Culinary triumph

I’ve been able to do so much being out here. I’ve now got a kitchen that doesn’t have trike brake pads in it, or fishing tackle in cupboards or the fridge. Camping gear is now relegated to the batty grange. A cooker, a sink and I’m sorted.

On Friday, when we were at Rouillac market, there was a stall with a huge vat of paella, which made Steve a bit giddy – so when I asked what he wanted for tea, paella was on the menu. I’ve got my own ideas about paella and risotto – I’m the risotto queen, it must be said.

So… here’s my ‘two thumbs up, ten out of ten’ paella recipe for two-three.

  • 3-4 chicken thighs – don’t worry about boning them
  • 1 lemon, quartered
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • a pinch of saffron in a splash of milk
  • 1 onion
  • 1 tsp of turmeric – if you want it very yellow
  • 350 g risotto or paella rice
  • 100 ml white wine
  • olive oil
  • 500ml chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 tsp fresh rosemary
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 10 baby tomatoes
  • 200 g defrosted frozen seafood (or fresh!)
  • salt and pepper

Shallow fry the chicken thighs with the lemon wedges for about 10 minutes, turning occasionally and browning them off. Remove the chicken thighs from the pan and add the chopped onion, the turmeric, the tomatoes and the rosemary and thyme. Stir and brown the onion and soften the tomatoes. Add plenty of ground black pepper. Add the risotto rice, fry for a minute, stirring into all the juices, onion and tomato. Then add the white wine. Heat off the alcohol, stirring the rice. Add the salt at this time, too. Add the bay leaf, the milk with the saffron in it and stir up. Put the chicken thighs back in, then add enough stock to cover, with about a centimetre over.

Simmer for about 10 minutes, lid off. Keep adding more stock to keep it from sticking. Every time the stock has gone, add a couple of ladles’ full. You might not use all the stock. Keep this going for about 20 minutes, until the risotto rice has swollen and is no longer raw, but still has some bite to it. Then add the seafood. Stir in and cook for another 3 or 4 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and the lemon wedges, and serve!

It was truly fantastic. I’m good!

I also found a recipe for hazelnut caramel ice cream although it requires dulce de lecce, which I have plenty of, back in England. Boo. Still, it got me thinking I could make some with condensed milk – though then I found this recipe at Chez Pim – my new favourite food blog! – for confiture de lait, which I know you can buy, but I fancy having a go at myself. Once I’ve got enough hazelnuts, this will be on the menu!

Tonight, it’s tarte aux pommes. It would be rude to be in France with our glorious apple tree and not make either this or tarte tatin.

Our hens have now laid three eggs. Each one is always a surprise. I need an apron with a big pocket for my garden wanderings. Hazelnuts, plums, walnuts, apples, eggs, potatoes, figs… there’s never a day when I come back empty-handed! I’m absolutely loving this abundance! I know it’s the season of plenty, but it’s fantastic!

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