Oysters Rockefeller – A Great Introduction to Oysters

Oysters Rockefeller

I know oysters are a food that one either loves or hates but I’m surprised by the number of people I’ve come across recently who don’t like them. I think if more people were introduced to oysters in a baked or cooked form they would find them a lot more palatable. This baked oyster dish, aptly named Rockefeller as it’s so rich, is a great introduction to the glory of oysters. A creamy sauce of shallots, bacon and spinach is spooned over the oysters which are then topped with breadcrumbs and cheese before being baked until golden and hot. My husband declared these his favourite way of eating oysters and I have to agree they are out of this world. These make a great appetiser with drinks or you can plate a few of them individually to serve as a starter, and even  if you think you don’t like oysters I urge you to try these as they may just change your mind.

Ingredients – Makes 12 oysters

12 oysters shucked, for this recipe I prefer larger oysters
25g butter
2 small rashers streaky bacon, very finely diced
1 large or 2 small shallots, finely chopped
¼ cup white wine or vermouth
1 heaped tablespoon plain flour
1 clove garlic, finely grated
1 finely chopped anchovy fillet
½ cups cream
200g frozen spinach, thawed and excess water squeezed out – you can use fresh spinach but frozen works very well here
2 sprigs fresh tarragon, chopped
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup panko bread crumbs
¼ cup fresh breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon olive oil

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 190C. Cut the oyster away from the shell and place them in a bowl and set aside. Clean the shells well and place on a baking sheet. I like to crumple some foil on the tray to nestle the shells on which stops them from tipping over. Heat a medium skillet and when hot add the diced bacon and cook until crispy, remove and set aside leaving as much fat in the pan as possible.

 

In  the same skillet melt butter over medium heat. Add shallots, season with salt and cook until tender. Stir in flour and cook for a minute. Add wine and cook until almost all the liquid has evaporated. Add garlic and anchovies, stir to combine. Season with salt. Add heavy cream and  let cook for one minute. Stir in spinach, tarragon and reserved bacon. Cook until mixture thickens. If mixture seems too thick, add a little water or more cream to thin it out a slightly.


Oyster Rockefeller before Baking Oysters Rockefeller

Place the oyster shells in the oven and bake until warm, about 2 minutes. In a medium bowl, mix together cheese, panko,  breadcrumbs and olive oil until well combined, set aside. Spoon a small amount of the spinach mixture into each of the shells and top each with a whole oyster. Top with a little more of the spinach mixture and sprinkle with the breadcrumb mixture. Transfer to the oven and bake until oysters are hot and the bread crumb topping is golden brown. If you like you can finish them off under a hot grill.

Oysters Rockefeller

Jager Schnitzel – Crumbed Veal with Rich Mushroom Gravy

Jaeger Schnitzel - Schnitzel with Rich Mushroom Sauce

The days are getting cooler in Sydney and I’m really enjoying the chill in the air and the fresh nights. The main reason for my love of cooler weather is the food that goes along with it. Warming comfort food that makes you count down the minutes to dinner time. This meal does just that, golden crispy veal schnitzel that’s topped with a rich mushroom sauce – this is not something you want to necessarily be eating in the height of summer, especially when the perfect side dish is a mound of creamy mashed potatoes. The origins of this dish are German but there are similar versions of it throughout Europe, with most of them incorporating cream in the mushroom sauce but I prefer the richness of this wine and stock based German style mushroom gravy. This particular recipe is a real cracker with a nice twist in the additions to the crumbing mixture which make for a very tasty schnitzel. If you wish to replace the veal with another protein, thinly pounded chicken breast or pork loin work well. This is a little more labour intensive than the usual weekday meal but it can be done in stages with the meat sitting happily breaded in the fridge overnight and the mushroom gravy can also be made in advance and then heated just before serving.

