risotto with thyme, prosciutto, pecorino and crumbled goat cheese

Now then: does the risotto with thyme, prosciutto, pecorino and crumbled goat cheese get you all of a-tingle ‘down below’? Are you chewing the seat with anticipation? Then by all means scroll down, but first, part six of our Swiss tales – part seven is the final entry and that’ll be coming online soon, but I’ve got such a bad habit of not finishing our travel stories that I’m determined to see this one out. Remember, this is holiday zero of twelve this year: this is a bonus one! Oops.

part one | part two | part three | part four | part five

Bern, then.

You last left us as we fell off the train in Bern, completing a ridiculously scenic yet slightly tiring eight hour trip around Switzerland by train. You need to understand that this was easily the most beautiful train journey we’ve ever done (though that’s not an especially high benchmark – I can’t imagine the Metro journey from South Shields to Shiremoor making many bucket lists) but even in the face of such beauty, you find yourself dozing off. My eyebrows were aching from raising in delight. The last entry dealt with our first night in Bern and a couple of day trips, but I did say I’d revisit this to tell you a little more about Bern itself. But before we begin, here’s Paul as a biscuit:

Firstly, did you know it’s the capital of Switzerland? I have to admit, I thought the capital was Geneva, but no – little Bern holds the title. On the edge of your seat yet? You ought to be: clamp down whatever pair of lips you’ve got available and hold on because here’s another riproaring fact for you: it’s also known as the City of Fountains due to the many ornate fountains dotted around. By extension, Newcastle should be called the City of Broken Teeth, or Southend the Land of the Split Hymen.

No, let’s be fair, there are an awful amount of fountains everywhere, to the point where you’re constantly needing a piss thanks to the incessant background noise of tinkling water. Hilariously, one of the fountains, the snazzily named Kindlifresserbrunnen, depicts an ogre eating little children. I assumed it must just be a metaphorical take on child cannibalism but nope, there it is, proud as punch, standing in the centre of the Kornhausplatz, with the body of a devoured child sticking out of his gob. It’s what I imagine Theresa May has in her front garden to keep the local peasants away from her gooseberries.

Like Geneva, it’s obligatory to smoke – I never left a building without feeling like I was the Phantom from Phantom of the Opera, appearing from doorways in a flourish through the whirling cloud of fag smoke. The main area of Bern is called the Old City of Bern and it is this you’ll be familiar with – the Medieval buildings, the chocolate-box shops literally selling chocolate boxes and dozens of tiny shopping arcades and cobbled streets where the buildings above actually hang over the walkways. It’s all exceptionally twee and stunning to look at – so much history and culture in one glorious settings – and thus it was inevitable that the first shop Paul and I would enter was a seedy sex shop on the main arcade.

Well: gosh. It was dark around the back of the shop and the air heady with poppers – I put my hand out to steady myself on a bannister only to hear a loud groan of pleasure. We didn’t like to loiter because it looked like the type of place that was due a raid from the vice squad and so we made to leave. On our hasty exit out of there we spotted a fondue shop just over the road and made a mental note to return to it later.

I mean, look at this astrological clock on the Zytglogge..It’s beautiful. Paul stopped to use the pissour nearby and I shouted ‘I can see Uranus!’. The crowd went mild.

We spent the rest of the morning just casually walking around Bern – it’s a pleasantly compact place and the streets lend themselves to just exploring, though you can hop on the trams if you like. There’s a tram every half second, seemingly. We crossed the River Aare (presumably so called because you’re constantly going ‘Aare, that’s reet beautiful that is‘) via the Nydeggbrücke bridge (itself an absolute beauty, not least because it gave you a perfect view of Old Bern). Paul took a photo:

I spotted signs for the Bärengraben – a bear park.

Now come on – if there’s anywhere that’s going to pique my curiosity, it’s a heavily wooded area supposedly filled with bears roaming around looking for action. I’d already lubed up and adopted the ‘airport security check’ position when Paul pointed out that it wasn’t bears in the sense of hairy, older gay men, but rather the ursine variety. The ones that kill and steal honey. I tried to hide the disappointment as it cascaded across my face and we headed over. Also, we had a brief conversation there and then about at some point having to change the name of the blog when we’re no longer classed as cubs – I’m already in the grey area – we’ll be known as two burly bears. See, always thinking ahead.

