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Archive for July 31st, 2009

This is a very simple and creamy risotto and the cooked cucumber is a revelation! The recipe breaks the normal rules of risotto making as you can add all the liquid together rather than the usual rule of adding it gradually.  If you want an extra special dish then you could use Carnaroli rice, but I think Arborio is fine.  I have cooked cucumber before, but a long time ago. I seem to remember it made a delicious sauce that went with fish, though I cannot remember either the type of fish or the location of the recipe. You could mistakenly think that courgette could be substituted, but cooked cucumber is nothing like it.  It could be used as an alternative, but courgette would make this a completely different dish.

The original recipe adapted from a book I found in the library, Cooking with Salmon, the King of Fish by Jane Bamforth. I had some fennel in the fridge, always a good partner with fish, so I decided to add this. As the fish is diced for the recipe use fresh salmon offcuts if available.  The original recipe suggested just using the white parts of the spring onions, but I could not see why the green tops could not be used as well! The seasoning needs to be checked carefully otherwise the risotto could be rather bland. Next time I make this – and I am sure I will – I will replace the tarragon with lemon juice and zest, which I think will add a lovely tang.

100_5729 Salmon Risotto with Cucumber & Fennel

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Salmon Risotto with Cucumber & Fennel
(Serves 4)

25g/1oz butter
1 bunch of spring onions, cleaned and chopped
1 fennel bulb, cleaned and chopped
1 small cucumber (more if you wish)
350g/12ozs Arborio risotto rice
1.5litres/2pints fish or vegetable stock
150ml/¼pint dry white wine
1lb salmon fillet pieces (offcuts are fine) skinned and diced
45ml/3tbsp chopped fresh tarragon
Salt & ground black pepper

1. Melt the butter in a pan and gently fry the onion, fennel and cucumber for about 2 minutes without browning the vegetables.

2. Stir in the rice and pour in the stock and wine. Bring to the boil and then simmer uncovered for 10minutes. Stir occasionally.

3. Stir in the diced salmon and season. Continue cooking for another 5 minutes. Switch off the heat, put lid on the pan and leave the risotto to stand for another 5 minutes.

4. Uncover the pan and stir in the tarragon. Serve in bowls. Add crusty bread if you wish.

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July ‘Meanderings’ …

All images ©’Meanderings through my Cookbook’ www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Pictured (top to bottom)
Le ‘Far’ Breton
Blackberry Ice Cream
Chickpea Couscous Salad
Sweet Pepper Salad

Last time I wrote one of these updates it was the hottest day of the year in London – what a difference a month makes.  We have had the wettest July for a long time and the forecast doesn’t promise better weather any time soon.  Meanwhile in the USA, some of the food bloggers I read have been sweltering and trying to find simple light food to cook.

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

We are off on holiday very shortly and will be in France, mostly based at Carnac in Brittany famous for its rows of ancient standing stones.  This is not our first visit to this part of France and we are looking forward to sampling once again some of the regional fare, in particular the plenteous seafood, crêpes and galettes plus, as usual, the cheese and patisserie.  Cider rather than wine is the local drink, as Brittany is not a wine growing area.  Along the way I hope to pick up some ideas and recipes to try on my return.  One local speciality we will look out for is a favourite custard style patisserie from Brittany called Le ‘Far’ Breton, which I make regularly and is already included in Meanderings through my Cookbook.

100_4870 Blackberry Ice Cream

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

We have eaten a lot of Ice Cream this month thanks to the Ice Cream machine which at last came out of its box after several years out of service.  First I made Lemon Sorbet, which I had remembered was always successful.  Then after having bought 3 pineapples for £1 in our local market I made some delicious Pineapple Ice Cream, but if I made this again I think I would purée the fruit a bit more to avoid some of the icy pieces which I felt spoiled it – definitely a work in progress rather than something to post at the moment.  The other flavours I made were Blackberry Ice Cream and Melon & Ginger Ice Cream, both of which were very successful and will definitely be repeated. 

