Tag Archives: stock

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.

Puy Lentil Red Pepper and Apple Soup

Soup is always good this time of year (Autumn).  I like soups that focus on one or two flavours.  This is a recipe that brings the red peppers to the front with a hint of paprika following.  You don’t have to peel the peppers, I just do because it adds another subtle level.  This is not a blended soup.  It will happily sit on a low heat bubbling away working everyones appetite with its permeating aromas.  This recipe feeds about four people.

Ingredients

1 onion, peeled and chopped as small and even as you can
4 cloves of garlic, pressed
300g red peppers – thats about two large ones, peeled (optional see side dishes) and chopped in small cubes
150g puy lentils (they are the really small ones, you can use the slightly larger ones, I normally soak them for at least one hour, it doesn’t really matter if you don’t though)
10 grams of paprika
1 litre of stock (from a cube or powder)
1 apple peeled and grated
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Method

Cover the bottom of your pan with olive oil and fry off the onions. Add the garlic when the onions start to brown, then the chopped peppers (hold a little bit back for the garnish). Cook this down for five minutes, add the paprika, then the stock.

When this is bubbling happily, slide in the lentils. Keep the soup boiling, add the grated apple then turn down to a simmer. Keep topping up the soup with warm stock or water from the kettle, so it stays a soup like consistency. After 45 minutes, taste the lentils, if they are soft, turn off the soup, leave for half an hour then taste for seasoning. Sometimes the lentils go a little bit hard, not sure why yet, but just cook it a bit more until they soften.

When you are ready re-heat and serve.

To garnish like the bowl in the photo, I took some of the red pepper that I held back and cut as small as possible, chopped one spring onion and half a chilli.

Red Lentil Soup with Feta & Coriander

Red lentil soup is a soup rooted in Middle-Eastern cuisine particularly Lebanon and Israel. It is a solid source of protein and dietary fibre, as well as being tasty and economical. This ‘half an hour soup’ could easily be made the day before and kept covered in the fridge.  I have kept it close to its roots taking it to another level with a feta, yogurt and herb mix. This works well if you are trying to eat a small lunch as it will keep you going until the evening.

Ingredients (serves 4)

500g red lentils
60 ml sunflower oil (4 tablespoons)
4 litres of vegetable stock (good stock powder is fine)
1 small tin of chopped tomatoes
2 medium sized onions
4 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon of cumin powder
1 teaspoon of coriander powder
1 teaspoon of ginger powder
1 teaspoon  of black pepper
1 fresh red chili or a pinch of cayenne pepperFor the garnish
1 small pot of natural yogurt (120g)
100g Greek feta cheese
1 spring onion or shallot, finely chopped
1 lemon, zested and juiced
10 grams of fresh coriander
10 grams of fresh mint
Olive oil

Method

Heat the oil, then  add the chopped onions and pressed garlic. When the onions and garlic are soft add the spices, chili and black pepper, stir into a thick paste. Add the red lentils, then the stock and tomatoes. Stir together, bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer for a further 25 minutes.  Turn off the heat.

With a stick blender or a food processor  pulse the soup 8 or 9 times. Don’t blend until it’s a smooth soup, pulsing just brings it together.  If you don’t have either accessories don’t worry it will still be good.

Season with a few drops of fresh lemon and sea salt

The Garnish
Put the yoghurt in a bowl, crumble in the feta, add the lemon zest, chopped mint and spring onion. Mix really well with a few drops of lemon.

To Finish
Pour the soup into the bowl, add a generous spoon of the feta mix in the middle then the fresh coriander broken onto the yogurt-feta mix. I like to drizzle a few drops of olive oil on the top (optional).

Quick-Fix Spanish Soup

I don’t often use the word ‘quick’ when referring to my recipes as I don’t normally focus on that kind of quick cooking, but from start to bowl this delicious soup takes 30 minutes – 20 of those were letting it cook. This is a typical lunchtime soup across Spain that you would find on any ‘menu del dia’ in cafes, bars or restaurants. I always put in a handful of something green at the end to cook in the soup – in this instance I used spinach because that’s all I could find in my local shop, but it can be any green vegetable – cut it so it fits into the rest of the soup. Make sure you allow for it’s correct cooking time eg. 1 minute for spinach, 5 minutes for peas, 7 minutes green beans. Always taste to be sure.

Ingredients (serves 4) 

1 medium sized onion
1 carrot
1 leek
4 cloves of garlic
1/2 red pepper
1/2 sweet potato
1 tin of chick-peas
1 heaped tablespoon of paprika
10g parsley
200g spinach
1 litre of stock
You can also use any bits of vegetables that you have left in your fridge. The onion, carrot and garlic are important as the base. I had sweet potato and red pepper in my fridge to use up and it really worked. It will make for a better soup if you cut all the vegetables the same size.

Method

Cut the vegetables into 1cm pieces. Open and rinse the chickpeas. Fry off the vegetables and garlic in olive oil. When they are looking a bit brown, add the paprika, stir well and then add the stock. When it comes to the boil turn the soup down. Cook for a further 15 minutes then add the chick-peas.

Cook for another 5 minutes. Turn off the soup, grind some black pepper into it, then add the spinach and parsley and leave with the lid on for a minute. Taste for seasoning and serve.

Black Rice with Spinach and Prawns

Black rice is quite new to me, but it’s a whole food which means I can use it on retreats. As a result, I have been trying out different recipes and it has really grabbed me.  A search on the internet yielded many dessert recipes but few savoury ideas. Black rice is packed full of the good stuff (see store-cupboard) and is visually amazing.  It is not the same as wild rice. It’s much softer and smoother to eat.  The biggest drawback is the cooking time, it’s like brown rice in that it takes 35-40 mins, but it’s worth it for the visual impact and the original velvety taste.

