Paella con verduras y jamón serrano…


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!



Even my kitchen angels were impressed…..!

Langdale Update…rain, rain and…ooh a bit of sun!



So, here we are in a gorgeous house in a quiet corner of the Lakes that feels like a little bit of Hobbiton. I would not be surprised to see Gandalf strolling down the lane or the Riders of Rohan to come sweeping down the valley. (My mind clearly wanders too much in the silence of this place! ) The kitchen is well equipped though the electric’ faux range’ cooker is not great. I think I am getting the hang of it but the dials have no numbers so  it is all guesswork. First night I made 15 naan bread pizzas – all topped with mozzarella, serrano ham, olives, sliced chillis, olive oil and rocket. The oven does get red hot so I managed to turn them out more or less at the same time. I used garlic and coriander naans and they were delicious. The dining table is of the board room variety so it seats us all comfortably. Yesterday was a wash out walk-wise – it hammered down – at one point the rain was sweeping sideways down the valley. We ended up playing what felt like a never-ending game of trivial pursuits which was way out of date but provided lots of laughs along the way. I now know what the palatine uvula is , which eye Moshe Dayan wore an eye patch on and that Mike Hawthorn was the first Englishman to win the motor racing world championship – I am sure such riveting knowledge will be of great use to me in the future! Hmmm….last night I made 2 large pans of paella which was interesting challenge on this dinosaur of a cooker. Anyway – it all turned out fine, though with everyone standing and chatting around me it was akin to  trying to cook on a busy pavement in London! I started off with several bowls of a basil, chill, lemon and cumin hummus which went down well. We have already got through a lot… a lot..of wine…. and last night ended with a few rounds of Spanish brandy…hey..I slept well. I marinated three legs of lamb before i went to bed. It is the tikka lamb recipe that I posted a month or so ago. At least now I can enjoy today and as the sun is shining the cabin fever is about to cease! The hills look inviting and the air is vibrating with an almost tangible freshness. Will try and post more soon. I hope all is well with you back in civilisation!

And now the Paella recipe for Anna!


A friend now dwelling in deepest Cornwall has just asked for the recipe for the paella below – how nice! Here you go young lady…though this is the full version – the poor man’s version enjoyed last night is basically without the chicken and chorizo – and using 100 gm of lardon instead – pan frying it first and then adding the peppers garlic etc and continuing from there. You can really add anything you want – rabbit instead of or as well as chicken, mussels, cockles…whatever is tickling your fancy that day or is lurking in the fridge.

INGREDIENTS – should serve between 4 and 6 folk

6 boneless chicken thighs, skinned and cut into mouth-sized chunks / 400 gm of paella rice rinsed well and drained in a sieve / 250 gm raw chorizo sausage, skinned and cut into decent slices – though you could use a cured one , just do not fry for as long / At least 20 decent prawns – not raw / 1 red pepper and 1 green pepper deseeded and chopped / 6 garlic cloves peeled and finely chopped – last night I just used two as all I had left! / 125 ml of white wine / 1litre chicken stock / pinch of saffron or colorante / 1/2 tsp smoked paprika / 100 gm of peas / 6 good toms deseeded and chopped- though again last night I just used 5 gorgeous cherry tomatoes and simply quartered them  / bunch of parsley chopped

I use a Valencian paella pan – around £26-£30 on Amazon – or use a large sauté pan. Heat a good glug of olive oil and brown the chicken pieces. Take out and put on a plate to one side. Then pop in the chorizo and pan fry lightly for 2 minutes or so. Then add the peppers and garlic. Fry for another 5 minutes or so. Keep stirring all the time. Stir in the rice and let it toast lightly for 2 minutes. Now add the wine – have one for yourself too! Cook’s perks! Add the stock, the colouring – colorante – or the saffron, and the paprika. Bring to the boil gently stirring all the time.  Let it bubble then return the chicken to the pan and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for around 15 minutes. Stir every now and then in between sips of wine.  Put some music on! Add the peas next and cook gently for another 5 minutes, then add the prawns. Stir gently and leave for a further 5 minutes. Turn the heat off and let it stand for about 5 minutes or so. The rice should still have a little bite to it.

I adore this dish – ok…I will not rave on any further than I did yesterday! You get the picture! Enjoy, Anna,  and anyone else who gives it a go – I am sure you all have a paella recipe like this – if not give it a go!

(See last post for the pic – and just imagine it with chorizo slices and bits of chicken in!)

Clear up Paella…


Clear up Paella...

Off to my Menorcan paradise this weekend for two weeks so having to cook dishes that use up what is in the cupboards or fridge. So tonight was a bit of a poor man’s paella – but though I had no chicken or chorizo – i had to use 100 gm of lardons instead of the latter – the resulting flavour was terrific – and there is none left! So I guess it worked! I used up the red and green peppers I had left and about 8oz of prawns that needed eating. Paella is such a sexy dish to cook anytime and the colours are so vibrant. I love, just love, cooking it.

Got to work out what to do with 4 cracking pork chops tomorrow! Cupboard is almost bare!