Monthly Archives: July 2011

Mushroom Risotto

 

For all I love the more complex stuff, most of my cooking is done after getting home late on a work night. This week, Dr E is particularly poorly and so I asked her what she fancied to help nourish her back to strength. She went for risotto, which, made perfect comfort food sense. A dairy-free risotto can still be delicious and carry enough of the richness it needs, with a bit of effort. This was an opportunity for dried chinese mushrooms to bring the flavour. I soaked a handful of them for about half an hour (or perhaps a little less) before cooking. I also added a lovely sunshine yellow courgette from Dr R’s garden which gave a slightly summery lift as well as bringing gentle crunch to the creamy texture.

I used a vegetable stock cube, but gave it a helping hand by boiling it with a bit of onion, a crushed garlic clove, some fennel seeds and peppercorns and a quarter of a lemon and a carrot that had frankly seen better days chopped into a few bits. I’ve never quite had the courage to go for truly ‘home made stock’ but I do think this halfway house was an improvement. I added the mushrooms’ soaking water to the stockpot when I added them to the frying onion, garlic and fresh mushrooms.

To finish I added a generous sprinkle of fresh tarragon from the balcony garden, its first outing since I grew it from seed about a month ago. It brought out the fennel in the stock and was a sweet counterpoint to the richness of the mushrooms.

Mushroom risotto (serves 2)

1 onion

2 cloves garlic

200g fresh mushrooms

generous handful dried mushrooms, soaked in bowl (300ml?) of water

1 courgette (optional)

about 100-150gr risotto rice

probably about a pint/500ml stock

salt and pepper to taste

tarragon

Glastonbury 2011

Shame about the lateness and the rubbish photos…

At the last minute, I was given the chance to go to Glastonbury and of course I jumped at it. I became a temporary redhead, slung some (insufficient) clothes into a bag and off I went. Maybe 28 is a little late to join the party, but I didn’t mind that – in fact, I was glad. My younger self was scared of everything, and festivals were no exception. Being there really made me realised how much more confident and at ease with myself I am now.

Seasoned Glastonbury-goers will of course say it’s not about the big name headliners at the Pyramid stage – no shit, U2 and Coldplay? I didn’t even go there apart from for Wu Tang. I was unbelievably lucky that there were some much more exciting (especially to a 90s indie kid like me) surprise special guests acts and to have got wind of them early enough. The buzz that went with the rumours and anticipation was definitely one of the best things and the atmosphere at Radiohead’s intense, atmospheric set and Pulp’s unashamedly crowd-pleasing one was fantastic. Being with my brother and his friend, I caught a lot of electronica-inflected experimental stuff and special mentions go to QOTSA and Caribou.

I had some nice times hanging out in fields with hippies – went to a massage workshop, signed loads of petitions, went to the circus, watched some nice sunsets, got muddy, got sunburned, admired some art installations…and drank more cider than I ever thought I would in 5 days. Most of it was overpriced shit (or the cheap shit we brought in) but we did have some delicious local cider from Burrow Hill (although unfortunately this only happened when we excitedly stumbled into a pub tent (with awesome old-school cash register) for some real ale but the bar staff weren’t really up to pouring a pint, which was a shame).

Couldn’t help but be struck by the contradictions between the earnest, hippyish legacy of the ‘traditional glastonbury’ and the massive commercial enterprise that dominates the mainstream media. That’s co-option in action for you, I suppose. There were anarchist exhibitions and art installations railing against consumerism and waste, but also thousands and thousands of  stalls, and loads of (sometimes thinly disguised) advertising. There was an earnest Greenpeace presence, but the whole thing generated an unspeakable amount of waste. Workers’ beer is becoming marginalised as a political concern, instead I was struck by the army of Oxfam kids in t-shirts bearing the galling slogan ‘Fix the System’.

But what can I say…I consumed along with everyone else. I’m a sucker for vintage, and insufficiently prepared for the extremes of weather, ended up buying both a hat, and a lovely reworked vintage summer dress from Cow Vintage complete, excitingly, with a label confirming it had been made in the USA by the International Ladies’ Garment Worker’s Union – nice bit of labour history. And yes, there was food too. We partly self catered, living on a mix of fruit, nuts, stuffed pasta and some surprisingly edible boil in the bag curries from Ashoka. I was a sceptic, but had to concede the Punjabi Choley had a slight dusty, store-cupboard flavour but had plenty of flavour and heat to make up for it, and the Dal Makhani was rich and soothing – just as we needed. It was at least as good as the £7 veg curry from the Thali cafe I’d had the night before. I’m a bit hazy on details, but I definitely had a delicious meal from a Moroccan tagine stall one night, and an even more delicious mezze plate from a Lebanese stall another night. I was too awed to choose from the available options so went for the everything plate and was rewarded with a mountain of delicious food, from creamy, smoky baba ghanoush, to marinated olives so powerful they made my poor brother throw up.  I was excited to be able to partake in the Meatwagon, a food phenomenon I’ve read about but thought I probably never would experience. But they were serving burgers in the corner of a pretend retro party hotel, and there she was, the Sloppy Joanna, just there waiting for me. And yeah, she was tasty, messy, yum. Could have carried more flavour, but then what do I get for not eating meat?

I was also fairly excited by the farmers’ market in the greenpeace fields, and enjoyed sweet, perfect cherries and fragrant organic tomatoes, light, fluffy Olive Oil bread from Lynda’s Loaf made a perfect picnic with a couple of wedges of Greens of Glastonbury cheeses. He was selling them at £2 a wedge which was the best value for money in the whole place, I reckon, and so I went for one each of the punchy mature cheddar (which shall we say matured yet further throughout the hot sunny day) and the mellow, sweet hard goats cheese. Seriously, this was a festival highlight…