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Posts Tagged ‘rice’

You will need a wide heavy-based casserole dish for this as you ideally want the cabbage rolls in one layer. Make sure you season every component generously as you go. If you follow the suggestion of putting just 50g of the filling in each cabbage leaf (as you should or they will be impossible to roll), you will have too much. You can either stuff a few extra leaves or put the stuffing in the freezer for another day, which is what we did. This is a traditional Ukranian dish from Mamushka by Olia Hercules. The barberries are optional and we couldn’t find them so made the dish without, still delicious!

Wine Suggestion: We couldn’t pass up a hearty red for this dish, and a new favourite, the Parker Coonawarra Shiraz; full bodied and yet elegant and effortless with that characteristic eucalyptus twist, well recommended.

Stuffed Cabbage Leaves – serves 4 to 6

  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and grated
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 400ml water
  • 1 Savoy cabbage, 12 leaves separated, cut out the thicker part of the spine with a sharp knife or scissors
  • 250g beef mince
  • 250g pork mince
  • 160g white long-grain rice, parboiled for 5 minutes and drained
  • 40g barberries (optional)
  • a small bunch of dill, chopped, to serve
  • 100ml sour cream, to serve

Heat the sunflower oil in a large heavy-based casserole dish. Add half the chopped onion and all of the grated carrot and cook over a medium heat for 5-10 minutes until soft. Add the sugar and tomato purée and cook for 1 minute. Add the bay leaf, tomatoes and water, then season well with salt and pepper. You can turn it off at this point while you prepare the cabbage leaves but bring it back up to a simmer when you’re ready to add the cabbage to the dish.

Blanch the cabbage leaves in lots of boiling salty water for 2 minutes, then refresh in cold water and drain well on kitchen paper. It’s easier to do this in a few batches.

Mix the beef mince, pork mince, parboiled rice, barberries (if using), plenty of salt and pepper and the rest of the onion together in a bowl. Put 50g of the filling on each cabbage leaf and fold up into a parcel.

Lay the parcels on top of the sauce with the folded side facing down. You want them to fit quite snugly so they don’t unravel. Cover and cook over a low heat for about 45 minutes or until cooked through. You can leave the lid off at the end to reduce the sauce a bit if you like.

Serve with chopped dill and sour cream.

(Original recipe from Mamushka by Olia Hercules, Mitchell Beazley, 2015.)

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This is full of warm spices, healthy and very satisfying. A great meal for mid-week.

Wine Suggestion: This goes beautifully with elegant Grenache, like Roc des Anges’ Unic from Roussillon in the south of France; quite ethereal and fresh, particularly given the warm sourthern France location. Almost like a warmly spiced Burgundy. If you can’t find something like this then a lightly oaked Chardonnay comes a good second best.

Spinach rice with spiced salmon – serves 2

  • 2 tsp rapeseed oil
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • a thumb-sized piece of ginger, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 6-8 cardamom pods, seeds crushed
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 large red pepper, roughly chopped
  • 70g brown basmati rice
  • 375ml vegetable stock, made with 2 tsp of bouillon powder
  • 160g baby spinach, roughly chopped

FOR THE SALMON:

  • ½ turmeric
  • ½ ground coriander
  • 3 tbsp natural yoghurt
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped coriander (or mint)
  • 2 skinless salmon fillets
  • 1 tbsp toasted almonds

Heat the oil in a large frying pan, then fry the onion and ginger for 5 minutes or until soft. Stir in the spices and cook for 30 seconds, then add the chilli, garlic, pepper and rice. Stir briefly, then pour in the stock. Cover and simmer for 35 minutes or until the rice is tender and the stock absorbed. If there’s liquid left simmer without the lid for a few minutes to let it evaporate. Add the spinach, cover and cook for 3 minutes, or until wilted.

Meanwhile, line a baking sheet with foil and heat the grill.

Mix yoghurt with the turmeric, ground coriander and fresh coriander. Spread this mixture over the salmon and transfer to the foil-covered sheet. Grill for 8-10 minutes or until the fish flakes easily. Top the rice with the salmon fillets and scatter over the almonds to serve.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Paella Mixta

This is not an authentic paella recipe but we guarantee it will remind you of days in the sun. It’s made in the oven from start to finish and all you have to do is add the ingredients in the correct order.

