Tag Archives: chilli

Brown Rice Risotto With Mixed Mushrooms

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It wasn’t so long back that I would never have thought brown rice can become irresistible and fit for a fine dinning experience. I always liked it and thought it was OK, but for a dinner party……not really.

Well here that theory is blown out of the water. Continually searching for healthy options around classic meals I went round the block and back with risotto using barley, kamut and spelt. Quinoa will work but is nowhere near the consistency of a good risotto and really, it is not a risotto. A risotto is with rice, in this case round brown Italian rice.

Using the round brown Italian rice is perfect for this dish. Health food shops and sections at the supermarkets will stock it. It might not even say it on the packet in the supermarket, just look for the smallest roundest grain. Cooking the rice a bit longer than directed gives it a similar richness to what butter gives  which is that creaminess. Brown rice is very forgiving as it will retain a bite even when it goes a bit over. The ‘bite’ in risotto is so important. So over cook it a little to add a rich texture. You can lose the parmesan easily, yeast flakes would work as a substitute and therefore becoming a vegan option or it stands alone with the depth of the mushrooms.

Brown rice outweighs the health benefits of any white rice. A dish like this has a certain air of originality about it as well.  Making healthy food taste good is very popular at the moment.  If you are familiar with brown rice then you will know what a chore it can be to cook time wise which is why I pre-cook this for twenty minutes before starting the recipe.

Ingredients (serves 4)

200g round brown Italian rice
200g chestnut mushrooms (use any mix of mushrooms, these are just easy to get)
150g portobello mushrooms
75g dried mushrooms
2 cloves of garlic
2 litres of veg stock (cubes or powder)
150ml white wine, sherry or vermouth
30g parmesan
1 green chilli (optional)
100g spinach
Maldon salt and black pepper
1 spring onion or chives
1 lemon

Prep list

Soak the dried mushrooms for twenty minutes (the dish is noticeably better with them and I saw them in all supermarkets when I was back in the UK). Cook the rice in boiling water for 20 mins and drain. It doesn’t matter if it’s a bit sticky.

MixedmushPeel and cut the shallots into small squares. Brush any dirt off the chestnut mushrooms, do not wash though as this gives the mushrooms a sliminess which tends to put people off them. Cut into similar sized squares as the shallots. Cut the portobello mushroom into thick slices. Chop the soaked mushrooms as finely as possible. Press the garlic to a pulp. De-seed and chop the chilli. Grate the parmesan. Make up the stock which needs to be kept hot and add the liquor from the soaked mushrooms to it.

Method

Sautee the portobello slices until browned on each side (if you are using them). Take out of pan and put onto paper to remove excess oil. Fry off the chestnut mushrooms (or mixed mushrooms) and the dried ones in oil. When they start browning add the shallots. When it is all browned and dry add the garlic and green chilli ,combine and cook for a further two mins. Add the precooked rice and stir it in until the excess oil has been absorbed. Add the white wine and let the liquid cook out.

RisottopanWhen the rice starts sticking to the bottom add the stock, a ladleful at a time. Everytime it reduces add more stock. Keep it moving with a spatula which stops it sticking to the bottom.

P1090274After 20mins taste a grain and if its soft but with some bite turn off the heat making sure it is still wet. Add the grated parmesan, ground black pepper, spinach leaves and cooked portobello mushrooms. Put a lid (or cover with foil) on and leave for 5 mins. Take the lid off and gently fold the contents until they are evenly mixed through and the cheese has melted. Be gentle so as not to break or mash up the contents. The risotto needs to be loose so add some more stock if necessary.

To plate up put the risotto put a spoonful in the middle of the plate and smooth it over the surface, to make it nice and flat instead of a pile. Sprinkle to finish with finely cut spring onions.

Puy Lentil Red Pepper and Apple Soup

Soup is always good this time of year (Autumn).  I like soups that focus on one or two flavours.  This is a recipe that brings the red peppers to the front with a hint of paprika following.  You don’t have to peel the peppers, I just do because it adds another subtle level.  This is not a blended soup.  It will happily sit on a low heat bubbling away working everyones appetite with its permeating aromas.  This recipe feeds about four people.

Ingredients

1 onion, peeled and chopped as small and even as you can
4 cloves of garlic, pressed
300g red peppers – thats about two large ones, peeled (optional see side dishes) and chopped in small cubes
150g puy lentils (they are the really small ones, you can use the slightly larger ones, I normally soak them for at least one hour, it doesn’t really matter if you don’t though)
10 grams of paprika
1 litre of stock (from a cube or powder)
1 apple peeled and grated
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Method

Cover the bottom of your pan with olive oil and fry off the onions. Add the garlic when the onions start to brown, then the chopped peppers (hold a little bit back for the garnish). Cook this down for five minutes, add the paprika, then the stock.

