Mushroom Risotto

Yes you read that right, mushroom risotto. No meat in sight! I am the kind of girl who would have meat with a side dish of meat; I’m not a fan of vegetables and least of all a meal with only vegetables and no meat!

But I actually really like this. I think it’s because the mushrooms are quite meaty and the whole meal is filling.

This recipe is another Jamie Oliver 30 minute meal that I have adapted slightly to make it a bit easier. On my first attempt I think the meal took about an hour, and I didn’t even make the pudding to go with it! It was the first time that I have ever made risotto and I naively thought that I could put the rice in a pan with some water and leave it for 15 minutes and come back to a nice risotto!

Tonight is the second time I’ve made it & I have streamlined the process (and recipe) now. For example Jamie cooks some mushrooms separately to top the risotto on serving but I can’t be bothered with the extra effort and washing up so incorporated all the mushrooms in the risotto. I also didn’t have any white wine and it tasted fine without it.

Jamie also makes a salad to go with the risotto but no surprises in that he uses what seems like a million ingredients. He makes a dressing and toasts nuts but I don’t like all that, never mind the faff! Salad to me is lettuce, cucumber & perhaps some raw peppers and carrots.

Anyway, here’s my simplified version of mushroom risotto.

This makes about 4 servings and takes about 40 minutes.


  • small glug of olive oil
  • finely chopped onion
  • 300g risotto rice
  • chicken stock cube
  • thyme
  • rosemary
  • salt & pepper
  • approx 200g – 300g mixed mushrooms (2 or 3 big mushrooms are quite good along with a 125g pack of fancy mushrooms)
  • 1litre boiling water (4 mug fulls)
  • lemon juice
  • salad leaves – rocket / spinach
  • half a cucumber
  • a glass of white wine is optional

The method:

  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan & add the onion.
  2. When the onion is soft add the rice, rosemary, chicken stock cube, salt and pepper (also add in wine if using).
  3. Stir over the heat & when it is well mixed up, add a mug of the boiling water (about 250ml). Stir until the water is absorbed.
  4. This is where the hard work begins! Jamie’s recipe says to add a bit of water every minute, but I found the water wasn’t absorbed that quickly. If I turned the heat up it started to stick to the bottom of the pan whilst still having water on the top. Instead I kept the pan on quite a low heat & added the water bit by bit, stirring as much as possible.
  5. Once the rice starts softening and getting fatter, add all the mushrooms and some thyme. Keep stirring & adding water gradually.
  6. Meanwhile make a bit of salad by using a peeler to get strips of cucumber (one of Jamie’s ideas that I use quite often now!) & adding to the lettuce/ spinach leaves.
  7. When the risotto is nice and soft (after about 30 minutes cooking), add a splash of lemon juice and season again. Serve with the salad & enjoy 🙂

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Apple Frangipani Tart

A guy at work brought in some cooking apples to share out only a few days after I saw a recipe for apple frangipani tart. It was too good of a coincidence to miss, so I brought a couple of cooking apples home to try it out.

I finally got round to making the tart today, only to find that I had helpfully tidied the recipe away, so had to google another one. I found this one on the Good Food channel website so used that instead.

The Pastry

I bought ready made & rolled shortcrust pastry (the other recipe suggested it so who am I to argue? ;-)), so I greased a cake tin and lined it with the pastry. After getting some advice from twitter (thanks everyone!) I blind baked the pastry by covering it in greaseproof paper (it came with the pastry so it really was worth buying ready made!) & pouring some rice in. I didn’t quite use enough rice as part of the side wall had bent over, so next time I’ll  make sure I fill it to the top of the tin.

Apple Filling

I heated a knob of butter with 2 tablespoons of sugar & 2 tablespoons of lemon juice in a pan before adding chopped apples & covering in water. I used two cooking apples & one gala (as it was looking a bit wrinkly and I knew I wouldn’t eat it this week) and this was plenty.


I made the frangipani mix using the following ingredients:

  • 125 g unsalted butter
  • 125 g icing sugar
  • 100 g ground almonds
  • 25 g plain flour
  • 2  medium eggs
The original recipe called for amaretto liqueur, but at £10 for 1 litre bottle I decided that was a bit too steep for one recipe. The second recipe suggests rum essence but mine was fine without any alcohol.

I put the flour, sugar, butter and ground almonds in a bowl and mixed a little bit before adding one of the eggs. I used an electric whisk to combine it all before adding the second egg. When I make cakes or buns I tend to be quite specific about which spoon (metal or wooden) I use at what stage but for this I bunged it all together and it worked fine, the frangipani was light and airy so I won’t worry in future about using a whisk the whole way through!

Once the pastry was baked, I filled the bottom of the case with the cooked apples and spooned the frangipani over the top. I tried to pipe it as suggested in the recipe, but it just didn’t work so I gave up on that plan, but as with cake mixtures it smoothed out as it cooked and came out perfect.