Wine Suggestion: Spanish influenced wine it has to be. If it’s baking hot try a dry, Garnacha Rosé, though for us tonight it had to be red as it was cool and wet. The choice was a little left-field as it was from Teruel, an old, abandoned wine region (caused by the de-population of country areas during their civil war) being rehabilitated by a couple of young winemakers making their own way. The Bodegas Jesus Romero Quercus is garnacha, tempranillo, syrah and a little cabernet franc planted in poor, stony soils with excellent drainage and elevation near Valencia. We are really impressed each time we taste this, and a good match for the dish too!

Paella Mixta – serves 4

  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 600ml chicken stock
  • 1 heaped tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 pinches of saffron
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 300g paella rice
  • 4 chicken thigh fillets, trimmed and cut in half
  • 200g chorizo, sliced
  • 85g frozen peas
  • 150g raw king prawns
  • 250g mussels, cleaned and throw away those that won’t close when tapped
  • lemon wedges, to serve
  • a small handful of chopped flat-leaf parsley, to serve

Heat the oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7.

Put the onion and garlic into the base of a large, shallow, ovenproof pan. Drizzle with the olive oil, then toss to coat. Put into the oven and cook for 15-20 minutes or until the onion has started to brown. Keep an eye on it so it doesn’t overdo.

Meanwhile, put the tin of tomatoes, the chicken stock, the smoked paprika and saffron into a saucepan and heat until piping hot.

Remove the onions from the oven and stir in the rice, chicken, chorizo and hot stock mixture. Season and return to the oven for 20 minutes (uncovered).

Gently stir through the peas and arrange the mussels and prawns on the top. The mussel hinges should be facing downwards. Arrange the lemon wedges around the edge and return to the oven for 5-10 minutes or until the mussels have opened and everything else is cooked. Throw away any mussels that haven’t opened. Scatter over the parsley and serve. Finger bowls and napkins essential!

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

 

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Buttery Rice with Toasted Vermicelli

A very simple and effective way to pimp up your rice.

Buttery rice with toasted vermicelli – serves 4

  • 300g basmati rice
  • 35g unsalted butter
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 50g spaghetti, roughly broken into 3cm sticks (or you can use 50g vermicelli wheat noodles)
  • 520ml hot water or hot chicken stock

Rinse the rice in cold water until the water runs clear, then set aside to soak in a bowl of water for at least an hour. When the rice has soaked, transfer it to a sieve over a bowl and leave to drain for 15 minutes or so.

Put 25g of the butter and the cinnamon stick into a medium saucepan over a medium-high heat. Add the spaghetti and cook for a few minutes, stirring, until deep golden. Stir in the rice to combine well, then add the water or stock and 1½ tsp of salt and plenty of black pepper. Cover the pan tightly with tinfoil, followed by the lid. Turn the heat to low and cook for 15 minutes, then remove from the heat and leave aside for 15 minutes, still covered.

Remove the lid and dot with the extra butter, then set aside for another 10 minutes, covered.

(Original recipe from Falastin by Sami Tamimi & Tara Wrigley, Ebury Press, 2020)

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Haricot Beans with Rice & Onions

Another dish made for no other reason than half a bag of fresh dill in the fridge, threatening to go to waste. This is a big bowl of buttery deliciousness and the perfect comfort food for a cold night.

Wine Suggestion: to match the cold and damp evening, and this comfort food you need to look at a comforting, juicy red; tonight the Altosur Malbec, a wine that genuinely outperforms its pricepoint.

Haricot beans with rice and onions – serves 2

  • 2 medium onions, peeled and cut into thin rings
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 150g white long-grain rice
  • 2 cloves
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 1 x 400g tin of haricot beans, drained
  • 60g butter
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • a handful of chopped dill

Warm the olive oil in a saucepan, add the garlic, then the onions, and leave to cook over a moderate heat until soft and golden. Remove from the heat, scoop out the onions and keep the pan for later.

Wash the rice in warm water, then drain and transfer to a saucepan and pour in water to cover by 2cm. Add salt, the cloves and the peppercorns, then bring to the boil. Turn down to a simmer, then cover tightly with a lid and leave for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the lid on for a further 5 minutes.

Melt the butter in the onion pan, then cook the cumin seeds and turmeric for a minute or until fragrant. Add the beans and heat through.

Fork through the rice, check the seasoning and pick out the cloves. Stir in the dill and divide between two bowls. Spoon over the hot beans and top with the fried onions.

