lemon risotto | Asparagus and mint

ingredients

for the risotto:
• 1 litre/1¾ pints vegetable or chicken stock
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 tablespoon butter
• 1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
• 4-5 sticks of celery, trimmed and finely chopped
• 600g risotto rice
• 250ml vermouth or dry white wine
• 2 bunches of asparagus, woody ends removed and discarded
• 700ml hot vegetable or chicken stock
• 100g butter
• 1-2 handfuls of freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus a block for grating
• a bunch of fresh mint, leaves picked and finely chopped
• zest and juice of 2 lemons
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• extra virgin olive oil 

method

This is such a simple, clean and delicious risotto. When buying asparagus, have a look around because there are lots of varieties available now - purple-tipped, white, thin straggly Japanese, wild Spanish and dozens of good locally grown English. In this recipe, the stalks are finely sliced to an inch below the tips - this will give you lots of flavour from the stalks and you'll then have those whole beautiful tips as a bit of a prize! There are variations on this risotto that I love to do, like sprinkling in a little picked crab or lobstermeat or fresh, peeled prawns or sliced scallops - all of these work particularly well with asparagus if you fancy a little upgrade. (If you do decide to add any of these seafood suggestions, then reduce your Parmesan by half.)

Finely chop your asparagus stalks into tiny discs, keeping the tips whole. Then start making your basic risotto recipe.

Stage 1: Bring the stock to a simmer in a saucepan. Put the olive oil and butter in a separate large pan, add the onion and celery and cook very gently for about 15 minutes, without colouring, until soft. Add the rice (it will sizzle) and turn up the heat. Don't let the rice or veg catch on the bottom of the pan, so keep it moving.

Stage 2: Quickly pour in the vermouth or wine. You will smell the alcohol immediately, so keep stirring all the time until it has evaporated, leaving the rice with a lovely perfume.

Stage 3: Add the stock to the rice a ladle at a time, stirring and waiting until it has been fully absorbed before adding the next. Turn the heat down to low so the rice doesn't cook too quickly, otherwise the outside of each grain will be stodgy and the inside hard and nutty (you don't want to cook it too slowly either, or it will turn into rice pudding!) and continue to add ladlefuls of stock until it has all be absorbed. This should take about 14 to 15 minutes and give you rice that is beginning to soften but is still a little al dente. Put to one side.

Now put a large saucepan on a medium to high heat and pour in half the stock, followed by all your risotto base and the finely sliced asparagus stalks and the tips. Stirring all the time, gently bring to the boil, then turn the heat down and simmer until almost all the stock has been absorbed. Add the rest of the stock a ladleful at a time until the rice and asparagus are cooked. You might not need all your stock. Be careful not to overcook the rice - check it throughout cooking to make sure it's a pleasure to eat. It should hold its shape but be soft, creamy and oozy, and the overall texture should be slightly looser than you think you want it.

Turn off the heat, beat in your butter and Parmesan, mint, almost all the lemon zest and all the juice. Check the seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed. Put a lid on the pan and leave the risotto to rest for a minute. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil, a scattering of lemon zest and a block of Parmesan on the tabl 
READ MORE - lemon risotto | Asparagus and mint

pancakes American stylie

ingredients

• 3 large eggs
• 115g/4oz plain flour
• 1 heaped teaspoon baking powder
• 140ml/5fl oz milk
• a pinch of salt


method

These American pancakes are great! Instead of being thin and silky like French crêpes, they are wonderfully fluffy and thick and can be made to perfection straight away. Simple, simple, simple – my Jools goes mad for them.

First separate the eggs, putting the whites into one bowl and the yolks into another. Add the flour, baking powder and milk to the yolks and mix to a smooth thick batter. Whisk the whites with the salt until they form stiff peaks. Fold into the batter – it is now ready to use.

Heat a good non-stick pan on a medium heat. Pour some of your batter into the pan and fry for a couple of minutes until it starts to look golden and firm. At this point sprinkle your chosen flavouring (see below) on to the uncooked side before loosening with a spatula and flipping the pancake over. Continue frying until both sides are golden.

