Jambalaya

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Jambalaya is a spicy Creole rice dish which makes the most of a range of ingredients from vegetables to chicken to prawns and back again. It can be adapted as much or as little in the way of meat as you like but is also delicious as a vegetarian option by loading up the veggies. I like to serve it in the middle of the table as it can look really quite impressive and that way everyone can help themselves- I can guarantee that there will be no leftovers!

 

Ingredients- serves 4
1 tbsp oil
2 chicken breasts- cut into chunks or strips
100g chorizo- cut into chunks
1 onion- chopped
2 garlic cloves- crushed or finely sliced
2 celery sticks- finely sliced
1 red bell pepper and 1 yellow bell pepper- sliced
1 tbsp paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
200g long grain rice
400ml chopped tinned tomatoes
400ml chicken stock
Small pack of raw king prawns- deveined
3 spring onions- finely sliced

1. Take a large non-stick frying pan and heat oil over a medium heat. When hot, add the chicken and chorizo and cook until the chicken is browned off and the chorizo is starting to turn golden and crisp. Remove from the pan and set aside but keep the delicious juices.

2. Add the onion, celery and pepper to the pan and fry until softened. Near the end add in the garlic cloves so they don’t catch. Stir through the mix of paprika, cayenne, oregano and thyme and cook for a further minute. Add the chicken and chorizo back to the pan and stir well to coat the meat with the spice mix.

3. Add the uncooked rice in and stir to combine with the rest of the ingredients. Add in the chopped tomatoes and half of the chicken stock next and bring the pan to a simmer. I also added a handful of halved cherry tomatoes for an extra sweetness against the spice but this is optional. Pour in the remaining stock gradually so the rice has time to absorb the stock and so it doesn’t start to dry out. This will need to simmer for 30-40 minutes until the rice is tender- some rice may take a bit longer than others so do keep checking and tasting as you go. If the jambalaya looks like it’s a little dry then add a bit more hot stock.

4. When the rice is tender and the stock has been absorbed, add in the raw prawns and spring onions and cook until the prawns are cooked through and tender. Serve the jambalaya in warmed bowls and dig in!

A spicy jambalaya- perfect for the ever-changing weather until we wait for the summer that we were promised!

Chorizo, manchego and pepper muffin tin fritattas

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Muffin tin fritattas are as the name suggests- mini fritattas that are made in muffin tins! They are great for picnics, lunchboxes for work or school and even breakfast. Fritattas are an ideal go to spring or summer recipe and they can be useful to use up any vegetables or cheese that is in the fridge but has started to see better days. For this recipe I used a combination of chorizo, manchego and roasted red pepper so pack them with flavour but also to give them appealing colour. They are delicious warm from the oven or at room temperature. They can keep in a well sealed container in the fridge for a couple of days- if they’re not all devoured before then!

Ingredients- makes 12 fritattas
7 large free range eggs
1 large red onion
100g chorizo
2 large jarred roasted red peppers- chopped
130g manchego cheese
Fresh basil
Salt and pepper
Vegetable oil

1. Preheat the oven to 190c/ 170 fan. Prepare the muffin tin by lightly brushing each hole with vegetable oil using a pastry brush.

2. Peel and slice the chorizo into slices and then quarter each slice. Heat a dry frying pan and fry over a medium- high heat; fry the chorizo until golden and remove from the pan. Add the red onion in and fry until it has softened. Set aside and allow to cool.

3. Take a large bowl and crack all the eggs into it. Lightly beat them with a fork. Add the sliced red pepper and grate 100g of the manchego into the egg. Tear in some fresh basil and add the onion and chorizo. Season well with pepper and a small amount of salt.

4. Carefully use a ladle and divide the mixture between the 12 muffin tin holes. Do not fill them to the brim as they will naturally rise during cooking. Grate a little more manchego on the top of each hole and bake in the oven for around 15 minutes or until the egg has set and the fritattas are golden. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. When cool remove the fritattas from the tin; you may need to loosen them a little by carefully running the blade of a small, flexible knife around the edge of the tin holes. Serve by themselves or with a simple salad.

