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March 2010 Recipes (provided by Nichola Fletcher)

Barley Risotto

A Scottish version of rice risotto, this is a lovely vegetarian dish, or may be used as an accompaniment to meat dishes. Change the vegetables according to season, mixing the flavours and colours. Add root vegetables first, and softer green vegetables like kale, spinach, peas, etc, last so they stay fresh. The cheese should be very finely grated. Lemon and lime zest reduce the need for salt.

Serves 2-3

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 45-50 minutes

  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 100 g pearl barley
  • 75 ml white wine or 50ml wine vinegar
  • 300 ml home-made or low-salt stock
  • 100 g mixed vegetables, finely diced
  • 100 g mushrooms
  • 100 g peas/baby broad beans
  • Grated zest and juice of a lemon or lime
  • 25 g finely grated Parmesan or other hard cheese
  • Fresh coriander, parsley or other herb, chopped
  • A pinch (1g) salt if needed

Chop the onion, garlic, and other vegetables quite small.

Fry the onion and garlic in oil until soft. Then add the barley and fry for a few more minutes.

Turn down the heat, add the wine and simmer very gently. When it is absorbed, add half of the stock, the chopped vegetables and mushrooms.

When that liquid is absorbed (about 20 minutes), add the rest of the stock, and continue to simmer. When that is absorbed (about 20 minutes again) check that the barley is cooked. It should be a little bit chewy. If not soft enough, add a little water and cook until done.

Stir in the peas or beans, the lemon zest and its juice and cook for five more minutes. Stir in the grated cheese and chopped coriander. Just before serving, taste the risotto, and only if necessary add the salt – it may not need any.

Spiced Venison with Pumpkin Seeds

Venison is one of the leanest meats and also a good source of iron. It is safe to eat venison pink. If using other lean meats such as pork and chicken instead, make sure they are cooked right through before serving. Using spices reduces the need for salt.

Serves 2

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 10 minutes

  • 300 g venison haunch, diced
  • 300 g mixed vegetables (peppers, courgettes, onion, etc)
  • 2 tsp olive or rapeseed oil
  • 200 g couscous
  • 3 tsp Moroccan tagine spice mix  - or use 1 tsp each of ground cumin, nutmeg or ginger 
  • 10 g butter
  • 75 g pumpkin seeds
  • 150 ml freshly squeezed orange juice
  • Large handful fresh coriander or other green herbs, chopped

Chop the vegetables into large chunks. Brush them with 1 tsp oil and grill, or stew gently in 1 tsp oil until soft and browned.

Meanwhile, make up the couscous according to the pack, using only ½ tsp salt but stirring in some ground black pepper. Keep warm and top with the vegetables when cooked.

Dust the venison in the spice mix. Heat the butter and oil in a frying pan. When it starts to brown, add the venison. Brown very quickly on all sides, and then remove the pan from the heat (4-5 minutes in total).

Add the pumpkin seeds and stir for 1 minute, then put the venison and pumpkin seeds onto the couscous.

Stir the orange juice into the pan and quickly dissolve the spices, then drizzle this over the meat and couscous.

Scatter liberally with the fresh herbs and serve at once.

For a light salad dish:

Reduce meat to 250 g. Proceed as above, and instead of serving it with the couscous, tip the venison and pumpkin seeds over 50 g mixed salad or herb leaves, and pour the pan juices over the top as a warm dressing. Serve at once, with fresh wholemeal bread.

Tweed Kettle

A classic early spring dish from the Scottish Borders. This is a cross between a soup and a stew and makes a lovely starter. The onion is nice and crunchy while the mushrooms add a silky texture. Served with boiled potatoes, it becomes a main course.

Serves 4

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 15-20 minutes

  • 500 g skinned salmon or trout
  • 100 g (1small) onion
  • 100 g closed cup mushrooms
  • 200 ml water
  • 100 ml dry white wine or 75 ml white wine vinegar
  • ¼ - ½ tsp salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp ground mace or nutmeg
  • Handful of chopped parsley and/or chives
  • 4 portions boiled potatoes to serve

Cut the salmon into 2 cm cubes. Chop the onion very small. Slice the onions thinly.

Put the water, wine (or wine vinegar) onions and mushrooms in a pan and bring to the boil. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add the salmon, salt, pepper and a pinch of mace or nutmeg, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Just before serving, add a handful of chopped parsley or chives.

Serve as a soup as a starter, or with boiled potatoes chopped into it as a main course.

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