Tag Archives: risotto

Jamie’s Italian


Photo © Jamie’s Italian

For my birthday last week, (on the hottest day of the year so far), we decided to go out to dinner to Jamie’s Italian in Guildford, rather than the ‘local’ curry house or chinese restaurant which are within walking distance of home, as I wanted to enjoy something different. I had heard mixed reviews of the restaurant, with some giving it high praise and others telling me it was below average. I still wanted to try it out regardless.

We booked in advance, which allowed us to have a side booth for the evening, meaning we were not as crowded as others in the very full (good sign) main eating area. The staff, who were welcoming and very attentive as soon as we arrived, got us seated with menus to browse, without the usual forcing us to order drinks as soon as our backsides were planted. We liked the ‘urban’ kitchen eatery décor of the place, as it seemed to match that of Jamie himself, from the good old early days on TV. I’m not sure I would like to have been sat in the middle of the crowded main area though, as people did seem to be sat on top of one another, while some were dodging pillars. Sat on the side, I was wondering for the sake of a few covers, if re-arranging would have made it more enjoyable for the others?

Anyway, after a short period, we noticed that many were there celebrating their birthdays too, as a procession of cakes, puddings and candles kept leaving the kitchen pass area, with ‘Happy Birthday’ ringing out in various tones and keys, across the restaurant (some sang better than others). This prompted my other half, to inform our waiter that it was my birthday too and ‘could my pudding possibly have a candle in it as well’, when it eventually came out. 🙂

We were not in the mood to drink ‘too’ much, especially with it still being 25C+ outside at 8pm and one thing we both really liked, that you don’t really see in many other restaurants, is being able to buy wine by the carafe (50cl rather than 75cl), which went down great, (along with all the water we were drinking to stay hydrated), especially as we ordered one carafe each, Montepulciano Red and Pinot Grigio Rosé.

We didn’t have to wait long for the food to arrive once we ordered it and for what we ordered, I personally do not think it was overpriced. In fact, for the starters we had, I was expecting it to be more expensive, having had ‘similar style’ first courses for more inflated prices elsewhere.

For our starters, we both chose the Antipasti Meat Plank which consisted of cured meats, Italian cheeses, pickles and a crunchy salad, which set the scene for the rest of the evening.

For our mains we had Black Angel Spaghetti (which probably had a bit too much chilli for our tastes) and Seaside Risotto which was delicious.

Finally, for our desserts we had Sicilian Cheesecake and Panna Cotta, with a candle stuck out the top of my Panna Cotta when it arrived, along with a rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’. I chose the Panna Cotta as I wanted to see if it was as good as the one in my last blog post. I also got my hands on a menu that was signed by all the Chefs and the front of house team working there, which was a great reminder of the evening.

To top the evening off, just before the bill arrived, we were presented with two shot glasses of Limoncello on the house, which would always go down very well!

To sum up it all up, I would say it was a really good experience, with very friendly, attentive staff and with very tasty food that you don’t really get elsewhere and the price wasn’t too bad either. I would go back again, to try something else from the menu, without a second thought, to see if it was as good! I’m glad I dismissed the negative reviews and shows that if you want to judge somewhere, you have to try it out for yourself.

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Seafood Risotto

I’m still relatively new to making a risotto and after it seemingly being national risotto day on the Good Food Channel the other day, I picked up the first cook book to hand, Gordon Ramsay’s World Kitchen and started looking for one to make. I started flicking through the Italian section and found this Seafood Risotto. I thought this would be perfect as we both love seafood and thought it would be similar to the stunning seafood linguine I had at Carluccio’s last year. After watching 3 celebrities ladling various stocks on their various risotto’s over a period of time, I made sure I lovingly prepared mine with the same flair they all used!

To say this was good is an understatement. The food was only half-eaten by the time my girlfriend asked me to make this again next week. Any risotto lovers should try this.

As I was making it for the two of us, I halved all the ingredients and that was perfect for a delicious supper.

