When I go home to see my parents I always look forward to cooking with our Aga and using goodies from our garden. Mum’s herb garden is brimming with interesting varieties of thyme, numerous types of basil, umpteen varieties of rosemary and different gradations of sage. And Dad’s orchard is normally heaving with a range of apples, pears, medlars, quinces, plums, greengages and crab-apples, with mulberries, apricots and nectarines planned for the future. And that’s before you get into the issue of which mushrooms are edible, let alone which flowers you might want to scatter into a salad or use as a garnish.
I wondered long and hard about telling you about our amazing scallop risotto because I’ve banged on about them a lot in the past. But this one is worth it because it featured the subtle floral flourish of rosemary flowers and fennel blossom.
Simply fry 3 small onions in butter and olive oil. After 5 minutes add 500 grams of risotto rice. Listen to it crackle and then tip in a third of a bottle of white wine. Once this has almost dried up add your first ladle of chicken stock whilst stirring slowly. Keep doing this until the rice is tender (after around 30 minutes). Then add a mug of frozen peas and 300 grams of queen scallops. Cook for 4 minutes and then add some spinach which will wilt in the heat of the rice. Stir in some butter, season and allow to rest for a few minutes.
Serve with a garnish of purple rosemary flowers and honey coloured fennel flowers which taste of aniseed. The floral notes added a very subtle layer of flavours and interest that transformed this from just being a scallop risotto into a memory that will linger forever.