Lemon Vegetable Risotto (4)

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Lemons are so versatile whether you put the juice or the zest or both in a recipe.  Where would Greek cuisine be without them?  I use lemon juice to make a vinaigrette dressing. I grate lemon zest into my fishcakes and both zest and juice are used in this risotto and are what makes it a little different. Risotto – Italian comfort food – is endlessly versatile too. This one includes asparagus tips, portobello mushrooms, peas and spinach. With this dish the broth is added a little at a time – when the rice has almost absorbed the stock add a little more and stir frequently.

1 tbsp. olive oil, seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 shallots – finely chopped

2 large garlic cloves – grated

1 1/2 cups of Arborio rice

4 cups of vegetable or chicken broth

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

4 oz. portobello mushrooms – diced

4 oz. baby asparagus

4 oz. frozen peas

4 oz. baby spinach

Pour oil into a cast iron Dutch oven and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. When sizzling add the shallots and let cook for a couple of minutes, then turn heat down a little and add the garlic.

After a few minutes tip the rice into the pot and stir before adding a cup of broth. Bring broth to a boil then turn down to a simmer and add the lemon zest and juice and all of the vegetables.

Simmer for some 20 minutes until rice is cooked and the broth is absorbed.

Serve immediately.

 

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Red Fruit Salad with Creme de Cassis or Creme de Framboise (4)

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So simple and sophisticated. The addition of a couple of tablespoons of either of the liqueurs gives the fruit salad a delicious, richer flavor. I serve it in either a large glass bowl or individual glasses. Make the salad an hour or so ahead of serving and leave out of fridge so that the liqueur can permeate the fruit and stir it periodically. Creme de Cassis and Creme de Framboise are found fairly easily in a good drinks store and a little can be added to champagne. When I serve champagne like that I add either a blueberry or a raspberry to the glass for a nice effect.

6 oz strawberries – cut into quarters

6 oz raspberries

6 oz blueberries

2 tbsp. Crème de Cassis/Framboise

Combine all the fruits in a bowl.

Pour over the Crème de Cassis/Framboise, mix the fruits together and leave for an hour outside of the fridge before serving so that the liqueur permeates the fruit. Stir periodically.

Pea and Mint Soup (4)

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I was surprised to find this on a winter menu seeing it more as a summer item made with fresh peas and mint from the garden – maybe even served chilled. Frozen peas, an onion, garlic, a potato for thickening, some stock and mint from the supermarket made a really lovely, bright green soup – a change from the more hearty winter fare.

1 tbsp. olive oil seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 medium size onion – finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic – grated

2 cups – chicken or vegetable broth

1/2 a large baking potato – peeled and cut into small cubes

12 oz. frozen peas

1 tbsp. mint – finely chopped + a little extra for garnish if you wish

Heat the oil in a skillet and when sizzling add the onion and let brown a little, then add the garlic.

Pour the broth into the skillet, add the potatoes, bring to a boil and simmer for about 10 minutes until the potatoes are just soft.

Add the peas and mint and cook for a further few minutes.

Place the contents of the skillet in a food processor and process until smooth.

Ladle soup into individual bowls and garnish with some chopped mint.

Lemon and Parsley Potato Cakes (4)

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Another way with potatoes and these are particularly good with a firm white fish such as cod or haddock or, if you want to push the boat out, swordfish. Only the zest of a lemon is used and mixed with the chopped parsley, then mashed into the potatoes with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil.  The potato mixture is then made into smallish patties shapes and pan fried on the stove top.

2 large baking potatoes – cut into dice

2 tbsp. olive oil + extra for frying

Zest of 1 lemon

1 tbsp. parsley – finely chopped

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Boil potatoes until soft enough to mash, then drain.

Add the lemon zest and parsley to the potatoes and mash with olive oil, salt and pepper.

Take 1 tbsp. of potato mixture and shape it into a cake.

Heat some oil in a skillet and when sizzling add the potato cakes and brown nicely on each side.

 

 

Baby Asparagus with Peas and Leeks (4)

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Why eat one vegetable when you can have three together? Lovely blend and the flavors and textures complement each other. Even better if you can find fresh peas. They are simmered in either vegetable or chicken broth.

1 cup broth

8 oz baby asparagus cut into smallish pieces

8 oz peas

8 oz leeks – sliced thinly

Bring the broth to a boil, then turn down to simmer.

Add all the vegetables and cook for around 3 minutes until asparagus is ‘al dente’.

Serve the vegetables with the broth

 

Butternut Squash and Cranberries (4)

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Great side for Thanksgiving or Christmas. I love the color of this dish – all nice and warm and wintery and so easy to make.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

1 tbsp. olive oil seasoned with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 onion – chopped quite finely

12 oz. butternut squash – cut  into 1″ cubes

2 handfuls of dried cranberries

1 tbsp. each of sage and thyme – finely chopped

Place onion, squash, cranberries and herbs in a large bowl. Pour over the seasoned oil and toss well before placing on a baking tray.

Cook in oven for 45 minutes.

 

Mushroom and Wild Rice Soup (4)

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What a comforting and hearty soup this is. Two ingredients make this soup stand out. First the addition of dried mushrooms – porcini or chanterelles – and secondly mushroom stock (Kallo brand, which is both gluten and lactose free can be bought online from Amazon US and is widely stocked in UK supermarkets and gourmet food shops). The wild rice is cooked separately from the soup because otherwise it soaks up too much of the broth and is only added in just before serving. The addition of the rice adds bulk so that this recipe makes a satisfying lunch or a lightish dinner.

1/2 oz dried chanterelle mushrooms or 1 tbsp dried porcini mushrooms – soaked in boiling water and let to cool for half an hour then drained and patted dry

1 tbsp. olive oil seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 large onion – roughly chopped

2 large cloves of garlic – grated

8 oz baby bella mushrooms – sliced

4 cups of mushroom broth

1 cup of wild rice

1 1/2 cups water

1 tbsp parsley – finely chopped

Heat seasoned oil in a Dutch oven.

Pulse onion about 6 times in food processor till finely chopped then place in the Dutch oven when oil is sizzling and let brown and soften, then add the garlic and cook a few minutes more.

Place both the resuscitated mushrooms and baby bella mushrooms in a food processor and process until in very small pieces but not mushy. Add to softened onions and garlic.

Pour over the mushroom broth, bring mixture to a boil then simmer for 15 – 20 minutes.

Bring 1 1/2 cups of water to a boil, add wild rice and cook for 15 minutes then drain and add to soup.

Stir in 1 tbsp. chopped parsley and stir then serve immediately.