Vegetarians Win!! Yeah well, I should not rejoice so much. My expertise at preparing any non-vegetarian food is pretty bleak………and if I have to cook seafood, its worse. I (with the husband’s help 😉 , of course ) can handle salmon well now ….and we know when it is done, but the rest of the stuff leaves me shivering. I tried making scallops thrice and only once did I get it right, rest of the times the family could not eat leather. So, this time we attempted squid…..and I FAILED ……….and hence, everybody ate vegetarian…….YEAH!!
Before I say anything about what I made and what happened, I must mention the accompaniment. This month I learnt to make allioli (the traditional way) and it is just phenomenal. No garlic lover should not – not try it. To me , it was like tasting sheer bliss. I LOVE garlic. I can eat allioli with bread, pasta, roti, parantha, of course rice , just about anything (OK, spare the desserts 😉 )
This month’s challenge was hosted by Olga of Las Cosas de Olga and Olga’s Recipes . . She chose a delicious Spanish recipe, Rice with mushrooms, cuttlefish and artichokes by José Andrés, one of the most important Spanish Chefs at the moment. The recipe is from his US TV show Made in Spain. (Please note Olga’s tips (2) and (3) at the bottom for alternative cooking).
Allioli is my favorite and so lets begin with that. I made it the traditional way and just loved it. This will be made a lot in my house. A lot of people find it strong, but for this spice accustomed tongue, it was just great!
Allioli…..the traditional way
Allioli (Traditional recipe)
Cooking time: 20 min aprox.
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled
- Pinch of salt
- Fresh lemon juice (some drops)
- Extra-virgin olive oil (Spanish preferred but not essential)
- Place the garlic in a mortar along with the salt.
- Using a pestle, smash the garlic cloves to a smooth paste. (The salt stops the garlic from slipping at the bottom of the mortar as you pound it down.)
- Add the lemon juice to the garlic.
- Drop by drop; pour the olive oil into the mortar slowly as you continue to crush the paste with your pestle.
- Keep turning your pestle in a slow, continuous circular motion in the mortar. The drip needs to be slow and steady. Make sure the paste soaks up the olive oil as you go.
- Keep adding the oil, drop by drop, until you have the consistency of a very thick mayonnaise. If your allioli gets too dense, add water to thin it out. This takes time—around 20 minutes of slow motion around the mortar—to create a dense, rich sauce.
José’s tips for traditional recipe: It’s hard to think that, when you start crushing the garlic, it will ever turn into something as dense and smooth as allioli. But don’t give up. It’s worth the extra time and effort to see the oil and garlic come together before your eyes. Just make sure you’re adding the olive oil slowly, drop by drop. Keep moving the pestle around the mortar in a circular motion and keep dreaming of the thick, creamy sauce at the end of it all.
Allioli a la moderna (Modern recipe)
Cooking time: 3-4 minutes
- 1 small egg
- 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil (as above, Spanish oil is highly recommended)
- 1 garlic clove, peeled
- 1 Tbs. Spanish Sherry vinegar or lemon juice (if Sherry vinegar is not available, use can use cider or white vinegar)
- Salt to taste
- Break the egg into a mixing bowl.
- Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and the garlic cloves, along with the vinegar or lemon juice.
- Using a hand blender, start mixing at high speed until the garlic is fully pureed into a loose paste.
- Little by little, add what’s left of the olive oil as you continue blending.
- If the mixture appears too thick as you begin pouring the oil, add 1 teaspoon of water to loosen the sauce.
- Continue adding the oil and blending until you have a rich, creamy allioli.
- The sauce will be a lovely yellow color.
- Add salt to taste.
José’s tips for modern recipe:
(1) If you do not have access to a hand blender, you can use a hand mixer (the kind with the two beaters) or a food processor. If you use a food processor, you must double the recipe or the amount will be too little for the blades to catch and emulsify.
(2) What happens if the oil and egg separate? Don’t throw it out. You can do two things. One is to whisk it and use it as a side sauce for a fish or vegetable. But if you want to rescue the allioli, take 1 tablespoon of lukewarm water in another beaker and start adding to the mix little by little. Blend it again until you create the creamy sauce you wanted.
Why did I FAIL? OK, I am a bit of a purist when it comes to food. If a recipe calls for an ingredient and that ingredient is within my means, I try and go the extra mile. Well! in this case several extra miles around the town and just would not find the short grain Spanish rice. I went crazy and really could not believe that I could not find it. (I saw it at Kroger after I had finished all my experiments.) Anyway, I got short grain brown rice !!! Guess what I cooked sea food till the brown rice got tender. now who could eat what I had dished out? The husband, who could not believe his ears (and was really pleased) when I told him that I would be buying squid for him, asked me to never buy that stuff again :-)) . So all ate my vegetarian basmati version 🙂 .