When this is bubbling happily, slide in the lentils. Keep the soup boiling, add the grated apple then turn down to a simmer. Keep topping up the soup with warm stock or water from the kettle, so it stays a soup like consistency. After 45 minutes, taste the lentils, if they are soft, turn off the soup, leave for half an hour then taste for seasoning. Sometimes the lentils go a little bit hard, not sure why yet, but just cook it a bit more until they soften.

When you are ready re-heat and serve.

To garnish like the bowl in the photo, I took some of the red pepper that I held back and cut as small as possible, chopped one spring onion and half a chilli.

Fillet of Mackerel with Dill, Lime and Chilli

This has got lunch on a sunny day all over it.  The contrast of textures and flavors is as good as it gets.  As a chef  I am  always looking for rock solid combinations.  Lime, dill and mackerel is one of those.  Aim for trimmed and pin boned fillets of mackerel from your fishmonger, explain that  you are following a recipe.  The very least you will get is the fish filleted.  The bones you will see, just try and pull them out with  tweezers or pliers don’t get bogged down by that, a few bones doesn’t matter.

Ingredients (Serves 2)

2 small or 1 large mackerel fillet per person
2 red chillies de-seeded
5g fresh dill
3 limes
75g spring onions (1 bunch)
Olive oil
100g sweet potato per person ( a medium potato)
100g courgette per person  ( a large one)
100g rocket salad leaves

Method 

Peel the sweet potatoes and slice lengthways 1cm thick .  Get your cast iron griddle pan (see chef’s tips) nice and hot and then turn down to medium. Toss the potato with the olive oil, and cook until the marks are prominent and the sweet potatoes are soft.  About four minutes each side.  Don’t let them get too black.  The potatoes will be reheated in the oven so you can do these in advance.

Slice  the courgettes 1.5cm thick (thicker than the potato) lengthways, and cook the same as the sweet potato.  Courgettes have a much faster cooking time, one and a half minutes each side should be be enough, use your own judgement as well.  These will also go under the grill to reheat so be careful not to overcook.  Lay the potatoes and courgettes onto a baking tray lined with paper or foil and put to one side ready to reheat under the grill. Drizzle a little honey over the sweet potatoes, squeeze some lemon over the courgette and season both with sea salt and black pepper.

Chop the chillies nice and small leaving the seeds in if you like it hot.  Slice the spring onions into rings, and roughly chop the dill.  Put 20ml of olive oil into a shallow pan and soften the chilli and the onion.  Add  the juice of two limes  two generous pinches of sea salt and half the dill.  Remove the pan from the heat once softened and put to one side.

Brush the mackerel fillets with  oil and season well.  Cook them skin-side up under a hot grill until the skin is crispy.  It shouldn’t be necessary to turn them as they are quite small and thin, they would normally cook through, though turn them if you think it is necessary.   As soon as the fish is cooked take it out and put the courgettes and potatoes under the hot grill to warm through.

Lay your plates out and put a few leaves of rocket in the centre.  Take out the tray from the grill and lay a slice of sweet potato, a slice of courgette a bit more rocket and the fillets of mackerel.  Divide and spoon over the dressing and repeat between the two plates.

Finish with a sprinkle of fresh dill and a wedge of lime.


Sweet Potato Fishcakes

Eating a fishcake can vary from being a truly amazing experience to a desperately dull affair.  Normally when I offer this on a menu I call it a ‘Japanese style’ fish cake to make it sound a little more exotic and draw attention away from our pre-conceptions regarding fishcakes.

This for sure is one of my most requested recipes.  It moves away from the normal ratio of fish to potato being 50:50 bringing the fish content to 80:20.  This enriches the texture and flavor giving it a sense of luxury as oppose to a cheap potato cake.  The sweet potato lightens the cake up as well as lending to the seasoning, giving it an original feel and look.

It might appear that there is a lot of direction this is just so that every eventuality in completing this recipe is covered.

Ingredients (Makes 6)

750g of salmon and any white fish (or just salmon is fine)
250g cooked and peeled sweet potato
10g dill
10g parsley
Zest and juice of 2 lemons
35g capers
35g gherkins
10g green peppercorns (optional)
2 large spring onions
2 red chillies de-seeded
100g fine polenta and sesame seeds (50:50)

Tartare sauce 

250g natural yoghurt
35g capers
25g gherkins
25g shallots or spring onions
Juice of one lemon
10g parsley

Method

These fishcakes need a minimum of 6 hours in the fridge before cooking, or even overnight, so make you sure you make them up in advance.