Ingredients – Serves 4-6  Adapted from Guy Fieri of Foodnetwork

8 very thinly pounded pieces of veal scallopini, not too large as you are serving 2 pieces per person- you can replace the veal with thinly pounded pork or chicken
1 cup plain flour, divided
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1 egg
½ cup milk
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 cup panko bread crumbs
250g thinly sliced bacon or pancetta, diced
1 medium size onion, diced
2 cups sliced button mushrooms
¼ cup red wine
light olive oil, or vegetable oil for frying
2 cups beef stock
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves

Method

Pre-heat oven to 180C. In a shallow medium bowl, mix together ¾ cup flour with salt, pepper, garlic and paprika. In another shallow medium bowl, combine egg, milk and mustard. In another medium shallow bowl, combine bread and panko crumbs. Dredge veal slices first in flour, then in egg wash, and finally in crumbs, pressing the crumbs in firmly. Leave to sit for a good 5 minutes on a baking sheet to set. If you wish to make them ahead the veal can be crumbed and left covered in the fridge for a good few hours or overnight.

  

In a medium saute pan over medium heat add a little oil and cook the bacon until crispy. Remove from pan to drain on paper towels. In same pan with the remaining bacon fat, add onions and saute for 3 minutes or until soft, if the pan is too dry add a little more oil. Add mushrooms and continue sauteing for 3 minutes. Stir in ¼ cup flour. Cook flour to make roux until light brown, about 2 minutes. Add wine and cook for 3 minutes, reducing by a third, then add stock. Continue cooking to reduce by a third again. Season with salt and pepper. Keep warm. The sauce can also be made ahead of time and reheated before serving.

 Mushroom Gravy for Jager Schnitzel Jager Schnitzel

Heat a generous amount of oil in a thick skillet or fry pan, there should be enough oil to cover the whole base of the pan. When the oil is hot add the veal and cook until golden brown on each side. Don’t over crowd the pan, if you need to, cook the veal in batches. Keep an eye on your heat so as the veal doesn’t burn and add more oil as necessary. Remove to platter when done –  you can keep the cooked schnitzel in a warm oven until you’re ready to serve. Just before serving add the butter to the warm sauce, stirring until it has melted. Stir through the chopped bacon and parsley. To serve place the veal on a platter or on individual plates and top with some of the mushroom gravy.

Jager Schnitzel - Schnitzel with Rich Mushroom Gravy

The Village Bakery’s Berry Ricotta Cake

Village Bakery's Berry Ricotta Cake

I’ve never had the opportunity to sample the delights of the Village bakery in LA, which isn’t surprising as I live on the other side of the world, but Adam Roberts of the Amateur Gourmet blog is fortunate enough to have the Village Bakery as his local cafe. He loved their berry ricotta cake so much they agreed to give him the recipe and he in turn was kind enough to share it. This is a lovely  and moist cake with a very interesting crumb due to the inclusion of cornmeal. I substituted with polenta as cornmeal is hard to come by in Australia and from what I can gather they’re pretty much the same thing. I used a course ground polenta which I think is the most similar in texture to cornmeal. At first bite the mouth feel of the cornmeal/polenta takes you by surprise but in a very enjoyable way and the addition of ricotta places this cake somewhere between a cheesecake and a normal yellow cake. This is an easy cake to pull together and would be great as both a dessert with a dollop of creme fraiche or just to go alongside a cup of tea or coffee.

Ingredients  Adapted from the Village Bakery via Amateur Gourmet

150g unsalted butter (at room temperature)
1 cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon honey
¾ cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
½ cup + 1 tablespoon cornmeal – if you can’t get cornmeal substitute with course or medium ground polenta
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup drained ricotta
¼ cup + 1 tablespoon sour cream
Raspberries, blueberries, blackberries or sliced stone fruit – I used raspberries

Method

Preheat the oven to 180C. Butter and flour a 23cm springform cake tin. In a Kitchenaid or stand mixer, beat the butter, sugar and salt with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Whisk together the oil, eggs, vanilla and honey and then add them to the mixer; mixing just until the eggs are well incorporated. Sift together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and baking soda and add to the mixer. Mix until just combined.

