Tag Archives: Rice

Roasted Tomato and Feta Risotto

Roasted Tomato Risotto

This was actually a fabulously tasty dinner borne out a random fridge emptying operation!. You know those times when there doesn’t appear to be anything too interesting and you rustle up what there is anyway, and hope for the best. And actually it was really rather good and has since been made a couple of times, and not just when I’m in fridge clearing mode! What’s more the kids ate it, Jacques in the main because it contained an ample amount of his beloved olives (especially taking into account his sister’s discarded ones), and Francesca who claims to not like tomatoes happily ate these sweet roasted ones. Result. And us big people loved it too, so a perfect family dinner all in all.

Jacques eating Roasted Tomato Risotto

One happy Jacques with his olivey risotto!

To be fair I probably wouldn’t be feeding this risotto to an Italian or Risotto Aficionado. I mean feta in a risotto?. It’s all a bit wrong really. But hey this Greek/Italian fusion worked for my lot and interestingly, while I was stirring away, as you do with a risotto, I couldn’t help but think it all looked a bit like a hot greek salad. And besides, since it has no cow’s dairy but sheep’s milk Feta it’s something I can happily give to Jacques who appears to be dairy intolerant.  It’s certainly one of my healthier risottos and a fab way of getting lots of the good stuff into little (and big) tums!

Even Francesca enjoyed it, tommies and all!

Even Francesca enjoyed it, tommies and all!

Simply oven roasted cherry tomatoes (with fresh thyme if you have any), roasting while you make the risotto. Then stirred into a super-healthy risotto of  red pepper, courgette, olives (black or green) and blasphemous Feta cheese. De. Lish. Ous.

Since there’s fresh thyme involved I’m entering this post

Cooking-with-Herbsto Karen of Lavender & Lovage Cooking with Herbs challenge. Also as it was a genuine fridge-clearing concoction to Credit Crunch Munch, hosted by Fab Food 4 All and Fuss Free Flavours and this month by Sian at Fishfingers for Tea. To to Javelin Warriors Made with Love Monday’s event, as this is a made from scratch meal. And finally as tommies are now in season to Ren Behan’s Simple and in Season challenge. Phew that’s quite a few entries!Simple and in Season

Made with Love Mondays

Credit-Crunch-Munch

Roasted Tomato & Feta Risotto

Roasted Tomato & Feta Risotto

Great for: Toddlers & Pre-schoolers, Bigger Kids, Grown Ups, Family Dinners, Mid-Week Suppers, Risotto Fans, Vegetarians. Not for Risotto Aficionados

Serves: A Family of 4

Total Cook Time: 45 minutes

450g cherry tomatoes, halved

2 tablespoons olive oil

salt & pepper

a few sprigs fresh thyme. leaves removed

small onion, finely diced

1 small red pepper, cut into fine strips

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

220g arborio risotto rice

large glass white wine

700ml hot vegetable stock, I use Marigold

1 small courgette, diced

60g green or black pitted olives, halved, optional

120g Feta cheese, crumbled

1. Preheat your oven to 200ºC

2. Place the halved cherry tomatoes cut side up on a large roasted tin. Sprinkle with a tiny bit of salt, black pepper and the thyme leaves. Finally drizzle over 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Place in the hot oven for 25 minutes.

3. Whilst the tomatoes are roasting, prep the risotto. Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a large heavy based saucepan on a gentle heat. Sweat the onion and red pepper strips for 10 minutes with the lid on, stirring every now and again and adding a splash of water if the veggies look a little dry and are sticking.

4. Stir in the garlic and allow to cook for a moment or two before stirring in the risotto rice, ensuring the grains get a good coating of the oil. Poor in the wine and stir.

5. Allow to simmer (uncovered) on a gentle heat until most of the wine has evaporated/absorbed then stir in a ladleful of the hot stock together with the diced courgette and olives (if using). Continue to stir at regular intervals adding further ladlefuls of stock every time the last one’s almost absorbed.

6. When the rice is tender stir in the roasted tomatoes, together with any juices from the tray, and the crumbled feta. Place the lid back on the pan and allow the flavours to rest and mingle for a couple of minutes.

