Friday 14 March 2008

Chicken and Chorizo Risotto

Risotto is a bit of a recent discovery for me, and since Andrew got me the Silver Spoon, I've experimented with a few different varieties. Lots of people seem to think that it's really difficult to make, but so far, that's not the experience I've had, although not all of my efforts have been tasted by anyone but myself. One of the things which tends to put me off Risotto in restaurants is the fact that they always tend to be some form of Mushroom Risotto, and with me being pretty much allergic to Mushrooms, it's not something I'm every likely to order. However, there seems to be an almost limitless variety to what you can have in a Risotto, and so I tend to use what I have to hand.

One of the things I like about Risotto is that with minimal ingredients in the house, I can quickly cook a simple meal in a small pan which is pretty tasty. I have tried using Chorizo in a Risotto before (as I was told it was illegal to use it in Paella) as I find it adds a nice flavour and texture to the dish when in small cubes, but this time, my creation ended up being somewhere between a Risotto and a Jambalaya. Not particularly traditional, but very tasty all the same. I made enough so that I could take some and reheat it at work the next day, and although it's definitely at its best when fresh from the pan, it was still very tasty. The boys in the office who had some all gave it the thumbs up.

Recipe Chicken and Chorizo Risotto (serves 2-3)

  • 1 Chicken Breast, cut into cubes
  • 1 Round of Chorizo, cut into cubes
  • 2 cloves of Garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 Onion, chopped
  • 1 Red Pepper, chopped
  • A knob of Butter
  • 1 cup of Arborio Risotto Rice
  • 1 cup of White Wine
  • 1 pint of Chicken Stock
  • 1 teaspoon Tabasco Sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 cup Peas
  • 1 cup Sweet corn
  • 50g Parmigiano Reggiano, finely grated
  • Freshly grated Black Pepper

Add the Chorizo cubes to a pan over a medium heat and as it starts to release some of the fats, add the Chicken pieces, and stir and cook for about 5 minutes. Remove the Chicken and Chorizo with a slotted spoon and keep to one side.

In the same pan, add the Garlic, Onion and Red Pepper and cook for about 5 minutes or so, until the Onion is turning transparent. If the pan is quite dry, add in a knob of Butter, turn the heat up a bit, and once melted, pour in the Risotto Rice and stir into the Onion and Pepper. Cook for about 3 or 4 minutes, stirring to ensure it doesn't stick or burn, then pour in the White Wine. This should help de-glaze the pan, and you should let cook until it is almost all evaporated.

Now you should add the Tabasco and Worcestershire Sauce, and then you can start to add the stock, about a ladleful at a time. Stir occasionally to ensure the Risotto doesn't stick, and as the Stock is absorbed by the Rice, add in another ladleful. After about 20 minutes, just as the rice is becoming al-dente, add the Chicken, Chorizo, Sweet corn and Peas into the mixture. Add a little more stock if necessary and continue cooking on a low heat for a few minutes. Finally, stir in the Cheese and Black Pepper, then cover for 5 minutes before serving.

Monday 10 March 2008

Leek and Potato Soup

I've already got two other variations of this recipe on this site, but this weekend, with one of my local shops having some enormous leeks that looked perfect for the job, I decided to make the plain old simple version of it. I always find that leeks from the supermarket are always over-trimmed for making this soup as you get none of the green part of the leek and so the soup can look a little pale. The previous photo of Leek, Potato and Carrot soup definitely highlights this fact.

This was probably the first soup I ever tried to make, and I remember asking my Mum for the recipe and thinking that it just sounded far too simple to taste as good as I remembered. The recipe she gave me is the same as below, although in those days, she just told me to use Water instead of the Bouillon. This still tastes good, but a little Bouillon definitely enhances the flavour.

It has been pretty cold and wet over the weekend, so I wanted to make the soup nice and thick, especially as I wasn't having any bread with it. It also helped in the detox process which was needed after the excessive alcohol consumption during and after the Rugby on Saturday. For the final day of the Six Nations, with all games being on the same day, I think I'm going to cook the night before (like last year) so that there is something here that I can easily reheat. With Wales looking good for the Championship, I'm sure there will be more excesses.

Recipe for the Leek and Potato Soup (Serves 4)

  • 25g Lightly Salted Butter
  • 2 huge Leeks, green bits and all, roughly chopped
  • 2 Baking Potatoes, cut into 1cm cubes
  • 3 Bay Leaves
  • 0.5 Litre Swiss Marigold Vegetable Bouillon
  • 0.5 Litre Water
  • Fresh Ground Black Pepper

Add the butter to a heavy bottom pan, and gently soften the leek in the butter for about 10 minutes. Add in the potato cubes and continue to gently cook for another 5 minutes. Add in the Vegetable Bouillon, Bay Leaves and lots of Fresh Ground Black Pepper and simmer for 40 minutes until the Potato is fully cooked. Add a little salt to taste, but personally, with there being Salt in the Butter and Bouillon, I prefer to just add Black Pepper myself.

