Prosecco and shallot risotto

An incredibly versatile dish, risotto bears an undeserved reputation of being challenging to cook. Admittedly, it can go wrong more easily than macaroni and cheese, but that can be avoided with just a bit of preparation and diligence. Although commonly used as a mere side dish, this «plain» risotto may well eclipse whatever fancy main course you’re inflicting it upon. Risotto can also be turned into a complete dinner with the inclusion of a few vegetables and herbs — in fact, I have a few particularly good combinations lined up for future posts —, but here I’ll concentrate on perfecting it in its purest form.

Source public domain plus some improvements Difficulty way easier than its reputation, but does demand your full attention for a while Time 30 min Serves 3–4 as a side dish; 2 as a main dish with some salad or vegetables on the side

Prosecco and shallot risotto…  sorry for the bad photo, I was too hungry to do better. I’ll try again next time.  ;o)

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Red lentil dal

Here’s one of our all-time favorites: healthy, satisfying, chock-full of complex warming flavors, this Indian-style spicy lentil stew has proven an effective antidote against Dutch weather. Its stress-free preparation makes it an ideal way of unwinding after day’s work.

Source improvement over a recipe from Vegetarisch Kochen Difficulty trivial Time 20 min for preparation; ~20 min for simmering Serves 2

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Red lentil dal with basmati rice, here further served with homemade paratha bread and mint-coriander chutney (not included in this recipe).

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Summer couscous

This light yet satisfyingly filling dish really shines on swelteringly hot summer days where the mere thought of eating is exhausting, but makes a refreshing and healthy lunch all year round. It can be prepared in large quantities with negligible effort and feels at home in tupperware, which makes it an ideal bring-along dish for a grill party.

Source improved upon various public sources Difficulty trivial Time 30 min for preparation; benefits from an hour or two of soaking in the fridge Serves 2, but can easily be scaled to fill a large salad bowl

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It’s never too hot for a bowl of summer couscous!

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Fresh mint tea and lemonade

Fresh mint is a great cooking resource; expect to see it again in a few more recipes. You can buy packaged bunches of fresh mint sprigs or potted mint plants in supermarkets. The plants can survive a suprising amount of neglect (unlike, say, basil), thus they’re compatible with nerd kitchen. Of course, once you’ve discovered fresh mint for yourself, you’ll likely consume your plant to stumps before it has a chance to wilt.

The most straightforward use is to give a handful of mint sprigs a quick wash and then steep them in piping hot water. Sweeten to taste (honey is traditional, but artificial sweetener works just fine too). Voilà: fresh mint tea. Try it; it’s quite different from the dried mint that comes in bags.

Fresh mint tea as I like it best: With added black tea and just a bit of sweetening (artificial sweetener works fine).

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Bread pudding alla Ticinese

This delicious traditional treat has its roots in the sunny italian-speaking canton of Ticino in the south of Switzerland, from where it was passed down through my grandmother Irène’s cuisine. The preparation may take a bit of time, but it’s pretty much foolproof. The only skills required are mashing and waiting.

Source family recipe  Difficulty trivial  Time a few hours, but only about 20 min of that is actual work; the rest is waiting  Serves 4–8 people depending on appetite, keeps a few days in the fridge.

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