Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Arancini - Deep Fried Risotto Balls

 Now I'm not the world’s biggest risotto fan but on occasion I do like bowl full of the stuff and until now the problem has been that it’s actually quite filling and I invariably make too much. Knowing what to do with the leftovers other than chuck it in the bin has been an ever-present conscience testing dilemma.

However having visited Pesto in Liverpool One, I was fortunate to try their Arancini which gave me the inspiration for this. Yeah I know Pesto is a chain restaurant … blah blah … but I like it there OK

So look, I have to apologise, the recipe predicates that you have previously made some risotto and that in itself is a bit of a labour of love, what with all the stirring and that. That said it really is worth a go. Can I prove this? Yes I bloody well can. You see Lisa, is even less a fan of risotto than me and on top of that saffron is well down her list of must haves. She loved it, which, lets be honest is a massive thumbs up for this little starter

Crunch through the breadcrumbs you’re met with soft flavour-full rice and at its centre deliciously creamy and tangy cheese.  They make a perfect starter or nibble to go with your cold Peroni.

You’ll notice there are no quantities as this depends entirely on how much risotto you have

  • Left over Risotto
  • Grated cheese of choice, I went for Manchego and old Amsterdam, but a good strong cheddar would work just as well
  • Flour
  • Beaten Egg
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Oil for deep frying

Wet your hands and pinch a chunk of risotto, rolling it in your hands to make ball about 2.5 to 3cm in Diameter, repeat this process until you have rolled out all of your risotto.

Next, using your finger make a hole in each risotto ball, this makes room for the cheese filling.

Now fill each hole with the cheese of your choice

Finish this stage by re-shaping and rolling each ball so that it is spherical and the cheese contained inside

Using the standard breadcrumb method, roll each ball in flour, egg and finally breadcrumbs.

Heat the oil in the Pan to 375 degrees and then deep fry around 4 Balls a time (the amount you cook in one batch depends on how big your pan is really) until they are golden brown in colour. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and place upon kitchen paper to soak up excess oil. That’s it really, you’re ready to go

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Sausage and Puy Lentil Casserole

These past few weeks I have to admit that I've been feeling more than a little pleased with myself. Whilst the rest of the nation has been recoiling in horror in the discovery that it’s been gleefully consuming unknown quantities of equine off cuts, as direct result of its lust for cheap convenient gastronomic banality, I've been tucking into food that, I have,  as always, cooked from scratch I know exactly how much Dobbin is in my lasagne.

So with that self indulgent “I told you so” opening you’d wonder why I'm eulogising about sausages. Of all the food stuffs they’re the worst aren't they? Full of sawdust, pig’s knuckles and cows face surely. Well, that depends on which sausages you buy. 50 “pork” sausages for £1 then really you can’t complain about the odd bit of kneecap. However if you spend the extra cash on some quality sausages you can still make a satisfying, tasty and in these early parts of the year a  welcome, warming and comforting dish.

I've been trying to perfect the ultimate sausage casserole, using beans etc . but with these meaty Puy lentils, I think I've cracked it

What’s more this is so cheap to make, OK it assumes you have some of the stuff already in , even if you don’t the initial outlay isn't that great

This really does make a satisfying, tasty and warming dish, perfect for this time of year

Sausage and Lentil Casserole - Feeds 6

Total cost (Based on having most of the ingredients in, otherwise the initial outlay will be greater) = £9.27 or £1.55 per Serving, add about another £0.50 per serving if having mash.

12 Good quality Pork Sausages (£5.00)
1 Large Onion Sliced (if halving the recipe use one medium size onion) (£0.35)
2 Cloves of Garlic Finely Chopped (£0.06)
2 Medium Sized Carrots Diced (£0.20)
1 Tsp Cumin Seeds (£0.05)
1 Tablespoon of Tomato Puree (£0.05)
1 400g Tin of Tomatoes (£1.23)
1 Splash of white wine (£0.50)
6 Juniper Berries (Not essential but do add depth of flavour) (£0.25)
1 Apple peeled and finely chopped 
175g Puy Lentils (£0.93)
1 Litre Of Chicken Stock (£0.30)
1 Small Pinch of Chilli Flakes
Fresh Herbs such as Thyme, Parsley and Bay Leaf, Tied together in a bundle (£0.40)
1 Tablespoon of Olive oil
Salt and pepper

1 Large Flame proof Casserole Dish
1 Pestle and Mortar

Pre-Heat the oven to 160 degrees

On the hob heat the oil in the casserole dish and then fry the sausages so that they are brown all over, you may have to do this in batches

In a separate pan toast the cumin seeds and the crush to a powder using a pestle and mortar

Once brown, remove the sausages and add the onions to the Pan, Season and fry until soft. The onions should take on the colour and flavour from the sausages

Add the garlic fry for one min, then add the tomato puree and cook out, for 2-3 mins
Next add the carrots, apple and cumin then gently fry for 5 mins

Turn up the heat, add the wine and de-glaze the casserole dish

Reduce the wine, add the lentils and fry, stirring continuously until the lentils are well coated

Add the tomatoes, stock, chilli flakes and juniper berries. Stir until well combined

Bring to the boil, return the sausages, add the herb bundle, cover and place in the oven for around 2 hours

Every 30 mins or so stir through and check the liquid, the lentils may soak up a lot of it so add more water if required and stir through before returning to the oven

The thickness is up to you, I prefer it to have a thick gravy like consistency rather than the thick porridge consistency you can get with lentils.

Serve on its own or with mash, or bread.