(Original recipe from Greenfeast: autumn, winter by Nigel Slater, 4th Estate, 2019.)

 

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Nasi Goreng

This is just the dish for leftover roast pork. We freeze the right quantity and enjoy it a week or too later after a busy day – it’s really quick to throw together.

Wine Suggestion: there’s a vibrant immediacy to this dish and likewise we chose a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, in this case the Doctors’ SB from Forrest Estate; dry, full flavoured and ripe but only 9.5% abv.

John Forrest pioneered this technique and it’s a brilliant addition to the wine world so we can drink lower alcohol levels and yet keep the same ripeness and flavour profiles.

Nasi goreng – serves 4

  • 2 tbsp groundnut oil
  • 1 onion, halved and sliced 1cm thick
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • 2 red chillies, halved, deseeded and sliced
  • 300g leftover cooked pork, chop into little chunks
  • 400g cooked rice
  • 4 scallions, sliced on the diagonal
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 100g cooked, shelled prawns
  • 4 tbsp dark soy sauce

Heat 1½ tbsp of the oil in a large frying pan or wok. Add the onion and cook over a medium heat until soft, golden and starting to tinge. Add the garlic, chillies and pork and cook for a couple of minutes – let the pork colour a bit. Add the rice and spring onions – toss lightly and cook until heated through.

Meanwhile, quickly heat ½ tbsp of the oil in a nonstick frying pan and add the eggs. Cook as you would an omelette and when cooked cut into ribbons with a sharp knife.

Add the egg, prawns, soy sauce, salt and pepper to the rice and keep cooking for another 2 minutes to heat everything through, then serve.

(Original recipe from Food from Plenty by Diana Henry, Mitchelle Beazley, 2012.)

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Thai Fried Rice - Khao Pad

We have an Australian cookbook called Thai Cooking that was originally published in 1994. Jono remembers it from home in Melbourne and we know other members of his family who also have a well-used copy. After much searching we managed to pick up a second-hand copy in Books for Cooks in Fitzroy. It’s full of reliable dishes like this simple Thai fried rice. You could have it as a side dish but we prefer to eat a big bowl by itself with some sriracha hot chilli sauce (our own addition!).

Thai Fried Rice – Khao Pad – serves 4

  • 100ml vegetable oil
  • 3 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp Thai red curry paste
  • 500g cooked peeled prawns, beef, pork, chicken or ham (any combination)
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 880g cooked rice, cooked the day before and chilled
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 pepper, sliced
  • 50g green beans, finely sliced
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 2 tbsp chopped scallions
  • coriander leaves (to garnish)
  • sriracha hot chilli sauce, to serve (optional)

Heat the oil in a large wok or frying pan over a medium heat. Stir-fry the onions and garlic until the garlic is golden. Add the sugar and stir to dissolve, then stir in the curry paste. Stir in the prawns and meat pieces and push to one side.

Add the beaten eggs. Wait to let them set a little, then slightly scramble.

Add the rice. Stir-fry until heated through. Sprinkle with fish sauce, then add the pepper, green beans, tomato and spring onions. Stir-fry briefly to heat through but don’t overcook.

Taste and add some extra fish sauce or sugar if needed. Serve garnished with coriander leaves and a drizzle of sriracha hot chilli sauce if that’s your thing.

(Original recipe from Thai Cooking Class by Sami Anuntra Miller & Patricia Lake, Bay Books, 1994.)

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Mushroom Pullao - Khumbi pullao

A gently spiced rice dish flavoured with mushrooms. The perfect accompaniment to a meat curry.

Mushroom Pullao (Khumbi pullao) – serves 6

  • 450ml long-grain rice (use a jug to measure)
  • 1.2 litres plus 600ml of water
  • 150g mushrooms, sliced into 3mm thick slices
  • 1 small onion, peeled and sliced very thinly
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • ½ tsp peeled, finely grated fresh ginger
  • ¼ tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp salt

Wash the rice in several changes of water, then drain. Put the rice in a bowl with the 1.2 litres of water and leave to soak for 30 minutes, then drain.

Heat the oil in a heavy pot over a medium-high heat. When hot, add the onions and garlic and stir-fry for about 2 minutes or until the onions start to brown at the edges. Add the mushrooms and stir for another 2 minutes, then add the rice, ginger, garam masala and 1 tsp of salt. Turn the heat to medium-low, then stir and sauté the rice for 2 minutes.

