Paella Valencia-style

Smoked paprika

Serves a hungry 2

Pinch of saffron
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, peeled and halved
6 chicken wings, halved, tips discarded, lightly seasoned with sea salt
½ green pepper, deseeded and sliced
½ red pepper, deseeded and sliced
4 runner beans, trimmed and cut into bite sized pieces
1 rounded tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp tomato puree
200g paella rice (or bomba rice or similar)
650ml chicken stock, plus extra if needed
Sea salt
A small 200g tin of broad beans or butter beans, drained

Heat a paella pan or wide based pan to a medium-high heat.

Prepare the saffron. Wrap it in a small foil envelope and place it in the hot pan for 10 seconds on each side. Remove and set aside.

Add the oil to the pan and when hot add the garlic. Add the chicken and fry it, turning the pieces regularly until well browned and nearly cooked through, approx. 10 to 15 minutes. Remove and discard the garlic. Transfer the chicken to a plate.

Remove any excess oil from the pan. Add the peppers and green beans to the pan and stir fry until well coloured.

Sprinkle over the paprika, then stir in the tomato puree. Gently stir in the rice and toast for a few minutes. Crumble the saffron into the stock and pour it over the rice, season with sea salt, stir very gently to mix. Don’t stir too much.

Once simmering, return the chicken to the pan and add the broad beans. Stir in gently. Simmer on a fairly high heat without stirring, then lower the heat a simmer gently for another 5 to 10 minutes, again without stirring. If it starts to dry out too much, add a splash of boiling water but not too much as the finished dish mustn’t be soggy and the edges and bottom layer of rice should be crispy.

As soon as the rice is cooked take the pan off the heat and cover with foil to allow it to rest for 3 to 4 minutes before serving.

Long Grain White Rice

Long grain white rice

Serves 4

A lot of people seem to have problems cooking rice. They even resort to buying over-priced pouches of pre-cooked rice. You don’t need to do that! It’s actually dead easy to get perfect results every time.

I allow 2 ½ tablespoons of uncooked rice per person, so this recipe serves 4.

Salt
10 tablespoons of long grain white rice

Bring a large pan of salted water to a rolling boil. Add the rice and return to a simmer. Briefly stir gently to make sure the grains aren’t sticking to the base of the pan.

Simmer for 19 minutes. During this time white foam will rise to the surface. This is starch and you should skim it off a couple of times. At the same time give the rice a quick, gentle stir.

After the 19 minutes is up, strain the rice into a strainer and wash it under cold running water until cold. This will stop the cooking process. Place the strainer over a bowl and leave it to drain at room temperature for 1 hour. After that, tip the rice into a bowl, cover in cling film and sore in the fridge until needed.

To reheat, peel back the cling film and fluff the rice with a fork to separate the grains. Leave the cling film loosely in place and heat in a microwave on full power for 4 to 5 minutes. The exact time will depend on the power of your microwave. And voila. As promised you will have perfectly cooked rice.

Indian spiced vegetable and nut pilau rice

Pilau lr

Serves 4 as a side dish or 2 to 3 as a main course

This vegetarian rice dish is delicious and full of flavour. It makes a great meal on its own but it also works well as part of a varied Indian meal. The method of cooking the rice ensures the grains are separate and “dry” and you’ll get lots of “oohs” and “aahs” from your guests when they try it!

The recipe looks far more complicated than it actually is. In fact it’s simple and quick to make and can be prepared ahead of time, stored in the fridge until needed, and reheated in a microwave.

For the spice mix…
1 ½ tsp ground cumin
1 ½ tsp ground coriander
A pinch of cayenne
1 tsp ground black pepper
15 to 20 green cardamom pods, crushed
1 tsp garam masala

Mix all of the ingredients together. (I told you this recipe is simple.)

For the rice…
75g butter
1 portion of spice mix (as above)
Long grain white rice measured to the 375ml level in a measuring jug
500ml water
1 tsp salt

Heat the butter until foaming in a large thick-based oven-proof saucepan. Add the spice mix and stir-fry for 20 seconds. Add the rice and gently toast, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. Add the water and salt, stir to mix evenly and bring to a simmer. Cover and bake in a warm oven (150°c) for 20 minutes. After this time give the rice a stir and add a splash of water if it looks too dry. But don’t add too much liquid; the finished dish is meant to be fairly dry. Cover the pan and return the rice to the oven for another 10 minutes or so to finish cooking.

