Dirty Seafood Paella

Dirty Seafood Paella

This was inspired by some of the meals we had in Cuba where the local people use a lot of black beans in their cooking.

First thing to do is get a big metal pan on the heat and chuck in a can of anchovies in olive oil with garlic. Then add some finely chopped chilis, a sliced onion, a chopped red pepper, chorizo chunks, chicken pieces and more garlic. Give it a stir about until the onion softens and the lovely red oil leaches out of the chorizo. It’s then time to add the rice. for four people I’d use about 250 grams of either Spanish paella rice or if you can’t get that Arborio rice will do. Coat the rice in the oil then chuck in a glass of white wine which should lift any glazed in sugar from the pan.

Next the stock. If you don’t have any proper stock, boil the kettle and to a pint of boiling water add a chicken stock cube plus a sachet of this stuff.

Paella cheating spices

You can get this from some Spanish grocers , but I buy it from Amazon and it takes all the effort out of spicing a paella.

So keep the pan topped up with stock until the rice is ready, should take about 20 minutes then chuck in some prawns and a can of tuna and some black beans. I use one of those tetra packs from the supermarket. Let it all heat through and serve.

Horseradish Vodka and Feta Stuffed Peppers

Since we had guests today, with some trepidation we opened the bottle of horseradish vodka that I made last month. I needn’t have worried as it was quite delicious. A bit fiery on the lips and palette, but it slipped down nicely with a smooth finish when chilled.

A success so I’m going to have a go at making some ginger vodka next.

I also stuffed some peppers and roasted them in the oven for a starter. I deconstructed this recipe from dishes that I have had in Spanish and Turkish restaurants.

Feta stuffed peppers

Sainsbury’s now sell packs of baby peppers so I bought two of the packs, beheaded the contents and scraped out the seeds. For the stuffing I mashed up a pack of Sainsbury’s Feta style cheese (Its’ only about 80p, no point spending loads when you are going to bake it) with two teaspoons of red pimenton (if you can’t get this ordinary paprika will do), four cloves of minced garlic, two chopped chilis and a slug of olive oil. Then I spooned the mixture into the peppers, bunged them in the oven and forgot about them for twenty minutes. Served four.

They were really good, so now I’m thinking about trying some different crumbly cheeses like Wensleydale of Lancashire and perhaps mixing some anchovy into the filling.

Rude Veg – childish but still funny

I bought this today. It’s some horse radish root

Horse Radish Root

I know what it looks like.

It’s destiny is to be grated and steeped in vodka for a month or so to create horse radish vodka, which will hopefully be  similar to the one we had in the Shinok Restaurant in St Petersburg where these lovely Ukranian women sang a song to us, which also may have been quite rude.

Lovely Ukranian women at Shinok in St Petersburg

Homemade Guacamole

We went to Mexican street food restaurant Wahaca last night. To start we had guacamole and their amazing puffed up pork scratchings. Sadly I have no idea how to make the puffed up piggy bits, but homemade guacamole is really easy.

My homemade guacamole

The first thing you need are two avocados. Stone and peel them then cut the flesh into chunks. Mash the flesh up in a bowl with a fork (doing this at the beginning makes it a lot easier then trying to mash the avocado with the rest of the ingredients in the bowl). Then add half a finely chopped red onion, about six chopped cherry tomatoes and a very finely chopped red chili. To this add the juice of a lime and perhaps a few drips of Tabasco sauce, if you want it hot and give it a good seeing to with the fork. You can use a blender if you want to spend all evening washing up, but I prefer a bit of texture.

We had it with some French bread, but tortilla chips or crisps are good too.

Squash Soup


Squash Soup

This is a great winter warmer with some crusty bread so it went down a treat the other night. Serves two.

Start by heating some oil in a pan. Add two chopped onions, one chopped leek, two chopped chilis, four smashed garlic cloves and a piece of ginger about the size of the tip of your thumb also chopped up (the ginger not your thumb that’s more useful attached). As that frys off add the aromatics, two teaspoons of paprika, one of turmeric and two of Chinese curry powder.

It will probably start to dry out a bit , so sling in a glass of white wine and two teaspoons of Dijon mustard. then add the roughly cut up root veg : one butternut squash, three carrots and a parsnip. Once coated with the spicy sauce top up with boiling water, add a chicken stock cube and leave to simmer for an hour or so, checking every now and again that it hasn’t boiled dry.

