ImageEaster. One of those holidays I still find a little difficult. At least this year there was a decent gap between the lump-in-the-throat heart-pricks of Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day. My previous post highlighted my Valentine’s Day ritual (message me for a password). Mother’s Day I regard an exercise in fertility fetishism; annoying but ultimately consumer-driven. I probably wouldn’t be saying that if my widowhood hadn’t closed the lacuna in which I may have been able to reproduce.

It has occurred to me that I am one of the forgotten childless…I am not infertile, so I can’t bleat on about IVF and the indignity of raging hormones, and neither did I choose not to have children, so I can’t pretend it was a choice and ooh, have you seen my new Christian Louboutins… For me it just didn’t happen. Anyway, just thought I’d get that out there. I would have been a good Mum I think and I reserve the right to be a little bit down about that from time to time…

So here I am on the other side of the spring festival of renewal and rebirth, and yet I have to confess to the spiritual resonance of death and resurrection sending me into a momentary tailspin of despair. In the immediate aftermath of Christian’s death, the sheer incomprehensibility of him not returning led me to trying to strike some crazy bargains, I can tell you. But ultimately these days I just think, Mary Magdalene, you were one lucky bitch.

But if Easter teaches us anything, it is that we all have our crosses to bear and we all need to count our blessings and the joy of good food is one of them. Thankfully on Maundy Thursday, when the 4 days loomed in front of me, a box arrived in my office. Not filled with chocolate. Something far better and I knew that because the outside of the box had on it one word – Natoora. For those not familiar, Natoora is a premier importer of fine foods. They’ve just a launched a new service in conjunction with Ocado called “One Special Dish” in which they send you an ingredient they wouldn’t normally sell on Ocado, paired with additional ingredients you need to make one dish. This comes with a handy together recipe card at what I assume is a slightly discounted price. This month the ingredients were for Bruscandoli Risotto.

I know, I know, Bruscandoli. We’re so over it. It’s like this year’s cavolo nero…..What was that? You’ve never heard of it? I’m just being a tosser? Yes, you’re right and no, until the box arrived I’d never heard of it either. Bruscandoli are young hop shoots (everything sounds better in Italian mi amore), commonly found around Venice and cursed or blessed, depending on your point of view, with a very short season.  Hops being what gets turned into beer, you might imagine a fairly ‘hoppy’ flavour. But these have a touch of the brassica about them and a twiggy texture so lend themselves well to a slow simmer in a risotto. I made half the recommended amount of risotto but used the whole bunch of bruscandoli. And I had leftovers to make a tonne of arancini.

I rather liked Bruscandoli and I’d definitely buy it again, so Natoora, thank you for sending me these little shoots of tasty hope. Spring has truly sprung.


Serves 1 with loads left for AranciniP1030224

  • 1 bunch of bruscandoli (about 150g)
  • 1 pink roscoff onion
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 160g carnaroli rice
  • 100ml dry white wine
  • 750ml chicken/veg stock (hot)
  • 1tbsp butter
  • 30g parmesan, grated
  • parsley, finely chopped
  • salt and pepper


  1. Quarter the onion and chop speed 5/6 seconds
  2. Add the olive oil and sauté 100C/reverse spoon/8 minutes
  3. Roughly chop the bruscadoli by hand into 1cm pieces and add to the TM bowl. 100C/Reverse spoon/2 minutes
  4. Add the rice and stir. 100C/Reverse spoon/2 mins
  5. Keep the machine running and add the wine. 100C/reverse spoon/4 mins
  6. Check that the wine has absorbed and scrape down the bowl if necessary. Now add half the stock and stir. 100c/reverse spoon/8 mins
  7. Check and add the remaining stock. It should still look fairly soupy. Keep stirring 100C/reverse spoon/7mins.
  8. Check again and add more stock if required. Taste and season. Add ¾ of the parmesan, ½ the parsley and the butter. Turn off the heat and reverse spoon for another minute.
  9. Spoon onto a warm plate and sprinkle with the remaining parmesan and parsley.


  1. Heat the olive oil in a heavy based pan.
  2. Finely chop the onion and sauté until translucent – about 6 minutes. Do not colour.
  3. Chop the bruscandoli into 1cm lengths and add to the onions. Saute for a couple of minutes.
  4. Next add the risotto and coat with the oil for a couple of minutes.
  5. Heat the stock and have it standing by. While you do this, add the wine and allow to bubble and be absorbed by the rice until it is almost all absorbed.
  6. Add the stock ladle by ladle allowing it to almost totally absorb before adding the next.
  7. After about 12 minutes, taste and see how much further it needs to go. The rice should have a little bite. Cook to your preferred consistency.
  8. Remove from the heat and add the butter, 1/2 the parsley and 2/3 of the parmesan. Do not stir. Cover and allow the butter to melt.
  9. Once the butter has melted, give the risotto a final beating and serve with the remaining parsley and parmesan.


  • Sunflower oil
  • Leftover risotto
  • Buffalo mozzarella, cubed
  • Polenta
  • Parsley, finely chopped



  1. Fill a deep heavy pan with 5 cm of rapeseed or sunflower oil.
  2. Heat the oil to 190C or until a cube of bread turns golden in 20 seconds.
  3. Put 2-3 tbsp of polenta onto a plate.
  4. Take golf ball sized lumps of cold risotto and flatten into the cup of your hand. Make a dent and place a cube of mozzarella into it. Encase with risotto and shape into a ball.
  5. Roll each ball in the polenta and drop into the heated oil. It will spit so have a splash-guard standing by.
  6. Fry each ball until golden, about 3-4 minutes. Don’t worry if they start to ooze and become misshapen. They’re just as delicious. (Words to live by…)
  7. Drain on kitchen paper and serve with the chopped parsley and a cold glass of something white.