Saturday, 24 September 2011

Mushroom and Chorizo Risotto

So, it’s been a while since I last cooked risotto. I remember cooking it whilst in halls in Hackney. It was the first proper meal I cooked for myself… and others, and probably the last as our kitchen just got messier and messier. The last time I ate risotto, it was almost bad enough experience to put me off for life. A trip to Jamie’s Italian left me with an overly salty taste in my mouth. The squid ink and crab risotto was so packed full of sodium chloride, either from the squid ink, or from over seasoning. It brought up mucus from the back of my throat, the same thing that happens after a dive in the sea. Even after being offered to have another dish cooked for me, I had to refuse. I put me off for a while….

…Until, by request from my brother who is about to leave for university, I was asked to make my mushroom and Parmesan risotto. When the “R” word was mentioned I shivered a little. I hadn’t cooked it for a while, and even though it may not be that hard, how can I cook something if I don’t have the passion or desire to eat it?

As I made a chorizo salad, it came to me: I needed to add something to the dish, something I find taste bud tantalising, and maybe it will lift and distract from the idea of cooking risotto. I have a pork obsession at the moment, and thought of all the different types of pork I could incorporate into the dish: bacon, pancetta, Parma ham, salami… then it hit me… chorizo, the very thing that gave me the inspiration! Not only does it have a beautiful colour, but it also goes well with mushroom and Parmesan. The flavour is strong enough to distract and not as salty compared to other types of ham.

So here’s a recipe for a beautifully colourful and tasty dish. A dish I enjoyed cooking and enjoyed eating even more. I am back on the risotto, and planning on cooking a bacon and stilton risotto next… watch this space.


2 Shallots thinly sliced
2 Gloves of garlic crushed
Half a dozen mini Portobello Mushrooms, roughly chopped
Half a dozen Porcini Mushrooms, roughly chopped
Glass of a good quality white wine
2 pints vegetable stock
As much chorizo as desired, skinned and roughly chopped
1 cup aborio rice
80 ml of full fat crème fresh
As much Grated Parmesan cheese as desired
Handful of chives
Unsalted butter
Olive oil
Salt & Pepper to season


Heat up a large pan. Pour some oil on the base, and add a knob of butter. Before the butter has completely melted add the shallots and the garlic. Stir constantly till golden brown. Add the mushrooms and allow to realises water and reduces in size slightly.

Add the aborio rice and mix until the rice turns translucent. Add the wine and stir constantly until it is all absorbed. Ladle in the stock, which must be kept simmering at all times. This takes patience. Adding the stock bit by bit, making sure all the liquids have been absorbed before adding the next ladle full, is vitally essential. It is also important that the heat is kept on medium full, as this will ensure evenly cooked rice.

You will know when the rice is done when you push a single grain between your fingers and it gives with ease. Five minuets before you think the risotto is done, add the chorizo to a hot pan with only a tiny drizzle of olive oil. Over cooking the chorizo can make it chewy, we only want to make the outside slightly crispy and to release the oil. Once the rice is done, stir in a few knobs of butter and add the crème fresh, parmesan, chives, and season. Serve and lastly add the chorizo pieces and drizzle with the flavoured oil. The contrast is lovely and it also means there is still some texture to the chorizo. I served with the same white wine I cooked with and a fresh tomato salad.

I took my time over eating it, as I do with most things I enjoy. I even had the left overs for lunch the next day, and simply heated it up in a pan, added a dash of wine and cooked up some chorizo again. It tasted even better the next day ; )

Dr Pepper Ribs with Apple and Red cabbage ‘slaw

It’s surprising what you can do with cheaper cuts of meat. Chicken wings and ribs are sometimes seen as messy eating, and less desired because of the bone to meat ratio. My latest obsession… is ribs. I recall I starting four months ago when I discovered a good value Chinese/Japanese restaurant near me in New Cross. I had been in the studio all day and had been sustaining myself on lucozade and quavers. I needed some protein and some cards, and wasn’t really expecting too much on my tight budget. Maybe it was the hunger, or maybe it was the dark sweet and sticky sauce, but that was the day I feel in love with ribs.

