If you're anything like me, you probably like to listen to music while you cook (in fact if you're anything like me, you'll sing along loudly and dance around the kitchen). Recently I was asked to have a go at using FoodBeats which is a new online tool launched by Lurpak. It's based around Last.fm and uses Foodily to provide recipe ideas. It's very simple but really quite clever: you just type in the name of the dish you want to cook, and enter a time for how long you think you'll be cooking, and it will generate a playlist for you, as well as offering some recipe ideas and tips based on what you're making.
Tell it you're cooking something Spanish, and it will let you listen to something Spanish! Click for a closer look.
I was quite intrigued and was looking forward to trying it out, and I have to say I'm really quite taken with it. I was making a risotto and FoodBeats decided that people who cook risotto like to listen to Ella Fitzgerald and Nat King Cole which suited me absolutely fine. It'll be interesting to see what it comes up with for all the coffee recipes I'm planning! Give it a go, it's really rather cool (and free, which is always good).
Risotto, by the way, is a staple in our house. If we can't be bothered thinking of something to cook for dinner, we almost always end up making a mushroom risotto - it's so simple that even my kitchen-phobic husband can make it without too many tears. Last night I really fancied risotto but wanted something other than mushroom for a change, so after a quick rummage through the cupboards this is what I came up with (and please excuse the Instagram photos, I just snapped them quickly as an afterthought).
Crab, chorizo and roasted red pepper risotto (serves two, but can be easily multiplied)
140g arborio rice
2 banana shallots, or 1 small onion, diced finely
100g chorizo (the cooking sausage type, not the thinly cut salami-type stuff), diced into small cubes
About 8 roasted red peppers (eg piquillo) from a jar or tin, chopped quite finely
Approximately a pint of hot chicken or vegetable stock
A small glass of white wine (optional, but if not using you might need a bit more stock)
A 170g tin of white crab meat (I used John West)
Pour about a teaspoon of olive oil into a cold, heavy-based pan (I use cast iron), add the diced shallots or onions and chorizo, place on a medium-low heat and give it a stir. The chorizo will release lovely red oil as it heats up. Let the shallot sweat in the chorizo oil for a few minutes till it has softened.
Tip in the risotto rice and give it a good stir for a minute or so until it's coated in the oil.
Add the white wine, if using, or a ladleful of stock, let it simmer, and keep stirring and stirring with a wooden spoon until the rice has soaked it all up.
Keep adding stock, a ladle at a time, and stir and stir and stir until it's all been taken up by the rice, and the rice is looking nice and fat. I don't measure the liquid for risotto, I just do it by eye, but you're looking for the rice to still have just a little bit of bite to it without actually being crunchy. You can leave it a bit soupy if that's how you like your risotto, or you can cook it a bit longer so more liquid evaporates and you have a slightly drier risotto - up to you. I prefer something in between.
When you think the rice is just done, add the crab meat and red peppers, stir them in well, and cook for a minute or to just to heat them through. Taste your risotto and season with salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper.
This is a great Friday night supper - it uses mostly stuff you might have lying about the kitchen and only takes about half an hour from start to finish with not too much chopping up of ingredients - and not too much washing up either!