I made this lemon rice dish to eat with the Rendang Style Beef I made recently. A local Indian restaurant serves lemon rice, and I always order it but felt it was time I learned to make it myself. As a vegetarian dish it would stand pretty well alongside some vegetables, and is great with many other dishes, not just curries.
Ingredients (to serve 4-6)
2 tbsp sunflower oil
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp ground coriander
¼ tsp asafoetida (optional)
½ small onion, finely chopped
1 long green chilli (finely chopped and deseeded too if you prefer it less hot)
10g fresh ginger, peeled and grated or chopped finely
About 10 fresh curry leaves
100g unsalted cashew nuts
About 500g cooked and cooled basmati rice
juice of 1 large lemon plus the zest of ½ the lemonfinely grated
Optional – finely chop the remaining half of the juiced lemon
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Heat the oil in a large pan or wok and add the mustard seeds, turmeric and asafoetida. Fry, stirring constantly, until the mustard seeds begin to pop.
Now add the onion, green chilli, ginger, curry leaves and the nuts and fry for a couple of minutes until the nuts take on some colour and the onion has softened.
Add the rice into the pan and stir fry until hot (a few minutes) then add the lemon juice, zest and lemon pieces. Mix well and season with salt and pepper before serving.
Ok, so the photo doesn’t do this dish much justice but I’m an honest Chica and I don’t have photoshop. We also eat ridiculously late so there’s no natural light. But what I show you is a delicious meal which would also be an amazing light vegetarian lunch or supper without the cod.
The risotto is creamy and delicately flavoured and, as a bonus, pretty healthy and low in fat too as it contains no cream or cheese. Granted, coating cod in flour and frying it in olive oil sort of cancels that out, but fish and olive oil are good for us, we all know that, so not only does this taste great it’s good for you too!
Ingredients to serve 2 hungry people (and we’re always hungry)
1 large piece of cod cut into about 6 large chunks and lightly coated in seasoned flour
About 150g risotto rice (I used carnaroli)
Approx half a litre of hot vegetable stock into which you dissolve about 5 strands of saffron
One roasted red pepper peeled and finely chopped
Half an onion finely chopped
4 cloves of peeled and crushed garlic
1 small courgette cut into fine dice
1 large ripe tomato, peeled and finely chopped
About a dozen mangetout beans, finely shredded
Lemon to serve
The risotto is made in the usual way – start by softening the onion and garlic in a few tablespoons of olive oil, then add the pepper, tomato and courgette and cook until the courgette has softened. Add the rice and make sure it is coated in oil before gradually adding a ladleful of hot stock. Cook until the stock has been absorbed then add the next ladleful. Continue in this way until the rice is just starting to lose its bite.
At this point heat olive oil in a deep frying pan to a depth of about 1cm (you can also either deep fry or use less oil if you prefer). When the oil is very hot, gently lower in the cod pieces and cook on each side for 2-3 minutes until golden brown.
While the cod is cooking add the shredded mangetout to the rice and a final ladleful of stock. Taste and season then place the cod on top of the rice. Turn off the heat and leave the rice to rest for a few minutes before serving with wedges of lemon to squeeze over.
Oh dear, where have the last 10 days or so gone to? It´s busy, busy, busy here and while we are still (of course) working, cooking and eating, there has been very little activity on the blog. I do miss you all, and I am sorry that I haven´t had time to get over and comment. House Number One is finished. Yes, you read that right! Well, apart from 6 door handles that need to be put on. We even have a lovely tenant waiting to move in as soon as we move out.
So you can imagine that things have moved on apace in House Number 2 (I am sitting in a bare room while the kitchen floor is being grouted and windows are being replaced upstairs and the plumbers are doing things with copper pipes).
Photos to come, but in the meantime, back to the food. Best pal Ria sent me the recipe for her oven baked risotto which is given below. Believe me, if you ever thought you fancied risotto but didn´t have time to stand over the pot and stir, this is a fantastic way to do it. I made extra (of course) and turned the remains into something else the next day and I would strongly suggest you do the same. I have given Maria´s version and then afterwards my adaptation according to what I had available in my fridge. Perfect comfort food.
