Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Easy prawn fried rice

Rice was never something I was particularly excited about and there was one reason behind it: I had no idea how to cook it! A quick browse through Google reveals thousands upon thousands of methods of cooking it, yet I was always intimidated. Maybe, just maybe one rice cooking attempt which had me rinse the Gloopy Sticky Yucky Blob, Formerly Known as Rice in cold water to make it edible had something to do with that. After that shameful incident I just gave up (yes, I'm super patient) and decided that I shall never ever touch the stuff again. I'm not even sure what made me decide to give cooking rice another go, but let me just say I'm ecstatic (yes!) that I tried.
The recipe is from Delia's website: it is simple and works every.single.time. Incredibly proud of my newly acquired skill I decided to make a quick fried rice. The beautiful thing about this recipe is that it's incredibly versitile: I used mushrooms, bacon and prawns, but you can easily use chicken, peas, edameme, carrots, shredded cabbage; the possibilities are endless. I made a variation of this dish for my parents and friends when I was in Poland last week (this trip is my lame excuse for the temporary blogging hiatus) and they loved it. Funnily enough one of my friends confessed he doesn't even like rice only to come back for seconds (and scrape the pan, heheh).

To make 4 normal (or 3 very generous) portions you'll need:

5 rashers of streaky bacon, chopped into small pieces
1 pack (about 250g) mushrooms (I used chestnut mushrooms for their earthy flavour, but white mushrooms are equally good)
1 pack (about 230 g) prawns, frozen or fresh (I used frozen)
1 bunch of spring onions
1-2 garlic cloves
2-3 eggs, whisked
pinch of chilli flakes
soy sauce
sesame oil (optional)
basmati rice
salt, pepper
oil, for frying

Start off by boiling water in the kettle. Now measure your rice: no weighing necessary! Just grab a small tea cup or a measuring jug (I use 1 American cup for 2 people and have leftovers for lunch! The American cup is about 240ml). You don't need to wash or rinse the rice. Put a big pot on the medium heat, add a glug of oil, then add the rice. Stir the rice so that every grain is covered with oil. Gently heat, then add hot water. The only thing to remember is 2 measures of water to 1 measure of rice. Easy peasy.

Once you've added hot water stir the rice to make sure no grains are stuck on the sides of the pot. Add a bit of salt or stock granules. Now cover the pot with the lid, turn the heat to medium-low and set your timer to 15 minutes. That's it. Don't sneak a peak, don't stir, just get on with the sauce. 

Chop spring onions, bacon and mushrooms and mince garlic cloves. 
Fry bacon, garlic and spring onions in a little bit of oil until bacon is crispy. Add mushrooms, chilli flakes, salt and pepper and keep frying. Finally add the prawns. If you're using frozen, there'll be a bit of liquid in the pan; keep frying everything until the water evaporates.

Add a bit of soy sauce at the end.

While your sauce is frying, grab a small frying pan, add a bit of oil and pour in the eggs. Fry them, stirring with a spatula, until you have dry scrambled eggs. Take off the heat and mix in with the rest of the sauce.

When your timer beeps (you're cooking rice, remember? ;) take the pot off the heat, take the lid of and cover the pot with a clean cloth. Leave for 10 minutes. The cloth will absorb all the extra moisture making the rice fluffy.

Once the rice is ready mix it with the sauce, add a bit of sesame oil or more soy sauce and munch away.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Super comforting potato bake

Warning! Don't let the broccoli in this dish fool you. It's rich, indulgent, packed with goodness (cheese! potatoes!) - perfect comfort food. I don't make it often because my thighs cry at the mere thought of the calorific value of this beauty. But every now and then conditions are perfect to make this bake. It's cold and salad just won't cut it. It's gloomy, dark and grey outside, pavements covered with slimy leaves. You just need a big hug. This bake is IT. It's easy to make, but a tad time consuming, so wait until the weekend to make it. 

To make enough for 4 (or 2 gluttons in need of a BIG hug) you'll need:

2 white potatoes (I used Maris Piper)
1 sweet potato
1 onion
4 rashers streaky bacon (smoked or unsmoked)
1 small broccoli
200 g cheddar cheese
about 200 ml cream (I would normally use single, but my local shop only had double - double the calories, gulp!)
a few rosemary leaves, chopped (optional)
dried basil/oregano/Italian herb mix
olive oil
salt and pepper

Start off by chopping the onion, garlic and bacon.

Fry them in the pan until bacon is crisped up and the onions translucent. Take off the heat and put aside.

Cut broccoli into little florets and boil in salted water for about 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Get the potatoes ready - wash them and peel the sweet potato. You can leave white potatoes unpeeled. Now slice them all very thinly - the easiest way to do it is by using a mandoline (watch these fingers!)  but if you don't have one you can slice them up with a knife (it will take a bit longer). Grate the cheese.

Preheat the oven to 200 C.

Now get a small heatproof dish and pour a tiny bit of oil on the bottom. Place the first layer of white and sweet potato slices, sprinkle with pepper, basil and chopped oregano (I tend not to use salt as bacon is already quite salty).

Spread half of the bacon and onion mix on top of the potatoes and follow by another layer of potatoes.

Spread the rest of the bacon mix and add another layer of potatoes, followed by drained broccoli.

Add the final layer of potatoes and sprinkle cheese on top.

Now pour cream all over in a thin stream; take your time - you want the cream to go through all the layers of potato.

Bake in the oven for 40-60 minutes until potatoes are soft. The easiest way to check whether the bake is ready is to poke it with a fork.

Slice up and eat! And maybe, just maybe plan to go to the gym the next day. It's all about balance, people :)

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