Chilli con carne:

Chilli con carne:

PICTURE 25

Prep:           5 mins.

Cooking:      30 mins +.

Course:        Main

Serves:        4-6

Rating:         3:  Moderate

Find:

  • Small pack beef mince (400g)
  • Onion
  • Red capsicum pepper (or could be other colour)
  • 1 or 2 cloves crushed/chopped garlic
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 can red kidney beans (contents thoroughly rinsed with cold water through a colander to get rid of all of the red crap that you’ll find in the can…….)
  • Dried crushed chilli flakes (more convenient and easier to control the heat than fresh chillies)
  • Tomato puree
  • Red wine if you have it
  • Oil
  • Seasoning
  • A baked spud for each person, or a batch of rice, using Delia’s method.

Method:

  • Break up the mince with a fork as it drops into the pan and fry over a high heat to colour the meat. It will produce an amount of fat which should be poured off and dealt with as in Tricks’n’Tips.
  • Turn the heat down to medium.
  • Chop the onion, pepper and garlic finely and soften in the pan with the mince for 5 mins – don’t allow the garlic to burn or it will turn bitter (and possibly even twisted as well….).
  • Add a can of tomatoes (chopped, preferably, but using normal will only require a swift thrashing…) and the thoroughly rinsed red kidney beans.
  • Pour in a glass or so of red wine and add a good squeeze or dollop of tomato puree. I use a chilli mill, grinding dried chilli seeds; it really does the biz without the need to mess about with fresh chillies.

If you MUST use fresh chillies, go to the loo FIRST, as even when you have washed your hands, the chilli residue that soaks into your fingers could easily cause you to have ‘an amount of discomfort’ in certain parts of your anatomy if you should not take the utmost care – and that applies to either gender.  Also, don’t try to put in contact lenses after dealing with chillies.  Alternatively, you could just call in the bomb disposal experts to deal with the chillies whilst you sit & watch. 

  • Leave the salt until you taste it later. Put the pan onto the lowest heat, lodge a lid half-way on and just simmer for about 30 mins, stirring as necessary to avoid it sticking.
  • Accompany this with Delia’s white rice or a baked spud and a salad.

Prawns on Three Rice starter:

Prawns on Three Rice starter:

PICTURE 14

Prep:           5 mins.

Cooking:      15 mins.

Course:        Starter

Serves:        As many as……

Find:

  • A batch of Colin’s 3 Rice mixture
  • Frozen prawns
  • Oil
  • Butter
  • Garlic
  • Chopped parsley

Method:

  • Look up the Wild, Camargue and Basmati rice mixture, scale down the quantities and make a small amount – about one big tablespoonful per person – and on top of that put a dozen small prawns, half a dozen medium prawns, and three king prawns, all cooked (or heated through if they are already cooked) in plenty of a strong garlic butter and sprinkled all over with fresh chopped flat leaved parsley.
  • It’s a helluva starter to a nice meal.

Prawns’n’Peas:

Prawns’n’Peas: A lovely little rice starter.

(This is the full recipe, on which “Pi**-easy-prawns’n’rice” came from).

Prep:           2 mins.

Cooking:      15 mins.

Course:        Starter

Serves:        2

Rating:         2: Easy

Prawns & peas go together wonderfully.  This starter can be made well before-hand and left in a container ready to fry up with a little more butter over a high heat at the last minute.

Find:-

  • A one-mug batch of Delia’s white rice done in a saucepan
  • 200g frozen prawns – the larger they can be, the better
  • 200g frozen petit-pois
  • 1 red onion
  • Half a red pepper
  • Oil
  • Butter
  • Thai stir-fry herb mix (contains lemon grass, etc)
  • Light soy sauce
  • Seasoning
  • Frying pan with a lid or a lidded frying pan – your choice.

Method:

  • Do a pan of white rice with a mug of white basmati rice, following Delia’s recipe.
  • Chop the onion and the red pepper quite finely and soften in an oiled frying pan with the lid off for ten minutes whilst the rice is cooking in its own pan.
  • Put the peas and prawns in to the frying pan with the onion and pepper, stirring to distribute evenly.
  • Season well and add a few Thai stir-fry herbs. The prawns are pre-cooked and the peas need little cooking so just put the lid on and turn out the heat.  Let it all sit there steaming until the rice is ready. A Thai-style herb mixture is widely available these days.
  • When the rice is done and quite dry, take the lid off the frying pan, turn the heat to full, drop in the knob of butter, stir thoroughly and follow that with the rice. Stir the rice together with everything else until all is thoroughly muxed ip.
  • Serve in small bowls.
  • Have light soy sauce available should anyone want some.

