Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Creole Seafood Risotto

THAT'S it. The end of Boozeday Tuesday as we know it. On Monday the new hub at Meeja Wales comes into operation and all the fun and frivolities will be over for good... well, maybe.
There was a good turnout for the Boozeday session. Even the Robot turned up belatedly to say his goodbyes (before his official goodbye on Friday - anyone realise he was leaving?).
He was mortified to discover that the big boss man at our old drinking den The Yard was so grateful for our custom over the last year or so that he furnished the usual suspects with a free meal. Not ones to take advantage, Wathanovski, the Fugitive, the Prince of Darkness, Shutts and Smashy all had burger and chips. But there's always one who is apt to bite the hand that feeds them.
Step forward the glutinous Danny Boy (the poipes, the poipes). "I'm gonna have the ribeye steak," he announced without a blush of embarrassment. He then proceeded to wolf it down in a mere few seconds.
The Prince, meanwhile, needed something to wash it down with. So out came the double voddies. At that stage I made my excuses and left, but I hear the festivities went on until well into the early hours with the usual suspects ending up amid a throng of whippersnappers at Barfly. The Poipes was left holding his cape as the Prince, not one to be put off by dancing amid youngsters old enough to be his grandchildren, decided to weave his magic on the dancefloor. Wowie, wowie as he is known to say.

Wathanovski, meantime, is in the last week of singledom before tying the knot with his girlfriend, the teacher. He is still having a battle with his clothing for the big day, however. Remember this is the guy who walked all the way home in a shrink-wrapped jacket once, only to realise that he was actually in possession of one belonging to the Wonderful Withers of WoS.
Well, the other day he took delivery of a new pair of shoes and decided a trip to the cobblers was in order so that he could have the heels elevated slightly, to save him the humiliation of being shorter than his good lady on the big day.
What he forgot to check, though, was whether the shoes were fit for purpose. Too late, he realised that they were for a person with two right feet. Doh!
Mind you, I've encountered a similar problem before. I once bought a glamorous new pair of trainers down at Bessemer Road market in Cardiff. I had taken the fat kid there to buy a new school uniform and when I saw the all-singing, all-dancing daps I knew I just had to have them. I tried on one of the ones on display and quickly agreed to buy them, handing over my £50 as the salesman went to put them in the box.
I whistled all the way home with a smile on my face.. until I went to put them on and found out that not only were they different sizes but different patterns, too. By then the market trader from whom I had made my purchase was long gone.

On Friday my good lady Wren came to meet me in The Yard as Wathanovski had his latest "I'm getting married" celebration drink. By the time she arrived I was already three pints down the road to oblivion, and everyone else seemed full of high spirits too.
Wathanovski was so happy that he burst into song in the middle of the pub, treating us to some boy band medleys and his warmingly Welsh imitation of Tom Jones. You can take the boy out of Neath but you cannot take Neath out of the boy.
At least I have a new nickname for him... Wathanovski is now known as Take Twat.

As for myself I think Wren decided it was time for me to leave when I hoisted myself onto a stool to dance away to Cockney Rebels Come up and See Me. I think her exact words were: "No, you come down here and see me.. now!"

Saturday was a hard day in the office, with many grey faces around. Thankfully Sunday was a beautiful day and Wren and I travelled out to a little place to Skenfrith near Monmouth. There is a lovely old church there and the ruins of a 13th century castle. The Bell pub is a popular watering hole, too, and seems to have moved upmarket with some very interesting meals on the menu, with much of the produce sourced locally.
After that we moved on to Ross on Wye for a walk along the river, getting much needed air into our lungs after a heavy weekend.
On Monday I decided to visit the international swimming pool, only to find that my best kept secret was out. Mums and their kids were queueing out of the door, with it still somehow being the Easter holidays. I gave it up as a bad job, not wanting to be surrounded by ankle-biters in the pool. Surely if you have a facility this good it shouldn't be wasted on terrible tots.

Recently I bought some fresh squid from Morristons then looked back through my Observer mags to find a recipe. I came up with a very tasty dish called Creole Seafood Risotto.
1 tbsp olive oil
2 spring onions, finely chopped
6 basil leaves, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
8 shallots, finely chopped
2 red chillis or 1/2 Scotch bonnet chilli, finely chopped
Seafood like cockles, mussels, squid etc. I used cooked mussels and raw squid
8 raw prawns
1/2 tsp saffron threads
salt and black pepper
1.5 litres vegetable stock (with added fish sauce) or fish stock
200 gms arborio rice
Juice of one lime
2 tbsp creme fraiche
100gms parmesan

Heated the oil in a wok
Fried the onion, basil, garlic, shallots and chilli for 2/3 minutes
Mixed in the seafood and prawns
added saffron, mixed well
Covered the mixture with the stock and cooked for two minutes
Rinsed the rice then added it a bit of the time, stirring it until it soaked up juices.
Cooked gently on a low heat, adding stock if it evaporated away and stirred until the rice absorbed the stock and took on a creamy appearance.
Removed from the heat then added the lime juice and creme fraiche.
Mixed well, then served immediately with a sprinkling of parmesan and garlic bread.

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