Tuesday, 28 June 2011

My First Recipe Post: Pea, Mint and Parmesan Risotto

In the Treacle-Ginge household, we believe that there is no better comfort food than risotto. I have been perfecting this recipe for the past couple of years and this is the version that we enjoy the most. It is really summery and refreshing, perhaps two words you wouldn't initially associate with a dish made entirely of rice. It is creamy and silky thanks to the parmesan, with just enough bite from the rice and sweetness from the peas, whilst the wine and the mint lift the flavour, making it less rich and completely addictive.           

  • 1 pint / 560ml good quality chicken / vegetable stock
  • 50g peas (I use frozen because I can't grow my own yet, but fresh would be even lovelier I am sure)
  • 2 spring onions, finely sliced
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • Butter
  • Olive oil
  • 6oz / 170g arborio rice
  • A good glug of white wine
  • A good sized handful of parmesan, grated, plus extra for serving
  • A handful of fresh mint (from the garden, if you have it)
  • Black pepper
  • Prepare your stock - either buy fresh liquid stock and heat in a pan until warm, or add to boiling water if you are using stock pots or stock cubes. 
  • Melt a small amount of butter in a small frying pan and gently soften the spring onion, so that it is white and green and translucent. 
  • Place the peas in a small bowl, pour in enough boiling water to just cover them and leave them to one side.
The Main Event:  
  • Melt butter in a large saucepan, with a drizzle of olive oil to stop it burning. 
  • Add onion and stir to coat each tiny piece with butter and allow to soften on a low heat. 
  • Using the flat side of a large knife, drag the finely chopped garlic backwards and forwards on a chopping board, pressing hard to create a puree. 
  • Once onions look translucent, but not brown, add the garlic puree and stir until combined. 
  • Add rice to the buttery onions and stir for two minutes, to allow the grains to soak up the flavour.  
  • Add a small amount of stock and stir until the rice has absorbed (this shouldn't take very long)
  • Add about 1/3 of the remaining stock and allow to simmer, stirring occasionally until all of the stock has been absorbed. 
  • Repeat this process until you have used all of the stock and it has all been absorbed. 
  • Pour in a good glug of white wine and allow to absorb. The texture should be loose and creamy and the rice should have a bit of a bite in the middle. 
Final Touches:
  • Gently stir in peas and spring onions
  • Add grated parmesan and stir until well combined. This should make the risotto super creamy.
  • Add the finely chopped mint and stir very gently.
  • Serve in a big bowl with extra parmesan and a few flecks of black pepper and a cool glass of crisp white wine.


Sunday, 26 June 2011

Fathers' Day Treats

What a lovely Fathers' Day we had, last week. It was the first full-family meet up we've since Easter and it was such a brilliant day, full of all the things I love. Seeing my amazing Dad. Moseying around the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, where we gazed, grimaced and giggled at the art, which we dismissed and fell in love with, in equal measure. Picnics on trains, brown paper packages, tied up with string. My favourite ballerina, Tamara Rojo performing Romeo & Juliet at the O2; a rollercoaster of elation and devastation, not a dry eye in the house. Indulging in a double Peyton & Byrne fest, once at the RA and again at St. Pancras; chicken and tarragon pie, fresh, summery salads and a massive slice of cake for the train. Savouring the happy, contented train journey home with the Ginge and my sister, watching sun-drenched fields flashing by. It was one of those days when you feel as though you are floating on air, when everything is right with the world and when, at the end of the day, you go to bed with a smile on your face and you cross your fingers that you will dream of the amazing things you have done, just so that the feeling will last a tiny bit longer. 

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Something Old, Something New, Nothing Borrowed, but a Hint of Blue

What I really want to do right now is sit down and tell you all about my lovely Fathers' Day in London, but I really must not let myself get distracted from my work. Here is a picture of my two most recent acquisitions, to keep both you and me going. The picture is a beautiful little print of a much larger picture that I saw at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. It is very simple - the same oriental vase from four different sides - but it enchanted me from afar, so I was very happy to be able to buy a dinky copy of it (not too pricey either, thank you very much!).  The chair was an outrageous bargain, costing a mere £4 from my favourite junk hoard. I think its previous owners used it as a decorating chair as there are boot scrapes and paint dribbles in places. No matter, I am going to give it a bit of love and a lick of paint so that it can become my desk-chair, when I officially decorate and move into my new office/room of Treacle. I can't wait til I have finished my degree so that I can get on with fun things like decorating, renovating and crafting! Roll on July! 