You can make these pancakes large or small, to your liking. You can serve them simply doused in maple syrup and even with some butter or crème fraîche. Or if you choose to sprinkle with a flavouring, try one of these...

fresh corn from the cob
crispy bacon or pancetta
blueberries
banana
stewed apple
grated chocolate
anything else you can imagine...

PS Blueberry pancakes (above) are great but you must try the corn pancakes. On one condition – you must use fresh corn. To do this, remove the outer leaves and carefully run a knife down the cob – this will loosen all the lovely pieces of corn – and sprinkle these raw over your pancake, before flipping it in the pan. I like to have some grilled bacon over my corn pancakes, drizzled with a little maple syrup. This sounds bloody horrid but it honestly tastes great!
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Mixture for Meatballs | Meatloaf or Burgers

Mixture for Meatballs | Meatloaf or Burgers

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 4 slices white bread - soaked with water, squeezed out and broken into tiny pieces
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup grated Romano cheese
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/4 cup minced onion (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons ketchup
  • 4 tablespoons steak sauce

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, bread, eggs, cheese, parsley and onion and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. For meatballs: Form mixture into golf size balls and brown in a large skillet over medium heat for 5 to 10 minutes, or until well browned. Add to your favorite spaghetti sauce and simmer until meatballs are completely cooked through, about 15 to 20 minutes.
  3. For meatloaf: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Add 3 tablespoons ketchup to mixture, mix well, form into a loaf and place in a 9x13 inch baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 75 to 90 minutes.
  4. For burgers: Add 3 to 4 tablespoons steak sauce to mixture, mix well and form into patties. Saute in a large skillet over medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes, or to desired doneness.
READ MORE - Mixture for Meatballs | Meatloaf or Burgers

Romantic Maidu | For a romantic dinner party

Exotic Yams and Pineapple
  • 6 large orange flesh yams
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1/2 cup- light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup pineapple juice
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 2 cups pineapple chunks
Peel and cut yams into 1/2 inch chunks. Place yams in large pot of boiling water, boil 10-12 minutes. Drain yams in colander. In medium sized sauce pan, over medium heat, melt butter. Mix in both sugars, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, pineapple juice and water. Bring to light simmer and cook over low heat about 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
Heat oven to 350. Place yams and pineapple chunks into 2 1/2 quart baking dish. Pour sauce over mixture, gently coating yams. Bake 30-40 minutes, basting occasionally, until liquid is bubbling and yams are tender and glazed.

Desirable Bacon and Green Bean Casserole
  • 2 10 3/4 cans Campbell's Cream of Mushroom Soup
  • 1 1/4 cup of milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 14 1/4 oz. can or 8 cups cut cooked green beans
  • 2 2/3 cups French's French Fried Onions
  • 4 slices crispy cooked bacon, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
Stir soup, milk, black pepper, bacon, green beans and 1 1/3 cup onions in 3-quart casserole dish.
Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Stir mixture. Mix sliced almonds with remaining onions and garnish top of mixture as desired. Bake for 5 more minutes.

Sensuous Chocolate Pecan Pie
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/2 cups pecan halves
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 unbaked 9-inch pie crust
  • Optional garnishes: French Vanilla ice cream, whipped cream
In 1 quart saucepan, over very low heat, combine butter and chocolate. Warm gently. Using a wooden spoon, stir frequently and watch closely to remove from heat as soon as chocolate melts. (Chocolate will become grainy if overheated.) Let cool slightly.
Using sharp chef's knife coarsely chop 1/2 cup of the pecans (leave remaining pecan halves intact). In a large bowl beat eggs lightly, with whisk. Stir in corn syrup, brown sugar, vanilla extract and chocolate mixture until blended. Add all pecans; mix well to distribute pecans evenly.
Heat oven to 350. Pour filling into unbaked pie crust. Bake 60 minutes or until set. Cover edge of piecrust with strip of foil and remove during last 15 minutes , to brown crust. Remove from oven; cool on wire rack.
Suggestions for serving: Slightly warm, topped with French vanilla ice cream and/or whipped cream.
READ MORE - Romantic Maidu | For a romantic dinner party

