Baked brown rice risotto

I was a late bloomer where risotto was concerned.  My love for this dish was kindled after eating it at a dinner party hosted by a Maltese friend almost a decade ago.

These days, when I’ve an ankle-biter to contend with, oven-c0oking wins hands down.  This baked risotto dish is a keeper.  One that requires minimal prep or stirring.  I was unsure of using brown basmati rice but it turned out lovely, much like bulghur wheat in consistency.  Packed with veggies and ‘shrooms, the dish was declared a winner by Hubby. The Bear, on the other hand, insisted she didn’t like courgettes, but managed a few decent spoonfuls before giving up and asking for some milk before bed.

Serves 2, plus some leftovers.


  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 medium courgettes, quartered and diced
  • a handful of kale, washed and trimmed
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Heat oil in a non-stick pan over medium heat
  2. Sauté the courgettes for 3 to 4 minutes
  3. Add the kale to the courgettes and cook for 2 minutes
  4. Season with salt and pepper
  5. Remove from the heat and leave to cool

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  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 brown onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled and minced
  • a spring of thyme
  • 140g basmati rice, washed and soaked in tepid water for 30 minutes, then drained
  • 2.5 cups of water
  • 3 frozen stock cubes (homemade stock, frozen)
  • a handful of dried porcini mushrooms, soaked in boiling water for 30 minutes – reserve liquid
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Pre-heat the oven at 200 degrees celsius
  2. Heat oil in an oven-proof pot (I used a Dutch oven) over medium heat
  3. Sauté onion with a pinch of salt for a minute before adding the diced celery
  4. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes before adding the garlic and thyme.  Stir for 30 seconds
  5. Add the rice, stir gently for a minute
  6. Add in the water and stock
  7. Put the lid on and bake in the oven for 40 to 45 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated (if it hasn’t, leave it in the oven for a further 5 minutes)
  8. Remove the pot from the oven using oven gloves and place it on the stove over a medium heat
  9. Add the cooked kale, courgettes, porcini mushrooms and soaking liquid (mind the grit at the bottom of the bowl!) to the pot
  10. Stir to combine and cook for 2 to 3 minutes
  11. Season with salt and pepper
  12. Serve with grated parmesan and a good squeeze of lemon



Meatless Monday – mushroom risotto

This evening, we enjoyed a lovely home-cooked mushroom risotto.  Whilst the theme was Meatless Monday, I wanted a degree of ‘meatiness’ to the dish, and topped it with enoki mushrooms I bought via Ocado last week.  I can’t believe we waited this long to have asparagus this year, which I served as a side to the risotto.   I’ve posted variations of this recipe previously.


  • 2 tbsp dried porcini mushrooms, soaked in hot water for 20 minutes (retain soaking liquid)
  • two knob of butter
  • Fry lite spray
  • 1 brown onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 stalk of celery, sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled and minced
  • 2 to 3 springs of fresh thyme
  • 200g arborio rice
  • 500ml to 750ml water (you can use stock)
  • 2 tbsp double cream
  • a bunch of mixed mushrooms, cleaned and prepped (chopped, halved – as you wish)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 lemon, halved


  1. Heat a medium pot on the stove
  2. Add a knob of butter, spray the pan with Fry Lite
  3. Once the butter starts to foam, add the onion, celery, garlic and leaves from 1 spring of thyme
  4. Sprinkle some salt onto the pan, and on a low heat, sweat the ingredients for 2 to 3 minutes
  5. Then add the rice to the pot, stir around for a minute
  6. Add a ladle of water to the pot, stir once or twice and leave the water to evaporate
  7. Continue adding water, one or two ladles at a time, stir and leave water to evaporate.  Repeat until rice is almost cooked (about 20 minutes), then add the porcini mushrooms and soaking liquid
  8. Stir and leave to cook until the cooking liquid is all but gone
  9. Add the cream and season with salt and pepper
  10. Put the lid on and turn off the stove
  11. Heat a gridle pan, add a knob of butter and cook the mushrooms and remaining sprigs of thyme for 3 to 4 minutes until cooked.  Season well with salt and pepper and remove the pan from the heat
  12. Serve the risotto with the grilled mushrooms, with a good squeeze of lemon juice


Pot barley risotto with roasted squash and porcini mushrooms

In keeping with this week’s time, I wanted to use up some of the grains I had in the press.  I had half a pack of arborio rice and 3/4 pack of pot barley.  I decided to make a risotto using the latter ingredient.  I’ve only ever cooked barley twice in my entire life and hoped that the 3rd attempt will work like a charm.