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Surprise Dinner

I came home yesterday to find the table laid outside, with two cool, rose-hued glasses of my sister's sloe gin and tonic and the Ginge tending a smoking barbecue. Fish with garlic, lemon and fresh parsley, smokey, lightly-charred vegetables and a childhood-throwback Fab for pudding. What a treat! I am a very lucky girl indeed. Isn't it wonderful to have some warmer weather, more befitting of the month of June? I hope you are all enjoying it as much as we are.  

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Nottinghamshire Strawberries, Homely Treats and my New Fat Finger

Hello lovelies. All has been rather quiet on the blog-front, this week. Unfortunately, I had a bit of a run-in with a blender and am therefore having difficulty typing. All is well and I still have all five fingers on both hands, it's just that one of them is now rather fat and cumbersome in its new, highly stylish (ahem) outfit. The Ginge has been teasing me, quite rightly so; a) for being so stupid and b) for doing it just as I had painted my nails for the first time in years - can you tell that I am writing a dissertation? The procrastinator in me is vying to get out! Anyway, what I can still do is take photographs, albeit rather clumsily, with my fat finger sticking up perpendicular-like. Here are just a few of the lovely things that have cheered me up this weekend. Delicious local fruit and veg from the Green Grocer; fennel, strawberries, broad beans, parsley, all in a box, so much better than a bag. I imagined it was a wicker basket, all the way home. Colour-coordinated nail varnish and bandage. Not intentional, but rather pleasing. My new blueberry and acai tea, looking and tasting delicious in one of my birthday mugs from the Ginge's sister. Very lady-like. Extra large eggs, glowing in a shard of sunlight, with a wispy little feather quivering on top. Simple things. Simple me. Simply splendid. 

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Clambering up Baslow and Curbar Edges

What happened to 'the delightful adventures of Treacle and Ginge'? We have both been so caught up with work and being busy that we haven't really had any. Well, they are back in style this week. Breakfast outside at Cafe Ceres - yum - Followed by a beautiful drive out to the Peak District where we had a brilliant ramble around Baslow and Curbar Edges. It was wonderful to be out in the fresh air, doing some proper exercise and what a beautiful walk! Flower-rich meadows, dark, rugged cliffs, startling blue skies, lush, green, patchwork fields, dappled woods and quaint little villages, all with a soundtrack of swallows and meadow pipits. We did try to have afternoon tea, at Chatsworth House, but were very sad to find out that they had closed for a private function. Ho hum, we will just have to go again another time. Oh, the hardship. I can't wait!  

Friday, 3 June 2011


Today, it was simple. The chirruping, swooping joy of swifts, darting around the milky, sunlit sky, transporting me from my desk and papers, to the long, balmy summers of my childhood. Every trill, every darting lick of black bringing with it warm memories of the smell of hot tarmac and fresh tennis balls, the waltzing herald of a coveted ice-cream van, the yellow, buttery heat of a fading sun, the graze of a warm breeze creeping in with the evening, the smoky sweetness of an invisible barbeque and being sent to bed when it was too light and too hot to sleep, watching and listening to the familiar birds until I finally drifted off. 

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Red Icing and Pink Peppercorns

I think this 'celebration of the little things' malarkey is doing me the world of good. Today has been really productive and I feel so much happier! I also heard from a friend (hello Freya!) that my post yesterday had cheered her up, so the plan is definitely working! The most exciting thing that happened today is that I hit the 10,000 word mark of my dissertation (yey!) and rewarded myself handsomely with a Jaffa cake, iced with my milestone, written in red for all to see. I think I may have gone slightly doolally, but writing down and, more importantly, eating my achievements, seems to make them all the more satisfying! Speaking of eating, I made myself a very tasty worker's lunch today - cheese, crackers, nuts and strawberries, including Moody's Rosary Pink Peppercorn Goats Cheese; the prettiest cheese in the world. I also had a lovely break from work this afternoon, to wrap a present for my friend who is leaving the country on friday, to pursue her elective medical placement in South America. It's amazing to think that this time last year, I was about to embark on my own placement, in India. My my, how time flies...I should probably get back to work, but all-in-all, a good day, thanks to the little things.