Maria’s world famous baked haddock & cabbage risotto
Serves 4 (easily halved or doubled – it’s very forgiving)
Prep 5 mins, Cooks in 35 mins
Dead easy and delicious!
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion chopped
300g/10oz risotto rice
1 litre vegetable stock (you can use vegetable bouillon powder)
280g wedge savoy cabbage, thickly sliced (Tanya – I used about a dozen thinly sliced mushrooms and half a dozen rashers of finely chopped smoked streaky bacon instead of the cabbage and haddock)
400g/14oz skinless smoked haddock (preferably go for the undyed sort and ask the nice fishmonger to skin it for you – but if you can only get with skin on it’s very easy to slip off after it’s been cooked, before you flake it)
3 tbsp crème fraiche
50g freshly grated parmesan
Heat oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6.
Heat oil in a 2 litre casserole dish, then soften the onion over a medium heat for about 5 mins.
Tip in the rice and cook for 2 mins, stirring well.
Pour in the stock, bring to the boil, then add the cabbage.
Cover and bake in oven for 20 mins
Remove the dish from the oven and give the rice a stir. Place the fish on top of the rice, replace the lid, then bake for 5 mins.
Flake the fish into large chunks and stir into the rice with the crème fraiche and half the parmesan. Season with freshly ground pepper, then sprinkle with the remaining parmesan to serve.
Eat and enjoy.
Don’t forget to pretend it was really difficult to make!
So, there it is, the secret is out…you can make a great risotto in the oven and have time to nip upstairs for a shower, pour yourself a glass of wine and take a deep breath before dinner.
Finally, I thought it was about time I put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) for this classic recipe. I went to a local expert, he´s called “Chef Colorin” and he makes the paellas for all the local fiestas. Be warned, there are LOADS of photos in this post, but I hope you enjoy seeing the process.
Of course, he wasn´t going to just sit down with me over a glass of wine and give me the recipe. Much better than that, I was going to join in with the cooking. Fantastic, I thought, how many are we cooking for then Chef? Oh, not too many he told me, only 420 on Sunday. Get there about 11am he said, and we´ll show you the ropes.
Not one to balk at such a challenge, and I even wore the exceedingly unflattering hat (yes, I´ll show you the photos). It was one of the hottest and windiest days we´ve had for a while, so we couldn´t even put a shelter up for shade. Hey ho, the show must go on, and of course, it did.
We used 3 Paella pans which make 140 portions each. Feel free to adapt for smaller groups! The ingredients below are per 140 person pan.
Start with your base stock which is made in large 50 litre pots, sheltered from the wind today with a clever little device which goes round the base of the gas ring.
Into each pot goes 800g of stock cubes to 50 litres of water (at home, you´d probably use home made chicken or fish stock), 5 bay leaves, 2 tablespoons of sweet pimentón, 200cl of dry white wine, 500g each of chopped peppers and garlic, 1kg of monkfish, assorted fish bones, 400g of chopped tomato and 4 kilos of prawns with their shells on. Bring to the boil then simmer for about 20 minutes or so. Chef added 14 sachets of paella food colouring to the mix but at home we´d use saffron or turmeric.
Strain out the prawns, fish etc.
Then, wearing your glamorous outfit, count out 280 prawns (that´s so that everyone gets at least 2 each) and pull any meaty bits of fish off the bones. First come, first served on any extra prawns!
Is your fire ready to cook? I hope so, we´re going to begin.
Heat 3 litres of olive oil in your pan and add 8 kilos of chopped pork and season with salt to taste. Fry gently for a few minutes.
Now add a couple of heaped tablespoons of sweet pimentón.
Next comes a kilo each of red and green peppers and 250g of chopped garlic. Don´t forget the seafood – 2 kilos of chopped squid.
Stir gently while making silly faces.
Time to add 4 kilos of chopped tomatoes and a kilo of sliced roasted peppers.
Open the bags of rice carefully – 14kg for 140 people, which translates to 100g per person at home.
Add to the pan.
Stir gently into the sofrito with your giant paddle.
Now add30 litres of stock (which is 2 litres of stock per kilo of rice, plus a little extra – at home you would add 200cl plus a dash per 100g of rice…see, not so complicated!).