Here is the recipe:
Rice with mushrooms, cuttlefish and artichokes
Cooking time: 45 minutes
- 1 Chopping Board
- 1 knife
- 1 medium saucepan
- 1 Paella pan (30 cm/11” is enough for 4 people. If not available, you may use a simple pan that size)
- 1 Saucepan
Ingredients (serves 4):
- 4 Artichokes (you can use jarred or frozen if fresh are not available)
- 12 Mushrooms (button or Portobello)
- 1 or 2 Bay leaves (optional but highly recommended)
- Tofu 1 block cubed and baked at 400 F for 15 minutes
- 1 glass of white wine
- 1 Potato cubed
- “Sofregit” (see recipe below) (pronounced so-frito)
- 300 gr (2 cups) Basmati rice – about 75 gr per person ( ½ cup per person) Please read this for more info on suitable rices.
- Water or Fish Stock (use 1 ½ cup of liquid per ½ cup of rice)
- Saffron threads (if you can’t find it or afford to buy it, you can substitute it for turmeric or yellow coloring powder)
- Allioli (olive oil and garlic sauce, similar to mayonnaise sauce) – optional
- Add 1 or 2 tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan and put the tofu cubes in the pan.
- If you use fresh artichokes, clean them as shown in the video in tip #7. Cut artichokes in eights.
- Clean the mushrooms and cut them in fourths.
- Add a bay leaf to the tofu and add also the artichokes,potatoes and the mushrooms.
- Sauté until we get a golden color in the artichokes.
- Put a touch of white wine so all the solids in the bottom of the get mixed, getting a more flavorful dish.
- Add a couple or three tablespoons of sofregit and mix to make sure everything gets impregnated with the sofregit.
- Add all the liquid and bring it to boil.
- Add all the rice. Let boil for about 5 minutes in heavy heat.
- Add some saffron thread to enrich the dish with its flavor and color. Stir a little bit so the rice and the other ingredients get the entire flavor. If you’re using turmeric or yellow coloring, use only 1/4 teaspoon.
- Turn to low heat and boil for another 8 minutes (or until rice is a little softer than “al dente”)
- Put the pan away from heat and let the rice stand a couple of minutes.
Sofregit ingredients: Onion, tomatoes, green pepper, garlic and mushrooms
Sofregit (a well cooked and fragrant sauce made of olive oil, tomatoes, garlic and onions, and may at times
different vegetables such as peppers or mushrooms)-
Cooking time: aprox. 1 hour
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 5 big red ripe tomatoes, chopped
- 2 small onions, chopped
- 1 green pepper, chopped (optional)
- 4 or 5 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 cup of button or Portobello mushrooms, chopped (optional)
- 1 Bay leaf
- Touch of ground cumin
- Touch of dried oregano
- Put all the ingredients together in a frying pan and sauté slowly until all vegetables are soft.
- Taste and salt if necessary (maybe it’s not!)
Sofregit tastes superb with just about anything.
(1) In Spain, rice is not stired as often as it is when cooking Italian risotto. You must stir it once or twice maximum. This tip is valid for all Spanish rice dishes like paella, arròs negre, arròs a banda…
(2) When cooking the alternative style you can change the cuttlefish or squid for diced potato.
(3) If you can’t find cuttlefish or squid, or you’re not able to eat them because of allergies, you can try to substitute them for chicken or vegetables at your choice.
(4) Sofregit can be done in advance. You can keep it in the fridge or even freeze it.
(5) For more information on how to clean and remove the heart of artichokes, please watch this video
(6) To watch how Jose Andres cooks this dish click here.
(7) To tone down the taste when you do it by hand in a mortar, then add an egg yolk. If you want to tone it down in the alternative way use milk or soy milk. Anyway, the best alternative way is the original oil and garlic alone.
(9) Allioli must be consumed during the preparation day and preserved in the fridge before using it.
(10) For help on conversion on metric to imperial, visit this page.
My first attempt at cooking Spanish food apart from Sangria and we had a lot of fun in spite of the failure. The husband made some sangria and I made flan. Thanks for a good meal Olga. Dinner’s ready!!
Rice with mushrooms, tofu, potatoes and artichokes
Some Crema Catalana too…. (Olga’s recipe)
Artichokes 2………………………..from Meijer ……………..$ 3.34 (I had bought some from Randazzo for 59 c each…..ah supermarkets)
Mushrooms 1 lb……………………..from Kroger …………….$ 1.00 (deal, deal)
Short grain Brown rice 1 lb…………from Arbor farms market $ 1.69