Frau Kuchen

cooking and eating in Berlin (and elsewhere)

Posts Tagged ‘summer vegetables

€5 dinner: risotto & granita

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A group of friends recently started a recession busting supper club – the theory being that you cook two courses, for four people, for five euros.  (Actually there are 5 of us, so it’s a €6.25 dinner, but that doesn’t sound quite as catchy).

Last night was the turn of my partner Jim (author of the popular blog He came in slightly over budget at €6.60, but we decided to forgive him, mainly because we were all hungry – but with the condition that he comes in €0.35 under next time…

It’s particularly difficult because you have to count the entire pack of any ingredients you buy, regardless of whether you use them or not – although you are allowed to use store-cupboard ingredients such as herbs, spices and oil. Thankfully the Türkenmarkt is close to our house, so a 5pm visit gave him almost everything he needed.

He served up:

Summer vegetable risotto

500g risotto rice – €.90
2 courgettes – €0.70
about 100g fresh peas €0.75
1 lemon (zest and juice) – €0.15
1 onion –  €0.20
1 large bunch mint (also used for dessert) – €1.00
150g parmesan – €1.80

store cupboard/free ingredients:
Vegetable stock powder (Marigold Swiss Vegetable Bouillon) [1]
Fresh herbs from the balcony – chervil, parsley, chives
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
The rough ends from the green asparagus we had for tea the previous night, peeled and chopped, and we used the water we cooked last night’s asparagus in.

Pod the peas and put the shells in a pan with last nights asparagus water, heat until simmering – this will be your stock.  Chop the courgettes and steam them over the simmering stock. Set the courgettes aside and add the vegetable stock powder to the liquid until it tastes right. Keep the pan with the stock over a low heat (you may want to remove the pea pods).

Make the risotto using your usual method. His was:
Heat the oil and cook the onions until soft, add the rice, freshly ground pepper and lemon zest, and stir until coated in oil. Add the stock a couple of ladels at a time. Five mins before the end add the peas and the chopped asparagus (plus a glass of wine if you have one – this was out of his budget). At the end add the courgettes and grated parmesan and season to taste. Serve with additional parmesan on the side.

Melon, Ginger & Mint granita

1 melon (he used a galia, but canteloupe or honeydew would work) – €0.50
Small bunch of mint – chopped (see risotto)
25 g fresh ginger, unpeeled, grated – €0.15

store cupboard/free ingredients:
125g sugar
150ml water

Place the sugar in a small pan with 150ml water and heat gently to melt the sugar. Simmer for 5 minutes to make a sticky sugar syrup. Add the grated ginger and leave over the heat to steam (no bubbles) for five minutes. Strain to remove the ginger pulp and set aside to cool.

Whizz the melon in a food processor until smooth. Then stir in the chopped mint and sugar syrup.

Pour into a shallow freezerproof container. Freeze for 45 minutes, then take out and scrape the sides into the middle to blend soft and hard. Refreeze. Repeat until it forms a fairly solid spoonable slush (softer than sorbet, harder than slush puppy)- this should take about 3 hours.

Jim’s was still pretty slushy after about 5 hours, so perhaps the sugar syrup wasn’t thick enough, or it could be that our freezer is a bit rubbish. It was still really tasty though, the ginger gave it a good warmth that came through after the melon and stayed in your mouth for ages.

We finished the meal with fresh mint tea – made with the remainder of the huge bunch of mint we got for a €1 in the market.

All in all a great meal – it’s amazing what you can do for a few euros. It’s my turn in about a month, I’ll report then.


[1] This is the best instant stock I’ve ever found, and is often quoted by UK chefs as the only one worth using if you don’t make it fresh. If anyone knows where I can buy it in Berlin please let me know, as at the moment I bring it over from the UK. Although I bought a kilo last time so it will be sometime before I need to restock.

Written by hudsons

July 6, 2009 at 9:27 am