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Posts Tagged ‘saffron’

Recently discovered this traditional North African favourite in Ottolenghi’s sumptuous vegetable cookbook  Plenty.

It is commonly served in individual cast iron pans, which I imagine adding to the pleasure–one pan and ALL for ME!

It makes a pretty summer picture on the plate with a few green beans (gift from our neighbours, Hervé and Maite) to the side.

for 2

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds–dry roasted in a medium pan

1 large onion–red or yellow–sliced

80ml/1/4 cup olive oil

2 red peppers--washed, deseeded and sliced thin

1 bay leaf, thyme leaves from a few sprigs, 2 tablespoons of parsley

3 large fresh ripe tomatoes or tinned–roughly chopped with the juices

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper and a pinch–a few strands–of saffron

1/4 cup/60 ml water

2 or 4 egg 

salt and pepper

  • Dry roast the cumin seeds for a minute or two, taking care not to burn them.
  • Add the oil to the pan, then the onions and over a medium high heat cook them for 5 minutes to soften them.

  • Add the peppers and the three herbs, turn everything over thoroughly.

  • Cover the pan for 5 minutes to start the softening of the peppers.

  • Cook a further 5 minutes uncovered.
  • Add the tomatoes, the water–little by little to avoid diluting the sauce–and the two spices and season with salt and pepper.
  • Cook for 15 minutes on a low heat–covering for a short time if you think the peppers need further softening.
  • The result should be a lightly spicy sauce in which to poach the eggs.

  • Carefully break the eggs ( 2 or 4–your choice) into the sauce–leaving space between them.

  • Cover the pan and cook, over a lowish heat, until the eggs are cooked to your taste.

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The smoky paprika and saffron flavours in this dish, adapted from the marvellous Moro stable, are subtle and light, and make it hard not to finish the lot in one go–(which is what happened last night!).

for two

450 gms/1 lb monkfish–fresh as can be, skinned, cleaned, spine removed and the thin membrane too, as far as possible–cut into chunks

4 good prawns–unpeeled.

250 gms/8 oz mussels–cleaned

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 large sweet/mild onion–chopped

2 garlic cloves–chopped

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary–very finely chopped

1 lb /450 gms tomatoes–skinned and chopped or a 425 ml tin of tomatoes, drained and chopped

half a teaspoon smoked paprika [pimenton]

3 bay leaves

a good pinch of saffron threads–soaked in four tablespoons of hot water

150 ml/6 fl oz white wine

100 ml/4 fl oz stock–I used half an organic vegetable stock cube

4 oz/ 100 gms blanched almonds–blitzed into powder or use powdered almonds–to thicken the sauce

Salt and pepper

A shallow sauté pan you can present at table, would be best for this all-in-one dish.

  • Fry the onions in the oil until they are nicely coloured–it’s worth the time involved–about fifteen minutes–as this is the engine room of the dish.
  • Add the garlic, rosemary and bay leaves and cook for a further five minutes.
  • Mix in the tomatoes and the paprika and cook until the tomatoes have dissolved into a sauce–about ten more minutes.
  • Add the wine and give it a minute or two before stirring in the saffron water and the stock.
  • Bring it all up to a gentle simmer then stir in the powdered almonds.
  • Fold in the fish, the mussels and the prawns–[last night I used uncooked prawns; if you use cooked ones add them a couple of minutes later]
  • Cover the pan and cook a further 5-10 minutes turning everything over in the sauce from time to time. Make sure the mussels open up.

We ate it spooned over some basmati brown rice and the word moderation wasn’t mentioned..!

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