Sunday, June 28, 2015

Prawn, Leek & Lemon Risotto

Prawn, Leek & Lemon Risotto 1

I've been remiss with my blogging over the last few months - definitely not posting as regularly as I would like to, and it's been ages since I've posted anything over at I Heart Cooking Clubs.  I miss my friends and, since it's pot luck week this week, I thought I'd join in with a quick and easy Donna Hay dish that's become a bit of a favourite of mine.

Now let me preface this by saying that I've always been very firmly been of the view that a baked risotto will never be as good as a traditionally prepared version, a view that appeared to be supported by others I know who have given it a try.  I was pretty sure that as long as my backside pointed to the ground (as they say), I was never going to venture into baked risotto territory.

Well, one should never say "never".  I'd had Donna's recipe for this Prawn, Leek and Lemon Risotto bookmarked in my copy of "Fast, Fresh, Simple" for ages because I think this is such a winning flavour combination.  Donna's version is however a baked one, and I was pretty sure that I would just take those ingredients and use them in my usual stirred method for making risotto.

A couple of weeks ago though, I was really hankering for some risotto on a cold and miserable winter week night, but I had other things I needed to be doing and just didn't have the time to spare standing over a pot for 20 to 30 minutes.  So, I took a deep breath, threw caution to the wind, and made my first baked risotto.  I fully expected that without all that constant stirring my risotto wouldn't have the creaminess I was used to from my usual version, but I was surprised to find it was plenty creamy - I think a good knob of butter up front, and another one to finish with, probably helped with that, and I have the feeling that using my enamelled cast iron casserole dish also helped.

So final verdict - no deficit on the "creaminess" front, and the resulting risotto was just about as good as a stirred version.   In my mind, however, a large part of the joy of risotto comes from the sheer pleasure of standing and stirring that pot for up to half an hour - it's a great exercise in presence and mindfulness, and that matters to me a great deal, and I have the belief that it is this which translates into superior flavour rather than just the physical alchemy of stirring those starchy grains of rice around for 20 minutes.  So, yes, I think a stirred risotto will always be superior - you will taste the love that's been stirred into it in every mouthful - but for a quick mid-week fix when you have other things to get done this is a great alternative, and I loved it so much that I've made it several times since.  I hope you'll give it a try.

Prawn, Leek & Lemon Risotto 2

Prawn, Leek & Lemon Risotto Recipe
Adapted slightly from recipe by Donna Hay
from Fast, Fresh, Simple
Serves 2
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe

1 tablespoon olive oil
couple of generous knobs of butter
1/2 a leek thinly sliced
2x cloves garlic, crushed
1x lemon, zest and juice
1 cup arborio rice
2-1/2 cups vegetable stock
200g raw prawns, peeled and cleaned
large handful of flat leaf parsley leaves, roughly chopped
flaky sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 200 degrees C (400 degrees F).

Put olive oil and one generous knob of butter in an ovenproof dish, which has a tight fitting lid.  Set dish over medium heat, and once the butter has melted add the leek, garlic and lemon zest to the pan.  Cook for several minutes until the leek has softened, but not browned.  Add the rice to the pan and stir constantly for a couple of minutes until all the rice is completely coated with the oil and the grains look slightly translucent around the edges.  Add half the lemon juice to the pan, and stir constantly until all the liquid has been absorbed.  Now add all the stock to the pan, remove from the heat and cover tightly.

Place pan in the preheated oven and cook for 25 minutes.  Remove from the oven, and set the pan over medium heat again.  If all the liquid has already been absorbed, add a ladleful of hot water to the pan along with the prawns.  Stir constantly until the prawns are cooked through - about 4 or 5 minutes.

Remove from the heat, stir in the other generous knob of butter, the remaining lemon juice, parsley, salt and pepper.  Cover and allow to stand for five minutes for all the flavours to infuse, and then serve immediately.

If you would like to get to know Donna Hay a little better, and to see all the wonderful fast and fabulous dishes my friends have come up with, then do go visit I Heart Cooking Clubs and check out the links.

Because it's been a while since I've visited some of my other friends, I'll also be sharing this post this week at Weekend Cooking hosted by Beth at Beth Fish Reads, and at Foodie Fridays hosted by Designs by Gollam.

