Reliable Risotto

Almost everyone has their own 'old reliable' when it comes to risotto (and I'm about to boast mine). I don't think you can ever go wrong with an oozy prawn and mushroom risotto quite frankly. So here it is:

1 small onion - diced
knob of butter
3 or 4 handfuls of arborio rice
1 litre of chicken stock
g king prawns
a handful of frozen garden peas or soya beans
2 handfuls of oyster mushrooms
a glass of white wine
a handful of grated fresh Parmesan (save a little for sprinkling at the end)
fresh parsley - chopped

How to make:
Melt the butter on a low heat and add the onion and cook until soft and translucent. 
Add the rice and stir with the butter. 
Pour in enough stock to cover the rice and bring to the boil on a medium heat.
Simmer until the rice has soaked up the stock then add some of the white wine. Pour in some more stock, simmer until most of it has absorbed, and add the rest of the wine. 
After about 10 mins add the king prawns. 
Keep adding the stock in stages until the rice has swelled to a tender state. This should take roughly 20 mins, but taste the rice to check it's tender enough (and still has a slight bite to it). 
In the last 5 mins add the oyster mushrooms, peas/soya beans. Once they've almost cooked through fold in the fresh chopped parsley and grated Parmesan and cook for a couple of minutes.
Serve and sprinkle with the rest of the Parmesan.

 Et voila!!

Canteens get Class

I consider canteens quite the underdog of eateries. Commonly associated with schools and workplaces, they've also become accepted into the dining culture, mainly due to the infusion of Asian cuisine and now canteen restaurants like Wagamama, Cha Cha Moon and Busaba Eathai are popular and reliable choices.

I think this is down to three things:
1) prices don't make you limit your order
2) service is pretty swift
3) they have great atmosphere

Point 3 is one of the most important as it's what a canteen is all about. Lively, an eavesdropper's dream and full of satisfied faces. Though the great atmosphere probably has a lot to do with points 1 and 2. Which is where Canteen (a canteen called Canteen) differs. It's prices are high but reasonable for the organic local produce they cook with. It's much larger which means you're not squashed up with other diners - not so good for eavesdroppers; and service is at a regular pace. It's essentially a restaurant disguised as a canteen. So once you accept this it becomes an enjoyable meal.

The menu is mostly modern British food. I went for the lamb and mint pie, mash and cabbage with gravy at £10.50. Seems a bit steep, but tastes great and really fills a hole!

I'm not much of a fan of macaroni cheese, yet theirs was surprisingly light, and had just the right amount of crunch to the golden  brown top.


Verdict: too much class and pleasantries to be a true canteen, but very worth a visit if you appreciate free range and organic produce.