Category Archives: Rice

Cooking Up In a Storm

Difficult to miss out on a pun with aphorism and descriptor so wittily combined, but then, there’s the gastronomic comedy genius that is adored by my many readers around the world and other people not in my family.

So we had a duck from the rather well named ‘luv-a-duck’ company whose pork, duck and fennel sausages we rather like and the chicken is the current favourite too, so hey, let’s roast.

I’ve always done a good skin blanching with boiling water on most roast with some skin to crisp. so chicken a pork both get a kettle full of boiling water carefully poured over them. However, it’s a bit tricky to find a cool, draughty area to let the skin dry out. A bit of salt maybe helps.

Anyway, this duck got a good smearing of five spice powder and smashed ginger on the inside and was set spinning on the rotisserie as shown. A massive downpour towards the end called for Scottish barbecuing skills, barricading the flames from the water. Overall this was a frustrating effort as the coals just never got hot enough to get a good crisping. The duck wasn’t bad though.


I did however manage to bake some bread, pushing the envelope of barbecuing. Again, the temperature wasn’t quite high enough, but I reckon it might be possible to make a bread oven if you could put some insulating material over the dome? To explore……..


Annoying, I turned the lardy bread out and over the coals but this just burnt the lovely crust, darn it.

Cheese platterIMG_2734[1]

The delicious platter above was courtesy of who deliver very fine cheeses at a great price at great speed. As you can see, there is rather an enormous chunk of stilton in very fine condition. Where’s the port?

Shona’s getting a bit sick of my noodle soups but seems happy enough to scoff laksa. This was one I did on my own with leftover barra, fresh rice noodles, stock of some description, weird Indonesian paste, green pepper and rather successfully, pumpkin. Oh yes, coconut of course.


Interestingly some locally reared lamb- Dorper Damara (??), a south African cross with middle eastern, leg roasted very nicely and carved very well the next day. Weirdly I had a leek, and felt a kind of kedgeree/ pilau urge.

I cooked the rice with some melted leek (careful not to burn), in butter, fried with some toasted and ground fennel seed, cumin, corriander and turemeric, then basmati rice. To this some lamb stock from the bones. Served as shown with some boiled eggs, (and one salted duck- why not?). A v pleasant luncheon.



This chicken roasted supremely well. Inspired by Amy, of Amy’s warung whose (possibly enhanced a la MSG) bbq chicken is the finest in the land. I butterflied it down the vertebra, and smeared grated turmeric, galangal, garlic and chili on the ‘inner’ surface. I placed her over some tins containing aubergines and barbecued with the coals either side of the tins, so the chicken wasn’t over the heat, and put a lid on to assist roastage. Oh my, what a divine experience, possibly the best roast chicken I’ve done. I also made some magic green shit- blitzed corrinder (with root), mint and chive shallots woth coconut milk. No green chilis, (the kids….) but limes would be nice. Pawpaw salad and cucumber with plain rice. Very, very fine.




Finally, some muesli. Shona’s been making a lot of this, and there are some terrifically complex combinations out there. I can’t be arsed with spices and vanilla in mine to be honest, and if I want fruit I’ll add my own dates etc, so a quick way is just to chuck in your oats (these are Swedish I think), with choppped nuts and something sweet. Today I used macadamia and almond with a few tablespoons of local honey, stirring every now and then. Even covered it was too hot, and interestingly the macadamias were more susceptible than the almonds.

225C was a bit high, but I was baking bread, note to self……





Indian Breakaway

No, not a summary of the enormously successful partition of India, nor the reversal of the Indian subcontinental  tectonic plate drift, but possibly the first time I have made chapati.

For the sake of ease, we took away some keema (beef mince and peas) and chickpeas on our camping trip. They were cooked by Shona as per Madhur Jaffrey’s classic, Invitation to Indian Cooking, which is about as old as me, a fine vintage.

We had a chopfest at the sophisticated campsite restaurant instead of Indian delights, so having made a 450km round trip it needed eaten or chucked.

Shockingly I didn’t look up her chapati recipe, but followed ‘Jimmy’ on the packet of the Atta flour.

  • 1 cup of Atta flour, and
  • water to make into a dough.

OK, this isn’t exactly it, but it’ll do, and I’m tired.

Mix until it comes together in loose bundles. Leave to rest 10 mins. Knead for a minute or so, and leave again. When it is smooth and becoming elastic, chop into six small balls. Roll these out into flat circles. This is easier said than done.

