Pass the buck(wheat)

 IMG_5463Another carb-free week goes by and I'm fine. I don't miss bread as much as I thought. Basmati rice though, is a little harder to give up, we had lunch at Lahore Karai in Tooting the other day and the children tucked into a big plate of it without loosening their belts.This week I've made a few dishes that are more springlike. A confit tuna Niçoise, a spring minestrone, smoked salmon with avocado and eggs, and a light spinach and apple soup among other things.Last night though, with a breaking boiler and the cold weather still biting, we fancied something cosy and comforting: risotto. Rice is out of the question, but I've been using buckwheat a lot recently. I used buckwheat flour to make the children galettes the other day for lunch and I also used it to make soba noodles to go in a prawn and tofu miso soup. In the past I've toasted it in a frying pan before cooking it, making kasha to serve with salmon steaks. So I used it in place of my favourite Vialone Nano rice to make this simple mushroom 'risotto'.IngredientsFor two150g buckwheat1 small onion, chopped1 clove of garlic, crushed1tbsp powdered, dried porcini mushrooms (you can make your own in a grinder)150g chestnut mushrooms, sliced400ml chicken or vegetable stock. I used homemade chicken stock.Olive oilSalt and pepper2tbsp butterGrated parmesanChopped parsley to serveMethodSauté the mushrooms in a little oil and set aside.Heat some oil in a saucepan and add the onion and buckwheat. Cook for a few minutes until the onion is translucent and the grains are beginning to toast a little.Add the garlic, mushroom powder, season a little and stir well.Add a ladleful of the stock to the pan and stir well. Turn the heat down to a simmer and let the buckwheat absorb the liquid before adding the next. Keep on doing this until the stock is finished or the buckwheat is soft, but with a little bite.Add the cooked mushrooms and stir.Now for the 'mantecatura'. Add the butter and Parmesan and vigorously shake the pan while stirring with a wooden spoon. Put a lid on and leave to rest for a few minutes. Stir through some chopped parsley and serve with more Parmesan.

Wild garlic risotto

wildgarlicrisottoWild garlic is in full flower in late April and May, so now is the time to get it. Mine grows in the garden, but it’s easy to find in churchyards, woods and fields. The flowers are edible and tasty, as well as looking really pretty on the plate. Its uses range from pesto to soups and, in this recipe, risotto. I like to use Carnaroli rice for its creaminess, but feel free to use other types. You could even substitute spelt for the rice, adjusting the liquid and cooking time as required.Serves: 4Preparation time: 10 minutesCooking time: 25 minutesIngredients1l vegetable stock, preferably homemadeOlive oil2 garlic cloves, finely chopped4 small shallots, finely slicedHalf a glass of white wine, better still, vermouth (optional)A large handful of wild garlic leaves and a good sprinkle of the flowers2 tbsp butter2 tbsp grated parmesanA dash of truffle oil if you’re feeling luxuriousSalt to season Method

  1. Heat the stock in a saucepan and keep it warm on the stove.
  2. In a deep, heavy bottomed pan sauté the garlic and shallots in a little olive oil until soft, then add the rice and a pinch of salt. Stir well and toast the rice for a minute.
  3. Add the vermouth if using and let it reduce right down. Add the stock a ladleful at a time, only adding another when the previous ladleful has been absorbed. Make sure you keep stirring the rice to release the starch for a creamy risotto.
  4. Halfway through, add half of the finely sliced wild garlic leaves and stir well.
  5. Finish adding the stock, then vigorously stir in the butter and Parmesan while shaking the pan.
  6. Stir in the remaining leaves, cover and rest for five minutes. Check the seasoning; add the garlic flowers and serve.