Summer Risotto

It may be raining heavily outside right now, but hopefully this summer risotto recipe will bring some sunshine into your kitchen. A perfect mixture of comforting cheesiness and fresh green veg and lemon, a summer risotto is perfect for this time of year when the weather can be a bit dodgy, and you’d like a reminder of sunny mediterranean holidays. This recipe is also pretty flexible, if you don’t have peas or green beans you could use any other green, fresh or frozen veg!


Ingredients


6-8 spring onions

2 sticks of celery

1 tablespoon olive oil

a knob of butter

150g frozen peas

100g frozen green beans

125ml dry white wine

salt and pepper

30g parmesan cheese (plus extra for serving)

300g arborio rice

1l vegetable stock (I like vegetable bouillon)

a small bunch of fresh mint

a small bunch of fresh parsley

zest of 1/2 a lemon


Method


Heat the butter and olive oil on a medium heat in a large saucepan. While the butter is melting, finely chop the spring onions and celery. Once the oil and butter are hot, add the onions and celery to the pan.

Sweat the onions and celery gently for about 10 minutes. Don’t rush this step! It’s important not to let them brown. After 10 minutes of sweating, add the rice. Stir until the rice is coated with the oily-buttery mix. Then add the wine, and stir, waiting for the rice to absorb the wine completely.

Once the wine has been absorbed, start to add the vegetable stock. Add the stock a ladle-ful at a time, waiting for each ladle to be absorbed before adding the next. Its important to be patient with the stock, it really helps give the risotto a nice creamy texture.

When you add the last one or two tablespoons of stock, add the peas, green beans and lemon zest. Give the risotto a stir to combine, then add the parmesan cheese and season to taste. Let the risotto rest for a few minutes. This again, is important for a silky texture. Serve the risotto and top with more parmesan.

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Hot Cross Bun Muffins

Happy Easter! Although this Easter, for me, brings deadlines and long days in the library, its been nice to take a break and do some seasonal baking. I love the baked treats that come with the Easter weekend (not just the chocolate eggs) and making these muffins has been a nice way to enjoy the weekend without taking too much time away from studying. The muffin mix also is really easy to make and quick to cook. Overall I think that these muffins are great, a fun take on the traditional hot cross bun, with all the right flavours and no need for the fuss of bread making!


Shopping List


2 medium eggs

125ml vegetable oil

250ml semi skimmed milk

200g golden caster sugar

400g self raising flour

1 tsp salt

100g raisins

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon mixed spice

zest of 1 clementine

For the topping:

1 tablespoon apricot jam

50g white chocolate

1 tablespoon icing sugar


Method


Heat the oven to 200 degrees and grease your muffin tin well with vegetable oil. In a large bowl beat the eggs for 1 minute with a hand held electric mixer, then add the milk and oil and beat together for another minute. Add the sugar and beat until smooth.

Sift in the flour, salt and spices then add the raisins and clementine zest and mix until smooth. Be careful not to over mix the mixture as the muffins may be tough when cooked.

Fill each muffin hole two thirds full with mixture and bake for 20-25 minutes until they are risen, firm to the touch and golden brown.

Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes, then remove the muffins to a tray to cool. They should come out pretty easily if the tin has been well greased.

Put the apricot jam in a microwave safe bowl or mug and heat for about 15 seconds or until the jam is liquid. Use a pastry brush to paint the jam on to the muffins to glaze them.

Put the white chocolate in a microwave safe bowl or mug and heat at 30 second intervals until melted. Spoon the mixture into a sandwich bag or piping bag (if you’re fancy) and push it down towards one of the corners. Snip a tiny triangle off one of the corners of the bag (really tiny- you can always make it bigger if you need, its just a nightmare to transfer the chocolate to another bag if you’ve made the hole too big!) and push the chocolate towards it, making sure there are no air bubbles.

Pipe the chocolate on to the muffins in the shape of a cross, then leave to dry. You can leave the muffins as they are with the shiny glaze, or use icing sugar to top them off.

Enjoy with a cup of english breakfast tea!

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Spring Favourites

Spring is here and in full swing! I’ve certainly enjoyed the warmer weather and I’m looking forward to cooking with some tasty summery fruit and veg in a couple of months time. In the mean tie, here are some of my favourite spring/summer recipes to eat alongside usual, more wintery meals to add a little bit of freshness. I’ve also included some links to some more spring/summer recipes from one of my favourite and most used websites for inspiration, www.deliciousmagazine.co.uk!


THE SIDE DISH


Chilli mint smashed new potatoes. are one of my favourite spring potato dishes. Add them to your usual dinner and the minty-chilli freshness instantly adds some spring/summer vibes to your meal.

