“Asparagus Risotto” from “Jamie Oliver’s Food Tube”

IMG_6992When I made this dinner, I knew this would be a sure thing. There isn’t often in life where you can be certain that “A Sure Thing” will materialise– see the 1985* movie with John Cusack if you don’t know what I’m talking about– but this is one of those times.

*PLEASE BE PATIENT FOR A MOMENT WHILE I HAVE A PERSONAL FREAK OUT KNOWING THAT THIS FILM– ONE OF MY FAVOURITES– IS 30 YEARS OLD THIS YEAR. OK. I think I”m done.*

We’ve always loved risotto. I’ve been making it since we were first married– it was a recipe from Bill Clinton’s White House, so that tells you how long ago that was. After we moved here in 1999, I made it again (and again and again) when I watched Jamie Oliver do it on his first series, “The Naked Chef.”

I’ve got the method down pat now. Gennaro Contaldo, the star of this video, does a good job of showing people how to best make risotto, if they’ve never done it before. Two of the unique things he did in his version of asparagus risotto were first to cut the asparagus into slivers, and then to take the tips and cut them in half vertically. Excellent tips, both.

This was a sure thing. Everyone loved it. At the end of the video, Gennaro takes a bite and says, “Yes! Yes! Yes!” I feel exactly the same way whenever I have risotto. Love it.

If you’d like to see the video yourself, it’s here:

“Asparagus Risotto” from “Jamie Oliver’s Food Tube”

“Pan-Fried Salmon with Tomato Couscous” from Jamie Oliver’s Food Tube

Kirstin: So the whole cooking while food tube on is a bit of a laugh. It’s like Jamie’s in the room, cooking with you. But it means I can’t listen to music as I cook; only his annoying background music. I watched this a couple of times before I made it, because I couldn’t find the instructions anywhere in printed form. And the only way I could get the list of ingredients was also to watch it all the way through.

Tom: That sounds a bit annoying!

Kirstin: I do think they could at least put the list of ingredients underneath the video. Would be well helpful. Did you like it?

Tom: I did! I love asparagus and the salmon was super crispy.

Kirstin: Yes, he had a fantastic method for making the skin crispy which I shall be using again. Ella, what did you think?

Ella: I don’t like salmon. Much.

Kirstin: I know. But we’ve talked about this before and you need to have salmon on a weekly basis at least. I saw you trying some asparagus!

Ella: I liked that!

Kirstin: Good for you!

And here’s the video if you too want to make this yummy recipe.

“Pan-Fried Salmon with Tomato Couscous” from Jamie Oliver’s Food Tube

“Roasted Salmon, Asparagus and Pancetta with Caper and Basil Mayo” from “Bill’s Italian Food”

Anna: Oh wow! Ok. This is my new favourite salmon dish. And given we have salmon at least once a week, I’ve been through a lot of recipes…

Peter: Yes it is very nice. Not a lot of it though. Where are the carbs?

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Anna: There are no carbs. We haven’t been having many carbs recently. I’m surprised you haven’t noticed.

Peter: I have noticed.

Anna: This reminds me of old school Jamie. Jamie when the recipes were simple and worked and not accompanied by a load of waffle. He’d call it “Roasted salmon with pimped up mayo, my way” or something. The only thing I would change is to have more asparagus as it did shrink a lot when it was cooked. Yummy asparagus crisps. Yummy!

“Roasted Salmon, Asparagus and Pancetta with Caper and Basil Mayo” from “Bill’s Italian Food”

“Asparagus and Poached Egg Salad” from “Bill’s Italian Food”

Anna: I feel very virtuous eating this.

Peter: It is very summery for sure.

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Anna: I thought it would be a wonderful way to celebrate the asparagus that’s in season right now. Louis helped me chose the asparagus at the greengrocer.

Peter: We can do the pee experiment in the morning….