I’ve seen my pal Jules’ Pakistani mum-in-law do this with the flick of a wrist. Easy.

I squashed a lightly floured ball down with the base of my hand, then used my lovely Huon pine rolling pin to roll out from the centre to the edge in quick strokes, moving the dough around a few of hours (on a clock) each time until 6-7″ across.

I have a cast iron griddle which I heated until the bread pretty much instantly cooked on one side. I found if you turned it as soon as you had a couple of charred craters or starts bubbling, that the thing would puff up wonderfully when you do the 2nd side. Magic.

I imagine you could deep fry these*……

Anyway, the ‘break away’ was cooking eggs on top of the keema, so the meat stuck to the base of the half fried/ poached eggs. This went down rather well with the beasts who devoured an almighty helping. The chapati made very fine vessels for the chick peas (Maseladar- heavy on the garam masala, yum).

Washed down with an incongruous Timothy Taylors, this was the end of a rather fine day.

*of course, having looked in the ‘Invitation’ this is of course a ‘poori’.

And the chapati method she describes is pleasingly close to what I ended up doing. High five to me.

Three Dishes With One Fishes

This must the second or third time I’ve cooked a whole Goldband snapper. They are a fantastically flavoursome fish with big and chunky flesh. And when the juices solidify, they set like gelatin, the mark of a great fish.

This was another 0-40min cooking feat, if I say so my self.

Gas barbie on, fish on lemon grass with Asian shallots on foil. I’ve had enough of banana leaves recently, and though I like the smokey almost tobacco aroma it gives, you can have too much of a good thing. A slug of olive oil. Olive oil in Asian cooking I hear you ask. What kind of craziness is this?? Well, it’s high temperature cooking, so it’s more important for the oil not burn. And I have a 4litre tin of the Spanish stuff, so it is oil du jour.

Interestingly it stuck to the foil more than the banana leaves, which was annoying when it came to turning. When I did turn I chucked on some sliced courgettes.

I had some basil and coriander nearing a pre-terminal state in the fridge, so a variation of green shit using basil rather than mint. Simon’s recipe I think uses coconut cream, which is nice to have as a rich melting herb ‘butter’, but I like a looser sauce which I can be liberal with and get the rice wet and green.

This incarnation had,

  • 1 bunch basil leaves
  • 1 bunch corriander
  • 50g coconut powder in 50ml water
  • 2 shallots
  • juice of a lime
  • grated galangal

No garlic and no cumin or fish sauce in this one.

Anyway, whizzed up in the blender with a little water to allow blendage.

Basmati rice here this time and some yard long beans. Easy, aye.

Part deux of the fish was a risotto using the stock from the fish. The fish was in the fridge, all gelatinous and difficult to deal with with bits of foil everywhere, so I poured over a kettle of boiled water and made sure every single molecule of fishiness went into the saucepan.

Risotto easy as previously,

  • 1 onion, chopped and sweated in large chunk butter and olive oil,
  • 1/4 tsp saffron threads
  • 250g risotto rice ( a fancy Italian one- Canaroli??)
  • stock ladled in as it cooked
  • cup or so of peas towards the end as it was looking a bit small!!
I quite like my fish risotto a bit looser, no quite soup, but not a thick stodgy mass, so I kept adding stock till this happened.
Part Trois was the flesh from the fish torn up and made into a salad with red pepper and cucumber as shown next to the risotto. Lots of olive oil and lime juice to dress.

Just in case you were concerned about this piscatarian lapse here’s the kebab I made Jo and Ben and other leavers. Well, they live a long way from the sea in Sheffield, neither are keen fish eaters.

Left to right- whole leg of lamb, 2 1 kg+ pieces of pork belly, 2 smaller pieces but with with skin!! Pork rubbed liberally with smoked Spanish paprika.

And to finish on another fishy note, here are some hopefully delicious roes which I am salting and hoping to have as a storecupboard source of marine essence for adding to pasta dishes etc. We’ll see…..




Goose Green, Goose Red

Acoustic exaggeration of size in birds via tracheal elongation: comparative and theoretical analyses W. T. Fitch

My landlord is a fine chap. Not only is he happy to mend holes in the plaster made by fowl children, but he delivers the odd feathered fowl as shown here, a Magpie Goose. Last year I spent over 2 hours feathering the little plucker, and could have done with a pheasant pluckers son……Unsurprisingly, there is little fat on a wild tropical goose, so the skin is not the crispy holy grail of a fattened raised bird. They are also quite small, the effort/reward ratio is rather high. I decided just to skin this one. Strung up by the legs and a slit through skin over breast bone.