  
Berry Ricotta Cake  Berry Ricotta Cake Berry Ricotta Cake

Lastly, add the ricotta and sour cream and mix until evenly distributed. Be careful not to over beat.  Spread half of the batter into the prepared cake tin. Top with half the berries. Pour the remaining batter over the berries, smooth, and top with the rest of the fruit. Bake for approximately 50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Berry Ricotta Cake

Potato & Mushroom Gratin – The Perfect Side Dish For Your Easter Roast Lamb

Potato & Mushroom Gratin

I love gratins of any sort but the classic potato gratin or pommes Dauphinoise  has to be my favourite. It’s rich and creamy and makes the perfect side dish. Purists say a classic potato gratin should not be made with cream, with some going so far as to say no cheese either. Whilst I agree with the former and use whole milk (not skim) I do love the addition of Gruyère cheese in a potato gratin. I’ve gone one step further in this version and added some sautéed mushrooms which add a lovely earthy note to the gratin. If you’re lucky enough to have access to fresh porcini or ceps these would be amazing here. I used  Swiss brown mushrooms which are similar to chestnut mushrooms or baby portobello’s. I’ve noted in the ingredients the optional addition of truffle oil which really takes this to another level.

One thing that I think is vital for a gratin is for the potatoes to be sliced very thinly on a mandolin. If you haven’t got one then use the finest slicing blade on your food processor. If you haven’t got access to a mandolin or a processor then slice them by hand, take your time and try and cut them as thinly as  you can with a uniform thickness, which is vital if the potatoes are to cook evenly. There are two ways of making a potato gratin, the first is to just layer the potatoes with seasoning etc and then cover with milk and bake in the oven. The alternative method, and the one I prefer, is where the potatoes are first blanched in the milk to start the cooking process and then placed in the gratin dish to bake. I find the texture of the potatoes is better this way and it also cuts down on the baking time. If you’re cooking a roast lamb for Easter Sunday lunch this gratin would be a great accompaniment, and if you’re short on time and oven space it can be prepared in advance and then put in the oven to bake while the lamb is resting.

Ingredients – Serves 4

1 kg potatoes – I used Desiree but any all purpose or waxy potato will work
Approx. 21/2 cups whole fat milk (skim doesn’t work here)
2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1 bay leaf
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup grated Gruyère cheese
1 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
300g mushrooms, sliced
Knob of butter
Salt & freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon white truffle oil – optional, but really good

Method

Peel the potatoes and slice them thinly on a mandolin. You want them to be slightly thicker than a potato chip/crisp but not paper thin. If you don’t have a mandolin use the finest blade setting on a food processor. Place the sliced potatoes in a saucepan that is more wide than it is tall and is large enough for the potatoes have a little bit of room. Pour enough milk to just cover them – the amount of milk you’ll need will depend on the size of the pan, which is why it’s better to go for something wider than taller. Add the garlic, bay leaf, nutmeg, some salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Lower the heat straight away to a gentle simmer and cook for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes are just tender. During this time you’ll need to stir the potatoes gently, scraping from the bottom of the pan to ensure the milk doesn’t get scorched. Once the potatoes are cooked taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.Whilst the potatoes are cooking, heat the butter in a skillet and cook the mushroom until they are golden brown and all the moisture has evaporated from them. Season with a little salt and pepper and set aside.


Potato & Mushroom Gratin Potato & Mushroom Gratin

Pre-heat the oven to 180C. To assemble the gratin take a shallow oven proof dish and spoon in a layer of the potatoes along with some of the milk. You won’t be able to layer them precisely as the potatoes are hot and wet but just even them up as best you can. Add a sprinkling of Gruyère and some mushrooms. Repeat the process until all the potatoes are used, with the final layer being the remaining Gruyère cheese and the parmesan. If you are using the truffle oil trickle this over just before you add the final layer of cheese. Depending on the size of your dish you should have about 3 or 4 layers. Most of the creamy milk in the saucepan will be used up but if there is any left, drizzle it over the gratin. Bake for about 30 minutes (it’s wise to place it on a baking sheet to catch any drips) until it’s golden and bubbly.

