Sunday, 7 January 2018

Roasted Veg Risotto

My very first signature dish, at the age of 8, was something we called "risotto" but was in fact, looking back, a rather embarrassing affair of mixing tomato paste and canned frankfurters, mushrooms, peas into cooked rice. When I got back into cooking as an adult, it never occured to me to attempt it again, just like it would never occur to me to eat pasta with ketchup again (ugh!)
Last summer, I visited my brother and sister-in-law, and offered to cook for them. Was there anything particular they would like? To my amazement, his answer was, "There's that risotto you used to make..."
This recipe, then, is a grown-up version of that childhood favourite. A few notes:
- I made this recipe both with risotto (arborio) rice, the "proper" way, and with basmati rice. To my taste, the difference was not worth making a fuss about, and it tastes just as good. Therefore, if you don't fancy standing over the stove stirring for 20 minutes, then use regular rice and in step 6 just pour all the stock in there, cover and let absorb.
- The wine gives a real depth to the taste, but if you object to it, replace with more vegetable stock.
- Omit the optional chorizo to make this dish vegetarian. Omit the parmesan to make it dairy-free and vegan.

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Tres Leches (Peru)

This cake which probably originates in Nicaragua is popular all over Latin America. It's eaten year-long, but that doesn't stop it making an appearance at the Christmas meal.
Whole milk can replace the cream in step 6, especially if you're planning on frosting the cake with whipped cream!

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Torticas de Navidad (Cuba)

Apparently Cuba has its very own, unique Christmas cookies, and they're a piece of cake to make.

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Turrón de Navidad (Spain)

This "Christmas nougat" dates back to the turun of Moorish Spain. This variety is made with only three ingredients, and as it contains only honey and no sugar, the result is not too hard. You can add some extra flavour in step 6 such as orange blossom water or cinnamon.

Monday, 18 December 2017

Pepparkakor (Sweden)

These Scandinavian treats used to contain a lot of pepper, hence the name; the spices were toned down with time. While heart and star shapes are popular, the traditional shapes comes straight from the pagan past: pigs, goats, horses and people.

Sunday, 17 December 2017

Advocaat (Netherlands)

How about drinks? Here's an Old World alternative to eggnog, a Dutch seasonal tipple that is thick as custard! You can drink it (with a spoon), or use it as a cake filling, or ice cream topping, and so on.

Saturday, 16 December 2017

Zimtsterne (Germany)

These cinnamon starts are allegedly THE German Christmas cookie. The vanilla sugar that is required is simply a way of adding a vanilla flavour without using liquid. You can make your own (well in advance) by simply placing a vanilla pod in a jar and filling it with sugar, which after a few weeks will be infused with the spice.

Friday, 15 December 2017

Pompe à Huile (France)

 Christmas in Provence is famous for its thirteen desserts, symbolizing Christ and the twelve Apostles. The exact items tend to vary from place to place or even family to family, but they typically include nuts, dried and fresh fruits, calissons (marzipan-like candy), quince paste, black and white nougat, and the crown of them all, the sweet bread known as pompe à huile.

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Buccellato (Sicily)

Christmas in Italy? Forget the panettone and have a go at this decadent fig cake from Sicily for a change. It is genuinely a meeting of cultures, as a Middle-Eastern influence can clearly be discerned in its list of ingredients.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Makowiec (Poland)

The poppy seed roll is traditional all over Central and Eastern Europe under various names, such as cozonac in Romania, magonmaizite in Latvia, wienerbrød in Denmark, etc. Again the poppy seeds can be substituted with finely chopped walnuts (skip 6-7).