Pour in the 600ml of water and bring to a boil. Cover very tightly, turn the heat to very, very low and cook for 25 minutes. Remove from the heat and sit, covered and undisturbed for another 5 minutes.

(Original recipe from Madhur Jaffrey’s Indian Cooking, Barron’s Educational Series, 2002.)

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Fragrant yellow rice with cashews and peas

This fragrant rice is great with curries and it looks nice and bright on the plate.

Fragrant Yellow Rice with Cashew Nuts & Peas – serves 4 to 6

  • 100g cashew nuts, toasted
  • knob of butter
  • 1 small onion, very finely chopped
  • 1 tsp mild curry powder or paste
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 350g basmati rice, well rinsed
  • 50g coconut cream
  • 75g frozen peas

Heat the butter in a pan and sauté the onion for a few minutes or until softened. Stir in the curry powder or paste and turmeric and continue to cook for another minute.

Add the rice to the onions with a good pinch of salt, then pour in the coconut cream and freshly boiled water to cover the rice by about 2 cm, about 600ml. Cover with a lid and bring to the boil, then turn the heat to very low and simmer gently for another 8 minutes.

Remover the rice from the heat and tip in the peas and cashew nuts, then set aside to steam for another 4 minutes. Fluff up with a fork before serving.

(Original recipe from Nevin Maguire’s Complete Family Cookbook, Gill Books, 2016.)

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Cauliflower risotto

Using one of our favourite vegetables, that strangely we haven’t cooked for a while. Perfect comfort food for chilly evenings.

Wine Suggestion:  not as easy to suggest a wine as we thought given the conflicting flavours but we found that the Quinta Soalheiro Alvarinho Reserva a surprisingly good match. This combined a vibrant freshness with a layer of subtle oak, mineral nuttiness from the fine lees and a textured persistence that both balanced the food and didn’t overwhelm it. This wine continues to surprise with it’s quality and brilliance.

Cauliflower, leek & blue cheese risotto – serves 4

  • ½ a head of cauliflower, broken into florets
  • 25g butter
  • 2 leeks, cut into rings and washed thoroughly
  • 250g risotto rice
  • 1 litre hot chicken stock
  • 25g Parmesan cheese
  • 100g creamy blue cheese, e.g. Cashel blue or dolcelatte, broken into small chunks

Cook the cauliflower florets in boiling salted water until just tender, then drain well and set aside.

Melt the butter in a saucepan and cook the leeks over a low heat for about 10 minutes or until soft. Add the risotto rice and stir around until glistening with the butter. Now add the hot stock a ladleful at a time, stirring continuously until each has been absorbed before adding another. It should take about 25 minutes to add all of the liquid and by this time the rice should be cooked. A few minutes before the end, carefully stir in the cooked cauliflower and stir gently so you don’t break it up to much, then add the Parmesan and blue cheese.

(Original recipe from Food from Plenty by Diana Henry, Mitchell Beazley, 2011.)

 

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Ragu di salsicce e broccoletti

This simple dish satisfied the cravings we get at this time of year for lots of greens. We thought the suggestion of serving it with rice, rather than pasta, a bit unusual but it was perfect. Seek out top-quality Italian pork sausages if you can. We can buy them fairly easily now in Dublin but have been known in the past to beg the local Italian restaurant to sell us some – so  you could try that tactic if they’re not readily available where you are.

Wine Suggestion: This is a characterful dish so the wine you choose needs to have character and presence to match. We opened a MorisFarms Mandriolo, a fresh and vibrant blend of mostly Sangiovese with some Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Petit Verdot from the Maremma in Tuscany. Being typically Italian the fresh acidity cut through the richness of this dish and proved a delightful match: we couldn’t determine if the hints of fennel came from the wine or the Italian sausages used … or maybe both.

Ragú di salsicce e broccoletti – Creamy sausage & broccoli ragú – serves 4

  • 200g long grain rice
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 scallion, roughly chopped
  • a few sprigs of thyme
  • 6 good-quality Italian pork sausages, removed from their skins
  • 200g tenderstem broccoli, chopped into 1 cm pieces
  • 50ml white wine
  • 1 tbsp vegetable stock powder
  • 100ml crème fraîche
  • 30g Parmesan, grated (to serve)

Steam the rice in a rice cooker or according to the instructions on the pack.