7. Taste and season to suit. No added salt for littlies. Serve as is or with a sprinkling of grated fresh Parmesan.

You might also like:

Spinach, Courgette & Pesto Risotto

Spinach, Courgette & Pesto Risotto

Roasted Mushroom Pearl Barley Risotto

Roasted Mushroom Pearl Barley Risotto


Forager’s Freebie Nettle & Wild Garlic Risotto

Nettle & Wild Garlic Risotto

I have for you today a fabulously light, healthful and frugal Nettle & Wild Garlic Risotto. And anything this green has to be amazing for you surely? And indeed it is. I even kept away from adding any dairy to make as light a risotto as one can, omitting my normal more decedent additions of creme fraiche and Parmesan. But feel free to add if you want something a little less delicately flavoured and more substantial in body.

Incidentally Nettles, in case you didn’t know, have an incredible amount of health giving properties. Not only are these stingers an excellent natural iron source (way higher than popeye spinach, take note ladies!), they’re very high in protein for a plant, fabulously cleansing for hair and skin and are used to treat a huge variety of ailments and iillnesses from arthritis, gout and rheumatism though to various immunity disorders, allergies and infections. And as for the Wild Garlic it’s a potent antibacterial, antibiotic and antiseptic. And wild garlic, more significantly than cultivated garlic, is known to reduce blood pressure, and thus also reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke. So I say get yourselves out there and a-gathering!

Foraged freebie goodies of Nettles, Dandelion Leaves and Wild Garlic. Plus Parsley from the garden.

Foraged freebie goodies of Nettles, Dandelion Leaves and Wild Garlic. Plus Parsley from the garden.

Chez Foti Wild Garlic, a little different to the normal UK Ramsons

Chez Foti Wild Garlic, a little different in appearance to the normal UK Ramsons

And I’m not the only one gloving-up to forage these wonder weed stingers. Andrea over at Shabby Chick made a tasty looking ricotta and filo Wild Greens Pie recently which I’m so going to try. Sarah at The Garden Deli cooked up Nettles with Cannellini Beans, the latter being a big favourite of mine but I’ve yet to try her lovely recipe. She also used them as part of a foraged Spring Leaves Pesto, gorgeous! The king of foraging and my foodie hero, Mr HFW, regularly writes about nettles and I know I’ve seen several other recipes recently incorporating them, but have somehow failed to locate them from my diminished memory bank for the purposes of this post. So if you have any nettle recipes I’d love to hear from you!

Lots of Goodly Green Stuff!

Lots of Goodly Green Stuff!

Simple and in SeasonherbsonsaturdaySince Nettles, Wild Garlic and Parsley are all in season right now I’m entering my post to Ren Behan’s Simple and in Season event. Also to Lavender and Lovage’s Herbs on Saturday challenge, currently hosted by Anneli over at Delicieux. Credit-Crunch-MunchAnd being about as frugal a risotto as one can make to Fab Food 4 All‘s and Fuss Free Flavour’s Credit Crunch Munch, this month hosted by Janice over at Farmersgirl’s Kitchen. nature's Lunchbox logoAnd last but certainly not least to a new-blog-to-me, Foodie Laura, who so happens to be running the Nature’s Lunchbox Challenge showcasing freebie foraged meals!.

Nettle & Wild Garlic Risotto

Nettle & Wild Garlic Risotto

Great for foragers, tight budgets, health kickers, vegans & vegetarians, bigger kids (who can get over the idea of eating nettles), grown ups, mid-week suppers

Enough for two hungry big people:

2 tablespoons of olive oil

2 shallots, very finely chopped

4 baby wild garlic bulbs OR a clove of cultivated Garlic, very finely chopped

180g of Arborio Risotto Rice

a glass of White Wine

600ml of hot Vegetable Stock (I invariably use Marigold)

3 large (gloved!) handfuls of Nettle Tops

a bunch of Wild Garlic Leaves

a small bunch of Flat Leaved Parsley

Salt and Pepper

a little very good quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil, for drizzling

Heat the olive oil in a heavy based saucepan on a gentle heat. Fry the shallots and wild garlic bulbs/clove of garlic for 5 minutes, stirring regularly.