You can serve the soup immediately, or blend to make completely smooth. Personally, I like to blend just half of it so that you get a nice thick soup with nice big chunks in it.

Sunday 2 March 2008

Lamb Korma and Masoor Dahl

The last time I made a Korma, it went down very well with my sister, so I decided to try again, only using Lamb this time. I modified the recipe a little after reading a few others on the internet, but it's basically the same technique. I also had another go at making Masoor Dahl (Red Lentil Dahl), and although I didn't use Sandra's technique of frying the spices, then adding the lentils and water to that, it did come out a lot better than the previous effort and had a lot more flavour. The main reason I think is because I made a lot less, but used the same amount of spices as last time.

Another reason for the difference with the Dahl could have been that I used Asafoetida for the first time in my cooking. Many Madhur Jaffrey recipes list it as an optional ingredient, however, in the Monisha Bharadwaj book I have, she often lists it as an ingredient and has two pages of the book devoted to it. It wasn't the easiest thing to find, although, I eventually found it in Waitrose, and I have to say, it's got one of the worst smells of anything in my spice drawer. It's kind of sulphurous, perhaps something like the worse pair of trainers worn without socks during a long hot summer. However, once a pinch is dropped into the hot oil, it doesn't smell nearly as bad. Monisha Bharadwaj says that it can make a dish. I'm not sure about that, but the Dahl was good, so I'm going to stick with it in future, although just a pinch. It really doesn't smell like something you should be putting into your food though, although, funnily enough, it's supposed to reduce flatulence among other things!

Although the Korma wasn't as hot as I would have liked, it was still pretty nice. I think I probably got the amount of Chili about right, but next time, I will leave the seeds in, or perhaps add a little more Cayenne Pepper. During cooking it really smelled like it was going to be a hot one, but the Coconut Milk really cools it down.

The nice thing about both recipes is that they taste just as good, if not better, the next day, and in fact, the photos were taken of my reheated curry lunch as the ones I took on the evening just weren't that great, and I much prefer shooting in daylight.

Recipe for the Masoor Dahl (Serves 4)

  • 1 Cup of Red Lentils, washed
  • 1.5 Pints of Water
  • A few thin slices of Ginger
  • 1 teaspoon of Turmeric
  • 2 tablespoons Vegetable Oil
  • A pinch of Asafoetida
  • 1 teaspoon of Cumin Seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of Mustard Seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of Ground Coriander
  • Half teaspoon of Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of Salt

After washing the lentils, put them into a heavy pan along with the Water, Ginger Slices and Turmeric. Bring the pan to a simmer, then cook for an hour and a half, making sure to stir in the last half hour to make sure it doesn't stick. Remove the slices of Ginger.

Heat up some oil in another pan and drop in the Pinch of Asafoetida, Cumin Seeds and Mustard Seeds and once they start popping, add in the Ground Coriander and Cayenne Pepper, stir a couple more times, then pour into the Lentils. Finally add Salt to taste, and garnish with Fresh Chopped Coriander.

Recipe for the Lamb Korma (Serves 3)

  • 500g Lamb Pieces
  • 6 Tablespoons of Natural Yoghurt
  • 5cm Piece of Ginger, grated
  • 4 cloves of Garlic, chopped fine
  • 1 Medium Onion, roughly chopped
  • 4 cloves of Garlic
  • 4 Green Chilies, seeds removed
  • 3-4 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
  • 1 Large Onion, finely sliced
  • 5cm Cinnamon Stick
  • 4 Green Cardamoms, broken
  • 1 teaspoon of Ground Coriander
  • 1 teaspoon Turmeric
  • Half teaspoon of Cayenne Pepper
  • Half teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • Half cup of Hot Water
  • 1 can of Coconut Milk
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Garam Masala
  • 2 tablespoons Almonds, finely chopped
  • Handful Fresh Coriander, chopped
  • Juice of half a Lemon

Marinate the Lamb pieces in the Yoghurt, Grated Ginger and Chopped Garlic for a few hours at least (preferably overnight). Put the roughly chopped Onion, Garlic Cloves and Chilies into a blender, blend to a fine paste and set to one side.

Heat up the oil in a heavy bottom pan and fry the onion slices for about 5 minutes, until turning golden. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and set to one side. Add a little more oil to the pan and add the Cinnamon Stick, Cardamoms, Ground Coriander, Turmeric, Cayenne Pepper and Black Pepper and stir. Now put the lamb and marinade into the pan, stir to ensure they are coated in the spices and cook for about 10 minutes. Next, add the paste and cook for a further 10 minutes. Add a little hot water to help de-glaze the pan a little, and add the Coconut Milk and the fried Onions. Cook for another 30-40 minutes, or until the Lamb is tender. Stir last of the ingredients and serve.
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