There’s many varying accounts of why Bern has live bears frolicking about, but the most widely accepted idea is that Bern’s soldiers returned home from a wee skirmish in Italy with various spoils and er, a live bear. Christ, I thought I was doing well coming home from Rome with 200 Chesterfields smuggled down my trousers. Anyway, since then, they’ve always kept a few bears in the bear-pit. Don’t worry, they’re well looked after – lots of bedding, room to scratch about it and occasionally they’ll hurl a particularly noisy tourist in there for them to maul. Oh how excited I was to see them – I love bears!

Except, no, they’d been put away for the winter, like a set of Christmas decorations. We were told we could watch them via a webcam but frankly, I get enough action watching bears in bed on the internet at home, I didn’t need to see it. We still wandered about stroking our chins at the information boards and trying out the new lift for the disabled, then we made our way down to the banks of the river and had a walk along.

A quick mention of the weather: it was my absolute favourite: freezing cold but not biting, air so fresh it’d like you’ve sucked it out of Tom Hardy’s freshly Sminted lungs, sunlight bouncing merrily off every surface and the sky a deep blue. I love winter and this was just the place to experience it. Paul somewhat broke the moment by telling me to get my fat ankles walking a little quicker as he needed the toilet and had spotted a public lavatory on the horizon. Other people visit churches and cathedrals on holiday – Paul seems to class a holiday as a failure if he hasn’t evacuated his bowels in various ways four times a day.

Paul disappeared into the gents and I stationed myself nearby, loitering in a way that I hoped didn’t make me look like a pervert hanging around the bogs but wanting to be near enough in case of any emergencies. Paul managed to snap the lock off a toilet door once and as a result I’m always on edge. Fifteen minutes – I kid you not – passed before he came hurtling out, telling me to come and have a look at something. I protested, naturally – I mean, we’re a close couple, but I do have limits, and anyway what did he want me to do, stick a first prize rosette in it? He pulled at my shoulder and dragged me in.

I have to admit, I’ve never seen one quite like this. I took a video of it to send to my work colleagues, and Paul was so excited. He loves anything unusual! I’m glad he did call me into the toilet because frankly, I didn’t want to miss this! I mean, just watch:

How fun is that? OK look, to anyone else, it’ll probably be nothing, but we love anything gadgety and this way, you’re not having to sit on someone else’s arse-sweat to do your business. A miracle! And in a public loo! In the UK you count yourself lucky if you’re not sitting on a filthy syringe. You can tell they are well off!

After we’d finished shrieking and gasping we emerged from the toilet together, and after only a forty minute interview with the police, we were free to get on with the morning. We spent the morning visiting the cathedrals (stunning) and churches dotted about, making sure we signed the visitors book with ‘Too much body of Christ this winter? Try www.twochubbycubs.com’ before we left. Oh I know, I’m a tinker, but hell, if God is going to strike me down for anything, it’ll be the rampant sodomy, not a bit of advertising.

We eventually made our way back to the tiny restaurant back in the main square to finally try out the Swiss delicacy of fondue. The place was packed full of couples having intense conversations and speaking every language but English. I could barely make my way to the table past all of the glottal stops. I love this type of restaurant – unfussy, homely and a bit ramshackle. All it needed was Paul sitting there without his shirt on spilling his dinner over his tits for me to feel completely at home.

For those that div-not-knaa, fondue is (normally) Gruyère cheese mixed with alcohol and melted slowly over a naked flame – the entire pot is then brought to the table and you’re given cubed things to dip into it. Frankly, it took all of my self-control not to push my entire face into the pot and die a happy man, but I knew easyJet wouldn’t let me through if my face looked like the top of a lasagne.

