Category Archives: Saffron

Crimson flavas for an aprosoponarian

Shona made a very fine vegetable stew in the slow cooker a week or so back, with butternut squash, chick peas and saffron as the backbone (sorry for the anti-pun). This seemed an entirely appropriate dish to serve to someone who doesn’t eat anything with a face. So, would that be an aprosoponarian? I’m easy.

This was better in the slow cooker, the vegetables kept their textures better without the disintegration into soup. I can’t remember where Shona found this recipe. For 4 adults and 4 kids we doubled the quantities.

  • Roast and grind 2 tsp cumin and 2 tsp corriander
  • Fry 1 onion, chopped and 2 garlic cloves in 2tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp butter
  • Add 1 cinnamon stick, 1/4 tsp chili, 1/4 tsp saffron threads (soaked), 500g cubed butternut squash, 1 cup soaked chickpeas, 2 cubed potatoes, and 150ml passata
  • Cook untill the potatoes are soft
  • Add 2 chopped courgettes and 1/2 a preserved lemon, chopped and cook a further 5 mins.
  • Chopped parsley to serve.

So whilst Shona got on with the vegetable knife work, I prepared the garnish- leg of lamb on a spit. I haven’t been down to the Fannie Bay butcher for a while; they do sell a very good organic salt bush lamb. Instead I bought a half leg from the local nettle knitters grocers, ‘Greenies’. Other than the waft of incense from the clientele, it’s really very good. So, some sweet smoked paprika , a tight little fire in the clay bbq inside the Weber, a foil catcher to divert the oil from the flames, and wham bam TQM. As a condiment, I went all fusion and mixed some apple cider, chopped mint and rosella jelly. Very good indeed. Raita and couscous to serve. Oh yes, and some barbecued aubergines.

The previous night I had finally gotten round to preparing my superbly aromatic quinces I had also bought from Greenies maybe 3 weeks ago. A number of membrillo recipes suggest cooking the quince in water first then pulping it and then adding a certain proportion of sugar to the pulp. I’m always concerned that the amount of water will vary, so I cooked the quinces whole in a little water to steam through and then took the quincies out to pulp through a mouli legumes. One recipe suggested 450g sugar to 600g fruit. I had 1.8kg of pulp- joy. Sugar and pulp cooked until red, and at this very moment, it is now baking in an oven dish attempting to firm up- it is very easy to burn this on the stove top, a heart breaking event indeed.

On the hunt for quince puddings, I came across a recipe in Elizabeth David’s classic ‘French Provincial Cooking’ for ‘Gallette aux fruits’. She suggests any seasonal fruit such as quince, cherries, apricots can be baked on a rich yeast dough. I’m not sure mango or papaya would work. So with quinces firmly in mind, off we set, bike trailer in tow.

No quinces were to be found. Balls. Well, it is well into late winter down under. Instead I bought some Granny Smith apples (who the hell was Granny Smith?). So, in the event of a very fine discovery, here’s the recipe.

  • 3 Granny Smith apples- peeled, cored, and cut into 8
Lightly fry these in butter and a coating of sugar, set aside.

For the dough

  • 5oz flour
  • 1.5oz soft unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp yeast
  • 1 egg
  • water
I cheated, and made the dough on the pizza setting in the bread maker. It needs a little water as suggested by ED. Leave to rise to double in size then knock back. Not specified from ED, but I melted a little butter in a cake tin (about 9″), and then a little sugar too. Press the dough to cover the bottom of the tin. I spread some rather loose quince paste on the dough, and then on went the apples- I made pleasing spoke pattern. Baked at 175C for 30-40mins.
The touch of French genius (I presume it is not from M. David), is the addition of a small quantity of custard mix to the top 5 minutes prior to completion.
  • 2oz cream mixed with
  • 1 egg yolk
When this has set, serve at once with more cream. It was.

Baked Apples, quince puree, yeast bum

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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.