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and fry the scallions and thyme leaves for a couple of minutes.

Break up the sausage meat with your fingers,  add to the frying pan and cook for another 5 minutes.

Add the broccoli pieces and continue to cook for 3 minutes.

Pour in the wine and cook for another couple of minutes, then stir in the stock powder and crème fraîche. Season with salt and freshly ground white pepper.

Serve the ragù over the rice and sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

(Original recipe from Pronto! by Gino D’Campo, Kyle Books, 2014.)

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Grilled chilli & coriander salmon w. ginger rice

This is a bit of a fall back recipe for us on weeknights. It’s super simple and pretty healthy but there’s also something really nice and tasty about it. We think you should try this one! We grill an extra salmon fillet for our 3 year old (without the chillies) and she loves it with the ginger rice.

Wine Suggestion: Riesling, pure and simple. Try the vibrant Weingut Korrell “Slice of Paradise” dry Riesling from the Nahe in Germany, or if you want to push the boat out their Kreuznach Paradies Riesling, a full-throttle, powerful and dry Riesling with delicacy and a light touch despite the power and body. Even better if you can hang on to it for a few years and get the benefit of development in the bottle.

Grilled Chilli & Coriander with Ginger Rice – serves 2

  • 2 skinless salmon fillets, about 140g each
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • small bunch coriander, chopped
  • 1 lime, halved

FOR THE RICE:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • small piece fresh root ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
  • 100g basmati rice

Heat a tbsp of the oil in a pan and fry the onion for a few mins until lightly browned. Stir in the ginger and garlic, fry for another minute, then stir in the rice. Add 300ml boiling water and a little salt, then bring to the boil. Cover and cook for 10-12 mins or until the rice is tender.

Meanwhile, heat the grill to medium. Brush a baking tray with a little oil and place the salmon fillets on top. Grill for about 4 minutes, then scatter with the chilli, coriander, the other tbsp of olive oil and some seasoning. Return to the grill for another 4 minutes or until the salmon is cooked through.

Serve the salmon on top of the rice with a piece of lime to squeeze over.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Makshi, stuffed peppers with beef & rice

This is delicious. You will need a very big pot and small peppers to fit them all in. Yet again Honey & Co have not let us down with this fab recipe.

Wine Suggestion: try not to drink too heavy a wine with this as it might fight with the spices and red pepper flavours. We found a northern Italian Pinot Nero from Alto Adige / Südtirol made by Cantina Colterenzio was a good match. It provided a delightful play of cherry fruit and earthiness while balancing the freshness with youthful acidity.

Makshi – stuffed peppers with beef & rice – serves 4

  • 8 small red peppers
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • 1 tomato, sliced

FOR THE FILLING:

  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 250g beef mince
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground allspice
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 90g basmati rice
  • 2 tomatoes, diced (about 200g)
  • 1 small bunch of parsley, chop the leaves and reserve the stalks

FOR THE COOKING LIQUOR:

  • 70g tomato purée
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled

Cut around the top of each pepper, about 1 cam below the stalk, and take the top section off but don’t throw it away. Remove the seeds and white membrane from the inside of the peppers.

Arrange the peppers upright in a pan that can hold them snugly so they don’t topple over. Push the lemon and tomato wedges in around them to hold them in place. Also add the reserved parsley stalks.

Fry the onion and garlic in the oil over a medium heat until softened, then add the beef mince, breaking it up with a wooden spoon until it has lost any pinkness and has gone crumbly. Add the salt and spices and mix well, then tip in the rice and fry for a minute. Add the diced tomato & chopped parsley. Take off the heat and mix well. Spoon this mixture into the peppers but don’t press it down too much as the rice will expand as it cooks.

Put the cooking liquor ingredients into a saucepan with 1 litre of water and bring to the boil. Pour the hot liquid over the pepper filled peppers, making sure some liquid gets into each one (we used a plastic funnel to do this). Put the pot containing the peppers over a high heat and bring to the boil, then immediately reduce the heat and cook for 30 minutes at a gentle simmer.

Check how much liquid is left in the pan (it should be about three-quarters full – if not top it up with more water). Baste the peppers with the cooking liquid and put the lid back on. Simmer for a further 20 minutes, then serve or keep for the following day (when they will taste even better). They reheat well in the microwave.

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Lemony pea risotto

A standby, reliable dish; something we make for weekend lunches that is simple, tasty and comforting. We’re always surprised at how good it is!

