Mushroom Risotto

A typical dark night in winter and the kitchen window is rattling from the wind and the rain. Mrs W. is out herding brownies so we will be having dinner late. I decide to make what I believe to be her very favourite thing for supper …risotto.

It’s such a handy dish for hoovering up whatever might be lurking in the fridge (leftover chicken, bacon, leeks, ham, Parmesan ends and frozen peas often feature in mine). Today there are mushrooms, better still they are chestnut ones which i think always look tastier then their pale cousins. There is chicken stock in the fridge too, you can tell its a good batch because it has set to a firm jelly. A dash of Mushroom Ketchup and a glug of vermouth adds depth to the stock.

Just as I serve up I remember the christmas present I was given from my brother in law…

… a sprinkling of magic to finish the dish. Cheers Jim!


Chocolate Covered Salted Caramels

This made up one component of my Christmas chocolate gift bags.  I used Dan Lepard’s recipe to make a soft caramel sauce.  I tempered 72% dark chocolate (green and blacks cooking grade) using a microwave and my fabulously useful  ikea cooking thermometer a bargain at £7 and good for the Christmas turkey too.

The tempering wasn’t as tricky as I had imagined.  The tempered chocolate was used to line petit four cases.  These cases were very handy as they came in four colours which helped to identify the different fillings.

Once the chocolate lining had set all that was left was to add the caramel filling, top with more tempered chocolate and leave to set again…bada bing…bada boom!

Anyone could do this. I got the methodfrom David Leibovitz’s excellent blog (he is the caramel master!).  Credit should also go to Edward Kimber’s excellent blog post about making moulded caramels which gave some great pointers.  I will try the moulded ones sometime soon.

The results  were worth it.  I was a bit nervous about chocolates breaking when they were removed from the cases…but thankfully no such problems!

We made 25 of these and 25 more filled with peanut butter caramel (just heat up some of the salted caramel filling and add peanut butter) on Christmas eve afternoon (along with Nigel Slater’s dark chocolate truffles, Andrew Schott’scaramel and chocolate popcorn and some honeycomb).  Christmas presents for 8 ladies and petit fours for a few dinners over Christmas and new year all for about £10 of ingredients!