Friday, 15 October 2010

Roasted Vegetable Tacos with Chipotle Peanut Salsa

 (check this and more posts at the grand new CuiZine site)


For the Chipotle - Peanut Salsa (based on a Rick Bayless Recipe, cant lie)
  • 5 dried “morita” chillies (available at some spots in London; Whole Foods in Stoke Newington, De Beauvoir Deli in Hackney) 
OR 1/4 cup of chipotles in adobo
- NOTE: If using dry chillies make sure you wipe them clean with a damp towel, then deseed and de-stem. The spicy bit of the chilli is all in the inner vein tissue, remove them all for a milder salsa, leave them all in for a hot salsa, or take just a few out. If you are using chipotles in adobo then just use a bit less water when blending.
  • 1/3 cup roasted peanuts - pounded fine in a mortar and pestle (I go to a local African store and buy these pre roasted and unsalted, they work great) 
  • 9 Small Tomatillos or 6 larger ones (I have only been able to find these tinned at my favorite spot for Mexican groceries: Casa Mexico on Temple Street just off Hackney Road)
  • 1 small white onion cut into 8 pieces 
  • 4 garlic cloves - 2 peeled and 2 unpeeled 
  • 1/8 tsp ground Mexican cinnamon 
  • 1/2 - 2/3 cup water 
For the Tacos
  • A mixture of veggies for roasting (I recommend: sweet potatoes or yams, oyster or chestnut mushrooms, some squash, bell pepper, and aubergine.) 
  • 2/3 Onion - diced
  • Avocado - sliced into long strips and lightly salted
  • Sour Creme
  • Grated Mild Cheddar - unless you can find queso fresco which you cant...
  • Lime Wedges
  • Corn Tortillas (Again go to Casa Mexico, also Whole Foods often has some local made tortillas from the Cool Chilli Co... otherwise, if you must, get some El Paso but dont tell me about it) 
  • Cilantro  - finely chopped (cilantro is coriander) 
The salsa... 

Start by heating a dry pan over medium heat and turning your oven grill on to a medium high heat. When pan is hot begin to toast the chillies one by one until fragrant (about 15 seconds per side) but do not burn! When all chillies are toasted remove pan from heat place chillies back in pan and quickly cover with water. Soak for at least 15 minutes stirring occasionally to promote even hydration. Set aside. 
Place the tomatillos (drain them first) on a grill pan lined with aluminum foil then place under the oven grill. Watch the tomatillos: when they start to blacken on the top take them out and quickly turn them. Place them back under the grill and allow to blacken again. Take out of oven and set tomatillos and any liquid in the pan aside. 
Take the onion pieces and garlic cloves and place on a roasting tray. Put them in the oven in the middle rack position so they are not terribly close to the grill. Heat until the onions start to color a little and char up around the edges. The unpeeled garlic should feel soft, set the onions and garlic aside. Turn grill off and turn regular oven mode on at about 150c. 
Remove the chipotles from the soaking liquid. Chop up onion into small pieces and peel garlic cloves. Place all ingredients in a food processor with the water (you could use the soaking liquid - I usually use some in combination with some plain water) and blend to as smooth of a salsa as you desire. I think the salsa should have a slightly chunky consistancy but no chunks should be large. Place salsa in a serving bowl. 
The Tacos... 

Chop up your veggies into small pieces; no bigger than an inch. Toss with salt and pepper to taste and olive oil for an even coating (dont let them swim in the oil). Spread the vegetables onto an oven tray and place in oven. You want them to just be soft and ever so slightly charred around the edges so just watch them as they cook. 
While the vegetables are cooking get your tortillas ready for heating by barely moistening them with some water and stacking them wrapped in aluminum foil. Place them in the oven when the vegetables are close to finished. Then place the diced onion, avocado slices, grated cheddar, lime wedges, and sour creme in serving bowls or ramekins. Lay them out on the table so that everyone can get to them as condiments for the tacos. 
Pull out the veggies when they are done and bring to the table with warm, soft corn tortillas. 
Enjoy it. 

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Persian Herbed Rice and Chicken (Sabzi Polo Morgh)

I have really enjoyed learning a new way to cook rice. The intelligent lady over at has really enlightened my rice tactics in a most methodical and delicious way. I urge you to check out her primer on making perfect Persian style basmati rice.