Wine Suggestion: a fresh, zesty white is our usual choice. Vermentino from  Tuscany like the Poggio ai Ginepri IGP Bianco works a treat, or a crisp Sauvignon Blanc or a Chablis would be great too.

Pea & Parmesan risotto – serves 4

  • 1.2 litres chicken stock/veg stock
  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 225g arborio rice
  • 100g frozen peas
  • 50g Parmesan cheese, finely grated

Put the stock into a saucepan and bring to the boil, then keep over a low heat.

Melt the butter in a sauté pan, and the onion and garlic, then cook for 5 minutes. Add the rice and stir over a low heat until translucent and starting to soften. Increase the heat to medium and begin adding the hot stock, a ladle at a time. Keep adding ladles of stock when the one before has been completely absorbed by the rice.

Continue like this for about 15-20 minutes or until the rice is al dente.

Tip the frozen peas into the risotto and stir. Keep stirring for about 3 minutes or until the peas have defrosted and the rice is bubbling. Finally, stir in the Parmesan and serve immediately with a few shards of Parmesan over the top.

(Original recipe by Tana Ramsey in BBC Good Food Magazine, July, 2007.)

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Porcini & spinach risottoWe love a good risotto and this simple one doesn’t disappoint. Perfect cold weather comfort food.

Wine Suggestion: as this is a richer flavoured mushroom dish our first choice would be to head to a Nebbiolo, especially a good Barolo. With the addition of the spinach which has a fresh, iron bitterness we would swing back to a full-bodied white and go for a good Alsace Pinot Gris. The depth of flavour of this dish can balance a really intense Pinot Gris like one from Zind- Humbrecht, which sometimes can be edgy and a bit much for many foods. This one can handle it so push the boat out for flavour and enjoy.

As we had this as a weeknight treat, however, we found that a more humbleVilla Wolf Pinot Gris from the Pfalz also worked.

Porcini & spinach risotto – serves 2

  • 25g dried porcini mushrooms
  • 50g butter
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 200g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
  • 150g risotto rice
  • a glass of white wine
  • 750ml veg stock, simmering (we use Marigold Swiss Bouillon powder)
  • 100g spinach, washed & chopped
  • parmesan shavings

Soak the porcini mushrooms in a cup of boiling water for 10 minutes. Strain the liquid through a sieve to remove any gritty bits and keep for later. Roughly chop the porcini.

Heat the butter in a wide shallow pan and cook the onion and garlic until softened. Add the chestnut mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes, then add the porcini and risotto rice and stir until coated.

Pour in the wine and bubble until it has been absorbed by the rice. Gradually add the stock and porcini soaking liquid, stirring until the rice is al dente (you may not need all of the stock). Stir through the spinach until just wilted and serve sprinkled with shavings of parmesan.

(Original recipe by Janine Ratcliffe in BBC Olive Magazine, February 2009.)

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Tajik green lentil & rice soup

We made this because we had lentils, onions, celery and carrots lying around and we hate wasting anything. This is  hearty and perfectly adequate as as a stand-alone dish. The herb paste and goat’s cheese make it extra special.  Not at all bad for a leftovers soup!

Wine Suggestion: as this is so hearty and earthy a round, juicy red matches this dish well. The Beelgara Shiraz from the Riverland in Australia, while not particularly complex works well because of the warm bramble and plum flavours, medium body and gentle tannins that don’t dominate but rather sit delightfully alongside the flavours of the lentils, pesto and cheese.

Tajik Green Lentil & Rice Soup – serves 4

  • olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 4 tomatoes, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp ground allspice
  • 200g green or brown lentils, washed
  • 150g brown rice, washed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 litre hot vegetable stock
  • 120g crumbly goat’s or sheep’s cheese

For the herb paste:

  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • a good handful of flat-leaf parsley
  • a good handful of coriander
  • a handful of mint
  • a handful of pistachios
  • a squeeze of lemon juice

Heat a large saucepan over a medium heat and add a good glug of olive oil. Throw in the onion, celery, carrot & tomatoes and cook until softened. Add the garlic, cumin seeds & allspice. Cook for another minute then stir in the lentils, rice & bay leaves.

Pour in the vegetable stock, bring to the boil, then turn down and cover the pan. Cook for 20-30 mintues or until the rice and lentils are tender.