Easter Sunday Lamb Side Dish - Potato & Mushroom Gratin

Kerala Beef Curry – Nadan Beef

Beef Nadan Curry

We recently returned from a wonderful vacation to the Maldives where we had the opportunity to sample some amazing curries. The Maldives are only about 500 miles from the Southern tip of India and it’s normal for many of the resorts to have a variety of Indian inspired dishes on their menus. This is as close as we’ve come to eating what I imagine is very authentic Indian food, and since we’ve returned I’ve been craving a really good curry and especially one from Kerala or Goa which, given their proximity to the Maldives, is the Indian food most represented on the menus. This Kerala beef curry or beef Nadan captures all the wonderful flavours that are characteristic of food from that region. You can make this as spicy or as mild as you like, the version below produces a medium hot curry but if I were serving this to the whole family I would tone down the chilli element. Don’t be put off by what may seem like a long list of ingredients because the actual cooking and preparation are all very simple. A trip to India is on our bucket list but I think it may be a few years away, in the meantime this curry will help keep my cravings at bay.

Ingredients – Serves 4-6 and freezes well

I kg beef, cubed – I used chuck
2 medium sized tomatoes, diced
2 medium sized onions, sliced
3 long mild long green chillies, cut into large pieces. If you want less heat remove the seeds or even just add one chilli but leave it whole
8 cardamom pods
8 cloves
8 black peppercorns
3 dried bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
3 star anise
Leaves from 2 strands of curry leaves
5 good sized cloves garlic
2 inch piece of ginger
100ml ghee or coconut oil or vegetable oil
½ teaspoons chilli powder – use can use less if you prefer a milder curry
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
Coriander leaves – for garnishing

Method

Place the bay leaves, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, black peppercorns and star anise in a dry skillet and cook over medium heat for a few minutes to lightly toast them. Cool slightly then grind them in a coffee/spice grinder or in a mortar and pestle, set aside.

  
Heat the oil in  a heavy based saucepan. Add the garlic, onion, curry leaves and a pinch of salt and cook until soft and slightly golden. Add the ginger and cook for another few minutes. Next add the chilli powder, paprika, coriander, turmeric and a small amount of water (about 3-4 tablespoons) and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, green chillies and beef. Fry the beef until it changes colour and then add a heaped teaspoon of salt. Add enough boiling water to just cover the meat. Bring to a simmer and cook, partially covered for about 1½ – 2 hours or until the meat is just tender.

  Nadan Beef

Check the seasoning and add more salt if you need to. The second part of the cooking process is to turn up the heat and let the curry cook on a rapid simmer until the liquid is nicely reduced and thickened. The amount of time this takes will vary depending on how much liquid there is but you can roughly count on 20-30 minutes. This stage of the cooking process not only thickens the sauce but also intensifies all the flavours and takes the meat to the fork-tender stage. Make sure you are nearby whilst the curry is reducing and stir it often to ensure it doesn’t catch and burn. Once the sauce is at the desired consistency add the ground spices and stir them through well. Garnish with coriander leaves before serving.

Beef Nadan

Marinated Eggplant

Ottolenghi's Marinated Eggplan

This is another winner of a recipe from Yottam Ottolenghi. If you have a fondness for eggplant you’re going to love this dish. I normally find eggplant that has been baked rather than fried a little on the dry side. It’s great that it’s healthier but it lacks the silky soft quality that eggplant has when it’s been fried. Ottolenghi has found the perfect cure for this by marinading the baked eggplant in a dressing of garlic, herbs, lemon and olive oil which slowly seeps into the eggplant infusing it with wonderful tastes and aromas. I love side dishes that can be prepared in advance and this one not only can be, but has to be. I find the longer it sits the better it tastes and I usually make it in the morning and leave it at room temperature to marinade until dinner time. You could also make it the night before and keep it in the fridge but make sure you let it come fully to room temperature before serving. These marinated eggplants would also be wonderful as an appetiser on top of bruschetta or just served with some warm flat bread.