Stir in the rice ensuring the grains get a good coating of the oil. Pour in the wine and stir. Allow to simmer on a gentle heat until most of the wine has evaporated/absorbed then stir in a ladleful of the hot stock. Continue to stir at regular intervals adding further ladlefuls of stock every time the last one’s almost absorbed.

Meanwhile prep the greenery!. With gloved hands remove any thick stems from the nettles and thoroughly wash the leaves. Blanch in boiling water for a couple of minutes then drain. Squeeze out the excess of water and finely chop. Wash and finely chop the wild garlic tops and parsley.

When the rice is tender stir in the diced nettles, garlic tops and most of the parsley (leave some for sprinkling on the top). Cook for a moment or two longer and then leave to rest for a couple of minutes before serving. Season with plenty of black pepper and a little salt.

Serve piping hot with a sprinkling of parsley and a handsome glug of good quality olive oil. Believe me you’ll feel instantly healthful! I personally enjoyed the delicate flavour of the nettles, wild garlic and parsley but if you’re in need of a little more sustenance then feel free to stir through a little creme fraiche and top with grated Parmesan.

Nettles

You might also like: 

Rosemary & Cannellini Bean Risotto

Rosemary & Cannellini Bean Risotto

Chochori, A Vegan Swiss Chard & Potato Curry

Chochori, A Vegan Swiss Chard & Potato Curry


A very retro Sweet ‘n Sour Pork

Sweet & Sour Pork Recipe

So we’re now in the third month of the Swallow Recipes for Life Challenge and the chosen three ingredients were a potentially tricky Pork, Sweetcorn and Tomato. I have to admit to pondering for quite some time before coming up with my Retro-tastic Sweet & Sour recipe. And my sincere apologies now for the absence of any authenticity, and if you’re likely to be offended please look no further!. But I can nevertheless assure you it’s a pretty tasty dinner.

Admittedly not a dish I’m usually a big fan of, and I’m always a bit sniffy of the take-away version, but this homemade recipe was a bit of a hit in the Chez Foti household. The kids happily chowed down and successfully consumed a healthily pleasing quota of veggies, but then anything inclusive of fruit and/or sweetcorn and served with rice is usually onto a winner with them. I really should confess to very much enjoying it myself too, way more than I thought I would, though I did perk mine up somewhat with an additional (very) hot chili. And it proved a delightful and worthy use of the very last of my Homemade Tomato Ketchup.

swallow-recipes-for-lifeJust in case you missed the earlier challenges, the lovely Vanesther of Bangers and Mash Chat has tasked fellow bloggers to come up with wholesome, delicious and easy-to-cook recipes using three key ingredients, that members of the Swallow cookery club can cook themselves. Swallow is a Somerset based charity that help adults with learning disabilities to lead more independent lives, including the running of cookery courses and the preparation of meals for themselves.

Sweet & Sour Pork

Sweet & Sour Pork

Great for: Toddlers & Young Children, Bigger Kids, Tomato Ketchup Fans, Family Dinners, Grown Ups, Mid-Week Suppers, Retro Foodies

Enough for a Family of 4:

For the Sauce:

a 227g tin of Pineapple Slices in Natural Juice, drained and juice retained, slices cut into chunks

a level tablespoon of Cornflour

2 tablespoons of Tomato Ketchup, Homemade or bought

2 tablespoons of Soy Sauce

2 tablespoons of Chinese Rice Vinegar or White Wine Vinegar

a dessertspoon of Honey

For the Stir Fry:

2 tablespoons of Groundnut or Sunflower Oil

300g of lean Pork loin or fillet, cut into fine inch long strips

a small Onion, diced

a Carrot, sliced into very fine inch long strips

a Red Pepper, large dice

a clove of Garlic, finely sliced

a thumb sized piece of Ginger, grated or finely chopped

0 – 2 Red Chillies, finely sliced (depending on your heat tolerance)

a Courgette, sliced into inch long strips

a 150g tin of Sweetcorn (or you could use a handful of Baby Sweetcorn)

Start with prepping your sauce. Mix the cornflour with all the retained pineapple juice, then stir in each of the other ingredients. Set aside.

