Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Parsley and goat's cheese risotto

Daniel and I were at Slottsträdgården Kafé the other day. It's a lovely café close to where we live that uses mostly ingredients grown in their garden. They had a delicious parsley and goat's cheese risotto which was by far the best risotto I've ever tasted. We had to try to work it out at home! We looked in our recipe book 'The Complete Italian Vegetarian Cookbook' for some help. We used the Risotto with Spinach and Herbs as a guide and halved the amounts which was a mistake! I will use the full amounts because half is far too little unless it's being served with something else. It was close enough to the one in the café to be very tasty but their's was still better. I hope you can try it out (theirs or this one). 


6 cups of vegetable stock
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium onions, minced
1.5 cups arborio rice
0.5 cup dry white wine
minced fresh parsley
minced fresh basil
generous amount of goats cheese


1. Bring the stock up to a simmer and then keep it warm at a low heat.

2. Heat the oil in a pan and add the onion. Cook till golden brown. Stir in the rice with a wooden spoon for about a minute. Pour in the wine and cook for 1 to 2 minutes.

3. Add a bit of the stock and stir until all the stock has been absorbed. Continue adding the stock in small amounts and stirring while the rice absorbs the liquid. When the rice looks/tastes almost fully cooked, add the herbs and continue with the stock until the rice is creamy and cooked.

4. Take the pan off the hob and stir in the goat's cheese. Add pepper to taste. Serve with cheese and herb garnish. :) YUM  

Thursday, 19 May 2011

A kind of sushi

Chirashi Zushi
This is apparently also sushi. Most often it has some kind of raw fish on it but obviously we've used veggie toppings. You can put anything on top of the Japanese rice but here we've used -

Thinly sliced courgette that's lightly cooked in a frying pan with a little water
Thinly sliced radishes
Lightly cooked asparagus, cut into chunks
Japanese sweetened omelette
Toasted sesame seeds

Sweetened omelette
Beat 3 eggs in a bowl and then mix in 1 tablespoon of sugar. Cook omelette and roll up whilst cooking so it sticks together. There is a technique to this which I haven't mastered yet, I'll let you know if I crack it. Cut the rolled omelette into chunks and layer with everything else on top of the rice. You can also cook the omelette normally and cut it into shreds. I'll be trying that another time.

Dressing for rice
1 cup/200ml rice vinegar
3 and a half tablespoons sugar
Heat in a pan until the sugar dissolves.
Then add 2 teaspoons of salt and a third of a teaspoon of Kombu Cha Powder (this is apparently ground Kombu seaweed that is used to make tea) we didn't have this so I used the same amount of Kombu stock powder. I don't think it's a necessity though.

This dressing should be dribbled onto the cooked rice (about 70-100ml for 320g of uncooked rice) then mixed in.

This recipe is adapted from Harumi's Japanese Cooking.

We served it with some soy sauce and wasabi. We had leftovers and I'm thinking of adding fresh mint and basil for my lunch box tomorrow. 

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Cooking music?

May I suggest some music to cook to? I have finally discovered Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon album, rather late you might say and perhaps it is, but it's hit me now! Here's 'Time' to listen to while you read the recipes. :)

Midweek meal

Beetroot and Quinoa Salad

Onion or spring onion
Feta or paneer cheese
Half a Lemon

This is a tasty dish that Daniel threw together with what we had at home one evening. We loved it so much, now we make it often. 

Boil the beetroot in their skins for 45 minutes to 1 hour. 

Cook the quinoa to the packet's instructions. Ours says 2dl quinoa to 4dl water, add salt and stock powder and cook for 15/20 minutes.

When the beetroot is cooked remove the skins (under running water is easiest), they just rub off. Cut into big chunks.

Fry onion/spring onion in a big pan (we use a wok) with some oil. Then add the beetroot, chopped feta or paneer and washed spinach. Put a lid on and let the spinach wilt.

Add washed and roughly chopped coriander and the juice of half a lemon and serve. 

