Thursday, December 6, 2012

Life and a Really Good Risotto

Hello my readers, I hope you're all still there.

It's been more than three months since I last blogged and I can hardly believe it myself.

The reason, you ask? Well I am now living in England pursing a Master's degree in the beautiful North-East.

I've been here a little over two months and love everything about the place. Before I came here, I was definitely excited and not sure what to expect but it is amazing how quickly I have come to feel completely at home here.

There are a lot of differences between Durham and Dubai, most obviously the weather. I marvel at how- at the height of a Dubai summer- I secretly wish for the icy winter I am currently experiencing....and vice versa...

There's also a big difference in lifestyle and society...perhaps that's just because it is a university and student town, though...

Before I got here, I promised myself I wouldn't slide into the student routine of pasta and cereal. I thought I'd be able to recreate all the stuff I make back home, I thought that I'd be resourceful and great and amazing by cooking a four course dinner for twelve people in a kitchen I share with five others with a limited number of utensils to exploit.

I'm happy to say that I haven't completely turned into the pasta and cereal person, but there are days where I just couldn't be bothered. There are days when the type of food you eat is surprisingly at the bottom of your list of current mental preoccupations... Although, me being me, I tend to compensate by every once in a while going off on a culinary tangent and whipping up something really weird.

Just today I chucked the entire contents of my fridge into a stew which was....interesting.... to say the least, but hey, at least I got to answer a long-standing curiosity of mine which was: what do mushrooms taste like boiled? And let me tell you, they don't taste bad at all.

But the recipe that I am going to share with you today is one I made last week which I have quite creatively called "roasted pepper, tomato, feta, and olive risotto".

There I was, reading about the benefits of a combined effort of Track I and Track II diplomacy, and how community-based peacebuilding can really positively impact conflict transformation when all of a sudden my mind wandered.......and wandered....and wandered... until it got to a place it had never really been before. And that place was plain-risotto-land. Yes. Why didn't I EVER think of making a COMPLETELY plain risotto and adding on whatever I wanted to at the very end since they would be ingredients that didn't really need to be cooked. Genius? Genius.

And so I walked the five and a half steps to my airy little kitchen and chopped up some onions and garlic, heated some oil in a pot and got cooking. And what I came up with was what you see below.

So here's the recipe, I do hope you get to try it someday, or maybe you've already tried something similar. What's your favorite risotto that you've invented?

1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup arborio rice
6 cups vegetable stock
2 tbsp pitted black olives
20g crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
30g roasted red peppers (bottled), chopped

Heat the oil in a large pot and add the onion and garlic. Stir for five minutes until fragrant and soft.
Add the rice and stir for one minute to coat in the oil mixture.
Add two ladlefuls of stock and stir until absorbed. Repeat process for about 20 minutes or until rice is creamy and cooked through.
Season to taste then add the olives, feta cheese, cherry tomatoes, and red peppers.
Remov from heat, add two tablespoons of stock, cover, and allow to rest for five minutes before serving.