What I'm cooking and eating

16 March 2021

Instant Pot Risotto - updated 16 March 2021

 Some years ago now, I experimented with a slow cooker risotto, which didn't really go anywhere.  However, recently I have been learning how to make risotto in the Instant Pot, which is a very different technique to a normal risotto.  It is also a lot quicker - I don't really mind a risotto taking a long time to cook when I'm in the motor home (where it is a staple), but at home, it's nice not to be stuck in the kitchen!

1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 cup risotto rice
About 125 ml white wine (cooking wine is fine)
Extra vegetables, as liked (I used mushrooms and a courgette, of which more anon)
Up to 250 ml stock (chicken is nicest, but vegetable is fine if you're vegetarian), ideally hot
Seasoning, as liked
1 tbs cooking oil
1 knob of butter 
1/2 packet shaved parmesan, or vegetarian equivalent

Put the Instant Pot on to sauté (I always do this on medium, as I find it gets too hot on high), and add the cooking oil; after a few minutes, add the onion, garlic, and extra vegetables, if using.  Stir vigorously and then add the rice, stir again.  Add the wine, and stir until it is almost all absorbed.
Then add the stock and seasoning, and put the lid on.  Turn to manual and high pressure, and set for 6 minutes.  When it beeps, reduce the pressure manually at once, to stop it overcooking.  Then add the butter and cheese, and stir vigorously so it all comes together in the lovely gloop that is risotto.

I made a bit of a nonsense of tonight's, if I'm honest - it didn't occur to me that the courgettes would add a good 50 ml of fluid to the mix, and so it was too wet, and not the nicest I've ever made.  But it was still edible.  But I shouldn't have added so much stock.

UPDATED 16 March 2021  I decided to make this with a courgette and half a punnet of mushrooms, and, given the amount of liquid those vegetables are apt to render, I reduced the amount of stock to 150 ml.  I was a bit nervous lest it prove too little, but, in fact, it was absolutely perfect!  I think, had I used butternut squash instead of courgette, I would use 200 ml stock, as it doesn't render so much.  But for a courgette and mushroom risotto, 150 ml is perfect!

12 March 2021

Caribbean-style bean stew

I have too many Caribbean friends, and there are too many great Caribbean restaurants/take-aways round here, to want to do much in the way of Caribbean-style cooking, but I came across this video on YouTube yesterday, and decided to create my own version of it.  I'm very glad I did; on the other hand, there should probably have been more beans in it!  

  • About 3/4 cup dried red kidney beans
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 small carrots
  • 1 small leek
  • 1 red chilli
  • 3 peppardew peppers (which I just happened to have - optional!)
  • 1 chunk butternut
  • 1 sloosh tomato paste
  • 2 tbs cooking oil
  • 1 tbs soft brown sugar
  • 2 tbs dried coconut milk
  • 2 tsp bouillon powder
  • Salt, pepper, 1 tsp each dried thyme and dried parsley, Dunn's River ginger/garlic/pimento and everyday seasoning

Soak the beans and bicarbonate in plenty of boiling water for a couple of hours.  Drain and rinse, then put the beans in a pressure cooker with enough water to come about 1-2 cm above them, and cook on high pressure for about 15 minutes, allowing pressure to reduce at room temperature.

Put 1 tbs of the cooking oil into a sauté pan and add the vegetables which you have peeled/chopped/crushed/whatever, as appropriate.  Stir thoroughly, cover, and allow to cook for 5-10 minutes.  Then place the remaining tbs of oil in a heavy-based pan and add the sugar.  Heat this and allow to caramelise, but not burn, and then add the beans with their cooking liquid.  This will froth up, so be very, very careful and only add a bit of the water at first, until it gets under control.  Stir thoroughly, then add the part-cooked vegetables and the rest of the ingredients, and a bit more water if you think it needs it.  Bring to the boil, stir thoroughly, and reduce to a simmer.  Allow to cook, covered, for about 15 minutes while you cook rice to go with it.

Another vegan recipe for the collection!

15 February 2021

Breakfast tart

This was presented on Facebook in a heart-shaped mould, as suitable for a Valentine's Day breakfast.  I thought it would be a bit of a faff to make for breakfast, but might be rather nice as a midweek supper - as, indeed, it proved!

1 sheet ready-rolled puff pastry 
2 tbs creme fraiche or cream cheese
1 large Portabello mushrooms, cut in pieces (this was supposed to be baby button mushrooms, but Someone Who Shall Be Namelss bought Portabello instead).
About 8 cherry tomatoes, halved.
1/2 packet lardons (I prefer unsmoked, but use smoked if you like that)
4-6 Peppadew pappers, halved
4-6 Basil leaves, torn
2 eggs

Preheat the oven to mark 6 (200 C; 400F).
Unroll the pastry into a greased baking tray. 

Spread it with the cream cheese or creme fraiche; add the rest of the toppings except the eggs. 

Bake for 20-25 minutes, then remove from heat, break the eggs on top and return to the oven for 8-10 minutes.  

Serves 2.

15 January 2021

Marmalade steamed pudding

 This wasn't totally successful - the sponge wasn't quite cooked in the middle, but nothing a few moments in the microwave couldn't cure.   But it was warm, lovely comfort food!

2 eggs
Weigh the eggs and measure out the same weight of butter, sugar and self-raising flour
Pinch of salt
Large tablespoonful of marmalade, jam, golden syrup or similar.  Stewed apple is very good, too.

Grease a pudding basin (think mine is 3 pints, but wouldn't swear to it) and put the marmalade in the bottom.  Use either the creaming or the all-in-one method to mix the remaining ingredients into a cake batter, which you then place on top of the marmalade.  

