I am not sure whether this guest post hails the end of the summer hiatus or not, but either way here it is.
Italy was great. NewHuman ate far less sand than expected.
The return from Italy was harsh, compensated only by the fact we appear to have been gifted a proper summer of sorts this year, and so any grumblings about the weather tend to be along the lines of ‘this can’t last’, ‘we are in for an awful winter’. It’s nice that things don’t change.
Anyway for the last five days I’ve been laid up in bed. Please see below:-
Third time lucky, here’s hoping this last op was the fix I’ve been chasing for the past ten years or so since the initial injury occurred (skiing, clearly hurt myself as punishment for undertaking such a bourgeois sport). It’s left me much more immobile than I had anticipated – in my mind the minute the anaesthetic wore off I’d be skipping around the general West London area. I was so, so wrong. The Mothership has kindly donated her time and accepted our offer to fly her over to London from Oz and act as our domestic slave/NewHuman’s servant for three weeks whilst I try to get myself back into some kind of working order. Thank god for the Mothership.
Obviously we have scheduled major building works to begin the day after Mum flies back home so as well as being not-very-mobile I’ll also be responsible for supervising NewHuman in a house which will constitute an actual building site. I can see no problem with this at all. I think we will rent out a storage unit, ostensibly to put stuff in whilst the building occurs but if future posts are uploaded from said storage unit it’s because we’ve decided to live in it. That, or the local park, in our tent, like posh tramps.
I am carefully guarding the strong, strong painkillers the hospital sent me home with as I figure I’ll need them to numb the emotional pain of three months of building works. That pain and the financial pain of the cost of a new kitchen. Who knew some boring cupboards could cost so much, eh? EVERYBODY.
The boyfriend cooked some well nice risotto the other night and asked, unprompted, if he could blog it. Please see below. He’s included a photo of NewHuman at the park so I’ll gift you with that as an intro.
As the Average Baketrix is currently laid up with an elective leg injury, I (“the boyfriend”, despite this bit of platinum on my ring finger, for some reason) am being trusted with rather more around-the-housery than normal (Ed’s note: this means he has to get up early with NewHuman EVERY SINGLE MORNING). Which also involves cooking, although that essentially means “preparing the four or five dishes I can make without a recipe book that are more complicated than wet stuff on pasta”. Though I did manage to go shopping forgetting we had a one-year-old, which was impressive as he was sat in the trolley squealing at the time. (Ed’s note: Poor NewHuman must now survive days and days without artisan baby yoghurt. Harsh).
So today I’m going to blog about the risotto I made the other night, mainly because it was truly excellent. At least a nine and a half, and that is being harsh if you like really rich food. You’ll have to forgive the fact I forgot to take photos other than of the finished dish but I hope you’ll find my instructions are a cut above the rather vague “yeah I was supposed to add an egg or something but didn’t, whevs” you usually get here. (Ed’s note: NOT FUNNY EVEN IF TRUE).
As is traditional, here’s the list of ingredients, from memory:
300g arborio rice (vialone nano or carnaroli varieties are also fine)
150g fresh peas (Ed’s note: I believe frozen would be fine, actually)
1 large white onion
4 cloves of garlic
Er, maybe 150g or so of chorizo picante – it was about 2/3 of the horseshoe one you get in Sainsburys, and while the amount should be to taste, this turned out to be spot on
1/4 bottle of white wine
5 tsps Swiss vegetable bouillon powder added to 1.2 litres of boiling water (Ed’s note: he means stock. He’s being posh)
1/2 teaspoon of smoked paprika (in true Average Baker style this isn’t obligatory, but it’ll deepen the flavour)
A dozen cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 small lemon
Handful of fresh parsley
Pepper – but take my word for it, no salt
Generous heap of parmesan (grated by you, if you buy it grated you’re dead to me)
Chop the onion finely and simmer in a large skillet, saucepan or pot. Add a generous glug of extra virgin olive oil and the butter – the onion should be fair swimming in fat at this point. A few minutes later, crush and add the garlic (an aside – I never add garlic to a pan first, as burnt garlic is one of the things that make me sad. If the garlic goes anything more than the faintest caramel colour, bin it and start again. In this case there’s enough fat and onion that burning it shouldn’t be possible).
As the onion and garlic cooks, set a kettle or saucepan boiling for the bouillon, and chop your chorizo. I chose to chop it three ways – finely, not so finely, and round slices, just for textural variety. Take a small frying pan, add some olive oil, and fry at not too high a heat for maybe 5 mins.
When the onions are properly translucent – I don’t like crunchy onion in my risotto so I get them past that point before the rice goes in – add the wine and let the alcohol boil off. Then add the rice and stir well so it’s all coated, and keep stirring for a couple of minutes until the rice is just starting to stick if you leave it a few seconds.
Then add a ladle-full of bouillon and keep stirring until you can’t see visible liquid/it starts to stick, then add another. You’ll essentially keep doing this for about 20 mins. You don’t want to boil the knackers out of it, but not too light a simmer either. Add the smoked paprika at some point.
Although you’ll be stirring more often than not, after ladling in a fresh splash of stock you can take a minute off here and there to slice your parsley, prep your lemon (half to squeeze in to the pot, half to slice for the plate), and figure out whether the wine you’ve opened is going to go with what’s a pretty powerful dish. Then drink it anyway.
At some point during the cooking of the rice, add the by now chorizo-coloured and -flavoured oil in which you fried it to the main pot. Doesn’t really matter when but this stuff is gold, don’t waste it!
With about 5 mins to go (perhaps when you’re down to your last ladle of stock waiting to be added) stick in the peas, tomatoes, fried chorizo and the juice of the lemon half, as well as pepper to taste.
The only remotely tricky bit about making a risotto is knowing when it’s done. If you’ve got through all the stock then you’ll be close – confession, I actually used 1 litre of stock and as that wasn’t quite enough, so I added about 200ml of boiling water at the end. As you’re approaching the bottom of the stock taste the rice – if there’s still hardness or chalkiness to it, it needs more cooking. Rice is trickier in my experience to make al dente than pasta – my preference is that you don’t want anything hard in the centre, but you also don’t want it to get soft and gloopy.
When you think it’s just about there, continue stirring until there’s no more visible liquid (how viscous you want it is up to you – personally I like the risotto on the plate to stand proudly without oozing, but some prefer it wetter), then turn the heat off and add the parmesan. I stick bucketloads in, but again, you’ll probably have an idea what works for you. A handful is a decent
This should serve four people adequately, sprinkled with chopped parsley and some lemon for squeezing. It’s a powerful, delicious plate of food and it even looks pretty! (Ed’s note: I ate this laid up in bed and it’s well yum but I think next time I’ll eat it with a spoon).