Weekend Cooking Badge     Foodie Friday Badge

Monday, June 22, 2015

Blueberry Buttermilk Ice Cream

Blueberry Buttermilk Ice Cream 2

I'm sure you all know this feeling ... you come across a recipe - on another blog, in a book, in a magazine, wherever - and you're utterly captivated by it.  The picture makes it look beautiful, the recipe sounds great, but then somehow it just fails to live up to expectations, leaving you feeling more than a little disappointed.

So let me tell you - this ice cream was not good, not good at all.  Was I disappointed, however? - no, on the contrary, because this ice cream exceeded my expectations - it wasn't just good, it was fabulous.  I love ice cream any time of year (case in point, it is currently the middle of winter in my part of the world), and this ice cream offered the sweet freshness of blueberries (reminding me that summer will come again), the tang of lemon, and thanks to the buttermilk was surprisingly fresh and light.

How did I stumble across this frozen scoop of joy?  Well, as those of you who visit regularly will know, I like to play along at the Secret Recipe Club.  If that's new to you then let me explain.  The club has over a hundred members, divided into four groups, and each month one member is assigned (in secret) to another member from their group.  That person then selects a recipe (or more) to make, photograph, and prepare a blog post - all in secret.  Then everyone in the group posts their recipe on the same day, and of course the secret is then out.  It's a always a thrill to find out who has posted something from your own blog, and is a great way to meet and discover some new blogs.   If you are a food blogger and interested in joining the Secret Recipe Club, be sure to check out the Join SRC page.

This month I was assigned to A Calculated Whisk, hosted by the lovely Becky.  Becky's blog features loads of creative gluten free and paleo recipes, so I knew I would have no problem finding the kind of healthy food that I like to enjoy - even treat food that is on the healthy side.  Her blog features a great recipe index, which makes finding just what your heart desires ever so easy, and her passion for food styling and photography is evident in the gorgeous images that grace all her recipes.  With her love for good healthy eating and practising yoga, Becky and I clearly have a great deal in common - it's such a shame that a great ocean divides us, as I would love to be able to roll out my mat and do some yoga with Becky, before heading to the kitchen to whip up some special post-practice treats.  But stranger things have happened and who knows when the opportunity to do just that might arise.  Until then, I can keep Becky close in the kitchen by cooking some of her recipes, and I can tell you there are quite a few that have been bookmarked for the weeks ahead:  Roasted Cauliflower with Creamy Cilantro Pesto, because cauliflower is one vegetable I can never get enough of;  Zucchini Lasagne, just take a look - you will want it too;  Kale & Bacon Quiches with Hash Brown Crust, hello?! - if you're not hooked at bacon, I defy you to get past the hash brown crust;  and Lemon Cheesecake Truffles, look so utterly divine I can't wait to try them.

But in the end, being the ice cream addict I am, I couldn't go past Becky's Blueberry Buttermilk Ice Cream, and I was certainly not disappointed.  This ice cream is light and luscious, and in the depths of winter reminded me of the possibility of summer days ahead.  I made very minimal changes to the original recipe.  Because the buttermilk is low in fat and there are no eggs in this recipe, Becky used gelatine in her version to add a little creaminess - I didn't have any gelatine on hand, but I did have half a can of sweetened condensed milk that needed to be used up, so I used that instead and cut back the honey in the original recipe a little bit.  Becky also used some lemon liqueur which I didn't have, so I subbed in a whole fresh lemon.  I hope you'll give this recipe a try and enjoy it as much as I am.

Blueberry Buttermilk Ice Cream 1

Blueberry Buttermilk Ice Cream
Adapted from this recipe
from A Calculated Whisk
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe

1-1/2 cups buttermilk
1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon honey
1x lemon, washed
2 cups frozen blueberries (do not defrost)
2/3 cup cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of  sea salt

Place 1/2 cup of the buttermilk into a small saucepan and set over low heat and warm gently - keep an eye on it and do not allow the mixture to come to a simmer.  Remove from the heat and whisk in the condensed milk and honey, stirring until dissolved.

Cut the lemon into smallish chunks, flick out any seeds, and then put all the lemon chunks (yes, skin and all) into the food processor and blitz until very finely chopped, almost a puree.

Add the buttermilk mixture to the food processor, along with the blueberries, cream, vanilla and salt.  Process until smooth, then transfer to a jug and refrigerate for a few hours.

Remove chilled mixture from the fridge and churn in an ice cream maker, according to manufacturer's instructions.  Dive in straight away, or transfer to a freezer-proof container and freeze for several hours to firm up.

I hope you enjoy this dish as much as I did, and visit the links below to check out all the other great dishes my Secret Recipe Club friends made.