Piss-Easy prawns’n’rice:

Piss-Easy prawns’n’rice:

Prep:           5 mins.

Cooking:      20 mins.

Course:        Snack/Lunch/Pre-seduction nibble…..

Serves:

Rating:         1:  Piss-Easy

Got left over rice?   Here’s a nice quickie meal or a fantastic ‘come-back-to-my-place-tasty- morsel-before-getting-down-to-it’ late-night snack.

For two people, Find:

  • Leftover rice in the fridge
  • Onion
  • Clove of garlic
  • Frozen peas
  • Frozen prawns – aw, come on….., don’t be a cheapskate – a few more than that……
  • A small amount of red pepper, if you have it
  • Possibly a splash of white wine if you have it, otherwise a splash of water – not red wine nor beer. You could use slightly diluted Pernod/Pastis and water
  • Oil & butter
  • Frying pan

Method:

  • Fluff-up the cold rice with a fork so that it’s not in great lumps and just keep it ready. If you don’t have any ready-cooked, just cook some!
  • Roughly slice the onion and the red pepper, finely chop the garlic (see Tricks’n’Tips) and gently fry them in the oil to soften, not to colour.
  • Add the prawns and the frozen peas – as many as you want of each. Get them heated through before adding the wine or water as they already have an ice element to them that will convert to water.
  • Add the butter and, turning the heat up to maximum, the rice. Keep the heat high.
  • The rice must be heated through thoroughly, and to quite a high temperature.
  • Taste it. Add seasoning to taste – it will take an amount of black pepper.
  • Serve it just as it is, or with a crusty buttered roll – ooh, I want some NOW.

Saffron rice:

Saffron rice:

Follow Delia’s Perfect Rice, but put a good pinch of saffron  stems (available from health food shops, town markets, ethnically diverse shops) into the water & rice at the start of the cooking, giving just a gentle stir before putting the lid on the pan.

Varying the amount of saffron will give you different grades of colour.  I have to say that I think it looks great to serve Saffron rice with a light sauced meat or fish dish.  Saffron is generally regarded to be more valuable, weight for weight, than gold.  The strands are individual bits from the middle of the crocus flower and there are about 250,000 strands to a kilogram.  No wonder it’s expensive.  However, it can be bought in very small quantities for not too much.

Well worth the outlay and effort, I can tell you.

REALLY posh rice

REALLY posh rice:

 Prep:           5 mins.

Cooking:      20 mins.      

Course:        Side dish

Serves:        8  

Rating:         2:  Easy

Ok, now this is REALLY posh.  Have you or any of your family been to Greece recently?  Did you/they buy Ouzo?  If so, pin back yer eyelids fer this…….

This is not your NORMAL rice.  Not normal at all.  However, it is VERY SPECIAL  It requires a French rice (yes, I did say French) and a Greek spirit…. Ouzo.  (Actually, you can use French pastis instead).

France, or to be more specific the Camargue region (sort of middle of the French Med coast) of France grows a lovely tasting RED rice.  It’s great.  Follow this recipe and I will guarantee you that your guests will be over the moon with your cooking.

  • Half a cup of red Camargue rice (available in selected supermarkets)
  • A cup of white Basmati rice
  • A good, generous splash of Greek Ouzo or French Pastis
  • Salt.
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Saucepan

METHOD:

  • Ok, boil a kettle and put the red Camargue rice into a saucepan and put about four cups of boiling salted water on top. Keep simmering for half an hour or so, perhaps a little bit longer, it won’t make a scrap of difference if you forget and make it ten minutes longer!.
  • Use Delia’s recipe to make the Basmati rice (keeping to the timings so carefully set out by Auntie DeeDee).
  • When both are done, drain off the water from the red rice, rinse with boiling water from the kettle and mix the red with the white Basmati and add the freshly ground black pepper. Finally, add the ouzo or pastis.  Mix well.

 

Now, if you don’t think that this is the most exotic, fragrant, lovely rice, then I am a monkey’s uncle.  And I am not a monkey’s uncle. WOW.

 The Ouzo/Pastis and the red Camargue rice go SO WELL.  This is a completely new recipe; never seen before.  So, is it good?

 

It would be great with dishes that have a delicate flavour, just don’t overdo the Ouzo/Pastis.  For stronger flavoured dishes you can double the dose of booze.  …….Ok Colin, so quantify a ‘dash’. 

Well, a ‘dash’ would be something like a dessertspoonful I suppose…. one dessertspoonful to go with more delicate flavours (a white fish or similar) or two for more robust flavours like lamb or oily fish.