Ingredients – serves 4  Adapted from Ottolenghi, The Cookbook

3 medium-sized eggplants
olive oil for brushing
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
Marinade:
4 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons lemon juice
1 mild red chilli, seeded and finely diced
2 tablespoons finely chopped coriander
2 tablespoons finely chopped oregano
1-2 garlic cloves finely diced
Salt & freshly ground pepper

Method

Preheat the oven to 220C.  Trim the stalk end off the eggplants, then cut each eggplant in half, widthwise.  Cut the fat lower piece lengthwise in half and then cut each half into 3 wedges.  Do the same with the thinner piece, but cut each half into 2 wedges.  You should end up  with 10 similar size pieces from each eggplant with skin on their curved side. Line a baking sheet with non stick paper and place the eggplant on the tray skin side down. Brush each piece generously with oil and season well with salt and pepper. Place the tray in the top or middle section of the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until the edges of the eggplant are golden and they are soft to the touch.

Ottolenghi Eggplant Ottolenghi's Marinade for Eggplant

Whilst the eggplant are roasting place all the marinade ingredients into a bowl and mix well to combine. As soon as the eggplant are done toss them gently through the dressing until all the slices are well coated but try to ensure you don’t mush up the eggplant or break them as you mix. The eggplant tastes best when they have at least a couple of hours sitting in the dressing. Keep them at room temperature in a cool place for up to a few hours or place in the fridge but make sure that you bring them to room temperature before serving.

Ottolenghi's Marinated Aubergine

Nigel Slater’s Garlic Crumbed Chicken

Nigel Slater's Garlic Crumbed Chicken

This is one of those very fast and simple mid-week meals that looks and tastes like it took a  lot of time and effort to create. It reminded me somewhat of chicken Kiev, but with a healthier fresher approach. Don’t be too mislead by the title, whilst there is enough garlic in the dish to make a subtle impact it’s by no means overpowering, especially as the garlic-breadcrumb mixture is first pan fried and then baked again on top of the chicken. The chicken can be prepared hours in advance and kept refrigerated and the crumb mixture can also be prepped ahead of time and then added to the chicken just before baking. If you have trouble sourcing taleggio cheese you can substitute with brie or any other soft cheese, although I think goat cheese would be too overpowering. This is total comfort food and is perfect accompanied with mashed potatoes and a salad. A great family meal for busy mid-week that you  can get on the table in less than an hour from start to finish and unlike a lot of “quick” meals this one leaves you with minimal dishes and mess to clean up.

Ingredients – Serves 2  Adapted from Nigel Slater

 2 chicken breasts, skin removed
⅓ cup finely chopped parsley
150g taleggio cheese, cut into strips
75g butter
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
3 rashers smoked streaky bacon, finely chopped – I used speck
2 large handfuls fresh breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

Preheat the oven to 180C. Score the chicken breasts 3 – 4 times diagonally across the top to within 1-2cm of the bottom. Finely chop the parsley and cut the taleggio into strips. Roll the taleggio in the parsley and then stuff the cheese into the scored gaps in the chicken breasts. Rub the olive oil over the chicken and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place the chicken on a shallow sided baking tray. I like to use a porcelain dish that I can take straight to the table – the chicken oozes out some cheese as it cooks and it’s nice to capture this in the pan it is served in. The chicken can be prepared up to this point in advance and kept covered in the fridge until you’re ready to bake. You will need to take it out of the fridge an hour beforehand to let it come to room temperature.

