Tag Archives: brown rice

Mushroom Risotto Stuffed Baked Fennel Bulbs with Tomato Sauce

20 Mar

Risotto Stuffed Fennel with Tomato Sauce

Fennel is another one of those vegetables, like cauliflower, that gets a bit of a bad name. People have preconceived ideas about it. They don’t like it. But many have never tried it cooked. I may have been one of those narrow-minded people.

Fennel Plants

Running past this field full of feathery fennel fronds floating in the breeze in front of an 11th Century Moorish watchtower while Rufus begs me to turn around and run back because of the pack of very tiny dogs who bark (or actually yap) at his heels as we pass, made me want to research this undervalued vegetable a little more deeply.

And by research I mean, look at recipes. On Pinterest mainly. Not that I’m addicted or anything but that is where I store all of the recipes I like the look of and want to make soon.

Mushroom Risotto Stuffed Fennel Bulb

The idea for this recipe didn’t come from Pinterest though. It came from Jim, The Washer Up’s dad. It’s not his recipe. I don’t think he stretches much farther than a ham sandwich in his own particular kitchen, but he does send me everything food related cut out from the British press, neatly folded in a brown envelope every couple of weeks. This is always a very welcome distraction, for me, from any cleaning that might need doing.

It was in one of those envelopes that I found out about baking and stuffing fennel.

Fennel Stock & Bulbs

Because I bought four whole fennel (complete with long feathery fronds still attached)  from the farmer’s market on Sunday, I decided I wouldn’t waste all of that aniseedy greenery and I made a stock out of them for the risotto. This isn’t essential but if you have them, you may as well if you have the time.

Risotto Stuffed Baked Fennel

In the original recipe they stuffed the fennel with wild rice. I decided to make a risotto using brown rice and the mushrooms I had in my fridge and use that to stuff them instead.

I have finally worked out how to make risotto from brown rice that actually looks and tastes like risotto. You have to part cook the rice first so it is nearly done. Then you add it to the risotto and continue as you would with uncooked risotto rice. It’ so much softer and creamier. I have to give credit to The Washer Up for this tip, he has been telling me to do it for ages.

And he was right. There I said it.

Risotto Stuffed Fennel

To make the fennel stock I cut the stalks and fronds off of the fennel bulbs and chopped them up roughly. I put them in  a large pot with 3 or 4 bay leaves, 15 whole peppercorns and a good teaspoon of salt. Bring this to the boil then lower the heat and simmer, covered for about an hour. Taste and add more salt if necessary . Then drain and store in the fridge or freezer in 500 ml or 1 litre pots.

You can just use a normal vegetable stock if you don’t have the fronds, time or inclination.

Mushroom Risotto Stuffed Baked Fennel Recipe

Serves  4, vegetarian. Adapted from

  • 300 ml brown rice
  • 600 ml fennel stock or water

Put the rice and stock/water in a pan. Bring to the boil then lower the heat, cover and cook for about 15 minutes until the rice is nearly cooked. Drain if necessary. Rinse under cold water if not using straight away to stop the cooking and set aside.

  • 4  fennel bulbs
  • olive oil
  • salt & black pepper
  • white wine (or cava)

Preheat oven to 180C. Cut about 2 cm off of the base of each bulb so it can stand up. Then cut another inch or so off of the tops. Remove any damaged/bruised outer layers. Using a teaspoon, hollow out the fennel bulbs as best you can (see picture above) reserving the fennel flesh for the risotto.

Stand the hollowed out fennel bulbs on a large sheet of foil, drizzle with olive oil and season well with salt & pepper. Start to bring the edges of the foil up and around the fennel then carefully pour in about 4 Tbsp white wine. Seal the foil package completely around the fennel but make sure that they are still standing. Bake for about 40-45 minutes until nicely softened.

  • reserved fennel flesh from above, finely chopped
  • 1 stick celery, finely chopped
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves, garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • a good pinch of dried chilli flakes
  • 1 lemon, zested 
  • about 250 g mushrooms, cleaned & sliced
  • a splosh of white wine
  • up to 1 litre vegetable/fennel stock
  • 30 g grated manchego/parmesan
  • a handful of breadcrumbs
  • a handful of manchego/parmesan
  • fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • a handful of pine nuts, toasted in a dry pan
  • tomato pasta sauce/marinara sauce

Put the stock in a small pan over a medium heat and keep hot but not boiling.

Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a large pan over a medium heat, add the onion, celery, chopped fennel and a pinch of salt and cook for about 4 minutes until softened but not browned. Then add the garlic, thyme, chilli flakes, half of the lemon zest and cook for another 2 minutes.