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Some more spring side dishes: New potatoes with tahini and herbsRadicchio and almond saladPotato, radish and dill salad


THE COCKTAIL


A Ginger and Blackberry Mojito is the perfect way to kick off an April dinner party. Zesty and fresh, perfect all the way through spring and summer.

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Some more spring cocktails: Rhubarb spritz, Strawberry and gin fizz, Cucumber, mint and elderflower champagne cocktail


THE DESSERT


 This Berry ripple sundae is a great way to finish off your meal. It’s fresh but still sweet, satisfying those post-meal sugar cravings.

img_6453.jpgSome more spring desserts: Saffron Creme Brulee , Pear, vanilla and praline tart, Rhubarb jellies with ginger cream

Library Lunches

Recently I’ve been really enjoying making tasty lunches to take to the library. It makes such a difference to my lunch break (and my finances…) when I have a delicious pasta salad or homemade soup to look forward to, instead of heading to the nearest Pret. These recipes are easy to make in batches for the week, all you need is a large saucepan and a few empty takeaway containers or tupperware pots. I’ve included the price breakdown of the recipes too, the prices have been calculated using Tesco and include all the ingredients in the recipe apart from salt and pepper. They all cost less than £3 per serving, cheaper than your average meal deal! The links to all the recipes are included in the post below:

 Here are my top 6 lunches for the library!


Tomato and Lentil Soup


If you’ve got access to a microwave wherever you are working or studying, this is a really great soup to keep you full and satisfied. This soup is perfect for some of the colder days we’ve been having, just serve with your favourite bread and butter. (£1.87 per serving based on 4 servings made with ingredients from Tesco)

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Herby Orzo Pasta Salad with Toasted Pumpkin Seeds


As you may have been able to guess from my recipes, I love orzo. Pasta is a perfect library lunch as you can prep a huge batch on a Sunday night, package up in empty takeaway containers and grab it easily from the fridge in the mornings. I love this recipe in particular because of the pumpkin seeds, you can add any seeds or nuts that you like really, just something to add a bit of a crunch. (£1.11 per serving based on 5 servings- multiply the orzo by 5 and adjust other ingredients to suit- made with ingredients from Tesco)

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Lemony Pesto Pasta with Roasted Veg and Feta


This one is great for bringing a bit of sunshine into the library, sharp lemony flavours with summery veg is a perfect combination. Again, really easy to make in a large batch for the week, with loads of healthy stuff to keep you on track even when you’re short on time. (£1.46 per serving, based on 5 servings made with ingredients from Tesco)

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Carrot and Freekeh Salad


If you aren’t in the mood for pasta (I’m not sure who you are…) then this carrot and freekeh salad is a great alternative. Freekeh is a tasty and versatile grain that’ll keep your lunches filling and interesting. You could cook a batch of freekeh at the weekend and change up your toppings or dressings throughout the week if you like a bit more variety! (£1.73 per serving based on 4 servings- just double the recipe- made using ingredients from Tesco and Freekeh from a health food shop)

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Pumpkin, Coconut and Ginger Soup


Another tasty soup recipe! This one is delicious too, and perfect if you’re a fan of asian flavours or a bit of spice. This recipe is also suitable for vegans, as are most on this list (just replace the cheese/egg pasta for vegan alternatives). (£1.07 per serving based on 4 servings made with ingredients from Tesco)

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Roasted Summer Veg with Herby Pesto Dressing


This lunch recipe is great if you’re trying to include a bit more veg into your diet. You can use pretty much any of your favourites here, chuck it all in a pan and roast then smother in pesto. Yum. (£2.11 per serving, based on 4 servings made with ingredients from Tesco)

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Thank you for reading, and I would love to know if you try any of these recipes, or have any favourites of your own!

Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Orzo Pasta with Feta

Sometimes there’s nothing better than a big bowl of pasta after a long day. As a student, however, eating pasta and tomato sauce day after day can get a little bit dull. Orzo pasta is great for making a more interesting, but comfortingly familiar, dinner. Its a little bit like risotto rice ( orzo means ‘barley’ in Italian) but quicker and easier to cook and pair with your favourite sauce. Its available in most larger supermarkets, or if you live near a world food market or cash and carry type shop then you’ll most likely find it there ( and for a fraction of the supermarket price). This recipe has a little bit of summer in it, feta cheese, fresh soft herbs and mediterranean flavours all remind me of sunny days and dinner in the garden. You can use any fresh herbs or cheese that you like, feta and parsley are just my summery favourites!


