Sunday, September 2, 2012

beef macaroni casserole

This is one of my faves from the Leggo's Italian Cookbook. It's got curry powder in it (I know! And I used the classic Keen's Curry for a seriously retro touch) and it just adds that special something to the dish. This is a real winner with my family - even the green capsicum tastes awesome. Seriously!

1 tblsp butter
1 large onion, chopped
1/4 cup chopped green capsicum
1 tsp curry powder
250g mince
2 tblsp tomato paste
1 cup chicken stock
2 cups cooked pasta (I use penne, farfalle or macaroni)
salt and pepper.

While butter melts in a frypan, chop up onion and capsicum. Toss them in and gently fry. When tender, set aside (make sure they're tender - don't get impatient. You want them soft, this really makes a difference.) Remove and set aside. Add mince and stir in curry powder. Fry away till meat is browned. Pop vegies back. Add tomato paste, chicken stock, pasta and salt and pepper. Mix it up well. Put the lot in a buttered casserole with a lid and bake 30 mins at 180 degrees.

Serves 4 - 6.

note: this only uses a really small amount of meat, so it's such a cheap meal. I serve it with a green salad and crusty bread. So yum.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

jamie oliver's favourite paella recipe

I've been promising a paella recipe for some time. But I haven't managed to cook one to my satisfaction, so I haven't shared it. Until now.

Last night I cooked Jamie Oliver's paella and oh my, it was gooooooood. I think the secret lies in the jar of fire-roasted red capsicum I used, it added a whole new dimension. I tweaked the recipe - left out the mussels and I didn't have any, nor did I have calamari - and I switched chicken breast for pork belly (I know - who am I? But hubby and daughter love chicken in paella...) Next time I'll add the full quota of seafood - and cook it for friends. It makes a big paella pan.

You do need a paella pan for this. It's the shape, size, depth etc that makes all the difference. I used arborio rice for this which worked well too. Here's the recipe:

serves 4-6

olive oil
2 raw chorizo sausages, thickly sliced
300g pork belly, skin removed, cut into 1cm pieces
1 green capsicum, diced
1 red capsicum, diced
5 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 onion, roughly chopped
small bunch of flat-leaf parsley, leaves roughly chopped, stems finely chopped
salt and pepper
a good pinch of saffron
400g mussels, scrubbed and debearded
300g paella rice
200g jarred red peppers, drained and tore into pieces
400g tin of tomatoes
1 litre chicken stock
12 large prawns, shells on
150g squid, cleaned and finely sliced
150g green beans, sliced thinly on an angle (or, just cut in half like I did - lazy)
1 lemon, cut into wedges.

Head a paella pan over medium heat an add the olive oil, sliced chorizo or pork belly (or chunks of chicken breast/thigh). When the chorizo browns add the capsicum, garlic, onion, and parsley stalks. Add salt and pepper and saffron. Fry gently for 10 mins, stirring every now and again.

Add the rice and jarred peppers and keep stirring for a few minutes so the rice is coated and yummy. Pour in the tinned tomatoes and 800ml of stock, seasoning again with salt and pepper. Bring it to the boil, then turn down heat to a simmer. Stir constantly for 15 mins. Stir every now and again from the outside of the pan to the middle, piling the rice up in the centre of the pan. Flatten it out, and start stirring again.

After 15 mins test the rice for doneness, it mustn't be chalky, but must be to-the-tooth-firm. Add mussels and prawns. Add extra stock if it's looking dry. Keep stirring and when mussels open and prawns turn pink add the squid and green beans and cook for 5 mins. Stir in chopped parsley and juice from half the lemon wedges. Bring to table with remaining lemon wedges on side.

Wait for applause.