Risotto is one of my favourite dish. However it took me a long time to perfect it, to get it creamy and smooth. Italian recipes tell you that it should be creamy but still a little "al dente", to cook it for 15 minutes, sorry I like it really creamy and the longer it cooks the better it is, as far as I am concerned.

For a while, I thought I could get away with any odd kind of rice, It turned out that what I was cooking, though rater nice was not a risotto.

Carnaroli or Arborio rice? (there are others but these 2 are the main types found in Supermarkets). For me it is Carnaroli which is more expensive, but I think that it gives the dish a better texture.

There are many variations on risotto. I discovered one lately, where you add baked butternut-squash and goat cheese, and let me tell you this is a very, very good. But back to base.

Toast lightly the rice in hot olive oil (or butter if you must), add white wine or Vermouth, I have see it done with red wine, the way it is cook in Piedmont where it is called Barolo but for me this is a big No No, when the wine has evaporated,
add the bouillon gradually it is 500ml of liquid for 100g of rice and stir for ever or 15 minutes if you believe the recipes more like double that. Depending on what you will have with your risotto the bouillon is veg / meat or fish. I think it is important to use a good bouillon brand.
When this is done, take off the heat, mix in a little butter (or cream) and Parmesan.
Here are some ideas to experiments with risotto recipes

Turning to Cocktails: Mine Is a "Montreal" Please

Way back he decided to turn to....cocktails, Father Xmas brought a cocktail shaker and patiently waited for the summer. The summer came and went, and still not many cocktail had been created.

So when I got the opportunity to review a cocktails recipe book, I jumped at it.

Sips & Apps by Kathy Casey is an inspiring Cocktails and Nibbles book. Kathy is a “bar chef.” Like any chef, she creates new recipes; in her case, drinks recipes, and she explores and tweaks the old favorites. She has her signature cocktails, she knows her craft and she shares the results with us in this fantastic book.

But will it provide me with glass after glass of freshly created cocktails? I was told that I would have to wait for the summer, so in the meantime, I put Father Xmas' shaker to good use and created my very first cocktail: a Montreal.... or two. Cheers.

1 1/2 ounces rye whisky
3/4 ounce sweet red vermouth
1/8 ounce Pernod
3 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
For garnishing
Long orange-zest twist
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Measure in the rye, vermout, and Pernod. Add the bitters. Stir. Serve on the rocks in an old-sahsioned glass, or strain into a martini glass. Garnish with an orange twist.

For more cocktail recipes, Dish D’Lish products and the latest buzz, visit www.kathycasey.com.”

Andouillette and the French Paradox

I spent some time, a couple of weeks ago visiting relatives and friends in Lyon. And on Sunday a whole lot of us were invited to lunch. The hostess had been careful to ask if there was any strong objection to "andouillettes". Oh yes, there was.

Andouillettes are not for beginners, but I thought being a good Lyonnaise, I should not raise my hand up and see if I could still hack smelly sausages made of intestine stuffed with tripes and mustard.

As I was tucking in my andouillettes, I reflected on the French paradox: French people have a lower incidence of coronary disease and are noticeably slimmer than people in Anglo-Saxons counties.
Here I was with 2 smallish portions of food highly saturated in fat but also food which had been picked carefully, in fact our hostess had travelled over 30 kms to buy the best andouillettes. Anyway I was washing the lot away with really good red wine, taking a lot of pleasure in recapturing savours that I had long forgotten.
So is the secret of staying slim to eat smaller portion size of high quality food and savour your food? that would be too simple, there must be much more to it than that, but that gave me food for thought.

Shiitake & Polenta: a Step Toward Self-Sufficiency?

Hurray, Hurray, it works. You will recall that he put a log in the bath and then back to the garden and to my amazement we got Mushrooms, 220g worth of Shiitake.
Not exactly self sufficiency especially since the next harvest will take place in 2 month time, after a new bathing session but still wasn't I half proud when I cooked "The".
For such a feast I also hand picked what was left of the rocket e.g.: 4 leaves but that looks good on the photograph.

