Recipe: creamy risotto with scallops, browned butter and saffron foam

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For me, cooking is mostly relaxing. Instead of yoga for me. And even though I’m a good cook and super efficient under pressure (before a party when I’ve taken too much on for example) it’s less fun to cook under those conditions.

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And if cooking in general is my yoga, then making a risotto is mindfulness. Just standing by the stove stirring slowly and adding another ladle of stock and then stirring some more… it relaxes me.

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I like a creamy and saucy risotto, preferably with some interesting flavour combinations on top. This combination of pan-fried scallops, saffron foam and brown butter might seem daunting to make, and yes, maybe it’s not for beginners, but if you already know how to make a risotto is pretty easy to add the ingredients for the foam to a saucepan while simultaneously cooking scallops and making browned butter, as each of these elements are simple. Just don’t let yourself get stressed. Also, all these things benefit from resting. You can take the risotto off the heat and let it sit for a while without losing heat, after you’ve fried the scallops they like to rest for a few minutes. The browned butter doesn’t need any attention once it’s done and the saffron foam can be re-heated.

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Creamy risotto with scallops, browned butter and saffron foam, serves 2 (with some leftovers)

2 tbsp butter + 1 tbsp neutral oil for frying

2 tbsp soffritto (equal parts (finely chopped with a stick blender or food processor) onions, carrots and celery – I usually make a big batch and freeze it in small portions) 

1 small shallots, finely chopped

1/2 garlic clove, finely chopped 

200 g carnaroli rice

150 ml dry white wine

approx 1 l vegetable stock

30 g butter

plenty grated  parmesan

salt and pepper

Saffron foam:

100 ml cream

1 tsp saffron powder or strands + 1 tbsp water 

1 tbsp dry white wine

a little corner of a stock cube (vegetable) crumbled in

salt and pepper

Topping:

6 large scallops, cleaned + butter for frying

2 tbsp browned butter

lemon zest

a little lemon juice

chopped parsley 

Add butter and oil to a large saucepan on medium heat and add the soffritto. Fry for a minute or so, then add the shallots and garlic and fry without browning. Add the rice and stir well so it can soak up all the butter. Add the wine and let some evaporate before adding a ladle of stock. Stir until the rice has absorbed most of the stock, then add another ladle and repeat until the rice is cooked (takes approx 15-20 minutes) and you’ve used up all the stock. As I prefer my risotto quite saucy so I don’t let all the stock from the last ladle absorb into the rice.  Lower the heat and mix in butter and plenty of parmesan. Season with salt and pepper and put aside. 

Mix water and saffron in a little bowl. Add all the other ingredients for the foam to a non-stick saucepan and bring to the boil. Add the saffron mixture when dissolved and mix well. Season to taste and set aside. 

Add large knob of butter to a frying pan on medium-high heat. Dry the scallops with kitchen roll and fry them until golden, approx 2 minutes on each side (they should be cooked on both sides but still opaque in the middle). Season and set aside. 

Divide the risotto between low bowls and top with the scallops. Foam up the cream mixture with a stick blender and spoon the foam over the scallops and risotto. Spoon on some browned butter. Finish off with lemon zest, a squeeze of lemon and chopped parsley. 

Asparagus risotto with lemon and dill oil

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March this year seems to give us a real pick ‘n mix of weathers; from snow and cold winds to warm temperatures and wonderful sunshine It makes it difficult both to dress appropriately and eat appropriately.

This risotto is a great compromise as it is both creamy and warming (for cold weather) and fresh and spring-like with the addition of asparagus and lemon. I just can’t bring myself to go back to hearty stews after a few days of fresh salads.

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I used this recipe, but used vegetable stock instead. And at the end I added lemon zest from a quarter of a lemon, topped the bowl with more grated Parmesan and a few pungent drops of dill oil. I bought mine in from this place, in Southern Sweden.

A vegan New Year’s Eve menu

I like to be challenged in the kitchen, and that is why I thought it was a good idea to cook for my friend Jenny and her boyfriend James on NYE before heading to a party. Last time I invited James I cooked a whole lot of mezze dishes inspired from my trip to Syria and Ottolenghi’s book Plenty.

I wanted the NYE menu to be quite traditional, nice and vegan and because it was just for the three of us I kept it quite simple.

~ The New Year’s Eve menu 2011 ~

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Crostini with bean spread

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Jerusalem artichoke soup with coconut milk and fried chestnut mushrooms

Rustic baguette, olive oil and balsamico

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Butternut squash risotto with spinach

Salad with romaine lettuce, romano peppers, avocado and pomegranate

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Vanilla pannacotta with soy cream and passionfruit

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We had champagne to start as well, and thanks to Waitrose I got a great bottle of bubbly half price. At the champagne tasting at Harrod’s I tried some champagnes from Duval-Leroy, but not thiis one; their regular Brut NV, but because I liked the others and it is a good quality champagne house I bought this bottle and it was really good.