The skin peels away like a jacket over the wings, but you have to be careful as you take it off the abdominal wall. You need to dissect around the anus or you end up with crap everywhere.

Once you’ve done that, you can draw out the guts, and keep the tasty liver, kidney, heart and lungs for making into forcemeat balls.

I really underestimated the extra time required for cooking on the bone with this rack of lamb which wasn’t too different in weight to the beef fillet I did the other day. So on carving the entire eye was raw, thank god the only customers were the family. So, Lamb chops instead after turning up the bbq to 11 and cutting along the bone. Lot of spring onion and some skinny aubergine around the edge to cook slowly.

This is becoming a staple risotto round these parts. Risotto, like most things, isn’t difficult to do well, but easy to blaspheme.

1 Onion, finely cut and fried in

1 oz butter and tbs olive oil (apprx = slug of/ chunk of)

When translucent, mix in

250g risotto rice (usually I do 330g as this is a 1/3 of a pack, fancy stuff shown only 500g)

600ml chicken stock, add 100ml or so at a time, keep stirring every few minutes.

then, when the rice is almost done (so about 2/3 stock) add

1/2 roast butternut squash, skin removed.

Stir regularly, this is vital to get the creamy texture of risotto.

Lots of parmesan to serve, salt/ pepper as required.

Meat Porn

Variance on a theme by c. sativa

Well I might get a few more readers with that title, though I may get reported for misleading non- ‘mature’ content. Only mature thing around here is my receeding hairline. Anyway, the above dish was a freezer special, I had stewed some meats together, chicken, beef rib and chorizo with some frozen lobster stock left from Christmas (not ideal) and then kept for a rainy day. The beef ribs are often sold for the barbecue, but they are way too tough and are far better stewed.

The rains been a long time coming, but in with the Calasparra rice and saffron. Some yard long beans as shown, but no more seafood. I think this still comes under the paella umbrella. Come to think of it, I’ve never done the traditional Spanish rabbit based paella. I must make a note of that omission as they’ve got them at Meat Direct.

Pink lamb and Burghul wheat

To be honest I cant remember how I cooked this lamb. I think I smeared the last of my very delicious Massaman Thai paste  over it and rotisseried. It is also very good either in a chicken or on it deep fried, ‘Southern style’. Some soaked burghul wheat with some barbecued aubergines, olive oil. Some green beans and tomatoes, obviously.

Sweet soy belly pork

Shona made this with belly pork this time, not pork ribs. The soft and unctuous skin is rather good, though the bones do add, well, boneyness.  This is great for the slow cooker. It’s worth doing as many shallots as patience will allow. The ones you get here require Angelic levels of it; they are frigging tiny. Whole star anise, cinnamon stick, soy sauce, and palm sugar and a chili or two, children allowing. Yum, yum, yummity yum.

Not doing well with the cutting down on the dead animals.

Urchins for urchins

Flor De Calasparra

I’ve had the little urchins in the freezer.  Like snakes,  it takes the edge off their aggressioin.

OK, not Willspawn, but the spikey sea critters. Shona bought me these for a birthday which was overshadowed by post wisdom extraction hell, so they’ve been waiting for an outing. Also in the freezer was some of prawn stock, made with left oververy gorgeous prawn feasts, and in the absence of North Atlantic lobster stock, this makes an epic base for paella.

I don’t really have a regular recipe for paella, the essential elements are of course rice, saffron and the sea, but I have made some meaty bastards just with prawn stock and chunks of animal, chorizo and recently beef rib.

On this one I fried some onion and garlic in olive oil with some sweet smoked paprika and a pinch of some deeply crimson and mind blowing saffron (Baby Saffron brand) til translucent, then the rice (250g of Flor de Calasparra paella rice), a chunk of frozen passata, and the stock (about 5-600ml plus some water). As it neared completion, I scattered in some cooked Jewfish- a delicious and firm NT local fish, then some frozen peas and chopped parsley. As the base nicely crusted, I placed some of the urchins around the edges with some not too hot fresh chili on one half for the grown ups and let them gently warm through before serving. The boys loved it though like magnets, the urchins repelled each other.

The iodine hit from the urchins is pretty unique, possibly similar to that you get with oysters. Is there is something like synesthesia here? Maybe not quite, but occasionally food has a profound sensory evocation, maybe like looking at the ocean on LSD? Every now and then this strikes, and it’s great.