Tag Archives: paprika

Tagine of spicy meatballs and pomegranate

This is another warming winter Tagine and this time it is beef and little else but also very quick and easy when you have ran out of ideas and you need a hot meal in 30 minutes! Some dishes carry a little dream after them and this one will transport you in whichever exotic oasis you choose to visit…

The pyramid shape is magic  for flavours

The pyramid shape is magic for flavours

IMG_9629

Ingredients list: for 20 meatballs

  • Ground beef, 500g
  • Tin of chopped tomatoes – or 2 fresh ones in season!
  • Passata, 200ml
  • Half a jar of chickpeas
  • Seasoning: harissa, thyme, sage and hot paprika to taste
  • More seasoning: M’rouzia or Ras El Hanout, 1 Tbsp
  • Light olive oil, 1 Tbsp
  • Salt and pepper to finish
  • Chopped fresh parsley, one handful
  • Pomegranate seeds, a small handful

First mix the ground beef and the seasoning (harissa, thyme and sage or other flavours) and roll small ping-pong ball sized chunks into oiled hands.

Chop the onions, diced up, and fry them in a little oil (1 Tbsp). Do not let the olive oil smoke, keep the heat under control.

Fry the meat balls in the oil for a few seconds.

Add the chopped tomatoes, M’rouzia or other Tagine spices, some hot paprika and the passata with a little water if needed.

Add the rinsed chickpeas – and frozen peas as well if you wish!

Only add salt towards the end as the stew will reduce and only very little salt will be needed, if any.

Cover and put on low heat for 30 minutes. If you can, use a pointy Tagine dish as the condensation of flavours is unmatchable by any other method.

Present with a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds and parsley. I love rich colour in food – it enhances the appetite.

Serve with steamed rice and vegetable or some couscous. Or just big slabs of flat bread to mop up the sauce…

A nomad's tent near Marrakech

A nomad’s tent near Marrakech

This tent is my dream place, and represents the best place ever to taste the sort of Tagines that I am raving about… This photo was taken at dusk, just before dinner was served. You are in an oasis, in the middle of the desert… I can just imagine I am back there as if lifted by a magic carpet and everything suddenly tastes so much better…

 

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Paella? No: Fideo! Learn a very hip dish…

IMG_3096Ingredients list:

  • garlic, 2 cloves
  • parsley, a small bouquet
  • fideo no1 (also called vermicelli) 200g
  • 3 small tomatoes
  • 1 courgette
  • chopped mushrooms, a handful
  • onion, 1 small
  • veg stock, 400ml
  • cumin and safron, 1 Tbsp
  • Paprika, 1 tsp
  • A handful of frozen mussels or prawns or a handful of butter beans – if you want to keep it  veggy.

Today I am revisiting an ingredient used last year as Black Vermicelli and this time I use the normal version, available at Spanish delis or specialised gourmet shops . It is worth hunting for because it produces a super dish in minutes. The French mostly put “fideo” in soups but the Spanish use it to do a quick and tasty version of the ubiquitous paella. Choose the Fideo number one for the thinner quality.

Start by toasting the fideo in a shallow frying pan with a bit of olive oil. If you can, use a pan that can also go into the oven. When the Fideo turns brown, reserve in a bowl.

Make a Spanish “sofrito” with the onion, garlic and parsley all chopped up. Fry it in the same pan.

Add the tomatoes chopped up, the courgette, mushrooms and paprika, cumin and a pinch of saffron. Cook and move about a little until the mix soften and add enough tomatoes to make a thick sauce – you can use a half tin of chopped tomatoes if easier! No harm in cutting corners, is there?!IMG_3097

Add the noodles  underneath the veg if you can, by pulling them up with a spatula.

Pour the warm stock in. Allow to cook on slowly until all the liquid is absorbed – do not cover. It will take less than 15/20 min. A few minutes before the end, you can add a few frozen prawns or mussels to jazz it up but you really don’t have to.

Just before serving – if your pan allows- put the dish under the grill and get a crispy top in 4/5 minutes. Serve with lemon wedges and a sprinkling of fresh parsley.

IMG_3102This is a delicious last minute dish! Most of it is pulled out of a cupboard or freezer. But with the addition of a few fresh vegetables, you can produce a very healthy lunch. Customise according to what you have and it is great every time… The version on the picture  above had butter beans, red peppers and aubergines, for example.

Fideo is very popular around Alicante and gets used in all sorts of wonderfully tasty variations: Once the basics are there, nothing should stop you improvising. Having fun in the kitchen is a great reason to cook! Maybe the only one…

Curried parsnip soup with sweet peppers and paprika

A nice soup to warm you up, body and soul!

Parsnip (or “panais” in French) may not be yet on your “favourites” shopping list but it has the advantage of being plentiful and cheap at this time of year. The British here use it cut as long chips and roasted with olive oil and thyme, but  only recently I have enjoyed it in a very typical soup paired with Curry.

A bit of Britain and a bit of India in an unlikely butIMG_3322 winning combination…

Curried parsnips soup

  •         300g parsnips
  •          2 medium onions
  •          2 to 3 cloves garlic
  •          25g butter
  •          1 tablespoon curry powder
  •          1/2 chopped fresh red chilli
  •          Sweet paprika to taste
  •          1.2L chicken or vegetable stock
  •          150g potatoes
  •           1 tablespoon creamed coconut
  •           Olive oil
  •           Diced red pepper to decorate

Fry the chopped onions with a little oil and add the garlic cloves and butter.

Peel and cut the parsnips and potatoes in chunks of similar size so they cook more or less at the same speed.
Add the stock and the seasoning and boil for 20 minutes on low heat – which is achievable once you have got it to a rolling boil on high heat.

Blend all the ingredients, once cooked through, and add the creamed coconut just before serving. Blend some more until the soup is very fine and creamy.

Decorate with chopped red peppers and smoked paprika in the plates.

This is a lovely way to enjoy a not much loved winter vegetable! The sweet taste of the parsnip makes a very comforting and warming dish, especially with the addition of the spices. I think that the association with the curry and paprika is proper genius! As for the coconut cream (or milk), I already knew that it goes perfectly with all sorts of winter delights: pumpkins, squashes, sweet potatoes AND now parsnips!

Do try it as well with sweet potatoes in a very energizing soup on this blog.

Have a bowlful  and  you are ready to brave the cold outside your front door: Snow is predicted for the week-end!