Thursday, June 3, 2010

Wet weather dining at home

With the weather in Sydney very wet, we didn't head out to any gluten-free restaurants this week. Instead we tried a few new recipes and some old favourites at home. The chapter I was up to in Michelle Maisto's book The Gastronomy of Marriage coincided with the food we ate.  In Chapter 14 'Risotto, Frittata, Fried Rice', Michelle says she turns to these dishes when she has to create something from nearly nothing. Risotto and fried rice were on our menu these past few days with the fried rice made from whatever was in the fridge.  I have to acknowledge Bruce's influence in making the fried rice. He hates wasting food and suggested using all the leftover vegies and herbs for fried rice. Before Bruce, I probably would have made a frittata with the ingredients in the fridge but would have steered clear of fried rice due to the lack of a few key items such as red or green pepper. So here's what was in it: chopped shallots, zucchini and coriander, baby spinach leaves, 3 eggs whisked, cooked and chopped, bacon, lots of ground pepper, Tamari soy sauce and unsalted peanuts.

The finished product was very tasty and with the addition of the coriander at the end was very aromatic.  Bacon can be problematic for coeliacs with dextrose from wheat in some brands. As a consequence I often spend quite a lot of time reading the ingredients on the brands at the supermarket. But recently I discovered KR Castlemaine Bacon, which is thin and crispy, has no artificial colours or flavours and has a big gluten-free sign on the packet. So it's become my brand of choice and was one of the ingredients in the delicious fried rice.
Lemon and leek risotto
Earlier in the week I made Phil Vickery's lemon and leek risotto from his book, Seriously Good! Gluten-free Cooking. Probably not a good one for the waistline but it was very tasty and flavoursome, if a bit rich. It didn't take long to make although as with all risottos you have to spend a bit of time at the stove stirring the rice. We had enough left over for the next night and it tasted just as good. Phil Vickery says the secret to risotto is not to overcook the rice, and to keep it nice and soupy. Here is his recipe:

Ingredients: 6 tablespoons olive oil, 1 small onion (finely chopped), 2 garlic cloves (finely chopped), 1 small leek, (very finely shredded - I nearly shredded my thumb doing this - so not having a good shredder I just chopped it up and it was still nice in the dish), 300g arborio rice, 100ml white wine, 1x10g gluten-free vegetable stock cube (Massell is good and gluten-free), 600ml boiling water, 150g Parmesan cheese (grated), 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, zest of 1 lemon, shredded into long pieces, 25g unsalted butter (I left this out), salt and freshly ground black pepper, grated Parmesan cheese to serve.

Method: Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a small, shallow pan, add the onion and garlic and cook for 10 minutes to soften. (Note here - Phil says to use a small, shallow pan but as later on all the ingredients have to be added, you need a pan big enough to fit everything and to cook the rice. So I ditched Phil's advice here and used our new medium- large scanpan). Heat the remaining oil in a separate medium-sized plan (I used a smallish one for this), and add the leek. Season well with salt and pepper (I only used pepper). Cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring all the time, until cooked, but not overcooked. Then pop into a colander to drain well. Add the rice to the shallow pan and coat well in the oil, then add the white wine and reduce until almost evaporated. Crumble the stock cube over the rice, and then gradually add the boiling water a little at a time (I accidently added it all at once but it was okay), stirring constantly. Add enough water until the rice is cooked (12-15 minutes), not overcooked, nice and soupy. Taste the rice and season well. Once you are happy with the base, add the cheese, cooked leek, lemon zest, basil and butter. Cover and leave for 5 minutes. Add a little boiling water if the consistency is too thick. Serve in deep bowls with extra Parmesan cheese. Delicious!

Potato soup with sausage and spinach

The other choice for the week was a recipe I have been making for a number of years. I am a big fan of soup especially in winter and as I work from home it's great having something ready to warm up for lunch. From The Australian Women Weekly 1994 Potato Cookbook, Potato Soup with Sausage and Spinach is a very hearty dish for the colder months. When I first started making this soup I used to substitute bacon for the sausage as gluten-free chorizo was hard to find. It's not anymore with a number of butchers and companies making gluten-free chorizo and other sausages including AC Butchery in Leichhardt. This time I used The Peppercorn Food Company's Extra Lean beef chipolata with fresh Asian herbs and spices, which were very tasty. The best gluten-free stock is the Massel brand. Here is the recipe:

Ingredients: 200g chorizo sausage, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 large (200g) red Spanish onion (chopped), 2 cloves of garlic (crushed), 5 medium potatoes (peeled and cut into 2cm cubes), 1.5 litres of chicken stock, 1 bunch (650g) English spinach (shredded - I just chopped up).
Method: Cut sausages into 5cm strips, cook in dry pan until browned, drain on absorbent paper. Heat oil in plan, add onion and garlic, cook, stirring until onion is soft. Cut potatoes into 2cm cubes, add potatoes and stock to onion mixture, simmer, uncovered, until potatoes are tender. Add spinach, stir over heat until spinach is wilted. Add sausage, stir until hot. Serves 6. 


  1. Dear readers and followers
    There is way too much in the post but don't worry I won't do it again. Enjoy your weekends.

  2. Just have to say I completely agree with your comments about a good risotto - the master chef in our house has tended more and more towards a soupy consistency, just like we had years ago in Roma. Loving the new blog Therese!

  3. Thanks Jen- yes the lemon and leek risotto was very delicious. I remember that Stephen is a bit of a risotto officiando. We are off to look at art today - courtesy of all our friends including you two for our wedding present. Who knows we might buy something! Hope you get to have a ride.