20 min Asparagus & Pesto Risotto


This was my first attempt at making risotto without assistance from my wonderful rice cooker.  The recipe was one from Jamie Oliver‘s 20min meal iPhone app where the directions are so easy it’s ridiculous at how beautiful it tastes.  If you love risotto like I do, then try this one out! yuuuummmmm…..

RECIPE AND DIRECTIONS FROM JAMIE OLIVER’S 20 MINUTE MEALS iPHONE APPLICATION

Asparagus and Pesto Risotto (2 servings)

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 medium bunch – Asparagus
  • 2 heaped tsp – Pesto (home-made is best)
  • 1 sm – red onion
  • 1 stick – celery
  • 2 knobs – Butter
  • 150g – Arborio rice (Japanese rice also works well)
  • 400 ml – Vegetable stock
  • 25g – Parmesan Cheese
  • 100ml – white wine (use a nice one)
  • splash – olive oil
  • pinch – sea salt (I didn’t use any)
  • black pepper

DIRECTIONS

  1. Pre-heat your oven to the lowest setting & place your plates in the oven to warm
  2. Place a large saucepan on a low to medium heat.  Peel the onion & trim the celery stick then finely chop them
  3. Add 1 knob of butter to the hot pan with onion, celery, a splash of olive oil, and a splash of water.  Cook over a low heat for around 5 mins, stirring occasionally, until soft.  Meanwhile…
  4. Bring the stock to the boil in a medium saucepan, then turn the heat down to low.
  5. Snap the woody bases off the asparagus and add them to the saucepan of stock.  Slice the remaining tender stalks up to the tip then leave the tip whole.  Put to one side.
  6. Finely grate the Parmesan.
  7. Once your vegetables are very soft (but not browned) add the rice to the pan.
  8. Stir & fry the rice for a minute until translucent, then add the wine and keep stirring until all the wine has absorbed by the rice.
  9. Turn the heat under the rice up to medium then add a ladle full of hot stock, avoiding the asparagus stalks – these are there to add flavour but not to be eaten!
  10. Stir constantly and continue adding stock, a ladle at a time, waiting for the rice to soak it all up before adding the next ladle full.  Continue until you’ve used tow-thirds of the stock.
  11. Once two-thirds of your stock has been added, stir the sliced asparagus and tips to the rice.
  12. Keep adding the stock until the rice if just cooked and the risotto has a nice oozy consistency.  If you run out of stock, use boiling water.
  13. Take the pan of risotto off the heat and stir in your teaspoon of pesto and half the parmesan.  Cut your lemon in half then squeeze in a little juice.
  14. Taste the risotto and season with salt and pepper (if you need it).  Cover the pan with a lid.
  15. Divide the risotto between the two warmed plates.  Sprinkle over the remaining parmesan and top each with a dollop of pesto. DONE!
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Five Spice Kabocha, Brown rice and Tofu Salad


Can you see a wee theme going here. This one is definitely a take on a post from yesterday. Yup, I loved that mushroom salad so much I wanted to make a variation. Grilled and roasted veggies are soooo goood.

This one is similar but different, if that makes any sense

The main component is Kabocha. The five spice seasoning adds that extra dimension to the flavourful vegetable. All of the other flavours in the dish compliment it without over powering it. The varitey of beautiful textures from the soft tofu to the brown rice with bite are utterly satisfying and extremely healthy and wholesome.

My image, again, doesn’t do the dish any justice, but it gives you an idea at least. Just ignore the flash of light to the left.

Here you go…delish!!

Ingredients;

  • 1/4 kabocha cut into thin slices (be careful, using a very sharp knife makes this easier, but also pretty dangerous)
  • 1 medium aubergine
  • 1 cup of cooked brown rice
  • 150g firm tofu (drained)
  • 1/2 tsp Chinese 5 spice
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Sprinkle of cracked salt and pepper
  • A bunch of spinach roughly cut
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 2 umeboshi

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl add the sliced kabocha
  2. Splash a little of the olive oil and add the five spice then mix evenly (with your hands, I find is best)
  3. Add to the grill pan – the rack.
  4. Perform the same method to the aubergine using the rest of the olive oil, then add to the grill tray along with the kabocha
  5. Grill on a medium heat turning frequently
  6. In the mean time, wash and chop your spinach. Drain and dress with the lemon juice and sesame seeds
  7. Cut the tofu into cubes and add to the spinach.
  8. Allow your rice to cool a little before adding to the spinach and tofu.
  9. Mix through with a little salt and pepper
  10. Dress your plates with the salad
  11. When your veggies have cooked through, place on top of the salad
  12. Serve with umeboshi or a pickle of your choice.
  13. Enjoy 🙂

Spicy Carrot and Olive Oil Cake


Can words describe this very breath of spring? Can a photo explain how it makes me feel?  Here I found a space to take a deep breath and finally let it all go, thanks to a mid-week holiday.   Ahhh… release.

