Chocolate cookies – just add awesome

Hello my lovely readers! Today I’m going to share one of my favourite Nigella Lawson biscuit recipes with you. I’ve been making these beauties for a few years now and they never fail. They’re called Totally Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies but I am taking the liberty of changing their name to Totally Awesome Chocolate Chip Cookies. I am a sucker for anything sweet and salty and I think that’s why I love these so much, there is a little saltiness to them that cuts through the sugar and complements the bitterness of the dark chocolate. They also have a gorgeous texture and they hold their shape well. I, on the other hand, may not hold my shape so well if I eat one more of these little suckers so I’d better stop. I went to a bridal expo today and there is nothing like the thought of squeezing yourself into a gown and paying someone thousands of dollars to photograph you to make you want to reach for a carrot stick. But, everything in moderation I say! That includes housework.

Milk & cookies

You can find the recipe for these here, courtesy of http://www.nigella.com.

Totally awesome chocolate chip cookies

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Smashing summery sides

Fancy a little something on the side tomorrow night? Give these smashed baby potatoes and this minty fresh quinoa salad a spin!

I need to go to bed so I’m going to make this quick, just like I made these delish side dishes. Ready, set, go!

Quinoa salad & smashed baby potatoes

Boil a bunch of fresh baby potatoes until they are cooked through. Arrange on a baking tray, ‘smash’ with a fork, drizzel with olive oil and season with sea salt and cracked black pepper and place under the griller until they become golden and crispy. Sprinkle with shredded parmesan, freshly chopped parsley and a good squeeze of lemon juice and serve immediately. Done and dusted!

Smashed baby potatoes

For the quinoa salad, cook 1 1/2 cups of quinoa (red or regular) to packet instructions then set aside to cool. Blanche a good handful each of asparagus and sugar-snap peas until just tender and put into iced water to refresh. Cube some fetta (about a pack of cards size black will do) and get a handful of snowpea tendrils washed and ready to go (or you could use baby rocket or spinach).

Quinoa salad with asparagus and sugar-snap peas

Once that’s all prepped whip up this amazing mint vinaigrette adapted from Pamela Salzman

Vinaigrette

½ cup fresh mint leaves

1 clove minced garlic

¼ cup roughly chopped red onion

3 tbsp rice wine vinegar

1 tsp honey

1/2 tsp sea salt

A good pinch of freshly ground black pepper

½ cup good olive oil

Splash of lime (or lemon) juice to taste

To make the dressing put everything except the lime juice and oil in a blender and blend together well, then, with the blender running, add the olive oil in a thin steady stream until it is gone. Taste and add the lime juice to give it that final zing. I like mine tangy but start with a little and see how you like it. The dressing will mellow out in the salad so dont be afraid if it gives you a little kick!

In a bowl combine the cooled quinoa, asparagus, snap peas, tendrils with the dressing and mix well then add the fetta and gently combine.

Lip smacking and best served with BBQ’ed crispy skinned salmon.

Quinoa salad with amazing mint dressing Potatoes, baby!

Sides, side by side

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Weeknight dinner: fish & mussel risotto

Risotto 1

I make risotto a lot in our house. It’s a good standby dish when we have people over because I can make a huge pot of it and feed an army and I also really like it because it’s an excellent carrier dish. There are so many things that can be put into a risotto so I can make it to use up all the odds and ends rattling around in the fridge.

I know that doesn’t sound appealing to everyone. I was actually an apprentice chef for the better part of a year when I first left school and I know that there are risotto purists out there because I worked for one of them. But I am not a purist. I make risotto my way and I put whatever I want in it. I use red wine when I run out of white. I use chicken stock when I should use fish stock. Heck, I don’t even make my own stock. Sure I would love to make a mushroom risotto using hand-foraged fungi sourced from the foothills of the Swiss Alps and drizzled with with first cold pressed EVOO (what the?) but sometimes all I have are some puckered old button mushrooms, a carton of shop bought stock and some leftover wine in the fridge (a rare occasion I must say). What I mean is, there are times when you can devote all your resources to an exquisite risotto and there are times you can make a hearty bowl-fullo-rice dish that is satisfying and tasty and you wont have to spend all day at the farmers market. Or the Swiss Alps.

This particular risotto came about because I had an empty fridge but a freezer full of mussels, fish and peas. It was so good I’ve made it a few times since.

Ingredients

2 cups Aborio rice

1 cup white wine

Olive oil

1 small onion, diced

1 garlic clove, minced

500ml hot fish or chicken stock

1/2 cup frozen peas

1 1/2 cups diced fish (I use Rockling, a good, thick, meaty fish) (can be frozen & thawed)

8-10 mussels (can be frozen & thawed)

Dried dill tips

About 40g cold butter, cubed

Salt & pepper

1/2 tbsp freshly chopped parsly

Lemon wedges and zest of 1 lemon

Kettle of freshly boiled water

Put the white wine in a small saucepan and heat it up to a ‘just before boiling’ state then add the mussels and a pinch of dried dill and cook until the mussels are just cooked through (about 2 minutes). Don’t worry if they aren’t completely done as they will finish in the risotto. Take mussels out of the pan and set aside and keep the wine.

In a large, deep and heavy-bottomed frying pan sauté the onion and garlic in about a tablespoon of olive oil on a medium temperature until translucent (about 4-5 minutes).

Add the rice and stir non stop until the rice is well coated in oil and had a chance to fry a little (2-3 minutes) and then add the wine from the mussels. Stir until the wine has evaporated and while stirring use the spoon to scrape bottom of the pan to get all the yummy caramelised oniony bits into the wine. Add a ladle full of hot stock and stir the rice until the stock has evaporated. Stir well but be gentle. The stirring releases the starch from the grains, which is what gives risotto its creamy texture, but you want to keep the grains whole, not crush them.

Continue adding a ladle of stock, stirring until evaporation and so on until there is no stock left and test your rice. It should be about half way done, soft on the outside and hard in the middle. Add a ladle ful of hot water from the kettle in place of the stock until the rice is al dente or just a tiny bit underdone.

Add the fish and peas and more water if necessary and keep stirring. Once the fish has cooked (about 2-4 minutes, depending on the fish) add the mussels and stir until heated through.

Turn off the heat, season with salt and freshly ground pepper and add the cold butter and lemon zest and stir until the risotto is glossy and ready to eat. Serve with lemon wedges.

Risotto 2

Risotto 3

 

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