Cover the bowl with either a plastic lid or with greaseproof paper or similar.

  Place on the trivet in an Instant Pot.  Add about 400 ml boiling water to the pot.  I cooked this on steam at high pressure for 40 minutes,

but, as I said above, it turned out not to be quite cooked, even with mostly reducing the pressure at room temperature.  Many recipes say to steam without sealing for 15 minutes, and then sealed for 20, but I'm not sure whether that would have worked any better.  Maybe 45 minutes next time?  Anyway, it was delicious, served with custard.
UPDATE: Although it was very good, I think next time it will be a baked sponge pudding - you make exactly the same way, but cook in the oven (arguably in a cake tin) instead of steaming.  Moderate oven, 20-25 minutes.....

11 January 2021

Chicken stock

A friend of mine said that she couldn't use stock cubes because the chemicals didn't agree with her, so I told her how I make chicken stock. And as I was making some today, having had a roast chicken for supper yesterday, I thought I would do an illustrated post. It is an awful waste of a chicken not to make stock from the bones!

1 cooked chicken carcase
1 large onion
Several cloves garlic (optional)
1 leek (use the green end as well as the white bits)
Several carrots
1 stick celery, if you like cooked celery, which we don't so I didn't use one, but it's traditional
1 stock cube (obviously omit this if you are making stock because you can't tolerate cubes!)
2 litres water (about 1/2 American gallon, I believe)
Seasonings - salt, pepper, herbs, whatever....

Pick all the meat off the bones of the chicken and use elsewhere (sorry, my photo of the carcase didn't come out).
Peel the onion and chop into quarters, also peel the garlic

Cut the leek and carrots, and celery if using, into slightly smaller pieces.
and put everything into an Instant Pot or pressure cooker, if you have one.  If you don't have one, but do have a slow cooker (crock pot) then use that, and if you have neither, use a very large saucepan!  

In an Instant Pot or pressure cooker, you will want to cook it for about 20 minutes, and let it reduce pressure at room temperature, if possible, and certainly for at least 10-15 minutes after cooking has finished.  In a slow cooker, it's nicest left overnight, for about 12 hours or even 15.  And in an ordinary saucepan, you'll probably want a little more water and to simmer it for at least two hours, if not 3.

When it is ready, strain it and discard the solids, and you will be left with a large bowlful of stock to use as a basis for soups, risottos, etc - or you could even boil another chicken in it!  

12 November 2020

Seasonal squash

 I didn't take a photo of this - if I'm honest, it wasn't particularly photogenic, but it was very delicious!  The photo below is of squashes in a supermarket in Germany.

1 small squash or pumpkin - you could use butternut, and I probably will, but this was one of those green-and-white striped jobs.  
about 1/4 pack sage, 
A little olive oil
2 eggs
Salt and pepper

Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds.  Finely chop the sage (if it's fresh), and sprinkle in the cavity.  Spread olive oil all over the cut surfaces, season, and then place, hollow upwards, in a hot oven (mark 6) for 40 minutes.  Then take it out of the oven, break an egg into each hollow (where the seeds are) and return to the oven for a further 8 minutes.  If the egg overflows the hollows, tough - you can scrape it up when you take it out of the oven!  I served this with a tray of ready-to-bake vegetables from Lidl, and it was absolutely delicious!  

06 November 2020

Bean casserole with halloumi

 One thing about lockdown - I'm posting more recipes!  I didn't during the first lockdown because I was ill myself and not eating or cooking, but we did - and still do - order a takeaway most weeks to support local businesses, and that has inspired several recipes.  This one, however, came from several sources, including the BBC Good Food site (I do recommend this if you're looking for recipes) and Easy Cheesy Vegetarian (whom I also recommend, even though I'm not veggie!).

1/4 cup white cannellini beans
1/4 cup red kidney beans
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into chunks
1 courgette, chopped
1 leek, chopped
1 sweet pepper, seeds removed, chopped
1 tin tomatoes
1 sloosh harissa or tomato paste
A little cooking oil
1 small pack spinach
1 pack halloumi cheese.
Seasoning, as liked

Soak the beans either overnight in cold water or for at least an hour in boiling water to which you have added a pinch of bicarbonate of soda.

Turn your Instant Pot on to sauté and add the oil, then when it has heated, add the chopped onion and garlic, and cook for a few minutes until they are beginning to become translucent.  Then add the rest of the vegetables, and allow to cook for awhile (in an ideal world, put a lid on and let them cook in their own steam for a bit, but....

Then add the paste (if you don't like spicy, use tomato paste, otherwise us harissa paste - just a spoonful), the tin of tomatoes and about half the tinful of water, and the drained, rinsed beans.  Cook on high pressure for 12 minutes.

Meanwhile put the spinach in a colander and pour boiling water over it to wilt it.  When it's cool enough to handle, chop it roughly.

When the Instant Pot beeps, slice the halloumi and dry fry it (detailed instructions here). 

After about 10 minutes, release the remaining pressure and stir the wilted spinach through the stew.  Serve in bowls, topped with the fried halloumi.  I found there was enough stew to do twice, so I may serve the rest either with more halloumi or with sausages or something similar.  We shall see....

I should add that this is one of those recipes you can adapt to suit your own personal tastes and whatever veg you have in the fridge!  I think really only the tomatoes, beans, onions and garlic are compulsory - the rest is up to you!

ETA: In fact, the stew did 3 times; I topped what was left of it with a layer of grated cheese and then some crispy garlic breadcrumbs, and we made that do us twice, although it was a tad mere....