100_4946 Chickpea Couscous Salad

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

We currently have a glut of blackberries in our garden which are gradually making their way into the freezer.  As a time saver I made and froze 3 quantities of strained blackberry purée to turn into Ice Cream at a later date.  I have two new Ice Cream books: Making Ice Cream & Iced Desserts by Joanna Farrow & Sara Lewis, bought after borrowing it from the library and more recently Ice Creams published by Hamlyn a slim book, a charity shop find, with some interesting ideas to try.

100_4730 Sweet Pepper Salad

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

I have also been including some of our favourite salads, including my own recipes for Special Coleslaw and Rosy Potato Salad, a simple Tuna & Bean Salad, a Chickpea Couscous Salad and a Sweet Pepper Salad which could be eaten hot, warm or cold.  Most of these are good alongside a simple green leaf salad, with or without tomato or cucumber.  Great for Summer eating whatever the weather!

I have eaten out twice this month.  I went to the Forest Tandoori, which is highly spoken of, in Wood St, Walthamstow, E17 with friends early in the month.  I had a simple Lamb Biryani and was not disappointed and the mango lassi with which I finished the meal was delicious. 

I had been wanting to try out Istanbul Ocakbasi, a Turkish restaurant in Hoe St, Walthamstow literally 5 minutes walk from home.  (After doing some research online I found out that, in Turkey, Ocakbasi restaurants are where people eat when they’re out, as opposed to places to go out to eat at.) Istanbul opened not long ago, or rather changed hands and had a makeover.  We were not disappointed with the food, service or value though the atmosphere was cafe rather than restaurant. There was also no licence, which wasn’t really a problem, though it would have been good to have had the option of a glass of wine or beer with our meal.  I ate a delicious charcoal grilled bream (Cupra Izgara) and my husband had a Ezmeli kebab, minced lamb served in a dish on a bed of grilled chopped tomatoes, green pepper and onion, finished with tomato sauce and butter.  This was served with a huge plate of four different types of salad (diced tomato & cucumber; diced red cabbage marinaded in oil and lemon; finely sliced raw onion dressed with Sumak; shredded carrot) and a small plate of dressings (tzatziki: cucumber and mint in yoghurt; marinaded tomatoes and peppers; potato & carrot in mayonnaise).  We also had fresh warm flatbread which was delicious.  At the end of the meal we were each given a complementary piece of baklava (a honey soaked nut pastry) and coffee.  I would definitely go back again if only to try the Bobrek (charcoal grilled lamb’s kidney) which I nearly chose this time.  (Update: we went back and I had the Bobrek.  It was OK but I would probably choose something else the next time – but then that’s what working your way through a restaurant menu is about and I am sure we will eat at Istanbul Ocakbasi again.)

Several times recently in food blogs I have come across a spice called Sumac and when we ate in the Istanbul I discovered it had been used in our dishes. I have also been re-reading a delightful memoir of food and life in pre-war Egypt called Apricots on the Nile – Collette Rossant, so was delighted to find a chicken recipe in its pages, Grilled Chicken with Sumac & Roasted Banana, which included Sumac as one of the ingredients. Sumac powder was easy to find in our local Turkish supermarket and the chicken, which had been marinaded in a mixture including Sumac powder and lime juice, was delicious. I plan to post a review of the book and the recipe in the coming weeks.

For a full list of postings since the June Meanderings… see below.  (Recipes already posted have been highlighted and the others will appear in coming weeks.)

July Recipes …

Blackberry Ice Cream
Lemon Sorbet
Melon & Ginger Ice Cream

Chickpea Couscous Salad
Rosy Potato Salad
Special Coleslaw
Sweet Pepper Salad
Tuna & Bean Salad

Eggs Flamenco
Salmon Risotto with Cucumber & Fennel 

Meanderings ‘a la carte’ from previous months

*****

‘For what we are about to receive…’ August 2009 and beyond

Food for the mind…

Non Fiction Food book
Among my holiday reading I will be taking a book called Tarte Tatin by Susan Loomis which combines recipes and snapshots of French life. Susan lives in Normandy, near Rouen, where we will spend two or three nights en route to Brittany.

… and for the August table …

As I will be away for a while August I will not be concentrating on recipes using particular ingredients this month, but instead will be thinking about really simple holiday meals and looking out for local food ideas from Brittany to try out when I am back at home.  Wherever you are this month, at home or away …

Happy Eating!

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