To make the herb paste: put all the ingredients in a small blender with a good pinch of salt and pepper, then whizz to a thick puree.

Thin the soup with a little hot water and taste for seasoning. Serve in bowls with the herb paste & crumbled cheese on top.

(Original recipe from Samarkand by Caroline Eden & Eleanor Ford, Kyle Books, 2016.)

Tajik herb paste

 

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Paella de rape con azafran

This is a great weekend dish that is relatively easy to make and looks amazing when brought to the table with all its fabulous colours. The key to a good paella is not to stir it. Shake the pan occasionally to prevent sticking.

Wine Suggestion: We started with a glass of dry Hidalgo Napoleon Amontillado sherry followed by an old, but wonderfully youthful and fresh, Dehesa la Granja 14 1998 a Tempranillo from close to the Portuguese border in Castilla. The 14 refers to the minimum amount of time it is held by Alejandro Fernandez in his underground caverns on this property before release. At 18 years old it was delicious proof of the ageworthiness of this unique estate and its elegance and refined fruit didn’t overwhelm the monkfish.

Monkfish rice with saffron (Paella de rape con azafrán) – serves 4 as a main or 6 as a starter

  • 7 tbsp olive oil
  • 400g monkfish fillets, trimmed and cut into bit-size pieces
  • 2 large Spanish onions, finely chopped
  • 2 green peppers, halved, seeded and finely chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp fennel seeds
  • 800ml hot fish stock (buy it fresh at your fishmongers)
  • 1 tsp saffron threads
  • 250g calasparra (paella) rice
  • 80ml white wine or fino sherry
  • 1 small bunch of flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • ½ tsp sweet smoked Spanish paprika
  • 225g piquillo peppers, torn into strips (we buy the brand Navarrico)
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges

Heat 2 tbsp of the olive oil in a 30-40cm paella pan or frying pan over a medium-high heat. Add the monkfish and toss gently to fry until slightly undercooked in the centre. Remove the monkfish and any juices to a bowl and set aside.

Wipe the pan clean with kitchen paper and put back onto the heat. Add the rest of the olives oil and heat until hot, then add the onions and peppers, and cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Turn the heat to medium, add the garlic and the fennel seeds, and cook for 10 minutes or until coloured and sweet. Meanwhile, bring the stock to the boil in a separate saucepan. Add the saffron, then take off the heat and leave to infuse for 10 minutes.

Add the rice to the paella pan and stir for a minute to coat with the oil and vegetables. (You can prepare the dish up to this point before your guests arrive. The recipe will take about 20 minutes to finish.)

Put the heat to medium-high and add the wine/sherry to the pan, followed by the hot stock. Add half the parsley and the paprika and season generously with salt and pepper. Do not stir the rice after this point. Simmer for 10 minutes or until there is just a little liquid above the rice. Spread the monkfish and its juices out across the top of the rice and gently push each piece of fish into the liquid. Gently shake the pan to prevent sticking and turn the heat to medium-low. Cook for 5 minutes or until there is just a little liquid left at the bottom of the rice. Turn the heat off and cover the dish tightly with foil. Leave to rest for about 5 minutes before serving.

Decorate with strips of piquillo peppers, the rest of the parsley and the lemon. Serve with a salad if you like.

(Original recipe from Moro: The Cookbook by Sam and Sam Clark, Ebury Press, 2001.)

Paella de rape con azafran

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Chicken Caramelised Onion & Cardamon Rice

Another Ottolenghi success which  has that comforting combination of crispy chicken skin and warm spices. Always a crowd pleaser in our house!

Wine Suggestion: we went for a Viognier made in the northern Rhone valley by Jean-Michel Gerin. It was just his “La Champine” IGP Collines Rhodaniennes but it was delicious and had exotic fruit and spice hints that matched and complemented the cardamon and cinnamon.

Chicken with caramelised onion & cardamom rice – serves 4

  • 25g currants soaked in a little lemon juice
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, finely sliced
  • 1kg chicken thighs
  • 10 cardamom pods
  • ½ tsp whole cloves
  • 2 long cinnamon sticks, broken in two
  • 300g basmati rice
  • 550ml boiling water
  • 5g parsley, chopped
  • 5g dill, chopped
  • 5g coriander, chopped
  • 100g Greek yoghurt, mixed with 2 tbsp of olive oil (optional)

Heat half the olive oil in a large sauté pan, then add the onion and cook over a medium heat for 10-15 minutes or until deep golden brown. Transfer the onion to a bowl and wipe the pan clean.

