Sunday, 29 June 2008

5Rhythms and Fennel Risotto

Yesterday was the kind of Saturday that i like: loose agenda, time with friends, impromptu discovery and of course, good food.
The day started with a 5 Rhythms Open Space (Sweat Your Prayers) do at the Scout Hall in Partick. I've been wishing this would happen in Glasgow and Iona of Dance on Soul made it happen! Lorna and Kathy were there too and we spent 2 sweaty hours moving. Btw, the next gathering is on July 19 if you're in Glasgow and interested.

Afterwards we met up with Kelsie and went for some lunch. It was a toss up between Cafezique and Rio Cafe. We chose the latter. With our half pints of San Miguel, we got to catch up on each other's news since our wunnerful holiday together in Cabo de Gata. The food was ok-ish: me and Kathy had bagels with smoked Ullapool salmon and cream cheese; Lorna had a veggie bean burger with chips and Kelsie had fish cakes.

So, one of the loose agenda items was to get some seafood. A little background: Our veg box came on friday with a beautiful head of fennel. The whole kitchen smells of it still! As soon as Kels saw the fennel she emailed me saying she wanted seafood risotto this weekend. The past couple of times I made seafood risotto I just used a bag of frozen seafood from Tesco. Blech! In fact, Kelsie has now banned the use of that seafood. I have to say, I agree -- it's tasteless and rubbery, and why waste other good ingredients like fennel on that?

So, next door to Rio Cafe is a lovely little deli -- blas store which sells the same fine Scottish produce that is served in the restaurant by the same name. We got GORGEOUS scallops for the risotto, and clams for Kelsie's fave -- lingiune and clams -- which she's gonna make tonite. I had to restrain myself from picking up some langoustines -- they looked exquisite.

Back at home i got started with the risotto. The basic risotto recipe stays the same and you can vary it by adding in whatever you fancy. I love saffron, so did the milanese version of risotto which includes the addition of saffron and makes everything a lovely pale yellow.

Risotto with Seared Scallops
Serves 4

1.2 litres vegetable or chicken broth, hot
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 head fennel, finely chopped
325 g Arborio or Carnaroli rice
1 glass white wine
olive oil
2 Tbsp grated Parmesan

For the scallops (note: this was for 2 servings):
6 large scallops, cleaned
olive oil

  1. First heat up the broth. I just use 2 stock cubes to the amount of water in the recipe.

  2. In a wide, shallow pan heat 2 Tbsp olive oil. Add the onion, garlic and fennel and cook for about 5 minutes until softened. You don't want any of it to colour, so watch the heat and stir it occasionally.

  3. Add the rice and stir to coat each grain. Again, you don't want it to colour, but you do want the grains to lose their translucence. It takes about 3 minutes or so.

  4. Add the wine and stir into the rice until evaporated. Sprinkle in a good pinch or two of saffron threads. Now add the broth 1 ladleful at a time. Each time you add the broth stir until incorporated. Keep the heat on medium-low and keep stirring so that the rice doesn't catch in the pan. The objective is to have the rice al dente but not too stodgy. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

  5. When the rice is just about ready stir in 1 knob of butter and the grated cheese.

  6. Prepare the scallops just before serving. Heat a frying pan with a knob of butter and some olive oil until hot. Season the scallops with a little salt and pepper. Sear in the pan for 1 minute each side. It's really important not to overcook them as they'll become rubbery and lose their flavour.

  7. To serve, put a portion of risotto in a shallow bowl and top with 3 scallops. Garnish with snipped fennel fronds.

Can i just say that these scallops were AMAZING?!? Sooo sweet and succulent. I'm drooling writing this. And the kitchen still smells like fennel! How cool is that.

1 comment:

Deborah said...

Hi! On the risotta, I made some a while back and used home-made veggie broth (greens cookbook) and it was SOOO much better than with ANY kind of store bought broth! This would also be great with rock shrimp (can you get that in the UK? they're small and delish!)