Smoked Haddock and Chive Risotto

Smoked haddock and chive risotto

We are in the midst of that horror that is house buying.  The house selling seems to be a dream but the purchase is causing unknown stress and as such I am in need of great comfort.   What could be more reassuring and bolstering than risotto.  Cosy, creamy and requiring very little effort to eat, sofa food if ever there was.   As it oozes gently across your plate you just know it is going to make you feel better.  That, and the bar of chocolate to follow….

For this I have chosen smoked haddock because I find it an old fashioned, nostalgic ingredient which in itself brings me comfort.  Purists may recoil at the hint of yellow coming from this fish and by all means use undyed if you prefer.  The haddock I purchased did, clearly, have a belt of sunshine yellow about it but as it was good quality I wasn’t going to let it bother me.  Indeed I rather like the jolly jauntiness of yellow and it certainly makes this uplifting to look at along with its green chive freckles.

Parmesan I know is not traditional with fish risottos but I do think cheese goes rather well with smoked fish so personally, I am all for a good grating but I leave that up to you.  One final suggestion I make is a poached egg.  The golden yolk breaking over the risotto is a fabulous addition and would make this go further should you wish to feed more souls in need of comfort, or otherwise.

Smoked haddock and chive risotto 2

Smoked Haddock Risotto with Chives

I am not keen on fish stock unless I have just made it so tend to use chicken or vegetable, either works fine.  That I can use stock cubes if necessary makes this a superb store cupboard supper as smoked haddock is happily stored in the freezer and the chives can be growing in a pot or your garden.   Onions, lemons and arborio rice I always have in the larder.   Finally, you will have to stand and stir this for around 20 minutes but the beauty of being trapped stove side is that you are unable to help anyone find their homework, walk the dog, hang the washing out……

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion finely chopped

200g arborio rice

1 wineglass dry white wine

500/600ml stock (see introduction)

Juice of half a lemon

Chives, about 10g, finely chopped

250g smoked haddock, cut into pieces

Salt and pepper

Make your stock if using cubes or heat it up if is already liquid, either way keep it hot by or on the hob.  Melt the butter and oil in a large pan and cook the onion for 5 to 10 minutes until soft but not coloured and then add the rice.  Give it a good stir to ensure all the grains are well coated.  Add the wine and stir until it has been absorbed by the rice.  Then add the stock a ladleful at a time, stirring continuously until each addition is absorbed.  Towards the end of this process you should taste a grain of rice as different brands vary but I suspect it will take around 20 minutes.  When it is nearly done add the fish and your final slosh of stock and continue stirring.  Finally add the lemon juice and taste for salt at this point as you may not need much depending on the saltiness of your fish but add lots of pepper and most of the chives.  Stir and leave it to stand for 2-3 minutes.  Sprinkle with the last of the chives and serve.  Enough for 2.

 

Cheddar and Chive Bread

Cheese and Chive Bread 2

Prior to the big feasts in a week or so, it is a very much a soup time of year.  Nothing like a bowl of soup, cosy and warming to keep the chill out.  What I really like is something special to go with it to make a proper lunch rather than a simple token something to eat.  As I ever, I want a feast.  Earlier this year I shared the recipe for some cheese scones which were fabulous with my quick pea soup.  This bread is along similar lines but a little more versatile and could well be your star guest over Christmas.  Not only is it perfect with soup or any starters, but a warm loaf of this presented alongside cold turkey or ham will turn leftovers into something properly special.

I made this with the last of my Barber’s 1833 Vintage Reserve Cheddar which you may have seen feature in a couple of recipes recently – a knockout steak, cheese and sweet onion relish toastie and butternut stuffed with leeks and cheese.  In both cases this super tangy, full flavoured cheddar was king which, considering Barbers have been making this cheese since 1833 is unsurprising.  To get to the point, they  have really got the hang of it and their cheese is fantastic.

I make this bread with my regular white loaf recipe and if you omit the cheese and chives that is exactly what you will have, a good everyday loaf should you need one.  If you have some blue cheese hanging around over Christmas then use this instead for your bread with some chopped rosemary in place of the chives – it is a sensational combination.

Cheddar and Chive Bread

I usually use this amount to make two loaves, one cheddar and chive and the other gorgonzola and rosemary.  The 125g cheese is enough for one loaf, simply double that and the chives if you are making both loaves cheddar and chive. You could of course leave the second loaf plain and have it for breakfast.

500g strong white bread flour

10g fine salt

10g dry instant yeast

50g soft butter

300ml luke warm water

125g strong cheddar, cut into small cubes (this is enough for one of your loaves)

Small bunch of chives, finely chopped (this is enough for one of your loaves)

Mix the flour, salt, yeast, butter and water into a dough and knead for 10 minutes either by hand or with a stand mixer.   Cover with a tea towel and leave to rise somewhere warm for at least an hour or until doubled in size.  Split the dough in two and roll each out into a rough A4 rectangle, scatter over the cheese and chives and roll up into a log shape squidging the cheese into the dough as you go.  If you are leaving one of the loaves plain just form it into whatever shape loaf you like.  Place these onto a lined and floured tin, cover with a tea towel and leave for a further hour.  Preheat the oven to 200.  Slash the top of the loaves a couple of times if you like and then bake for 20 minutes until golden brown, some of the cheese may leak out but that is part of the charm and those bits will be delicious for whomever gets to them first….

