It’s that time of year where jumpers and woolly socks are multiplying, nights are drawing in and the decision as to when to stick the heating on has to be made, which means only one thing, that it’s time for comfort food in the form of home-made soups, casseroles and my all time favourite, the risotto.

My favourite ingredient to use in any risotto is smoked fish (although smoked salmon doesn’t really work in this context), it’s incredibly good for you, it tastes amazing and when seasoned well, this potentially heavy dish becomes a lot lighter.

The fish section in my local Auchan is huge and the majority of the fish stocked is locally sourced by local fishmongers. I picked up smoked mackerel as it’s on par with river cobbler on great smoked fish to use in risottos, and also river cobbler isn’t found as easily here and I had a fair bit of spinach left which was in danger of turning to the dark side, and spinach goes so well with smoked mackerel.

Howย make this winter-warming recipe: (2 helpings, maybe even slightly more left over for lunch/dinner for another day)

2 fillets of smoked mackerel, with the skin peeled off and sliced
The juice of 1 lemon
100g spinach
125g organic arborio risotto rice
1 large garlic cloved, chopped,
1 large onion, chopped
100ml dry white wine
500ml organic vegetable stock
pepper to season
parsley to serve
1 chopped red chilli with the seeds removed (optional:it adds a gentle and tasty heat)
25g unslated butter


Melt the butter in a pan and add the chopped garlic, chilli and onion until they soften, then add the rice and keep stirring until the rice becomes clearer.
Add the white wine and lemon juice and stir until it has all been absorbed, then start to do the same with the vegetable stock. Add it little by little, waiting in-between each addition until the rice has absorbed it all (this will take around about 15 minutes) and keep stirring until the rice becomes tender, but not too soft).
Add the mackerel and spinach and stir into the risotto until the spinach has wilted.
Garnish with parsley and serve.

Side Note: Let’s talk stock. As we know, good stock helps immensely with how dishes taste, unfortunately a great many brands use unwanted ingredients in the make up of their stock cubes (Oxo for example use colouring, a heart-stopping amount of salt and MSG and I fail to see how chicken or beef stock which is suitable for vegetarians can be seen as a positive marketing tool). I haven’t cooked a chicken since I arrived here and therefore did not have any chicken stock frozen in the freezer, nor did I have the time to make vegetable stock, therefore I went in search of a stock whose ingredients I could pronounce and recognise. To my delight I found GoBio! and Kallo stock cubes and powder which have no sugar, low salt levels, organic ingredients, non-GMO (genetically modified organism) corn starch and no palm oil.