It seems the Guardian readers were pretty grumpy about the budget series, complaining about the absence of meat in the dishes, the failure to account for the cost of the gas used in cooking(!), the lack of imagination of Jamie Oliver's dish, and the fact that the dishes didn't seem to be as cheap as promised.
Rose Gray's asparagus risotto, which I made tonight, got the best reviews, and it was indeed delicious and decadent. Something about a good risotto leaves me feeling indescribably contented and happy, but I had never actually made a risotto myself before this. It was very easy! Gray's directions are good, and I've been fortunate in having watched Italian friends make it, which really only made me understand how easy it is.
The Guardian recipes are written with metric measurements but translating is easy:
125g risotto rice
I had a box of arborio rice from Trader Joe's that conveniently said 500g on it, so I used one-quarter of that.
I've had this box for a long time and I don't remember how much it cost.
This works out to a little over half a pound, and the bunch I bought was a little over one pound. I used half the bunch.
Fairway was having a special of $2.86 a pound.
½ tbsp parsley leaves
I have a pot of flat parsley growing on my kitchen window sill.
½ tbsp mint leaves
I don't have any mint so I just used twice as much parsley
½ red onion
The red onion I bought at Fairway was so big I only used one-quarter.
The whole onion cost $.50.
I used what felt right.
I keep parmesan on hand.
1 chicken stock cube, in 750ml water
750 ml works out to be about 3 cups.
I used chicken broth from Fairway that unfortunately cost $2.89 for a large container, when I could have gotten it at Trader Joe's for $1.99. Oh well.
50g unsalted butter
This works out to be 1.5 tbsp.
I keep butter on hand
1.5tbsp extra virgin olive oil
I keep olive oil on hand
Sea salt, Black pepper - I didn't taste the need for these!
The cost for the asparagus, onion and chicken broth came to roughly $4.50, and it did indeed make two servings.