Muffin tin fritattas- your answer to breakfast, lunch or dinner!

Paella

After a recent trip to the local market and the purchase of some fabulously fresh and juicy prawns as well as succulent squid, a colourful paella was the natural choice to make to enjoy the ingredients at their best. Paella hails from Valencia and traditionally includes rabbit however these days you find paella containing a range of meat and seafood. I have used a combination of chicken, chorizo, prawn and squid but simply replace the chicken with rabbit if you like. Rabbit is easily accessible all year round and is also relatively economical.

So, as this trip to the market progressed I found myself drawn to a local cookware shop where a rather large (46cms to be precise) paella pan landed in my hand. A paella pan is worth the investment and you can find them in a range of sizes. A paella pan is flat and shallow which cooks the rice evenly. Paella rice should be firm but tender; don’t confuse it with risotto rice as this is more creamy. For this reason paella rice should not be stirred too frequently so avoid the urge!

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Ingredients- serves 6
Glug of vegetable oil
2 red onions- finely chopped
4 garlic cloves- crushed or finely chopped
150g chorizo- sliced
6 large vine ripened tomatoes- chopped
3 chicken breasts- cut into inch pieces
500g bomba paella rice
600ml hot chicken or vegetable stock
Saffron threads
3 jarred roasted red peppers- sliced
100g garden peas- shelled
3 small squids- cleaned and cut into rings
Shell on whole king prawns- as many as you fancy!

1. Heat the paella pan over a medium to high heat on the hob before adding a good glug of oil. Pop in the onion and cook until softened before adding the garlic for another minute or two. Add the chorizo and chicken; cook until the chorizo is starting to crisp on the edges and the chicken is just cooked on the outside. Next the chopped tomatoes go in and these need cooking until the chunks are breaking down.

2. Add the paella rice and stir well to combine so the grains are coated in the tomato mixture. Put the saffron threads into the hot stock and pour all the stock into the pan. Stir so the rice is evenly distributed in the pan. Pop in the sliced red peppers and sprinkle in the peas; simmer for around 20 minutes and stir from time to time. Test the rice and when it is a few minutes away from being ready, add the prawns and squid rings. The prawns are ready when they turn a beautiful blush pink and the squid will be tender. Finish with some chopped parsley if you like and serve immediately.

Prawn, chicken and squid paella- a perfect dish for a summery day!

 

Butter bean, butternut squash and chorizo crumble

Think of a crumble and most people would conjure images of a piping hot fruity creation but, oh no, not this one! This butter bean, butternut squash and chorizo crumble gives a range of textures and flavours that you will cook again and again.

I have given this a Spanish twist to enhance the flavours from the chorizo which marries beautifully with the gentle sweetness of the squash and the creamy beans. You could also add chicken if you wanted an even heartier dish or leave out the chorizo and add in some other vegetables to make it vegetarian. Supermarkets are becoming quite handy in helping out with shortcuts too so if, like me, you can’t stand having to cut a solid butternut squash you can buy ready peeled squash which is great to have when time is short.

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Ingredients- serves 4
For the filling
1 large white onion- finely chopped
2 garlic cloves- crushed or finely chopped
2 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp oregano
1 tsp cayenne
1 red chilli- deseeded and finely chopped (optional)
100g chorizo- chopped
Small butternut squash- cut into small cubes
1 large red pepper- chopped (or alternatively you can use the ready roasted jarred
peppers)
Tin of butter beans- drained and rinsed
Jar of passata- approx 400ml
200ml vegetable stock

For the crumble topping
100g plain flour
50g unsalted butter- softened
Seasoning
Manchego cheese- as much or as little as you like

1. To get started add a splash of oil to a large pan and gently sweat the onions and garlic. You are looking for gorgeously softened onions which are beginning to get a little colour. Pop in the spices, chilli (if using) and chorizo and cook out for a further couple of minutes so they release their flavour and the chorizo begins to colour. The chorizo enhance the smoked paprika even more!

