Friday, 20 July 2012

Pea and Pesto Risotto

I love risotto and tend to use the basic risotto recipe from Jamie Oliver The Return of the Naked Chef.

(serves 2 as a main course)

1/2 onion or 1 shallott, very finely chopped
1 garlic clove, very finely chopped
optionally 1 celery stick, very finely chopped
200 g risotto rice
175 ml dry white wine
1.25 l vegetable stock
freshly ground pepper
1 heaped tbsp of home-made pesto
50 g freshly grated parmesan
250 g fresh or frozen peas
extra virgin olive oil

1. To start with, steam your peas until almost tender – they'll cook a little more when added to the risotto – and set them aside.

2. Heat about 1 tbsp of olive oil in a saucepan and sauté the onion, garlic and celery over a medium heat for about 5 minutes until soften but not brown. Add the rice and keep stirring until it becomes transparent. Now add the wine. Keep stirring until the wine has been absorbed. Then add the stock a ladle full at a time until the rice is to your liking (al dente or just cooked). This takes about 15-20 minutes.

3. Turn off the heat, season with pepper and add the pesto and parmesan. Mix well. This is when it all becomes really creamy.

4. Lastly add the peas and serve immediately drizzled with a little olive oil, if desired, and topped with some peppery salad leaves, e. g. rocket, mizuna, mustard leaves.

Mental Pasta Sauce

Last night I raked through the fridge and came across three lightly wrinkled sweet red peppers. They weren't useful as a veg anymore but fine for use in a soup or sauce. So I gathered a few more items, all of them fresh, I hasten to add, and set about making a pasta sauce. If you don't like anchovies, use capers or some chopped olives instead. If you don't like either of these ingredients, just season the sauce with a little salt.

When we were eating I asked my other half: "So, what do you think?" The answer was "Mental!"

1 red onion
1 whole bulb garlic
1 small red chilli, chopped
3 sweet red peppers
1 courgette
a few good glugs of olive oil
1 tin of anchovies in olive oil
a few sprigs of fresh oregano
freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp sweet Hungarian paprika
1 tin tomatoes in thick sauce
150-175 ml red wine
freshly grated parmesan
fresh rocket

1. Chop all the ingredients into fairly small bits. Pick the leaves off the oregano and chop them finely. You can leave the anchovies whole as they disolve in the hot oil. Use the oil from the can, too, for a more intense flavour.

2. Heat the oil in a heavy saucepan and add all the ingredients apart from the wine, tomatoes and seasoning. Sauté over a medium heat until the veg are starting to brown stirring occasionally to prevent them from sticking.

3. Season with black pepper. Add the wine, tomatoes and paprika. Bring to the boil. Then reduce the heat and simmer for at least 30 minutes. The longer you can leave it the better. My sauce bubbled away for about 2 hours and tasted, well, mental ;)

4. Before serving, lightly blend the sauce. Serve with pasta topped with freshly grated parmesan and rocket leaves.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Pea cake

This year, we've really gotten into fresh peas and cooked right they are deliciously sweet. So I wondered if and how they could be turned into a dessert or cake. Adapting a carrot cake recipe seemed the simplest and safest option. So here's the result. I hope you find it as delicious as I do. 500 g peas in their pods (approx. 170 peas)
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
grated skin of 1 lemon
125 g soft, unsalted butter
125 g fine brown sugar
2 drops of vanilla extract
1 touch of salt
4 medium eggs
75 g walnuts, chopped
100 g ordinary flour
100 g wholemeal flour
1 tsp baking powder

200 g full-fat cream cheese
2 tbsp whipping cream
50 g fine brown sugar
grated skin of 1/2 lemon
optionally walnut haves for decorating

1. Cook the peas in boiling water until they're soft. While I normally only cook the 2-3 minutes, give them at least 5 minutes so they can be squashed. When soft, drain the pease and roughly mash them with a potato masher or in a pestle and mortar. Set aside

2. Place the butter, sugar, eggs, lemon juice and lemon rind in a food p
rocessor and combine until the sugar has dissolved.

3. Add the peas and mix in.

4. Mix the chopped nuts, flour and baking powder and add a tablespoon at the time.

5. Grease an 18 cm spring tin and pour in the cake mix. In a preheated oven, bake aft 175°C/150°C for fan-assisted ovens/gas mark 4 for about 40-50 minutes.

6. Cool on a rack.

7. For the topping beat the cheese, sugar, cream and lemon rind into a smooth paste. Keep in the fridge until needed. Then lavishly cover your cake and optionally decorate with walnut halves.

Pea Quiche

Shortcrust pastry:
200 g wholemeal, ordinary or white bread flower
100 g unsalted butter
2 tsp baking powder
3 tbsp water

500 g peas in their pods (approx. 170 g peas, you can, of course, use frozen peas)
4 eggs
2 heaped tbsp crème fraiche or soured cream
freshly ground black pepper
sea salt
1-2 garlic cloves, very finely chopped or crushed

1. Make the pastry by combining flour, baking poweder, salt and butter adding water as required. Grease a 26 cm quiche base with a little olive oil and press the pastry into it. Stab several times with a fork make. Cover with grease-proof paper and dried peas or similar and bake blind at gas mark 5, 200 °C for 10 minutes.
2. Meanwhile make the filling. Boil some water and cook the peas seasoned with black pepper for 2-3 minutes. Drain and set aside.

3. Place the eggs and cream in a bowl. Season with pepper and salt and beat together. Add the peas and pour onto the base.

3. Bake for approx. 40 minutes at 200°C, 175° in fan-assisted oven or gas mark 5.

Peas with Pancetta

500 g peas in their pods (approx. 170 g peas)
50 g pancetta, cut into small strips
freshly ground black pepper
2-3 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
extra virgin olive oil
good glug of white wine

1. Boil some water and cook the peas seasoned with black pepper for 2-3 minutes. Drain and set aside.

2. In a frying pan heat a little oil and cook the pancetta and garlic over a medium heat until the pancetta is crispy.

3. Add the peas and the white wine, season with pepper, heat through for a couple of minutes.