Chicken Kebabs

I quite like kebabs, but I still have not perfected a technique that ensures that all the food on the kebab is evenly cooked and ensuring that the meat is “actually” cooked.

I recently made these chicken and chorizo kebabs and though the veg and chorizo was cooked, the chicken was still a little underdone.

I had done them under the grill, usually I would “roast” them at the top of a hot oven in order to cook them evenly, but then you don’t get that crispness on the edges. I am guessing that the ideal solution is to grill the vegetables separately to the chicken.

Quick’ish Paella

DinnerMade a quick paella the other day. I took a large frying pan and added a splash of olive oil. To this I added some diced onions and cooked them until soft. I then added the paella rice and it always makes sense to use paella rice, and never any other kind of rice. I ensured that the rice was well coated in the oil and onions before adding some chicken stock and saffron. Always got to use saffron.

Simmer for twenty minutes adding more stock if required.

While this was cooking I grilled some cod and prawns that I served on top of the paella rice.

I didn’t have any “proper” chorizo so I cooked some sliced chorizo which I placed on the finished dish with the cooked prawns and cod.

Though delicious and all eaten up, I was slightly disappointed with the paella rice I had used, which was from Sainsbury’s. My normal paella rice is the one from Tesco, so I think next time I will buy that instead.

Books on Paella and Spanish Cooking.

Conference Dining

I don’t go to as many conferences as people often think, but I do probably photograph my food at most of them…

Recently I was attending a review meeting at Aston University and we had dinner the night before at the Aston Business School. Unlike a lot of conference dinners we had a choice, which is always nice. Also not only a choice, but we could choose on the night. Normally choice is either completely limited to a single choice, or if there is a choice you have to make that choice weeks in advance. I’m not a fan of that as often what tickles my fancy weeks ago, is not what I want to eat on the night! So having the choice on the evening I am eating is a real treat.

For my starter I went with the warm tartlet of chorizo, mushrooms and roasted shallots.

In other words a quiche! It was quite tasty and very nice. It was well presented too.

For the main dish, I went with the slow cooked blade of beef with a bourguignon sauce, served with dauphinoise potatoes and green beans.

The beef was very tender and was full of flavour. I would have liked more sauce, as in places the beef was a little dry. The potatoes were great and the beans were beans.

I was tempted by the other dishes on the menu, the slow braised shoulder of Moroccan lamb with North African cous cous when it arrived on the table looked really nice.

The cassoulet of beans with Gorgonzola polenta and roasted aubergine also looked great.

What was nice was that there were two vegetarian options, most times you have the single choice of a mushroom risotto.

So what about to finish with, well I am a sucker for cheese and biscuits and went with that.

Very nice, even with the large amount of celery, which I never eat. I did feel that if you provide four biscuits it would be nice to have at least four pieces of cheese. I felt short-changed with the cheese, it needed more cheese, or more different cheeses.

Must mention the excellent service, any place which has a table of twenty as we did and know who ordered what is a real bonus. The food came out and was served to the correct people. So much nicer than someone holding out a dish and calling out “who ordered the fish?”

Overall it was a really nice meal, nice to have a choice, cooked well, great service and nice surroundings.

Oh I hate it when that happens…

After a lovely day out I went into the kitchen to cook something to eat for the family. I had in my head what I was going to cook and the ingredients were already in the fridge.

And then….

Oh I hate it when that happens…

What?

Well as I got the pork steaks I was going to grill out of the packaging I noticed an odd smell. They were off, well they had only just gone off… Very disappointed and annoyed. All those well laid plans and ideas were scuppered.

Looking back into the fridge I realised there was not much else in there that I could use instead. Was also getting too late to get something out of the freezer and ruin it by trying to defrost it in the microwave. Also going out to buy the ingredients “again” would take up too much time. The annoyance was compounded by the fact that the green veg I was going to use, had also gone off.

At this point I started to check the fridge to see if it was in fact working! I did turn it up a bit.

I suspect that with all this hot weather, and despite been well within the “use by” dates, poor stock keeping at the local supermarket had resulted in a much shorter shelf life than anticipated. I have seen at some supermarkets fresh food left out in the sun as it was unpacked from the lorry.

In the end I went with chorizo sausage, with some salad.

Cooking Chorizo

It was nice, but still disappointed and a little annoyed.

Sainsbury’s Cooking Chorizo

Chorizo

Having used cooking chorizo from Tesco, Marks and Spencers and Sainsbury, I much prefer using the chorizo from Tesco or Marks and Spencers.

The main issue I have with the Sainsbury’s chorizo is that it comes in little sausages. From the other two stores, you get four large chorizo sausages, whereas from Sainsbury you get twelve small sausages, though from a weight perspective you get roughly the same amount of sausage.

So for the majority of dishes I use chorizo in, the small sausages are a bit annoying to slice. They also seem to be a little more salty than the other two.

However I suspect if you cooked them whole with red wine, then it would a really nice chorizo frito al vino.

Pan Fried Chorizo

A recent comment on Twitter made me chuckle.