2. I then add the cubes of butternut squash and red pepper. Stir well so they get a spicy coating and cook for a few minutes. Pop in the butter beans and, again, stir through. Next goes the passata and stock, season and bring the pan to a simmer, cover and leave for 15 minutes before then removing the lid and simmering for a further 15 minutes. If you have left your chunks of squash a little larger then 20 minutes followed by another 20 minutes may be needed but give it a check as you go.

3. Whilst that is cooking away and then sauce is starting to reduce you can make the crumble topping. I have kept this as simple as possible but you could substitute it with a breadcrumb topping if you prefer. Simply take the softened butter and add to a bowl with the flour and rub between your fingers; this will form a crumb. Season and add some grated manchego cheese if you like.

4. When the passata and stock has reduced down spoon the mixture into either one large ovenproof baking dish or individual ones if you prefer. If you are a cheese fan then you could always add small chunks of any leftover manchego cheese to the mixture so this will melt as it bakes. Sprinkle over the crumble topping and bake at 200c/ 180fan for around 20- 30 minutes until the topping is golden. Serve with crusty bread or a simple side salad.

Butter bean, squash and chorizo crumble- a vibrant dish to brighten up any day!

P.S. If, like me, you made too much the leftovers as just as delicous! I added spinach and cooked it so it wilted and served it with pan fried white fish for a variation.

Butter bean, cod and chorizo stew

If you think a stew needs to be meat based then think on! Cod loin is robust and meaty in its own right and will convert even the biggest carnivore!

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Ingredients- serves 2- 3
1 tin of butter beans- drained and rinsed
1 tbsp olive oil
200g chorizo- sliced
1 onion- chopped
2 garlic cloves- crushed
1 red chilli- deseeded and finely chopped
2 jarred roasted red peppers- sliced
1/2 tbsp smoked paprika
400g tinned chopped tomatoes
250ml chicken stock
Capful of red wine vinegar
Fresh thyme sprigs
Handful of shredded baby spinach
2 large cod loins

1. Take a large pan and heat the oil over a medium heat. Add in the chorizo and fry until golden and fragrant. Remove from the pan and set aside. Next up goes in the onion, garlic and chilli for a couple of minutes until softening. I then add the paprika and red pepper and cook for a further minute making sure it’s well mixed in.

2. The butter beans need to in next and stir gently so they get coated with the onion. Add the tomatoes, stock, chorizo, vinegar and thyme and bring to the boil. Lower to a simmer, cover and cook until the sauce is thick and reduced. Just a few minutes before the stew is ready pop thespinach through the stew and add the cod loins into the pan to steam. You can leave the fish whole or cut it into chunks of you prefer. Cod loin is best for this as it will stay whole.

3. Dig the thyme sprigs out of the pan and check the seasoning. Chorizo is quite salty so you may find you don’t need to do too much. Serve in deep bowls with hunks of warm bread on the side.

Spanish style baked brunch eggs

Feast your eyes on this satisfying brunch idea. Long gone are the days of fried breakfasts and soggy cereal so treat yourself to this spicy dish and kick-start your day!

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Ingredients- serves 2
1 tsp vegetable oil
1 small onion- finely diced
1/2 red chilli- finely chopped
Pinch of paprika
400g tinned chopped tomatoes
150g chorizo
 2 handfuls of baby spinach- shredded
2 large eggs
Salt and pepper

1. Before you get started preheat the oven to 180c/ 160 fan. Heat the vegetable oil over a medium heat and cook the onion and chilli until softened. Add a good pinch of paprika (I like smoked paprika) and continue to cook for a further minute.

2. Fry the chorizo in a separate small pan over a medium/ high heat and fry until golden and crisp. You could also add the chorizo to the onion and cook off together if you prefer.

3. Add the tomatoes to the onion and chilli and simmer for a few minutes. Shred the spinach and add to the pan. Remember spinach wilts quickly so do add more as you go if you like. Season to taste.

4. Divide the sauce into two small over proof dishes and use a spoon to create a well in the middle of each of them. Crack one egg into each dish and pop into the oven for around 15 minutes depending on how you like your eggs done.

5. Serve with a fresh toasted bread and dig in! Sourdough bread is delicious with this dish to dip.

Brunch is served! Try this and you’ll never look back!