Come back in an hour and give it a good seeing to with a hand blender, then it is ready to eat.



Black Bean and Bacon Quesadilla

Black Bean and Bacon Quesadilla

I made this with our quesadilla maker which is like a very big sandwich toaster, but fear not it can be just fried in a pan.

To make the filling heat some oil in a pan and chuck in some bacon bits (you could also use chorizo bits if you like) fry off for a bit then chuck in a couple of chopped chilis, two teaspoons of smoked paprika and one of cumin. Drain a 390 gram tetra pack of black beans and chuck the beans in the pan and the pack in the recycling. Give it a stir (the filling not the recycling of course) and it will be ready in just a few minutes.

This will fill two quesadillas so  lay out a tortilla wrap on the quesadilla maker, spoon on half the contents of the pan keeping it even, but with a space towards the outside. Then add a layer of cheese and lay another wrap over the top. Close the lid and let it cook for about five minutes.

If you don’t have a quesadilla maker, just layer the quesadilla in the same way’ but slide it into a frying pan and keep pressure on the top with a fish slice, while the cheese melts inside, flip it over to do the other side.

Three Colour Salad

The supermarket had some mango and avocado in the reduced to clear, so I thought I knock up my three colour salad.

Three Colour Salad

Into the bowl go two chopped chilis. Peel and de-stone the mango and avocado, cut them into chunks and in they go. Drain a packet of cooked beetroot, roughly chunk and chuck in. Take a small lump of ginger, grate it over the top and then add a small handful of pine nuts.

For the dressing: juice a lime, add a glug of balsamatic vinegar and some olive oil. Add a few drops of Tabasco Sauce to give it a bit of pep. Give it a stir, pour in and fold the dressing through the salad.

Here’s a tip: to neatly cut up the mango score around the stone and then use a table spoon to free the meat from the stone on either side. Once you have the stone out score a couple of lines through the fruit and turn it inside out. You can then easily free the chunks.

Homemade Garlic Bread

I had some nice three seeded bloomer and a bit of a French Stick left over from the weekend, so rather than stick it in the compost I decided we’d turn it into this.

Homemade Garlic Bread

So how’s it done?

Simple take a lump of butter and with a garlic press crush about five garlic cloves into it. Mix it up then spread it on the bread. Whack it in the oven for about five minutes and bingo.

You can vary it with some grated cheese or some fresh herbs if you like.

Bacon Jacketed Chicken Kievs

This is something I have freely adapted from a Hairy Biker recipe, the main difference being that instead of deep frying it in breadcrumbs, I baked it in the oven. Whether that makes it any more healthy who knows, I just didn’t have any breadcrumbs or a deep fat fryer. Serves three.

First the stuffing. Mix a quarter of a finely chopped red onion with four smashed garlic cloves, a handful of finely chopped parsley, about a third of a pack of butter,  and about an equal amount of grated cheddar. Fingers are about the best way to do it.

Butterfly three chicken breasts open (ie cut most of the way through then spread the breast open), cover with clingfilm, then bash flat with a rolling pin or similar blunt object. Throw the clingfilm away then divide the stuffing into three portions and roll into sausages about as long as each chicken breast. Place each sausage in a breast and roll the breast up tight. Wrap each breast in bacon and whack it in the oven for about 40 minutes on top heat.

We had these with roasted winter veg and snap peas, and very good they were too.

Shipscook’s Lamb Stew

I got a nice pack of diced lamb on the way home for 99p and since it’s been bloody cold I decided to make a lamb stew.

Into the pan went some olive oil, followed by a chopped onion, two chopped leeks, four smashed garlic cloves and four chopped red chilis. Once they had softened up a bit in went the meat, some cubed turnip and two chopped carrots. For seasoning I added two teaspoons of cumin, one of coriander , one of paprika, one of turmeric, one of Dijon mustard and a shake of mixed herbs.

Once that had cooked off for a few minutes in went a glass of red wine, a lamb stock cube and a can of tomatoes. The pan was then topped up with water and left to simmer for about two hours. We had it with some cous cous while watching University Challenge, the nearest thing I ever do to watching competitive sport.