Whoosh, where did the last few weeks go?
It's certainly not that there has been no baking going on chez nous. Indeed, there has been an above average amount of baking, cooking and entertaining and consequently a shortage of time to write about it.
We returned to the UK at the end of October and immediately turned the house here upside down to have two bedrooms decorated, one upstairs and one downstairs. (It's a bungalow with a dormer extension.) So far we have done all the decorating ourselves but by now are thoroughly fed up with it so this time wielded the wallet instead of the paint brush. Paul the decorator was a joy to have in the house (he is very house trained and totally unlike any workmen we have ever had the displeasure to meet before). He did a brilliant job of first the upstairs bedroom then the downstairs, on consecutive weeks. All very good but it still meant moving furniture yet again from one room to another then back again. I swear I never ever want to do that again.
With the furniture still displaced we then put Daisy into the cattery, loaded Hugo into the car to return to France for just one week to "close up" the house there and say goodbye to it until next Spring. When we got back to the UK we then had to restore the house here to something like habitable and get back to normal life. Not that I can actually remember what normal is like.
You may wonder what any of this has to do with a risotto but I have to say that this recipe is a joy to have discovered.
Our nephew and his girlfriend cooked this for us when we went round to theirs one evening last week to meet their new cat and dishwasher. They bought their very first house a couple of months ago and Nick went round soon after to put in place the plumbing and electrics for a dishwasher - their first one of those too. Having only ever previously lived in rented houses they haven't had the opportunity to gain DIY skills, all repairs having to be done by landlords, or, more often than not, put up with undone. The dishwasher finally arrived and was successfully installed at about the same time as they got their own cat, having not been able to have one of those before either.
The cat Mavis is adorable, the risotto was delicious and rustled up in no time at all and the dishwasher worked brilliantly. They are busy people, often getting home from work quite late, so having a repertoire of quick dinners is essential. I asked for the recipe and couldn't wait to try it myself.
You can see it here on the BBC Good Food website. Curiously, some of the reviews describe it as bland. Well, au contraire, for me/us it was packed full of flavour, utterly delicious, rich and creamy. I made it myself this evening and even my dad enjoyed it too, it being the first risotto he has ever eaten (at the age of 91). I used a Tesco fish stock pot (little plastic thing) and skinless, boneless smoked cod as that was what was available. I am also looking forward to adapting the recipe using bacon and mushrooms instead of the smoked fish.
a small knob of butter
1 large leek, washed and thinly sliced
300g risotto rice
700 ml fish or veg stock
250 ml whole milk
375g (approx) smoked cod or haddock, skinned, boned and cut into large chunks
3 tblsp crème fraiche
100g baby spinach
Preheat the oven to 200C / 180 fan / gas mk 6.
Melt the butter in a large ovenproof dish or casserole over medium heat and cook the leek slices for 4-5 minutes, stirring, until just tender. Add the rice and stir for two more minutes.
Add the stock and milk, bring to the boil and bubble for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and sit the fish chunks on top.
Cover with a lid (or foil) and bake in the oven for 18 minutes until the rice is tender.
Remove from the oven and stir through the crème fraiche and spinach. Season with salt and pepper and cover with the lid again. Leave out of the oven for 3 minutes by which time the spinach will be cooked. Serve immediately.
Makes 4 generous portions.