Vega Jerusalem artichoke soup with coconut milk, serves 3 as a starter

1 shalot, finely chopped

1 tbsp oliv oil

500 g Jerusalem artichokes, peeled

water

2 tsp concentrated vegetable stock

50 ml coconut milk

salt, white pepper

Topping: fried, sliced chestnut mushrooms

Fry the onion until soft in the oil. Add the artichokes to the pan and fry for a minute or so, Add hot water to cover and add salt. Bring to the boil and cook until very soft. Remove half the water, but keep it on the side, and puré the rest with the artichokes. Add the coconut milk and then adjust the thickness with the left over water. Add concentrated stock, salt and pepper. Bring to the boil again and serve.

Vegan butternut squash risotto with spinach, serves 4

1/2 butternut squash

1/2-1 onion

olive oil

100 ml dry white wine

1 litre vegetable stock

400 g aborio rice

2 handfuls fresh spinach

salt, white pepper

Peel the squash and remove the seeds. Cut it into chunks and place them in a roasting tray, add oil, salt and pepper and mix. Place in 200C for 35 minutes or until soft.

Fry the onions in olive oil in a casserole dish or large saucepan but don’t let it brown. Add the rice and stir for a minute or two. Add the wine and watch most of it evaporate. Then add a ladle of the hot stock and continue to stir while it cooks in. Add another ladle and repeat the procedure until all the stock is used up and the rice is soft. it usually takes 18-20 minutes depending on the type of rice. Add the spinach and stir until it is wilted. Season with salt and pepper and add the butternut squash. Feel free to serve with parmesan if you’re not vegan.

Vegan vanilla pannacotta with soy cream and passionfruit, serves 3

400 ml soy cream

2-3 tbsp vanilla essence

50-75 ml jelly sugar, or the same amount of caser sugar + enough veggie set or agar flakes for the amount of liquid

3 passionfruits

I tried my way through when I cooked this, to get rid of the particular aftertaste soy products have, and I recommend you do the same.

Add the cream to a sauce pan and the smaller amount of sugar and vanilla and heat it up. Then add the sugar and vanilla little by little until you are satisfied with the taste. Add the jeling agent if not using jelly sugar. Bring to the boil and stir so the sugar melts. Pour into dessert coupes or ramekins and leave to cool. Place in the fridge for a minimum of four hours to set. 

Before serving, place the inside of the passionfruits in a bowl and place enough on each pannacotta to cover the top. Serve and enjoy.

Crab risotto

What are your thoughts on the combination cheese and shellfish? I have never really thought about it before I met Christopher, who can’t stand it, and I kind of see why now.

When I had planned to make crab risotto, I thought to myself that I must remember to omit the parmesan for Christopher’s sake, but I didn’t need to worry, the recipe I used, Angela Hartnett’s, contained no parmesan. So perhaps it is a rule, not to mix cheese with shellfish. In the one case when I do think it works though, is Lobster Thermidor, but that is probably the exception that confirms the rule (Swedish saying in case it does not make sense…)

Back to the risotto. It was delicious without the parmesan of course, and with added butter for creaminess, this was a delicious weekend dish.

Crab risotto, serves 2

Adapted after Angela Hartnetts recipe.

100 g white crab meat

a dash of tabasco

1 tbsp lemon juice

olive oil

100 g cold butter, cut into cubes

1/2 onion, finely chopped

250 g risotto rice

100 ml white wine

800 ml-1 l vegetable stock

a bunch basil, chopped

Heat up the olive oil and half the butter in a casserole dish/large saucepan. Add the onions and fry until soft and transparent. Add the rice and cook for another 2 minutes. Turn the heat up and add the wine. Let it bubble away for a few minutes, then lower the heat to medium again. Add a ladle at the time of the hot stock, and let it evaporate from the pan while cooking. When the pan is almost dry, add another ladle. Repeat for abour 18 minutes or until the rice is cooked al dente. Season to taste with lemon juice, tabasco, salt and pepper. Remove from heat and add the crab meat, the rest of the butter and the chopped basil. Serve immediately, preferrably in a nice bowl for extra comfort food feeling.  

Asparagus risotto

Right now our diet mainly consists of rhubarb and aspargus. I love both, so it is not a problem but one has to come up with a few new ways of eating it, not to grow bored.

When it was rainy and cold last week, I made a creamy asparagus risotto. Seasonal comfort food. 🙂

Asparagus risotto, serves 2-3

300 g aborio rice

2 shallots, finely chopped

1 glass dry white wine (or rosé)

olive oil

1 l chicken stock

100 ml grated parmesan

200 g asparagus

salt and pepper

To serve:

chopped parsley

more parmesan

Heat up the oilve oil in a large pan and fry the onions on medium heat for a few minutes. Add the rise and watch it go transparent. Pour in the wine and let half of it evaporate Add a ladle of stock and stir while it is simmering. When the pan is dry, add another ladle and continue doing this until the rice is soft (about 20 minutes). Cut the asparagus into smaller pieces and fry them in oil on medium heat for five minutes. Set aside. When the rice is cooked, add the parmesan and season with salt and pepper. Add the asparagus and serve straight away. Add some parmesan and parsley to each plate.