This week in Mrs Wils’ kitchen

Good morning faithful blog readers!

First things first – I deeply apologise for the lack of posts this week. Unfortunately, the day job was keeping me extra busy and left me with barely enough time for cooking let alone blogging! So todays post will be a quick summary of the Neil Perry dishes that I whipped up this week.

Pea and Pumpkin Risotto 

As promised to my work buddy, Jane, I prepared a hearty vegetarian dish to please those who prefer not to eat anything with a face. I personally don’t have a problem really with eating animals but I will, however, soon learn (in the next recipe) that I do have a problem with dealing with certain whole animals. Anyway, this is not my first time making a risotto but it is my first time making it the “proper” way. My previous attempts at risotto have been using recipes that were found when “Quick risotto recipe” was googled and usually involves a rice cooker (I think I just actually heard Neil Perry gasp in horror). So here I am armed with my arborio rice and faceless vegetables ready to get down to business.

Firstly, I had to boil the pumpkin which served a double purpose; cooking said pumpkin and creating the pumpkin stock (aka. pumpkiny water). Neil says I could have also used chicken stock but I didn’t want buy chicken stock as he recommends making your own (a recipe for which is included in the book) but I honestly wanted to make this truly vego so pumpkiny water it was!

Next I had to cook my peas. I am firm believer in frozen peas as they are snap frozen when picked so are usually fresher than the fresh peas. So I grab a cup frozen green little orbs and chuck them into a pot of boiling water until they are just done. I then have to throw them into some ice water so they stop cooking and stay perfect.

At this point the camera ran out of battery power (oh yeah, we are a professional outfit) so I had to yell out to Willy to get it on charge before I finish.

While Willy was actioning the charging of said dead camera battery, I was the frying up some red onion, garlic and sea salt until it was sweating and up my nose. Then I added in the arborio rice until it became opaque and started sticking to the pan. In went some wine and cooked up till it absorbed. Followed by his mate, pumpkiny water. Not all of pumpkiny went in though, just enough to cover the rice. I then basically just let it do its thing, simmering away, and only stepped in occasionally to stir a little and add slowly, bit by bit, more pumpkiny water. Neil says to me, its very important not to “drown the rice” or it will lose it’s risotto-y texture. After about 20 minutes of doing this, I added in the pumpkin and peas, some butter (of course) and parmesan. I let it rest for a bit as it was quite tired from all that work. I sprinkled it with some parsley before serving. Easy Peas-y Hearty Vego Cuisine? CHECK.

Vego readers – look away now! Things are about to get NASTY…

Butterflied Chicken with Ricotta and Garlic Stuffing 

I love chicken. I love the wings, legs, breasts, thighs and the skin. It is so versatile and gets used in a variety of dishes in our house. This is the first time EVER that I have had to prepare chicken this way and I soon learn that I don’t like it. AT ALL. It involves the breaking of bones and the stuffing of skin. This is a little bit too up close and personal for me. I mean, have you ever seen the inside of a chicken?

Before I could stuff the chicken, I had to make the stuff.

I put the garlic and some sea salt in my old M&P and pounded it was paste-like. In went the onion and it got a little pounding too. I then mixed through some butter, parsley, chives, lemon juice and ricotta.

So far so good.

The next step was not captured on camera due to the nature of what was about to take place. Kids, don’t try this at home.

Victim? Chook. Task? Butterflying. In order to butterfly a whole chicken, you must cut down the backbone and push gently down on the breast until it slowly starts to flatten out. In essence, you are slicing the chook open and pushing it flat. When slicing the chook open, you get to see what’s going on inside. I was surprised by my instant gag reflex when I saw its whole little skeleton fully intact as if it were once a living and breathing animal that walked and sqwaked (which of course it never was as it was generated at that mystical place where they make all frozen animals). I then had to go through the awful process of snapping it’s tiny little bones while flattening it out. Crack, crack, crack. It was heart wrenching.