Shopping List


Serves 2 

1 large or 3 mini red pepper(s)

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped

100g feta

1 can chopped tomatoes

150g orzo pasta

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 a teaspoon sugar

salt and pepper


Method


Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Slice the pepper(s) in half lengthways and deseed. Place on a baking tray, skin side up, with 1 tbsp of the olive oil and a pinch of salt and roast for half an hour.

To make the tomato sauce, heat the rest of the olive oil in a large saucepan on a medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the garlic and fry until fragrant but not too brown. Add the chopped tomatoes, salt, sugar and pepper and 1/3 of the empty tomato can of water and simmer on a medium heat for about 20 mins.

Once the peppers and tomatoes are ready, add the peppers to the sauce. I like my sauce to be nice and smooth, so I used a stick blender to blend the peppers into the tomato sauce. If you’d prefer not to, or you don’t have a stick blender or processor, then skip this step.

Cook the orzo pasta according to the packet instructions (it should take around 10 minutes).

Add the orzo to the large saucepan and heat through. Season to taste and serve with the feta crumbled on top with some fresh parsley.

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Ratatouille

It’s March! Spring is finally starting to arrive, and with it the return of delicious courgettes to the supermarket shelves. This simple ratatouille makes the most of this summery veg, and only takes half an hour. Its a perfect simple supper, you can use whatever leftover veg you have in the fridge, if you like, and do not skimp on the garlic! My recipe serves 3 people, or 4 people as a side.

 


Shopping List


1 courgette

1 red pepper

1 red onion

1 can chopped tomatoes

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

3 tbsp olive oil

1 teaspoon dried basil

salt and pepper


Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Chop the courgette, red pepper and red onion into 2 cm chunks. Place on a baking tray and combine with 2 tbsp of the olive oil, the dried basil and some salt and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes.

While the veg is roasting, heat the remaining oil in a large saucepan. Once the oil is hot, add the garlic and fry for a couple of minutes until the garlic is fragrant. Add the chopped tomatoes and stir. Fill the empty can 1/3 with water to swill out any tomato left in the can. Simmer the sauce away for 15 minutes until the veg is cooked.

Add the veg and simmer for 5 more minutes, then season to taste.

Serve hot with lentils, potatoes, or crusty bread and butter.

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Slovenian Jota

I’ve always been intrigued by Eastern Europe, so when Ingham’s asked me to create a recipe inspired by one of their holiday destinations, I thought I’d give one of the more unusual locations a try. Food from Eastern Europe has a reputation for being heavy and meaty, so this jota is a great vegetarian alternative for those wanting to experience some lighter Slovenian cuisine at home! Jota is a delicious stew, traditionally made with potatoes, turnips, sauerkraut and bacon. This version skips the bacon, and adds sweet smoked paprika to add the essential smokey ness. The tomato base makes this stew surprisingly light, and the fresh dill and soured cream makes jota an all year round classic.


Shopping List


350g potatoes, peeled and chopped into 2 cm chunks

3 small turnips, peeled and chopped into 2cm chunks

400g sauerkraut, drained and rinsed

1 x 400g tin kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 white onion, finely chopped

5 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 bay leaves

1 heaped tsp caraway seeds

2 tsp sweet smoked paprika

1 tbsp plain flour

4 tbsp passata

750ml vegetable stock

2 tbsp olive oil

salt (I used smoked salt) and pepper to season

finely chopped dill to garnish

To serve:

Soured cream

Crusty bread and butter


Method


Heat the oil in a large saucepan on a medium heat, when the oil is shimmering and hot, add the onions. Cook for 10 minutes until translucent, but not too browned. Add the flour and stir continuously until all the flour is incorporated. Add the passata and stir until the onions, flour and passata create a thick pasta. Add the sweet smoked paprika and stir to combine. Then add the vegetable stock and turn down the heat to low.

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Let the base of the stew simmer on a low heat, then, using a large frying pan, heat the remaining oil on a medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the garlic, caraway seeds, potato, sauerkraut and turnip. Pan fry for 5 minutes until the garlic and caraway are fragrant, but the garlic isn’t browning too much.

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Add the contents of the  frying pan to the saucepan, stirring to combine. Put the lid on the saucepan and simmer for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the lid of the saucepan and add the kidney beans, then, still with the lid off, cook the stew for a further 10-15 minutes. If the sauce is too thick, add a little bit of water to loosen it.

Season with salt and pepper, I actually used some smoked salt to give the stew a really great smokey flavour, but ordinary sea salt will also do the job! I also used plenty of pepper. Serve topped with dill and soured cream, and some crusty bread with butter.

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https://www.inghams.co.uk/lakes-mountains-holidays/resorts/slovenia