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P1020691

I have to say I’ve struggled with risotto over the years. It is all too easy to end up with a stodgy, mass of rice, but I think I have finally nailed it. Everyone says the secret is in the stirring, but I think the skill is in knowing when to stop cooking. The end result should be nice and soupy, and the rice only just cooked.

Ingredients

  • a knob of unsalted butter and a little olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely sliced
  • 300g arborio risotto rice
  • 250ml white wine
  • 700ml vegetable stock
  • a bunch of asparagus, chopped into 1 inch pieces
  • lemon zest and a squeeze of lemon juice
  • about 75g parmesan cheese (or vegetarian alternative)

Melt the butter and olive oil in a deep, non-stick frying pan. Add the onion and cook until soft, but not brown.

Add the rice and stir it into the buttery onion mix until the edges of the rice grains turn translucent.

Pour in the wine, and stir until it has been absorbed by the rice.

Add the stock, a ladle at a time, stirring continuously.

When the stock has all been added, and the rice just about cooked, add the asparagus. Cook for a further 2-3 minutes.

Add a squeeze of lemon, grate in the parmesan and lemon zest.

Eat straight away.

SERVES 2-3

 

P1020679

This is very much inspired by Nigel Slater’s recipe in the Observer magazine. I’ve made some little tweaks, but do feel free to use the original recipe.

Ingredients

  • 2 skinless chicken breasts
  • olive oil
  • 3 tbsp five-spice powder
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 50g cashew nuts
  • 250ml chicken stock
  • 200g broccoli
  • 2 spring onions

Cut the chicken into strips and sprinkle the five-spice powder over it. (I didn’t have any five-spice so I substituted it with the following: 1/2 star anise, 1 clove, some fennel seed, a dash of cinnamon, ground ginger, and some dried chilli for extra warmth, all ground together in a pestle and mortar).

Throw the chicken into a non-stick pan with a little olive oil. When the chicken has started to brown, add the garlic and cashew nuts. Take care not to let them burn.

Add the chicken stock and cook through.

Just before you’re ready to eat, add the broccoli and spring onions. Cook with the lid on for a further 3-4 minutes.

SERVES 2.

104

I always find pasta-making a great school holiday activity and we had four egg yolks left over from the figgy meringue pudding, so tonight’s supper was a no-brainer. Pasta-making is (at least) a two-person job, and Sam is a great helper and enthusiastic handle-turner.

Ingredients

As a general rule, use 100g flour for each egg, and 100g flour per (adult) portion. My quantities are slightly different because I had left-over egg yolks, but this worked just fine.

  • 200g pasta flour
  • 4 egg yolks and 1 whole egg
  • a splash of water
  • squid ink (optional)

 
Put the flour in large mixing bowl, make a well in the centre of the flour and pour in the egg. Give a little stir with a knife, then let the kids in to work the ingredients together with their grubby little hands.

Add a splash of cold water and bring the mixture together into a doughy ball. Wrap in cling-film and refrigerate for an hour or so.

Now it is time to bring out the pasta machine.

Sprinkle some flour on the table.

Squeeze the dough through the pasta machine, rolling it thinner and thinner each time. If necessary, cut your sheets into two. Allow a little rest, I think the pasta sheets benefit from a little drying out (but not too much!). Now it is time to run it through the cutters.

Throw the pasta into boiling water for 2-3 minutes. Drain.

We served with salmon and broccoli.

P1020675

P1020666

This was the surprise hit of the week: delightfully gingery, soft and crunchy. Impressive, but easy to make. I adapted the recipe very slightly from Annie Bell’s ‘Ginger, almond and fig meringue cake’. Pecans are a perfect companion to figs and ginger, though Annie Bell says in her recipe that any combination of fruit and nuts would be just fine.

Ingredients

  • 4 egg whites
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 110g pecans, chopped roughly
  • 150g dried, ready-to-eat figs, chopped roughly
  • 75g preserved ginger (the kind that has been preserved in syrup)

Pre-heat the oven to 170C.

Line a non-stick, loose-bottomed cake tin (mine is 20cm across, and 4 1/2cm deep).

Whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Then stir in the sugar about a tablespoon at a time, whisking well between each spoonful. When all the sugar has been added, you should have a stiff, glossy meringue.

Fold in the pecans, figs and ginger. Spoon it into your cake tin and bake for about 35 minutes. Turn down the oven if the meringue begins to brown a little too much on top. Do the skewer test to check if it is ready. I left mine in the turned-off oven with the door open while it cooled, as a kind of meringue-making habit.

I served with cream, but I’m sure ice cream would be equally delicious.

SERVES 6.

Here's one I made earlier

Here's one I made earlier

Hi, my name's Helen and I live in London with my husband and two children. When I started piping the potato on my shepherd's pies, my husband suggested that it might be a good idea for me to find an outlet for my creativity, so here we are. I spend a lot of time in the kitchen, the extra twist is that I don't eat meat (I do eat fish though) and Jim, who loves meat, is always on a diet. Here are a few recipes that I have enjoyed making for my family.

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