Here I sit in our favourite park, the air is fresh and everything surrounding us is a vibrant green.  Whilst munching on beautifully prepared take out sushi and a crispy salad, I am content planning more lessons and brushing up my Nihongo skills.  This combination of sun and working at my own pace feels amazing.

I know it’s a holiday and work’s a no go area.  It’s time to rest right?  Time to take your mind off of the stressful things in life.  Do the things you never have time to do.  Time to make the most of your time out of work, ehe?

Well…Having had a rush of inspiration I wanted to grab it with both hands. I’m on a roll.  What a load off!  Oh, how I love when that happens.  Everything feels like it’s all in the right place again.

These days all I can think about is work.  Always looking for ways how to improve what I do.    As the responsibilities are increasing, unfortunately so is my stress.   I’m slowly becoming used to this change in pace and now looking at it as a perfect way to gain more experience.

I am so lucky to have someone to talk to about, work, new ideas and issues that arise.  Someone who is on the same page as me.

Andy has been Mr motivator, always staying positive for me and helping me through my slightly chaotic working life.  We tend to bounce off one another, so to speak, when it comes to creating the best possibilities for lessons. I love his focus, his drive.  I definitely feed off of it.  He is my muse, my inspiration.  He has been from the beginning.  Almost 10 years…wow, he has had to put up with me for that long.  Cheers Andy!

One of my favourite ways to return the favour is to have him be my guinea pig.  He loves his food more than I do!  He re-energises his muse juice by feeding on the food I cook.   What’s more and what’s best is, he offers the best comments and criticism on new dishes happen I try out.  The comments are what keep me motivated and experimental and creative.  I guess they are what feed him too.

The encouragement is what keeps me searching for new ways to view what I eat and why I eat it.

Keeping healthy is important for us, and so is eating.  I see it as a hobby that will definitely not go out of fashion.  Something that isn’t a phase.  I still have a lot to learn, and now look to those with the experience to offer their guidance.

So far the best part about cooking is the sharing.

So I want to share this one with you.

I know everyone says their cake is the best, but this one is by far the best of the bunch!!  Well, out of the cakes I have made in my rice cooker so far.  I never usually crave cake to the point I can’t stop thinking about it.  This one has sent me to a whole new world of cake!!  (I really need to get working out.  Working, cooking, eating, blogging!! I can feel my body becoming spongy as I type).  What’s amazing is that like my other cakes, this one it isn’t wasted calories.  You are getting some goodness from them.  Just try not to eat the entire cake to yourself.  This, however, will be a challenge.

This one is coming with me to mountains to share with one of my closest friends here in Japan, Sofie.   Maaaaan we are gonna miss you so much!  Don’t go! 😦

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • a little under  3/4 of a cup of oil (half olive oil/half ground nut oil)
  • 3 large finely grated carrots
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 egg whites (whipped)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • a generous pinch of ground cloves
  • a pinch or turmeric
  • 1 handful crushed pecans/walnut’s
  • Juice and zest of one lemon

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl sift the flour 3 times.  The 3rd time sift it together with the baking soda,powder, salt and spices.
  2. Finely grate the carrots (this is the work out for me.  A perfect way to burn a few calories)
  3. In another bowl combine the sugar, oil, carrots and lemon juice then add the flour and mix together well.
  4. Finally, with a spatula, fold in the soft peaked egg whites.
  5. Transfer to your greased rice cooker pan or if you are using a regular oven, use a greased cake tin.
  6. RICE COOKER:  set to CAKE then TIME is for 60 mins
  7. PREHEATED OVEN at 180˚C or 350˚F  cook for  45 mins
  8. Finally let it rest on a cooling tray before cutting then serve.
  9. I don’t like frosting, I also don’t think this cake needs it either, due to it being so full of flavour and so moist.