Still Working Hard Blue Cheese & Rocket Crostini

I´m starting to sound like a scratched record now, I´m sorry. Work continues but with huge progress.

Last night, in House Number 1, we mopped the final floor, we screwed in the final light bulb, polished the final window and left a Welcome Card and bottle of wine for our lovely new tenant.

It was all a little emotional if I admit the truth. It was our first truly joint business venture and blood, sweat and tears (literally) went into the work. We feel happy with a job well done, to a high standard and we were happy in our time spent in the little house.

Who remembers the bathroom that went from this…

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…to this…?

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Or the kitchen (sorry about my nose causing a big shadow!)…

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…which now looks like this

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And that scary hall….

Scary carpet...this house needs some love!
Scary carpet…this house needs some love!

..sorry, I know you loved that carpet….but it had to go!

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Last night we were exhausted. Too tired almost to eat. But we rallied for a bottle of bubbles and a little celebratory snack.  I was reminded of a fabulous recipe From the Bartolini Kitchens and created some tasty little crostini which went perfectly with our “end of the first part of the project” drinks. Simple, tasty, perfect.

Gorgonzola Bruschette (1)

Ingredients

  •  Slices of toasted ciabatta (or other dense bread) drizzled with a little olive oil
  • Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
  • A few handfuls of rocket leaves
  • Olive oil
  • Honey
  • Coarse Sea Salt & Freshly ground pepper

Spoon some crumbled cheese over the little toasts and then sprinkle over some rocket leaves. Drizzle with olive oil and honey, add a tiny sprinkle of salt (optional, blue cheese is typically very salty) and a good grind of black pepper.  Raise a glass, put your feet up and enjoy.

PS. Thank you all so much for your patience, and apologies for not being able to get to all of your great posts as much as usual.

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When life gives you cold rice…you make Arancini

So…look away now if you fear deep frying, or just don´t do it for health reasons. I understand, really I do. It´s just that I do deep fry from time to time. Once, in a little experiment to see just how much oil is used when making “proper” chips, I measured the oil (half vegetable, half olive oil) before and after making them and was pleasantly surprised to find that just a couple of tablespoons had been used in the whole process. So now, whilst I don´t advocate eating deep fried food daily, or even weekly, I don´t feel guilty when I do make chips, or deep fried peppers, or croquetas…I do it with joy in the anticipation of how good they´ll taste when they´re hot out the pan.

However, if you do want a healthier, and non fried version, check out this great baked recipe from Natalie at Cook Eat Live Vegetarian.

So, on with the deep frying. Ingredients are few for delicious arancini, but you do need to have some leftover risotto from the day before. Don´t even think about making it fresh to use the same day. Magic happens overnight in your fridge and those little grains of rice continue to absorb any liquid as they cool down and become extra stodgy sticky and perfect for molding into those little balls of ricey, cheesey goodness.

Arancini, as I am sure many of you know, are named after the Italian word for “Little Oranges” because of their shape and beautiful colour. When I was a child on holiday in Southern Italy with my family, sometimes the aunties would agree to a night off of cooking. This meant either a visit to a local restaurant or a trip to the local shop which provided all sorts of delicious “ready meals” to take home and heat up. Nothing like fast food of today, of course. Proper food, made by the Mamma or Papá of the shop – pasta, roasted peppers, hot and cold meats…well, a whole menu full of delicious food to take home and enjoy. I would always offer to go along with the uncles to collect this as I was rewarded with a piping hot “arancino” to eat on the way home. God forbid I should pass out with hunger on the way.

Just in case you fancy doing something different, arancini can also be made with minced meat as a filling – it´s up to you.

Ingredients

  • Leftover, cold risotto, at room temperature
  • Mozzarella cut into small cubes
  • Dried breadcrumbs (I used panko, as I have just “discovered” them in the UK – have never come across them in Spain – but use whatever kind you like)
  • Oil for deep frying

Take about a tablespoon of cold risotto and put it into the palm of your hand (wet your hands first, this stops things from getting too messy. Place a little cube of cheese into the centre and mold the rice into a ball then roll it in the breadrcumbs.

Deep fry the arancini in very hot oil for about 2 minutes or until they are a beautiful deep golden colour.

Drain on kitchen roll and have a cold glass of wine to hand because you will probably need to taste one to check it´s done, burn your lips and need to cool them down.

Now you see me…. now you don´t – Oven Baked Risotto

Oh dear, where have the last 10 days or so gone to? It´s busy, busy, busy here and while we are still (of course) working, cooking and eating, there has been very little activity on the blog. I do miss you all, and I am sorry that I haven´t had time to get over and comment.  House Number One is finished. Yes, you read that right!  Well, apart from 6 door handles that need to be put on. We even have a lovely tenant waiting to move in as soon as we move out.

So you can imagine that things have moved on apace in House Number 2 (I am sitting in a bare room while the kitchen floor is being grouted and windows are being replaced upstairs and the plumbers are doing things with copper pipes).

Photos to come, but in the meantime, back to the food. Best pal Ria sent me the recipe for her oven baked risotto which is given below. Believe me, if you ever thought you fancied risotto but didn´t have time to stand over the pot and stir, this is a fantastic way to do it.  I made extra (of course) and turned the remains into something else the next day and I would strongly suggest you do the same.  I have given Maria´s version and then afterwards my adaptation according to what I had available in my fridge. Perfect comfort food.

Maria’s world famous baked haddock & cabbage risotto

Serves 4 (easily halved or doubled – it’s very forgiving)

Prep 5 mins, Cooks in 35 mins

Dead easy and delicious!

Ingredients

  • 1  tbsp olive oil
  • 1  onion chopped
  • 300g/10oz  risotto rice
  • 1  litre vegetable stock (you can use vegetable bouillon powder)
  • 280g wedge savoy cabbage, thickly sliced (Tanya – I used about a dozen thinly sliced mushrooms and half a dozen rashers of finely chopped smoked streaky bacon instead of the cabbage and haddock)
  • 400g/14oz skinless smoked haddock (preferably go for the undyed sort and ask the nice fishmonger to skin it for you – but if you can only get with skin on it’s very easy to slip off after it’s been cooked, before you flake it)
  • 3 tbsp crème fraiche
  • 50g freshly grated parmesan

Heat oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6.

  1. Heat oil in a 2 litre casserole dish, then soften the onion over a medium heat for about 5 mins.
  2. Tip in the rice and cook for 2 mins, stirring well.
  3. Pour in the stock, bring to the boil, then add the cabbage.
  4. Cover and bake in oven for 20 mins
  5. Remove the dish from the oven and give the rice a stir.  Place the fish on top of the rice, replace the lid, then bake for 5 mins.
  6. Flake the fish into large chunks and stir into the rice with the crème fraiche and half the parmesan.  Season with freshly ground pepper, then sprinkle with the remaining parmesan to serve.
  7. Eat and enjoy.
  8. Don’t forget to pretend it was really difficult to make!

So, there it is, the secret is out…you can make a great risotto in the oven and have time to nip upstairs for a shower, pour yourself a glass of wine and take a deep breath before dinner.