Put the chicken into a large bowl and season with 1½ tsp of salt and black pepper. Add the rest of the olive oil, cardamom, cloves & cinnamon and mix well together with your hands. Heat up the pan again and add the chicken and spices. Sear for 5 minutes per side and remove from the pan. Don’t worry about any spices that stay in the pan. Remove all but a millimetre of oil form the bottom of the pan. Add the rice, caramelised onion, 1 tsp of salt & lots of black pepper. Strain the currants and add them too. Stir well and return the seared chicken and push it into the rice.

Pour the boiling water over the rice and chicken, cover and cook on a very low heat for 50 minutes. Take the pan off the heat, take the lid off briefly and cover the dish with a clean tea towel before replacing the lid. Leave untouched for 10 minutes. Finally, add the herbs and use a fork to stir them in and fluff up the rice. Taste and season if necessary. Serve hot or warm with the yoghurt if you like.

(Original recipe from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi, Ebury Press, 2012.)

 

Chicken with caramelised onion & cardamon

Chicken with caramelised onion & cardamon

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Basmati rice with orzo

Such an impressive and versatile rice dish. Great with Middle Eastern-style food or indeed anything you deem rice an appropriate side for. We served with these delicious meatballs.

Basmati rice & orzo – serves 6

  • 250g basmati rice
  • 1 tbsp melted ghee or unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 85g orzo
  • 600ml chicken stock
  • 1 tsp salt

Wash the rice well, then put in a large bowl and cover with lots of cold water. Soak for 30 minutes, then drain.

Heat the ghee or butter and oil on a medium-high heat in a medium heavy-based saucepan. Add the orzo and sauté for a few minutes, or until the grains turn dark golden. Add the stock, bring to the boil and cook for 3 minutes. Add the drained rice and salt, bring to a gentle boil, stir gently, then cover the pan and simmer on a very low heat for 15 minutes. Don’t lift the lid during this time!

Take the rice off the heat, remove the lid and quickly cover with a clean tea towel. Put the lid back on over the towel and leave for 10 minutes. Fluff up with a fork before serving.

(Original recipe from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi, Ebury Press, 2012.)

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We challenge you to stop once you’ve started eating this! Serve as a main dish with some Greek yoghurt or yoghurt with cucumber. Leftovers are good served at room temperature.

Mejadra – to serve 6

  • 250g green or brown lentils
  • 4 medium onions
  • 3 tbsp plain flour
  • 250ml sunflower oil
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1½ tbsp coriander seeds
  • 200g basmati rice
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • 1½ tsp ground allspice
  • 1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 350ml water

Put the lentils in small saucepan, cover generously with water, bring to the boil and cook for 12-15 minutes or until they are soft but still have some bite, then drain.

Thinly slice the onions and put on a large flat plate. Sprinkle with flour and 1 tsp salt and toss with your hands. Heat 250ml sunflower oil in a medium heavy-based saucepan over a high heat. The oil is ready when a small piece of onion sizzles vigorously. Reduce the heat to medium-high and add a third of the onion. Fry for 5-7 minutes, stirring now and then, until golden-brown and crispy. Use a slotted spoon and transfer to a colander lined with kitchen paper and sprinkle over a little more salt. Repeat with the next two batches (add a bit more oil if necessary).

Discard the oil and wipe the saucepan clean. Add the cumin and coriander seeds and put over a medium heat and toast the seeds for a minute or two. Add the rice, olive oil, turmeric, allspice, cinnamon, sugar, ½ tsp salt and lots of black pepper. Stir until the rice is coated with oil, then add the cooked lentils and the water. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer on a very low heat for 15 minutes.

Remove from the heat, remove the lid and quickly cover with a clean tea towel. Seal tightly with the lid and leave for 10 minutes.

Add half the fried onion and gently fork through. Pile up in a shallow serving bowl and top with the rest of the onion.

Wine Suggestion: This dish deserves a light red without too much aggressive tannins, weight or alcohol. A youthful Syrah from a lesser appellation in the Rhone would work, like St Joseph or Crozes-Hermitage. Alternately, try a youthful local red from the Golan Heights or Lebanon where the spiciness and warmth will also compliment the flavours.

(Original recipe from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, Ebury Press, 2012)

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