Start by cooking off the sweet-potatoes in boiling water.  Carry on with the instructions below then when they are cooked take them off the heat and strain off the water.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.  Place the fish into a oven dish and cover with water.  Slice one of the lemons and lay them over the fish.  Put the tray into the oven and let the fish poach for 15 minutes.  Remove the fish from the dish and let it cool on a large plate and put to one side.  Peel the cooked sweet potatoes and break up into a large bowl.

Chop the gherkins as small as you can be bothered.  De-seed the red chilies and cut into small squares.  Run a knife over the capers , don’t chop them too much. Slice the spring onions into thin rings.  Roughly chop the dill, chop the parsley a bit finer.  Zest the other lemon into the mix and add half of the lemon juice.  Season with Maldon and black pepper.  Mix the ingredients together (excluding the fish).  The most effective way to do this is by using your hands to get the ingredients thoroughly mixed through the potato.  If you don´t like using your hands a wooden spoon will do the job.

Flake and break up the fish removing bones and anything  that doesn’t look right (for example I personally don’t like the look of brown meat on the salmon.  There is nothing wrong with it, I don’t like it so I scrape it off).  When you have done that fold the fish into the sweet potato.  When all is even break off a bit and taste it.  You want to be able to taste the lemon and it could very well need a bit more salt.

Once the mix is ready divide it evenly into 6 pieces  (if you have a scales its easier to weigh them so they are the same, each one should be 175g)  wet your hands with water and roll the portions into balls.  Into a bowl put the  polenta and sesame seeds and mix.  Roll each fishcake thoroughly through the polenta and sesame seed mix.  If you have a mould run a tiny bit of oil around the inside.  (A mould being a metal or plastic bottomless ring.)  Drop the rolled ball into the mould which is on a plate and press into shape, repeat with the other balls.  If you don’t have a mould then take the rolled ball onto a board and press it flat with the palm of your hand. With a fish slice transfer to a plate.  The fishcakes will need to go into the fridge at this point.

To make the tartare sauce chop the gherkins into small cubes  and the shallots or spring onions even smaller. Roughly chop the capers, chop the parsley as fine as you can. Dry off herbs with a paper towel. Squeeze in the lemon juice into the mix, season and add the finely chopped parsley. Mix well, cover and put into fridge before serving.

Line a flat oven tray with baking parchment and turn the oven up to 200.  This is to heat the fishcakes through once they have been sealed in the frying pan.  Take your frying pan and you will need to put minimum 50ml of sunflower oil into it.  Heat the oil and lay the cakes into the pan.  Once the bottom has a nice golden colour turn them over and repeat the same on the other side.  Put the fishcakes onto the baking tray and put into the oven for around 15 minutes, until completely heated through.  You can normally smell them once they are ready.

Serving suggestions; as there is sweet potato in the cake, you don´t need to serve another carbohydrate with them.  Here I have dressed green beans with olive oil, roasted cherry tomatoes and fresh mint.  Any mixed salad or  green vegetables will work.

Black Rice with Spinach and Prawns

Black rice is quite new to me, but it’s a whole food which means I can use it on retreats. As a result, I have been trying out different recipes and it has really grabbed me.  A search on the internet yielded many dessert recipes but few savoury ideas. Black rice is packed full of the good stuff (see store-cupboard) and is visually amazing.  It is not the same as wild rice. It’s much softer and smoother to eat.  The biggest drawback is the cooking time, it’s like brown rice in that it takes 35-40 mins, but it’s worth it for the visual impact and the original velvety taste.

 

Ingredients

400g Prawns (fresh and unshelled)
8 small shallots
4 cloves of garlic
300g black rice
1.5 litres of stock (powder or good cube is fine)
200g spinach
1 lemon
2 spring onions
20g coriander
2 small red chillies

Method

Dice the shallots, quite small, and press the garlic. Fry both off in olive oil in a heavy bottom pan. When they are turning brown add the rice and stir in well. Add the stock and once it’s at a rolling boil, turn it down to a simmer. Keep an eye on it and stir gently occasionally.

Peel and de-vein the prawns – do this job next to running water, as it can get messy.

Zest the lemon, de-seed and finely chop the chilli, and pick the coriander.

Heat a saucepan of water.  Drop in the prawns and cook with lid on for two minutes.  Take a prawn out and cut into one of them to make sure it is cooked (if it’s not give it another 20 seconds).

Put the drained prawns in a mixing bowl and add the chili, spring onion and half the lemon zest with a tablespoon of olive oil, the juice of half the lemon and a pinch of sea salt.  Gently turn the prawns over until it is mixed together.

