Showing posts with label #RandomRecipeChallenge. Show all posts
Showing posts with label #RandomRecipeChallenge. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Arroz con Pollo or Rice with Chicken for #RandomRecipeChallenge

My fellow food blogger, Dom, posed the question.  If you had 10 seconds to grab one cookbook, which one would it be?  Quick!  Don’t think too long.  As much as I would have liked to say my newest cookbook, received as a gift from my friend, Jenny, (See exhibit A, below, thoroughly bookmarked with recipes I want to try.)   I knew the only genuine choice is the book that comes in the suitcase with me when we move countries.  My all-encompassing, knows-everything standby since the days before the internet and Skype, the 1980 edition of The Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook.   You’ve heard me wax eloquent about it here and here.   And I’ve used its recipes too many times to list all the links.  It’s even made it into the Random Recipe Challenge once before, by default.

Exhibit A - Need to bake so much

This month the great book opened at a dish I’ve eaten many times in my lifetime, sometimes called by other names, like jambalaya or paella.  Frankly, I don’t know what the difference is between arroz con pollo, jambalaya and paella, save the names.  Chicken, sausage, rice.  Other odds and ends like seafood and/or paprika and saffron but essentially the same main ingredients, right?   And before a bunch of angry Spaniards flock here to leave shouty comments, (¡Bienvenidos!) my research reveals that I am correct.  At least as regards, paella and arroz con pollo.  I grew up with both jambalaya and arroz con pollo so I rest my case.

Anyhoo, on to the dish and the fulfillment of this month’s Random Recipe “grab and go” challenge.

1/4 cup or 60ml olive oil
4- to 5-pound or 1.8 – 2.25kg roasting chicken
1 large onion
1 1/4 cups or 295ml water
14 oz or 400g can tomatoes
4 oz or 115g canned or jarred pimentos or sweet red peppers
2 1/3 oz or about 65g black Spanish olives
2 cups or 400g Basmati rice
1 tablespoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
2 chicken stock cubes
16 oz or about 550g smoked pork sausage
8 oz or about 225g frozen peas

Remove your peas from the freezer and set aside.

Cut the chicken up into manageable pieces.  The usual is eight, but, if the breasts are large, as these are, I like to cut them in half as well.

Chop your onion, dice your pimentos and pit your olives.  Slice the sausage into pieces.  Big, small, it’s up to you.

Heat the olive oil and brown your chicken on both sides in your pot, a few pieces at a time.  (Or use another enormous skillet to brown them all at the same time like I did.  Sure, I have another pan to wash, but that takes less time than browning the chicken a few pieces at a time.  Your call.)  Set the chicken aside while you get on with the rest of the recipe.

Cook the onion until soft in the chicken drippings.  At this point I transferred said drippings to the pot I would cook the arroz con pollo in to cook my onions.

Add in the rice and give it a good stir to coat with oil.

Add in the water, the tomatoes, pimentos, olives with all of their liquids along with the stock cubes, salt and pepper.  Stir again to make sure the stock cubes have dissolved.

Now set your browned chicken in the rice pot and bring the liquid to boiling.   

Turn the fire down to low and cover the pot with a tightly fitting lid.  My lid has a little air hole for steam so I covered it first with some foil and then popped the lid on.

Simmer for about 30 minutes or until the chicken is almost fork tender and the rice is just about cooked.  Test a few grains to see.

Add the thawed peas to the pot and cook for about 10 more minutes.   Good Housekeeping suggests that if the mixture seems dry when you add the peas, you should put the lid back on.  If it seems wet, you can cook with the lid off.  I put the lid back on.

Serve with another light sprinkle of cayenne or the hot sauce of your choice.  We used this one.


Once again, I've waited till the very last minute to post my Random Recipe, but if you'd like to join Dom's challenge in future months, follow this link to Belleau Kitchen. 

                                                   Random Recipes #26 - March

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Mushrooms Provençal for #RandomRecipeChallenge

This month for the Random Recipe Challenge we are celebrating a big anniversary: number 30. Not 30 years, but still, 30 months is a great accomplishment in the world of blogging.  I wish I could say that I’ve been participating that long but I can say that I have enjoyed every challenge I have accepted.  Rather than choosing a theme, for this anniversary month dashing Dom from +belleau kitchen has set 30 as the target.  Count forward on the bookcase to your 30th cookbook.  Either open to the 30th page (which I did first but there wasn’t a recipe at all) or open randomly (which I did second) and make the first recipe you see.

My 30th book was Richard Olney’s Simple French Food, a classic in food writing circles.  I adore Richard Olney and I adore this book but I have to admit, when I opened it to Mushrooms Provençal, I was a bit disappointed.  Sautéed mushrooms didn’t sound very exciting.  But, after making them as a side dish, we all decided that they were fabulous and worthy of being the star of the meal.  So instead of grilling a steak which they would accompany, I folded a few in a simple omelet and served extra on the side.  The perfect evening meal.  And I will never underestimate Mr. Olney again.

4-5 tablespoons olive oil
1 lb 10 oz or 750g Swiss brown or other mushrooms
Sea salt
3 large cloves garlic
1 handful parsley
1 handful crumbled half-dried bread (I chopped mine up with a large knife.)
Black pepper
1/2 lemon
Glass of wine – optional but highly recommended – for the cook

Rinse your mushrooms briefly to get rid of any dirt that might be clinging to them and drain them well in a colander.  Cut the tough stem ends off.  Small mushrooms can be left whole but larger ones should be cut in halves or quarters.

