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Quick bites: Going stir crazy

This easy-to-make recipe will make sure risotto is soon a firm family favourite while the delicious mini éclairs below are always eaten on the day they're made

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Chicken risotto

Chicken risotto

Overends Kitchen Farm Shop

Overends Kitchen Farm Shop

Mini chocolate éclairs

Mini chocolate éclairs

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Chicken risotto

This week it's all about back to basics, easy-to-follow recipes that, once mastered, can be served as a simple supper or snack - or elevated to dinner party dishes, definite recipes for your repertoire.

Firstly we have a Chicken Risotto - all too often risotto can be gluey and tasteless, but there's no need for that to happen if you follow this easy recipe.

Although your attention is required while cooking the risotto to ensure it doesn't scorch, ladling hot stock into the rice and slowly stirring is the key to a good risotto. The real essential ingredients in this risotto are a good-quality chicken stock and Arborio rice - this rice is necessary as it is unique for its starch content which provides the delicious creaminess.

I love to add some wine to the rice, not only does it add a little acidity, it also adds some lovely flavour.

This recipe can easily be adapted to a vegetarian alternative, just use a good vegetable stock and vegetables such as asparagus or green beans/peas and top with some fresh herbs.

Once you've mastered this recipe it's sure to become a family favourite, an ideal lunch or supper. Next we have a lovely mini éclair recipe - this crisp exterior, with a light and airy texture, is usually filled with either crème patisserie or vanilla cream.

When preparing the choux pastry a little elbow grease is required, particularly when beating the flour into the warmed butter, sugar, milk and water.

Once filled with cream and topped with chocolate these are best eaten on the day they're made - in my house that's not a problem.

Happy cooking,

Kevin

 

CHICKEN RISOTTO

Ingredients

1.2 litres chicken stock

4 tbsp olive oil

65g butter

2 shallots, finely chopped

2 sprigs of thyme

450g Arborio or risotto rice

120ml dry white wine

400g chicken thighs, cut into 1cm (½ inch) pieces

75g streaky bacon, finely chopped

200g button mushrooms, thinly sliced

Salt and black pepper

120g Parmesan cheese, finely grated, plus extra to serve

50ml cream

Juice of ½ lemon

Method

1. Pour the stock into a large saucepan and bring just to the boil. Reduce the heat and keep it at a gentle simmer.

2. Put three tablespoons of the oil and 40g of the butter into a wide, heavy-based saucepan over a low heat. When the butter has melted, add the shallots and thyme. Cook very gently for 45-60 seconds, until completely softened. Add the rice and stir well for one minute, ensuring it is glazed but does not stick to the bottom of the pan.

3. Pour in the wine and continue slowly stirring the rice until the wine has evaporated.

Start adding the chicken stock one ladleful at a time, stirring gently now and then, and allowing each addition to be absorbed before adding the next one. It is vitally important not to rush this process. Continue in this way until all the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is plump and tender - about 18-22 minutes.

4. Place the remaining oil in a large frying pan over a high heat. When hot, cook the chicken and bacon for 1-2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook for a further two minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Fold the chicken mixture into the risotto, add the Parmesan and cream and combine gently. Stir in the lemon juice and remaining butter. Season to taste and serve immediately.

 

TOP TIP: CRAQUELIN

Craquelin is a light crumbly topping added to choux buns whether making éclairs or profiteroles. It helps to make the choux a little more hollow as it holds the steam inside for an extra few seconds.

Ingredients

70g butter, soft

70g plain flour

55g brown sugar

Method

1. Place the softened butter into a bowl and add the sugar and flour, then mix to create a dough.

2. Next roll out the dough thinly (1-2mm thick) between two sheets of parchment paper.

3. Keep in the freezer until required.

4. When ready to bake the pastry, cut out discs of craquelin to the size of the eclair, place onto the choux pastry and bake as usual until golden brown and hollow in the centre.

 

MINI CHOCOLATE ÉCLAIRS - serves 4-6

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Mini chocolate éclairs

Mini chocolate éclairs

Mini chocolate éclairs

 

Ingredients

250g flour

100g butter

1 tsp caster sugar

120ml milk

120ml water

4 eggs

1 egg wash ( made of 1 egg yolk and 2 tbsp milk)

350ml cream (200ml + 150ml), plus a little extra if necessary

20g icing sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

100g dark chocolate

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 170C. Prepare a baking tray lined with non-stick baking paper. Sieve the flour into a large bowl and set aside.

2. Place the butter, sugar, milk and water in a saucepan and bring to the boil.

3. Stir in the flour and quickly mix to combine. Place back on the heat and stir until a soft dough forms and leaves the side of the saucepan. Remove from the heat and transfer the mixture into a bowl.

4. Beat in the eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition. The mixture should be smooth and glossy. Use a piping bag with a plain nozzle and fill with the soft dough, then pipe 3cm long mini éclairs onto the prepared baking tray. Brush with a light coating of egg wash. If you wish you could add craquelin at this stage (see top tip).

5. Place in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes until golden-brown and cooked in the centre. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool.

6. Prepare the vanilla cream. In a bowl, whip the 200ml cream with the icing sugar and vanilla extract. Keep aside until ready to fill the choux.

7. To prepare the chocolate glaze pour 150ml cream into a small saucepan and bring to the boil over a moderate heat. Remove from the heat then add the chocolate pieces.

8. Stir continuously until the chocolate is fully melted. Add one teaspoon of water to loosen the mixture if needed.

9. Slice the éclairs in half lengthways and pipe in some vanilla cream on the lower half.

10. Lay the upper part of the pastry on top and drizzle with some chocolate ganache.

 

Get some airfield

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Overends Kitchen Farm Shop

Overends Kitchen Farm Shop

Overends Kitchen Farm Shop

 

We all need a sense of the normal so why not try out the new shop at Airfield Estate in Dundrum in Dublin if it's near you?

The Overends Kitchen Farm Shop has a wide range of local produce harvested from the farm, gardens and orchards, along with other artisan produce from local food producers and suppliers.

Customers can expect seasonal fruit, vegetables and herbs grown on Airfield's 38-acre farm. The farm shop will also sell dairy products produced from Airfield's Jersey milk herd, as well as favourite cupboard staples, fresh baked goods and food cooked from scratch by the Overends Kitchen culinary team.

Overends Kitchen culinary ambassador Luke Matthews says: "The quality of produce and the passion of the people behind it really shines through. My own philosophy when it comes to cooking and food is very simple - get great produce and do very little to it."

For more details see airfield.ie.

Have you got some  foodie news that we should  know about? Email quickbites@sundayworld.com

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