Somewhere along the line, I ordered some chorizo for cooking with, in a huge pack, and then froze it. This weekend, I started trying out recipes that use chorizo. I bought the pork loin from MacLean’s shop in Benbecula, and the spices are mostly purchased online from Seasoned Pioneers. I got the recipe from the Moro cookbook. Most of the other ingredients I found in the co-op. Irritatingly, you can only buy peppers in packs of three in the co-op, so I went to MacLennan’s for the green peppers. The recipe took about 45 minutes to make.
7 or more tablespoons of olive oil
350g pork fillet or loin, cut into 7mm strips
120g cooking chorizo, cut into little pieces
2 large onions, finely chopped
1 large green pepper, finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
250g paella rice
2 ñora peppers, or a good pinch of sweet paprika
1 tsp smoked sweet paprika
900ml hot chicken stock
1 lemon, cut in wedges
salt and pepper
In a large flat pan, such as a paella pan or a very large frying pan, heat the olive oil on a high heat, and then quickly fry and stir the pork strips so that they are just about cooked, it doesn’t take long. Remove the pork from the pan with a slotted spoon. season with salt and pepper and set aside.
In the same pan, put in the chopped chorizo, stir and add the onion, stir and add the green pepper. Turn the heat down to medium. Make sure you aren’t stingy with the oil. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring to make sure that all of the onion caramelises.
Add the garlic and continue to cook for another 5 minutes or so.
Add the rice, and stir so everything is evenly mixed.
Season with salt and pepper, and add the paprika. If you are using ñora peppers, these should be torn up, seeds and stalks discarded, and soaked in hot water first so that they are soft. Add the hot chicken stock. Simmer for 15 minutes, until the rice has absorbed all of the liquid and is just about cooked through.
About 5 minutes before the end of the cooking period, put all of the washed spinach in a very large pan, turn up the heat and cook until it is all wilted down.
When the rice is cooked, add the pork and spinach and push it into the paella, so that the oil soaks in. Cover with a lid and let everything settle for around 5 minutes.
Serve with lemon wedges. The lemon is absolutely essential for bringing out the best flavour. It needs a lovely fresh salad as well, for example a green salad or a tomato salad. So delicious.
A delicious recipe from Maryam Sinaiee’s book Nightingales and Roses. If you have been living in Uist this last week, you’ll know that a combination of ferry break-downs and bad weather led to no food deliveries onto the islands for five days. I managed to get the last bag of spinach from the co-op, and I had duck eggs from Clair. This is just as good with hen’s eggs.
I’ve seen a few versions online, adding leeks and za’atar. I think I have an Ottolenghi recipe with that combination. Here is Maryam’s version:
500g fresh spinach
1 red onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
juice of half a lemon
salt and pepper, to taste
Extra lemon wedges
Rinse and roughly chop the spinach, and put them into a very large pan over a medium heat. Cook until the leaves have wilted.
Meanwhile, in a frying pan, melt the butter and cook the sliced onions over a medium heat until they are turning golden. Add the garlic and continue to cook.
When the garlic looks cooked, add the spinach and the lemon juice, along with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and simmer for a couple of minutes, then uncover and simmer until the mixture is nearly dry.
Make four wells in the mixture, add an egg to each well, cover and cook for three or four minutes on a low heat, until the eggs are cooked to your taste.
This is an adaptation of a recipe from ‘Vegetarian Pasta’ by Rose Elliot. We had quite a lot of cream and cheese left towards the end of the Christmas break, so this was an excellent way to pull everything together.
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
salt, black pepper
400g tagliatelle or fettuccine
125g blue cheese such as St Agur or dolcelatte, chopped
125g spinach leaves, shredded
freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
Make the cream sauce. Melt the butter in a small pan, and add the onion. Cook very gently for ten minutes with the lid on. The onion should be tender, but not brown.
Add the garlic, and cook for another couple of minutes, then add the cream, and leave to simmer very gently for another ten minutes. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.
Put a large pan of salted water on to boil for the tagliatelle. When the water boils, add the pasta, give it a stir and leave to cook for around 8 minutes.
A couple of minutes before the pasta is ready, add the cheese and spinach to the sauce, and stir to warm through, and season with pepper.
Drain the cooked pasta and put it back in the warm pan, add a tablespoonful of good olive oil and stir.
Serve in warm dishes with the sauce poured over the top. You can also pour the sauce onto the pasta in the pan, stir, and then serve onto warm dishes.
Covid-19. We are staying in as much as possible, and I am systematically going through the ingredients in the freezer, seeing how long we can stay in between shopping expeditions. The top shelf is now down to some cooked beetroot (we’ll have to find something to do with that later)
The second shelf had several half-tubs of ricotta cheese and quite a bit of spinach. This is such a good recipe, I didn’t have to think that hard about what I was going to make.
40g plain white flour
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper
Freshly grated nutmeg
another 50g butter
700g (approx) spinach
250g ricotta cheese
125g parmesan cheese, grated
2 cloves of garlic
around 150g oven-ready lasagne sheets
Make a bechamel sauce: Melt 50g butter in a small pan, and add 40g flour. Cook for a few minutes, so that the mixture is smooth and well-mixed.
Slowly add the 1 pint of milk, stirring all the while. Add the bay leaf, and cook slowly, stirring, for ten minutes. The sauce should be thick and smooth.
Remove the bayleaf, season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Use a soup wand to make the sauce extra-creamy.
Set the oven to 200C Gas 6. Grease a dish that measures 20cm by 30cm and around 6cm deep.
In a very large pan, melt 50g butter and add the spinach. It might be a tight squeeze to get it all in, but it will cook down in about five minutes. You might need to squish it in with a spatula or spoon.
Stir in the ricotta cheese, garlic, half the parmesan and a grate of nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper.
Assemble the lasagne. The first layer is sheets of lasagne. Then around a quarter of the bechamel sauce, and then half the spinach. Next, a layer of lasagne, then another quarter of the bechamel and the rest of the spinach. Finally, another layer of lasagne, the rest of the bechamel, and then the rest of the parmesan.
Bake in the oven for around 35 minutes. The top should be golden brown, and the pasta should be tender.
Sorry about the wee hiatus – keep having many things to do. This is an astonishing mix of flavours and textures, and I was raving about it at work. Clair – this is the recipe I was talking about. It is from ‘Simple’ by Yotam Ottolenghi. Even better, it uses lots of ingredients from my garden.
60ml olive oil
50g flaked almonds
1/2 tsp paprika
1 1/2 tsp caraway seeds
2 cloves of garlic
2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
500g chard leaves – roughly shred the green leaves, and finely chop the stems
150g spinach, roughly shredded
1 tsp grated lime zest
2 tbsp lime juice
35g chopped mint
35g chopped dill, or 3 tsp dried dill leaves.
8 spring onions, chopped into 1 cm pieces
In a frying pan, put in half the oil, heat to medium, and then add the almonds and the paprika. Fry for 2-3 minutes, until the almonds are golden brown. Remove them from the heat, and strain the oil from the almonds, which should be set aside in a bowl.
In a large pan, heat the remaining oil over medium to high heat. When it is hot, add the crushed garlic and the caraway, and cook for a a couple of minutes until they start to sizzle and brown.
Add the tomatoes and chard, and 3/4 tsp salt, and stir. The pan will look very full. Cover the pan, and cook for around 20 minutes, stirring every so often. If you are using dried herbs, add them at this step.
Remove from the heat, and stir in the spinach, lime juice and zest, herbs and spring onions.
Serve with the almonds sprinkled on to.
I successfully reheated this the next day, although it did wilt the spinach a bit too much. I ate it with pitta bread and labneh.
I’ve bought a few new cookbooks this year, the theme seems to be about the middle east. This book of Persian recipes is called ‘Nightingales and Roses’ by Maryam Sinaiee. Hopelessly romantic title, but then again, I have a photograph of two Tehrani police officers outside our gate in northern Tehran, posing for my mother with bunches of roses and honeysuckle.
I never had this soup, though, until today. It is easy and delicious. The recipe makes a large quantity, it says it serves four but only if you have two helpings each. It takes about an hour and a half to make.
4 tbsp olive oil
3 medium onions, chopped finely
1 tbsp turmeric
1.5 litres boiling water
50g arborio rice
1 can of chickpeas, drained
1 pack of coriander leaf, chopped (around 40g)
1 pack of flat leaf parsley, chopped (around 40g)
1 tbsp dried summer savory (or substitute a mixture of thyme and mint)
300g spinach, chopped
1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper, ground
250ml greek yoghurt or sour cream or creme fraiche
Black pepper to garnish
Heat the oil in a large pan with a lid. When it is hot, add the chopped onions, and fry for 10-15 minutes until the onions are brown. Stir in the turmeric and mix. Set aside a tablespoonful of fried onions for a garnish at the end.
Add the water and rice to the rest of the fried onions, and bring to the boil. Simmer for 30 minutes.
Add the chickpeas, herbs and spinach, bring to the boil and then simmer for 40 minutes.
Add the salt and pepper to taste, then beat in the yoghurt. Don’t boil once the yoghurt is added, because it will curdle.
Garnish with extra yoghurt, the fried onions, and a grating of black pepper.
For a vegan version, leave out the yoghurt, or use coconut yoghurt. For a meaty version, use beef stock instead of water and add small meatballs.
I make this to serve with flaky smoked salmon. I got it from Rachel Allen’s website, but it isn’t there any more.
For the shortcrust pastry:
200 g plain flour
100 g chilled butter, diced
pinch of salt
1 egg, beaten
For the filling:
250 g baby or destalked large spinach leaves
7 baby new potatoes (unpeeled)
250 ml double cream
salt and freshly ground black pepper
zest of 1/2 lemon
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
pinch of cayenne pepper
25g parmesan cheese, finely grated
150g soft goat’s cheese (sliced from a goat’s cheese log)
25cm diameter tart tin
Make the pastry: place the flour, salt and butter in a food processor and whiz briefly, or rub together to bread-crumb consistency.
Add half the beaten egg and continue to mix. You might add a little more egg, but not too much as the mixture should be moist enough to come together.
With your hands, flatten out the ball of dough until it is 2cm thick then wrap in cling film and leave in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas mark 4). Line the tart tin and ‘bake blind’.
Wash and spin the spinach, removing any tough stalks and stems if using large spinach leaves. In a medium-sized saucepan, cook the spinach in just the water that’s clinging to it over a low heat until it wilts. Drain in a colander or sieve and allow to cool a little, then squeeze most of the moisture out with your hands and chop roughly.
Meanwhile, steam or boil the potatoes until just cooked, and cool on a tray or board. When cool enough to handle, cut into 5mm (1/4 in) slices.
In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the eggs and add the cream, salt and pepper, lemon zest, nutmeg, cayenne pepper and Parmesan. Whisk these ingredients together then add the spinach and mix through.
Season well; potatoes are very mild and need a good contrast.
Spread the potato slices over the base of the prepared tart, and dot with the goat’s cheese
Gently spoon over the spinach cream mixture as high as you can go. If you are concerned about spillage, carry the tart minus the last few spoons of filling over to the oven.
Place in the oven, spoon over the remaining filling and any remaining potato and cheese slices. Bake for 35–40 minutes until the tart is golden brown and just set in the centre. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes before serving.
Chop the garlic, and fry for 1 minute in the olive oil.
Add the onions and fry for a further 5 minutes.
Add the spices and fry for another 2 minutes.
Mix in the chopped tomatoes and chickpeas and bring to a simmer, cook for around 15 minutes, adding water or stock to keep the mixture moist. The chickpeas should be hot through, the tomatoes should have a good cooked flavour, and the sauce is reducing down a little.
Meanwhile, bring some water to the boil, and cook the spinach for 5 minutes until wilted.
Mix the spinach into the tomato mixture, and put into a serving dish
Combine the lemon juice, olive oil and mint, and dribble over the top just before serving.