Using her rice technique I created my own Persian classic (or maybe more a hybrid of two classic Persian recipes); Sabzi Rice with Chicken. Sabzi means herbs and they are plentiful and front stage in this recipe.

Sabzi Polo Morgh
 2 chicken breasts cut into 1 inch cubes
1/4 tsp saffron threads - placed in 1 tbsp hot water
1 onion, diced finely
~ 1 1/2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

3 cups white basmati rice (preferably Iranian or Pakistani works well too)
     - wash the rice in lukewarm water and drain, repeat 3 times at least
     - soak rice in lukewarm salted water for at least 2 hours (preferably longer)
1 cup each of chopped fresh Dill, Parsley, and Cilantro 
1/4 tsp turmeric

Berry/Nut Topping 
2 tbsp barberries or sultanas or red currants - soaked in warm water for 15 mins then drained
2 tbsp flaked/slivered almonds
3 tbsp pine nuts (I like alot of pine nuts, you can use less or use more almonds instead)
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp olive oil

Begin by cooking the chicken: Heat a non stick pan big enough to hold chicken and onion with a bit of space left over on a medium high heat. Add about 1 1/2 tbsp Olive Oil to pan then add onion once oil is hot. Fry onions until golden brown and soft then add in chicken pieces. Fry chicken until no longer raw looking (no pink) and then add the saffron and it's soaking liquid and some salt and pepper. Add enough water just to cover chicken (bit less than a cup) and then cover pan. Turn heat to low-medium and simmer chicken for about an hour so that pieces are nice and tender and well permeated with saffron flavor. Dont strain chicken yet.

Heat a large pot half filled of water to a rolling boil. Add a touch of salt. Drain soaking rice (reserve just a spoonful of soaking liquid) and add to the pot. Let boil for about 2 mins and then add all of the chopped herbs. Boil another 3 mins and then strain out rice and herbs.

Add 1 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil and 2/3 cup of water to the just drained pot and allow to heat through. Now add in the turmeric, stir to incorporate, then add in the rice and herbs (stir the turmeric color into the rice just a bit), and about 1/3 cup of the chicken liquid to the pot. Place a towel over the pot and then cover with lid. Allow rice to cook over medium heat for about 40 mins - 1 hour. The longer you let it cook at this point, the more of a crust will develop on the bottom of the pan. This crust is considered a delicacy in Iran and it is definately something we want to happen.

While the rice is cooking, set a non stick skillet over medium heat and add 1 tsp olive oil. Once the oil is hot add all the other berry/nut topping ingredients to pan and stir fry until nuts are just golden.

Now we drain the chicken out, pull out the rice and combine on a plate. Top with the almond, currant and pine nut mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Eat.

Serve with a simple tomato onion parseley and cucumber salad and some yogurt.

Piece Zone return

Asparagus (english local), Buffalo Mozzarella, and Pecorino 

(Michelle is slowly becoming a dough master)

Thursday, 22 April 2010


....This makes use of one of my favorite easy ingredients; the Duck Confit

For the Confit - Roast
--1/2 to 2/3 duck (confit)-patted dry (remove excess fat) and kept whole as possible
--1/4 tsp ground coriander
--1/4 tsp ground ginger powder
--1/4 tsp roasted fennel seeds
--2 star anise pods
--1 clove
--1 piece canela cinnamon stick 1 inch long

For the Curry:
--2 1/2 cups coconut milk (use a thai brand they are the creamiest and thats what we want)
--1/4 cup red curry paste (Mae Ploy brand is best in my opinion)
--10 fresh/frozen keffir lime leaves (if dried use about 15 of them)
--1 tbsp thai palm sugar or packed dark brown sugar
--1 1/2 tbsp fish sauce/nam pla (Squid is a good brand)
----1 cup fresh pineapple chunks (1 inch pieces)
----1 cup red grapes sliced in half
--10 - 15 cherry tomatoes
--small handful green beans - trimmed and chopped into 1 inch lengths
--6 thai chilies or 2 red chilies cut into rings (remove seeds at your own discretion)
--leaves from about 8 - 10 stems of thai basil  (You can use italian sweet basil too - use about 6 stems and tear large leaves in half)
--Steamed Jasmine rice for serving

Roasting the Confit:

Preheat over to about 400f or 220c.
Make sure to remove as much fat from the duck as you can man. Place duck on roasting tray.
Take the whole spices and grind into a powder and then combine with the powdered spices. Gently rub this mixture onto the duck pieces and coat evenly.
NOTE: You dont have to spice the duck, but I recommend it!
Place spiced duck in oven and roast until skin/outside of duck is nice and crisp while still being succulent underneath.
Set aside.