The only problem was I forgot to set a timer or even look at the clock! At 190 degC in a fan assisted oven, however long I left it for was too long!

Thankfully, avoiding the overdone bit, it has turned out really nice. I normally have to have extra sugar with apple puddings but this was sweet enough even for me. Lovely served warm with a bit of ice cream 🙂

Shutdown 2011 – Week 1

Well it’s already Friday which means the first week of the shutdown is almost over! I have no idea where this week has gone as I haven’t done anything that I had planned.

The week seems to have been dominated by catching up with Neighbours, Homes Under The Hammer, CSI, swimming and cooking! I have also done some sunbathing, some napping, some shopping and taken up cross stitching, which I suspect is the time drain that has stopped all my other plans.

My Gran will be 84 on Sunday and is very hard to buy for. She has everything she needs and won’t use things she doesn’t need, so its pointless buying her something like a new bag or purse as she’ll only say she already has one! My sister found a lovely tablecloth in Cath Kidston that we decided to get as it was flowery but when I went to pick it up it had little blue flowers on – and blue is a major no go. After wandering around the shop what felt like a million times, I decided that the best plan of action was a new address book as Gran’s has fallen apart and some rose scented soap. Hopefully she likes it!

I have spent the week cross stitching after coming across Hobbycraft in the Home & Garden centre on the outskirts of Bicester. Ideally I wanted a cross stitch card (as I couldn’t find a birthday card with Gran on it) but had it was too late to get one from the internet. As I haven’t done any cross stitching for about 10-15 years I thought it best to stick with one of the easy sets that have everything you need provided, so when they didn’t have much choice of cards I didn’t want to design my own. I did find a bookmark though so bought that. I have spent so much time on it, its far harder than I remember and I’ve made a few mistakes when counting and put the wrong colour stitches in the wrong place! So long as I throw away the picture of what its supposed to look like I don’t think it will matter though 🙂

To continue with the housewifey type pastimes, I also spent some time doing proper cooking – one night making a Jamie Oliver 30 minute meal & homemade lasagne another night.

J has made a 30 minute meal a couple of times before and doesn’t do too badly, usually taking about 45 minutes from start to finish. On the other hand, my attempt took about double that but turned out very tasty!

I went for scallops with egg (boiled) rice, green veg & brownies for pudding. The worst thing to these kind of meals is all the ingredients! To buy everything all at once costs a fortune, I’m glad that J had bought alot previously so I only had the fresh ingredients to buy.

In the recipe Jamie cooks the rice in a casserole type pot in the oven – which is totally opposite to how I cook rice! Despite having a fan oven and often needing to reduce cooking times this took longer to cook than recommended & was still quite sticky and gloopy, more like rice pudding! It was nice with eggs, spring onions and sweet chilli sauce, although I think there was slightly too much egg in there.

The green veg I was amazed with, I slightly amended purple sprouting broccoli for frozen and only used pak choi rather than putting asparagus in too. This was quite a success, I normally over cook veg as I like it soft but I managed not to this time. Also I was worried about over cooking the scallops but they were perfect! I’ve never had them before so wasn’t sure if I would like it or not, but really enjoyed scallops with the sticky sauce.

The brownies on the other hand didn’t go nearly as well! I didn’t like the recipe used as part of the meal so used another recipe (it also happened to be by Jamie Oliver). Although quite similar, this recipe used self raising flour instead of plain – this should have been a bit of warning to me! Firstly the mixture – I don’t think I broke chocolate into small enough lumps so the entire time I made the rest of the meal, it was blending in the food processor. So as we were sitting down to eat the main, I put the brownies in the oven. Quite normal for a meal, but not really in keeping with the 30 minute ethos! This is where I should have realised about self raising flour….the tin I put the mixture in wasn’t quite deep enough so some of the mixture escaped!

And then I cooked it for about an hour despite the cooking time being about 15 minutes. Still it didn’t solidify, so I ended up scooping some out and having it like a chocolate pudding with ice cream and raspberries (thanks to the suggestion from twitter!). It tasted gorgeous anyway so wasn’t the end of the world. After a night in the fridge, they turned into brownies 🙂

The lasagne was a mixture of recommendation by people on twitter and making it up on the spot – I did a bolognese type sauce for the mince and then white sauce with milk, butter and flour for the, um, white sauce (I don’t like cheese in my lasagne). I decided the amount of milk recommended was too much as the consistency of the sauce was about right with only two-thirds but once cooked it was like a pancake on the top so maybe I should I have put the full amount of milk in! Still, we liked it better than the Dolmio sauces. Next to try is Lloyd Grossman sauces I think, but I will still be trying to find somewhere selling the Ragu sauce I prefer!

To combat all the food, I took out a membership for swimming at the local pool this week & have been swimming everyday so far. Last night my knees were aching (probably due to always swimming the same stroke and doing more exercise than my body is used to) so I’m not going to go today, but will hopefully go once next week and once or twice a week after that.

So that’s what I’ve been up to this week, next up is a visiting the family in York 🙂