We bought a big tub of mascarpone the other day which means we have had to find enough ways to use it before it starts to go off.
The first use was nice and straightforward: We dolloped a bit on a toasted hot cross bun.
Today I made a chicken and butternut squash risotto following the standard risotto method: I fried some diced squash, finely chopped leeks, garlic, and a pinch of dried chilli. I'm not sure if I've mentioned this before but when we have a glut of chillies, I make my own dried chilli. I slice the chillies in half lengthways then put them on a sheet of kitchen roll in a small metal tray, which I then put on the radiator for a week or so. I then smash the chillies up using a small food processor.
Back to the risotto. After adding the chilli I added risotto rice and home made chicken stock. When the rice was roughly half cooked, I added some diced cooked chicken and a generous pinch of salt. When it was all fully cooked I added a generous heaped tablespoon of the mascarpone and stirred it in. The risotto was very rich and creamy and the mascarpone seemed to help keep it fairly firm, instead of going sloppy which can sometimes happen when I use ordinary cream cheese.
Tomorrow I will make a pasta bake. The mascarpone and a beaten egg should hold the pasta together well so it doesn't collapse too much when I serve. I will find out tomorrow.
This was a normal risotto but made using bulgar wheat instead of rice. I started by frying some diced chicken for a few minutes then adding stock and poaching gently for about an hour. I normally wouldn't cook the chicken for this long if it was going to be cooked further in a risotto but it had gone a couple of days past its best-before date so we decided to play it safe.
After removing the chicken and pouring the stock into a jug to reserve it, I fried some finely diced pepper and onion, before adding some finely chopped garlic and a few flakes of dried chilli. I added the bulgar wheat (I can't remember the exact amount - around 75g per person or whatever it said on the packet) and some of the chicken stock. I reduced the pan to a low simmer.
I kept adding small amounts of stock until the bulgar wheat was cooked. Just before serving, I added a pinch of sea salt and a sprinkle of chopped parsley.
This weeks new recipe was halloumi, pasta and garlic bread, which we ate on Tuesday.
Dice and fry some red onion and red pepper.
Slice and fry the halloumi, just enough to soften it without completely melting it.
Mix the pasta and vegetables together then stir in a dressing made using equal quantities of lemon juice and balsamic vinegar.
On Wednesday we had stir-fried vegetables and noodles. We cheated slightly and used packets from the supermarket. I sliced and fried a tuna steak from Marks & Spencers. It was possibly the best tuna steak we have bought. It was very fresh and had a much 'cleaner' taste than normal. I guess sometimes it's worth paying slightly more for ingredients.
Tonight's tea was baked cod (again from M&S). I cooked a simple vegetable risotto as accompaniment:
1 onion, 1 small leek, ½ courgette, 2 cloves of garlic, chopped and fried.
1 cup of risotto rice
a pinch of mixed herbs
2 cups of chicken stock.
When the risotto was cooked, I stirred in 1 heaped tablespoon of low-fat cream cheese. This is much healthier than adding a knob of butter but it gives the pasta a nice creamy texture.
This started off with a pack of Iceland frozen scallops. The pack came with several small disks of herby butter. I started by following the cooking instructions on the reverse of the pack - to gently fry the scallops in 2 of the disks of butter for about 10 minutes.
I lifted the scallops out of the pan and then fried one finely chopped onion and half a leek, also finely chopped. I added one cup of risotto rice and a glass of white wine. When the wine had been absorbed I stirred in a cup of stock. Whenever the rice had absorbed the liquid, I kept adding more until it was cooked.
When the rice was cooked I added the scallops and the rest of the butter which came with them. Emma grated some parmesan which was also stirred in. Some parmesan was kept to sprinkle on top for serving.
We usually avoid using a lot of butter and full fat cheese. A lot of our risottos or paellas are made without butter and they are usually reasonably good, but adding butter does make a difference. Tonight's risotto was very smooth and creamy with a subtle flavour. Every now and again, it's worth pushing the boat out and doing something like this.