Antonia Landi

Posts Tagged ‘mushrooms’

Mushroom risotto – Better than Toast

In Food, Student life on November 27, 2011 at 4:24 pm



Hailed as the quick and easy midweek supper, risotto actually took me quite a while to perfect. But once you’ve got your technique down, it’ll definitely become a favourite.

Making risotto is all about stirring stirring stirring – unlike instant polenta, there is no cheat mode to delightful risotto! I used to find making it really stressful, as I’m usually busy doing three different things at once when I’m cooking – chop while you cook, that kind of thing. I would’ve been really grateful if someone told me at the start that risotto requires your full and undivided attention, so here it goes: Risotto requires your full and undivided attention. That means measuring and chopping and grating all the ingredients before you start, and having them at arm’s reach. As if you were doing a cooking show! This way, you can pay close attention to what is happening inside your pan, which is very important. By stirring the rice frequently, you do not only prevent it from burning to the bottom of your pan, you also release its starchy goodness, which leads to a heavenly creamy risotto. Do make sure you use either Parmiggiano Reggiano or Grana Padano as these cheeses blend into the sauce wonderfully. Mushroom-wise there is not much you could do wrong. Go for wild mushrooms as they have a bigger and more diverse flavour range than the more traditional mushrooms you find in your supermarket. Remember, mushroom season is almost over, so make the most of it while you can! Think girolle, oyster, brown beech, pied bleu – the list goes on and on. If you’re struggling to find any, have a look at dried mushrooms – they keep forever and all you need to do is soak them before cooking! My favourites are girolle, oyster and porcini mushrooms, but there are endless possibilities. If there’s a big Morrison’s supermarket near you, get your mushrooms there. They have the biggest variety of mushrooms I’ve encountered in a supermarket so far, and their labels tell you about the variety’s taste and texture. Last but not least don’t attempt cooking a risotto with long grain rice – it won’t work. Have a look at the links below to find out why. Carnaroli is my rice of choice, but Arborio is generally easier to find – I got my rice from asda though, so there’s no need to go to an overpriced deli for it! Just shop around and I’m sure you’ll be able to find what you need.

Feeds 2:

180g Carnaroli rice (Arborio is fine as well)

Half a chopped onion

1 garlic clove

Knob of butter, plus approx 40g to finish

Approx 200g-250g wild mushrooms

1l good quality chicken stock (good stock cubes will do; or veggie ones for a vegetarian version)

1 small glass (125ml) white wine

Handful of grated Parmiggiano Reggiano

Seasoning to taste (remember the stock is already quite salty)

Watch the video for instructions, and do get in touch if you have any questions, as silly as you think they might be!

And finally, have a look at these great links for inspiration and information.


What’s the difference between basmati and Arborio rice? And what about Carnaroli? Does it really make a difference? Find out here why risotto rice is different and get acquainted with 5 different types (yes five!).

I’ve never made any kind of stock myself and I don’t really mind admitting that, but I feel like I should at least give you the option to do it yourself. And who knows, maybe with this second version that uses no chicken bones at all and is only supposed to take an hour I might even try it myself!

OH NO! I’ve made too much risotto! Yeah right, we all know that you just wanted to have enough leftovers to do these super tasty rice fritters.

Antonia Landi for the Useful Times.

Polenta & sausages with seasonal mushrooms in a red wine sauce

In Food, Student life on October 5, 2011 at 11:42 am

Picture: Antonia Landi

The nights are getting longer and the days are getting colder and this can only mean one thing – it’s Mushroom season!

If you are a regular vegetable buyer you will have spotted them already – strange looking mushrooms in all shapes, sizes and colours. They are in supermarkets, local organic food stores, even in the park! The mushroom is taking over and I couldn’t be happier. The great thing about this season is that it really is unique – only from now until November we will have deliciously different mushrooms in abundance, and then they will all be gone again. I say to hell with the common closed-cap mushroom, let the (relatively short-lived) revolution begin!

