By: Soha Darwish
Food writer & Critics – Menu Consultant – Diploma in Food Journalism – London, UK
I come from a home where food and cooking were never taken lightly, which definitely embedded the foodie in me. But like anything in life it really does take two to tango, and this is where my father’s role transpired. I believe that when men are interested in cooking, not necessarily on daily basis of course -they somehow elevate the culinary skills in the household. But I also note that most men are usually happy to cook only when; a) they are in a good mood b) the kitchen’s ambiance is inviting and when I say inviting, I mean clean and tidy – with all the prep work done by somebody -and when I say somebody, on most occasions it’s the wife!
So, when I was asked to write my regular food topic in a men’s issue, the one-pot recipes theme just popped in my mind. Desperately endeavouring to make it as tempting and encouraging as possible to get them into the kitchen. Addressing all situations, whether you are a family man who enjoys taking over the dinner service every blue moon, a bachelor who spends most of his salary on dining out or a college student away from his family, who ends up ordering junk food delivery at least five times a week, despite his best intentions.
Here are two recipes tested and tried, in fact they have become home staples, when I’m running against time or not willing to cause havoc in my tidy kitchen. One is original and the other is a classic with a twist –both highly nutritious and just delicious.
Spinach & Prawns Tortellini:
A heavenly match of fresh pasta, seafood and cream. An easy recipe to follow with few ingredients – delivering mesmerising flavours of sea, earth and lush dairy. It’s healthy comfort food at its best. What more could you ask for?
500g peeled medium prawns – 400g frozen spinach – 1 small chopped onion –1 pack of chilled spinach & ricotta tortellini pasta (approx. 400 g)–3 tbsp olive oil – 2 crushed garlic cloves –¼ tsp nutmeg–pinch of paprika – 250 ml whipping cream – salt & pepper.
- In a deep large pan, sauté the onion and garlic in olive oil, until translucent.
- Add frozen spinach (or fresh spinach leaves), stir fry until it’s completely thawed. Season with salt, pepper, nutmeg and paprika.
- Cover with water and simmer until almost cooked, then add cream and simmer again for about 2 mins.
- Gently stir in the fresh tortellini together with the raw prawns – partially cover with lid and simmer for about 5mins – until pasta is cooked and prawns are rosy. Don’t overcook, these are delicate ingredients and only need a few minutes on the hob.
- Serve immediately with generous sprinkles of grated Parmesan. Surely you will enjoy!
Chicken & Mushroom Lemon Risotto:
Risottos are classic Italian rice dishes that are always welcomed in any setting with its sublime creaminess, though no cream is used. It is really frowned upon in Italy to add cream in risottos, why should you really?! In this recipe the egg yolk twist is optional, but it really brightens up the dish and boosts its mellowness and nourishment.
400g Arborio or Carnaroli rice – 300g diced chicken fillets – 250g sliced chestnut mushrooms – 1 large chopped onion – 2 chopped stalks of celery – 3 tbsp olive oil – 1 chicken or vegetable stock cube – 2 egg yolks – 1 Adalia lemon – pinch of nutmeg – 200g grated Parmesan cheese – salt & pepper.
- Boil about 800 ml of water in a kettle, then pour about 500ml in a jug stirring in the stock cube and keep it on your side.
- 2. In a large pan, sauté the onions and celery in olive oil until translucent, then add the chicken and mushrooms. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg and stir fry for about 4 mins.
- Add the risotto rice directly from the packet (without washing) and stir in gently, until all is combined.
- On medium heat, pour some of the stock in the jug covering the risotto, stir until stock is absorbed, then repeat same process until rice is cooked. Starch will be slowly released turning the mixture creamy. It usually takes about 20 mins to cook, never leave it unattended. Keep stirring gently with your jug handy, if stock finishes then use remaining water in the kettle.
- In a cup mix the egg yolks with the grated lemon zest and half of the Parmesan cheese. Stir them into the cooked risotto for about 1 min on low heat, then take it off the hob.
- Sprinkle with some finely chopped parsley and the rest of the cheese, then serve immediately. Nothing really prepares you for this blissful symphony of flavours!