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Beetroot Risotto with Feta and Peas

I watch MasterChef a lot.  It’s a yearly addiction and probably explains why I am always thinking about food.  Or cooking food.  Which then leads to eating food.  One of the things that is a recurring theme on MasterChef is the humble risotto.  They call it the “Dish of Death” because no one can successfully make one that the judges deem worthy of them.  So many people have tried and failed.  Mushroom risottos, chicken and asparagus risottos, cheesy risottos – they all suck (apparently).

I have never really understood this because I find risotto very easy to make (and even easier to eat, but let’s not talk about that right now).  Take this Beetroot Risotto.  Delicious.  It is totally worth the bright pink fingers you end up with (unless you wear gloves of course, like a sensible person) and is quite a visually impressive dish to create if you want to look good in front of guests.  My rather haphazard recipe is as follows :

Ingredients 

4 medium beetroots, trimmed of stalks and roots
1 litre vegetable stock
1 Tbs olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced (or 1Tbs minced garlic)
1 1/3 cups (300g) arborio rice
1/3 cup water mixed with juice of half a lemon (or you can use 1/3 cup white wine)
Few sprigs of fresh thyme or Tarragon (I used a bit of both)
1/2 cup frozen baby peas, cooked
Crumbled feta and chopped parsley to garnish

Wrap each of the beetroot individually in foil and place in oven on a baking paper-lined tray.  Bake for approximately 45 minutes at 200 C until beetroot is tender.

Meanwhile, bring stock to a boil in a medium saucepan. Remove from heat, pop a lid on to keep it warm, and set aside.

Heat  olive oil in a large heavy-based saucepan on medium heat. Add onion and garlic, thyme or tarragon; cook gently, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, or until onion softens and turns transparent. Add rice; stir to coat grains with oil.
Increase heat to medium–high.

Add reserved stock one-third at a time, stirring occasionally and allowing rice to absorb stock between additions. Add water + lemon juice in last batch of stock.

Rub off beetroot skin and discard. Dice beetroot into small chunks; set aside. Once rice is al dente, stir in peas and beetroot (the more your stir it in, the brighter red the risotto becomes).

Serve risotto topped with crumbled feta and chopped parsley.

Serves 4.

Enjoy 🙂

PS In your face, MasterChef!

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Haircuts and Brown Paper

Haircuts and Brown Paper

 

 Well, I finally went the chop. Hair today, gone tomorrow…or, rather, on Saturday. I went to a hair dresser recommended by a friend and I’m glad I did. The lady was really nice and did a great job and it was so cheap! Normally I avoid getting my hair cut because it’s just so expensive, but this one, wow, very affordable – so much so, I might even get my hair cut regularly (like you’re supposed to do apparently – who knew?). Anyway, it’s done now and I’m happy with it (thank goodness – no one would want to listen to my whining about it if I wasn’t happy) and I can get on with life. I also dyed it (bye bye grey strands!). Not a fancy, weird colour – just my own natural mousey brown shade.  Just sans grey.  What do you think?  I don’t think it even looks dyed…

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Christmas is looming and I am no closer to being organised.  I am running out of time to see everyone I wanted to see before the 25th and I haven’t completed my gift shopping.  Actually, I’m only about a quarter through it, if that.  It gets harder every year.  I don’t like to buy gifts that are junk or just some thing that will get thrown in a cupboard never to see the light of day.  I like gifts to mean something to the recipient and be well thought out and from the heart.  Having said that, if it’s December 24th and I still haven’t got you something, you are probably going to wind up with a gift voucher, a box of chocolates or some socks.  Just warnin’ ya! (Personally, I like getting socks, so it’s not really a lame present in my mind…they’re practical, right?  Everybody needs socks!).  I like to make presents too although I am hardly ever organised enough for that.  I haven’t even got any Christmas cards ready yet.  Pathetic effort.  Epic fail!

My twiggy Christmas tree is up and decorated and has some tiny sparkly lights too.  I have gone for a silver, white and blue theme this year.  Actually, that’s what I do most years ha ha.  I’m not into the traditional red, green and white for Christmas.

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I have wrapped a total of three presents.  Which is quite sad.  I have gone for the usual brown paper wrapping.  This is because
a.) I have a big roll of brown paper to use up
b.) I like brown paper and it goes with everything and doesn’t clash with my decor when under the tree
c.) It always looks so nice in the magazines and decorating books and I am trying to be classy and sophisticated
(ha! that’ll be the day!)