But whatever you do, don’t forget Camargue red rice. 

What a find!

Plain Boiled Rice:

Plain Boiled Rice:

Prep:           2 mins.

Cooking:      15 mins.      

Course:        Starter or main

Serves:        2  

Rating:         1: Very easy

 (See Tricks’n’Tips for variations, i.e. saffron rice – also very impressive)

Saint Delia (the amazing, wonderful and incredible Delia Smith) really has the perfect recipe for plain white rice. I have her permission to reproduce this – see credits on the home page.

It is just waiting to be used to impress your guests.  It’s specific, accurate, down to earth and to the point.  No messing about at all.  Just follow her recipe to the letter and you will not go wrong. 

Ever. 

I have used the method hundreds of times and never (not even once) been disappointed.  It is 100% reliable.  It’s probably as reliable as 2000 following 1999 – and that went ok, as I recall.

If it DOES actually go wrong, you must have strayed from the method.  Honest.  Trust me.  The recipe is in her book “Delia Smith’s Complete Cookery Course”.   This book has to be first on your ‘must have’ list.  Delia has kindly given permission for it to be replicated here:

Delia’s Perfect Rice:

Ingredients for two people:

  • Long grain white rice measured to the 5 fluid ounce level in a glass measuring jug.
  • Boiling water or stock measured to the 10 fluid ounce level in a glass measuring jug. (In other words, twice as much volume of liquid as volume of rice).
  • 1 dessertspoon oil or ½ ounce (10g) butter.
  • Salt.
  • One small, solid based saucepan or flameproof casserole
  • Shallow serving dish, warmed.

Method:

Begin by heating the oil or butter gently, just to the melting stage, then add the rice and, using a wooden spoon, stir the grains to get them all coated and glistening with fat.

Now add the boiling stock or water and salt, stir just once as the liquid comes up to the simmering point, then put on a tight-fitting lid.  Turn the heat down to the gentlest simmer – then go away and leave it completely alone.  Don’t take the lid off and, above all, don’t stir it.

After exactly 15 minutes for white rice I give you permission to have a look and test a few grains.  If they’re tender and, when you tilt the pan almost on its side you can see no trace of liquid left, the rice is cooked.

Now tip it out into a warmed serving dish, using a rubber spatula to dislodge any grains that refuse to leave the base.

Lightly fluff the grains with a skewer.  Serve immediately.

So there we are.  That is her perfect way to cook rice.  It will work.  Quite simply, it will work.  It’ll probably also be just about the best plain rice you’ve ever had, too.  There are variations on the basic theme included in her book, so that particular book should be on the top of your MUST HAVE list.  How about taking the old and battered version (pardon the culinary pun) as Mummy replaces it with a new and pristine copy.  

I like to use Basmati rice, as it seems to give a better texture then long grain or some other types (see Ingredienty-type thingies, or Tricks’n’Tips).

Colin’s Camargue Red Rice Mixture:

Colin’s Camargue Red Rice Mixture:

Camargue Red Rice is also lovely, so is wild rice, but these are both too weighty to be enjoyed on their own, so here is my preferred mixture.   I discovered it quite by accident as I found myself in the rice fields in the south of France very near to where we live for certain parts of the year.  It isn’t the Camargue, but the French red rice fields actually stretch down as far south as Narbonne, and so it was on the southern edge of the la Clape peninsular that we found the red rice fields.  I couldn’t believe my eyes when I found them all flooded with the waters of the Canal de la Robine.  It was a bit of a revelation!

If you want to impress someone with your cooking, try my mixture of around 10% wild rice, 30% Camargue red rice and 60% Basmati rice (all measurements are very approximate – you don’t need to count the grains).  It’s a bit of a phaf to assemble, but it is really worth it.  I mean REALLY worth it.

Rice swells when cooked, so you don’t need too much.  Half a normal-sized mug of dry rice is certainly enough per person and probably too much, so if you are cooking for 6-8 people, you need a total of 3 mugs of rice.

That is:  less than 1/3 mug wild rice and a little more than 2/3 mug Camargue red rice in a saucepan with at least three mugs of boiling water, making sure that the rice is well covered by a big margin as these two rice types swell a great deal.  Add a little salt, put onto a high heat and bring to the boil, simmering for at least 40 mins.  They are sturdy grains – they need a lot of cooking.

When time is up, drain away the remaining water, rinse thoroughly with boiling water from the kettle and set the rice aside.

At the same time as cooking the red & wild rice, use Delia’s wonderful method of cooking plain white rice, using 2 mugs of Basmati rice and 4 mugs boiling water, etc.

