Here I am, a week into our tour and I’m gradually getting into some sort of cooking routine. Whilst it’s nice to be in a kitchen I can’t deny I am really missing my own but I’m trying to put that out of my mind because the last thing I need to be right now is homesick (f.y.i. I’m terribly homesick).  Anywho, I’m pretty pleased with this weeks eats – you’ll see there are lots of greens and even though there may seem to be a distinct lack of grains and beans, never fear, I can assure you I am getting sufficient protein during lunch in the form of chickpeas, hummus, quinoa and the like.

My photos are dismal and for that I can only apologise, as I’m still getting used to the flash and the dreadful light in the accommodation we are currently living in. My aim for this week is to focus on my photography, as I’ve been rushing the shots just because I’m usually starving and just want to eat the food I’ve prepared. My Husband has been visiting this weekend and has helped me sort out a few photography/lighting issues I’ve been having so I’m hopeful the next batch will be much improved – he’s so clever!

What you see here is a few nights meals consisting of leek and potato mash, vegan sausage rolls, peas – super comfort food. Spaghetti with a fresh pasta sauce made with skinned tomatoes, red onion, peppers, courgettes, capers and flat leaf parsley. I made enough for two nights and the second time I served it with a colossal amount of savoy cabbage, which I boiled, seasoned and doused in balsamic vinegar. The risotto was the winner of the week though and I even had it cold for my lunch, which sounds horrid but it was actually totally delicious with a real peppery bite – seriously yum!

I’ve chosen to focus on one recipe out of the three featured and I hope you’ll be happy it is the risotto. Risotto is one of my favourite dishes although I often find restaurants don’t do it justice. Contrary to popular belief you do not need parmesan or indeed cream in order to make a creamy flavourful risotto. Nope, all you need is a little patience, a good stirring hand and a whole lotta love. Porcini mushrooms are a real treat in my opinion and really enhance this dish – they aren’t cheap but you don’t need many so one packet will definitely do two meals.

The other essential component is most certainly the mange tout. They add the perfect crunch and texture to the dish and have renewed my love for these odd little vegetables. Why odd? Well, they are flat and crunchy, unsuspectingly so and for that reason I’ve always found them slightly amusing. The same goes for radishes – funny little things. In a nutshell, feel free to mess around with the other ingredients; add, eliminate etc. but with regards to the porcini’s and the mange tout, leave ’em in!

Also, I’ll try to keep the title of my next post to a minimum, they’re just getting silly now.

porcini mushroom, mange tout, pea and spinach risotto

1 onion

handful of dried porcini mushrooms

5 or 6 closed cup mushrooms

1 cup frozen peas

large handful of mange tout

large handful of baby leaf spinach

1 cup arborio rice

2/3 cloves garlic

1 vegetable stock cube

dried oregano

olive oil

soya butter

salt and pepper

Bring a large pan of water to the boil, add the stock cube, allowing it to dissolve and then turn the heat right down or off.

Cover the porcini mushrooms in boiling water and set them aside to rehydrate for 25-30minutes.

Heat a little olive oil and soya butter in a large pan on a medium heat. Finely chop the onion, add to pan, season and allow to soften for several minutes.

Mince the garlic, add to pan and cook for a few minutes ensuring the garlic doesn’t colour.

Sprinkle in a teaspoon or so of dried oregano. Add the arborio rice and allow the grains to cook for a minute or two. Ladel in some stock. When the grains have absorbed the liquid add another ladel.

Chop the closed cup mushrooms and add to pan. Season and allow to cook for a minute or two before ladelling in more stock. Keep the risotto moving and do not leave it unattended. Get as much air into the risotto as you can utilizing a flipping motion.

Drain the porcini mushrooms, squeeze out the excess liquid and add to pan. Cook for a few minutes allowing the mushrooms to heat through.

Finally stir in the frozen peas, mange tout and spinach. Ladel in some more stock. The rice grains should retain some bite but still be unctuous and creamy. A tricky balance but one that definitely can be achieved through constant stirring. Taste, season if necessary and serve with freshly chopped parsley, chives or a good grind of black pepper.

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