I’m using some little clay tags I made a couple of years ago, to embellish some of the gifts I’ve wrapped.  Just to add an extra element. When it comes to 24th December and I am still wrapping, I will be cursing these “embellishments” and the extra time they require to attach to gifts (all of 2.5 seconds most likely).  Sometimes the clay tags are a bit brittle (my crappy workmanship) and they break just as I am trying to tie them to a gift.  Or I haven’t made the hole in them big enough to accommodate string.  But I think that the little bit of extra effort looks nice and makes it look like I took the time to create something appealing.  The recipient doesn’t need to know it caused minor tantrums and fits of cursing.  And the tantrums weren’t that minor.  

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I have just seen some beautiful Christmas cards I want to try on Dianne Faw’s blog. I have done cards before with a “patchwork” feel to them but I haven’t done any Christmas ones and I think I will try it this year.  I need something fairly quick to do as I am running out of time and creative energy as well.  Thanks Dianne for the post!  It reminded me of an easy technique that has saved me in the past. 

Had two of my library friends over for dinner tonight – my first real “dinner party” (if three people can be considered a party…).  I made mushroom risotto which turned out ok although took a monstrously long time to cook for some reason (which is always the way when you are trying to make something for other people that you’ve made a million times for yourself) and for dessert I made cinnamon-maple ice-cream with gingerbread cookies crushed up in it.  Yum!  So good.  I served us up delicate little bowlfuls but really I think we could have all just eaten the whole tub.  We had a nice evening chatting, talking about books (it’s a cliche that librarians do that…but we did do it tonight!) and laughing about ridiculous things – God, it’s so good to laugh!  I haven’t done that in such a long time.  The kind of laughing when your tea comes out of your nose and you collapse in a heap with exhaustion and can’t even remember what you were laughing about.  THAT kind of laughing.  So good.  

Must go to bed.  It is a hot and sticky night and I foresee lots of tossing and turning and the fan working in overdrive.  I have carb overload from dinner and so I am going to waddle over to the kettle and make myself a nice cup of peppermint tea (that dissolves fat, right? I’m sure I read that somewhere…) and watch some
21 Jump Street re-runs because I am having a weird 80s fetish right now and am re-living my youth.  

Hope you’ve had a good day 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oven-Baked Risotto

Oven-Baked Risotto

Sometimes you just want something easy for dinner.  Something comforting and simple.  Something you can just shovel in while you digest the day’s proceedings.  Risotto fits the bill.  I actually enjoy making “proper” risotto – standing there stirring and adding stock, it’s cathartic and relaxing.  But there are also times when I just want to chuck it all in the oven and let it sort itself out.  Which is what you can do with this “cheat’s” recipe.  Plus you can just add in whatever you have lying around the place or in the fridge.  That’s what I do anyway.

Oven-Baked Risotto

You will need:

5 cups Arborio rice
2 cups stock
2 TBs butter or margarine
½ large onion, diced

Now that’s the “basic” ingredients.  To them, you can add whatever you feel like.  I usually bung in some diced celery, baby peas, some chopped fake bacon, a few sundried tomatoes and some chopped mushrooms, grated cheese and chopped herbs.  It’s all just meant to be spontaneous so don’t worry too much.  It will taste yummy whatever you put in it.  I’ve made one with just celery and peas, with some grated parmesan and it was delicious.

Mix it all together in a large oven-proof dish (usually a shallow oblong or rectangle one – maybe a 6-8 cup capacity…) and cover it with foil.  It doesn’t have to be a tight cover, it’s just to stop the top burning and the ingredients from drying out.  Be careful while putting it in the oven – don’t spill it or drop half of it all over your slippers like I did last night.  Gross!  The oven should be on a fairly high temp  – around 200 C.  Bake for about 30 mins – you can check on it after about 15 mins and give it a stir if you like but I don’t always, it usually takes care of itself – risotto is done when all the rice is tender.  Sometimes might take up to 45 minutes – it’s not an exact science but I usually find 30-35 minutess is enough.  Serve with a nice grating of parmesan or whatever cheese you like.  Voila!

A good dish to make if you don’t like cooking but you somehow managed to invite someone over for dinner.    This recipe is enough for about 6 people or 4 piggies.

Enjoy!

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It’s Friday night and all I can say is TGIF!!!  It’s been a long, exhausting week.  I’ve been in horrible pain with my back and neck and I just want to strap heat packs and hot water bottles to every muscle in my body and lie down for two days straight.  Will have to make do with just a couple of hours probably.

Hope your weekend is shaping up to be something awesome 🙂