Heat one tablespoon of the oil in a wok or large sauce pan to a very high temperature. Carefully add the pork to the hot fat and cook for a two or three minutes, moving the pork around regularly so it cooks on all sides. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Into the hot pan add a further tablespoon of oil and carefully add the onion, carrot, red pepper, garlic, ginger and chillies (if using). Cook for three minutes on a very high heat, continuously moving everything around. If the veggies are sticking to the pan throw in a splash of water. Stir in the courgette and continue to c0ok for a further three minutes.

Finally stir in the set aside pork strips, pineapple chunks, sweetcorn and the sauce. Stirring regularly allow to bubble away for a few minutes and take off the heat when you have your desired state of veggie tenderness. I personally prefer a healthy crunch to mine but the kids favour their’s a little on the softer side. So I settle for somewhere in the middle.

Chow down with noodles or steamed rice. Maybe a cheeky prawn cracker or three on the side.

Sweet & Sour Pork

You might also like:

Homemade Tomato Ketchup

Homemade Tomato Ketchup

Noodles with Pork & Veggies

Noodles with Pork & Veggies


Roast Butternut Risotto with Butternut Crisps

Butternut Risotto

We’ve still lots of lovely butternuts left from my autumn harvest, and thankfully they keep really well in a cool dark place for several months. They’re most definitely one of my very favourite veggies and so usefully versatile getting regularly thrown in many a Soup, Curry, Stir Fry or Stew and even in pasta dishes (think Carbonara or Mac ‘n Cheese). They even shine on a Tart or Pizza too. But a Butternut Risotto happens to be one of my favourite uses of this glorious veggie, and is a firm Chez Foti winter comfort food favourite.

This is actually a recipe I make with the littlies in mind and uses cream cheese, but if you want to make a  more grown up version replace the cream cheese with a goats cheese. I use plenty of fresh sage which I’m particularly partial to with squash or pumpkin and cheese, but if your kids are herb adverse then leave out. If making for very little littlies then omit the wine too and use ‘baby’ stock cubes available from most major chemists or supermarkets.

After watching Nigel Slater’s recent series I now always keep my Butternut Skin shavings and briefly roast them in the oven (which you’d be using anyway for this dish) in a little olive oil, salt & pepper and make some totally delish freebie Butternut Crisps. They’re wonderful served as a little crispy side to soups or risottos.

Cubes of Butternut

Since I’m using fresh sage in my recipe I’m entering my post, for the second time this month, to Lavender and Lovage’s Herbs on Saturday challenge, this month hosted by Vanether at Bangers and Mash Chat. Please do go and check out all the entries, there’s sure to be something you fancy!

herbsonsaturday

Butternut squash risotto

Butternut Squash Risotto with Butternut Crisps

Toddler and Young Children, Bigger Kids, Family Dinners, Mid-Week Suppers, Grown Up Dinners

Enough for a family of 4:

a largish butternut squash, peeled (keep the peelings if you want to make crisps!), seeds removed (these can also be deliciously roasted) and cut into 1.5cm cubes

2 tablespoons of olive oil plus a drizzle for the crisps if making

salt & pepper

3 shallots or a small onion, finely diced

2 sticks of celery, finely diced

20g of butter

220g of risotto rice

a glass of white wine

a litre of chicken or veggie stock, piping hot

a dessertspoon of finely chopped fresh sage

75g of soft cheese or goats cheese

a heaped tablespoon of Parmesan or Grana Padano cheese

Pre-heat your oven to 180ºC/Gas Mark 4. Place the butternut cubes on a large baking tray and drizzle over a tablespoon of olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Ensure the cubes are equally coated and place in the hot oven to roast for about 35 minutes. They’re ready when they’ve taken on a little colour and are completely tender and soft.

During this cooking time place the peelings on a separate baking tray and drizzle with a wee bit of olive oil and a little salt & pepper. Place in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes until crisped up, checking regularly as they’re quick to burn. Once ready remove from the oven and drain on kitchen paper until you’re ready to serve.

