This cookbook is from the family circle publishing house and is Risottos Pilafs and Paellas (I don’t know where the errant comma went, I assume it’s having a good time somewhere). I bought this cookbook an age ago to learn how to make risottos as I loved to eat them but had no idea on how to make them. This book taught me that. After teaching me my base risotto recipe when I then went and modified greatly from the original, I never went back to it, and that probably isn’t a bad thing.
It is evident that this cookbook has not been thoroughly tested, the instructions are not always in the right order, and in fact are missing vital parts, such as reserving the liquid stock you’ve just made to add to the risotto you are about to make. In fact to make this whole experience easier, I’m just going to rewrite the recipes below and note what I’ve changed. Overall two out of 5 stars.
Tomato risotto with pesto
- 500g Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 2 cups (500ml) vegetable stock
- 3 parsley stalks
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cup white wine
- 1 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large leek, halved and finely sliced
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 1 1/2 cups arborio rice
- 80g semi-dried tomatoes
- 1/2 cup pesto
- shaved parmesan, to serve
- Place the tomato, onion, stock, parsley, bay leaf and 2 cups water in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Strain reserving the liquid. Season the stock and add a little sugar to taste. Discard the solids.
- Add the wine and tomato paste to the tomato stock, cover and keep at a low simmer.
- Heat half the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the leek and garlic and cook for 5 minutes, or until soft. Stir in the rice until well coated.
- Add 1/2 cup hot liquid, stirring constantly until the liquid is absorbed.. Continue adding more liquid, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly, for 20 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender.
- Remove from the heat, stir in the semi-dried tomato and the remaining oil. Season. Top with pesto and shaved Parmesan.
Notes on this recipe:
- It really did fail to suggest that you reserve the liquid when straining the solids out of the stock. It was assumed that you just knew what it meant and that you remembered the next step before you strained the liquid.
- The pesto really makes this dish. I’d made mine the day before hand and without pesto the dish really wouldn’t work.
- 100g ghee
- 2 onions, chopped
- 750g lamb backstraps, cut into 2cm cubes
- 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon chilli powder
- 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
- 10 cardamom pods, bruised
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 10 whole cloves
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 1/4 cups thick plain yoghurt
- 2 pinches saffron threads
- 2 1/2 cups basmati rice
- 2 ripe tomatoes, chopped
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
- 2/3 cup roasted cashew nuts
- mint leaves, extra, to garnish
- Melt half the ghee in a large, deep frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook fro 10 minutes, or until golden. Add the lamb, garlic, ginger, coriander, cumin, cumin seeds, chilli, turmeric, pods and ground cardamom, cloves, bay leaves, cinnamon and yoghurt and cook for 5 minutes, or until fragrant. Add 1/2 cup water, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer gently, partially covered, for 45 minutes, or until the lamb is tender.
- Meanwhile, rinse the rice well, then soak in plenty of cold water for 45 minutes, then drain.
- Meanwhile (during the last 10 minutes of the rice soaking), soak the saffron in 1/4 cup of boiling water. Leave for 10 minutes.
- When the lamb is tender season with salt and ground black pepper. Remove the cinnamon stick and bay leaves. Turn off the heat.
- Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil, and add the rice. Boil for 3 minutes, then drain well. Stir in the saffron and water mixture, mixing well to evenly distribute the colour.
- Preheat the oven to moderately hot 190C (170C fan forced). Melt the rest of the ghee, and pour into a 3 litre oven prof dish (32 x 20 x 5cm). Using a pastry brush, lightly grease the sides with some of the ghee.
- Spread half the rice over the base of the pan. Spoon half the lamb mixture evenly over the rice. Top with a layer of the tomato and then the mint. Repeat with the remaining rice and lamb. Cover the dish with a lid or lightly greased foil to seal. Bake for 25 – 35 minutes, or until the rice is tender and heated through completely.
- Spoon onto a serving dish, and garnish with the cashews and mint leaves. This can be served with yoghurt and a sambal of finely diced tomato, onion and cucumber.
Notes on this recipe:
- Whoever wrote this recipe out didn’t think about the order of things to do. They had the soaking of the saffron for 10 minutes before the soaking of the rice for 35 – this would not have worked out well for anyone.
- The way the recipe is written also suggests that the rice should be soaked for 45 minutes after the curry is cooked, instead of at the same time.
- This recipe was tasty, but it really was missing something. I think it needed a lot more chilli, as the biryanis I am used to eating have some heat to them – this didn’t have any.
- Note from the recipe book: It is important to ensure that the dish is not too deep as it greatly affects the cooking time and absorption of the lamb mixture into the rice. There should be no excess liquid at the end of the cooking time.