Since that day, if ribs were on the menu, it would be on my plate. Salt and pepper, barbeque, dry rubbed ribs, smoked ribs, cider glazed ribs… and baby back ribs. All YUM! So I had heard of this technique of cooking pork with coke/soda, as it tenderises and sweetens. I’d seen Nigela do it, and I have been to a BBQ where it has also been done. But I wasn’t wholly convinced. Then, two weeks ago, I came across an artiocle/experiment on where belly pork was brined and cooked using Dr Pepper. The idea was genius, not only because Dr Pepper has a fruiter flavour then normal coke, but it also contains more sugar.

So I set about thinking up a recipe for Dr Pepper Ribs, and an acompliment of a sweet, crunchy and fresh apple ‘slaw:

Dr Pepper Ribs:

2 cans Dr Pepper
Rack of ribs (membrane removed)

For dry rub:
3 tbsp Powdered onion
3 tbsp Powdered Garlic
3 tbsp Chilli powder
2 tbsp Cumin Powder
2 tbsp Cayenne Pepper
2 tbsp Paprika
2 tbsp Coriander Seeds
1 tbsp Dried Parsley
2 Bay leaves
1 tbsp Black Pepper

Dr Pepper BBQ Sauce:
1 can Dr Pepper
3 tbsp Sriracha Sauce
3 tbsp Lingham Sauce
1 tbsp Mushroom extract
1 tbsp Dark Soy Sauce
1 tbsp Cider Vinegar

Cut ribs into individual rib portions, rub and marinade in the dry rub with a drizzle of olive oil for 6 hrs or even better, over night.

Pre heat oven to 150° Celsius. Move ribs into an oven proof dish and pour ¾ of a can of Dr Pepper into the base of the dish. Cover with tin foil and place on bottom shelf of the oven. Allow to cook for an hour.

Whilst the ribs are in the oven, make a glaze. Pour one can of Dr Pepper into a sauce pan and allow to reduce on a high heat. Add the other ingredients and continue reducing until a sticky glaze consistency is reached.

After the ribs are cooked, there will be quite a bit of liquid at the bottom of the oven dish. Carefully pour into the sauce pan with the glaze, and heat up again. Turn the oven up to 230° Celsius. Glaze the ribs and place on the top shelf. Continue glazing every 4 minuets or so until the ribs are sticky. I served the remainder if the glaze as a dipping sauce.

Apple and Red Cabbage ‘Slaw:

Quarter red cabbage
One green granny smith apple
One Turnip
Juice of half a lemon
Finely Chives
Half tub of Crème Fresh
2 tsp Mustard Powder
Salt & Pepper

Using the fine blade on the mandolin I grated the cabbage, apple and turnip. I poured the juice of half a lemon over to stop discolouring.

I made a dressing combining the chives, mustard powder, and the salt and pepper in with the crème fresh. I mixed everything up and served after keeping cool in the fridge for about and hour.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Mexican style cheese on toast

I know the Mexican make good dips, but I only found out recently they also make good pickled accompliments. One of which is pickled onion with gloves and lime. I made this the other day by simply slicing 2 large white onions really thin, then pouring the juice of three limes over them and a drizzle of rice wine vinegar over the onions, and adding a handful of gloves to the concoction. I stored it in a jar, and in a couple of days it was good to use.

Delicately spiced, yet acidic in flavour, the onions became soft and almost sweet. I had some sweet, nutty Manchego in the fridge and decided to make a rather special cheese on toast. I toasted a couple of slices of crusty white bread, and liberally spread the grated manchego over. I added the onions, some finely chopped green chilies and corriander, then seasoned and drizzled with olive oil. I placed under the grill and let the sweet, glovey, and fragrant smell fill the kitchen.

The combination isn’t by any means authentic Mexican, but it has good potential if used in a quesadilla instead of Warburtons crusty white bread…