Saturday, 20 November 2010


A half-remembered recipe which worked out fine last night, this serves three or four.

Chorizo - four banger-sized sausages or a ring, sliced to about a £2 coin width
Two free-range chicken breasts, skin on
250g paella rice
A small onion and a shallot or two, finely chopped
Garlic, three or four cloves, finely chopped
Three or four ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
Raw king prawns, as many as you want
A sprig of fresh thyme
A teaspoon of paprika
A big pinch of cayenne pepper, and another of saffron
A small glass of dry white wine
A large glass of dry white wine
Just under a litre of chicken stock
A handful of frozen peas
Olive oil
Sliced pancetta, if you want - but watch out for the salt

Heat the oven to about 180.
Set the saffron to infuse in the chicken stock over a low heat.
Heat the olive oil in a big - proper big - pan, enough to cover the base. Season and brown the chicken, skin side down first, then transfer to the oven for 25 mins to half an hour.
Add a bit more oil to the pan if necessary and then fry the chorizo (and pancetta, if using) till they start to crisp.
Tip in the onions and shallots and soften.
Make a hole in the middle and slide in the tomatoes, cooking till they begin to make a paste.
Add the garlic, paprika and cayenne pepper, stir and cook for a couple of minutes.
Pour in the small glass of white wine, turn up the heat and bubble. Start to drink the big glass.
When the wine has reduced, stir in the rice and cook for four to five minutes. Then add the stock. Throw in the thyme, bring to the boil then simmer for around twenty minutes till the rice has absorbed most of the liquid.
Add the prawns and peas, cover the pot and leave for up to five minutes, till the prawns are nicely pink and the peas cooked.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

A smashing pumpkin

I thought that being roasted with red onions as an accompaniment to steak was the highest form of pumpkin pleasure until I bunged it in a curry. Pumpkin curries in restaurants have almost exclusively disappointed but, having seen what looked like a good 'un on the last 'F Word', when what were described as culinary pumpkins popped up in Tesco, one found its way into the basket straight away. I overdid the pumpkin here, just by five minutes but enough to make it a wee bit too soft for our taste. Practice makes perfect, and I plan to practise plenty.

Serves 3-4
Two-thirds of a small pumpkin - the rest can be roasted with red onion as an accompaniment to steak ;-)
Two small onions
Two cloves of garlic
Two red chillis
Two stalks of lemon grass
A big chunk of root ginger - about the size of three fingers
Sugar snap peas
Fresh coriander and mint
A lime
One large teaspoon of ground cumin
One large teaspoon of ground coriander
One teaspoon of red curry paste
Two teaspoons of turmeric
Four fresh tomatoes, peeled and seeded, plus a tin of them
Three quarters of a pint of vegetable stock
A tin of coconut milk
Groundnut oil or ghee for frying

A word of warning right at the start: DO NOT SHAKE the coconut milk.

Peel and clean the pumpkin and chop it into big chunks - the more delicate the flesh, the bigger they'll need to be to stand up to cooking without falling apart. Thumb-sized or larger is what you're after. Heat the oil or ghee - enough to just cover the bottom - in a large saucepan. Roughly chop the onions and add to the pan on a low heat to soften. Finely chop the chillis, peeled ginger and garlic, then remove the outer leaves from the lemon grass and finely slice. For the heat, I left about two-thirds of the seeds from one of the (medium) chillis in there, which made it pleasantly hot without bringing tears to the eyes.
Add the chillis, ginger, garlic and lemon grass to the onions and cook for five minutes or so. Stir in the ground coriander, cumin, turmeric and paste, and cook for another five to seven minutes, while you get on with peeling, deseeding and roughly chopping the fresh tomatoes. Done? Into the pan with them, then, and let them cook down for a couple of minutes before adding the tinned tomatoes and letting the whole lot bubble away for up to ten minutes - you want the tomatoes to start to make a thick gravy.
Now pour in the hot vegetable stock, stir and bring to the boil, then slide in the pumpkin and simmer gently for twenty minutes (possibly twenty five, but thirty is too long). Test the heat after about five minutes and bung in some more chilli seeds if needed. Five minutes before the end, add the sugar snap peas. Finally, stir in just the cream off the coconut milk - I reckon that if you add all of it, the dish will be too watery, hence the warning against shaking the tin - the chopped fresh herbs and the lime juice.

Serve with Yulya's special rice.

I'd take a photograph, only I just ate the last bit for lunch. Even better, the next day.

UPDATE: Yulya has now made this her own, and makes it far better than I did. I'm not complaining.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Petit Salaud

Another use for leftover pork fillet from one of those stroganoffs which only take twenty minutes. Honest. Sort of like a petit sale, this one, only with leaner pork and done in two saucepans.

Leftover pork fillet.
A couple of bockwurst. More if Yulya's about.
Four tomatoes, not green.
A small onion.
A red chilli.
Garlic cloves.
Tomato purée.
A small tin of butterbeans.
A cup or two of green lentils.
Chicken stock.
Cumin, herbes de provence, salt and pepper.
Oil for frying (groundnut and olive).

Get the lentils going first. Sweat half the onion, roughly chopped, in a little groundnut oil. Wash the lentils and set to drain. Add a finely chopped clove of garlic to the pan together with a quarter of the chopped, deseeded chilli and cook for a minute or two; add the lentils and a teaspoon or so of cumin and cook a bit longer. Pour in chicken stock to just cover, bring to the boil then cover the pan and simmer for half an hour or so, till the lentils are tender and have drunk the stock.

In a separate pan, heat a bit of groundnut oil and quickly seal the diced pork. Remove, add a bit of olive oil and gently fry remaining - sliced - onions. Next add the other two cloves of garlic, roughly chopped, and the rest of the chilli. Sweat for a minute then deglaze the pan with red wine. Throw in the finely chopped tomatoes and a dollop of puree, cook briskly for a minute then add the pork, chunks of bockwurst, herbes de provence and rinsed, drained butterbeans. Cover and simmer for twenty minutes or so, till the sauce has thickened nicely. Season to taste.

Serve the pork on the lentils with some chopped parsley and crusty bread.