I just love vintage items and I have loads! But my favorite by far is my ouma’s (granny) vintage fish crockery set.
On a visit to her on her farm in the Drakensberg, she gave me her much treasured set. Less than a year later she passed away. I have often wondered if she “knew” and if she also knew I would not get it, if she did not give it to me.
The 1930’s Shorter & Son Ltd. Stoke on Trent fish plate set includes six large plates, six small plates, a sauce boat with an under plate and a serving bowl with a lid.
The plates date from the Art Deco period and are matt glazed. The colour of the body is cream with contrasting turquoise-green tails and fins.
I keep the set on a top shelf, no one can reach, in a cupboard under a lot of dust. It comes out only on very special occasions to serve fish or a seafood meal to someone special.
Tonight the special person is my husband. I am making one of my favourite cookbook authors, Tessa Kiros’s delicious scampi and asparagus risotto. The recipe is from her beautiful cookbook Venezia.
Scampi and Asparagus Risotto
1 large carrot
1 bay leaf
a few peppercorns
360 g asaparagus
1/2 onion finely chopped
4 tablespoons olive oil
250 g risotto rice
125 ml white wine
1 tbsp cognac
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
To make the brodo (brodo is Italian for ‘broth’ and it’s a thinner, less concentrated stock than the traditional chicken or beef stocks that are used in many other Italian soup recipes), peel and clean the scampi and halve them down the middle. Set the meat aside. Rinse the heads and shells and put them in a pot with 1.5 L of water, the carrot, onion, bay leaf, peppercorns and some salt. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 30 minutes. Strain and keep the broth hot. Although not as good as the above broth, if you are pressed for time, I have made this recipe with store bought chicken stock and it tasted nearly as good.
Rinse the asparagus well and discard the woody ends from the asparagus and cut of the tips. Keep the tips aside and chop the stems. Sauté the onion in 3 tbsp. of the olive oil until well softened but do not colour. Add the chopped asparagus and sauté briefly. Add the rice and coat well with the oil.
Add the white wine and let it bubble up until most of it has evaporated. Add 500 ml of broth, stir well and simmer until almost all has been absorbed. Add another 500ml of broth, stir and cook until almost all has been absorbed again. Add another 1/2 cup of broth if you need it for a more creamy risotto. Be careful not to overcook the risotto at this point. It will cook more after you switch off the hob.
When your risotto is almost ready, heat the remaining oil in a small pan, add the scampi and asparagus tips and cook over high heat for 2 minutes, turning the scampi over when you have a pale golden crust underneath. Add the cognac, stand back and flame the pan. I have used brandy before when I had ran out of cognac.
Add a bit of salt and toss it all together, then take off the heat. It is quite important to do this last part of scampi frying before your risotto is ready, otherwise the risotto will be overcooked if left to stand and wait too long!
Stir the butter and parmesan into the risotto, then tip the scampi and asparagus tips into the risotto. Tessa Kiros says some people do not serve seafood with parmesan but she adds a bit in here. I have read a very popular chef say that when no one looks, he has seen many nonna’s add some parmesan cheese to seafood pastas and risottos in the back of their kitchens. So I do not feel guilty anymore when I do the same! Add salt if needed, quickly toss it all through and serve immediately with black pepper. I deglaze the pan with butter and let it brown to drizzle around the risotto when I plate it up. Tore fresh parsley over.
Please note the italic parts are my added thoughts on this wonderful recipe.
Please visit my Romancing the Home friends for more lovely vintage finds.
Stacy at Sawdust and High Heels
Talia at My Shabby Shack
Ramona at Ruffles and Rust
I hope my ouma knows with how much love and care, I use her much beloved fish plate set.