Asparagus Risotto with Salmon

Spring Risotto

I think that one of the most essential go to recipes in someone’s culinary repertoire is risotto. To make a tasty risotto requires so few ingredients (if you’re pushing it, rice, onion, cheese and water is all you really need), and while it’s not quick to prepare, it’s not difficult.

And hey – who minds standing at the stove stirring a pot if you’ve got a glass of wine in hand?

I’d come home from the shops with quite a collection of goodies and, combined with what was in the fridge, offered Andy his choice of risotto fillings. Does risotto have a filling? Is it a topping? Flavouring? Whatever.

He chose asparagus and salmon. When we lived in England, the few precious weeks of summer where you could buy English asparagus (rather than the sad, thin specimens airfreighted in from Peru) were very exciting. Australian asparagus doesn’t seem to be as ephemeral but it’s still lovely to see it in the shops because it must mean summer is here.

For two people, warm some olive oil in a saucepan and add half a large leek, finely chopped, and one clove of garlic, crushed. Cook gently until soft (you most certainly don’t want brown bits!) and add 150g of risotto rice. This can be Arborio (probably the cheapest and most readily available), Carnaroli or Vialone Nano if you’re really pushing the boat out.

Stirring, cook the rice in the oil for a bit – it will start to go slightly transparent. Now, pour yourself that glass of wine and begin adding the stock. The stock should be on a very gentle simmer. I use those little pots of jellied stock that are available (and, after some very salty gravy the other week, I’ve just switched to REDUCED SALT – but sssh, don’t let my dad know!). Use what suits. At a push, you can use water.

Add the stock a ladleful at a time and stir until it’s fully absorbed. Then add another ladleful. I’m not too fussed about constant stirring but I do make sure that the rice gets a good move around the pan. Just don’t add more stock until the first lot is absorbed. If I start to run out of stock, I top it up with hot water. You could also add white wine.

I steamed the asparagus, cut into bite size pieces and I’d pan fried the salmon earlier in the day (rather a lot of salmon!). Once the rice was cooked – and I really can’t give you any guidelines here, you’re going to have to taste it and work it out for yourself – I added 2 generous tablespoons of pure cream (normally I used mascarpone but the shop didn’t have any) and a big pile of grated parmesan. If you like your risotto a little looser than it’s turned out, add more stock, a splash of white wine, or more cream.

Finish by stirring in the asparagus and the flaked, cooked salmon.

Serve topped with yet more grated cheese and plenty of pepper. See? You don’t even remember all that stirring, do you?

Want a more traditional risotto recipe? Try Risotto all’Isolana, which uses Italian sausages (or pork mince, if you’re in a pinch!).

Smoked Salmon Tart

Hot Smoked Salmon Tart

This is a super easy tart recipe that can be on the table in about half an hour or so. It also makes use of hot smoked salmon – the type that you buy in a large chunk, not the fine slices. You could use any smoked fish, really. If you’re in the northern hemisphere smoked mackerel would work really well, particularly with the horseradish.

The original recipe comes from Woman and Home. It’s an English magazine (and one I confess I never read while I lived there) and the recipes usually look really good but are relatively little work.

When I made this tart I cheated and used some leftover (bought!) pastry that we had hanging around the fridge – you can probably tell from the photo that it was a combination of shortcrust and puff! Of course, you can make your own shortcrust, or perhaps even buy a ready made tart case. How much work you want to put in is your choice!

Remove the skin from the fish (if it’s still on) and flake the fish into the tart case. You want reasonably even sized pieces but don’t get too hung up about that. You definitely want an even covering of fish though!

For the filling, I used 1 egg yolk and 4 eggs, 1 generous tsp of horseradish and about 2 generous tbsp of cream. Whisk this all together and season with pepper (remember – no salt! Don’t add salt to uncooked eggs!). Gently pour over the fish and place the tart in an oven preheated to 170°C (fan, 190°C normal). Bake for about 30 minutes or until the filling is puffed, golden and firm to touch.

In summer, you could serve this tart at room temperature with a salad. However, as it’s decidedly not summer here, it was served on hot plates with steamed veggies.

Either way – perfect quick supper food!