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)
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