Preparing the Curry:

Heat 1 cup of the coconut milk in a large pot over medium heat until it just about boils. Reduce heat to med-low and let milk reduce another 5 mins. Whisk in curry paste - this is best done by adding small chunks/pieces of the paste slowly as opposed to dumping in a large clump. Continue to simmer another 5 mins until mixture smells intensely great.

Put the duck pieces gently in the pot and allow to heat through. Add remaining coconut milk, lime leaves and 1 cup of water. Stir to incorporate and bring heat back up to medium high. Bring to a boil then reduce heat again to medium low. Wait about 3 minutes and then add the pineapple/grapes, palm sugar, fish sauce, and chilies. Continue to simmer until pineapple breaks easily with the side of a spoon. If using grapes just simmer for about 3 minutes.

Add in the tomatoes, green beans and basil leaves. Cook until tomatoes are very soft, about 3 minutes. By now the duck has probably shredded itself into the sauce no? I like that. SERVE IT UP with some rice. Now. Enjoy. 

And we had a desert.....

1 1/2 cups precooked basmati/jasmine rice
3 cups coconut milk (creamy thai variety)
3 tbsp palm sugar - chopped/grated (ultimately this is an estimate, you may want it sweeter or not so sweet)
2 cloves
1/4 cup desicatted shredded coconut

Place all ingredients in a slow cooker or large pot and cook on medium-low heat until coconut milk has seriously reduced and the rice is starting to smooth out into the milk.

Serve with peanuts on top or chunks of medjool dates (like we did).
Enjoy late in the evening.......

Friday, 16 April 2010

Diff Pasta - no tomatoes

 Here is a quick and easy non tomato based pasta as requested by a reader here at the food image recipe emporium.

1 lb of broccolini rabe - chopped into long slender bits and small floret pieces * * * (you can use regular broccoli or tender stem broccoli if you want, however rabe has a nice mustard kick that really helps in this dish) 
250g / 1/2 lb ORECCHIETTE pasta (small half-sphere-like pasta from Puglia, if not these then use something small and round)
3 tbsp Extra Virgina Olive Oil
1 hot red chile - chopped (you can also just use 1tsp red pepper flakes, just add it in at the end)
2 cloves garlic - diced
1/2 cup grated Parmesan (or more if you like)

Put a large pot of salted water on high heat. When it is at a rolling boil put both the pasta and broccolini in. Stir and let cook until Orecchiette is al dente (soft but not mushy, slight bit of firmness...whatever). BEFORE YOU DRAIN RESERVE A 1/3 CUP OF THE PASTA WATER! Drain veggies and pasta. 

Using either the same pot or a large pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add in anchovies if using and red chili. Break anchovies up with wooden spoon until disintegrated into oil (don't let chili burn though). Add in garlic and fry just for a minute DONT LET IT BROWN! Quickly add drained pasta and broccoli and the reserved pasta water and toss well to incorporate (if using red pepper flakes add them now). Salt to taste and throw in a good bit of fresh grated black pepper.

Put parmesan on table so that people can add that stuff on according to their own liking.


Monday, 12 April 2010


India Love
What have we here? A request for recipies from the Indian sub-continent has appeared on these here pages and I intend to fulfill said favor.

Let us start with some classic North Indian style, hardy curry, rice, creamy slow cooked dal and a simple yogurt salad.

MALAI MUTTER PANEER (Creamy Peas and Cheese)

1 (12oz?) block of paneer (indian frying cheese - or if you cant find this and your in the States use Mexican Queso Fresco just take care it doesnt melt) cubed 
3 cloves garlic - peeled and chopped
3 shallots (smaller ones) - chopped
1 small onion - chopped
1x1 inch piece of ginger - peeled and chopped
2 red chiles - seeded all except half of one then chopped
3 tbsp peanut/coconut oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp fennel seeds (optional but good)
12 oz can of chopped tomatoes (make sure they are JUST tomatoes - no seasoning)
2 tbsp tomatoe puree/paste
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1 cup peas - frozen or fresh
1 tsp sea salt 
3 tbsp heavy cream (can omit if you dont want the extra artery clogging)
1/2 tsp garam masala
2 tbsp chopped coriander/cilantro
.....looks like alot right? Well if you want to make indian dishes I suggest you get alot of these spices anyways... keep them in one of these if you can find one: 

First take the cubed Paneer and place on a slightly greased baking sheet and broil until golden brown around edges. Alternately fry cheese in a bit of oil. Either way drain the broiled/fryed cubes on paper towels.