The dish I ended up making tonight was pot barley risotto with roasted squash and porcini mushrooms.  The flavours were wonderful and the risotto was very light.   There was slight bite to the barley, mimicking the al-dente texture you’d find in a normal risotto.  Would I make this dish again? Absolutely.

Serves 2

Cooking time: 1 hour (including prep)


  • 100g butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and diced
  • Fry lite spray
  • 15g dried porcini mushrooms, soaked in hot water for 20 minutes
  • a knob of butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup pot barley
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 litre stock
  • 2 tbsp Marsala wine
  • salt and black pepper to taste


  1. Pre-heat the oven at 180 degrees
  2. Arrange the diced squash on a foil-lined baking try
  3. Spray some Fry lite over the squash and bake in the oven for 20 minutes
  4. Remove from the oven and leave to cool while you get on with the risotto
  5. Heat butter and oil in a pot large enough for a risotto
  6. Sweat the onions with a pinch of salt for 5 minutes over low heat
  7. Add the thyme to the onions and continue to cook for another 3 minutes until the onions are really soft
  8. Add the pot barley and mix well with the onions.  Cook for 3 to 4 minutes
  9. Pour in a ladle of stock and gently stir the pot barley for a minute
  10. Leave to cook until stock has almost evaporated, and then add 2 ladles of stock (about 8 minutes)
  11. Continue to cook the pot barley over low heat until the stock almost evaporates  (another 8 minutes or so).  Give the dish a stir
  12. Add the cooked squash and drained mushrooms into the risotto
  13. Pour in the marsala wine and once this has evaporated, then add 2 more ladles of stock
  14. Repeat steps 10 and 11 and cook the risotto for about 20 minutes until it is cooked and the stock has evaporated, but with a slight bite (keep tasting, that’s the key)
  15. The risotto took about 40 minutes to cook from step 5 onwards
  16. Season with salt and pepper, and serve with freshly chopped herbs (I used basil as that’s what I had handy)


Chicken stuffed with porcini mushrooms and cream cheese

We were elbow deep in wall-paint this weekend. If it weren’t for our well-stocked fridge, we could have called for take-away. I washed away the paint from my fingers and got working on our Sunday lunch. I had some cream cheese leftover from when I made carrot cake, so I decided to put it to good use.  I made a porcini mushroom stuffing, and mixed in the cream cheese. I flattened out 2 pieces of chicken breasts, placed the stuffing in the middle, and rolled up the chicken breast.


  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 70g dried porcini mushrooms, soaked in hot water for 20 minutes and drained
  • 2 tbsp cream cheese
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 shallot, finely sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • olive oil
  • a knob of butter
  • 50ml double cream
  • 3 tbsp Madeira wine


  1. Place one piece of chicken on a chopping board, cover with cling film and flatten to about 1/2 inch thick using a rolling pin. Repeat with the other piece of chicken
  2. Season both sides of chicken with salt and pepper
  3. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a pan and saute the shallots and thyme for 1 minute, followed by the garlic for 20 seconds
  4. Add in the porcini mushrooms, 1 tbsp Madeira wine, season with salt and pepper and leave to cook for 1 minute
  5. Transfer the mushrooms into a bowl and leave to cool for 10 minutes before mixing in the cream cheese
  6. Place half the mushroom filling in the centre of each chicken breast, roll the chicken into a parcel and use toothpicks to secure the sides
  7. Heat butter in an oven-proof pan with 1 tbsp olive oil. Once hot, carefully transfer both chicken pieces into the oil
  8. Leave to cook for 3 minutes and keep basting the chicken with the cooking fat
  9. Turn the chicken over and leave to cook for 3 more minutes, and keep basting as this will flavour the chicken
  10. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees
  11. Transfer the pan into the oven and leave to cook for 5 to 7 minutes
  12. Remove chicken from the pan and leave to rest on a plate and cover with foil
  13. Remove all but 1 tbsp of the cooking fat from the pan
  14. Heat up the pan, add the cream and 2 tbsp Madeira wine and leave to simmer on low heat
  15. Transfer the chicken back into the pan for 2 minutes while the alcohol cooks out
  16. Cut the chicken into half and place on a bed of mash