Truffle and parmesan risotto

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This is not just any old risotto, this is a deliciously indulgent risotto making the best of Italian ingredients so it is perfect for a celebration. Truffles have become more accessible and can be bought in most good supermarkets or specialist food markets. Black truffles are cheaper than their highly prized white counterparts making them ideal for trying truffles for the first time. Truffles are wonderfully earthy and pungent and are best served when they are just warmed through to really bring out the flavours.

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Ingredients- serves 2
Knob of unsalted butter
1 garlic clove- crushed
1 shallot- finely chopped
200g risotto rice- I use carnaroli
60ml dry white wine
600ml hot vegetable stock
50g freshly grated parmesan
20-30g black truffle

1. Take a large pan that is suitable for cooking the risotto in. Heat the pan over a low heat and melt the butter. Gently cook the garlic and shallot until they are softened but not yet catching colour. Add in the rice and stir thoroughly to combine and so the butter coats the rice grains.

2. Pour in the white wine and simmer until reduced by half. Now for the stock! Add a little at a time and wait for the rice to absorb it before adding the next lot. Stir during this part of the process to give a creamy finish.

3. When the rice is cooked but remains al dente (soggy risotto rice is a definite no- no!), remove the pan from the heat. Take the truffle and grate half of if and thinly slice the rest. Stir in the parmesan, grated truffle and a little more butter; allow to the risotto to stand for a moment or two so the truffle warms and releases its flavour. Sometimes truffles come with some truffle juice, if it does then also add this in to boost the flavour even more. Serve immediately in warmed bowls and top the risotto with the sliced truffle.

Truffle and parmesan risotto- pure indulgence!

Pancetta wrapped cod loins with tomato and asparagus orzo

When the sun comes out, it’s time to get outdoors and enjoy a colourful meal before the clouds threaten again. In the UK we are about to see the end of this year’s asparagus season (boo!) so this is a perfect way of enjoying it before it goes. Orzo is rice grain shaped pasta which is great for cooking in risotto style as it is here as well as using for pasta bakes and salads. Unlike classic risotto, the stock can be added all in one go rather than one ladleful at a time. Next time you cook this try playing around with combinations such as cherry tomato, chorizo and red pepper which are equally as delicious.

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Ingredients- serves 2
Glug of olive oil
1 red onion- finely chopped
2 garlic cloves- finely chopped
50ml white wine
200g orzo
150g cherry tomatoes- halved
100g asparagus- chopped
300ml vegetable stock
Slices of pancetta
2 cod loins
1/2 tsp paprika

1. Add a glug of olive oil to a large pan that is large enough to hold the orzo. Gently cook the onion and garlic together until softening but not so they are turning golden. Pour in the white wine and simmer until it is reduced by half.

2. Stir in the orzo until it is well coated in the onion mixture. Pop the halved tomatoes and chopped asparagus into the pan. Add the stock little by little until the orzo starts to turn tender and the tomatoes will break down to form a light sauce. If you are using fine asparagus then you may like to add this in slightly later in the cooking of the orzo. You are aiming for the asparagus to retain a little crunch to add texture.

3. Meanwhile, you can prepare the cod. Preheat the oven to 180c/ 160 fan. Depending on how big the cod loins are and the size of the pancetta slices, lay -pancetta slices on a chopping board so they slightly overlap and are the length of the cod loin. Season the cod well with salt, pepper and paprika and wrap one of the cod pieces in it; repeat for the other loin. Take a small frying pan and add a small splash of oil, heating it to medium. Place the wrapped loins seal side down into the pan and fry for a couple of minutes. If the pan you are using is ovenproof then pop the cod straight into the oven for around 10-12 minutes until the cod is cooked. If it is not ovenproof then use a baking sheet to cook the cod on instead. When the pancetta is cooked and crisped it is ready to serve on top of the orzo. Serve immediately.

Pancetta wrapped cod loin with tomato and asparagus orzo- a colourful dish to cheer up anyone’s day!

 

Sweet roasted garlic and spinach risotto with pancetta curls

Sweet roasted garlic and spinach risotto was born after being given a huge bag full of homegrown spinach which would be sacrilegious to waste! Don’t think that if you make this you’ll be walking around the next day sending people running and fending off vampires as roasting the garlic makes for a sweet finish. Use the freshest garlic you can for the best flavour.

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Ingredients- serves 2
Bulb of garlic- cut in half
Olive oil
1 small white onion- finely chopped
50g pancetta- cubed
200g arborio rice
600ml chicken or vegetable stock
100g spinach- washed, patted dry and shredded
2 tbsp creme fraiche or ricotta
Lemon juice
Pancetta slices
Salt and pepper
Fresh grated parmesan to serve

1. First thing’s first! Preheat the oven to 200c/ 180fan and place the halved garlic bulb cut side up on a baking try. Drizzle over some olive oil and roast for around 25-30 minutes until the garlic is sweet and tender. Remove from the oven and set aside.