Now to make the risotto. Heat the butter and another tablespoon of olive oil in a large heavy based saucepan on a gentle heat. Add the shallots or onion and celery and saute for 5 minutes, stirring regularly.

Stir in the rice ensuring the grains get a good coating of the butter and oil. Pour in the wine and stir. Allow to simmer away on a gentle heat. Once most of the wine’s evaporated pour on a ladleful of hot stock together with the sage. Continue to stir at regular intervals adding further ladlefuls of hot stock every time the last one is nearly all absorbed.

When the rice is on the edge of being ready and tender stir in the roasted butternut cubes and cream cheese/goats cheese. Allow to bubble away for a few minutes more before finally stirring in the Parmesan or Grana Padano. Taste and season with black pepper to suit. You probably won’t need to add any additional salt as there’s plenty in the stock and cheese.

Serve the risotto with a few butternut skin crisps on the side. A word of warning, whilst the crisps look pretty served on top of the risotto (as per my pic) they quickly become soggy from the steam!.

Here’s some other Chez Foti risotto recipes: Spinach, Courgette &  Pesto Risotto, Asparagus, Pea & Lemon Risotto, Sausage & Courgette Risotto

Butternut Squash Risotto


Spinach, Courgette & Pesto Risotto

Toddlers & Young Children, Bigger Kids, Grown Ups

In my continued efforts to blog more veggie dishes here’s another popular family dinner at Chez Foti, my very green super-healthy risotto that I’ve actually been making for years as a quickie mid-week supper. Packed full of the good stuff as well as tastiness from the pesto and sun dried tommies this is an all round pleaser for littlies and big people alike.

It hit me a few months ago that I was sub-consciously shying away from giving the kids green dinners as for some daft reason I thought they wouldn’t buy it. How wrong was I. As long as the base flavour’s good they’ll eat anything, spinach and all. Since my moment of realisation I’ve been bombarding them with spinach and chard based risottos, pasta sauces, stir fries and thai green curries and so far they’ve happily gobbled down each and every one. And pesto being such a pleasing flavour to most littlies provides the perfect flavour vessel. In truth I’ve also shied away from risotto for the kids too as Francesca was never too keen, but she seems to be really enjoying them now. Rock on the risottos!

This was one of our first ‘freebie’ dinners of the year with most of the ingredients being picked fresh out of the garden, and notably used the first of many of the courgettes. I’ve seven plants which should ensure us in consistent supply for some time. The spinach, shallots and garlic were all Chez Foti homegrown too. Admittedly I used shop bought pesto for my risotto this time but I did make my own all last summer. The basil plants are all a little on the weeny side for pesto making as of yet this year.

In writing this post I’m also entering Ren Behan’s Fabulucious Food Simple and In Season blog event, hosted this month by Homemade by Fleur

The First Courgette of 2012!

Popeyetastic Spinach!

Enough for a Family of Four or Three Big People

3 tablespoons of olive oil

a small onion or 2 shallots, very finely diced

a clove of garlic, finely chopped

220g of risotto rice

a small glass of white wine

700ml of hot vegetable stock (I like to use Marigold)

a courgette, diced

200g of spinach, washed and shredded

70g of drained sun dried tomatoes, chopped

3 tablespoons of homemade or shop bought pesto

salt and pepper

grated parmesan, to serve

Heat the oil in a large heavy based saucepan on a gentle heat. Add the shallots and garlic and saute for 5 minutes, stirring regularly.

Stir in the rice ensuring the grains get a good coating of oil. Pour in the wine and stir. Allow to simmer away on a gentle heat. Once the wine’s almost evaporated add a ladleful of the hot stock and continue to give everything a stir from time to time.

Once the stock has been absorbed by the rice add another ladleful. Once this has been absorbed stir in another ladleful together with the diced courgette. Continue to stir at intervals adding further ladlefuls of hot stock every time the last one is absorbed. If you run out of stock before the rice is tender add a little boiling water.

When the rice is almost tender stir in the shredded spinach, sun dried tomatoes, pesto and a generous pinch of black pepper.

Once the rice is cooked and spinach wilted remove from the heat. Taste and add more pepper to suit. You probably won’t need to add any salt as there’s plenty in the stock and pesto.