(Printable Recipe)

Serves 4

Ingredients:
300g Mussels
300g Prawns
200g Baby Squid, sliced
200ml Water
300ml Dry White Wine
800ml Fish Stock
Pinch of Saffron Strands
2 tbsp Olive Oil
40g Butter
1 Shallot peeled and chopped
1 Garlic Clove peeled and chopped
350g Risotto Rice
Finely grated zest of 1 Lemon
Sea Salt and Black Pepper
Flat Leaf Parsley, leaves chopped

1 Pour the water and 200ml of the wine into a large pan and bring to the boil over a high heat. Tip in the mussels, cover the pan and give it a few shakes.

2 Cook for 2-3 minutes until the mussels have opened. Drain them in a colander set on top of a pan to collect the juices. Shell the mussels and set aside, discarding any that remain closed.

3 Add the stock and saffron strands to the mussel juices and bring to a simmer.

4 Heat the olive oil and half the butter in a large pan. Add the shallot and garlic and fry until softened for about 6-8 minutes.

5 Tip the rice into the pan, stir well to coat and cook for about 2 minutes until the rice starts to turn translucent.

6 Pour in the remaining wine and let it bubble until all the liquid has been absorbed.

7 Add a ladleful of hot stock and stir until it has all been absorbed. Continue adding the stock in this way until the rice is creamy with a slight bite. (You may not need all the liquid.)

8 Stir in the prawns and squid and simmer for 2 minutes until they are just cooked through, adding the mussels for the last minute.

9 Finally stir in the grated lemon zest and remaining butter and taste for seasoning. Take the pan off the heat and leave to stand for a few minutes.

Serve at once, sprinkled with the chopped parsley.

Enjoy!

Chicken, Porcini and Rocket Risotto

I am always up for experimenting and changing a recipe if I find a good basis, to add something new or adjust it for my tastes and this is one such recipe – after all, this is what I am learning that cooking is all about.

I love a good Italian Ask style Chicken and Mushroom Risotto – its the same wherever you have it and I have not had a bad one yet! So when I saw the Porcini and Spinach Risotto recipe in a suppliment with a free copy of an Olive Magazine, I thought I would have a go at it, having never made a risotto before and keen to keep trying to learn new things.

So I followed the recipe to the letter and it was very good, if not lacking something though – so I reminded myself of the Chicken and Mushroom Risotto’s I had had before and decided that next time I cooked it I would add chicken to the recipe.

A month went by and we decided to make it again and added the seasoned chicken that I had browned off at the start, along with a change from spinach to rocket – I had no spinach in my cupboard or fridge but had an abundance of rocket, some which was growing in my ‘cut and grow’ salad leaf box.

My girlfriends reaction to the changed recipe was ‘wow thats as good as you get in a restaurant’ which was great to hear and a lot more than had I expected! Due to that reaction, I have since made it several times at home and also for my parents on a visit back to the family home – they loved it too.

It certainly isnt rocket science (no pun intended… honestly) and has probably been made a thousand ways like this before but for me to learn to put ingredients together in this way and make something that I love to eat time and time again, cant be that bad!

So here is my Chicken, Porcini and Rocket Risotto variation:

25g Dried Porcini
2 Chicken Breasts (diced)
50g Butter
1 Onion (sliced)
1 Garlic Clove (crushed)
250g Chestnut Mushrooms (the magazine said 200g but every punnet I buy is 250g so why waste the extra 50g)
150g Risotto Rice
1 Glass of White Wine (Large preferably)
750ml Vegetable Stock
50g Rocket
Parmesan shavings

1 Soak the porcini in boiling water for 10 minutes and strain through a sieve, keeping the liquid for the risotto later.

2 After soaking, roughly chop the porcini.

3 Heat the butter in a large pan and cook the onion and garlic till soft.

4 At the same time, brown the diced chicken breasts in some olive oil and season and put to one side once cooked.

5 Once the onions are soft, add the sliced chestnut mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes.

6 Then add the chicken, porcini and rice and stir together until coated.

7 Tip in the wine until it is absorbed.

8 Gradually add the stock and porcini liquid, stirring, until the rice is tender with some bite.

9 Stir in the rocket until wilted.

Serve with parmesan shavings and enjoy!

NB I have noticed that the more organic the chestnut mushrooms are (they seem a lot darker) the darker the dish and rice is once cooked. Using supermarket mushrooms, the rice and dish appears a lot lighter once cooked. If it is darker, dont panic – you havent burnt it!!

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Porcini on Foodista