June 20, 2004
Paella de pollo

Paella de pollo con alcachofas y oloroso, from The Moro Cookbook. (That's rice with chicken, artichokes and oloroso, to you and me.)

I served this as a main course alongside an arugula salad with sherry-shallot vinaigrette. It's unusual for the paellas I already knew in that it contains no saffron and no seafood. I made mine with vegetable stock, so that I could divide the dish into two pans - one with chicken and one without, but I'm sure it would be super-taste with a nice dark chicken stock, too. I served grilled prawns and lemon-sauteÚd onions as well, for those who REALLY needed their seafood or an extra hit of onion.

This richly flavored rice dish is the perfect excuse to go out and find a decent bottle of old, and therefore not too sweet, oloroso and reward yourself with a tipple when you return.

Serves 6 as a starter, 4 as a main course
6 tbsp olive oil
350g boned and skinned chicken, cut into 2cm cubes
2 large Spanish onions, finely chopped
3 large globe artichokes
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
250g calasparra (paella) rice
150ml medium to dry oloroso or old dry amontillado sherry
800ml hot chicken stock (or veggie stock!)
1 small bunch fresh parsley, roughly chcopped
4 grates of nutmeg
1 lemon, in wedges
sea salt and pepper

Heat a paella or frying pan over medium to high heat and add 2 tbsp of olive oil. When hot, stir-fry the chicken for 2 minutes or until fractioanlly rare in the middle. With a slotted spoon remove the chicken and put to one side. Add the rest of the olive oil and the onions and soften over a medium heat for 20 minutes, stirring now and then. Meanwhile, prepare the artichoes. Cut each in half and each half into eight wedges. Add the artichoke to the softening onion along with the chopped garlic and cook for another 10 minutes or until the onions nad garlic have some colour and sweetness. Stir in the rice and coat in the oil and vegetables for 1 minute. (Up to this point, everything can be cooked in advance. The next stage should be started about 20 minutes before you wish to eat.)

Turn the heat to medium/high, and add the sherry. Cook off some of the alcohol for a minute, then add the stock. Bring to a gentle boil, season well at this point, then add half the chopped parsley and the nutmeg. Simmer for 10 minutes or until there is still enough stock to cover the rice. Spread the chicken evenly over the rice and then push each piece under the juice. Gently shake the pan to help prevent it sticking and turn the head down to medium-low. Cook for 5 more minutes, or until there is just a little liquid left at the bottom of the pan. Turn off the heat, cover tightly with foil, and let the rice sit for 3-5 minutes before serving. Serve with the rest of the parsley on top, a salad, and the lemons.

Posted by shock on June 20, 2004
June 14, 2004
sweet corn & basil risotto

Years ago, Tom showed me the building blocks for a flawless risotto - and it's still one of my favorite dishes for showcasing gorgeous produce. Last night I put together a sweet corn risotto with basil and a few grilled figs stuffed with goat cheese and wrapped in proscuitto. I served it with an arugula salad with ollallieberry-shallot vinaigrette. This recipe serves 4 for dinner, with a salad.

2 tsp butter
1 onion or 3 shallots, chopped finely
1.5 cups arborio rice
3/4 cup white vermouth
4 ears of corn, kernels removed
a big handful of basil, sliced thinly
a vat of stock (use the cobs from the corn, if you have time!)
salt & pepper
grating cheese

8 figs
8 slices of proscuitto
a few tablespoons of goat cheese

1. Melt the butter over medium heat in a heavy-bottomed pan. Slowly cook the onions until translucent. Add the rice, and toast for a moment.
2. Add the vermouth, and scrape up any tasty browned bits at the bottom. Add stock until the rice is just covered. Bring to a very gentle simmer. Keep adding stock so the rice is just covered, stirring occasionally. It will take about 20 minutes to cook. If you run out of stock, use wine or water to fill in.

a) Split your figs in half, but don't cut all the way through to the bottom. Press in a squidge of goat cheese, and press the fig back together.
b) Wrap the fig in a slice of proscuitto. Grill the package for a minute or two a side, or until the proscuitto is crispy, but not burnt.

--back to the risotto--
3. When the risotto is very close to done (~1 minute left), stir in the basil and the corn. If the risotto is done cooking, turn off the heat, stir in the basil and corn, cover the pot & let it sit for 1 minute. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
4. Serve in a wide bowl with a generous grating of hard cheese (pecorino, reggiano, or a hard Spanish cheese all work nicely), a grind of pepper, and two figs perched in the middle.

Posted by shock on June 14, 2004
June 01, 2004
Moro's flatbread

This is the flatbread I served alongside Moro's hummus and lamb dish. It was easy, quick, and very, very tasty. I didn't have za'tar, so I used chopped parsley and sea salt to top the bread. From The Moro Cookbook.

Makes 4 breads.

200g unbleached strong white bread flour
1/2 tsp fine sea salt (I used kosher salt instead)
1/3 level teaspoon dried yeast
170ml tepid water
1 tbsp olive oil

Preheat the oven to 230C/450F.

Place the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Dissolve the yeast in the water and then pour the oil into the water. Now pour the water into the flour, a bit at a time, while mixing. When all the water is added, transfer to a floured board and knead well. Continue kneading for about 5 minutes until the dough is ever so slightly tacky, but soft, elastic and smooth. Let it rest for 45 minutes covered by a tea towel.

Divide the dough into four, and roll into balls. On a generously floured survace roll each balll to 3-5mm thick. You should have rough circles 15-20cm in diamter. Top each round with a little olive oil and za'tar. Place on a flat oiled baking tray and bake in the top of the oven for 5-10 minutes. Each bread should partiallly bubble up and colour slightly yet not be totally crisp.

Note: I baked my flatbreads directly on a baking stone in the middle of the oven, to good effect.

Posted by shock on June 01, 2004