Serve with a generous sprinkling of Parmesan.

How about trying some of my other risotto recipes: Asparagus, Pea & Lemon Risotto, Sausage & Courgette Risotto or Squash & Goats Cheese.


Paella

Toddlers & Young Children, Bigger Children, Grown Ups

My apologies for the lack of blogging action of late, we’ve had my MIL staying the last week and time has been more than a tad short. I’m hoping to get back to normal blogging soon, though we do have a line of guests coming early summer so it could be tricky. And my poor veggie patch is suffering enormously again. So much to do, and always so little time.

In case you didn’t see it I wrote a guest post for Foodies 100 which appeared on their site last week, it’s listing my Five Favourite Family Foodie Blogs. Well worthy of a read if you want to check out some other great family foodies, and there’s some truly brilliant ones around!

The essence of summer I made this paella for our balmily hot sunday dinner last weekend and it was a hit with everyone, littlies and all (and they particularly enjoyed the mussels!). Ever so impressive yet surprisingly easy to assemble and if you’ve not made one before you really must give paella a go. A perfect dish for big family gatherings or parties, or like us a special sunday lunch. I’ve listed ingredients to serve four (big) people, but double or treble up or more for larger parties. You do need a very big frying pan for any more than six people, or preferably a paella pan (I have one on my wish list!).

A great summery dish at it’s best served with ice cold vino blanco …. and maybe the odd finger bowl or two….it’s a messy business!

Enough for Four:

3 tablespoons of olive oil

a large pinch of salt & pepper

4 chicken legs or thighs (each divided into two) or 8 chicken drumsticks, free range, skin removed

100g of chorizo, sliced into 5mm slices

a large onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, finely sliced

a red pepper, thinly sliced

120g of french green beans, sliced into 2.5 cm lengths or frozen peas

a teaspoon of sweet smoked paprika

a large pinch of saffron

170g of spanish paella rice

600ml of hot chicken stock

500g of large mussels (washed and de-bearded and any opened ones discarded)

8 or more large whole raw king prawns

lemon and parsley to serve

Rub a little salt and black pepper into your chosen chicken pieces. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a wide frying pan or paella pan on a medium heat. Fry the chicken a little on all sides until lightly golden. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Add the chorizo to the pan and cook for a couple of minutes, turning occasionally. Remove with the spoon and set aside with the chicken.

Turn the heat to low and throw in the onions and garlic to the pan. Gently saute for 5 minutes until softened. Add another tablespoon of olive oil together with the sliced pepper, beans if using ( if using peas they are added later) and smoked paprika. Cook for another couple of minutes stirring regularly.

Stir in the saffron, rice, and peas (if using) ensuring the rice has a good coating of the oil. Pour over the chicken stock, and place the set aside chicken and chorizo back in the pan. Gently bring to a simmer, and allow to bubble away for 12 minutes, stirring only occasionally.

Place the mussels evenly around the pan, pushing the shells into the rice so that they have an opportunity to cook. Cook for a further 5 minutes without stirring the paella.

Evenly place the prawns over the top and cook for a further 6 minutes (turning them over half way through), but not stirring the paella. The rice and chicken should now be tender and cooked through and liquid evaporated. Cook for a few moments longer if not.

Serve with a sprinkling of finely chopped parsley and lemon wedges….and a glass of white wine.


Super-Fruity Homemade Rice Pudding

8 months +, toddlers & young children, grown ups too!

Homemade rice pudding is so super douper easy everyone should give it a go. Most recipes bake it slowly in the oven but I’ve successfully experimented with simmering the milk and rice in a pan on the hob and considerably shortened the cooking time. The addition of lots of dried fruit gives this pud an extra healthy punch, and even kids adverse to dried fruit will probably enjoy it this way being so meltingly soft. If your making the pud for really little ones or kids that truely do not do dried fruit then omit and add a touch more sugar.

I used to make lots of milky puddings when my wee boy was weaning as once he had his first taste of solids he barely drank another drop of milk and I had to make sure he still got plenty of the white stuff down one way or another. Together with a few milky puds, I was always lucky that the little fella loved his yoghurts, cheese, porridge and milky cereals so it was never too much of a problem. He’s just turned two now and still refuses to drink milk on it’s own!.