Add the mushrooms, cook for three minutes until softened then add the part cooked rice. Add a good splosh of white wine and cook until evaporated. Season well with salt & black pepper then start adding the hot stock a ladleful at a time, waiting for it to be absorbed before adding the next ladleful, stirring and swirling occasionally. Keep going until you have used all the stock and the rice is cooked. The risotto should be soft and quite liquidy.

Add a squeeze of lemon, a little of the chopped parsley and stir in the 30 gr grated manchego/parmesan. Turn off the heat, put a lid on and leave for 3-5 minutes. Heat up your tomato sauce.

If your fennel bulbs are done remove them from the oven and put the grill/broiler on high.

Mix together the breadcrumbs, grated manchego/parmesan, rest of the lemon zest, some pine nuts & some chopped parsley in a small bowl.

Check the risotto for seasoning add more salt if necessary. Spoon some risotto into each fennel bulb right to the top and a little bit more, sprinkle over the breadcrumb mix and put them under the grill for a minute or two until browned.

To serve: Cover the base of each dish with a shallow pool of risotto and place the stuffed fennel in the middle. Spoon some of the tomato sauce on and around the dish and garnish with some of the breadcrumb mix if you have any left, some chopped parsley or fennel fronds.

Risotto Stuffed Fennel & Tomato Sauce

Buen Provecho!!

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Greek Stuffed Cabbage Leaves

14 Oct

 I know I’m kind of overloading you with cabbage recipes but I’ve still got half left -they really do go a long way! This recipe is adapted from a Delia Smith recipe (We love Delia!). I have changed it & added a few more flavours to the stuffing including Feta, cumin, oregano, hazelnuts, cinnamon & dried cranberries (because Ididn’t have any raisins). The result is a slightly sweet but savoury delicious filling. This recipe is supposed to be for two people but I ended up with a huge amount of the rice mixture left so I have added on another of my favourite leftover recipes underneath…

Stuffed Cabbage Leaves in Tomato Sauce

Greek Stuffed Cabbage Leaves with Fresh Tomato Sauce Recipe

serves 2 plus extra vegetarian, adapted from a Delia Smith recipe

  •  about 6 to 8 whole cabbage leaves (Discard any yellow outer leaves)
  • 1/4 cabbage finely sliced
  • 350gr ripe tomatoes chopped (I chopped 1 large tomato & added a handful of cherry tomatoes)
  • 2 small cloves garlic chopped
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried mint
  • salt & black pepper
  • a drizzle of chilli oil (or olive oil)

For the Stuffing

  • 15o ml brown rice 
  • 1 red onion chopped
  • 1 tsp  ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 30 gr pine nuts
  • 30 gr hazelnuts  (or pistachios)
  • 50 gr dried cranberries ( or raisins)
  • 100 gr greek feta
  • a handful of fresh mint chopped
  • salt & pepper
  1. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a frying pan, add the onions and cook over a medium heat until lightly browned then add the cumin, coriander, cinnamon & oregano, stir to combine.Then add the rice and coat in the spice oil.
  2. Pour 300 ml of boiling water into the rice, add salt, stir, put the lid on and turn the heat down to low. Allow the rice to cook for about 30 mins until all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is cooked. You may have to add more boiling water if the rice is not cooked and all the water has been absorbed.
  3. Meanwhile toast the nuts in dry pan until slightly browned. Don’t take your eyes off them or they will burn! Leave to cool.
  4. With each of the whole cabbage leaves, make a v shaped cut to get rid of the hard stalky bits, and cook in boiling water for 4 mins. Take the leaves out with a slotted spoon, drain in a colander and rine under cold water. Then add the sliced cabbage to the boiling water for 3 mins. Dry the whole cabbage leaves on a clean tea towel. Drain the sliced cabbage, rinse in cold water and set aside.
  5. When the rice is cooked leave to cool slightly before adding the sliced cabbage, nuts, cranberries, crumbled feta & chopped mint. Season well with salt & pepper.

Stuffing Mixture

 6. Lay your first cabbage leaf out on a board and place a heaped tablespoon of the stuffing mixture in the middle. Roll it up like a cigar and tuck the ends under. Repeat with the rest of the cabbage leaves and arrange the cabbage rolls(with the tucked under bits on the base) in a baking dish. Don’t worry if there are a few holes in your leaves it still works look at mine !! 

 

Stuffed, Rolled Cabbage Leaves

 

7. Season with salt & pepper and cover with the chopped tomatoes, chopped garlic, oregano & mint.  Season again and cover with foil or a lid. 

