Category Archives: rice

not yer usual garlic prawns

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Last week the husband & I spent a very pleasant few days down in Napier. The sun shone, the wind didn’t blow, the temperature was balmy, & the food was terrific. One of several memorable dinners (memorable for all the right reasons) was eaten at Indigo, a most excellent Indian restaurant, We started off with a shared dish of vegetarian entrees, which we knew full well we didn’t need to eat but they sounded rather good & turned out to be so. I followed that with Kashmiri gustaba (a delightfully fragrant dish of lamb meatballs in a saffron & yoghurt-based sauce), & the husband indulged in jingha lasooni, which turned out to be garlic prawns & was probably the best dish of the evening (& you’ll have gathered that all of them were pretty darn good).

Anyway, ever since there have been small murmurings that perhaps I might like to make those prawns at home. So today was the day. I’d looked at quite a few recipes but, apart from prawns & garlic, they seemed more different than similar, so as usual I Made Stuff Up.

First, I minced a thumb-sized piece of raw ginger & put that in a large-ish bowl with 6 cloves of garlic, peeled & also minced. I’d have mixed them with a tub of natural yoghurt if we’d had any in the fridge, but we didn’t so I used 1/2 a tub of sour cream instead. For the spices I used 2 tsp ground coriander, 1 tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp turmeric powder, 1/4 tsp ground chili, a pinch of salt, & 1 tsp garam masala. Because I could, & also because I wanted a sauce/marinade somewhat runnier than things were looking right then, I steeped a pinch of saffron in 2 Tblsp boiling water for a few minutes & added that to the bowl, then mixed everything well to combine. I also added a handful of golden raisins, because I sort of remembered something in the jingha lasooni that had that same sweet mouth-feel. The final step at this stage was to add 400g of prawn tails and stir well so that each tail was well coated with the marinade.

Coming up to dinner time, I melted 50g butter in a heavy frying pan with 1 Tblsp oil, then added 2 brown onions (peeled and finely chopped – oh how I love my slice-y dice-y mandoline!) and cooked them, stirring occasionally, till they were softened & golden. Then I tipped in the prawns & their marinade, raised the heat, & simmered it all together until the prawn flesh was white & cooked through. (I cheated with the accompaniments: the rice was ‘Uncle Ben’s & the naan – this time – were some that I’d bought at the market a couple of weeks ago & frozen.)

Served over rice, with chopped coriander leaves on top & with naan on the side, it looked – & smelled – pretty good really, albeit quite a different meal from that Napier dinner 😀

a most memorable dinner at our favourite cafe

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The daughter & I have been going to Scotts Epicurean pretty much since it opened back in 2000. Sometimes we drag the husband along as well. The friendly, welcoming service & the great food just keep us coming back – usually for Saturday brunch. However, every now & then they put on a dinner: 4-5 small, perfectly formed courses with accompanying wines, & we’ve thoroughly enjoyed those too. (Although the husband did feel that perhaps he should have dressed for the occasion when we went along for a meal the night Hamilton’s Riff-Raff statue was unveiled. It was a cold night, but somehow he felt somewhat overdressed in his polar fleece 🙂 ) So, when I saw the flyer for their latest dinner, I bought a couple of tickets on the spot! (The daughter never wants to come to these; she is never quite sure that she’ll want to eat everything on offer.)

And as usual, we were not disappointed. (I am not going to talk about the wines here as a) I didn’t try them all & b) I can’t remember the names anyway. Suffice it to say that all those I sipped complemented the food rather well.)

First up, polenta chips with a lovely thick garlicy aoli. I rather like polenta & the last time I made it I did keep some over for chips, but couldn’t get them crispy enough. Will have to have another go, for those we ate on Friday were rather fine.

Next, kingfish, pan-fried & served with saffron rice, finely diced chorizo & red pepper, & ‘crackling’ of chicken skin. Which worked well & was apt, given that I’ve often heard kingfish described as the chicken of the sea. I’m not huge on fish but I cleaned my plate up.

The soup – served in a glass – was a creamy carrot soup made special by the use of star anise. It had a little scoop of what the menu described as black olive sorbet on the top, which was visually attractive. Being not a fan of olives (you can see where the daughter gets her fussiness from) I passed most of mine across the table to the husband; in retrospect this was perhaps foolish as the little bit left behind showed me that the flavours went together extremely well.

This was followed by Angus steak (fillet, I think), served medium rare on kohlrabi puree with smoked leeks & several types of mushroom. The husband, who also has his little food foibles, originally said that I could have his mushrooms, but I noticed sadly that he changed his mind after sampling them. The only part of this course we had reservations about was the leeks; the smoking led them to present as slightly fibrous, although they tasted good. The rest was scrumptious.

After this I have to say we were feeling comfortably full, although not over-so – which was just as well as dessert was still to come. This was a delightful free-form pie (on the menu, aka crostada) of feijoas on a bed of ground hazelnuts, served with a citrus-y cream. I enjoyed working out the ingredients as I savoured it, & checked with Jason Scott (owner/chef) afterwards that I’d got them all. “Yes,” he said “- & you can find the recipe on-line, on my sister’s blog.” So I did – & made it myself for friends the following evening.