2. When you’re ready to cook the risotto, take a large pan and add a knob of butter over a medium heat. Cook the chopped onion and pancetta cubes for a few minutes until softening and the pancetta is turning golden. Add in the arborio rice and make sure that the buter coats each grain. Take a ladle and add in the first lot of stock and lower the heat to a simmer. Squeeze out the garlic cloves, mash down lightly with the back of a fork and add to the rice.

3. As each ladle of stock is absorbed you need to add in another until all the stock has been used. When the last ladle has been added pop in in the shredded spinach and stir well to combine. Take the pan off the heat and add in the creme fraiche, a squeeze of lemon to taste and some parmesan cheese. Taste and adjust the seasoning as required.

Serve the risotto is warmed bowls with a final grate of parmesan and a pancetta curl or two (make more than you need in case one jumps into your mouth whilst cooking!). To make the curls take thin slices of pancetta and cut a slice into thirds. Wrap them loosely around a skewer, remove gently and place on a baking tray. Cook for a couple of minutes at 180c/ 160fan. Simple!

Sweet roasted garlic and spinach risotto with pancetta curls- treat yourself to a little luxury!

English pancetta, radicchio and balsamic laced risotto

This risotto uses an unusual combination of ingredients but it’s a marriage made in heaven; the slightly bitter edge of radicchio, the smoky pancetta and the caramelised finish of the balsamic. I used sliced English pancetta from a Hampshire butchers but use whatever you can get your hands on.

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Ingredients-serves 2
Knob of butter
Olive oil
1 banana shallot- finely diced
1 garlic clove- finely chopped
100g radicchio- shredded
200g arborio rice
600ml chicken stock
4 slices of pancetta diced and 2 cut into thirds
2 tbsp low fat creme fraiche
1 tsp good quality balsamic vinegar- I used a caramelised one
Parmesan to serve

1. Get going by melting a knob of butter and a glug of oil in a wide pan before adding the shallot and garlic. Cook until softened. Next up goes the diced pancetta and cook until nearly crisped.

2. Pop in the rice and stir well so each gratin is coated with the butter. Add the radicchio and a ladleful of stock. Bring to a gentle simmer and stir from time to time, remembering to add in more stock as the rice absorbs each lot.

3. Just before the risotto is ready, heat a frying pan and dry fry the pancetta slices which you have cut into thirds. As the slices turn golden, remove them from the pan and set aside.

4. When your risotto is ready to serve simply take the pan off the heat and stir in the creme fraiche, balsamic, a small amount of extra butter and some of the parmesan and leave to sit covered for a few moments. Pile high onto warmed bowls and top with the crispy slices of pancetta.

Pancetta, radicchio and balsamic laced risotto- a new twist on a classic that you won’t regret!

Chestnut mushroom and porcini risotto

Picture the scene: you come home from a hard day in the office and want to spoil yourself with a luxurious yet simple dish. Well this hits the spot so kick off your shoes, throw on your apron and get stirring!

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Ingredients- serves 2 (double for 4)
50g unsalted butter
1 banana shallot finely chopped
1 crushed garlic clove
100g chestnut mushrooms sliced
10g rehydrated dried porcini mushrooms
175g arborio rice
600ml good vegetable stock
60ml dry white wine
40g grated fresh parmesan
Handful of chopped flat leaf parsley
Drizzle of truffle oil

1. Heat half of the butter in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the shallot and garlic and cook until softening. Pop in the chestnut and porcini mushrooms and cook for a couple more minutes. Make sure your mushrooms are finely sliced so any natural water can evaporate quickly.

2. Stir the rice through the mushrooms so the rice is well coated before adding your first ladle of hot vegetable stock. Stir and then stir some more until the stock had been absorbed. Carry on doing this until all the stock had been added and the rice has become soft and plump. This should take around. 20 minutes however some arborio rices may take a few minutes longer. If you need an extra splash out two of stock then go ahead as you want to achieve a creamy risotto.

3. When the rice is ready pop in the wine and stir well to absorb. Risotto purists may put the wine in first before any stock has been added however putting it in afterwards adds an edge which you just don’t get the other way around. When the wine has absorbed add the remaining butter,  parmesan and parsley. Cover the pan for a minute or two.

4. Serve your creamy risotto in warmed bowls and drizzle a little truffle oil over as well as an extra grate of parmesan.

Unctuous, silky risotto- the perfect midweek treat.