After 30-35 minutes when the rice is cooked turn off the heat and taste for seasoning. Squeeze in the other half of lemon and add the spinach. Put a lid on the pan (keep the heat off) and leave for a minute. Take off the lid and fold the wilted spinach into the rice.

To serve lay a spoon full of the rice and spinach into a bowl or on a plate. Place a circle of prawns as in the picture. Garnish with the lemon zest that is left and the coriander.

Two-way Chicken Soup

It’s a really good feeling when you cook and eat a dish that has been around you since you were a child.  Curative chicken soup has always been a part of my life, and this take on the recipe will always stay with you. It can seem like quite a long process, so you could make the stock the day before and the main soup the next day.

To make things a little more interesting, but equally as nourishing, a couple of changes in ingredients creates a more exotic Asian version. Its quite dramatic how this classic dish can become a different experience using the same cooking process.

Ingredients (for the stock).

1 chicken
4 peeled carrots (whole)
2 onions peeled and cut in half
1 leek chopped into four
2 celery sticks cut in half
2 tablespoons of decent stock powder (vegetable)

Ingredients for version 1: Classic Chicken Soup (serves 4)

200g mixed green vegetables (I used green beans, peas and broad beans)
400g potatoes
Fresh parsley chopped
2 Spring onions
Zest of a lemon

Ingredients for version 2: Asian Soup.

200g mixed green vegetables
150g rice noodles
Coriander chopped
2 spring onion
15g ginger (thumb size)
2/3 birds eye red chili (depending how hot you like it)
2 limes

Method

Ask the butcher to prepare your chicken, separating the legs, wings and breast, keeping the carcass.  Remove the skin from the legs (use a tea towel or kitchen roll to grip the skin and pull).

Take a large saucepan and put all of the stock ingredients in (except the breast, keep those in the fridge). Cover with water, put a lid on the pan and boil for 25 minutes.  Remove the legs and continue to cook for a further 2 hours.  Keep the water topped up and  the contents covered the duration of its cooking time. Strain the stock into a bowl and put aside.

Version 1: Classic Chicken Soup

Peel and slice the potato into 3cm rings.  Cook the potatoes in the stock, be careful not to move them too much otherwise they will break and make the stock cloudy. Once the potatoes are cooked turn off your stock.

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Meanwhile, oil the pan, when it’s piping hot lay the chicken breasts, skin side down, and season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 4 mins each side on a medium heat. Cut the chicken breast into thick slices.  If you feel the breasts are not quite cooked, then sit them in the hot stock for a minute or so to finish off. At this stage you want to remove the meat from the leg of the chicken and put aside.

Cook off the green vegetables in boiling water (put the vegetables in as their individual cooking time demands ie. green beans would go in before peas and peas before broccoli) set the cooked vegetables to one side when cooked.

Slice the spring onions, zest the lemon and finely chop the parsley, and add to the stock to slightly soften. Hold a little of each back for the final garnish.

To present the soup, take four bowls and place the potatoes on the bottom of the bowl and the green vegetables on top. Place the sliced chicken breasts and legs onto the vegetables and ladle the hot stock over.  Garnish each plate with the chopped parsley, lemon zest and the thinly sliced spring onion.

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Version 2:  Asian Chicken Chili Soup

Cook off the noodles for 3 minutes until firm but not cooked, swiftly wash under cold water to prevent them sticking together. Oil the frying pan, when it’s piping hot lay the chicken breasts, skin side down, and season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 4 mins each side on a medium heat. Cut the chicken breast into thick pieces. If you feel the breasts are not quite cooked, then sit them in the hot stock for a minute or so to finish off.

At this stage you want to remove the meat from the leg of the chicken and put aside.

Cook off the green vegetables in boiling water (put the vegetables in as their individual cooking time demands ie. green beans would go in before peas and peas before broccoli) set the cooked vegetables to one side when cooked.

Cut the ginger into thin matchstick pieces, thinly slice the chillies and the spring onions on a slight angle. Pick the leaves from coriander, rather than chopping as this gives the dish a more Asian feel.

Heat through the stock and add the matchsticks of ginger, half of the spring onions, chili and coriander and squeeze in one of the zested limes.

Taste the stock to make sure it is seasoned properly add some salt if needed and more lime to taste. Add the noodles to heat them through. To assemble the dish take four bowls and divide the noodles evenly (tongs work best for this), place the green vegetables on top. Lay flat the sliced chicken onto the vegetables and ladle the hot stock over.  Garnish each plate with the chopped chili, lime zest, the thinly sliced spring onion and a good pinch of coriander.