Abalone con Riso allo Zafferano

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A dear friend gave us four abalones. We have not often cooked this before but we knew that we could not mess this up. Many videos were watched, shockingly some recipes included so many additives that one could replace the abalone with just about anything and not notice. Mrs BYF’s simple effort was absolutely delicious so here is the recipe:

Firstly, lock all the doors so no one can come in and share. Then tenderise the abalone by beating it with as mallet or, go the dramatic African way by tying it in a tea towel and smashing it repeatedly on the back step. Both ways worked beautifully.

Recipe

Heat a large cast iron skillet

4 Abalones tenderised and sliced in 2cm thick slices

150g Butter

2 Cloves garlic chopped

Handful of parsley

No salt was needed, so don’t be tempted lest the abalone goes tough

Melt the butter in the hot pan and add the garlic, then the abalone. Stir the abalone turning it over a few times and fry for about 2 minutes. The result was lovely soft abalone that tasted of the sea. We like raw fish so if some of it was a bit underdone we were happy. We ate it sprinkled with parsley, on saffron rice and with a fresh salad from the garden.

We opened a bottle (or two) of wonderful Prosecco for the occasion. After lunch we had to have a nap.

PESTO

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Pesto di Ortiche (Stinging Nettle) and Pesto di Crescione (Water Crescent)

On  my way back from feeding the chickens and picking Stinging Nettles, I noticed some Water Crescent on the side of the road and decided to forage some as well. Back home I parted with some nettle for Mrs BYF to make Ristto alle Ortiche, the rest I converted into a Pesto. I also made Watercress Pesto using the same recipe and had a comparative taste test. Nettle – 9, Watercress – 6

170 g Basil, Carrot Tops, Nettle or Cress

45 g Roasted Pine Nuts

40 g Fresh Garlic

5 g Salt

In a Mortar and Pestle crush all the ingredients very fine

270 ml Good Olive Oil

Hand mix the olive oil with the contents of the Mortar and Pestle very well

100 g Grated Parmigiano Reggiano (Any strong hard grating cheese if you do not have Parmigiano

40 g Grated Pecorino Romano (Any sharp goat or sheep cheese if you do not have Pecorino) Today, I used my own home made cheese

90 g Soft unsalted Butter

Now fold the cheeses and butter into the mix

It is ready to eat, but the flavours develop and intensify over the next 24 hours

Enjoy on bread or in a pasta

Do not forget the glass of good home made wine!!!

Pesto freezes very well

Risotto alle Ortiche – Stinging Nettle Risotto

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Stinging Nettle Risotto

We have a friend who has a few stinging nettles growing in the chicken coop and in their vast vegetable garden. Every year at about this time we binge eat stinging nettle. We pick only the soft tips and once we have a basketfull we plan. Half goes to pesto, no question, but the rest will be used in all sorts of ways. Today the choice went to risotto. The risotto came out an intense green, hinting  at the wonderful flavour, spinach like, but much tastier. I am sharing Mrs BYF’s recipe and I wish I could let you have a taste!

I use my favorite cast iron pot, big enough to make risotto for 6, but this is for 2 hungry people who will not be getting any dinner.

1 big leek or 4 or 5 little ones. I use the small tender ones from our garden green leaves and all

1 green mild chili from the garden because it was there

1 and 1/2 cup of Arborio rice

200 g or more of fresh nettles. They cook away to almost nothing

1/2 cup olive oil

700 ml of stock – I used quail stock

salt and pepper to taste

grated parmigiano for the table

Blanch the rinsed nettles in boiling water, drain and put aside.

Heat the stock and keep it lightly simmering

In the pot you will be cooking the risotto, pour the oil and add the leeks. Cook over low heat until the leeks have softened. Add the rice, stir until the first rice kernels pop. Add a ladle full of stock, stir until almost absorbed, add another ladle full and stir, add all the nettles, then keep ladling the stock on the rice and stirring. The more you stir the creamier the risotto will be. Once the rice is al dente and still very moist, almost soupy it is ready. Serve immediately sprinkled with lots of Parmigiano.

Zucchine

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We have a lot of zucchini, as has almost every one I know. There is quite a harvest of spring onions, too. We have used up all the garden’s onions, but Mrs BYF decided to combine the lot and to use it for pasta sauces, on pizza, in frittata and fritters. The discovery we made was that slow sweated spring onion sliced finely, including the green part becomes really soft and tasty. Add the slices zucchini to that and braise over very low heat. Then, create magic by adding fresh mint and basil! It tastes so good that it may be eaten straight out of the pot in stead of being a part of another dish.

20 Spring Onions

1 Kg sliced Zucchini

1 Hand full of fresh Mint leaves

1 Hand full of Basil

6 Tablespoons of Olive Oil

Cut about 1/3 off the top of the spring onions to get rid of the harder leaves. Slice the rest very finely. Fry the onions for about 5 minutes in the olive oil and then cover and sweat on very low heat until soft. Scrub the zucchini and slice very thinly. When the onion is soft add the zucchini and braise for about 10 minutes over very low heat . Add the shredded mint and basil, cover and cook on low until the flavours have blended. Add salt and black pepper to taste.

Pesto di Ortiche – Stinging Nettle Pesto

I still love Basil Pesto but Stinging Nettle is available, free and interesting to use. Basil is hard to grow in Dunedin and costs a mint to buy. The same recipe can be used for Rocket, Carrot Tops or Basil Pesto.

170 g Stinging Nettle

40 g Roasted Pine Nuts

40 g Garlic Cloves

270 g Good Extra Virgin olive oil

3 g Salt

70 g Melted Butter

90 g Grated Parmigiano cheese (or any other hard Italian grating cheese)

40 g Pecorino Romano cheese (or similar sharp and tangy cheese)

Today I used my own home made cheeses and the end result was divine!

Put everything except the cheese and butter in a blender and blend well. Do not make it into slush – keep a fine texture. You may need more olive oil to complete the job

Now fold in the cheese and butter

Serve on fresh or toasted bread, dab on to meat, chicken, fish and vegetarian dishes, use as a dip for carrots and other fresh veg, salad dressing, and of course as a pasta sauce.