Up here in Scotland we can definitely feel the cold coming to get us, and that got me thinking about comfort food. I love nothing more than a steaming plateful of something filling to really appreciate the season. The British are very good at making lovely comforting dishes, and I immediately thought about bangers and mash. But while there is absolutely nothing wrong with that dish, I wanted to make something a bit more special. I realise that even just the name of today’s recipe might be a bit intimidating, but I hope the video will show just how easy it is to prepare this meal. And besides, anything with the words ‘seasonal’ and ‘red wine sauce’ in its description is fancy enough to impress your date!

Now, for those who have never tried polenta before, the best way to describe it is ‘corn porridge’. That might not sound incredibly appetising, but polenta is a great substitute for mash, and stunningly versatile. It is made of ground cornmeal, and its preparation traditionally involves hours and hours of stirring. Luckily for us, there is something called ‘instant polenta’ which is just as tasty, and you needn’t stir for more than 5 minutes. Since polenta is in itself quite plain, it is a great vessel for other flavours. It is by far at its best with some Gorgonzola stirred in – the creamy, yet sharp taste of the Gorgonzola melted into polenta is simply divine. Last but not least choose a full-bodied red wine for your sauce as this will go wonderfully with your venison – and stay away from cooking wines!

Feeds 2:

100g polenta

6 coarse-cut sausages (I used venison sausages)

200g seasonal mushrooms (I used girolle, pied bleu and brown beech mushrooms)

1/3 sliced onion

1 glass of wine (approx 175ml)

1 handful grated hard cheese, such as parmiggiano reggiano

Knob of butter

Salt and pepper to taste

Cook the polenta for between 1-5 minutes, depending on whether you want it soft, like mash, or firm, so that you could cut it with a knife.

Watch the video for instructions, and do get in touch if you have any questions, as silly as you think they might be!

And finally, have a look at these great links for inspiration and information.

If you are a fan of polenta, make twice as much and then use the leftovers in some of these tasty recipes! From pan-frying it to sticking it in the oven, there is nothing polenta can’t handle.

Mushroom season is upon us but you can’t distinguish an oyster from a morel? Then this website should help! Not only does this site have a wonderful array of pictures of popular mushrooms, it also tells you what you can do with them.

And if you’re feeling especially brave, why not go into the woods yourself? This article tells you all about mushroom picking – just make sure you know what you’re cooking!


Antonia Landi for the Useful Times.

Lamb stew – Better than Toast

In Food, Student life on May 24, 2011 at 7:41 pm

Lamb stew

Stew is just perfect for those cold, rainy days… and if, like me, you live in Scotland, there will always be a cold and rainy day just around the corner! Perfect for using up leftover vegetables, stew is ideal to make in big batches and share among your friends.

There are two ways of making stew – the traditional Irish stew, which consists of lamb and root vegetables such as parsnips and potatoes, and the milder beef stew which can be paired with almost anything! I like to think that my stew is a combination of the two – I take the lamb of the Irish stew and pair it up with crowd pleasers like carrots and mushrooms.

I am aware that some people don’t like the distinct taste of lamb, so feel free to use beef in your stew instead – as long as you match the stock cubes to your meat, it will taste just as great! Of course you can leave the meat out altogether, just make sure to use vegetable stock cubes and you’re ready to go.

If you want to add herbs, thyme and rosemary go perfectly with this dish. Simply get a few sprigs, tie them into a bundle and pop them into the pot. Don’t forget to fish it out again before serving!

If you prefer your stew to be a bit thicker, you may add some flour to it. I tend to cheat and use a bit of gravy instead – if you do, make sure it matches the stock cubes and don’t use more than one tablespoon of it, as you don’t want the gravy to overpower the flavours of the stew.

Feeds 4:

500g lamb or beef

2 big carrots

300g mushrooms

6 medium potatoes

2 stock cubes (to match the meat you’re using)

1.2 – 1.5 litres of water

1 tbsp gravy to match stock cubes if needed


Salt and pepper to taste

Watch the video for instructions, and do get in touch if you have any questions, as silly as you think they might be!

Antonia Landi for the Useful Times.

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