Take the garlic, onions, shallots, ginger, and chillies and place in a food processor with a bit of water and blend to a smooth paste. If you dont have a blender then just dice everything or use a mortar and pestle.

Heat oil over medium heat. When oil is hot throw in cumin and fennel seeds and let them sizzle for about 10 seconds (remember they need to sizzle not just sit in the oil so get the oil hot enough for that). Immediately toss in the paste. Stir and fry until paste is dry about 5 mins.

Add in chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, turmeric, ground coriander/cumin and 1/2 cup of water. Stir well and allow mixture to cook down over medium low heat until tomatoes disintegrate, about 20 minutes. Then add salt and peas and stir. Allow peas to heat through and continue to cook down. When sauce is good and thick add in the paneer cubes. Allow paneer to heat through and absorb the flavors of the curry about 5 mins.

Then turn heat to low and stir in the cream if using. Cook another 2 mins checking if the sauce is too runny or too thick. If too thick add a few tbsp of water, if too thin cook down for an additional 5 mins or so. Then add in the garam masala and coriander/cilantro. Stir well, check seasoning and serve.

1 cup dry yellow split peas (or if you can find it Toor Dal) - picked over
2 tbsp peanut/coconut oil or ghee
1 tbsp BLACK mustard seeds
1 dried red chili - broken up
1 small onion - diced
1 clove garlic - chopped
3 cups water
1/2 tsp turmeric
salt to taste

Place split peas in bowl and cover with water. Swish peas around in water until water becomes very cloudy. Strain water out of bowl and repeat the process 2 more times to clean peas thoroughly.

Heat oil/ghee over medium heat in pot (must have lid) until hot. Sprinkle in the mustard seeds and put lid on pot as the seeds will sputter. Wait until popping of seeds stops then remove lid and add in the dried chili and fry for about 10 seconds. Add in onions and stir well. Cook until translucent. Add the garlic and fry very quickly until soft (dont let garlic brown!). Add the split peas into the pan and stir very well until the peas are coated with oil and shiny.

Then add the water to the pan. Bring to a boil, add in turmeric and stir. Turn heat to low, place lid on pot with a crack opening and allow to simmer for about 30 minutes stirring every now and again.

After 30 mins or so check the dal. If it is to thick add water and cook more, if to thin just keep cooking. When the peas have disintegrated and the consistancy is fairly smooth your in the money.

Add salt to taste, garnish with raw tomatoes or cilantro if wanted and serve.
1/2 cup of thick yogurt (Mediterranean or Indian variety if possible) 
1/2 cucumber diced
1/2 red onion - diced
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp chili powder (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
and one of the following depending on season/mood:
couple of boiled beets - diced
red bell pepper - diced
tomato - diced


Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. If mix is too clumpy add a bit of water. Serve. 

So now you have a nice dinner here. You should have either some plain basmati rice, or some Indian flat breads to accompany your saucy happy meal. I generally place rice in the middle of the plate and curries around it. If you feel lazy on the salad tip just serve up some plain yogurt. Yogurt is great because it helps the digestion and cools the heat inna yuh mouth.
And always serve with some chutney, Mango Chutney is desired here. (Maybe some chutney recipes soon? I usually just buy them in the jar)....

Enjoy these recipes and do

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Duck Confit - Easy Fat Dinner

So if your from the states you might not know too much about Duck Confit. No thats not right, how bout if you grew up in an Atlanta suburb you might never have come across it.

So what is duck confit?
Essentially a fat based meat preserve.
Duck confit consists of cooking duck down in its own fat and then letting it mature while submerged by fat which acts as a preservative. Or thats how I seem to say it.

Duck Bearnaise

serves a bunch of people along with some salad or something.

1 tub of duck/goose/pheasant confit (should have 3/4 of a bird in it)
3 shallots - diced
3-4 nice potatoes (maris piper is my favorite type) washed, chopped, submerged in water
1 large parsnip - chopped like the potatoes
a bunch of oyster mushrooms - chopped (OPTIONAL)
1 glass of dry white wine
1 clove garlic - diced
4 tbsp chopped parsley

So what you will be doing is essentially seperating the pieces of duck from the fat they come in, using the fat to cook down the veggies, and then adding the duck pieces to the veggies.

