Thursday, 31 May 2012

Portobello mushroom and wet garlic risotto

'Wet garlic' doesn't exactly sound appealing, does it. But it is! Wet garlic is very young garlic, harvested before the bulbs form. I'd never tried it before it turned up in this week's veg box, but like wild garlic leaves it has a fresh, garlicky flavour and it behaves rather like a leek, with the slices breaking up into little rounds when you cook them.

As I had some lovely fat portobello mushrooms as well, I decided risotto was the only way to go. Mushroom risotto is never going to photograph well, but here we go...!
I don't really have a recipe for risotto - I just do the usual thing of frying up some onions (and in this case the mushrooms and garlic) and adding some wine, which I let bubble until reduced, and then I add the rice (80g per person) and stir it around for a minute or so before adding stock bit by bit and letting it all soak into the simmering rice. I don't add any cheese or cream if I'm cooking for myself, as the starch in the rice makes the whole thing lovely and creamy anyway, but as a special treat a handful of grated Cheddar, hard goat's cheese or Parmesan would be lovely scattered over the top! My risotto was topped off with some ribbons of basil and lots of black pepper.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Veg Box: 29/5/12

Definitely not soggy this week! And how lovely and summery does all of this look?
I've got butternut squash, beetroot, beans, mushrooms, vine tomatoes, onions, potatoes and some bonus free wet garlic (the leeky-looking things on the top there). One thing I do love about Riverford is that if you get one of the smaller boxes, they don't give you whacking great squash or tons of beetroot or whatever - it's all in nice manageable amounts.

Having said that, a weekend away and a few nights out meant that I still had squash, potatoes and beetroot left over from my last box! So I decided to have a bit of a clearout, and I roasted up a big tray of veg - the beetroot, potatoes and squash, plus some onion and some cherry tomatoes and carrots that were hanging around in the fridge. I like to give my veg a quick steam in the microwave before I roast them, because that way they take less time in the oven (definitely a bonus in today's warm and humid weather) and they all cook evenly with fluffy insides and crispy edges. Yum yum! So supper was a big bowl of veg, topped with some basil and a little bit of super-spicy Reggae Reggae barbecue sauce...
I also couldn't resist showing you this photo from earlier - I popped into central London for a meeting and Regent Street is all decked out in Union Flags ready for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee! I have to admit I'm getting sucked into the whole Jubilee celebration thing and am planning to go to a few events over the weekend - and of course, I can't wait for a whole four days off!

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Unexpected fish!

That's not a phrase you hear often, is it!

An email landed in my inbox today from a colleague who only works a couple of days a week, saying that she'd bought some bream from the (excellent) fishmonger down the road from the office, but had forgotten to take them home with her, and would anyone like them? So three of us nabbed a fish each, and this is what I did with mine...
The easiest thing to do would have been to bake the fish in the oven, but as the great British weather has decided that this week it's summertime I thought it was too hot to turn the oven on (I know, last week I was moaning about the rain making my veg box soggy and this week it's too hot...!) so I cooked my bream in a pan with just a tiny bit of oil. I had some beetroot and some very elderly watercress in the fridge from the aforementioned veg box, so I shaved off slices of the beetroot with a peeler and left them for a few minutes to marinade in a little bit of balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper, and then I made a sort of watercress pesto with toasted sunflower seeds, garlic and a bit of olive oil. It all went very nicely together, I thought!

Monday, 21 May 2012

Bristol 10K 20/5/12

This weekend I headed down to Bristol for what was actually my first proper organised 10K run! I was running with my friends (well, they're more like honorary sisters) Anna and Tori, raising money for a really fantastic cause.

We all had a brilliant day - none of us were expecting all that much, as we'd all struggled with illness in recent days and weeks, but the weather was perfect and we were all determined to finish the run. Special mention should go to Tori, who was worried about her cough but actually ended up being struck down with a sore knee halfway round! But she made it to the finish! And I managed to totally exceed my expectations with a new PB - I knocked 35 seconds off my 10K time from the Reading half marathon and managed a time of 55:05. Slightly annoyed that I didn't run six seconds faster and end up sub-55, but a PB is a PB!

Here I am looking knackered at the finish (I wasn't expecting my mum and dad to be there taking photos!)
...and here's all three of us with our medals!
The race was really well organised and it was great fun. It was a little bit quiet, because there weren't that many places where people could stand and cheer, which came as a real contrast after Reading, and I wasn't too impressed with the collection of the timing chips - instead of being part of the medal/goody bag/water 'funnel' after the finish, there were just people collecting the chips in the race village and it wasn't immediately obvious where they were. I can imagine a lot of people forgetting to hand in their chip! But all in all it was a fab day (topped off perfectly with a lovely family barbecue) and we've raised an amazing £730, so we're really chuffed!

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Soggy veg - Veg Box Day 15/5/12

Thanks to the marvellous spring weather we've been having, my veg box was a little bit wet by the time I got home! No harm done, though, and inside was a punnet of cherry tomatoes, four onions, a butternut squash, a bag of potatoes, watercress, summer greens and four massive beetroot!

I was heading to the pub on Tuesday night for a meeting about the Ealing Eagles 10K run, which (in case anyone fancies signing up) is happening on Sunday September 9th in Gunnersbury Park, so I didn't have time to make anything spectacular with my veg, but I did put together a quick and delicious pasta sauce using one of the onions, a small tin of chopped tomatoes, some of the cherry tomatoes, a few black olives, a small tin of tuna and a big handful of the purple sprouting broccoli that I nicked from my parents' garden at the weekend. It was gorgeous!

Monday, 14 May 2012

Holidays, random acts of culture and gluten-free pastry...

Crikey, I've neglected my blog for a rather long time! First I had a particularly nasty bout of tonsillitis, and then (on a happier note) I went off down to Somerset for a week's relaxation and pampering with my family. It was my sister's birthday last Wednesday so the week was packed with celebrations and days out and, obviously, lots of food and drink.

We went to rainy Lyme Regis (where my sister comprehensively kicked my bum in a hilarious moose-shooting arcade game...)
...and rainy Bath, where we went to see the Roman Baths and where I found the Oasis butterfly-print pleated dress I'd been lusting after for months HALF PRICE. I actually jumped up and down and squealed in the shop.
Then, on Friday, the weather suddenly improved and we wanted to get out and enjoy the sunshine. Reading the local paper the evening before, I'd spotted that Antony Gormley's Field for the British Empire was on display at Barrington Court, a mere 15 minutes or so from my parents' house. None of us had ever been to Barrington Court before, despite having lived so close by for 25 years, and I'm so glad we went! The house and gardens were beautiful, and the exhibition (which unfortunately we weren't allowed to take photos of) really was quite spellbinding. According to one of the guides, the most common reaction from children on seeing the rooms full of little clay figures was 'Meerkats!', while several adults had remarked that it reminded them of concentration camps. It's amazing how different people react to things!

In other exciting news, the lovely girls from Domestic Sluttery very kindly asked me to do a guest post on gluten-free cookery, and I had a great time coming up with a truly simple and delicious recipe for gluten-free shortcrust pastry. My sister was absolutely over the moon with the curried potato pasties I made, and we're already planning lots of other ways to use the pastry!

And finally, here's a photo of the gorgeous Lily of the Valley that's growing right outside my mum and dad's front door!

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