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…..!

Cordero al chilindron…


Cordero al chilindron...

Ok. I’m back in the saddle. I was walking by mid day yesterday and compus mentus by 4 pm-ish. I had to do something to stop me feeling any more sorry for myself so I went for a dish for supper that, were anyone ever to ask me – what would your last dish be – this would be a strong contender. I normally do it as a supper dish for lots of folk – but I thought – sod it – let’s do it for me for a change! So, by 6pm I was back in the kitchen and a rush of well being and harmony poured over me. Today, I feel a little iffy again – but I am getting there. Anyway – enough about me – it is the food that is centre stage here!

This is a dish I came across in Spain Quixotic Donkeys years is a dish from Aragon originally and a chilindron is a type of low sided earthenware cooking pot..apparently. Cordero is – of course – lamb. Look, anyway, the point is – this is a seriously fine dish – peasanty, satisfying and perfect for friends to gather round with hunks of bread, glasses of wine and rich conversation.

Ingredients for 4

1kg of lamb shoulder or leg cut into even size chunks
5 cloves of garlic peeled and chopped
Olive oil
100 gm of serrano or parma ham – preferably cut in one thick slice then chopped
2 carrots peeled and sliced thinly
4 plum tomatoes quartered
1 red pepper, chopped
Flat leaf parsley
100 ml – maybe more – dry white wine
250 gm fresh peas – though tinned will do if you must!

Ok…pop the lamb chunks into a dish and mix well with the garlic – leave for an hour.

Heat a tbsp of oil in a sauté pan. Pan fry the ham for about 30 seconds, then transfer to a casserole dish that has a tight fitting lid – you will be cooking on the hob – not in the oven. I use one of my stainless steel dutch ovens. Fry the lamb chunks next in same oil until browned – add to casserole. Sauté the carrots, then the peppers for about 5 minutes each and add to the dish. Then the tomatoes – til just starting to soften and colour. If need be add more oil at any point.

Now add the wine and chopped parsley to the pan and let it bubble for a second or two, then add to casserole with any scrapings.

Mix it all together. There should be about an inch or so of wine – if not add a dash more and top up your glass at the same time – cook’s perks!


Put on the lid – I add a layer of foil first just too make a really tight seal. Turn heat up high under the pot and cook on high for 20 minutes – shaking pan vigorously to stop it all sticking. Take a peep after maybe 15 minutes and if necessary add a little more wine and turn heat down a little. But be brave!

After 20 minutes add the peas. Lid back on and cook for a further 20 minutes. You can now, if you wish, just turn the heat off and move the pot to one side for 5 minutes of you wish – or if you are still chatting!

You will not believe that lamb can cook this fast and be so, so tender. It will be like carnivore velvet.

I serve on a white pre warmed dish to place in the centre of the table or in a pre warmed roasting tin, with shed loads of good crusty bread. The idea is you want folk to be able to be served but not be shy about dipping into the main dish to get more juices!

This is a dish of pure Spanish style and simplicity that leaves you feeling that life is ok after all and who cares what mañana brings. And I felt life seeping back into my veins afterwards too…alongside the tempranillo…..!

Coriander and Chicken Pilaf


Coriander and Chicken Pilaf

Last night for supper, I wanted to use up some chicken left over from the Khao Man Ghai…and I also had a gorgeous cluster of heavenly coriander sitting staring at me from the kitchen window sill. My kids fancied a risotto…but I had run out of risotto rice – poor planning there.. But I did have my usual large kiln jar full of basmati rice. The sun was still in the sky so I went into pilaf mode! I love pilafs and they are SO easy to make – and so versatile – just like risotto – but less fiddly.

This is for 4 – though I recommend making more as it is it is moorish! Olive oil / 1 onion chopped finely or 4 small shallots/ 1 garlic clove chopped finely / 240 gm basmati rice – though long grain white is just dandy / 400 gm of good chopped tomatoes / pinch of sugar / 600 ml of chicken stock / left over chicken / bunch of coriander, chopped roughly / 2 tsp of pine kernels.

Heat oil in a sauté pan. Add a splash of oil. Pan fry onion and garlic for 5 minutes until softened. Add the rice – no need to rinse first – cook for about 2 or 3 minutes stirring all the time to coat the rice. Add the tomatoes, the sugar, stock , the chicken and coriander plus a little black pepper. Stir once. Bring to boil, then cover the pan with the lid, and simmer for about 15 minutes until the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is tender – do not be tempted to stir! Toast the pine nuts in a dry pan and then add to the mix when the 15 minutes is up. Remove the lid – cover the pan with a clean tea towel – pop the lid back on and leave to one side for 10 minutes. Then lid off, tea towel off and stir lightly with a fork. I served it with lightly pan fried diced red chilli and chestnut mushrooms in butter.

This is a dish you can play about with – experiment with different fresh herbs, meats etc. You can use prawns or salmon too…it all depends on what tickles your fancy….or what’s parked in your fridge!