 Nigel Slater's Garlic Crumbed ChickenNigel Slater's Garlic Crumbed Chicken

To make the crumb mixture, melt the butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the chopped garlic and bacon to the pan and cook for three minutes, or until the garlic and bacon are starting to brown. Add the breadcrumbs to the pan and cook for a further three minutes. Scatter the breadcrumb mix over the chicken breasts, patting them down lightly. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.

Nigel Slater's Garlic Crumbed Chicken

Banoffee Pavlova

Banoffee Pavlova

Granted it’s not the prettiest looking dessert but I can’t think of a more delicious combination than caramel, cream and bananas. Banoffee is normally served as a pie but it also makes a wonderful topping for pavlova, in fact I almost prefer it as it’s somewhat lighter and not as sweet. This is a very easy dessert to pull together but the pavlova does need to be made a good few hours in advance so as it has time to cool down properly in the oven. I normally make it the day before and just leave the pavlova in the cooled oven overnight and only take it out when I am ready to assemble the topping which should really only be done an hour or two before serving. Keeping your pavlova in the cooling oven is also the safest way to ensure it doesn’t get soft and sticky on hot humid days. If you’re able to buy cans of pre-cooked condensed milk (which is sometimes labeled as caramel filling or topping) also saves a lot of time. Nestle make these in Australia and they’re available in most supermarkets. You can boil your own cans of condensed milk but it takes a while and a close eye needs to be kept on them to avoid a messy disaster if they explode.

Ingredients – Serves 6-8

7 egg whites at room temperature
225g caster sugar
2 teaspoons cornflour
400g tin of prepared caramel (made from condensed milk)
3 bananas, peeled and sliced
300ml whipping cream
2 tablespoons grated dark chocolate

Method

Preheat the oven to 180C. Cover a baking sheet with nonstick baking paper. Whisk the egg whites until they are just stiff. Gradually add the sugar, a little at a time, whisking well after each addition. Continue until all the sugar is incorporated. Whisk for another 1-2 minutes until the meringue is stiff and glossy. Whisk in the cornflour. Spoon the mixture into a circle on the baking paper, making a slight dip in the middle. Place the baking sheet in the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 130C and cook for 1½ hours.

Perfect Pavlova Perfect Pavlova
Banoffee Pavlova Banoffee Pavlova Banoffee Pavlova

Turn the oven off and leave the meringue inside until the oven is cool. Peel the pavlova off the baking paper and place onto a serving plate. Beat the caramel to soften it and then spread over the pavlova, spooning some over the sides. Top with the slices of banana. Whisk the double cream until soft peaks form and then spoon over the bananas. Finish off with a sprinkling of grated chocolate.

Banoffee Pavlova

Roasted Green Beans & Tomatoes

Side Dish to Feed a Crowd - Roasted Green Beans & Tomatoes

I’m always on the look out for new side dishes, especially ones that don’t require any last minute preparation and can feed a large number of people without dirtying all the pots and pans in the cupboards or using up all the stove burners. This roasted green bean and tomato dish delivers all of the above along with great flavour. Green beans are such a versatile vegetable and one of the few that can be both slow cooked and quickly blanched. Slow cooking concentrates their flavour and makes them very tender without losing their shape or becoming mushy. The key thing to note in this recipe is that the beans and tomatoes need to be put into a cold oven, unlike most recipes you shouldn’t pre-heat the oven first but only turn it on once the beans are in there. This allows the beans and tomatoes to cook through first and then crisp up. This is half way between a warm salad and a side dish and you can choose to serve it hot straight from the oven or at room temperature. What I normally do is make it a few hours in advance, place it on a serving platter and leave it out at room temperature and then give it a very quick blast in the microwave before serving which just makes it slightly warm.

Ingredients – Serves 6 – recipe can be easily doubled or halved

500g green beans, trimmed
2 punnets cherry or grape tomatoes, I like to leave some whole and cut some in half
3 tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
Salt & freshly ground black pepper

Method

Place the beans and the tomatoes on a shallow rimmed baking sheet (if you’re dish is too deep the vegetables will steam rather than crispy up). Add the oil and vinegar and season well with salt and pepper. Toss the beans and tomatoes making sure they are nicely coated with the oil and vinegar and spread them out in an even layer on the baking sheet. Place pan in a cold oven (see note above) and set temperature to 220C.

