Do you remember the bowls of steaming rice pudding when you were a child? This version is utterly extravagant, rich and creamy and is guaranteed to comfort you when the nights are long and dark. It takes some time but I promise you, it’s worth it. It can be eaten hot, or cold.
INGREDIENTS For the rice pudding: 1 litre whole milk 100g golden caster sugar Long peel strips of 1 orange Long peel strips of 1/2 lemon 1 cinnamon stick 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste A pinch of saffron, soaked in 1 tbsp hot water 120g risotto rice 300ml double cream 1 egg yolk (optional) 1 tsp of orange flower water For the poached rhubarb: 400g forced rhubarb, thin stalks cut into 4cm lengths 60g golden caster sugar 1 cinnamon stick 90ml, or juice from 2 oranges Peel strips from 1 orange Peels strips from 1/2 lemon
30g pistachios, roughly chopped
METHOD Preheat your oven to 160 °C.
Put the milk, sugar, cinnamon stick, soaked saffron, orange and lemon peel, vanilla bean paste and rice into a wide heavy-based saucepan (at least 22cm in diameter) and set over a medium heat. Stir to combine.
Bring to the boil and then turn the pan right down, stirring occasionally. Cook for 40 minutes or until the rice is completely soft. The rice can catch towards the end of cooking as it gets thick, so keep an eye on it and stir regularly.
While the rice is simmering away, put the rhubarb, sugar, cinnamon, orange juice, lemon and orange peel into a small baking tray so the rhubarb is one layer deep. Cover tightly with foil and place into the preheated oven (160 °C) for 30-40 minutes until the rhubarb is soft but still holds its shape. Check it after 30 minutes as you don’t want the rhubarb to burst and this can happen quickly. When it’s ready and a pink syrup has formed remove from the oven and set aside.
When the rice has become soft and thick, remove the cinnamon stick along with the lemon and orange peel and add the double cream. Bring back to a gentle simmer and cook for another 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat and stir in the egg yolk, if you are using it, and the orange blossom water.
To serve, spoon the rice into bowls and top with the poached rhubarb, syrup and chopped pistachios.
Kale and Chorizo Soup
I love cooking with chorizo and I tend to use it as a seasoning to add depth and smokiness to a number of dishes. This soup is vibrant and nourishing for a drab Winter’s day in January.
Time: 20-30 minutes
Serves: 2-3 for lunch
INGREDIENTS 1 small onion, finely chopped
1 medium potato (approx 220g), washed and cut into 1cm cubes (no need to peel)
1 small sweet potato (approx 220g), peeled and cut into 2cm cubes
10cm piece chorizo (cooking chorizo would work fine here too), cut into small dice
A fat sprig of thyme
100g or two big handfuls of curly kale leaves, tough stalks removed/ shredded cavolo nero
1 litre hot vegetable or chicken stock
Salt and pepper
To serve: Sourdough toast slices
Fresh goat’s cheese
METHOD Heat a nob of butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan and add the onion along with both types of potato. Stir to coat in the butter, season with salt and pepper, cover and sweat for 10 minutes or until the onion is nice and soft and the potatoes are beginning to soften at the edges.
Turn up the heat, add the sprig of thyme and the diced chorizo and fry for 2 minutes, stirring, until the chorizo begins to smell delicious!
Pour in the hot stock, turn down the heat, cover and simmer the ingredients together for around 15 minutes until the potatoes are completely soft. Then take the lid off, add the kale and simmer again for another 2 minutes until the kale is cooked through. Taste and season again if necessary.
Serve with toasted sourdough spread with fresh goat’s cheese and lemon zest.
Smoky tomatoes with Avocado, Egg and Tortilla Chips
Time: 30 minutes
This is a great little recipe which used both coriander stems and leaves. I prefer using fresh tomatoes, when in season, to make my sauces as the flavour is so much sweeter.
A glug of extra virgin olive oil
1 dried chipotle chilli pepper
1 tsp coriander seed
1/2tsp cumin seed
2 tbsp fresh coriander stems, finely chopped
4 large vine tomatoes, finely diced
1 flour tortilla
Olive oil, to brush
Egg and avocado topping:
2 very fresh, medium eggs
Juice of 1 lime
Fresh coriander leaves
Preheat the oven to 180° C.
Make the sauce by heating the olive oil on a high heat in a small lidded saucepan. Add the chipotle pepper, coriander and cumin seeds and coriander stems and fry for 20 seconds to release the aroma from the herbs and spices.
Add the diced fresh tomatoes, season and bring to a simmer. Turn down the heat to low, cover with a lid and let the tomatoes cook for 10 minutes. You want the tomatoes to break up to make a chunky sauce.