We ordered Fondue Pesto Rosso – they added sundried tomato pesto and basil, bringing me to full stiffness – with a side of Kalte Gemüsebeilage (bless you) (cold vegetables) and (Kartoffelbeilage) (no no, after you) boiled potatoes for dipping. I don’t need to tell you how delicious it was. There’s lots of etiquette around enjoying fondue – always stir clockwise, do twirl your fork to keep the table tidy, do make some noise. Pfft. They were lucky I didn’t ask for the entire thing to be delivered intravenously.

We spent a happy half hour dipping our bread and scraping every last bit of crusty brown cheese from the bottom of the dish (we weren’t being common, you’re supposed to do it – it’s called ‘la religieuse’ and is a delicacy, promise) and settled back with a loud groan and bellies full of cheese. With the sure and certain knowledge that we’d be pooing Cheesestrings for a good two weeks, we decided not to risk dessert and simply to get the bill.

Well, that sounds easy in print, doesn’t it? I can’t imagine what we had done to our waitress – we’d been unfailingly polite and ho-ho-British – but could we balls get her attention. By this point lunch hour had clearly finished and the place was nearly empty bar us and an elderly lady shaking her way through her seventh kirsch of the day, but help was nowhere to be seen.

We waited politely for almost twenty minutes – our waitress very occasionally popped her head out and stole a glance at us, only to disappear again – and then we started getting distressed. Paul had to google whether there was some unspoken way of showing we had finished and had enough but nothing came up. I did offer to pitch face-first into the pot clutching my heart but he didn’t want to make a scene.

She appeared a good ten minutes later, finally, looking terribly flushed in the face. My working theory: she was letting the chef dip more than a cornichon in her cheese pot. Her bajingo was giving off so much heat that she nearly relit the fondue candle. After paying Paul’s entire annual wage for our meal, we headed back out to explore Bern.

That was the idea, anyway: we actually, oh the shame, had to waddle back to the hotel room and have a nap. We were having the cheese-sweats and Christ we knew about it. That seems like a good point to leave it!

Speaking of cheese, shall we get to this delicious risotto with thyme, prosciutto, pecorino and crumbled goat cheese? Shall we? Then let’s not delay a moment more.

to make risotto with thyme, prosciutto, pecorino and crumbled goat cheese you will need:

  • 2 pints chicken stock
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • ½ head celery, finely chopped
  • 400g arborio rice
  • 2 handfuls of thyme leaves, chopped (or 3 tsp of dried thyme will do)
  • 50g soft goat’s cheese (8 syns)
  • 105g extra light soft cheese (this is one HEA, by the way)
  • 25g pecorino (5 syns) (if you don’t have pecorino, parmesan, parigiano reggiano or grana padano will do just as well)
  • 6 slices prosciutto, torn up (3 syns)

I’m not a huge fan of celery but it actually adds something to this dish, so leave it in. This comes in at 4 syns each, so it does Elizabeth.

to make risotto with thyme, prosciutto, pecorino and crumbled goat cheese you should:

  • in a bowl, mix together the goats cheese and soft cheese until well combined, then put in the freezer to firm up whilst you do the rest
  • heat a little oil in a large pan over a medium-high heat
  • add the onions, garlic and celery and fry slowly for about 4 minutes
  • add the rice to the pan, stir well and knock the heat up – keep stirring for about a minute
  • add the thyme
  • add a ladleful of stock and stir until it’s absorbed – stir the rice gently
  • keep adding stock, a ladle at a time, until it’s all gone
  • remove from the heat and stir in the pecorino
  • serve, then drape over the prosciutto and dollops of goaty soft cheese over the top
  • enjoy!

Doesn’t that feel like a proper cheat day dinner? And yet, still within your syns! Get it made.

Need more ideas? Well gosh, click a button below and get on with it.

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Enjoy!

J

droptober recipe #7: italian sausage and chicken risotto

I can’t begin to tell you how much I love our risottos, especially this Italian sausage and chicken risotto because it is simplicity itself! Italian sausage is usually sausage with fennel, so we’ve cheated a bit and used plain, syn free sausages and added fennel seeds. Yes, it’s that type of sassy thinking and cunning that got us where we are today. Bit of a long entry tonight but first, for the last time (well maybe tomorrow) an advert BEFORE IT RUNS OUT.