All in all, a great evening 😀

pumpkin risotto

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This year we have a plethora of petite pumpkins – the shot below shows rather less than half the crop. Pretty, aren’t they? We decided to grow mini-pumpkins as while the husband & I love them, the daughter has them on her list of Food to Avoid If Possible. (No accounting for some tastes…) Anyway, the seed packets informed us that we’d get just 3-4 fruit per plant, so we planted quite a few, wanting to try the different varieties on offer. And most of the plants grew like Topsy & produced a dozen or so cute little pumpkins. Which, as well as looking gorgeous, taste great. I just need to come up with a range of ways to cook them.

pumpkins!

So the other night, I made pumpkin risotto. First up, I cut two of our larger fruit in half, scooped out the seeds, & put them cut side down in a baking tray lined with a teflon sheet before baking them at 180 degrees C until soft – about 45 minutes. When they were done, the cut surfaces were slightly caramelised, giving added depth to the flavour.

While that was happening I started in on the risotto part of the meal. A thinly-sliced onion went into one of my big saucepans with 25 g of butter & a splash of olive oil, to soften over a low heat. After 5 or so minutes I added several cloves of garlic, peeled & sliced, followed by 2 c of arborio rice. I stirred all that together until the rice started to go translucent round the edges & was glisteningly covered with the butter/oil.

At which point I opened a bottle of the rather nice 2011 Villa Maria gewurtztraminer, added 250 ml to the rice – & poured myself a glass as well 🙂  – then stirred everything together & turned the heat right down, so that it was all barely simmering. Once the liquid was almost all absorbed, I started adding a litre of hot vegetable stock (again, 250 ml at a time), stirring & then leaving each lot of liquid to be absorbed before adding the next.

While this was going on I also cooked 4 large rashers of shoulder bacon in a very little butter (I find it tends to stick, otherwise) until crispy round the edges. Once that was done I drained it & chopped it into smallish pieces, before cooking 12-15 sage leaves in the fat that remained in the pan. Be careful with this – they need very little time to go crispy!

By this time the pumpkin was done & the risotto was creamy & tender. I added 1/2 c of sour cream to the rice & stirred that through, following it with the bacon & the pumpkin, scooped out of its skin with a dessertspoon to give reasonably big chunks. And then we ate it all up, with lashings of parmesan & the rest of the wine on the side. (No, Trevor, I did not drink it all!)

a very nice risotto

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This morning I got a pack (around 600g) of rump steak out of the freezer to defrost, before heading off to work. I’d originally intended a warm salad (there are still a lot of lettuces in the garden & some tomatoes too), but by the end of a trying day I was thinking “comfort food!” So I stopped off at the supermarket – we needed milk anyway – & picked up some button mushrooms & a 200g packet of marscapone. And although I’d been contemplating beef stroganoff (my version of it, anyway), this is what I came up with.

First I put some dried mushrooms (what the husband calls ‘fancy’ mushrooms, ie porcini, shiitake & so on) to soak in a bowl, covered with boiling water. While they softened, I started 50g of butter melting in one of my stockpots and added a peeled, thinly-sliced brown onion &, after that had been cooking for a few minutes over a low heat, several cloves of minced garlic. (I have a garlic crusher but I usually can’t be bothered with using it; it’s so fiddly to clean afterwards!)

Next, I added 2 c of arborio rice to the pan & stirred everything so that all the rice grains glistened with melted oniony butter. Once the edges of the grains had started to go translucent I poured in the first cup of liquid. Usually I use white wine for this (a glass for the risotto, a glass for me…) but we’d none opened. For some reason the husband wasn’t interested in opening one; “aha!” he said, “what about your cider?” I thought, hmmmm, & used a cup of apple cider, then stirred everything & left the rice to absorb all the liquid while I went on to the next step: draining the mushrooms – don’t discard the liquid! you’ll need it – & slicing them (not too thinly).

By this time the first lot of liquid had disappeared, so I tipped in the mushroom liquor, opened a 1 litre tetrapak of vegetable stock & put a cup of that into the microwave to heat, & started cutting up the little button mushrooms from New World. And also one of the long ‘sweet point’ red peppers from the garden. And in went the next cup of hot stock, followed by mushrooms & pepper. It’ll take another couple of rounds of heating stock, adding it, stirring well & leaving to cook on a very low heat before the stock is all absorbed.

After the 2nd cup of stock sloshed into the pan,  I trotted off outside & fired up the barbecue, then brushed the steak with a little oil & put it on the grill – 2-3 minutes on each side – before taking it back to the kitchen, serving the risotto another helping of stock, & then slicing the meat thinly across the grain. It was still quite rare, but I knew the heat of the rice would get the meat to a state that the rest of the family would tolerate 🙂

Finally, I opened the marscapone, stirred that into the risotto, then added the meat & stirred again before checking the flavour & adding a good slosh of soy sauce. And served the meal with a bowl of finely-grated parmesan & a side of what I suspect are just about the last of the season’s runner beans, finely-sliced & steamed.

And yes! even after everyone had had seconds, there will be leftovers for lunch 🙂