While the tomatoes are cooking, lightly brush your tortillas with olive oil, cut into quarters and bake on a baking sheet for 6 - 8 minutes until crispy. Once they have had their time, bring them out to cool and crisp further.
Check your tomato sauce, it should be soft and saucy (!). Taste and re season then, remove from the heat and let it sit while you prepare the egg and avocado topping.
Bring a small pan of water to the boil, turn down to a very gentle simmer. Crack each egg into a small glass and lower them, one at a time, into the barely bubbling water and poach for 2 minutes exactly. The success of your poached egg depends entirely on its freshness. The albumen (white) breaks down over time and the older they are, the wispier they become.
Cut your avocado in half, remove the stone and skin and slice each half lengthways into thin slices. Squeeze over the lime to prevent disccolouration.
To serve, layer up your tomato sauce with a poached egg and avocado slices, tuck in the tortilla chips on one side and garnish with a few coriander leaves.
Chicken Barley Soup
Time: Over 3 hours (you can do other things while it's on the stove!)
2kg chicken bones and carcasses
2 large onions
4 sticks celery
A knob of butter
A bay leaf, thyme stalks and parsley stalks
150g uncooked pearl barley
Pinch of saffron dissolved in 1 tbsp boiling water
A small bunch flat leaf parsley roughly chopped
Crusty bread and butter to serve.
Preheat your oven to 200.
Roast your chicken bones in a hot oven for 25 minutes.
Put the roasted chicken bones in a pot and make sure to scrape off the roasted juices - don't waste a scrap of flavour! Add 2 carrots, 1 onion, 2 celery stalks and 2 leeks all roughly chopped along with your bay leaf, thyme sprigs and parsley stalks. Cover everything with fresh water, add salt and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered for 2 hrs.
Cook the pearl barley in salt water according to your pack instructions.
When the stock has had its time, strain it through a very fine sieve. You want a completely clear soup in the end. Bring the strained stock back to a gentle simmer and bubble away for another hour to concentrate the flavours. Towards the end, taste and adjust the seasoning. You should have a lovely golden stock with a good amount of chicken fat.
While your stock is simmering, finely dice the remaining carrots, onion, celery and leeks, melt a knob of butter in a saucepan and add the vegetables. Sweat on a low heat until soft and mix together with the cooked pearl barley. Keep warm.
To serve, divide the barley mix between bowls, top up with the stock/sou and add a dribble of saffron water and some roughly chopped parsley.
Serve with crusty bread and butter.
Poached Pears with Roasted Quince
6 blush pears
150g caster sugar
2 star anise
1 vanilla pod
1 quince pears
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp Elderflower Cordial
2 tbsp caster sugar
1 cinnamon stick
2 tbsp water
Coconut yoghurt or double cream
Pre-heat your oven to 190.
First roast your quince. Peel the quince lengthways and cut into quarters. Cut out the tough heart.
Place in a roasting tray with the bay leaves and cinnamon stick. Pour over the elderflower cordial and caster sugar. Roast at 190 for 45 minutes, turning half way, until the quince has an organ tinge and is soft but not falling apart.
Peel the pears lengthways keeping the stalk intact. Put a pan which the pears will fit into snugly onto a low heat and dissolve the caster sugar with the water, swirling the pan. When dissolved, stand the peeled pears in, along with the star anise and vanilla pod. Scrunch up a sheet of damp greaseproof paper and fit it over the pears, then pop the lid on top.
Simmer until the pears are soft and translucent - about 30 minutes. Remove the pears and spices with a slotted spoon and continue to boil the liquid until it form a light syrup.
Serve both the poached pear and roasted quince with some pear syrup and a spoonful of coconut yoghurt or double cream.
Quick Pan Roasted Granola
50g porridge oats (not jumbo)
20g/small handful of pine nuts, whole
1 tbsp oil: sunflower, coconut or olive oil
1 tbsp orange blossom honey
250ml greek yoghurt
Pinch of salt
To serve: Sliced cantaloupe melon, or your favourite fruit
Heat the oil in a frying pan on a high heat, then add the oats. Stir to coat the oats inthe oil then add the pine nuts.
Shake and stir the pan for a couple of minutes to toast the oats and nuts.
Add the honey, stirring continuously as it browns. Add a pinch of salt and keep stirring and shaking the pan until the mixture looks golden. Take off the heat and leave to cool. It will crisp up as it cools.
Divide the greek yoghurt and melon between 2 glasses or bowls and serve the granola sprinkled over it. drizzle over a little more honey if you like.