Mexican Wedding Cakes | Cook time is- 20 minutes

This recipe makes about 5 dozen miniature Mexican Wedding Cakes
Prep time is- 15 minutes, Cook time is- 20 minutes

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) of AA grade butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp "Pure" vanilla
  • 3/4 cup ground walnuts
  • confectioners' sugar
Preparation:
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add flour and salt and mix thoroughly. Stir in vanilla and nuts until well incorporated.
  2. Using your hands or a small cookie scoop, roll balls about 1 inch in diameter. Place on ungreased cookie sheets and bake 15 to 20 minutes or until just starting to brown.
  3. While cookies are still hot, roll in confectioners' sugar. Store in a tin dusted with more confectioners' sugar.
READ MORE - Mexican Wedding Cakes | Cook time is- 20 minutes

Boiled fruit cake | the whole family always loves it.



INGREDIENTS
  1. 1 cup sugar
  2. 1 x 440g can crushed pineapple
  3. 500g mixed fruit
  4. 1 teaspoon bi-carb soda
  5. 1 teaspoon mixed spice
  6. 150g butter
  7. 1 cup plain flour
  8. 1 cup self raising flour
  9. 2 eggs

METHOD
  • Pre-heat oven to 180°C.
  • Place sugar, pineapple, fruit, soda, spice and butter in a saucepan.
  • Bring to the boil and stirring occasionally, boil for three minutes.
  • Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  • Sieve flours, mix in cold fruit and add the well beaten eggs.
  • Bake for 1.5 to 2 hours.
READ MORE - Boiled fruit cake | the whole family always loves it.

chicken soup is so easy and healthy.



INGREDIENTS
  1. 2 chicken marylands, skin and fat removed
  2. 1 stick of celery, chopped
  3. 1 onion, diced
  4. 1 large carrot, grated
  5. 2 packets chicken noodle soup
  6. handful of rice

METHOD
  • Remove fat and skin from chicken and place in a pot with enough water to cover. Bring to the boil and simmer until chicken is cooked through (approximately 15 minutes). Remove chicken from stock and allow to cool.
  • Remove meat from the chicken bones and add to the stock along with all other ingredients. Boil until all the vegetables are tender and rice is cooked. Serve with crusty bread.

READ MORE - chicken soup is so easy and healthy.

chicken pies Easy Recipe




INGREDIENTS
  1. 600g chicken thigh fillets, cut into 2cm pieces
  2. ¼ cup (35g) flour
  3. 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  4. 300g mushrooms, chopped
  5. 4 green onions (shallots), thinly sliced
  6. ½ cup (60g) frozen peas
  7. ¼ cup (30g) grated tasty cheese
  8. 2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed,
  9. cut into four 15cm circles
  10. 1 egg, lightly beaten
  11. salad, to serve (optional)

METHOD

  • Toss chicken pieces in flour, shaking off excess. Heat oil in a large frying pan on medium. Cook chicken in batches, until golden. Remove from pan. Add mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes, until mushrooms soften and liquid evaporates.
  • Preheat oven to 220°C. Combine chicken, mushrooms, green onion, peas and cheese in a bowl. Season to taste. Divide chicken mixture between four 11cm pie dishes or individual ramekins.
  • Brush edge of pie dishes with water. Cover with pastry and press around edge of each ramekin to seal. Brush tops with egg. Bake pies for 20 minutes, until pastry
  • is golden. Serve with salad, if you like.

Tips : it's a cinch to make one large pie. Place chicken filling in a 20cm pie dish and top with 1 sheet of pastry, trimming the excess. Brush with egg and bake for about 20 minutes, until golden.
READ MORE - chicken pies Easy Recipe