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Great British Summer: Summer Bowls
What does one do when its supposed to be mid summer and you’re confined to the house to watch the rain pour down the windows and the lawn turn into a meadow while the barbeque sits in the garage and the temperature sits somewhere around a miserable 14?
Start by eating out with some other repressed foodies.
It was the July TFGE dinner on Tuesday and it was just what I needed to boost my spirits. Five of us descended on Monteiths (literally, its below the royal mile in a cosy underground venue) and the food and the conversation were equally as delicious. My scallop starter was perfectly fine although not worth writing home about but the wood pigeon with black pudding, caramelised shallots and a side of creamed savoy cabbage was rich, sweet and generally dribble-inducing. I loved the restaurant with its eclectic mixture of lights and mix and match furniture and the service was efficient but friendly and relaxed.
It was the discussion around the table and stories from Arianna’s Italian home that inspired the subject of this post. If the weather wont improve enough to bring out the salad bowl and tongs, then these summer bowls will do instead. Risotto is an Italian classic but what I love about it is how well you can adapt it to the seasons and to other cultures and flavours. The slightly chewy rice has that “stick to your insides” comforting feeling and the prawns and chillies make it summery and warming at the same time. If its in any way authentic then that’s accidental but its a tasty experiment I think works.
Prawn and Chilli Risotto
- 175-200g arborio rice
- 600ml good chicken stock
- small glass of dry vermouth or white wine
- glug of olive oil
- 1 small white onion or a large shallot, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- About 200g raw prawns, peeled and cleaned
- 1 medium red chilli, finely chopped
- handful fresh parsely
- squeeze of lemon juice to finish (optional)
Prepare your stock and keep it over a low heat on the hob. Heat the oil in a shallow casserole or heaving frying pan and gently fry the onion and garlic until soft. Add the rice and stir for a couple of minutes to coat the grains. Add the liquor and fry until it has almost disappeared. Now start to add the stock a ladle at a time, letting each one cook almost away, and stirring often. The rice normally needs about 20 minutes to cook so I put my timer on when I have put in the first ladle and test it towards the end. You might not need all the stock. While the rice is cooking fry the chilli and prawns until only just cooked in a separate pan and then add them to the risotto near the end. Finally, mix in the parsley and a squeeze of lemon and serve.
Lemon and Pinenut Summertime Tagliarini
My second summer bowl was a surprise treat. My other half thinks lemons are the devil and cant comprehend the thought of lemons with pasta and cheese so although this is my favourite pasta I cant make it when we’re eating together which is normally always. But tonight OH has gone out so I’m sitting writing this with lemony ribbons of pasta dribbling down my chin while I try to twirl my fork and type at the same time. As it happens I’m also playing some seriously questionable music at full volume just because I can (I’m not brave enough to tell you what or you’ll judge).
Unlike the risotto recipe this one isn’t my own but I thank Mr Jamie Oliver profusely for it and happily direct you to the original here.
On this occasion I added a spoon of cream cheese and some spring onions to replace the creamy and crunchy effect of the pine nuts which were sadly absent from my store cupboard, but I wouldn’t suggest you omit them unless you need to as the recipe is perfect to start off with.
Right well hopefully the sky gods will see fit to send us some sunshine this side of Christmas but in the meantime, get out the pans and enjoy!
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