Tag Archives: spring onions

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.

Griddled Aubergines with Yoghurt and Pomegranate

This is as good as any introduction to ‘griddling’.  Aubergines really drink oil but cooking them this way will mean you have better control over how much oil you use.  The pomegranates are a great finishing touch but don’t worry if you can’t find one in the supermarket, the dish holds up anyway without them.  This is a sharing dish that goes on the table.

Ingredients (Serves 4)

2 aubergines
1 small pot (125g) zero or low fat yoghurt
1 lemon
1 pomegranate
2 spring onions
2 green chillies
Maldon sea salt
Pepper
Sunflower oil (or any oil, sunflower is my preference for this recipe)

Method 

Cut the aubergine long ways into three or four thick slices depending on its size. You have to level off the rounded outer bits so it sits on the griddle pan.  Put the griddle pan on the flame and brush with the oil.  Lay the slices onto the pan and turn the heat to medium.  Cook each side until the skin is well marked and the aubergine is golden. Take off the heat and lay onto kitchen roll, repeat the process until all cooked.

Dab off any oil from the aubergine with the kitchen paper then lay onto a large plate.  Put the yoghurt into a bowl and mix a teaspoon of lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Cut the spring onions and the green chillies into rings, not too thick.  Empty the seeds out of the pomegranate (see chef´s tips).  Dress the plate when it is ready to go to the table by evenly drizzling the yoghurt over the aubergines, sprinkle over the spring onions and green chilli then finish with the pomegranate.  There are no problems prepare this dish in advance.

Chicken and Quinoa Medley

Chicken Quinoa

This is the kind of meal you could make for yourself and eat over a couple of days as long as you keep the sauce and seeds separate

I devised it originally to use up the chicken leftovers from a roast. You can just as easily griddle a chicken breast.  I use a lot of quinoa in my cooking. Its a complete protein, a carbohydrate and it’s gluten free. Like oats it has complex carbohydrates and essential amino acids which makes it good for training. Most importantly it’s versatile and works as a  sweet or savoury dish.

Ingredients (serves 4)

250g of left over chicken or 2 chicken breast griddled
150g quinoa
150g cherry tomatoes
25g capers
50g spring onions or shallots
1 lemon zested and juiced
1 orange, juiced
Salt and pepper
25g parsley
75g sunflower seeds
10ml Tamari (or soy sauce)

Sauce

100g natural yoghurt
100g cucumber (about a third)
Half of the lemon juice
25g mint
Salt and pepper
Tamari seeds (see TIPS)

Method

To make the yoghurt sauce  mix together the lemon juice, salt and pepper. Peel and de-seed the cucumber and cut into small squares, chop the mint and add to the yoghurt and mix together.

Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and put onto a baking tray covered with baking paper. Sprinkle with plenty of salt and black pepper and some olive oil. (Optional, drizzle a small amount of honey, agave, maple syrup or just a bit of sugar over the tomatoes for added sweetness).

Pour the quinoa into boiling water for 8-10 minutes, taste, it needs to be soft but with a bit of bite. Drain into a fine sieve and refresh under the cold tap. Let it drain for 5 minutes then lay out flat on a tray and cover with kitchen roll and press the excess water out of it. Roughly chop the capers and finely chop the spring onion and the parsley.

Combine the above ingredients in a bowl. Squeeze half the orange and half the lemon into the ingredients. Season with salt and pepper. Turn the ingredients over to combine gently.  You don’t want to break up the tomatoes too much.

To serve, place the quinoa mix on a plate and layer on the chicken, pour on the dressing and garnish with herbs and seeds.

Prawn Cakes with Sesame, Orange and Tamari Dressing

Prawn Balls

It’s always nice to try and do something different and bring prawns to the front of a recipe. Normally prawns are a secondary addition to a larger list of ingredients like noodle recipes. This recipe takes advantage of  the prawn and its sweetness. You can easily halve the balls and use them as a starter or a pre dinner nibble.

Ingredients (makes 8 cakes)

500g prawns (uncooked, peeled and de-veined)
2 spring onions or shallots (75g)
10g coriander
2 de-seeded red chilies
30g fresh ginger
1 lime zested, then chopped and juiced
1 lime for garnish
White sesame seeds
1 teaspoon fish sauce
Sunflower oil for frying

Method

Put the un-cooked, peeled and de-viened prawns into a food processor and pulse into a paste (you can also use a stick blender).  Take out of blender and put into a bowl.

Finely chop the spring onions, coriander, red chillies and ginger then fold into the prawn paste with a spatula or a wooden spoon until mixed.  Squeeze half the lime and add a splash of fish sauce (if you don´t have this then  a sprinkle of salt will be fine) and lime zest and mix again. Wet your hands and divide into eight pieces. Roll into a ball shape. Have your sesame seeds ready in a bowl. Roll each of the balls in the sesame seeds and put onto a plate. With your hand press the balls flat so they will shallow fry (see photo).

Take a pan and brush the surface with sunflower oil, as minimal as possible. Place the cakes into the oil and cook until a golden shade of brown, turn them over and do the same. Finish off in a pre-heated oven at 180 for 8 mins. They should be firm to touch. Serve with a fresh crunchy salad and the dressing below.

Ingredients

125ml sesame oil
80ml fresh orange juice
40ml tamari (see store-cupboard)

Method

Put the ingredients into a old jam jar with a lid and shake really well, pour over a nice crisp green salad and serve.

Prawn Balls