Keep that rice moving without burning your legs on the fire underneath the pan.
It´s much harder than it looks! (And don´t forget to taste).
Remove from the heat and sprinkle over those prawns and the fish you set aside.
Phew, job done. Time to show off an enormous loaf of bread baked by a local baker.
While we´re eating, you can enjoy a vaguely arty shot of a clean paella pan (don´t forget to oil it after washing up).
PS. Am off to London tomorrow for a week so will try to keep up with all your lovely blogs and comments, but apologies if some have to wait until after 20th June. Hope you enjoyed the paella making as much as I did, sorry it was so long but I really enjoyed putting it together. I do have to admit though, I was quite glad to take my “uniform” off and sit down in the shade of an olive tree with a large glass of tinto de verano.
Spanish rice is a little different from Italian risotto rice. Like risotto rice it is generally cooked in a large amount of flavoured stock (for example in a paella) but the grains stay separate rather than turning creamy. However, use whatever you have, it will still be a wonderfully delicious dish.
To keep it vegetarian, use water or the stock from cooking the vegetables, otherwise chicken stock will add extra flavour.
And before the recipe, a little word about how we eat our broad beans around here. In the photo you will see about 1 ½ kilos of beans from our veggie patch. Many people here simply top and tail them and then chop them into chunks. Almost nothing is wasted, the pods are eaten too unless they are especially tough. The pods which give the biggest beans are more mature, and are less digestible.
It seems sad to me to throw so much away (although our chickens would be glad of such a sweet and tasty treat). I pod my beans and then finely chop the outer shells which I braise until tender and then add the beans to the dish at a later stage. Sometimes I simmer the beans for a few minutes and then pop them out of their skins, but this is a rare extravagance, although it does add amazing colour.
So, the choice is yours…single pod, double pod or use the shells and beans together…it´s up to you!
Ingredients – For two hungry people as a main course or four as a starter
1 cup of Spanish Paella Rice (or rice of your choice)
About 5-6 cups of water, vegetable stock or chicken stock
The braised pods from about 750 grams of broad beans (weight before preparing)
The blanched beans from the pods (save the cooking water if you want to keep this vegetarian)
About 150g asparagus cut into 1cm pieces. Reserve the tips, blanch them, drain and set aside
About 6 mushrooms thinly sliced (optional)
2 fat cloves of garlic, crushed
1 bay leaf
Olive oil for frying
Put a few tablespoons of oil in a deep pan or pot and add the garlic, bay leaf, bean pods (if using) and asparagus stalks and fry gently until the garlic is soft. Add the rice and coat it in oil for a minute or two then add 3 cups of the stock.
Bring to the boil and cook on a medium heat until the rice starts to absorb the liquid. Add the rest of the liquid and when the rice is almost cooked add the broad beans and mushrooms. Simmer until the mushrooms are tender, season, discard the bay leaf, cover and remove from the heat. The rice needs to rest for 3-5 minutes. If during the cooking period the rice gets too dry, just add a little more liquid. Typically Arroz Caldoso (which translates as rice with broth) is served more liquid than a paella or risotto and eaten with a spoon – but you decide how you like it.
Finally, stir in the asparagus tips and serve with some fresh lemon to squeeze over.
We ate ours with the leftover pork belly which I cut into slices and dry fried to remove the fat, to heat it through and to allow it to crisp up.
With the hot weather we´ve been having, the desire to cook has been low. But…a girl and her Big Man have to eat, so the other night we decided on some grilled langoustines with some vegetable fried rice to accompany it. Fried rice is an alien concept to most Spaniards, so Big Man had visions of me deep frying individual grains of rice or making some sort of croquette.
To his relief, and mine (due to the heat), it was a simple dish with only the smallest amount of oil and frying involved.
I boiled some rice (I used brown, but the choice is yours). While this was cooking I fried a finely chopped onion and two crushed cloves of garlic in a very small amount of oil in a non stick pan until it started to look brown at the edges. Then I added finely chopped courgette and a long thin green pepper and continued to stir fry them.
In a separate pan I made the thinnest omelette known to man! Whisk one egg and pour into a lightly oiled pan- almost as if you were making a crêpe – and make a very thin omelette. Flip it over to get both sides lightly browned and slide onto a plate to cool a little.
