Reaching the final of Masterchef 2007 was a rollercoaster of emotion, with huge highs and lows, but I loved every minute and learnt a huge amount. I owe a great deal to John and Gregg who had faith in my ability when I did not believe in myself. Since competing on the programme my life has changed considerably. I now write cookery columns for two magazines, give cookery demonstrations and am just working on my 13th cook book - unlucky number for some but not for me!!! I love all forms of country cooking, using seasonal and locally sourced produce. This blog is to enable me to share with you a few of my recipes and baking ideas. Enjoy Hannah xxxx

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

One of the best things about summer is the glut of fresh herbs in the garden that are just waiting to be picked! It is so lovely to be able to pop out of the kitchen door and return with a handful of herbs that will elevate a dish. This is a risotto I made the other day when I was trying to use up things in my cupboard

Sweetcorn and summer herb risotto
Serves 4, cooking and preparation 40 minutes
1tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, finely chopped
salt and pepper for seasoning
12oz arborio or other risotto rice
150ml sherry or Marsala wine
1 litre chicken stock (or vegetable stock if you prefer)
1 small tin of sweetcorn (drained)
50g butter
75g grated cheese (gruyere is what I normally use but as this is a store cupboard dish, just use any hard cheese you have in your fridge - cheddar is fine)
1 handful of fresh herbs (chives, parsley, tarragon, chervil are what I used)

In a large pan, heat the oil and gently fry the onions. I add a tsp of salt to my onion as this helps them to cook (a tip passed on by MC winner Steven, so it must be good!). Take care that the onions do not burn or go dark brown as this will taint the flavour of the risotto. When the onions are cooked, add the rice to the pan and stir for a few minutes until the rice starts to become translucent. Pour in the sherry or wine and cook for a few minutes until the alcohol has evaporated. Then add the chicken stock a ladle at a time, each time cooking so that all the liquid has been absorbed, before adding the next ladle. You are meant to add salt with each ladle when making risotto but I have to admit that I never really do this - I just add some salt at the beginning and then test and adjust the seasoning at the end. You may not need all the stock (or you may need a little more) - towards the end test the rice - it shouldn't have any crunch to it and if it does just add a little more stock or water and cook further. When the rice is cooked, stir in the sweetcorn and cook for a further 5 minutes. Season with salt if needed and add some pepper. Add the herbs, butter and cheese to the pan and stir until melted. Serve straight away. Although the butter and cheese add flavour and give a glossy finish, this dish is fine with both of these omitted (more like a summer herb paella) which would be suitable for anyone allergic to dairy products.


Magic Cochin said...

Risotto and herbs picked from the garden are two of my favourite things too! Although I'm not a huge fan of tinned sweetcorn (for no good reason), I'm sure this risotto is delicious.
Joanna just beat me to tagging you for the Famous Four - I enjoyed reading your list.

Hens? they're a huge distraction for us who work from home!!!!!

Figs Olives Wine said...

How delicious - all those fresh herbs straight from the garden are so evocative of late summer. I love that photo of you in the garden.

Marie said...

Fresh herbs and risotto... how can you go wrong! The perfect combination! Llvely photo of you at work in the garden too!