Mushroom risotto

My children don’t like mushrooms, so finding ourselves alone for the week recently, my husband and I enjoyed plenty of the little fungi!

I made this dish with some sandwich chicken I had in the fridge, but if you left the meat out, this would be a very satisfying vegetarian dish.  If you went one step further and left out the parmesan cheese (I am sure there are vegan substitutes) this would even be vegan, but I really do like the parmesan cheese.  This dish will serve four comfortably.  Including time spent chopping the mushrooms, you can have this on the table less than half an hour after starting to cook.

Mushroom risotto

Mushroom risotto

1 tbsp olive oil;

1 brown onion, finely chopped (or you could cheat and use onion flavoured olive oil as I have been known to do);

2 cloves of garlic, very finely chopped;

400g mushrooms (here I have used the white button type, but I have also used portobello with this recipe), sliced;

Pinch of salt;

500g arborio rice;

5 – 6 cups of stock (I used vegetable, but you could use chicken if you have it, beef would be too strong) – keep your stock warm throughout;

6 slices sandwich meat (chicken or ham) chopped finely (optional);

1/2 cup grated parmesan;

Chopped parsley, to serve.

 

Use a large heavy based pan with plenty of stirring room!

Heat the oil, fry the onions and garlic until slightly softened.  Add the mushrooms and the salt, you want to encourage the mushroom liquid to ooze out as soon as possible.  Stir until the mushrooms are slightly softened and some liquid has come out of the mushrooms, then add the rice and stir to combine.  Add a cup of stock and stir until it is well combined.

Risotto purists will tell you that you need to constantly stir, but I will move around the kitchen doing other things and just stir frequently, instead of constantly.  The main thing is that you don’t let the rice stick to the bottom of the pan, so don’t forget the risotto.  As the first cup of stock is absorbed, add another half cup or so, stirring well until the liquid is absorbed between each addition. After you have used 5 cups, toss in the sandwich meat and taste, adjusting with salt and pepper to taste.  At this point (the rice should have been cooking for around 15 minutes at this stage), I taste a couple of grains of rice to see if it is soft enough.  The last bit is judgement, add a little more liquid if you need it, then when you think enough has been added, stir through the parmesan, switch off the heat and put the lid on the pot.  Leave to sit for five minutes then dust with chopped parsley and serve.

Chicken Benny

I know Eggs Benedict is traditionally made with hollandaise sauce, not bernaise, but they are have some very similar flavours (lots of butter, eggs and a little lemon) so that’s what I call this.  The version I have pictured was chicken, avocado and sauce, but I have also made a version with ham, the method for which I will explain below.  If you use really big chicken breasts, you can serve four people with two, if the breasts are small you had better use four, just to make sure everyone gets enough.  You can serve this with a lovely salad (to offset all that rich butter) or even rice to soak up some of the lovely sauce.  If I have the oven going (if I cook the chicken in the oven) I will often cook potatoes or sweet potatoes as well, they go really well with the sauce.

Traditional bernaise sauce makers look away, I don’t strain the flavourings out of my sauce, I love the texture and flavour they provide so won’t strain them out and throw them away!

Chicken Benny

Chicken Benny

Two large, or four small, chicken breasts;

1 ripe avocado;

4 slices of good quality sandwich ham if you are making the version with ham; (optional)

Bernaise sauce:

150 ml white wine;

1 tsp dried tarragon;

6 shakes of freshly ground black pepper (by this I mean turn the grinder six times so you get nice chunky bits of black pepper in the sauce);

2 finely chopped spring onions;

2 tbs white wine vinegar;

3 egg yolks;

1 tbsp iced water;

125g butter, chopped;

Juice of half a lemon.

 

Cook the chicken and keep warm.  You can either pan fry it, or cook it in the oven in a covered dish.  This is the method I use when I do the version with ham.  I cook the chicken for about half an hour at 180 celcius in a fan forced oven, then cover each breast with a slice of ham, put the lid back on the dish and cook another 5 minutes.

At the same time:

Place the white wine, tarragon, pepper, spring onions and vinegar in a saucepan and bring to the boil.  Reduce the heat to medium and cook for five minutes until the mixture is syrupy.  Place into a heatproof bowl and leave to cool.

Beat the eggs together with the iced water.  Choose a saucepan that your bowl will fit in , put a small amount of water into it and bring to the boil (the bowl should not touch the water).  Once the syrup has cooled to room temperature (if you put the eggs in while the syrup is hot they will cook straight away and you will ruin your sauce) put the bowl over the boiling water, and add the eggs, stirring all the while.  Whisk until the mixture is fluffy and has doubled.

Gradually add the butter, a piece at the time, stirring until each piece melts before adding the next.  Once all the butter is melted and mixed through, remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice.  (Use as soon as possible or the sauce will separate if you leave it to stand too long).

Cut the avocado into slices and arrange over the chicken (or chicken & ham) and pour the sauce over the lot.  Enjoy.

 

 

Thai Lime Meringue Pie

Thai Lime Meringue Pie

Thai Lime Meringue Pie

Recently I bought some limes, and then a friend gave me some more limes, so I thought I had better come up with something to do with them.  At the same time, I kept finding little containers of frozen egg whites in the freezer, so an idea was born…

I tinkered with the idea of a Thai lime pie, with lime and coconut, and came up with this.  There isn’t any added sugar in the pie filling, as meringue is so sweet you don’t need any more.  If you like a really tart filling, you can put in an additional squirt of lemon juice (not much) but it is fine without it.  When I made this, I ended up with too much filling and put some into two X 1 cup ramekins and cooked it at the same time as the pie, but if you do the same, you will need to put a bit of sugar in the filling as you will notice the lack of sugar without the meringue on top.  Of course, I had to make this gluten free, and used my pie crust recipe for the base as it already has coconut flour in it.

Ingredients:

Pie crust:

Gluten free coconut sweet pie crust

Filling:

4 eggs, lightly whisked

400ml can coconut cream

Finely grated rind and juice of four limes

Meringue:

4 egg whites

1 cup

2 tsp gluten free cornflour

 

Make up the pie crust, while it is baking whisk the filling mixture together.  When the pie crust is baked, pour the filling in (as mentioned you might have too much filling), return to the oven and cook for a further 40-45 minutes, or until set.

Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.

Beat the egg whites until very stiff, slowly add the sugar and cornflour and continue to beat.  You will know when the mixture is done, as not only will it make peaks, but will stick to the beaters, and if you turn the bowl upside down there shouldn’t be any movement.  Spoon over cool pie, bake in an oven at 170 celcius fan forced, (180 if not fan forced) and bake 18-20 minutes, or until the meringue has picked up a bit of colour.

If you are patient, the pie slices well when it is cold, it might tend to fall apart a bit of you are impatient (like me) and want to slice a piece and eat it while it is still warm.

About to eat my pie....

About to eat my pie….