Asparagus, Pea, Basil and Lemon Risotto

Final_1The evenings in Sydney are becoming really crisp and you can feel winter is on it’s way. To celebrate the cooler weather I have made this risotto which is always a lovely meal to come home too. This risotto has just a hint of lemon juice and zest in it which gives it a nice little lift.

When deciding which rice to use this article from The Telegraph in the United Kingdom gives great advice. Here is part of what was written “There are a few kinds of risotto rice and it can be hard to know what the difference is. The three main types found in the supermarket are Carnaroli, Vialone nano and Arborio. They have different qualities and look different too.

  • Carnaroli is a great rice for vegetable or meat-based risotto, and the best for beginners. It’s the most forgiving type to cook with, and the one I use most often. It doesn’t matter too much if you leave it unstirred for a little while, or, once ready, you leave it in the pan while you assemble the family. Carnaroli is a relatively recent invention, emerging just after the Second World War when an Italian rice grower crossed arborio with a Japanese variety, making this wonderful new strain of rice.
  • Vialone nano, with its shorter, less starchy grains, is best for fish risotto. The slight lack of starch can make vialone nano risotto seem lighter.
  • Arborio is fine but tricky to work with. It overcooks easily and the grains are more likely to break, making a gruel-like risotto.

I have really enjoyed my time in Sydney and we have visited a few places to the south like Kangaroo Valley and Mossvale. Sometimes we play with the idea of buying a house with some land and a vegetable garden in one these areas.




* 4 cups vegetable stock
* 150 grams unsalted butter
* 3 tbsp olive oil
* 1 onion, finely chopped
* 1½ cups risotto rice. I used Vialone Nano but Alborio is fine
* ½ cup white wine
* 2 bunches of asparagus, chopped
* 1 cup fresh or frozen shelled peas
* finely grated zest of 1 lemon and juice
* 1½ cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more to serve
* sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
* a large handful of fresh basil, coarsely chopped



Heat the vegetable stock until almost boiling, keep it simmering.
In a large heavy saucepan heat the butter and oil over a medium heat.
Add the diced onions and garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes until softened but not browned.
Add the rice and stir with a wooden spoon until the grains are well coated and glistening, about 1 minute.
Pour in the wine and stir until it has been completely absorbed.
Add 1 ladle of hot stock and simmer, stirring until the liquid has been absorbed.
After 10 min, add the asparagus, peas, and lemon zest and mix well.
Continue to add the stock at intervals and cook as before, for a further 8-10 min, until all the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is tender but still firm.
Add the reserved stock, parmesan, basil, salt, and pepper.
Mix well.
Remove from the heat, cover, and let rest for 2 min.
Spoon into warmed bowls and garnish with basil and grated Parmesan.


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Finally I found a great Muffin Recipe!

IMG_8691I have been trying out muffin recipes for quite some time and always been a bit disappointed with the outcome. The muffins were never like the ones I tried in cafes and bakeries. They were not light enough and didn’t rise as high as I wanted. Finally I have found a recipe that is great. I recently bought some Billington’s sugar  and I chose the Demerara type. On the side of the packet it suggested I go to and look at the recipes and this is where I found the muffin recipe. I love the sugar too and it looks fantastic on the top of the muffins.

So if you’re anything like me spending Easter with friends and family and you’d like to whip up a quick bunch of muffins, please try this recipe. You can replace the raspberries with any other ingredient you fancy or a couple of them. Banana and choc chip, apple, blueberries or white chocolate. You can grate the apple or cut into small pieces.

IMG_8690I have changed the original recipe just a little.


  • 300g Plain white flour
  • 155g Demerara Billingtons sugar
  • 1tbsp Baking powder
  • ½tsp Bicarbonate of soda
  • ¼tsp Salt 
  • 250ml Milk (whole)
  • 2 Large eggs (free range)
  • 85g Butter (unsalted) melted
  • 120g Raspberries


  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C (170°C fan) and line a muffin tin with muffin cases.

  2. Sift together the flour & 115g of caster sugar, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda & salt into a large bowl. Pour the milk into a jug, add the eggs and mix by hand

  3. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and, mixing slowly, add the milk & egg mixture, increase the speed and beat until the batter is smooth. Pour in the melted butter and beat again until well mixed

  4. Stir in the berries by hand, ensuring they are evenly mixed, then spoon the batter into the cases until 2/3 full.

  5. Sprinkle the tops with the remaining sugar.

  6. Bake in the oven for 20-25 mins until the muffins are golden brown and springy to the touch. Allow to cool then transfer to a wire rack.







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My Chili Con Carne


We had a birthday celebration this week. My “husba” as I affectionately call him, loves Chili Con Carne, so this was his special birthday dinner. We have made this as a family meal for years. The children love it and we have a few ways of serving it. I would set the table with the chili, avocado, chopped tomato and lettuce, salsa and maybe some corn kernels and taco shells. Then everyone serves themselves the way they like to. Some would just have a big bowl of chili, others would make a taco and other versions of a mix up of these ingredients. Children love putting meals together.

I never had any problems with the chili being spicy but if you do, it’s easy to take the chili out and add it as an option on the table. Of course you might have seen a recipe for Chili Con Carne before, the only secret ingredient I have is a cup of beer. I find it adds a great taste to the meal.



3 tablespoons of olive oil

500 grams of lean mice beef
2 large finely chopped onions
3 cloves garlic diced

1 tablespoon of sweet paprika
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons chili powder or to taste

2 tablespoons dried ground cumin

(I use Herbies Mexican Chili Powder and extra cumin)
Coarse salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste
2  cups tomato passata

1 cup of freshly chopped tomatoes
250 mls of beef stock
1 tablespoon of brown sugar

can kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1 cup of freshly shelled borlotti beans

1 cup of light beer
Sour cream
Chopped green onions



In a large heavy pot over medium-high, heat the olive oil, onion, and garlic. Add cumin, oregano, chili powder, (or Herbies Mexican chili powder) sugar, salt, pepper. Then add mince beef and once brown and still in small pieces add tomato passata and freshly cut tomatoes. Stir until well combined. Now add the beef stock. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered and stirring often. When the liquid has reduced add the beer.

Continue simmering for 2 to 3 hours. You can add more beer or stock if you think it is becoming too dry.

(This can be made into a vegetarian chili by adding more beans and deleting the minced beef).




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