Monday, 25 July 2011

Quorn Risotto


I absolutely adore risotto and find it quite enjoyable to cook so I was looking forward to trying out this recipe. My husband, on the other hand, detests the texture of risotto - he is not too keen on many rice based dishes to be honest but in particular he was apparently fed liver risotto frequently as a child and came to hate it. I can't say I blame him, it sounds foul.

But anyway, this risotto uses quorn pieces and is also quite a 'bulky' risotto, containing asparagus and peas. The method was different to other risottos I have made in that the quorn and veg were cooked in a seperate pan and only stirred into the finished rice at the end. This did work but meant two large pans on the hob and simultaneous cooking.

The knack with risotto, in my opinion, is patience and resisting the urge to stir constantly. I also have a special risotto stirrer which is like a wooden spoon with a hole in it and which apparently helps to evenly cook the rice and not break up the starches too much (making it thick and sticky). Here the basic steps are to sweat the onions and garlic in oil before stirring in the rice to coat it in the oil, then a small glass of wine is added and simmered off before the stock is added, a small amount at a time and simmered off in the same way.

I have been cooking risotto for years but have never made one with so much veg in it, I really enjoyed it though and the cooking the veg off in a second pan means it does not require much more than heating through once it is added to the rice.

This is a picture of the finished risotto in the pan, after the pesto and parmesan have been stirred through at the end:

And this is what it looks like served, although the portions are not huge, like with all risottos this much is more than enough!

The flavours were really strong from the sweet peas and the al dente asparagus and this worked really well. Start to finish this did take around the 25 minutes that the recipe claimed, although, as I mentioned before, this involves cooking two lots of ingredients at the same time. Even my risotto hating husband thought it tasted pretty good and I think the fact it is such a 'busy' dish broke up the texture quite a lot and detracted from the amount of rice involved.

In terms of weight watchers points, each portion, based on the recipe serving 4  , is 12 points broken down as follows: rice (5), quorn (2), butter/oil (2), parmesan (1), pesto (1), wine (1). This is actually pretty low for what tastes like a much richer dish and a substantial portion. I would definitely make it again.

A nice touch, in my opinion, is adding the pesto right at the end as this gave depth to the flavour but was not too heavy. You could make this recipe lighter on points by using a reduced fat spread instead of butter and a reduced fat pesto, but given the full fat version still only comes in at 12 points I do not think making these changes is necessary.

I would give this an 8/10 (he says 6/10 but even this is quite positive considering his risotto phobia!).

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Quorn Balls in Blue Cheese Sauce


I will be honest, the thought of making Quorn Balls in Blue Cheese Sauce did not fill me full of excitement but of apprehension. I do not like blue cheese and this recipe uses this as the key ingredient, but having been pleasantly surprised by the blue cheese stuffed mushrooms made a while back I was prepared to be surprised.

I have to say that yet again this recipe was far nicer than I was expecting it to be. It is also a pretty simple and quick recipe and my blue cheese loving husband really liked it.

So, effectively you make a roux sauce with butter, flour, milk and stock and then stir in the blue cheese (I used gorgonzola), a pinch of nutmeg and the zest of half a lemon and stir it until thickened (and stinking).

You then pour the sauce over the quorn balls (which have been browned off in a pan) and bake the whole thing for about 20 minutes. This is what it looked like when it came out of the oven, I was very pleased it had not bubbled over and left me with a nasty mess!

I served it with penne pasta tonight and it worked quite well, the creamy sauce sticks to the pasta really well and I imagine this would be very suited to spaghetti or tagliatelle even more so. This is what it looked like served with some fresh parsley on the top:

With this being quite a 'creamy' looking sauce you would expect it to be fairly heavy on weight watchers points. However, using spray oil to fry off the quorn balls and skimmed milk and low fat spread in the roux (both of which worked perfectly) this actually comes in at 12 points for the sauce with a weighed out 6 points portion of pasta. The sauce is only 6 points.

So, the 6 points is made up of: quorn balls (2), gorgonzola (1), milk (1), butter (1), flour (1). I think it helps that the cheese has such a strong flavour because you do not use a huge amount of it in this sauce but it provides a vivid effect on the taste.

Considering I am not a fan of blue cheese I actually would make this again, I quite liked it. I also think it tastes like it should be far more points than it actually is and there is enough sauce to give decent portions from the recipe.

Overall we give this recipe 7/10 and if you really like blue cheese there is no doubt in my mind that you will ADORE this recipe!

Monday, 18 July 2011

Quorn Pieces in Black Bean Sauce


Apologies for the gap in posts, I was off on a mini tour of Northern Italy, getting eaten alive by mozzies in Milan, wandering the beautiful streets of Verona, falling in love with Bologna (such an overlooked gem of a city) and stocking up at deli's all over Sienna.

And now I am back in the rainy, chilly UK. But only 8 weeks til our next overseas adventure - that thought is keeping me going. Ideally I would like to have finished this project by then. The intention is that I will still keep this blog going as an outlet for my cooking and baking and vegetarian adventures anyway.

So, last week, on our return, I made the Quorn Pieces in Black Bean Sauce and we did very much enjoy it although it does rely on a jar sauce and therefore is a little bit of a cheat in my opinion. The recipe calls for a 425g jar of the black bean sauce and I used Sharwoods for no other reason than the jar was exactly that size and therefore it helped me with calculating points.

The method is very simple, you just fry off the pieces with onion, garlic and ginger, whack in the (blanched) broccoli and red pepper (I also added some baby corn for a bit of extra colour and to bulk it out without adding points), add the sauce and then serve with noodles or rice. I tried it with both on seperate nights. I have to say the warmed up leftovers tasted even better on the second night as the flavours had evidently matured overnight in the fridge.

This is what the dish looked like served:

In terms of points values this is a pretty good recipe. The quorn based sauce is only 5 points per portion as follows: quorn (2), oil (1), sauce (2). This means that you can add it to a portion of rice for 11 points all in or to noodles for around about the same depending on the type and portion size.

I thought this was very tasty and I also really liked the method of blanching the broccoli for literally 2 minutes first, it meant that even with the very quick stir frying time it was cooked through but still with a lovely, fresh crunch to it.

This is a very adaptable dish and you could just as easily use up any leftover veg from your fridge to bulk it out. The pieces responded really well to the sauce and it was a satisfying and supremely easy and quick meal to assemble.

Although I would generally not use jar sauces this actually was so tasty and enjoyable that I will definitely make it again, it is one of those 'standby' meals where you can put it together with what you have available.

We gave it an 8/10.