First - seperate the pieces of duck from the fat that they came in. Wipe the duck pieces clean with some paper towel and then break them up into little pieces of meat and bone (you will find the duck tender enough for this and if its not tender enough for breaking up then its probably not a good confit).

Second - place 2 tablespoons of confit fat into a large pan over a medium heat. When fat liquifies add in shallots, potatoes and parsnip. (If using mushrooms use a bit more fat and add them in 2 minutes after the potatoes/parsnip). Cook until potatoes and parsnip brown up a bit and shallot is translucent. Now stir in the garlic and cook until it is soft (about a minute). Then add the glass of wine and lower heat just a bit. Continue to cook until steam coming from pan is no longer alchohol-ish (until the alcohol evaporates).

Third - Add duck pieces/shreds into pan and stir. All you want to do is heat the duck so turn the heat down if you hear lots of sizzling. Let duck heat up and then add in parsley. Stir and serve with some salad and grainy bread. I prefer an arugula and lambleaf salad with a spicy grain mustard dressing - it really cuts the hearty duck dish.

Good with either white or red wine. French preferably.

By the way this post was accidentally put up earlier as a rough draft. sorry

Monday, 22 March 2010


Forgot to add this one to the last zone.

Rosemary and Potato (with Fontina and Asiago cheese) Pizza

I'll explain this one a bit since it has a special place in my heart's stomach.

Make a regular italian dough like J Oliver's (dont hate).

Then all you need is :
Fresh rosemary - about 5-6 sprigs 
1 Potato (enough to cover pizza dough) - sliced into extra thin rounds
A bit of both Fontina and Asiago fresco cheese, cubed
Olive Oil
Salt and Black Pepper

Then all you do is:
Preheat oven to a high heat (450 - 500f or 250 - 275c). 
Spread/roll dough out and place on greased pizza trey or a pizza stone (if you got one use it!). Cover dough with oil and black pepper. Lay a few rosemary sprigs down and then lay down half the potato slices. Then sprinkle cheese over, lay out the the rest of the potatoes and top with remaining cheese and rosemary. Drizzle olive oil over top and place into oven to bake for about 10 - 13 mins or until potatoes are soft and cheese is bubbling and browning a bit.

Then eat that delicious thing.

So yeah.... any requests for the next recipes?

Strata-sphere ................................................................. . . . . .

Ever come home from work with a bundle of left over croissants and some really nice eggs and think "what should I do with all this"?
Maybe I should feel fortunate to have this small problem occasionally. By now I know exactly what to do. I do that Strata.
A Strata is a baked dish originally conceived to deal with leftover stale bread. Stale is the key here as the staleness determines how well the beaten eggs will bind with the bread to create the desired light, pillowy and fluffy texture characteristic of a perfect Strata.
The dish is a combination of stale bread (Im special so I use croissants), fried or lightly blanched veggies, and beaten eggs. Oh! And it has cheese in it. I almost forgot cheese.

C P's Strata 
About 4 halved, stale croissants
3-5 eggs (depending on your tastes and how much bread you are using)
3 tablespoons Parsely, chopped
Salt and Black Pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil (Extra Virgin ALWAYS)
1 Onion or 2 larger shallots, diced
1 small carrot, diced
1 stalk celery diced
1 clove garlic diced
Main Vegetable - about 10 stalks asparagus chopped into diagonal slices -or- half head cauliflower diced -or- 3 handfuls of good mushrooms chopped
Small glass dry white wine
About 200 grams Comte or Gruyere cheese diced finely or grated

First grease your baking vessel (you want a deep-ish pot or baking dish, pyrex works well). Then cut your stale bread/croissants in a way that they will arrange nicely around the bottom of your baking vessel. Set aside.

Beat eggs together with parsley, black pepper (and if desired a bit of grated parmesan). Set aside.

Preheat oven to about 350f or 200c.

Place oil in pan and set over medium heat. Add in onion, carrot, celery and fry until softened about 5-6 minutes. Then add in the garlic and your main vegetable. Fry until main veggie is just barely soft and then add in the wine. Allow mixture to simmer until the steam coming off the pan no longer stings the nostrils upon sniffing. Salt to taste and then take pan off heat.