When the rice is cooked, drain well and add to the vegetables. There´s no need to add more oil if you have a good pan as you will now almost dry fry it. Season with salt and pepper and every few minutes give it a stir until the rice starts to brown.
Roll up the world´s thinnest omelette and cut it into fine shreds. Sprinkle these eggy shreds over the top of your rice, mix gently and serve.
I can´t believe I´ve done so many posts without doing one on the famous Spanish Paella! Paella traditionally comes from Valencia, up towards the north of Spain, and very good it is too. People think of prawns and mussels when they talk of paella (which here is pronounced along the lines of pie-eh-ya) but there are meat versions and mixed meat and seafood versions, although not many vegetarian ones.
If you can buy proper paella rice, it does make all the difference. Use long grain and it won´t be able to soak up all the flavours. Use risotto rice and it will go creamy. Paella rice plumps up, absorbs the flavour but the grains stay separate.
In Andalucía they tend to make more Arroz or Arroz Caldoso, which translates as Rice or Brothy Rice. This is exactly the same as a paella, but with more stock, giving a more soupy dish. Whether you make Arroz or Paella, the technique is the same, it´s just the quantity of liquid that varies.
And now, allow me to let you into a little secret. The beautiful colour of a Paella? Saffron? Well, sometimes, but most housewives here use artificial colouring. I was shocked when I found out – perhaps even more than when I realised how expensive saffron is, but I´m just letting you know. I try not to use anything artificial in my cooking, and have been known to slip a little turmeric in, which doesn´t really affect the taste but gives a good golden colour. You can also use paella spice sachets which contain salt, garlic, paprika, saffron and ground cloves….oh, and a little colouring too. There´s no getting away from it. I leave it to you…make your own mix with a few strands of saffron, or use a mix. I won´t judge you!
So, here´s how I made this paella. I can´t claim my version today is typically Andaluz, it was a ”what have we got in the fridge?” kind of day. The beauty of this is that you can make it however you fancy.
A cup of cooked chicken
A quarter cup of diced jamon
Two cloves of crushed garlic
One small onion, finely chopped
One long thin green pepper, finely chopped
A stick of celery finely chopped
A cup of chopped tomatoes
About 3 cups of chicken stock
One and a half cups of rice
2 teaspoons of hot pimentón (optional)
Lemons to serve
You can make this in a large frying pan if you don´t have a paella pan, or a saucepan if you want to make arroz. The paella pan in the photo is meant to serve four (!). We ate about two thirds of it between the two of us and there was enough left over for a few tapas portions the next day.
Soften your onion, celery and pepper in olive oil and then add the crushed garlic. When the garlic has softened, add your pimentón (or chilli powder) and spices and stir in. Now add your tomatoes and cook gently for a minute or two then put your chicken, jamon and stock in and allow to boil. I find that for a paella I use double the quantity of liquid to rice, 3 times for arroz.
When the liquid is boiling, add the rice and some seasoning, stir it all around and reduce the heat. I often partly cover the dish with a large lid. You don´t need to stir it like a risotto, some will stick on the bottom, but in my house we fight for those bits! I can´t be more precise about quantities as a lot will depend on how much liquid your rice absorbs. Have a pot of boiling water or stock on the side and if you feel it´s cooking too quickly add a little more.
When the rice is almost cooked, but not quite there, turn it off and cover it. Use tin foil or a lid. These last few minutes “resting” are important. Here they say that arroz can be “mal cocinado, pero bien reposado” which means badly cooked but well rested. Hopefully yours will be both bien cocindao and bien reposado!
And that´s it, serve with plenty of lemons to squeeze over and a glass of your favourite wine.
I´ll do a seafood version soon – my two best girlfriends in the world are coming to stay tomorrow, so no doubt we´ll have plenty of cooking, eating and wine drinking sessions together that I can share with you all!
So in 2016 I turned 50. I was in Italy for my 21st, 30th and 40th. To keep this birthday tradition going I always knew I'd be in Italy for my 50! This blog starts with my 5 week adventure in Puglia but my love affair with Italy continues.....