Monday, August 08, 2005

Restrain yourself!

Today was the day of my hands smelling feral. Late last night, I made a triple quantity of Seaweed and Noodle Salad, so that I could have a stash in the fridge for mid-week consumption.

84. Seaweed and Noodle Salad

This salad is made from cold, cooked soba noodles, with some seaweed (Nigella says wakame and arame, but we only had wakame) and various Japanese sauces tossed through. I tossed it together with my hands, as I usually do, but then had a super-strong sesame oil smell on my hands for ages. Yurgh!

Here's my lunch. (Yes, I took my camera with me to uni! And looked like a total gimp photographing my lunch, hehe). I ate it just before a Japanese class, appropriately enough! It's very much the type of thing I'd regularly make for myself to eat. We always have all the ingredients in the pantry, and I've made it, or versions of it, many times before. It's salty, slippery, cold, grainily nutritious and totally slurpable. In other words, brilliant!

On the bus home, I suddenly realised that I wanted something hot and hearty and strongly flavoured and decidedly non-Asian. (I mean, I do love noodles and broths and grilled fish, but sometimes a girl needs a break!) And I remembered... Nigella has a low-fat risotto! Yay!

85. Restrained Mushroom Risotto
86. Roast Garlic and Lemon Dressing

On the way from the bus stop to my house, I bought some mushrooms (dried porcini, Swiss brown, button) from our local greengrocer. And when I got home, the first thing I did was make the salad dressing. You have to wrap head of garlic in some foil with a little Noilly Prat, and roast it for an hour. Then after it's cooled a bit, you mix the soft garlic flesh with lemon juice. I squeezed the garlic out of the skin with my hands, and I also tossed the dressing through the leaves with my hands - it's very thick, and you need to use your fingers to coat the leaves evenly. So my hands still smell totally feral.

Garlic and Vermouth Dressing

The risotto is just your ordinary risotto, but with only a small amount of butter and oil, and no cream stirred through at the end. You start by cooking finely chopped onions in a pan, then adding the sliced mushrooms, then the rice. I was kind of worried when I first added the rice, beacuse it looked like there would never be enough rice for all that mushroom. However, throughout the cooking time, the mushrooms do their usual incredible shrinking act, whilst the rice expands voluptuously. Just as I expected, it took much longer to cook (40 minutes of constant stirring) than the recipe says, and needed double the amount of liquid. (Just like when I made the Pea Risotto). I used a Thai Knorr Shiitake Stock Cube, boosted with some dried porcini mushrooms soaking liquid.

It's absolutely gorgeous, full of deep mushroom flavour, and surprisingly creamy thanks to the starch that comes out of the rice.

This one's definitely becoming a regular dinner.

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