For the vegetables…
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and finely chopped
2 celery sticks, trimmed and finely chopped
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper

While the rice is in the oven, heat the oil in a frying pan and sauté the onions for a few minutes until starting to soften and colour. Add the carrot and celery, season with salt and pepper, and sauté until the vegetables are cooked, approx. 15 minutes. Give the mixture a stir from time to time while it is cooking.

For the finished dish…
100g cashew nuts, lightly toasted in a dry frying pan

Mix together the cooked rice and vegetables, taste and adjust the seasoning if needs be. At this stage the mixture can be cooled and stored in a fridge until needed. To reheat, loosely cover with cling film and heat in a microwave for 5 minutes.

Just before serving, stir in the cashew nuts.

Sweet Yellow Rice

basmati-rice-lr

Serves 4

This is a wonderful, rich rice dish that is subtly flavoured. Its sweetness makes it a perfect accompaniment to spicy Indian dishes, such as my Indian Baked Chicken. It is started off on the hob and then baked in the oven at a low heat to give perfect results every time.

The recipe assumes you are using salted butter. If you are using unsalted butter or ghee, increase the salt to ½ teaspoon. If you replace the butter with oil the dish is vegan and still very good.

Basmati rice measured to the 375ml (12 fl oz) level in a measuring jug
75g (3 oz) butter
12 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
9cm (3 ½ inch) cinnamon stick
450ml (15 fl oz) water
1 heaped teaspoon turmeric
¼ tsp salt
80g (3 oz) sugar
30g (1 oz) flaked almonds
2 tablespoons sultanas

It is important to prepare the rice properly before you start cooking. Wash the rice in several changes of water to remove some of its starch content. Leave it to soak in a large bowl of water for 30 minutes, then drain it for 20 minutes.

Pre-heat the oven to 150C/300F/Gas Mark 2.

Melt the butter in a wide, heavy flameproof pan and, when hot, add the cardamom and cinnamon. Stir them for a few seconds and add the rice. Stir and sauté the rice gently for 2 to 3 minutes. Turn the heat down slightly if it begins to catch. Add the water, turmeric and salt. Stir gently until all of the water has been absorbed – the rice should be just simmering, not boiling. Add the sugar, almonds and sultanas and stir to mix. Cover the pan tightly and put it in the oven for 30 minutes.

When the time is up, tip the rice into a serving dish. Fluff it up with a fork, remove the cinnamon and it is ready to serve.

This rice dish reheats very well. It can be cooked well ahead of time and stored in a refrigerator for several hours or overnight. When you are ready to serve, simply reheat it in a microwave for 5 to 7 minutes.

Jambalaya

tilda-long-grain-rice-258x300

Serves 2 as a main course or 4 as a side dish

There shouldn’t be any rules with savoury rice dishes. You can pretty much add what you want – prawns, chicken or whatever. Some recipes call for chorizo but I find the flavour of that tends to dominate the whole dish. I prefer to use bacon and to substitute some of the chorizo flavour by adding garlic and smoked paprika.

This dish is easy to prepare and has the added benefit that you can make it well ahead and simply reheat it in a microwave when you are ready to eat it.

For a vegetarian and/or vegan version of this dish, omit the bacon and use an appropriate stock.

2 tbs olive oil
6 rashers of unsmoked back bacon, cut into bite sized pieces
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
2 peppers (1 red and 1 green), deseeded and chopped
1 large courgette, cut into small dice
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
Salt and ground black pepper
6 fl oz long grain white rice
12 fl oz chicken stock
2 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 small tin sweet corn, drained
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp smoked paprika

Heat the oil and sauté the bacon until cooked and coloured to the point you want to eat it. Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate to drain on kitchen paper. Add a little more oil to the pan if needs be then sauté the onion until softened and starting to colour, approx. 5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir fry for 1 minute. Add the peppers, courgette and chilli, turn the heat low, cover and sweat for 15 minutes by which time the vegetables should be softened.

Stir in the rice and heat through. Add all of the other ingredients (don’t forget the bacon), cover and simmer until the rice is cooked, about 20 to 25 minutes.

At this point the jambalaya can be cooled and stored in the fridge until needed, then reheated in the microwave.