Paella con verduras y jamón serrano…

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Paella con verduras y jamón serrano...

Last night I was once more in the mood for one of my favourite dishes…but this time I wanted to make one that centred on vegetables. I was very pleased with the result and the flavours were fresh and vibrant. There is no reason why you could not make this a completely vegetarian dish I guess, if you used veg stock instead of chicken and cut out the ham.
But that is not for me…..I wanted a hint of meat and the delicate wisps of serrano ham were a perfect match to the rainbow of veg. I reckon that this is also a very healthy dish- I’m not one for adding up this or working out that calory or carb wise – but I reckon this would be hard to beat for a colourful, healthy, reasonably quick dish that could not fail to impress your guests – or just you and yours!

Ingredients for 4 – with a little left over!

1 aubergine – or eggplant for my US friends! Halved, quartered lengthways and cubed
1 red pepper – deseeded and cut into squares or strips.
1 courgette – or zucchini! – halved, quartered lengthways and cubed
6 cloves of garlic
400 gm of paella rice – rinsed well under cold water
100 gm of serrano ham = cut lengthways down the centre then into strips
olive oil
125 ml of dry white wine – I only had cava in – I drink mostly red – but the cava worked just as well! Decadent!
1 litre chicken stock
Pinch of saffron – or colorante
Almost a tsp of smoky paprika
12 baby plum tomatoes, halved – or you could use cherry toms
Handful of chopped parsley

Add a good glug of oil to a paella pan- or huge frying pan if not – or a sauté pan would do – but for goodness sake go out and buy a paella pan tomorrow!

Once it is hot add the aubergine, pepper and courgette. Pan fry for about 5 minutes stirring all the time. Then add the garlic and leave for another 5 minutes. Add the serrano ham and fry for just a minute or so until it starts to colour and crisp a little. Add in the rice and move around the pan til all the grains look coated.

Then add the wine and let it bubble for a moment. Have a drink yourself. Then add the stock, saffron or colorante, and the paprika. Stir, and once it is bubbling, turn down to a very low heat and leave for 15 minutes stirring every now and then.

Then add the tomatoes and cook for about another 10 minutes or until the liquid has been absorbed. The rice should still have a little bite, be al dente, toothsome…you get the idea. Toss on the parsley – remove from the heat and let it rest for 5 minutes whilst you set out the plates and have another glass of something good.

Then serve!

I liked this as an alternative to my meatier, fishier version very much. Please get more paella into your life!

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Even my kitchen angels were impressed…..!

Saturday Supper Part Deux – Med Eggs…

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Saturday Supper Part Deux - Med Eggs...

I used to love egg and chips for supper as a child – in fact I still do…who doesn’t…but these eggs, with a mediterranean twist, are just a wee bit posher, yet still simple. I will give you the ingredients for one person and then you can multiply it to your heart’s content…this is a very social dish.

Olive oil & vegetable oil
2/3 potatoes, par boiled for 15 minutes – I used Maris Pipers
2 spring onions, chopped quite finely
A good handful of cherry or baby plum tomatoes, sliced
1 good free range or organic egg
Fresh rosemary – a good tbsp chopped roughly
1 clove of garlic chopped finely.
Black pepper and sea salt

Once the potatoes have cooled – I leave them for about 15 minutes or so in a sieve over a pan – slice them into rounds-some may split but that does not matter. In a really serious splash of olive oil, pan fry the potato slices until starting to brown – be patient and turn gently with a spatula – great word that – spatula…love it! Add a few grinds of black pepper and sea salt.

Then add the spring onions, garlic, tomatoes and rosemary. Continue to fry gently for about another five minutes – at this stage you could also add some slices of serrano or parma ham if you felt so inclined and in a more meaty mood.

In another frying pan, heat a splash of vegetable oil and fry the eggs until the white sets but the yolk is still unctiously runny. I used eggs from  Old Cotswold Legbars last night – a favourite of mine – so tasty and deep golden. And their shells are a rather funky pastel blue colour!

Serve the spuds in a dish and slide the egg on top…I split some of the white doing this…as you can see above…blast…so take care…but, hey , it still tasted wonderfully wonderful! I love a little zing with this dish- so I also threw a few slices of red jalapenos on mine.

The eggs, olive oil and rosemary just meld so well flavour wise. A great Saturday supper….or indeed anytime!

The picture below is of the ingredients making friends in the pan…..Happy Sunday to you all!

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Saturday supper for Popeye fans everywhere….

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Saturday supper for Popeye fans everywhere....

Saturday was a bit of a stinker of a day at work so on returning at 6pm it was a case of cranking up something easy and tasty and social – so I turned to seranno ham and spinach! They were the first things to wave at me when I opened the fridge door so they got lucky. I must put out a big thank you to Peter Lane of icookyoueat for the inspiration for the spinach dish. I had them at his house recently, though I have to say I could not remember the recipe -blame his generosity with the vino! – so I gave it my own spin – hope they sound ok, Peter! They certainly tasted very good. I took a large bag of spinach and steamed it til it just wilted. Then it went into a sieve – well I used a fine colander – and pressed out all the liquid. I left it to cool. Then in a bowl I mixed some bread crumbs with a good handful of grated parmesan – please never buy the ready grated stuff. I added the spinach and mixed it together with black pepper and a little rock salt and some dried chilli flakes. I used a little beaten egg to bind it then rolled it into balls – then I pan fried them in olive oil until a little crispy on the outside but meltingly soft inside.

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I served them as a grand sort of tapas with an aubergine tray bake. I’ve mentioned this before but this is how I do it. Slice up
an aubergine (eggplant to my friends across the pond!), drizzle (that is such a sexy word) olive oil on a baking tray, then add the aubergine slices. Pop in the oven – 200c-for about 10 minutes til beginning to turn golden. Remove – flip them over – drizzle more olive oil over them – scatter some sweet baby plum toms around (or you could halve some normal toms – as long as they are tasty!) Back in oven for another 10 minutes or so- toms should be softening now. Top the aubergine with chunks of mozzarella. Back in oven for 5 mins – then out and top with slices of serrano ham – or of course parma if you wish – then back in the oven for final 3 minutes. Out – scatter over some basil leaves and some grated parmesan and a tad ore olive oil and black pepper and bob’s your uncle. Apparently. Serve with crusty bread. Delicious. And simple. You could add other bits and pieces – eg slices of oiled mushrooms to this too. Play around!  And the spinach balls go really well with it! Though, you could, as my friend Peter did, serve them on a bed of spaghetti or linguini. Popeye would probably smoke them!

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