It's 11.32am and I'm sitting in a hotel room in Cork listening to the rain pounding the window and seeing pictures of the flooded city come up on my news feed on Facebook. I had endured a horrific drive from Dublin to Cork last night, keeping the car on the road was a challenge, but it was worth it to see Amy after my long day and to have a gorgeous steak and enjoy a few pints of Guinness.
My day yesterday started with my alarm going off at 4.37am (I can't set my alarm on an even number... It's my "thing"), 2 snoozes later and I was up just before 5am and hopped into the shower (in reality, crawled to the shower). I got dressed and went straight to the kitchen to make a risotto, not the conventional breakfast I know but this was because I was heading to Dublin to the TV3 studios to have my debut cookery slot on Ireland AM. I was making the risotto to have the final product at hand in case I was short for time before my slot in the studios. I knew my slot was going to be about 6 mins long and obviously wouldn't have a risotto made in that time so I had to plan out to show a few steps and then show the final product from 'Here's one I made earlier'!!
I packed up the car, put the dogs out in the run (much to their disgust... as usual) and headed for the studios in Dublin. I arrived at the studios bang on time and absolutely bursting to pee (the coffee and then a litre of water drank in the car on an empty stomach wasn't my brightest moment), so I got signed in, relieved, and then started to set up in their kitchen studio. I gotta say I was made very welcome by all members within TV3.
I have the video of the links and cookery slot below, kindly put together by Brendan (Amy's dad), so there is no need for me to drone on about it. Hindsight is a wonderful thing and through it I know the type of recipes do do for future cookery slots... this is still all a learning exercise for me, but I am a fast learner!!!
Here is the recipe from the book and from the show:
Bacon, leek and Pea Risotto
This is quite a healthy risotto as I use low fat spray instead of butter and low fat soft cheese instead of Mascarpone which is quite heavy on the calories. But the main change is the rice… or lack of it. Instead of using the traditional Arborio rice, I’m using Pearl barley instead. Barley is a lot less carbs and a lot more fibre, per 100g the pearl barley is 230 calories less than the Arborio rice.
The sweetness of the leeks and peas really make this mouth-watering! Risottos have an air of intimidation about them but really all they take is some attention, but that attention will lead to a wonderful meal.
Tip: keep the stock warm in a separate saucepan on a low/medium heat. It cuts cooking time and makes the risotto come together better.
100g bacon lardons
2 cloves of garlic
3 medium leeks finely
Low fat spray
200g pearl barley
700ml chicken stock
A handful of frozen peas
1 tablespoon of low-fat soft cheese
Crushed black pepper
Peel and finely chop the shallots and garlic, wash and finely slice the leeks.
Spray some low fat oil into a large saucepan and fry off the bacon lardons, crisping them up. Then add another spray of oil and gently fry off the shallots and garlic for 2 minutes, add the leeks and sweat for 3-4 minutes.
Pour in the barley and stir around for a minute to gently toast then add in a ladle and a half of the warm stock. Stir around frequently. When this has absorbed pour in another ladle of stock in and the peas continue adding the stock ladle by ladle, each time it’s fully absorbed, until all the stock is used up.
When all the stock is used up in the risotto remove it from the heat, add in the low-fat soft cheese and season with cracked black pepper and stir well. Serve immediately.
I am working on a host of new recipes, most will be healthy, low fat but brimming with flavour... and of course there will be a few indulgent ones too. Stay tuned :)