Milk is the most important source of calcium to little people, as well as containing protein and a whole bunch of vitamins and minerals. Raisins, sultanas and dried apricots not only count towards your child’s five a day but are a wonderful natural sugar and sweetener. I always add a handful to my kids’ porridge and regularly use in puddings and cakes to replace large, and often unnecessary, quantities of sugar.

for a family of four:

90g of pudding rice (½ cup)

30g of golden caster sugar (1⁄8 cup)

675ml of full fat milk (3 cups)

80g of raisins or sultanas (⅓ to ½ cup)

60g of finely chopped dried apricots (just over ⅓ of a cup)

Simply place all the ingredients in a saucepan, stir to combine, and place on as gentle a heat as your hob will allow.

Slowly bring to a simmer and allow to bubble away for 30 minutes, stirring at regular intervals. If the rice looks like it’s drying out add a touch more milk.

The rice should be gloopy and very very soft.  Serve whilst warm or hot.

Here’s some of my other puddings: Sticky Apple Pudding and Bread & Butter Leftovers Pudding


Asparagus, Pea & Lemon Risotto

I’m very excited it’s Asparagus season again. Though here in France, like the rest of Northwestern Europe, they favour the grown in the dark white asparagus over the open air green tips more commonly found elsewhere. And it’s the green I definitely prefer. Asparagus happens to be one of my favourite veggies, and one I’d really like to grow myself once I decide on a permanent spot in the veg patch for it. It’s a dauntingly long wait of a couple of years from seed sowing to cropping…which undoubtedly will test my un-patient self, but once cropping the plants can last up to a lengthy twenty years!

This is my first spring risotto of the year, and possibly my favourite risotto recipe ever. So light and delicately flavoured, rather than the heavier meatier and rootier winter risottos of our last few months. Ideally this should be made with fresh peas, but as my pea plants are still very much in their infancy and no way near ready for picking, I used good old shop bought frozen ones, which I actually don’t have a problem with at all. Here’s one of my baby pea plants….hurry up!:

I don’t know why exactly but risottos tend to be the domain of the grown up folk in the Foti household, usually something I put together once the wee ones are snuggled up in bed. Hence the recipe for two…just double up for a family. Little Miss F is never too keen on them but will eat under duress, and Master F would willingly eat most things, especially anything with rice and his beloved peas in!

I’ve entered the recipe into this month’s ‘One Ingredient’ challenge, hosted by Nazima at Working London Mummy and Laura at How to Cook Good Food. This month the one ingredient is lemon.

Enough for 2:

20g of butter

a tablespoon of olive oil

2 shallots, finely diced

150g of arborio or other risotto rice

a glass of white wine

600ml of hot weak chicken or vegetable stock

a bunch of fresh green asparagus

110g of fresh or frozen peas

the zest of an unwaxed lemon plus 1 to 2 teaspoons of the juice

a heaped tablespoon of half fat creme fraiche

40g of freshly grated Parmesan or Grana Padano

salt and pepper

Prepare the asparagus by removing and discarding the woody white ends.  Cut the tips to about an inch in length and the remaining stalks to a 1 to 2cm length. Set aside.

Heat the butter and olive oil in a large heavy based saucepan on a gentle heat. Add the shallots and saute for 5 minutes, stirring regularly.

Stir in the rice ensuring the grains get a good coating of butter and oil. Pour in the white wine and stir. Allow to simmer away on a gentle heat. Once the wine’s almost evaporated add a ladleful of the hot stock and continue to stir from time to time.

Once the stock has been absorbed by the rice add another ladleful. Once this has been absorbed stir in your third ladleful of stock together with the asparagus. Continue to stir at intervals adding further ladlefuls of hot stock every time the last lot is absorbed.

When the rice is nearly cooked stir in the peas, lemon zest and a teaspoon of lemon juice.

Once the peas, rice and asparagus are all cooked remove from the heat and stir in the creme fraiche and Parmesan. Leave to stand for a couple of minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper to suit, plus further lemon juice if you like.