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LAST CHANCE. Before we get to the recipe, just a heads-up that – for two days only – we’ve reduced the prize of our freezer filler meatbox down to £40 instead of the already cheap-as-chips £50. That’s £40 for about 24 big chicken breasts, 5 x 400g servings of syn-free beef mince, 700g of bacon medallions (and it’s good bacon, mind, not the shite that withers away to bugger all) and 800g of beef chunks – and even better, the forty quid includes delivery. I posted this on Facebook this afternoon and people have been ordering it left-right-and-centre, so don’t delay – it’ll never be cheaper than this. Click here or on the image above (it’ll open in a new window) and make sure you use the code TCCFREEZER to bring it down to £40 with standard delivery. This is the meat we use in our recipes and it has never let us down!


Don’t worry, I think the code expires tomorrow so the big advert won’t be on the next lot of posts!

Paul and I have been thinking about switching slimming world classes. Not because our current class has anything wrong with it, it’s absolutely the best one in the area, but we’ve been going off and on for almost seven years. It’s easy to fall into a rut and we’re not staying to class anymore, so perhaps a new face and a new bank of folks to look at with my eye glaze over whilst they chunter on about 1/2lb here and there is exactly what we need. As I was mulling over this decision in the car on the way home, I started thinking about my perfect Slimming World class and what I’d do if I was a consultant.

Incidentally, we get so, so many people telling us they’d come to our class if we became consultants, but we offered our services to Slimming World way back when we were just starting out and didn’t get a phone call in return. Which, frankly, was foolish – we’ve got plenty of disposable income and a very carefree approach to spending it. My house could have been more Hi-Fi bar than brick. But anyway. So here’s how my dream class would go if I was a consultant. If you’re a consultant, feel free to nick my ideas, but be sure to have a framed photo of us with a candle burning in front of it, like people do when someone’s died in a car-crash.

For a start, let’s not be tight with the venue. I’m sick of sitting on rock hard chairs in draughty church halls, getting piles and backache. Let’s have the class in the back of the local pub, so people can pay lip service to losing weight and then get straight on the beers, wine and crackling, like EVERYONE WHO GOES TO FAT-CLASS does. The heating would be on but sensible – I’ve noticed classes are either so hot that you lose two pounds in sweat just sitting in your chair shallow-breathing or so fucking cold that you can open your third box of Hi-Fi bars with your diamond-level nipple.

I’d serve proper coffee and proper tea. There’s no excuse for people to people to fork over £5 and then get hit with coffee so weak you can see the bottom of the cup through it, or tea that tastes like it was brewed up in 1957 and left to stand. Yes, it’s a bit more pricey, but let’s class the joint up. I’d ban sweetener though because I’d get tired of people mooing at me about SINZ PLZ.

It would be mandatory for everyone to have the right change or a countdown when it came to paying. Let’s be honest: we’ve all been in the queue, inwardly seething and wishing death on the poor bugger at the front of the queue fumbling around in the depths of their Michelle Cors handbag for 10p. Think of it like a bus: turn up, pay, bugger off to the seats. Weighing would be the same – it would be mandatory, punishable by death, to be ready to get on the scales. No holding up the queue whilst you take off your support knickers, bra, false-teeth, clit-ring, fanny-chandelier, built-up shoes and pleatherette belt. Get on, get weighed, ten seconds only of your fake surprise act or blustered explanations, then on your way to the naughty seats ready for class.

Now the most important bit: the chat. I have quite a booming voice when I want to so being heard wouldn’t be a problem. I’d want the class to be full of laughter, fun and chatter, but if you’re the rude arsehole who insists on chatting to your mate all the way through whilst people are shitting themselves from straining so hard to hear who is talking, Paul will nip outside and put your tyres down. We’d open with weight losses – but not the 56 minute long affair of ‘and Mary has lost ‘arf a pound how have you done that Mary’ (repeating the name a lot so it looks like you are invested in your members but haway, it’s on your little screen).

