Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Risotto with Leeks and Spring Greens

The Monkey and I have recently joined a veg box scheme from the wonderfully groovy Phantassie Farm (what a fantastic name!) in East Lothian. With all sorts of options available to us, we plumped in the beginning for a small mixed fruit'n'veg box, excluding potatoes as we don't eat so many of them these days. In the first delivery was an abundance of seasonal produce - plump cauliflower, fat, dirty carrots, juicy leeks, green pepper and some small red onions - along with a large mystery bundle of greenery that I struggled to identify. Not a problem: a quick email to the farm and the mystery was solved. Turns out these were the first of the early spring greens, which I was told should be sliced thinly and cooked quickly - much as you would kale or cabbage, I suppose.

Inspired by this bounty I rustled up this tasty risotto for a quick midweek supper - a total experiment, but then often the best dishes are.

Leek & Spring Green Risotto
Serves 2

2 leeks, trimmed and sliced
half a red chilli, de-seeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
120g risotto rice
glug (ablut 100 mls) of white wine
1.5 litres of vegetable stock
bundle of spring greens, stalks sliced and leaves shredded
butter, olive oil

1. Heat a little oil in a heavy based pan and add a handful of the chopped leeks along with the garlic and chilli. Saute for a few minutes.

2. Add the rice and stir round to mix with the other ingredients. Splash in the wine, savour the wonderful smell, and stir well. Turn the heat down and simmer until the wine has been absorbed.

3. Throw in the chopped spring green stalks as they will take a while to cook. Add the stock bit by bit, letting each addition absorb into the rice before adding the next.

4. Meanwhile, in a wok or frying pan, saute the remaining leeks until they are soft and golden. Add the green leaves and stir-fry quickly until they are just cooked but not mushy.

5. When the risotto has absorbed enough stock it will be rich and creamy, the rice still slightly al dente. Stir in a nob of butter and season with salt and pepper.

6. Mix the leeks and greens into the risotto and serve in large bowls with a few shavings of parmesan and a glass of chilled white wine on the side.

Buon appetito!

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

The Larder

Allow me to introduce a new arrival, my baby, my little bundle of joy . . .

No, I haven't just given birth without telling anyone - don't panic! Rather this is the birth of a more literary being, the result of eight months of dedication, imagination and sheer hard graft from a small but extremely dedicated team at Edinburgh's List magazine.

The Larder is a celebration of Scottish food and drink - what it is, where to buy it and how to cook it - as well as a directory of the best shops, farms and chefs we have in this abundant country. In seven chapters the book guides you through the difference between bannocks and butteries, explains the science behind various cuts of beef, and gives guidance on cooking the many and varied fruits of our seas. And that's just for starters.

Nothing could be more relevant in these credit-crunching, carbon-monitoring times than a focus on local, seasonal and natural produce, and that is why The Larder deserves a place on all keen Scottish foodies' book shelves - and no, I'm not just saying that because I part-wrote, edited and project-managed the thing. Get hold of a copy and you'll see what I mean!