Tag Archives: mushrooms

We used to go to nice places…

Ah, Valentine’s Day – the one day a year where you go, “yeah, not important, such a made up holiday,” then have a breakdown when a card/flowers/gigantic diamond necklace isn’t delivered to your home, accompanied by a barber shop quartet singing songs about how awesome you are.

Or is that just me?

This Valentine’s Day, we decided to not do anything – mostly because I’m STILL getting over the lurgy (tedious) and just wanted to sleep on the sofa. And also there’s nothing worse than going out on Valentine’s Day being surrounded by other couples who also don’t want to be out on Valentine’s Day. I gave the wino a zombie themed card because we’re obsessed with The Walking Dead and then we watched a zombie movie (Life After Beth – 5/10) and a vampire movie (Byzantium – 6/10). Who says romance is dead?


However, obviously, we did find time to eat good food. On Friday night, because my darling husband informed me at about 6pm that he had to work late, I’d already started cooking dinner, so I decided to eat alone and make him eat lukewarm leftovers. Again, a sign of true love. Bloody good it was too – a baked asparagus and mushroom risotto with pan-fried rump steak.

And on Sunday, my one true love, reason for being, the person I want to spend the rest of my life, etc etc with treated me to lunch at…. Prezzo. We used to go to nice places, you know. To be fair, we were mostly killing time before seeing The Theory of Everything (incredible – 10/10 and Eddie Redmayne deserves every accolade going ever) and the choice was Prezzo, Pizza Express, Nandos or McDonald’s so I guess I lucked out.

Romance is most definitely dead.
Romance is most definitely dead.

So if you want to treat yourself (and your other half) to a lovely simple but visually impressive supper, here’s my recipe for the baked risotto. I’m sure you all know how to cook steaks and to be honest, it’s a perfect accompaniment to any protein really so you can cook what you want with it. Also, this recipe serves 3-4 people if they eat normal portions and don’t overindulge all the time. Not saying that’s what we do. But we do.


Baked asparagus and mushroom risotto

  • 4 slices of streaky bacon, chopped into small pieces (I used smoked as it was all we had)
  • 6 asparagus spears, sliced into 1cm pieces
  • 1 x red pepper, sliced
  • 150g mushrooms chopped into quarters (I’m obsessed with mini portabellos but any fresh will do)
  • 200g arborio rice (you can use any rice but arborio really soaks up all the stock so is nicer)
  • 450ml of hot chicken stock
  • 100g goat’s cheese
  • 50g parmesan
  • Salt, pepper, olive oil
  • Butter if you’re feeling decadent

You can make this vegetarian by leaving out the bacon and using vegetable stock and replacing the cheese with veggie varieties 

  • Preheat the oven to gas mark 6 (200c)
  • Fry the bacon until it’s golden and crispy and remove from the pan
  • Add the mushrooms, peppers and asparagus and a little bit of olive oil to the pan and lightly fry till the mushrooms are golden
  • Add the arborio rice and the cooked bacon bits and give the whole thing a good stir
  • Transfer the mix to a roasting tin and pour over the hot stock (don’t worry if it’s not boiling hot, just increase the cooking time by about 5-10 mins)
  • Give the whole thing a stir, season, cover with foil and place in the oven for 20 mins
  • After 20 mins, remove the foil and continue cooking for another 5-10 mins (it’s probably worth tasting the rice at this point to see if it’s cooked)
  • If you’re having steak with it, I’d cook it now so there’s time for it to rest before you serve up
  • Once it’s cooked, slice up your goat’s cheese, grate your parmesan and stir all of them into the rice with a knob of butter
  • Check for seasoning, dish up and enjoy


It’s the perfect dish for a cold winter’s night and really very good if you’re feeling too lazy to make an actual risotto. I mean, who can bear standing and stirring when there’s sofas and blankets and lots of good TV to catch up on?



Pretending fridge soup is roasted duck with cherry sauce

One of my favourite things to do apart from eat and cook and eat more is go away on holiday. And as we’re off on holiday tomorrow, I’ve been playing my favourite cooking game; what can I make for dinner tonight using only the contents of my fridge?

It’s a fun game to play and the rules are simple. Open your fridge, get out all the fresh veg, check the dates on things like cream or yoghurt or stock and get combining.

My available fridge ingredients were: Carrots, celery, broccoli, mushrooms, chicken stock, Greek yoghurt, fresh coriander and galangal. Coupled with the four slightly sprouty potatoes I found in the veg basket and garlic and onions, a broccoli, mushroom, coriander soup was born.

It’s a really boring soup but as I’ve got a husband down with killer man flu, it’s the perfect thing to shut him up make him feel better. And I can pretend I’m keeping to my slightly rubbish version of a bikini diet by eating soup. Given that my bikini diet has involved buying a shit load of kaftans and kimonos, I’m really not doing very well at being beach ready. Apart from the bit where you’re absolutely exhausted and the only thing that’s getting you through is the thought of being on a beach in less than 24 hours. That’s beach ready, right?

Whilst I’m chowing down on a bowlful of soup, I’m going to reminisce about the dinner I made this time last week and share that recipe with you.


I’ve never cooked duck before. Not sure why, I like eating duck and I like ducks in the park, but had never made it at home. So with a free day, I decided to roast duck legs and make a cherry sauce. The roasting duck legs bit is fairly straightforward so I won’t pretend to know better than Nigella and simply share her recipe for roasted duck legs and potatoes that was on the Food Network site.

I’m totally sharing the recipe for the cherry sauce though, as I’ve honestly never made one this good before. Or cared enough about it to do things like strain the shallots out of it. I don’t know what’s happened to me, I’ve changed.


So here’s the recipe, I reckon it’d go with all sorts of roasted poultry, I’m planning on trying it with goose at some point in the future.

Cherry sauce recipe – serves four

  • 2 x shallots finely diced
  • About 2cm of grated fresh galangal
  • 1 x small glass of red wine (about 200ml, I think but that could be a generous pour)
  • 250ml of chicken stock
  • A generous squeeze of runny honey
  • 1 tsp sherry vinegar
  • 225g cherries, halved – this is their weight with stones in, I forgot to weigh them after I stoned them (I blame the generous pour)
  • 1 tbsp cornflour mixed with 1 tbsp water
  • 20g butter
  • A splash of olive oil

NOTE: I got a crunchy skin on my duck legs by starting them off in a frying pan till the skin went crispy then moving them into a roasting tin with the potatoes and some of the duck fat. I then made the sauce in the same frying pan to get the duck flavours.

  • Over a low heat, warm the pan that you’d cooked the duck in, adding a little bit of olive oil if there isn’t much duck fat remaining
  • Add the shallots with a small pinch of salt (stops them browning, clever, huh?) and fry till the shallots soften
  • Add the red wine and let it come to the boil, after it comes to a boil, add the galangal and cook for about a minute after that
  • Add the chicken stock and bring to the boil – let this mix reduce a little but after about 3 mins cooking time, add the cornflour paste
  • Let this cook a little further, you’re looking for a glossy, thick finish
  • Once it’s got to the right consistency for you, add the red wine vinegar and the honey and stir in
  • Take off the heat and pour through a fine meshed sieve so that you remove all the bits of shallot and galangal and any bits that were in the stock
  • Return the liquor to the pan and once it’s warm again (but not boiling) add the halved cherries
  • Stir to warm them through, season then pour onto your duck and enjoy

Here’s the final dish – I wish I was eating that tonight instead of fridge soup!