 

Ready To Bake

 

8. Bake in a preheated oven 190 degrees fro 25 to 30 mins, then take of the foil and put back for another 10 mins. 

The Finished Dish

As I said above I had loads of the rice mixture left over so I made some stuffed peppers for lunch today. Just slice the tops off of the peppers and romve all the seeds and membrane.

Stuff the peppers with the rice mixture top with some more crumbled feta and a little dried mint, drizzle with olive oil and bake in a 2oo degree oven for 30 – 35 mins. I served mine with a rocket salad. 

 

 

Enjoy!

 

 

And Then The Rains Came ….

10 Oct

 

This is the other side to “Sunny Spain” unpredictable but just as beautiful, as the Spanish always say “It’s good for the oranges”.

Rufus & I got caught in a big rainstorm this morning. It definitely throws a different light on  everything. Very atmospheric and cleansing although the mascara running down my face was not a good look!

It’s at times like this when only risotto will do, it’s comforting, warming and also therapeutic with all that stirring, staring out of the window at the steely sky. I like to make risotto with shortgrain brown rice (it gives a really nutty flavour and great texture) & whatever I have in my fridge, which today is mushrooms, leeks & red onion. I also have a bottle of Marsala in the cupboard which will be fabulous with the mushrooms..

Leek & Mushroom Risotto with Marsala

Serves 2/3 (with leftovers) Vegetarian

  • 1 tbsp olive oil (basil oil if you have it see recipe)
  • about 150 – 200gr mushrooms sliced
  • 1/2 red onion chopped
  • 1 leek chopped
  • 2 clove garlic chopped
  • a squeeze of lemon juice
  • 4 or 5 handfuls of risotto rice (I use brown shortgrain, it takes a bit longer to cook)
  • a good glug of Marsala (or Madeira, or white wine)
  • 1 litre veg stock
  • 1 or 2 tbsp basil pesto (I used my basil & garlic pulp from the basil oil recipe)
  • salt & black pepper 
  • a handful of grated parmesan (plus extra shaved for garnish)
  1. Heat the oil in a large frying pan, add the onions & leeks and cook over a medium heat until translucent & softened.
  2. In the meantime put the veg stock in a small sauce pan over a low heat.
  3. Add the mushrooms & garlic to the onions and cook for 2 or 3 mins then add the lemon juice.
  4. Add the rice and stir to coat in oil and vegetables then add the Marsala, stir again.
  5. When the liquid has evaporated add a ladleful of warm veg stock to the rice, stir or shake the pan to combine.
  6. When the liquid has evaporated add another ladleful of veg stock and stir or shake the pan, continue like this until all the veg stock is incorporated or the rice is cooked,stirring frequently.
  7. It should take about 25 mins. (Longer if you use brown rice, you may have to put the lid on for the last 10 mins to soften the rice).
  8. When the rice is cooked & most of the liquid evaporated add a handful of grated parmesan, the basil pulp/pesto, black pepper & salt to taste .Stir to combine.
  9. Serve in warmed bowls with shaved parmesan

Making Risotto

    

    Leek & Mushroom Risotto with Marsala

    I think it was owning a restaurant for 9 years that has made me slightly obsessed with using leftovers. It can be the difference between making profit & not and also encourages creativity in the kitchen. I think most of the time the leftover recipes turn out to taste better than the main dish, which is when it’s really succesful.

    One such recipe is for Arancini (The Italian word for little oranges) which uses up leftover risotto by making it into balls, coating in breadcrumbs and frying them. In my recipe I stuff them with a cube of mozzarella, bake them in the oven (a little healthier) and serve them with a tomato sauce that is actually my leftover tomato & basil soup.

    Mushroom & Mozzarella Arancini with Tomato Sauce Recipe

  • leftover risotto (I had enough for 6 balls a bit bigger than golf balls)
  • 1/2 ball mozzarella cut into cubes
  • 1 egg
  • breadcrumbs
  • olive oil
  • tomato pasta sauce (I used my leftover tomato soup- see recipe)
  • shaved parmesan to garnish
  • 1. Make the cold risotto into little balls a bit bigger than golf balls, poke a piece of mozzarella into the centre and roll it into a ball again around the mozzarella.

    2. Have two small dishes ready, one with beaten egg and the other with breadcrumbs. Roll the balls one at a time first in the egg then in the breadcrumbs and put on a plate to chill in the fridge.

    3. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees, brush the Arancini with a little olive oil and place on an oiled baking sheet. Cook for about 20 mins until golden & crispy.

    4. Meanwhile heat up your tomato sauce adding a little basil pulp/pesto.

    5. To serve ladle the sauce into the bottom of your warmed serving dish & place the Arancini in the sauce, garnish with shaved parmesan.

    Enjoy!!

    Arancini in Tomato Sauce

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