A friend has just given me a big bag of lemons fresh from her tree. I am always envious of people with lemon trees. We grew up with a giant one in our garden and I have never quite shaken off the belief that you should always get your lemons for free! SoI am always a little resentful when I have to pay 50c each for them at the market and yet will happily pay a fortune for any good food!
Lemons are a must in the kitchen. A good zesting of lemon or a squeeze of zingy juice can liven up the dullest of dishes. Friends often ask me what I do with all the lemons I am given. Well!……….a spritz on the salad greens, a squeeze into dahl, a wedge with avocado and feta on sourdough, sliced and baked with a fillet of salmon, a spot of pectin in a bubbling pot of jam, homemade lemonade on a hot day, divine lemon curd, a very, very handy jar of preserved lemons, creamy lemon mayonnaise, tarte au citron, the essential lemon meringue pie, magical lemon delicious…….I could go on forever.
But a real winner is lemon ricotta. Whip up a bowl – ricotta, lemon juice and zest and a pinch of seasoning - and scatter it in salad, over steamed or roasted vegetables, over pizza, smear on crackers or a slice of fresh baguette, and of course, over pasta. Here it works beautifully with orecchiette and broccoli. Orecchiette is such an unusual pasta. The round, concave ‘little ears’ are soft and yet chewy and are perfect with vegetables, particularly broccoli, zucchini and peas. It takes longer to cook than other pastas so is not great for a quick dish but this easy sauce makes up for it. And of course, the zinging lemon ricotta makes it perfect!
Broccoli Orecchiette with Lemon Ricotta
- 200g ricotta
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 lemon (juice and zest)
- 500g orecchiette
- 500g broccolini or broccoli (cut into florets)
- 3 anchovy fillets
- 1 spanish onion (finely chopped)
- 2 cloves garlic (crushed)
- 1 red chilli
- 1/2 bunch continental parsley
||Place ricotta, 2 tblsps olive oil, juice of half the lemon and the lemon zest in a small bowl, season and combine. Set aside |
||Cook orecchiette in boiling, salted water until al dente |
||Add broccoli florets to orrechiette in the last 3 minutes, then drain well |
||Meanwhile, heat 2 tblsps olive oil in a large frying pan, add anchovies and cook until anchovies break up |
||Add onion, garlic and chilli and cook until soft |
||Add pasta and broccoli to the frying pan with the remaining lemon juice and parsley and toss well |
||Serve with the lemon ricotta scattered over the top and drizzle over extra olive oil |
Rice pudding with a twist! A creamy, delicious journey back into childhood if ever there was one. I’m sure rice pudding went out of fashion a long time ago but with all the talk of a resurgence of family favourites, (a shepherd’s pie renaissance is coming this winter according to food writer Richard Cornish) I thought I would bring back the rice pudding. It earned brownie points in many households way back as a cheap and easy way to put a dessert on the table – rice, milk and sugar and in the oven for an hour. What could be easier? And for variety? Maybe a handful of plump and juicy raisins, a shake of cinnamon or a spoonful of cocoa always did the trick.
Rice pudding can claim its heritage right around the world from the old Anglo version just mentioned to the Persian Shir Berenj, a creamy dessert made with rosewater. The Indians have Kheer, made with cardamom and almonds, the Greeks have their rizogalo flavored with lemon and cinnamon and even the Chinese love their sweet rice, the Eight Treasure rice pudding, a sticky, glutinous dessert with dates and plums.
This global love affair with rice pudding is understandable. There is something deeply nurturing about warm, sweet, spicy rice. When it is cooked in milk something magical happens – it becomes something that talks to your soul and enriches your spirit and warms your heart. I figured if I flavoured it with chai spices and cooked it in the slow risotto style, it could only get better.
Chai has to be the real thing. Milky, spicy, warming, sweet and soothing. It’s a pity that many think chai tea is that sickly, artificial flavoured syrup that is served in cafes everywhere. And it is actually super easy to make at home. Think Indian flavours and a little sweetness and there you have it. Lots of delicious spices, black tea and some warm milk and honey.
So….a match made in heaven – chai and rice. This recipe is a perfect winter dessert but I just love it for breakfast! And I’ve decided it’s definitely back in fashion.
Chai Spiced Sweet Risotto with Honey Yoghurt
A decidedly different way to serve risotto! This delicious, creamy rice dish is perfect for a winter dessert or a nourishing breakfast.
- 31/2 cups milk
- 1 x 270ml tin coconut milk
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 6 whole cloves
- 6 cardamom pods
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh nutmeg
- 3cm pieces ginger
- 40g butter
- 1/2 cup raw sugar
- 1 cup arborio rice
- 1/2 cup raisins (chopped)
- 200g yoghurt
- 1 tablespoon honey (warmed)
||Pour milk and coconut milk into medium saucepan |
||Add cinnamon sticks, fennel seeds, cloves, cardamom pods, nutmeg and ginger, bring to the boil and simmer 10 minutes on very low heat |
||Melt butter in a deep, lidded frying pan and when hot, add sugar and rice |
||Cook 5 minutes on low heat, stirring often and allowing the sugar and rice to caramelise and turn light brown |
||Strain the milk mixture, pour onto the rice and add the raisins |
||Cook on a low heat until rice is tender, stirring occasionally, then place the lid on and let sit for a further 5 minutes |
||Stir thoroughly and spoon into serving bowls |
||Whisk the honey into the yoghurt and spoon onto the warm risotto with a drizzle of extra honey over the top |
||Grate over some fresh nutmeg and serve. |