Puree the garlic in a mortar with a pestle and chop your parsley finely.

Heat your oil in a large frying pan and add the mushrooms and a good sprinkling of sea salt.  Sauté over a medium high heat, stirring or tossing every few minutes, until the mushrooms take on a golden color.

Choose a bigger pan.  This was hard to stir and toss until the mushrooms had reduced in size.

Add in the garlic and parsley.  Stir well.

Give the whole pan a good couple of grinds of fresh black pepper and add in the breadcrumbs.

Taste for salt and add a little more if necessary.

Squeeze your lemon half over the mushrooms.  Stir or toss again.


Or add them into an omelet.

Beat a couple of eggs with a dash of milk.  Have a sip of wine.

Add a knob of butter to a non-stick skillet.  Once it has melted, pour in the egg/milk mixture and add some Mushrooms Provençal.

Cook until the eggs are almost set.  Add a few slices of cheddar or other cheese, if desired.  Have a sip of wine.

Fold over.  Neatness doesn't count.  Have another sip of your wine.

Slide the omelet onto a plate, sprinkle with some black pepper and add more mushrooms.  Enjoy!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Crumpets for #RandomRecipeChallenge

The whole point of the Random Recipe Challenge set each month by dashing Dom of +belleau kitchen is to get us out of our comfort zone and make us try something new. This month the theme is bread so I opened the EatYourBooks website and searched my own cookbooks as specified.  My random number landed on English Bread and Yeast Cookery, a book I have had for a while and have enjoyed reading, but had yet to cook or bake from.  It is by Elizabeth David, the grande dame of British cookbook authors.

What there is to know about food preparation that she hasn’t written about, must not be worth knowing.  Each recipe is thoroughly researched and documented and delivered with current (at the time of publication) personal observations.  Mrs. David shares nine recipes for crumpets, those little griddle yeast breads, the oldest dating back to 1769, and her treatise on what a crumpet should and should not be.  She is quite firm and I get the feeling that she was quite a character.  My random recipe number this month brought me to the one called Crumpets 1973.  Thank God.

                                                  Random Recipes #28 - May

3 2/3 cups or 455g flour
1 packet dried yeast (3/4o oz or 21g) I used Fleischmann’s Rapid Rise.
2 cups or 470ml milk, diluted with 1/4 cup or 60ml water
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons oil (I used canola.) plus extra for greasing the griddle and metal rings
For the second mixing: 1/2 teaspoon baking soda and 1/2 cup or 120ml warm water

Mrs. David says to warm the flour in a crockery bowl in a warm oven so I popped mine in a glass bowl into the microwave.  I didn’t really expect anything that dry to get warm, but it did.  Since it’s hotter than the hinges of hell already here in Dubai, that step probably wasn’t necessary but I was curious to see if it would work.

Measure your milk, water, oil and sugar into a microwaveable vessel and then warm slowly to blood heat.  I took that to mean 98.6°F or 37°C.

Close enough.
Pour about 1/4 cup of 60ml of your warm milk mixture into a small bowl with the yeast and whisk gently.

Meanwhile, add the salt to your warmed flour and mix well.

Stir in the yeast and then add the warm milk mixture.  Stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until it is smooth and elastic.  Here Mrs. David quotes from an earlier crumpet recipe and says to “attack it with ‘vivacious turbulence.’”  I suggest you do the same.

Look how foamy the yeast mixture got in just a couple of minutes! 

Cover the bowl and allow to rise for about an hour to an hour and a half at room temperature.

After an hour.
Beat it down with a wooden spoon.

Dissolve the baking soda in the warm water and add it to the batter, again stirring vigorously.  Let this rest, or as Mrs. David says, let the batter recover, for another 30 minutes.

Here where it gets tricky.  Prepare your griddle and rings by brushing them liberally with oil.  According to the instructions, my rings were supposed to be about 4 inches or 10cm across.  Mine were considerably smaller.

Also, as I filled them the first time rather full, I realized that the characteristic holes in the crumpet couldn’t form because the batter was too deep.   Also, perhaps my batter was too thick.

Too full? Or too thick?  Either way, no holes! 
Mrs. David warned that this might happen and suggested adding some extra warm water to thin the batter just a little bit.  I added another 1/4 cup or 60ml of water and only filled the rings halfway on the second attempt.  I was delighted to start seeing holes forming as they cooked.

Yay!  Holes starting to emerge!  
So:  I suggest that you heat your griddle over a low to medium flame and then only fill the rings halfway with batter to start.  If the holes are still not forming, add some more warm water to the batter.

Cook the batter until the holes have formed and the top is looking mostly cooked.  Use an oven mitt to pick up the ring and run a knife around the crumpet to loosen it, if necessary, and remove the ring.  Flip the crumpet so the holey side can brown.

Remove from griddle and, if you’d like, keep the finished ones warm in the oven until they are all done and you are ready to eat.

Continue brushing the rings with grease and filling them and cooking the crumpets until all your batter is gone.  Or until you get sick and tired of turning out crumpets and decide to stack a couple of the first hole-less batch with cheese and saucisson and make your helper a birthday cake.   Decorate with piped cream cheese.  Sing the birthday song and blow the candle out for him.  After all he has no lips.

This recipe makes a bunch of crumpets, at least a couple or three dozen, especially with small rings.

Smear them with a pat of butter and a drizzle of honey to fill the little holes.


More birthday boy photos: