Welcome back to Knidos Cookery Club, this time round we’re drawing on our summer trip to Spain to bring you a paella (Warning: any Valencians reading this, please stop now!) that’s packed with pumpkin and other seasonal vegetables such as celery and leeks.
With Halloween just around the corner, you might be looking for a dish that uses up some of the leftovers from carving out your Jack O’ Lantern – this rice combo should help shift some of the backlog.
Paella originates from Valencia in Spain, where it is taken very seriously. The name derives from the Old French word paelle for pan, which in turn is from the Latin word patella, which also means pan. The contemporary name refers to the shallow metal dish in which paella is prepared.
In essence, paella is a combination of whatever is to hand rather than a fixed, unchanging blend of ingredients. While visiting Dénia, which is part of the Community of Valencia, we had a great green paella made with artichokes one other green vegetables.
Ingredients (serves 2)
25ml olive oil
150g short grain rice
600ml vegetable stock
One teaspoon each of cumin/chilli powder/turmeric
heat oil in a frying pan (or paella pan if you have one)
add chopped leek and celery and sauté until soft
add spices and stir
add pumpkin cubes and cook for ten minutes, stirring occasionally
add vegetable stock
bring to a boil, then simmer to make a broth and allow it to reduce by half
add rice and simmer until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is cooked (around 20-30 minutes)
Knidos Cookery Club is just back from a flying visit to Uzbekistan where we met up with dilettante chef Mr Alan, who invited us round to sample his take on asparagus tips.
He’d tracked down some sizeable spears in Tashkent’s Alay, or Alaysky, bazaar and we added some first cold press Datça olive oil and some sun-dried tomatoes from the peninsula, which, with the addition of some toasted pine nuts and a smattering of grated pecorino cheese, made for quite a feast.
The asparagus tips, which are easy to bake and go well with potatoes, rice or pasta, were served up with a head of roasted cauliflower drizzled with truffle oil and roast new potatoes. Oh, and there was a duck and some fish for the carnivores, along with lashings of wine from Mr Alan’s cellar!
Ingredients (easily serves 6-8)
1 kg asparagus spears
200 g sun-dried tomatoes
50 ml olive oil
100 g pine nuts
50 g pecorino or similar hard cheese
One cauliflower, leaves removed
Mixed dried herbs such as thyme or oregano
Place a layer of sun-dried tomatoes on the bottom of a large baking dish. Arrange the spears over the top of the tomatoes, pour the olive oil on top, sprinkle some mixed herbs over the spears and grate the cheese over everything.
Bake in a hot, pre-heated oven at 200 c /gas mark 6 for twenty minutes or so until the spears are just beginning to char. Sprinkle the cauliflower with truffle oil and olive oil and cook for 30 minutes for so in the hot oven along with the asparagus tips. While the tips are baking, toast the pine nuts over a medium heat.
Serve the asparagus tips with the pine nuts alongside the cauliflower and potatoes and a bottle or two of your favourite wine.
Giant beans served up at Aigli restaurant, Kos Town, Greece
21 July 2016
When it comes to food, Turkey and Greece have more in common than they’ll often admit. They share a love for small cups of strong coffee and sweet tooths all around the Aegean Sea love baklava, made from chopped nuts and layers of filo pastry drenched in honey.
On the savoury side, no selection of starters is complete without that famous yogurt dip made with cucumber and garlic – known as cacık in Turkish, tzatziki in Greek. A Turk’s ıspanaklı börek is a spanakopita to a Greek.
Last week’s Knidos Cookery Club looked at Turkey’s signature bean dish, kuru fasulye, using haricot beans. This week, we will attempt to make the brasher Greek version, gigantes plaki, which uses the biggest beans you can get your hands on and bakes them in a thick tomato sauce in the oven
There’s something about the humble bean that makes it a great comfort food when your body craves something plain and wholesome. After a period of indulging in Greece’s myriad takes on feta cheese: a slab placed atop a horiatiki salad, deep fried in a honey and sesame seed coating or wrapped in layers of flaky filo pastry, feta fatigue can sometimes set in. If this happens, then there’s nothing like a bowl of giant beans served with a light green salad to bring your appetite back to life.
Butter beans, also called lima beans, work well in this dish, with their insides going soft and mushy while the exterior remains firm. Reserve some of the liquid (around 200 ml) from cooking the dried beans to use for these baked beans with an edge. A secret ingredient that gives this dish it’s distinctive taste is celery.
Ingredients (serves 5-6 generous portions)
250 g dried butter (lima) beans soaked overnight
Two medium-sized red onions
Two small stalks of celery
One or two cloves of garlic
Three medium-sized plum tomatoes
A small bunch of parsley
Pinches of salt, pepper and cumin
One teaspoon of cinnamon
One teaspoon dried thyme
50 g olive oil
Boil the butter beans over a low heat for an hour or so until they are tender but not falling apart. Stick around and every five minutes or so scoop off the foam that forms while the beans are cooking. Drain the beans, reserving 200 ml of the cooking water for use later.
While the beans are cooking, prepare the sauce. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and add most of the finely diced onion (save some slices to sprinkle over the cooked beans) and the chopped garlic. Fry until translucent and then add the finely chopped celery. Cook for five minutes or so and then add the parsley, thyme and cinnamon and season with salt, pepper and cumin.
Peel the tomatoes (dunking them in boiling water for 30 seconds and then into cold water will help loosen the skins) and chop finely and add to the other ingredients in the frying pan and cook for ten minutes.
Pour the beans into a large baking dish, cover them with the sauce and add the reserved cooking liquid. Bake in an oven pre-heated to 180 °C (gas mark 5) for one hour. The beans should still be fairly firm on the outside but mushy and soft on the inside. Leave in the oven for longer if the insides are firm other than mushy.
Allow to cool for 15 minutes or so and then serve with a green salad and crusty bread to soak up the juices.