 

Ingredients

400g Prawns (fresh and unshelled)
8 small shallots
4 cloves of garlic
300g black rice
1.5 litres of stock (powder or good cube is fine)
200g spinach
1 lemon
2 spring onions
20g coriander
2 small red chillies

Method

Dice the shallots, quite small, and press the garlic. Fry both off in olive oil in a heavy bottom pan. When they are turning brown add the rice and stir in well. Add the stock and once it’s at a rolling boil, turn it down to a simmer. Keep an eye on it and stir gently occasionally.

Peel and de-vein the prawns – do this job next to running water, as it can get messy.

Zest the lemon, de-seed and finely chop the chilli, and pick the coriander.

Heat a saucepan of water.  Drop in the prawns and cook with lid on for two minutes.  Take a prawn out and cut into one of them to make sure it is cooked (if it’s not give it another 20 seconds).

Put the drained prawns in a mixing bowl and add the chili, spring onion and half the lemon zest with a tablespoon of olive oil, the juice of half the lemon and a pinch of sea salt.  Gently turn the prawns over until it is mixed together.

After 30-35 minutes when the rice is cooked turn off the heat and taste for seasoning. Squeeze in the other half of lemon and add the spinach. Put a lid on the pan (keep the heat off) and leave for a minute. Take off the lid and fold the wilted spinach into the rice.

To serve lay a spoon full of the rice and spinach into a bowl or on a plate. Place a circle of prawns as in the picture. Garnish with the lemon zest that is left and the coriander.

Two-way Chicken Soup

It’s a really good feeling when you cook and eat a dish that has been around you since you were a child.  Curative chicken soup has always been a part of my life, and this take on the recipe will always stay with you. It can seem like quite a long process, so you could make the stock the day before and the main soup the next day.

To make things a little more interesting, but equally as nourishing, a couple of changes in ingredients creates a more exotic Asian version. Its quite dramatic how this classic dish can become a different experience using the same cooking process.

Ingredients (for the stock).

1 chicken
4 peeled carrots (whole)
2 onions peeled and cut in half
1 leek chopped into four
2 celery sticks cut in half
2 tablespoons of decent stock powder (vegetable)

Ingredients for version 1: Classic Chicken Soup (serves 4)

200g mixed green vegetables (I used green beans, peas and broad beans)
400g potatoes
Fresh parsley chopped
2 Spring onions
Zest of a lemon

Ingredients for version 2: Asian Soup.

200g mixed green vegetables
150g rice noodles
Coriander chopped
2 spring onion
15g ginger (thumb size)
2/3 birds eye red chili (depending how hot you like it)
2 limes

Method

Ask the butcher to prepare your chicken, separating the legs, wings and breast, keeping the carcass.  Remove the skin from the legs (use a tea towel or kitchen roll to grip the skin and pull).

Take a large saucepan and put all of the stock ingredients in (except the breast, keep those in the fridge). Cover with water, put a lid on the pan and boil for 25 minutes.  Remove the legs and continue to cook for a further 2 hours.  Keep the water topped up and  the contents covered the duration of its cooking time. Strain the stock into a bowl and put aside.

Version 1: Classic Chicken Soup

Peel and slice the potato into 3cm rings.  Cook the potatoes in the stock, be careful not to move them too much otherwise they will break and make the stock cloudy. Once the potatoes are cooked turn off your stock.

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Meanwhile, oil the pan, when it’s piping hot lay the chicken breasts, skin side down, and season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 4 mins each side on a medium heat. Cut the chicken breast into thick slices.  If you feel the breasts are not quite cooked, then sit them in the hot stock for a minute or so to finish off. At this stage you want to remove the meat from the leg of the chicken and put aside.

Cook off the green vegetables in boiling water (put the vegetables in as their individual cooking time demands ie. green beans would go in before peas and peas before broccoli) set the cooked vegetables to one side when cooked.

Slice the spring onions, zest the lemon and finely chop the parsley, and add to the stock to slightly soften. Hold a little of each back for the final garnish.

To present the soup, take four bowls and place the potatoes on the bottom of the bowl and the green vegetables on top. Place the sliced chicken breasts and legs onto the vegetables and ladle the hot stock over.  Garnish each plate with the chopped parsley, lemon zest and the thinly sliced spring onion.

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Version 2:  Asian Chicken Chili Soup

Cook off the noodles for 3 minutes until firm but not cooked, swiftly wash under cold water to prevent them sticking together. Oil the frying pan, when it’s piping hot lay the chicken breasts, skin side down, and season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 4 mins each side on a medium heat. Cut the chicken breast into thick pieces. If you feel the breasts are not quite cooked, then sit them in the hot stock for a minute or so to finish off.

At this stage you want to remove the meat from the leg of the chicken and put aside.

Cook off the green vegetables in boiling water (put the vegetables in as their individual cooking time demands ie. green beans would go in before peas and peas before broccoli) set the cooked vegetables to one side when cooked.

Cut the ginger into thin matchstick pieces, thinly slice the chillies and the spring onions on a slight angle. Pick the leaves from coriander, rather than chopping as this gives the dish a more Asian feel.

Heat through the stock and add the matchsticks of ginger, half of the spring onions, chili and coriander and squeeze in one of the zested limes.

Taste the stock to make sure it is seasoned properly add some salt if needed and more lime to taste. Add the noodles to heat them through. To assemble the dish take four bowls and divide the noodles evenly (tongs work best for this), place the green vegetables on top. Lay flat the sliced chicken onto the vegetables and ladle the hot stock over.  Garnish each plate with the chopped chili, lime zest, the thinly sliced spring onion and a good pinch of coriander.