Queen Victoria Market

Asparagus and Leek Something or Other…

Yesterday was a beautiful warm and sunny day in Melbourne and called for a stroll through The Queen Victoria Market.

Many years ago I used to do all my food shopping there. My dad introduced me to his favourite butcher and my sister – in – law’s family owned a couple of the fish/seafood stalls so I was always guaranteed to get the best and freshest of everything. I had my trolley and never needed a list, buying what caught my eye. I loved doing this. Then along came a child (my child, not that I found one at the market) and full time work and those weekly visits came to an end.

Of course dad’s butcher is no longer there and my sister – in – law’s fam have sold up and retired.

Yesterday I had the need to get there and just soak up the atmosphere. Lots more sit down food/coffee areas but the stalls full of crappy Australiana are still there. We walked up and down every aisle, looking at every crappy T.Shirt, remote control toys for kids and the little battery operated yappy dogs that did flips (I had one of those when I was kid) and found my eyes welling up. My handsome man’s eyes were also teary and I was shocked to see him so emotional but it turns out his eyes were teary because of a man who obviously needed a lesson in personal hygiene and not from any type of nostalgia!

Strolling through the fruit and veg stalls were the guys competing for business, trying to out yell one another. Seriously, this one guy was about to burst the veins in his neck…indeed at one point I thought his head would explode…So, I stood, watched and waited but alas no joy! His head stayed intact!

They had the most beautiful smelling mangoes and awesome pomegranates as well as the freshest looking asparagus I have ever seen. I bought lots of each.

The pomegranates are gone already as I went on a bit of a Vodka kick when I got home (it was a hot day ok!!!) and squeezed the juice into my martini glass and banged out all those amazing little rubies with my rolling pin and added them to my glass and poured in my Vodka and sat outside in my small court yard and just went to Heaven for a while…mmmmmm….Vodka!

But this really is about the asparagus. I came home from work today and looked through the freezer (found puff pastry) so decided that the asparagus would go into this pie/quiche thingy. Full of the free range eggs I had bought and the baby leeks, the grated nutmeg and some wonderful cheese (blue cheese and parmesan) and cream and topped with sliced tomatoes from the organic section and served with a green salad…well, it was so good I made two of them so I could have some more tomorrow.

Oh, and I finally managed to track down the dark muscovado sugar I have been looking for so the ingredients for my Christmas cake a slowly coming together…Damn that Nigella and her must try Chocolate Christmas Cake with ingredients that are hard to come by…

Cheers people and now for the rest of my Pomegranate Vodka which has steeped nicely over night…thank you Melbourne for giving me a day off work tomorrow for a horse race ūüôā

Rugging up with Risotto

Asparagus and Mushroom Risotto

So, my second week of holidays and I have to say that I have now totally relaxed. I have also stuffed up my body clock, going to bed at all hours…sleeping during the day and staying up late at night…going back to work next week is going to be hell!

Last night my handsome man and I fell asleep on the couch at around 8:15pm and woke just after midnight…just a wee nap! Of course we were wide awake after that so decided a classic zombie film was in order. “Return of the Living Dead” and a bag of sweet chilli and sour cream potato chips and before we knew it we were hitting the sack at around 4:30am. Needless to say we were fast asleep on the couch later in the afternoon after a day out in the cold.

Groggy with sleep and a glass of wine in hand meant that some pottering in the kitchen was needed. It was cold outside and warm indoors, setting the scene for a creamy risotto. Fresh Asparagus in the fridge and Portabella Mushrooms in the pantry…all set to go. I always use butter – I love butter but you could use oil if you like and make sure you use the best parmesan you can find…It makes all the difference.

Ingredients

  • 50 g butter (use oil if you like, about a 1/4 cup)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves,¬†minced
  • 1/2¬†cup dry white wine
  • 2¬†cups arborio rice
  • 6¬†cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • fresh asparagus trimmed and cut into 3 cm pieces
  • 250¬†g¬†small portabella mushrooms,¬†sliced
  • 3/4¬†cup good parmesan cheese,¬†shredded
  • 70g extra butter
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Method
Heat butter or oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; saute gently for 3 to 4 minutes until softened. Increase heat to high.  Add rice and stir until completely coated with butter or oil and cook for 2 minutes. Add white wine and stir through until wine is almost absorbed.Add 1 cup of hot chicken broth, stirring constantly until most of the liquid is absorbed by the rice.Gradually stir in remaining broth 1 cup at a time; cooking and stirring until liquid is absorbed before adding the next cup.Heat 3 tablespoons oil and some butter in a large nonstick frying pan. Add asparagus and saute for 1 minute then stir in mushrooms. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until mushrooms just begin to colour.

Remove from heat and set aside and add to risotto when it is nearly finished cooking.

Risotto is ready after the last cup of broth has been stirred in and rice has thickened. If risotto is not ready, you can add hot water. It should be soft but with a little bite to it.Remove from heat and stir in extra butter, asparagus, mushrooms and parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper; top with additional shaved parmesan, if desired. Place lid on risotto and let stand for 2 minutes. This will help it become nice and creamy.