Now for the layering.
Pour half of the beaten eggs over the bread/croissants.
Pour half of the fried mixture.
Pour the rest of the eggs in.
Put half of the cheese on.
Pour the rest of the fried mixture on and top with the remaining cheese and fresh grated pepper.

Place in the oven and bake until cheese on top has slightly browned and a fork can be poked into the strata and come out clean. You want a fluffy, slightly airy and light texture. Some like it a bit runny but I prefer moist and fluffy.

Savour with a nice arugula (rocket) salad with a mustard dressing and some ale or nice white wine.

And for the next recipe..... any requests from my friends fans(?) or fam?

Monday, 8 March 2010

Piece Zone 2

Traditional Margherita

Comte, Red Onion and Tomato 

PURI MAS - Amsterdam Indonesian

Puri Mas - Amsterdam

Behold the indulgent "Rijsttafel" of Puri Mas, one of Europe's finest Indonesian eateries. 
Me and mine ordered for one and were both stuffed at the end. Our selection included fried and steamed rice, chicken satay, lamb in soy sauce, chicken curry, egg in onion sauce, dry green bean curry, unbelievable beef Rengdang, gado gado, and the traditional condiments being toasted coconut powder and potato sticks (plus ample amount of bright spice chilli sambal). 

from the Puri Mas website: 

"Puri Mas is famous for its Rijsttafel, a feast of mild to strongly spiced Indonesian dishes.
Rijsttafel means Rice Table, an array of many dishes in small portions that covers the whole table. Although it is a Dutch idea, its origins are clearly Indonesian and it was known at one time as Makan Besar.
Indonesian people traditionally take a meal from a central plate of steamed or fried rice with other dishes arranged around it. Usually including some fish or meat, a vegetable dish, and a spicy sauce known as sambel. The early Dutch planters, with their great appetites, added more and more dishes and so the Rijsttafel originated.
Rijsttafel was served on the plantations and at home parties. Later it was combined with hotel menus, and each dish served seperately by a waiter."

Its another reason to go to Amsterdam. 
  Puri Mas
Lange Leidsedwarsstraat 37-41 (first floor)
1017 NG  Amsterdam


Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Piece Zone 1

Welcome to the Piece Zone. 
Left: Creme Fraiche and Carmelized Red Onion
Right: Comte and Oyster Mushroom (Perugian Style)

Close up on Creme and Onion 

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

What to do when you got Artichokes

So you got some artichokes?
Now what should you do with them? Or more precisely how do you take these vegetate mini fortresses and make them edible?

Easiest thing to do would just be steam them whole and them pick away at them with some lemon-butter dipping concoction. Ive done this before, its good but turns the eating into a game of picking and pulling at the artichoke's puzzling structure.

I suggest you get yourself a large bowl and fill it with juice of 2 lemons and some water, then cut your carciofi (artichokes) down to the tender inner leaves, scoop out the hairy choke, and peel the outer skin on the stem. That bowl of lemon water on hand is what you will IMMEDIATELY dunk your trimmed carciofi into as soon as you finish trimming it to prevent it from bruising and turning nasty brown color tone.

Say you now have about 4 - 5 artichoke hearts now soaking in lemon water.
Being the semi Italian that I am, I would do one of two things with these delicious veggies.

First off would be a Risotto.

We love this word in my flat. Risotto always means a delicious, hearty, easy meal perfect with wine or nice beer. Artichokes, like wild mushrooms and pumpkin, are perfect for risotto.

Risotto Ai Carciofi
 Ingredients needed:
Olive Oil - 2 tbsp
Onion, medium sized diced
Garlic - 2 cloves  diced
Dry White Wine - about 1/4 cup
Artichoke hearts - about 5
Arborio or Carnaroli Risotto Rice - about 250 g
Pint plus more very hot Chicken Stock
2 tbsp butter
Parmesan - about 1/2 cup or more
Parsley - about 3 tbsp chopped

Start by sauteing the onion in the oil over medium heat in a large pot for about 5 minutes until onion is nice and translucent. Add in garlic and artichoke hearts. Fry until garlic is soft, golden but not burned then add the white wine and continue to cook for about 3 minutes until the alcohol evaporates (you'll know this has happened when you can take a whiff of the pot without feeling a burn in your nostrils).

