Tangy Mushrooms, Sun Dried Tomatoes and Mackerel Risotto

I love risotto! It’s quick and oh-so-easy to make…and did I mention it costs pence to make? A big pan of risotto will make a handsome and delicious evening meal for four people or serves ample portions for two with cold leftovers thrown in containers for tomorrow’s lunch.

Originating in Northern Italy, this rice cooked in a broth dish can consist of anything you have in: from fish (fresh, frozen or canned, any variety suits this dish), through to meats of any description and then on to vegetarian versions. This truly is a dish of variation – and you can concoct any variety you happen to have the ingredients for.

Here, I’m creating a tangy fish, tomatoes and mushrooms version. And for those following gluten free and dairy free diets this simple, traditional Italian starter dish makes a very delicious meal that won’t inflame any food intolerances*.

Usually a high starch white, round rice is used with one such example being Arborio rice. In this instance, and being mindful that rices such as Arborio can be relatively high priced, I tend to use a cheap “basics” white rice, having thoroughly washed it beforehand in salted water and then numerous rinses to make sure it is clean before cooking with it.

Ingredients

Serves 4

1 onion (peeled and finely chopped)

A glug of olive oil (optional: sunflower or a healthy choice oil)

200g white rice (thoroughly washed and rinsed)

2 tins of mackerel (optional: in spicy tomato sauce used here)

80g mushrooms (peeled, washed and sliced)

100g sun dried tomatoes, sliced

1000ml vegetable stock (made from a stock cube)

1tbsp tomato puree

Salt and pepper to season

Method

  • In a large frying pan, heat the oil until it starts to spit on a medium heat.
  • While the oil is heating, make the vegetable stock as per the instructions of the stock cubes you are using. Set aside.
  • Next, add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes until it begins to look opaque in appearance. Now add the rice and swirl the rice around and into the chopped onion and oil. If need be and to stop the ingredients from sticking to the pan, add a little more oil or a splash of boiling water. Fry the ingredients for a few minutes until all are covered in the glistening oily liquid.
  • Turning the heat down to a low simmer, add the mushrooms, tomatoes and mackerel, and stir these into the onion and rice mixture. The tomato puree can be added now, too.
  • You are now ready to start to add the vegetable stock a little a ladle at a time. Stir the ingredients regularly so as to enable the rice to absorb the stock and when the stock looks to be absorbed, add more of it. Keep this going until all of the stock is used. You are aiming to achieve a thick broth-like consistency for the final look of the dish.
  • Once this broth-like consistency is reached, the rice should be cooked. Taste it: is it cooked? If not, add a little more liquid as you’ve used the stock by now by simply adding a little boiling water and cook until the rice is cooked. Cooking time will depend upon the rice you are using so check the packet instructions for the timing.
  • Serve on warmed dinner plates or in bowls, and season.

I used rice that cooked in 10 minutes which made this a super quick meal to make. And as the rice was from a “basics” range, it was extremely affordable, too.

And you can quite literally use any combination of ingredients when making a risotto: I’ll be bringing you a few more such examples soon.

Some people might add butter and flakes of a strong cheese such as Parmesan at the latter stages before serving but I don’t: I’m a healthy eating advocate and the dish already has fats in it from the oil. Our bodies need “good” fats in moderation – unsaturated fats – to operate so aim to incorporate some into your daily food intake. But, as with all fats, it contains calories so be aware of this fact and choose healthier options that can help lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease. More details can be found on the National Health Service website at: http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Goodfood/Pages/Fat.aspx

For more easy-to-make recipes and inspired food ideas, then follow this blog here and keep up-to-date with Ms Love Food on Twitter. Facebook and Mumsnet are websites you’ll find me on, too – so keep looking for tasty recipes coming!

* Do check the food labels to make sure you are fully aware of what each ingredient includes before using it within your recipe.

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How To Butterfly A Chicken

chickenDawn: An alternative way of cooking a whole chicken other than roasting it or placing it in a casserole is to butterfly it.

Andrew: This means cutting it open and spreading it into two halves joined in the centre like a butterfly.

Dawn: If you buy from a butcher, you can have it done there, but as most of us buy from supermarkets these days, here is our simple guide to doing it yourself.

Andrew: Care is needed here. A sharp knife is essential as a blunt one is more likely to cause an accident. Strong kitchen scissors are another useful tool here.

Dawn: Once finished you have a bird that can be cooked in a deep frying pan, on the griddle or even on a barbecue.

Andrew: You can also stuff herbs, garlic, bacon and butter under the skin to provide an incredible flavour boost.

Ingredients

1 Chicken (fresh or frozen, the latter thawed)

Method

  • Remove the chicken from its packaging. Place on a clean chopping board breast up. Dislocate the legs and wings by twisting them.Chicken1
  • Take the largest and sharpest knife you have and cut straight down into the breastbone. You should here a crunch as the bone breaks.20160110_172934
  • Continue to cut down, right to the neck.20160110_173001
  • Turn the bird and cut down to the Parson’s nose.20160110_173035
  • Ease the bird apart with your hands then flatten it as much as you can which will help in the cooking process.20160110_173052
  • If you wish to stuff under the skin, gently work your fingers under the skin to break the membrane between skin and flesh being careful not to tear the skin.20160110_173207
  • Move your hand side to side and use our fingers to reach right under the skin of the legs.20160110_173220

See our other fantastic recipes for stuffing ideas! They include: “How to Make Sage and Onion Stuffing” and “Apple and Dates Stuffing“.  All can be savoured at www.forfoodlovers.wordpress.com and follow us @Love_Food_UK as well as Facebook and Mumsnet

Smoked Mackerel Pate

The Twelve Recipes of Christmas

Dawn: (Singing) On the eighth day of Christmas,

My true Love Food sent to me

Eight maids a-milking…

Andrew: I’m getting quite used to this now!

Dawn: Excellent! I’d hate for you not to be getting into the swing of things!

Andrew: So, eight maids a-milking and what of the Twelve Recipes of Christmas are they bringing, do tell?

Dawn: All will be revealed!

Drum roll, curtains lift to reveal…

Dawn: A deliciously simple smoked mackerel pate recipe…so simple…it’s utterly delish!

IMG_3715

Ingredients

Serves 4

400g Smoked mackerel fillets (boneless)

200g soft cheese (low fat version)

1 and a half lemons, freshly squeezed (or bottled juice)

1 anchovy fillet

Salt and pepper to season

Method

  • Remove the skin from the smoked mackerel fillets and any bones that you can see.
  • Put the smoked mackerel, soft cheese, anchovy fillet and lemon juice into a food processor and blitz until the ingreiients are combined.
  • Taste and season. Blitz quickly to mix the seasonings into the mixture.
  • Pot up into four ramekins and serve either with crispbreads, toast or a salad.

IMG_3735Andrew: That is simple – and mmm…delicious (reaches for a second pot of smoked mackerel pate)

Dawn: Thanks. It was a concoction I created wanting something different than turkey at this special time of year.

Andrew: This certainly tastes very special, indeed.

Dawn: And mackerel is packed full of those lovely omega-3 oils that are so good for our metabolism, wellbeing and general health. 

Andrew: Here’s to celebrating this Christmas season with deliciously simple food and drinks that are good for us.

Dawn: I’ll drink to that (clinks glasses of tasty treats yet to come on this blog!)

For more in this series of festively inspired food ideas, then follow this blog here and keep up-to-date on Twitter. Facebook and Mumsnet are websites you’ll find us on, too – so keep looking for tasty recipes coming!