vegetable paella

February 18, 2012

Many of you will have heard of paella. For those of you who haven’t, paella is a Valencian rice dish that originated in Valencia, on the east coast of Spain. Many non-Spaniards view paella as Spain’s national dish, but most Spaniards consider it to be a regional Valencian dish. And, Valencians think of paella as one of those things that make them who they are. There are three widely known types of paella: paella valenciana, paella de mariscoa, paella mixta. But there are many others – all of them free-style combinations of  calasparra or bomba rices, wine, saffron and olive oil, green vegetables, beans, and seasoning. It’s a one pan dish full of flavour, texture, and satisfaction. Read on for the recipe below. Or check out v:gourmet’s first (of many) videos above produced by my main man Frantz who’s a student currently at Humber College. Frantz rocks. So does this recipe.

3 tbsps olive oil

1/2 spanish onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 small red bell pepper, cut into strips

1 small yellow bell pepper, cut into strips

1/2 fennel bulb, cut into strips

2 bay leaves

1/4 tsp smoked paprika

1/2 tsp ground turmeric

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1 cup calaspara rice (or another short-grain paella rice)

6 1/2 tbsps good quality sherry

2 cups veggie stock, heated

sea salt and pepper

3/4 cup shelled fava beans, peas or other green vegetable, cooked

4 tomatoes, cut into wedges

15 pitted kalamata olives

2 tbsps roughly chopped parsley

4 lemon wedges

Heat up the olive oil in a paella pan or large shallow skillet, and gently fry the onion for 5 minutes. Add the bell peppers and fennel and continue to fry on medium heat for about 6 minutes, or until soft and golden. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more.

Add the bay leaves, paprika, turmeric, and cayenne to the vegetables and stir well. Then add the rice and stir thoroughly for 2 minutes before adding the sherry and saffron. Boil down for a minute, then add the stock and 1/3 tsp sea salt. Reduce the heat to the minimum and simmer very gently for about 20 minutes, or until most of the liquid has been absorbed by the rice. Do not cover the pan and don’t stir during the cooking.

Remove the paella pan from the heat. Taste and add more salt if needed but without stirring the rice and vegetables much. Scatter the tomatoes, and peas or beans over the rice and cover the pan tightly with a lid or foil. Leave to rest for 10 minutes.

Take off the foil. Scatter the olives on top of the paella and sprinkle with parsley. Serve with wedges of lemons.

sweet potato fritters

August 7, 2011

I don’t think I’ve met a sweet potato that I didn’t like and these ones are no exception. The recipe comes from Ottolenghi’s Plenty in which he suggests you serve them with a little yogurt sauce on the side. Could do. I’m sure it would be delicious in a non-vegan kind of way. But they were just as good with a crisp green salad and a little twist of lemon juice. The perfect summer lunch.

2.5 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks (about 5 medium sized sweet potatoes)

2 tsp soy sauce

3/4 cup flour

1 tsp salt

½ tsp sugar

3 tbsp spring onion, chopped

½ tsp fresh chilli, finely chopped (or more, to taste)

oil for frying

Steam the sweet potato until soft, then drain in a colander for an hour. Meanwhile, whisk the sauce ingredients until smooth and set aside. In a mixing bowl, work all the fritter ingredients by hand – it should be sticky, so if it’s a little runny, add some flour. Do not over-mix.

To cook the fritters, heat some oil in a nonstick frying pan on medium heat and cook the fritters in dollops of about 3 tablespoons of the batter. Use the back of the spoon to flatter them out a bit. Fry for about 6 minutes each side. You want them to go really brown – don’t worry if they burn a little, it will just add to the flavour. Sit cooked fritters on paper towel to soak up excess oil. You can keep them warm in the oven while you finish the other fritters.

two potato vindaloo

July 27, 2011

You probably know that vindaloo is an Indian curry dish. But you probably didn’t know that the name vindaloo is derived from the Portuguese dish “Carne de Vinha d’ Alhos” which is a dish of meat, usually pork, with wine and garlic. Crazy, no? The dish was originally modified in Mumbai by the substitution of vinegar for the wine, and the addition of red Kashmir chillies. It then evolved into the vindaloo curry dish in Goa, with the addition of plentiful amounts of traditional spice. The following recipe is plentiful, indeed, on the spice front so if you don’t have all of them, go out and get some. They are worth the time and effort – for all sorts of recipes, not just this one. I’ve adapted this recipe from Ottolenghi to streamline it a bit and modify the balance of texture and flavour! It’s sweet. It’s spicy. It’s hot. It’s satisfying. It’s great on a heap of freshly cooked plain rice.

8 cardamom pods, seeds extracted and crushed

1 tbsp ground cumin

1 tbsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp cloves

1/4 tsp turmeric

1 tsp sweet paprika

1 tsp ground cinnamon

2 tbsps olive or safflower oil

12 shallots, sliced

1/2 tsp brown mustard seeds

1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds

25 curry leaves

2 tbsps chopped fresh ginger

pinch red pepper chili flakes, in line with your tolerance for heat

6 ripe tomatoes, chopped, or a can of whole tomatoes

1/4 cup cider vinegar

1 3/4 cups water or stock

1 tbsp sugar

sea salt

3 cups baby potatoes, quartered

2 red bell peppers, roughly chopped

2 – 3 cups sweet potato, cut into chunks

cilantro, chopped

Heat oil in a large heavy pot or dutch oven. Add the shallots with the mustard and fenugreek seeds. Saute on medium-low heat until shallots are brown. Stir in all the spices, curry leaves, ginger, chili flakes and cook for another 2 or 3 minutes. Next, add the tomatos, vinegar, water, sugar and some sea salt. Bring to a boil, then leave to simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes.

Add the potatoes and simmer for another 20 minutes. For the last stage, add the sweet potato and bell peppers. Make sure all the vegetables are just immersed in the sauce (add more water if necessary) and continue cooking, covered, for about 40 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.

Remove the lid and leave to bubble away while sauce thickens a bit. Add a healthy portion of chopped cilantro. Serve on plain rice and garnish with a bit more cilantro or some mint.