Now add in the risotto rice and stir until all the grains are covered in oil and have a slick appearance. Once the rice is oiled, turn heat to medium low and start to add the chicken stock a little bit at a time, stirring constantly. You want to add in bits of stock and stir until the rice absorbs it all, then add in a bit more stirring until it is absorbed. Continue to add the stock like this until it is all added. If everything works right, the rice will be soft to the bite (think al-dente pasta) and there is a thick sauce holding everything together. If the rice is a bit hard in the middle add a bit of boiling water and stir. The rice should have released loads of starch from agitation helping to create the smooth consistancy that good risotto must have.

Once all the stock is used and the rice is well cooked, turn off the heat and add the butter, parmesan and parsley and salt and pepper to taste. Stir to incorporate then cover the pot and let sit about 2 minutes. 
Then serve it up.


Artichoke Antipasta

Perfect way to preserve artichokes. Especially good if the artichokes are starting to go bad (just a bit) on the outside. You can easily substitute these in for fresh artichoke hearts in the above recipe.

Its simple:
Take your trimmed hearts and fry in olive oil in a pan (that has a lid) for a few minutes (medium heat). Turn the hearts over once in this time. Next add a 1/4 cup white wine, 1/4 cup water, and a smashed clove of garlic and cook for 2 minutes to let some alcohol evaporate. Then cover with a tight fitting lid and allow hearts to braise for about 30 minutes. If you lose all the liquid add a bit more water. The hearts are done when you can pierce them effortlessly with a fork. Take them out and place them in a container.
Next salt and pepper the hearts, add some dry oregano (2 pinches), some chopped raw garlic (small clove) and cover with olive oil. Close the container and allow the artichokes to sit in the oil for 24 hours or so.

Then you can just leave them in the fridge and take them out whenever you need. I love them just as a side dish, in salad with rocket (arugula) or used in a pasta with pancetta, parsely, shallot, pine nut and Parmesan.


You see? Artichokes just look tough, but really they have warm tender hearts.

Saturday, 16 January 2010


Mexican food. I do miss you. Sadly I dont think I will be seeing any of your true forms here in London. This is very hard for me.
Guess I will have to start some importation of goods.

What I wouldnt do for a mole negra right now.

I can has Topolobampo?

Thursday, 7 January 2010


UPMA - The Risotto of Kerala

I love Indian food. I love Italian food. I love risotto. Naturally I dig Upma. All the cool kids do.

Upma is as easy a translation of rissoto into the ingredient sphere of southern Indian food as you could hope for. The Abborio rice is replaced with sooji (semolina or even Cream of Wheat), the butter and Parmesan added at the end replaced by ghee and fresh chopped coriander.

Im not going to include a recipe here rather describe the process because, like risotto, Upma is endlessly variable depending on what you have and what you prefer. 

Its starts just like a (can you guess?) .... risotto yes! ...only slightly modified. So with any Indian dish you begin with oil or ghee and temper it (tarka) with spices. It being a southern Indian recipe think lots of mustard seeds, asefetida, raw split yellow dal or raw rice (yes as a seasoning) and the ALL MIGHTY CURRY LEAVES. Next, in with the onions and a bit of garlic if you want and fry them down until soft in ghee or groundnut oil. I always add either chopped cashews or almonds in with the onions as well, you can choose to omit or not. After the onions have fried a bit you add your main vegetable (one thing you dont see in Upma is meat so this is for the vegetarians). I like peas with either mushrooms or aubergine (eggplants).
------OH - at this point it is important to have a kettle (or at least 4 cups) full of simmering water at hand as you will need it soon. See - just like risotto.-----------
Cook until veggies are soft yet still some what firm to the bite. Next add in your semolina. I use a cup or a bit less of regular sooji or semolina medium to coarse ground. Stir this in until it is covered in the oils and appears shiny and almost translucent.
++++ You could add some tomatoes at this point if you so desired. I prefer them as a fresh topping chopped. +++++++
Next you begin to add in the very hot water (should have just been boiled), a bit at a time, stirring constantly. As you add water, you stir the mixture until the semolina absorbs all of the water you added. Then add more once the last bit has been soaked up. Keep doing this for a while. After you have gone through about 2 cups of water give it a taste. If it is a bit firm and dry keep adding water in this manner. You will probably go through 3 cups before it is done.

Then turn off heat and top with chopped coriander.
You can also top with chopped tomato, thinly sliced red onion, whatever.

I never use a recipe for this dish. Its all about constantly stirring and testing your mixture until its at your liking.

There are recipes out there though. If you want one now just google "upma recipe".