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

A Japanese feast

Yesterday evening we did Japanese. We both love Japanese food and since discovering Harumi Kurihara's wonderful cookbooks we have found it to be quite simple. Here you can see 'Tofu with Ricotta Cheese' in the small square dish, 'Aubergine and Noodle Salad' in the rectangular dish and mixed seaweed salad in the small bowl.

Tofu with Ricotta Cheese
Silken firm tofu
Ricotta cheese
Fresh mint and basil leaves, roughly cut

50ml soy sauce
2 tbsps caster sugar
1 tbsp mirin
Mix these three ingredients together in a saucepan and heat gently until the sugar is dissolved. Take off the heat and let it cool a little then add about 1 or 2 cm of grated ginger. It's better if you use a Japanese grater which sort of turns the ginger to mush. Pour this over the tofu, ricotta and herbs. Finally sprinkle over roasted sesame seeds. We do a big batch of roasted seeds then keep them in an old saké bottle. This dish is pure heaven with every mouthful!
This recipe is adapted from the recipe book Harumi's Japanese Home Cooking.

Aubergine and Noodle Salad
1 aubergine

150g vermicelli noodles 
Cut the aubergine in thirds, peel and then cut into long sticks. Put the aubergine into a bowl of water with a plate on top to keep them down and allow then to soak for about 5 to 6 minutes. This removes the bitterness from the aubergines and seems to be the standard way to prepare aubergine in Japanese cooking.

While the aubergine is soaking take the noodles and cover with boiling water. Follow the packet instructions for time and when ready flush with cold water and set aside.

When the aubergine has finished soaking steam it for 5 minutes or until soft. If you're new to steaming, as I was, you can purchase an insert for a normal saucepan from IKEA that works perfectly.

0.5 teaspoon of good vegetable stock dissolved in 3 tablespoons of boiling water
2.5 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon caster sugar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
2 teaspoons ginger, finely chopped
1 red chilli, chopped or sambal oelek, to taste
While the aubergine is steaming mix the sauce ingredients together. Arrange the aubergine on to two plates, lay the noodles on top, pour the sauce over and finally scatter over chopped coriander. 
This recipe is also adapted from Harumi's Japanese Home Cooking.

Mixed Seaweed Salad
This is a dried selection of seaweeds produced by Renée Voltaire that you hydrate with water for 10 minutes. We followed the instructions on the packet that advised a little grated ginger, soy sauce and sesame oil. It was very tasty but I guess you have to be a seaweed fan. :) Give it a try!
Renée Voltaire - Mixed sea vegetable salad


Not a complete convert...

I was rather dismayed when my boyfriend voiced his intention to become vegetarian. Truth be told, I'd seen it coming. All the literature he had been reading on the subject of yoga and meditation, his new interest, had emphasized the importance of a meat-free diet.

We've been vegetarian at home now since Christmas, he loves it and I've got used to it. I am not vegetarian but I now realise I can live without meat in most of my meals. I also believe it would be beneficial to the environment and animal happiness if we ate less meat.

My ideal would be that we all ate meat two or three meals a week, at most, and then we could afford to eat good meat. Meat from organic farms and happy animals. It isn't our right to have cheap meat for each meal of the day. Animals and the earth suffer to provide us with this 'right'.

Plus, guess what, I've discovered vegetarian food can be wonderfully delicious! I hope you will agree because I plan to share our food with you. I would love to hear from you if you try any recipes. Let me know how they turn out.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakumi

As you must have guessed, this novel gets its title from the Beatles song 'Norwegian Wood (This bird has flown)'.

This novel doesn't contain the supernatural element that pervaded Murakumi's 'The Wind-up Bird Chronicle'. It's more realistic but melancholy and thought provoking. Again, Murakumi has conjured up real, flawed, interesting characters who each have an effect on our main character Toru Watanabe. In contrast, Toru Watanabe seems to be a bit bland and placid.

The novel is set in the 1960s and has the Tokyo student uprisings as a backdrop. Toru is not directly involved and both he and Midori, his friend, have no sympathies for those that are. They see their actions as half-hearted and their ideology as not thought through.

The plot had some very unexpected and tragic moments. This meant as with 'The Wind-up Bird Chronicle' I was absorbed from beginning to end. I cannot recommend this book enough.