I Dived in my recipe book of the moment "lighten up" by Jill Dupleix and decided for "Soft Polenta with Mushrooms".

Nothing beats fresh food in my opinion but fresh from the garden when you live in a city is quiet magical.

Would I recommend the log? yes and no obviously it is a thrill but it is also a lot of kerfuffle, but if you would like to get your own here is the address Ann Miller's Speciality Mushrooms

Soft Polenta with Mushrooms

Serves 4
  • up to 750 grs of mushrooms dried and fresh or in this case 220g of freshly hand-picked gathering
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 finely chopped flat leaf parsley
  • salt and pepper
  • handful of rock leaves

For the polenta
follow the instructions on the packet use 150g of instant polenta

Heat the oil in a frying pan
Add garlic and mushrooms
Toss well
Add salt pepper and parsley
Simmer for 10 minutes
Cook the polenta according to the packet instructions.
Spoon the polenta onto warm plates, mushrooms on the top, rocket to decorate

More about polenta.......Polenta on Foodista

One for the Week-End: Say Cheese

A couple of weeks ago, for the very first time I met a food-blogger in the flesh. Michelle from Greedy Gourmet and I agreed to meet up at Borough Market.
We had a good time, chatted away for a couple of hours, comparing notes and chatting about .....well blogging.
If you are at a loss of what to do this week-end, Borough Market near London Bridge is always a great place to go to. Next week expect a post about

the French paradox
A new cocktail book
and risotto recipes

Kellogg's Baked Muesli: Nature's Pleasure

One of the perk of being an independent voice on the internet is that, from time to time, you get the opportunity to try products out.

Kellogg's are launching a new muesli. A baked muesli. None of the dried stuff that the public seems to dislike. A crispy product which is healthy, but is it?

Nature's Pleasure comes in 4 flavours:
apple & blackcurrant,
raspberry & cherry,
almond, pecan & cashew
almond, pecan, raisin.

And I received one box of each so that I can let you know what I think

I knew the lecture, I went to during the winter: " understanding food label" was going to come good one day, so before I opened one of the recyclable looking cardboard box, I was going to apply a maths formula to the label. I'll spare you the details, the answer is that this muesli has the perfect balance between ingredients 62% carbohydrate, 29% fat and certainly more fibre than recommended and low in salt.

So this new breakfast's cereal is healthy. but what about the taste? Personnally I like crispy cereals.

Apple and black currant has large "bits" of freezed dried apples which keeps them firm and crunchy.

Overall good for you, personally I find it a bit sugary but so do I for most things. It is not a wow but very much at the top of the pile of muesli. Since it is soon exam time and muesli is slow sugar, it might be the perfect time to try it out on your family.

I will be back and let you know about other flavours. Priced at £2.49 for 500g.

Tropicana Vouchers : Dine out for £10 or Even Better Stay at Home

Tropicana's Customer & marketing services must be clocking over time. Everywhere you look you see Tropicana vouchers. So I am about to relieve some of the pressure to participate....don't bother to enter
Like everybody else I love the idea of a bargain, so a fortnight ago I decided to enter the "Dine out for £10 pp". I needed 2 vouchers:
one was provided free, I did not have to look very far to find the first voucher.
The second voucher, I got buying a carton of orange juice (for which you had yet another voucher), though it worked out more expensive than any other juice.
Then I entered my details on line.
There are less restaurants than anticipitated however one is a stone throw away from where I live. On Friday evenings the voucher was £15 pp not £10 (excluding drinks, but that is fair enough), nevermind it was decided we would be going. I followed the instructions to cut a long story short, at bill time my voucher was refused.
To give Tropicana customer services there due, they followed my complaint up, took only one reminder, but it crossed my mind that I may not be the only one who had a similar issue.
I then was offered another voucher or to the possibility to go back to the same place, this time 2 for 1. I am afraid I decline somehow with hindsight, the idea of mediocre food, side dish arriving later than the meal, not the chosen wine since they had run out was not attractive even with a voucher.
Like everybody else I like a bargain but like everybody else I am finding out that the listed restaurants either near you or on the continent might not be worth the effort, better stay at home.



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