When the white rice is done, mix thoroughly with the red & wild, add a large knob of butter, lots of chopped dill and serve.

It is simply wonderful.

Asparagus, mint and lemon risotto

Asparagus, mint and lemon risotto

A really posh risotto!  Uncle Jamie gave me the flavour ideas for this one…. but it has been altered somewhat. (Muddified, as they say!)

Prep:           1o mins.

Cooking:      30 mins.

Course:        Lunch, Main

Serves:        4

Rating:         2: Easy

Find:

  • Up to a litre of veggie stock
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 sticks of celery
  • 300g risotto rice
  • 1 small clove garlic (no more)
  • 150ml vermouth or dry white wine
  • 2 bunches of asparagus
  • 100g butter
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Big bunch of fresh mint leaves
  • Chopped parsley
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Zest and juice of 2 lemons
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Smoked salmon trimmings or mushrooms to sprinkle on the top?

Method:

  • Snap off the ends of the asparagus, then finely chop your asparagus stalks into little 5mm thick discs, keeping the spear tips whole. (Don’t throw the asparagus ends away – see Tricks’n’Tips!)
  • Put onion, garlic and celery into a processor and blitz.
  • Bring the stock to a simmer in a saucepan and keep it on low until process is finished .
  • Put the olive oil and butter in a separate large pan, add the onion and celery and cook very gently for about 15 minutes, without colouring, until soft.
  • Turn up the heat to max and add the rice and a little more butter just to help things along.  This is when you have to be careful to keep it all on the move or it will stick and be knackered with a capital F.
  • Quickly pour in the vermouth or wine. Keep stirring!
  • Turn the heat down to minimum now.  Add the stock to the rice a ladle at a time, stirring and waiting until it has been fully absorbed before adding the next. Turn the heat down to medium so the rice doesn’t cook too quickly, and continue to add ladles of stock until it has all been absorbed. This should take about 15-20 minutes.
  • Pour in the rest of the stock and all of the asparagus. Bring it all to the boil, then turn the right heat down to simmer until almost all the stock has been absorbed. You may need to add a little boiling water soon – have it ready.
  • Turn off the heat; beat in the butter and Parmesan, chopped mint leaves (not stalks), almost all the lemon zest and all the juice.
  • Season to taste.  It may start to become a little thick in texture; if so, a splash or two of boiling water and a gentle stir will help loosen it.
  • Serve it quickly with a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkle of chopped parsley and a slice of lemon.
  • Have something ready to go on top.  Shredded smoked salmon?  Cooked wild mushrooms?  Toasted pine nuts?

Jamie has some good ideas, eh?

He’s got lots of books out – ask Santa for one or two!

Mushroom & Chestnut Risotto.

Mushroom & Chestnut Risotto.

A very nice veggie lunch dish – or even a main course

Prep:           10 mins.

Cooking:      30 mins.

Course:        Lunch, Main

Serves:        6

Rating:         2: Easy

Find:

  • 2 large onions.
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3 or 4 pounds mixed mushrooms.  Try to use as many wild/shitake/oyster, etc as you can in the mix.
  • A big mug of cooked and scooped-out chestnuts
  • 2 mugs Arborio (risotto) rice
  • 6 mugs veggie stock – have more ready, in case
  • Fresh rosemary – just a few sprigs will do. Remove the leaves.
  • BIG knob of butter
  • Finely grated parmesan;
  • 2 big splodges of balsamic vinegar
  • Seasoning

Method:

  • Heat the stock in a saucepan, and keep the stock simmering on low until used.
  • Chop the onions, mushrooms, garlic, chestnuts, fingers…..
  • In a large frying pan (no; bigger than that….. oh just use the biggest saucepan then!) heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil on  a fairly high heat. Add the prepared onions, garlic, mushrooms, chestnuts, salt and pepper and sweat them for about five to ten minutes until onions are turning translucent and the mushrooms have started to reduce in volume. Yummmmmy!
  • Add rice to the pan and allow to cook through for a few minutes. Turn the heat down.
  • Add a ladleful of warm stock to the pan and stir it in. Add the stock one ladleful at a time, always waiting for all the liquid to be absorbed by the rice before adding the next.
  • When only a little stock is left to be incorporated, add the rosemary leaves and allow the last to be absorbed. .
  • When risotto is almost done (only a slight bite is left to the rice), stir in balsamic vinegar and allow the extra liquid to be absorbed.
  • Chuck in the butter and melt down. The risotto is ready when the rice is soft and creamy.
  • Stir in parmesan cheese and serve immediately.