Here’s the cruel truth – this bit adds absolutely nowt unless it sparks a discussion about weight loss. The fact that Bob from Greggs has lost two pounds, his foot has turned less black and he’s lost eight pounds overall in eighteen years means very little to most people unless you know them. No, we’d beetle about the room, giving out the stickers because let’s be fair, everyone likes a sticker, congratulating people in groups (so all the 2lb losses would get named, then the 1lb losses, then the stayed the same) – much quicker and easier. Plus, you don’t have to wrap your hands in gauze afterwards to stop the bleeding from clapping so fucking much. We’re adults, not seals desperate for people to throw us a fish.

Then, 45 minutes or so of chat, decent recipe swapping and funny stories. Make it an hour where you’d actually want to contribute and make it more like conversation between friends, instead of 60 disparate chubbies all fretting and cringeing until the moment their name is called.  I’d want to hear people laughing more than hearing people sigh and yawn into their hands. More focus on eating – that’s one thing I find so confusing about the groups – there’s surprisingly little focus on good things to eat and ideas. I’d bring technology into it – have a decent sized TV in the background with recipes on it, changing every now and then. Naturally, being us, we’d slip the odd slide in of a giant bouncy cock for half a second, just long enough to think you’ve seen it before onto a risotto recipe. There’d be jokes and genuine admiration. Aaah.

Slimmer of the Week wouldn’t win a basket of fruit that’s pretty much already turned into wine, no, the winner would get to take part in my game. I’d get my dad to build a massive wheel-of-fortune stand-up wheel with different segments and prizes – a free week, a box of Hi Fi bars, a tiny sliver for a free countdown, another for a big cuddle from the fattest person in the room, even the odd penalty to add a bit of risk – they have to put the chairs back at the end of the class, or come back to mine and cook us a delicious tea. Paul could mince on in a glittery dress like Debbie McGee’s morbidly obese twin, we could make a proper spectacle of it. Much better than ‘here’s a bunch of black bananas, a sweet ‘n’ sour mugshot and some unidentified fruit with half a WHOOPS sticker on it.

Raffle would be for useful things that people can use to cook with – a decent pan, a set of scales, spoons. Every now and then we’d think fuck it and put a box of chocolates on there. Guarantee we’d have far more raffle tickets being bought then! As for contact during the week, none of the mushy stuff – texts saying ‘Yeah, the chocolate might taste nice, but do you not fancy seeing your fadge again’ or ‘Try the mushy pea curry: you’ll be shitting for England but you’re sure to get that shiny star’ or even just the plain old threatening ‘Elnetta-MB has your details now. She knows where you live. DON’T EAT A PIE’. My facebook group would be full of rude jokes and recipe challenges and yeah, you’d still get stickers and certificates, but you’d also get arbitrary stickers like ‘Can open a Mars bar without getting breathless’ and ‘managed to see the end of her toes’. Make it fun, make it entirely non-serious, make it good.

Aaaah a boy can dream, eh? I know the practicalities of money, time and corporate branding would put the kibosh on all of the above, but hell, we could give it a bloody good go before SW cracked the whip.

Right, let’s get to the recipe, shall we? This makes two big bowls of delicious tasty stodge.

italian sausage and chicken risotto

to make italian sausage and chicken risotto you will need:

to make italian sausage and chicken risotto you should:

  • heat a large frying pan over a medium-high heat and add a splash of oil
  • add the sausages to the pan and cook for five minutes until browned but not fully cooked
  • remove from the pan, leave to cool for a bit and then slice and keep to one side
  • add the fennel seeds to the pan and stir around the pan for about a minute
  • add the leeks to the pan and cook for another 4-5 minutes, until starting to brown
  • mix the tomato puree with 1 tbsp water and add to the pan, along with the apple juice, garlic and spice mix
  • cook for a few minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 3 minutes or so
  • add the rice and stir until well mixed and coated
  • add the chicken to the pan, lob in the sausages and stir again
  • add as much stock as you can to the pan – if you can’t get it all in just add what you can and keep topping it up
  • stir the mix every couple of minutes or so until the liquid has been absorbed, which’ll take about 20 minutes
  • serve!

There you have it – if you’ve ever fancied having an Italian stallion sit heavy in your stomach, you’ve just found one!

If you fancy other equally delicious dinners, just click on the buttons below to find more of our tasty ideas!

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J