Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Foolproof paella and cheat's Bakewell Tart

There's nothing we like better than a plate of stodgy rice. Today I am going to make the king of rice dishes, but in a family-friendly way. Paella. You do need to stand over it stirring, but the steam will be very good for your skin.

sack of Spanish paella rice
St Thomas, patron saint of paella?


Chicken thighs (I used 3)
An onion
A red pepper
A couple of rashers of bacon, chopped up
A clove of garlic, crushed
Some chorizo (I used about 6 thin slices)
Half a stock cube
Some hot water
Risotto rice (or any rice if you don't have it)
Frozen peas
Chilli powder

I started by trimming the fat off the thighs (not mine, alas), cutting them into chunks and frying them in a little olive oil. While that's happening chop up the onion and red pepper quite small. Remove the browned chicken from the pan and add the onion and pepper. Fry them gently, adding the bacon, garlic and chorizo when they are soft. Pour in about 180g rice and stir well. Add hot water, about a teacup at a time, stirring and waiting for it to be absorbed before each addition. Drop in half a chicken or veg stock cube and stir well to dissolve it. Add some paprika and chilli powder to taste - start with about ¼ teaspoon of each. When the rice is nearly cooked put the chicken back in the pan and add a handful of frozen peas and the prawns. Stir well and keep cooking for another few minutes until the prawns are pink. Serve with wedges of lemon to squeeze over.

I made some apple jam the other day, and slightly overcooked it so it tastes like Tarte Tatin. There was a bit left over in the pan and I was wondering what to do with it. My solution: Apple Bakewell Tart. It's rich, almondy, and incredibly quick if you use ready-made pastry.

slice of bakewell tart on wooden chopping board with silver fork
Apple Bakewell Tart

(Apple) Bakewell Tart

I used a packet of ready-made shortcrust pastry (Marie's Pate Brisee, which is also rolled)
2 eggs
100g sugar
100g butter
100g ground almonds
1 teaspoon almond extract
About 180g jam

Heat oven to 200/gas 6 and line a 9" tin with the pastry and spread the base with jam. Melt the butter. Mix together the eggs, ground almonds, sugar and almond extract. Add the melted butter and mix well, before pouring it into the tin. Put it in the oven for about 30 minutes until the top is brown and the filling is gently set. Dust with icing sugar.

I had never used ready-made shortcrust pastry before, but this was rather good. Amazingly, it hardly shrank at all, and was pre-rolled nice and thin. It has a good crisp texture around the sides when cooked, but is a little bit tough on the bottom. Thank you, Marie!

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