Once I had successfully butterflied, I had to take a little break as it was all a bit too much. The next bit was photographed by Willy while he exclaimed “Oh babe, that is GROSS. Seriously… Uugghhh. What are you doing to that poor chicken??!”

Yup. It was as easy as grabbing the stuff and shoving under the pre-loosened skin with my bare hands. I felt like some sick chook serial killer.

Once evenly stuffed, I rubbed her down in olive oil and salt and chucked her in the oven.

While our poor old stuffed chook roasted away, I made some roasted tots and steamed asparagus to go on the side. When the chook was done in oven, I took her out and let her rest under some foil for half an hour. After all, she had been through an ordeal.

We then ate her.

She tasted glorious. The stuffing was to die for. Creamy yet fresh thanks to the lemon juice and herbs. It complimented the chicken flesh perfectly. However, I don’t think I will ever butterfly a chicken ever again.

Lamb Cutlets with Lemon Grass & Ginger, Barbecued Asparagus, Roast Potatoes and Curry Butter

Lamb Cutlets. Lamb Cutlets. The mere utterance of which causes the hearts of men around the world to be filled with joy. Husbands cast their mind’s back over the last week, recounting their good deeds while patting themselves on the back and thinking ‘good job… whatever it was…’, boyfriends think to themselves ‘this girl may be the one…‘ and fathers thank their lucky stars that their daughter learned all she knows from her mother. Lamb Cutlets.

I was excited to try this recipe from The Food I Love because it is a cut of meat that I am familiar with. What I am not familiar with, nor am I very good at truth be told, is creating exotic marinades and sauces. Neil suggests pairing these divine little cutlets with his Curry Butter. OK Neil – Done. Just the name – Curry Butter – sounds delicious. My hands-down-without-a-doubt-all-time favourite flavour, Curry. I love it so much that if it weren’t for Willy’s sensitive tum, I would cook up different styles of curry every second night at least. But alas, I did not marry a Punjabi. This butter was like music to my ears (and to my taste buds I would soon learn).

I wanted the main focus of the dish to be on the divine lamb cutlets and the butter so I decided to keep the accompaniments quite simple (yet stick with Neil’s expert advice) – Barbecued Asparagus and Roast Potatoes.

Firstly, I started bashing herbs needed to concoct the marinade for my lovely lamb cutlets in my M&P which included ginger, lemon grass, coriander, garlic among others. I did this while the baby potatoes sat in the pot of water on the stove waiting to heat up.

Once my herbs were bashed, oiled and seasoned, I covered my lovely cutlets with the mixture, glad wrapped and left for around an hour.

Now, onto the Curry Butter! First things first, I had to fry up some curry powder and onion until it was up my nose and tickling my nostrils.

Then I got onto the other bits that go in the butter. As you can see the image below, there is a HEAP of stuff in this butter. To name a few; capers, anchovies, parsley, thyme, egg, butter… I got all of these in my old muncher (food processor) and munched them up good.

And added in the curry powder…

TA DA!!!! Glorious CURRY BUTTER. (ps. I think I was also putting the tots in the oven at this stage)

By this stage, my lovely lamb cutlets have been marinating for like an hour at least and were very ready for the bbq (kind of like when you get a spa treatment that you think is ridiculously luxurious and you get covered in like seaweed juice and have to sit in it for an hour but by the end of it it stinks, you’re sticky, you are like so over it and want it off you now… just be thankful you didn’t get cooked and eaten!)

Oiled and seasoned Asparagus? Check. And on the same life path as the lamb cutlets so to the bbq they go!

Tantalising Tots!!

Voilà – Lamb Cutlets with Lemon Grass and Ginger, Roast Potatoes, Barbecued Asparagus and Curry Butter. Ridiculously Tasty. Willy has pretty much forgotten completely his first love by now (scallops). Fickle, fickle man.

Willy and I thoroughly enjoyed this dinner. It was like meat and two veg but a little bit fancy. Neil’s method for roasting potatoes was perfection. The cutlets were glorious ( I could’ve eaten them by themselves) but the hero was definitely the Curry Butter. Even Willy’s gut didn’t object! Winner.