Anna: Really I should have made this in Aldeburgh last week with all that amazing local asparagus kicking around but we weren’t so virtuous with our fish and chips. I made an extra poached egg each as I didn’t think it would be substantial enough for dinner otherwise. I think we should have asparagus like this every year!

“Asparagus and Poached Egg Salad” from “Bill’s Italian Food”

“Pea, Asparagus and Mint Risotto” from “Gino’s Italian Escape”

CBAMRisottoNicholas (10): Yeah! Risotto!

Maureen: Yes. It’s everyone’s favourite. What do you think?

Andrew (14): There’s something strange in there.

Maureen: That would be the mint. I don’t think I’ve ever made a risotto with mint in it.

Andrew: Well, I don’t like it.

Nicholas: Neither do I.

Tim: What’s with the asparagus this time of year? Talk about food miles.

Maureen: Yes, the asparagus did come all the way from Peru to join us.

Tim: That’s absurd.

Maureen: I agree. But I wanted to make risotto, and this one sounded nice.

Tim: Well, the next time you want to make an asparagus risotto, wait until the spring, when they’re in season here.

Maureen: I completely agree.

Andrew: This is fine, but I like our usual risotto better.

Nicholas: Me too.

Maureen: Do you mean the one with lashings of butter and cheese?

Tim: Yup. That’s the one.

Maureen: OK. So noted on the record. No asparagus in autumn and lashings of butter and cheese. Got it.

“Pea, Asparagus and Mint Risotto” from “Gino’s Italian Escape”

“Risotto with Mushroom and Asparagus” from “Recipes from my Mother for my Daughter”

Maureen: I like this. It’s pretty good.

Andrew (12): This is just OK. I’ve had other risottos that I’ve liked better.

Maureen: I like that there are so many vegetables in it. I usually only have one additional vegetable in a risotto, not three.

Tim: This is nice. I like it.

Maureen: I’d make it again, but I wouldn’t follow her method.

Tim: How so?

Maureen: Well, she asks you to add the asparagus at the end and just cook it in the final minutes, with everything else. The way I usually cook asparagus for risotto is I add it to the stock and let it cook in that until I need it. She also wants you to fry the mushrooms first and then get started on the risotto. I just did them in a separate pan to speed everything up.

Tim: That makes sense.

Maureen: Also, there’s not nearly enough rice in the original recipe. As you know, I added another 100g to it, and it’s still not enough for the four of us. I thought with all of the other vegetables, it would be enough, but it’s not.

Tim: How in the world did you get asparagus in July?

Maureen: Well, it’s from Peru. So we all need to take a moment to feel really guilty about that.

“Risotto with Mushroom and Asparagus” from “Recipes from my Mother for my Daughter”

“Stir-fried Vietnamese lemon grass chicken” from “Bill’s Everyday Asian”

Peter: This reminds me of Szechuan chicken. It has that dry heat. Don’t look at me like someone’s put your head on wonky.

Anna: I’m just trying to understand what you mean. Is it because it leaves that hot tingle in your mouth afterwards?

Peter: Yes, that. And it’s quite a dry sauce. More of a rub some might say.

Anna: There is definitely a sauce to it it, but you’re right that the predominant flavours come from the marinade which is dry. 

Peter: The portions were definitely right here. It was a bit of a faff.

Anna: Why?

Peter: There seemed to be quite a lot of ingredients.

Anna: There really wasn’t actually. You obviously don’t cook that often! We made it together which made it very quick and easy from my point of view.  The flavours were quite unusual I think. And it was hard to know how much white pepper to put in. Maybe you weren’t supposed to get that much tingle!

Peter: Having never been to Vietnam this tasted pretty authentic…. it certainly wasn’t Chinese or Thai.

Anna: I really can’t be bothered with celery though. If we make this again I will be getting rid of the celery.  Would you like this again?

Peter: Yes, I’d eat it gladly.  Besides which, you’ve bought an enormous thing of white pepper.

“Stir-fried Vietnamese lemon grass chicken” from “Bill’s Everyday Asian”