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Cooking with newspaper: Nigel Slater's brown rice with mint; broad bean pea and bread salad, and roast plums

On next to that nice Nigel Slater fella in The Observer, with a couple of recipes published in the paper together: Nigel Slater's brown rice and roast plums.

Once I'd stocked up on the ingredients for the rice recipe, I realised that Slater had foxed me: it was a risotto recipe by another name.

Dammit, I hate risotto, mainly because it appears with temple-throbbing regularity as the unimaginative veg*n option on omnivorous menus. Usually it's tasteless goo, with all the textural pleasure for the diner of tucking into baby food.

Once more into the risotto breach, dear friends.

Despite the 45 minutes of my life I lost to stirring the rice repetitively, the brown rice recipe was almost worth it - the mixture of broad beans, courgette, wine and mint was a gentle, summery winner.

The mint listed in the recipe is about a third of what I reckon it needs. Even with the massive over-minting, the end result still felt like it needed a bit of a punch up in the flavour stakes (I added nutritional yeast and mustard powder to serve as a cheese replacement - the original recipe used parmesan - and some pine nuts wouldn't have gone astray if I'd had some).

Still, the dish made me forgive risotto some of its past trespasses, and reminded me I don't cook with mint or broad beans enough.

It also makes me wonder when Nigel Slater says 'serves two' he meant two full grown walruses. We managed to get four serving out of the recipe.

While the brown rice tasted good - and it improved overnight, getting repeat play for lunch the next day - the next recipe for roast plums could bring a tear to a glass eye.

It was log-fallingly simple - stone plums, add sugar, water, vanilla pod and star anise. Cook until the smell gets a bit much and you're licking the oven door.

Rich with scenty star anise, vanilla and sweetness, the plums were a riot of colour and taste to boot (a bit of booze wouldn't have gone amiss here though, but you could say that about most things).

Verdict: next time I want to impress someone with minimal effort, the plum recipe will be brought out once again. Nigel Slater, high five to you.

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