Cheese and Chive Bread

 

Pea Soup with Cheese and Chive Scones

Pea Soup and Cheese Scones

I love a bit of thrift, nothing more satisfying than using up bits and pieces that might otherwise find their way into the bin.   So it was with my pea soup here.  We had a baked ham for supper and whilst there wasn’t enough to make another supper for four there was a small chunk left plus the water I cooked it in.  I always intend to use this liquor for some useful purpose but must confess it often sits in the pan on the back of the hob until it has to be thrown away.  Today I was determined however and with the addition of a bag of frozen peas and a couple of spring onions sautéed in butter it has made a delicious soup, just the warming ticket for a breezy day.   You could add a swirl of cream, something I rarely turn down with soup, but here I’ve used a few little bits of the leftover ham.

Wanting to jazz this frugal lunch up a bit, but not wanting to go shopping I decided to make some scones.  There is always flour and cheese around and I happened to have bought some buttermilk the other day to make a cake with.  I split my usual scone recipe between cheese and chive to go with the soup and the other half sweet, sugar topped ones to greet the children with when they get back from school this afternoon.  The left over cheese scones will be filled with the last of the ham for their packed lunches tomorrow.  I hope this doesn’t sound hideously smug but – hurrah, everything used up and stretched further than I had anticipated.  Good stuff.

Pea Soup

This is barely a recipe however,  I sautéed two chopped spring onions in a teaspoonful of butter until soft then added a 400g bag of frozen peas.  I added a litre of the leftover ham poaching liquor and heated until the peas were just cooked.  Whizzed with a hand held blender until smooth and served with some chopped ham.

Buttermilk Scones

I often have a carton of buttermilk in the fridge, it has a great shelf life and works a treat in many bakes or, of course, soda bread (Seedy Soda Bread, April 2013).  The recipe that follows is my usual (sweet) scone one.  As mentioned I split the recipe and added 60g of grated strong cheddar and a small bunch of chopped chives to one half.  To the other I added 40g golden caster sugar.  Both I brushed with milk before baking and sprinkled a little more sugar over the sweet ones.

450g self raising flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

100g cold butter

85g caster sugar

1 carton buttermilk ( they are either 284 or 250ml, if the latter you may need an extra splash of milk)

Preheat the oven to 200.  Sift the flour and salt together and rub the butter into it until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.  Then add the sugar and buttermilk and mix together until it just holds as a dough but don’t handle it more than you have to.  Form into a round and pat or roll out until about one inch thick.  Cut out and put onto a floured baking sheet, brush with milk if you want and scatter over a little extra sugar.  Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden and well risen.

 

 

My Favourite Green Salad

Green Salad 1

Happy New Year!  Are you looking for something fresh, green and crunchy? After the Christmas cake which I ate almost entirely myself I know I am.  I love salads all year round and eat them in one form or other several days a week.   However right now my craving knows no bounds.   After what feels like weeks of rain the sun is out and the sky is blue.  Tom and I went for a fabulous walk up beautiful Lewesdon Hill this morning and following a  hose down (Tom, not me) I felt like something healthy, raw (mostly) and fresh to eat.

This is the sort of salad we often have for a weekday lunch, perhaps with the addition of a few chunks of feta, maybe with soup if it is chilly or just good bread.  Whatever the weather we often have this for a weekend lunch alongside a roast chicken, my children invariably picking out the bits they like best.  It makes a lovely change from the usual roast with vegetables and feels a bit lighter – without losing out on the gorgeous golden roast chook.  Perfect with a steak for supper, no need for chips because of the croutons and it is just the thing with any barbecued meat (I know, I know, barely a sign of Spring outside and I am already talking barbecues, I can’t help myself).

Green Salad 4

I suspect you may have spotted the croutons so I must state that this is not diet food per se but it is so delicious, crisp and clean that I would certainly term it healthy.  Whatever, this is the green salad I turn to most often and usually have the ingredients in my fridge. No spring onions or avocado?  No matter, use what you have or what you like best.   This is enough for my lunch just as it is, the croutons, seeds and avocado giving it substance but as ever, it is just a guideline, an idea to share.

My Green Salad

4 slices of baguette or similar, cubed  (a little stale is fine)

1 tablespoon oil

1 small clove garlic, crushed or very finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard

Juice of 1/2 lemon

3 tablespoons oil (I use 2 of good extra virgin olive oil and one of a plain oil)

Salt and pepper

1 tablespoon each of sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and pine kernels

1 little gem

A handful of baby spinach

A handful of rocket

2 spring onions, finely chopped

1 avocado, peeled and cubed

Small chunk of cucumber, peeled, deseeded and chopped

Chives, a small handful (parsley, mint or oregano work well or a combination of any)

Preheat the oven to 200.  Turn the cubes of bread in the tablespoon of oil, put in a small tin and bake for 5 minutes until golden, then sprinkle with a little salt.   In a small bowl mix the garlic, sugar, mustard, lemon juice a good pinch of salt and some black pepper.  Slowly add the 3 tablespoons of oil mixing well until emulsified.  In a small frying pan heat the seeds until just turning golden.   Cut up the little gem put it into a large salad bowl with the spinach, rocket and avocado.  Add most of the dressing and toss the salad, you may not need it all but I find this amount just right.  Scatter over the croutons and seeds and trickle over the rest of the dressing if you want.  Snip the chives or other herbs over the top.  Serves 2 for lunch or 2 adults and  2 children as a side dish.

If you are looking for more healthy New Years’ crunch, try my carrot salad which I posted in January 2013.