off the chestnut mushrooms (or mixed mushrooms) and the dried ones in oil. When they start browning add the shallots. When it is all browned and dry add the garlic and green chilli ,combine and cook for a further two mins. Add the precooked rice and stir it in until the excess oil has been absorbed. Add the white wine and let the liquid cook out.

RisottopanWhen the rice starts sticking to the bottom add the stock, a ladleful at a time. Everytime it reduces add more stock. Keep it moving with a spatula which stops it sticking to the bottom.

P1090274After 20mins taste a grain and if its soft but with some bite turn off the heat making sure it is still wet. Add the grated parmesan, ground black pepper, spinach leaves and cooked portobello mushrooms. Put a lid (or cover with foil) on and leave for 5 mins. Take the lid off and gently fold the contents until they are evenly mixed through and the cheese has melted. Be gentle so as not to break or mash up the contents. The risotto needs to be loose so add some more stock if necessary.

To plate up put the risotto put a spoonful in the middle of the plate and smooth it over the surface, to make it nice and flat instead of a pile. Sprinkle to finish with finely cut spring onions.

Cashew and Ginger Spelt Cookies

There is nothing better than having a biscuit tin full of fresh cookies. Normally this is out of bounds if you are keeping to a healthy regime because they are full of butter and sugar.  Here we have lost the butter and replaced the sugar with agave syrup (which is lower on the glycemic index), and also retaining the chewiness which is what we all love about a cookie through the use of almond paste or tahini.  The crystallised ginger makes up for the loss of chocolate chips.

Ingredients (makes 12 medium size cookies)

125g spelt flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
50g cashews
65g crystallised ginger
65g agave syrup
75g almond paste or tahini
65g light olive oil or good sunflower oil
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/4 tsp salt

Method

Preheat the oven to 175 degrees.  In a large bowl sift together the flour, baking powder and baking soda.  Mix in the sugar and the salt.  In a separate bowl whisk the oil with the agave, almond paste (or tahini) and vanilla essence.

Fold together the above ingredients always remembering to be gentle generally when working with pastries.  Add the roughly chopped nuts and ginger, and mix gently until evenly distributed.

Spoon 12 rounds of the mix onto a large lined baking tray (you could do these in two batches if you dont have a large baking tray) leaving 3cm in-between each cookie as they will spread a little in the oven.  Bake for 10 minutes.

The cookies will still be fairly soft when they come out of the oven, but this is fine as they firm when cooling.  Should be light golden in colour.

Courgette, Mint & Feta Fritters with Cherry Tomato Salsa

Fritters are normally a deep-fried thing.  Mine  are very shallow fried for colour then finished in the oven. They are a bit like crepes in so much as it takes one or two to find your flow. This works well as a light lunch, a starter or a vegetarian option.  The main ingredients are courgettes and feta so don’t worry if you miss out on the cumin or the capers it will still taste great.

I tried to work this recipe without flour but they were just too delicate so I have added a spoonful of spelt flour which binds it and gives it strength.  You can use any flour. I don’t cook with flour very often but I always have a bag of white spelt flour in my cupboard for the occasions that it is called for.

Ingredients

500g grated courgette
100g feta cheese
8g mint leaves (20 leaves)
1 egg
1 tablespoon of tahini
1 tablespoon of spelt flour (or any other alternative flour will do)
1 tablespoon of capers
1 teaspoon of cumin
Salt and pepper
Squeeze of lemon

Method

Squeeze the water out of the grated courgette – you can either use a tea towel by putting the grated courgette into the middle, then gathering it into a ball and twisting until the water comes through.  You can also use your hands, be thorough with this otherwise the excess water thins down the mix.

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees.  Put the grated courgette in a bowl, crumble in the feta then add the rest of the  ingredients. Mix well with a spatula. You should have a thick, moist mix.

Put your non stick frying pan onto a medium to high heat. Let the pan get hot then brush the surface with oil, just enough to prevent sticking. Always do a tester first, just so you know how it will behave. With a dessert spoon drop the mix onto the oil. Don’t mess with it too much as it takes a minute to set. Loosen the edge with a egg slice then flip, it needs to be a golden brown colour. When the other side is done put it onto a baking tray lined with oven paper. Wipe the frying pan with kitchen paper and start again until you have made four. You can prepare these in advance.

Put the baking tray in the preheated oven and bake for 8 minutes. Leave for 5 mins to cool off a bit before serving.

Cherry Tomato Salsa Ingredients

1 small packet of cherry tomatoes (any variation will do, the redder the better)
1 spring onion (a shallot will do)
1 red chili (de-seeded)
Squeeze of lime or lemon
Squeeze of orange
2 dessertspoons of olive oil
10g corinader

Method

Quarter the cherry tomatoes into a bowl. Finely chop the spring onion and the de-seeded chili. Add to the tomatoes with lemon, orange juice and olive oil. The orange juice is not for its taste or sweetness it’s to counteract the sharpness of the lemon, this enables you to use less salt. Sir well then add salt and pepper to taste. Ideally this can be made well in advance as it gives the flavors time to permeate.

Fruit & Nut Loaf

As far as healthy cakes go, this one works well as there is no butter or oil and not too much sugar. Most of the sweetness comes from the dried fruit.

Ingredients

100g spelt or kamut flour (see Store Cupboard)
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
100g light brown sugar or xylitol
300g coarsely chopped nuts (I used walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts, but any combination is good)
65g dried cherries or cranberries roughly chopped
120g dried figs or dates (or both) chopped into quarters
50g preserved ginger roughly chopped
85g dried apricots quartered
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla essence

Method

Preheat the oven to 150 degrees centigrade.  Grease and line 9×5 inch (23cmx12cm) loaf tin.  Sift the flour, baking soda and baking powder into a large bowl.  Add the chopped fruit, ginger, nuts and sugar to the flour mix.  Beat the eggs and the vanilla in.  Press this firmly into the tin, tapping the sides firmly to remove any air.

Bake for 60 to 75 minutes.  A wooden skewer should come out fairly clean when inserted into the centre, and the top should be golden brown.  If the top is browning too much during the cooking time, you can cover with tin foil.  Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes, and then remove and cool on a wire rack.