Chris Rose exhibition and cooking risotto

A new exhibition at Waterstone House, Aberlady is the best yet. The exhibition features the work of wildlife artist Chris Rose who is an award winning painter who specialises in wildlife mostly birds – but whose real strength and impact on the viewer lies in his depictions of water and reflections of water e.g. on rocks. Chris Rose has an enviable ability to portray his selected species in different lights and this has astonishing effects on those viewing the pictures. The current exhibition has a range of Chris’ prints and paintings and the quality of his paintings has taken SOC exhibitions to a new level. These are very impactful pictures which have – to use a not very technical phrase – a wow effect. For example, at the exhibition, you walk down the corridor admiring the clarity and quality of the prints and then go into the main room. On your left is what for me was the standout painting – Heading North – Migrating Dunlin (click on painting for better effect). On the link just given, you can see the reflection of the water on the brown rock but when you see the actual painting, the detail of the shining reflection is remarkable. If you can get to Aberlady or if you see a Chris Rose exhibition in the future, go there for an outstanding experience. I contacted Chris and he kindly sent me photos of my favourite 2 painting from the exhibition – Heading North – Migrating Dunlin, and Beachcombers and I’m privileged to include them below.

 Heading north - Migrating dunlin by Chris Rose

Heading north – Migrating dunlin by Chris Rose

Beachcombers by Chris Rose

Beachcombers by Chris Rose

To go from the sublime to the perhaps fairly ordinary, I’ve been trying out some risotto recipes lately. I’ve cooked smoked haddock, leek and pea risotto, based on a BBC recipe. For two people, you start with a good sized leek which you dice finely and sweat in butter or olive oil for about 5 minutes. You then add 150g of Arborio rice and stir for 2 minutes. Then add 350ml of fish stock – I use fish cubes – a ramekin of frozen peas, and 125ml of milk and simmer for 5 minutes. Cut up your natural smoked haddock (c190g) into chunks and lay these on your rice and leeks, then pop this into a preheated oven at 180 deg fan for 18 minutes. When it’s ready, take it out and stir in about 3 tablespoons of crème fraiche. Now, this is not for the purist risotto cooks, who stand over their risotto for 15-20 min and add the stock ladle by ladle. I’ve tried this method and found that there’s not much difference in taste, with the oven method maybe having more depth of flavour. I had some streaky bacon left over, so I cooked this in a pan until very crisp and served the risotto with the bacon on top – see photo below. I add grated parmesan cheese to the served dish but you can either leave this out or add the parmesan with the crème fraiche. I’ve also done leek, pea and mint risotto and leek, bacon and pea risotto. However you celebrate what we in the west call the festive season, have a relaxing break, eat well and stay healthy.

Smoked haddock, leek and pea risotto with crispy streaky bacon

Smoked haddock, leek and pea risotto with crispy streaky bacon

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