Thursday, May 01, 2008

Salmon with pea and courgette risotto

I hate going to the hairdresser. It is an experience that should be all lovely and yet all too often turns out at best disappointing or at worst humiliating. My reasons for disliking the experience are numerous and they usually begin with the person who washes my hair. It is clear that she is designed to make me feel like a social failure. The inevitable question crops up: 'Going out tonight?'/'Doing anything this weekend?'/'Been anywhere nice on holiday lately?'. My response to these questions is invariably a resounding 'no'. The reason for this is that I tend to go to the hairdresser on an evening when I have no other plans (hence I have the time to go). I always feel like yelling 'no, but I did go out last night' or 'no, but I did go to Venice last weekend' just so they know that I do actually have an interesting, exciting and fulfilling life. But I don't, of course.

Then there is the moment when the hairdresser asks me what I want. I want to say 'new hair', but don't. Instead I mumble something about 'similar to last time, a bit shorter'. But this doesn't matter. The hairdresser will do what he or she likes. Irrespective of what I want. Or so it seems. He/She then sets to work. I can tell it is going wrong almost immediately, but because I am too British to complain (and because I know nothing about hairdressing) I grin and bear it. After applying a considerable amount of 'product' (never understood why it can't be 'products' in the plural) and subjecting me to much heat and hair pulling, the hairdresser grins and asks if I am happy. He/She seems to think I look fabulous. Being British, I grin like a madwoman and say 'yes, its marvellous, thank you so much'. More fool me. I then race back home, praying I won't bump into anyone I know, grab a hairbrush and brush it all out. On occasion I've gone further and washed and re-done it altogether. And of course I pay through the nose for this wonderful experience.

All this has nothing to do with food. But I needed to get it off my chest. And before anyone suggests that I should get a new hairdresser, I've tried. My chosen salon of torture is the best I've come across so far - they even give you wine to soothe the pain if you go in the evening. But, back to food. After the latest haystack-on-head horror, I felt the need for comfort. And this is where risotto comes in...

Now here comes a confession. I'm not overly keen on rice.

I know, I know... How can I possibly say that I'm not keen on rice? Isn't that like saying I'm not keen on pasta? Surely it depends on the type of rice, the way it is prepared etc, etc? I'm afraid not. I quite simply am not that keen on rice. There are a few rice dishes I enjoy. Kedgeree, for example. And I love (really love) rice pudding. In particular, I hate the smell of boiled or steamed white rice. It really turns my stomach. Odd, isn't it?

Recently, I've been trying to love risotto. Everyone else seems to love it, find it comforting, so why don't I? I always find that I feel really bloated after even the smallest bit of risotto. But I'm determined. I will learn to love it!

I have had a few versions that I've enjoyed - a great friend makes a lovely courgette risotto and I have had a couple of wonderful pea risottos. So, I decided to give it a go and make a little pea and courgette risotto to accompany a bit of salmon.

I have made risotto before, but its been a long time. I was rather put off when someone told me that there was 'simply no point' in making risotto unless you had proper stock. I know how much better it would be with proper stock but I think I did a fairly reasonable job with the pretend stuff!

The risotto worked pretty well and had a deliciously sweet pea flavour. It did seem to take a very long time for the rice to cook through, for some reason. Perhaps I was being a little cautious with the heat. In any case, this sadly resulted in rather overcooked salmon as you'll see from the photos. Overall though, a success.

Pea and courgette risotto
Serves 2


1 tablespoon olive oil
knob of butter
1 leek, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 heaped mug full of frozen or fresh peas
4 tablespoons double cream
1 courgette chopped into small cubes
200g arborio rice
1 litre good quality vegetable stock

1. Heat oil and butter in a large saucepan and sweat the leeks and garlic.

2. Meanwhile, boil the peas and drain. Add double cream and liquidise until you have a slightly lumpy puree - season well and set to one side.

3. Once the leeks and garlic are softened, add the courgette and continue to cook until beginning to soften.

4. Add the rice and stir to coat in all the buttery oil. Meanwhile pour stock into a saucepan and set on a gently heat so stock is kept hot.

5. After the rice has been frying for a couple of minutes, add a ladleful of stock. It should sizzle. Stir until the liquid has been absorbed.

6. Keep adding the stock a ladle at a time, stirring continuously in between each addition and waiting until the stock has been absorbed until adding the next ladlefull. This should in theory take around 20 minutes.

7. Once all the stock has been added, test the rice. It should have puffed up nicely and be tender but still with just a little bite. At this point remove from heat and stir in the pea puree. Grate a good handful of Parmesan too and stir this into the oozy mixture.

8. Serve immediately, perhaps topped with a fillet of salmon!

NOTES: You may like to add some mint to your pea puree, if that sort of thing floats your boat!


Lucy said...

I'm with you all the way.

My hairdresser must think I am a social outcast, but I cannot bring self to lie and say that I do in fact have a raging socail life.

And risotto. I try. But to little avail...

Julia said...

This looks delicious Antonia, I love salmon with rice.

Indigo said...

Ohh, these are all my favourite ingredients! Saving this one ^__^.

And for some reason my computer kept seizing up when I tried to comment your last post, but happy (belated) blog birthday!

Antonia said...

Hi Lucy, Thank you for stopping by. So glad I'm not the only one!

Thank you, Julia. I enjoyed the comination despite my misgivings about risotto!

Thanks Indigo - hope you give it a try and lie it. Anything with peas is a winner with me usually and this was no exception.

Pixie said...

my hairdresser never shuts up the woman can ramble on and on and she comes over to cut my hair too (family friend) consider yourself lucky lol

i do love risotto, hubs the expert at it not me- he seems to use a combination of fresh stock and dare i say it, 'chicken cube'

Peter M said...

I'm not one for banter when getting a not answer and he/she will get the point (that they should shut it).

May I have a top-up of Pinot Grigio for my risotto?

Margaret said...

Mmm another of your delicious salmon dishes.
The hairdresser thing is a total nightmare, everything about it!

Private Chef said...

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Lizzie said...

I seem to be one of the few people that hairdressers don't talk to - which leads me to believe that maybe I have an anti-social demeanour, and it makes me jealous when I see people talking like they've known each other for years - think yourself lucky!

Your risotto sounds great, and just the thing as I was wondering what to do with the salmon fillet in the freezer.

Antonia said...

Pixie - oh no! I bet she stays so long because you give her slices of all your gorgeous bakes!

Peter - Bother! Just finished the last of the pinot grigio... Hope a Soave Classico will do instead?!

Margaret - I do seem to eat rather a lot of salmon. Must branch out and be a little more adventurous! Think it is because my local fishmonger closed down quite recently. Must find a new source and start to experiment a little more.

Private Chef - thank you for calling by! I've always kept the design pretty simple to let the food speak for itself. Some photos are better than others!! I shall come and take a look at ifoods - it sounds very interesting.

Lizzie - hello and welcome! I'm not sure which is worse - an overly chatty hairdresser or one who doesn't say a word!! I always have salmon fillets in the freezer - so useful for knocking up a speedy evening meal.