Perfect Side Dish to Feed a Crowd - Roasted Green Beans & Tomatoes OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

After 15 minutes give them a stir and then check them every few minutes until the beans are cooked through and a little crisp and the tomatoes have collapsed. You need to watch them carefully as they can get charred very quickly. Remove the pan from the oven and place the vegetables on a serving platter. Pour any remaining pan juices over the vegetable (sometimes I add a little more oil and balsamic to the hot tray if there isn’t enough left) and serve either straight away or keep un-chilled and serve at room temperature.

 A Side Dish to Feed a Crowd - Roasted Geen Beans & Tomatoes

Fideuà – The Other Paella

Prawn, Chorizo & Squid Fideuà

Fideuà is a wonderful dish originating from Catalan Spain and is very similar to it’s better known cousin, paella. The main difference being that instead of rice, thin vermicelli noodles are used, and unlike Italian pasta dishes the noodles here are cooked in only a small amount of liquid just as the rice would be cooked in a traditional paella. And just like paella there are many different ingredients you can choose from to make fideuà. I chose chorizo, squid and prawns as the main components and made a fish stock using the prawn shells. Using a very flavourful broth can make the difference between a good fideuà and a great one. This is one of those moreish dishes where you think you’ve made far too much but it’s so good you can’t stop eating it. Fideuà would make a great meal for informal entertaining, where the dish it is cooked in can be bought straight to the table for everyone to dig in and help themselves. You don’t have to use a paella pan, any round  shallow skillet or frypan that is oven safe will do, but something without long handles is best. I found fideuà easier to make than a traditional paella and I also found the noodles to be somewhat lighter than rice, making this a great dish to serve in warmer weather.

Ingredients – Serves 3-4

 6-8 large uncooked prawns, heads and shells removed and reserved
Olive oil
200g squid, sliced
1 cup thinly sliced Spanish chorizo
1 onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup tomato passata
750ml best quality vegetable or chicken stock
Large pinch of saffron
Salt & pepper
250g angel hair pasta broken into 1 inch pieces

Method

To make the stock, heat a about a tablespoon of olive oil in a medium size saucepan and when hot add the reserved prawn shells and heads. Cook stirring and pressing down hard on the shells and heads for a good few minutes. Add a pinch of salt, some freshly ground pepper and the saffron. Stir again then add the stock and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer covered for 30 minutes.

   Fideuà Prawns for Fideuà

To make the fideuà,  preheat the oven to 180C. Heat a large shallow skillet which is oven proof over medium heat and add a small splash of olive oil. When hot add the prawns and season with salt and pepper. Cook for a minute on each side, until just lightly seared. Remove and set aside. To the same pan add the squid and a little more oil if required, season and cook for a couple of minutes flipping them around to evenly colour them. Remove and set aside. Add the onions, along with a little more oil if the pan is dry, and cook until the onions are slightly soft. Add the chorizo and garlic to the onions and cook stirring until the chorizo start to release their oil and have browned a little.

Prawns for Fideuà Squid for Fideuà Chorizo for Fideuà
Fideuà Fideuà Prawn & Chorizo Fideuà

Add the noodles, stir and cook for a few minutes until all the noodles are coated with the oil and slightly toasted. Return the squid to the pan along with the passata, tomato paste and some salt and pepper and stir well. Add enough stock to just cover the noodles. Bring to a simmer and cook over low heat, uncovered, until almost all the liquid is evaporated. At this point the noodles should be almost completely cooked. Place the prawns around the dish and place in the oven for 20-25 minutes by which time the noodles will be soft and the top will be slightly golden and crunchy. Serve straight away with a green salad.

Paella made with Noodles