Sunday, August 16, 2009

Daring Cooks Challenge ~Arroz con....

For this month's Daring Cooks Challenge. Olga from Las Cosas de Olga and Olga’s Recipes has chosen a delicious Spanish recipe, Rice with mushrooms, cuttlefish and artichokes by José Andrés, one of the most important Spanish Chefs at the moment and host of the PBS program Made in Spain. Although I am daring enough to try the ingredients as listed, I'd be eating it all by myself! So I made Rice with mushrooms, CHICKEN and artichokes instead! I think I still stayed with the spirit of the recipe..just made it more do-able. I was very excited to see the cuisine featured in this month's challenge was Spanish! My parents lived for 3 years in Spain well before I was born, but they had such a great experience and they shared many memories and photos, including food related ones. Then, when I was 16 they did a return trip and we spent a month in Alicante, Spain and I have to say it made an impression that has lasted a life time. The food, the people and the lifestyle are things I love! I made another trip in 1990, then again in 2000, almost 10 years ago. It's time to go back!!!!

So getting back to the recipe, I've tried paella once before but I didn't have kinda not the real thing. Not that long ago I bought some saffron at Trader Joe's with plans to try it again.

While this isn't Paella exactly, it's similar and gives me a chance to dip into my precious stash.

Also a chance to use up some of my fresh tomatoes that have been piling up on my counter!

AND a chance to use my "Alhambra" serving piece (nevermind it was made in China). I have always thought it would be great for a paellaish dish!

I just have to sneak in a pic from from when I visited the of the highlights of my life! I have more but this is the only one I have on my computer....its a view of the summer gardens from the Alhambra.

So here is the recipe:

Rice with Mushrooms, Chicken (or Cuttlefish) and Artichokes

Ingredients (serves 4):

  • 4 Artichokes (you can use jarred or freezed if fresh are not available)

  • 12 Mushrooms (button or Portobello) ( I ended up running out of mushrooms because I used them in the Sofregit, so I also added peas for interest)
  • 1 or 2 Bay leaves (optional but highly recommended)

  • 1 glass of white wine

  • 2 Cuttlefish (you can use freezed cuttlefish or squid if you don’t find it fresh) ( I used a couple of chicken breasts)
  • “Sofregit” (see recipe below)

  • 300 gr (2 cups) Short grain rice (Spanish types Calasparra or Montsant are preferred, but you can choose any other short grain. This kind of rice absorbs flavor very well) – about 75 gr per person ( ½ cup per person) Please read this for more info on suitable rices. (I ended up using arborio because I had some)
  • Water or Fish Stock (use 1 ½ cup of liquid per ½ cup of rice) (I used chicken stock)

  • 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
  1. Cut the cuttlefish (or chicken) in little strips.

  2. Add 1 or 2 tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan and put the cuttlefish in the pan.

  3. Cut artichoke hearts in eights.

  4. Clean the mushrooms and cut them in fourths.

  5. Add a bay leaf to the cuttlefish (or chicken) and add also the artichokes and the mushrooms.

  6. Sauté until we get a golden color in the artichokes.

  7. Put a touch of white wine (about 1/3 cup) so all the solids in the bottom of the get mixed, getting a more flavorful dish.

  8. Add a couple or three (very heaping) tablespoons of sofregit and mix to make sure everything gets impregnated with the sofregit. (I watched a video of the guy making it and his tablespoons were more like scoops, so I was generous and used everything in my pan)

  9. Add all the liquid and bring it to boil.

  10. Add all the rice. Let boil for about 5 minutes in heavy heat.

  11. 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.

  12. Turn to low heat and boil for another 8 minutes (or until rice is a little softer than “al dente”). ( I ended up adding about a cup more liquid..I think the arborio drank more, so I cooked a little longer).

  13. Put the pan away from heat and let the rice stand a couple of minutes.
First I started the Sofregit

  • 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

  • Salt

  • Touch of ground cumin

  • Touch of dried oregano
  1. Put all the ingredients together in a frying pan and sauté slowly until all vegetables are soft.

  2. Taste and salt if necessary (maybe it’s not!)
Two allioli recipes were given..a traditional one and a modern one. I went modern! The taste was great..I flopped on texture. It never got thick so it was more of a sauce.

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)
  1. Place the garlic in a mortar along with the salt.

  2. 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.)

  3. Add the lemon juice to the garlic.

  4. Drop by drop; pour the olive oil into the mortar slowly as you continue to crush the paste with your pestle.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

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


  1. Break the egg into a mixing bowl.

  2. Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and the garlic cloves, along with the vinegar or lemon juice.

  3. Using a hand blender, start mixing at high speed until the garlic is fully pureed into a loose paste.

  4. Little by little, add what's left of the olive oil as you continue blending.

  5. If the mixture appears too thick as you begin pouring the oil, add 1 teaspoon of water to loosen the sauce.

  6. Continue adding the oil and blending until you have a rich, creamy allioli.

  7. The sauce will be a lovely yellow color.

  8. Add salt to taste.
It turned out pretty good. Different than paella, but the saffron definitely gave it that Spanish taste.

I ended up just putting the garlic "sauce" on top. We ate it outside on the patio and I polished off my glass of wine with the meal.

I have a feeling leftovers will be even better! This was lots of fun and a great choice for a challenge! If you're feeling Daring give it a try.


Audax said...

Love that Alhambra plate and the photo of Alhambra looks lovely. Great to hear you loved this dish and your alliloi looks perfect and it really picks up the chicken rice so well I bet. Bravo on a great effort and a delicious addition to your recipes. Cheers from Audax in Australia

♥peachkins♥ said...

Yum! it looks wonderful

Cynthia said...

Suzy, you are daring! Even with the substitutions, it's an ambitious recipe. I wouldn't even know where to begin to find cuttlefish.

You have such wonderful memories from your travels and experiences, and I love reading about them.

Maybe paella is in your near future.

Kathleen said...

You go, Suzy!
I love the DISH, the best, LOL!
I would do it with chicken too!
I admire your ambition, and paella is on my bucket list.
Now it's about the cost of the lobster tails!
Did Randy like it?

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