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/mweller/status/31049453251067904″]

I would tend to agree.

If you have eaten chorizo in the past, either the thinly sliced stuff you get in packs next to the ham, or the whole chorizo sausage that you are finding more and more in most supermarkets, then you probably will find that cooking chorizo really should be on your shopping list.

Now this is cooking chorizo and really does need to be cooked.

My method is to cut the chorizo into slices about quarter of an inch thick. Fry in a large frying pan until sealed on both sides and just starting to go a little crispy.

Serve as part of a tapas or with salad. Or as Martin says with any other dish…

Another way I use chorizo is to add it to a tray of roasting vegetables to add texture, flavour and spice.

In many ways cooking chorizo is a versatile ingredient that is in many ways much easier to use than tradition air dried chorizo. I would air caution though, make sure it is proper cooking chorizo and not chorizo style sausages otherwise you will be disappointed. Chorizo style sausages are simply English style sausages with some paprika and chilli. Definitely not chorizo.

Chicken and Prawn Paella

Tonight I took the time to make a paella using a slightly different recipe to the one I normally do.

This time I took some chicken thighs (for flavour, they generally have more flavour then chicken breasts). These I tossed in olive oil and an Italian spicy herb mix. These were browned in a hot frying pan and then removed.

To the hot pan I then added diced onion, red and green pepper and courgette. When these were softened I added the paella rice. Do use paella rice or rice suitable for paella and not the rice at the back of the cupboard. The rice needs to both take on the flavours in the pan, but also soak up the stock and cook. Using other types of rice usually results in a wet paella with undercooked rice.

Having coated the rice in the oil, pepper and onion mix, I added a large splash of white wine and some chicken stock. As the rice cooks I stir the paella and add more stock as required.

After ten minutes of cooking I added the previously browned chicken. Ten minutes after that I added a handful of frozen peas.

Meanwhile in a separate pan I cook off some thick slices of cooking chorizo sausage. If you are using dried chorizo then just add them as they are to the pan when you add the peas. On my griddle I also cooked some large prawns.

Ten minutes after adding the peas, I added the cooked chorizo sausage, the grilled prawns and some slices of lemon.

Cooking Chorizo

If you have eaten chorizo in the past, either the thinly sliced stuff you get in packs next to the ham, or the whole chorizo sausage that you are finding more and more in most supermarkets, then you probably will find that cooking chorizo really should be on your shopping list.

Now this is cooking chorizo and really does need to be cooked. I have been using it in a few recipes recently, in the main paella, but also chorizo frito al vino.

My method is to cut the chorizo into slices about quarter of an inch thick. Fry in a large frying pan until sealed on both sides and just starting to go a little crispy. At this point I add the red wine (Spanish red wine is best, but I am sure you can use any good red wine).

Cook the chorizo for a few more minutes. Serve as part of a tapas or with salad. The red wine with the chorizo makes a wonderfully spicy sauce which you can dunk warm soft bread into.

Sainsbury’s cooking chorizo comes as smaller whole sausages and these can be cooked whole, but will take a little longer.

Another recipe was to add it to lentils. In a large frying pan, saute some diced onions, pepper and pancetta. I added some stock and tomato puree and simmered for about ten minutes before adding the sliced cooking chorizo. This I cooked for a further five minutes.

The next stage was to add the lentils, I usually use tinned green lentils. I finished the dish with some basil, though parsley would have been better.

Another way I use chorizo is to add it to a tray of roasting vegetables to add texture, flavour and spice.

In many ways cooking chorizo is a versatile ingredient that is in many ways much easier to use than tradition air dried chorizo. I would air caution though, make sure it is proper cooking chorizo and not chorizo style sausages otherwise you will be disappointed.

Paella with chicken and chorizo

I seem to be cooking paella more and more recently.

The key for me is the right kind of rice and saffron. I really do like the way the saffron adds not just colour, but also flavour.

After that you can add many different things to make a really nice paella.

The dish above contains in addition to the rice and saffron, the following, chicken, chorizo, prawns, onions, pepper, pancetta and peas. This is different to the last time I cooked paella.

There is something about paella, the richness, flavours that I really enjoy.

Roast Chicken Crown with Chorizo

This was a dish I made last week.

I took a crown of free range chicken. This was actually cheaper than buying two chicken breasts and of course cooking it on the bone means it won’t dry out as much as cooking chicken breasts on their own.

Before cooking I covered the chicken in pancetta, this was partly to protect the chicken, add flavour and also add some much needed fat to the pan for the vegetables roasting their.

The chicken was roasted in the oven on a bed of squash, carrots and onions. After cooking for 30 minutes more pieces were added to the pan, this included chorizo cooking sausage, slice of courgette, mushrooms, pepper and cubes of bread. This was then cooked for a further 20-30 minutes until everything was cooked.

The pancetta was crispy, the chicken moist and delicious. The roasted vegetables were full of flavour and perfectly cooked. The bread was flavoursome and crunchy.

Delicious.