Sunday 9 November 2008

Food for the Fireworks

I went up to visit J yesterday as we wanted to go to the firework display together. It's becoming a tradition for us, this is the third year we've watched them together. The weather has been rubbish the past couple of days and yesterday evening was no exception - windy and cold. That's ok in moderation, it adds to the atmosphere of the firework display and we decided to have something warming and hearty before we went out. Meal of choice, mushroom risotto. We both like this and it seems appropriate and autumnal for a windy day. Plus, both J and I have a sweet tooth and love puddings and as J said, risotto is essentially savoury rice pudding! (I tend to make my risotto more on the soft than 'al dente' side. Yes, this probably makes it less authentic but I really don't care - it's my dinner after all!)

Mushroom risotto (serves 2)
I don't so much follow a recipe for this, just add what seems about right.
Pour boiling water over a small handful of dried porcini mushrooms (about 5-10g) and leave to rehydrate for 15 minutes or so. Soften a finely chopped onion in a glug of olive oil until soft but not coloured. Add chopped mushrooms of your choice (I used two large open portabella mushrooms plus a handful of brown chestnut ones that wanted using up) and turn the heat up high to draw out the water from the mushrooms and brown them a little. Add risotto rice (I used 150g for the two of us) and stir for a couple of minutes to coat in oil. Add a good glug of dry sherry and allow to evaporate. Add the mushroom soaking liquid plus the chopped up rehydrated mushrooms. Don't add the gritty bit of soaking liquid at the bottom of the bowl! Make up 1/2 litre of vegetable stock (I used Marigold bouillon powder) and add gradually to the risotto, allowing it to dry out a bit between additions. Don't have the heat high enough to boil the rice, it needs to be a bit slower than that. Keep stirring. Yes it may be slightly tedious (although I quite enjoy it, and it warms you up nicely!) but the end result is well worth it. The stock will probably take about 25 minutes to add. Test a grain of rice to see if it's done. It should be slightly 'al dente' but I like mine soft, so I keep going until it's lovely and soft and gungy!!! Season with black pepper and salt (if you want, I don't bother with salt as the mushrooms are tasty anyway and the bouillon powder is salty) to taste and stir in a big load of grated parmesan. Serve straight away.

We had it with a lovely green salad prepared by J; lettuce, spinach and avocado with a vinaigrette dressing, which offsets the rich risotto perfectly and adds a bit of crunch.

In the end we decided it was raining too much to go out and see the fireworks, but all was not lost because J has a fabulous view of the fireworks from one of the upper floor windows at the back of her house, so we watched in comfort there! And propping the window open slightly meant that we could hear the fireworks banging and get a little bit of a draught to simulate being out in the open. No substitute for actually being there but better than being drenched or missing them entirely. And opening the window meant I could attempt to take photos of the fireworks. I think they've come out rather well, considering that we were quite a long way from the display!

Happy bonfire night!!!

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