Here’s two other risotto recipes you might like to try, Sausage & Courgette Risotto and Squash & Goats Cheese Risotto


Chicken, Veggie & Egg Fried Rice

My version of Chicken Fried Rice contains eggs and lots of veggies and is a very firm favourite in our house, especially with the wee ones. It’s definitely Jacques’ absolute toptastic favourite dinner, he rarely misses out on a third helping! In fact the first time I made it for him when he was just under a year old I wasn’t sure he was ever going to stop eating. Feel free to omit the chicken and turn this into a tasty veggie dinner, just up the eggs and veggies.

The classic recipe for CFR only includes rice, chicken, egg, onions and peas, but like most things I substantially veg mine up adding pretty much anything that I happen to have in. Today I used half a red pepper, a carrot, a handful of green beans from the freezer and a quarter of a head of broccoli. Peas, courgette, leek, squash, pumpkin, sweet potato, sweetcorn, beansproats, mushrooms, spinach, chard and cabbage all work really well too. Cut your veggies to a size appropriate to the smallest eater. I tend to dice mine fairly small as my children are still pretty little, and a small dice also has the added benefit of a perfect disguise for fussy eaters (as my daughter most definitely can be at times!). If you’re cooking for adults or older children cut everything to a much larger grown up size and cook for a few minutes longer.

Classic recipes also only include the flavour addition of soy sauce, but I like to add a little less soy and a large piece of grated ginger and a teaspoon of Chinese five spice (one of my favourite flavours ever). It’s always good to get your kids used to eating different flavours from a young age, I’m sure it helps to make them less fussy later on.

January 2013: This post is part of the #FaveFamilyRecipes Competition with BritMums and Tilda Rice. Every pack sold will provide a meal to an expectant mum in need in support of the World Food Programme’s Mothers Helping Mothers initiative in Bangladesh. Please check out all the other wonderful entries on the BritMums blog. Although I wrote this post over ten months ago it’s still my two little monsters’ absolute  favourite dinner guaranteed to be gobbled up!

Chicken, Veggie & Egg Fried Rice

Enough for a hungry family of 4:


220g white rice, preferably jasmine
2 tablespoons of groundnut or sunflower oil
a thumb sized piece of fresh ginger, grated
a small onion, diced
1/2 red pepper, diced
a carrot, diced
1/4 broccoli, cut into small florets (and any larger stem sections diced)
a handful of green beans, sliced
2 tablespoons of soy sauce
a little water
2 free range chicken breasts, cut to a small dice
a teaspoon of Chinese five spice
a teaspoon of sunflower oil
2 eggs
salt & pepper

Start with cooking your rice, cook to packet instructions. Once cooked drain and set aside.

Meanwhile heat the oil in a wok or a large deep sided frying pan. Add the onion, garlic and carrot (and any other root or slow to cook veggies that you may be using). Cook for 5 minutes on a very high heat, stirring and turning continuously.

Now add the broccoli, beans, pepper and other veggies that you’ve chosen to use. Also stir in the soy sauce and a couple of tablespoons of water. Continue to cook on a high heat for a further five minutes. Keep adding a splash of water when the the liquid evaporates.

Finally add the diced chicken and a teaspoon of Chinese five spice. Stir and cook for a final 5 minutes.

While the chicken’s cooking make your omelette. Heat a teaspoon of sunflower oil in another frying pan. Whisk up the eggs and season with a little salt and pepper. When the pan is hot pour in the eggs, stir a little then leave to firm up on a medium heat. Once the egg is fully cooked through remove the omelette from the pan and cut into small bite sized strips.

Thoroughly mix the chicken and veggies, rice and eggy strips together and serve immediately. Grown up folk might like to add a little extra soy sauce. I’ve served mine today in my gorgeous Oogaa bowls. Oogaa design and sell fabulous and safe feeding products for babies and young children in fun designs and colours. For more information check out the Oogaa website, www.oogaa.com.

How about trying some of my other child friendly recipes? Kid’s Bolognese, Sausage & Courgette Pasta Carbonara, Salmon Fishcakes, Potato, Cauliflower & Pumpkin Curry or Pumpkin Mac ‘n Cheese?


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