Asian-influenced chicken and coconut “paella”

This is Tyler Florence’s Asian version of a Spanish paella which is gorgeous. The chicken thighs are lightly crusted with crushed coriander seeds then sauteed and tucked into basmati rice that has been simmered in sweet coconut milk and ginger. Need I say any more?

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Serves 4 to 6

1/4 cup coriander seeds
8 chicken thighs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, finely minced
1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1 bay leaf
2 cups basmati rice
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups coconut milk

Pea Salad
1 cup frozen peas, thawed in a colander under cool water
A small handful of fresh mint leaves
1 bunch watercress
Juice of 1/2 lemon
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Mint leaves for garnish
Lemon wedges for garnish

Preheat the oven to 400 F
Coarsely crack the coriander by either pulsing in a spice grinder, wrapping the seeds in a tea towel and crushing them with a rolling pin or grinding them in a pepper grinder on a coarse setting.
Season the chicken thighs well with salt and pepper and sprinkle all over with the cracked coriander.

Heat 3 tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat in a large, deep ovenproof skillet. Lay the chicken thighs in the pan, skin side down and give them a good sear for 4 to 5 mins to develop a nice crust.
Turn and cook for 4 to 5 mins on the other side to brown the meat. Take the chicken out of the pan.

Put another 2 tbsp of olive oil in the pan and turn the heat down to medium. Add the onion, ginger and bay leaf, and cook, stirring for 4 to 5 mins, until the onion is soft but not colored.
Now you’ve got all this great flavor going on in the bottom of the pan; chicken drippings, onion, ginger and bay leaf. Add the rice and season with salt and pepper. Stir for a minute or two until the grains are well coated with oil. Stir in the lemon zest. Now add the broth and coconut milk and bring that to a simmer.
Tuck in the chicken thighs, put the whole thing in the oven, and bake, uncovered, until the rice is tender and bound by a creamy sauce and the chicken is entirely cooked through,about 30 minutes.
Discard the bay leaf.

When the chicken is done, put the peas, mint and watercress into a bowl. Add the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper and give it a good toss. Taste for seasoning. To serve take a big spoon and scoop out some chicken and rice and garnish each plate with the pea salad


Giada’s easy cheesy risotto cake

This is a very easy and tasty recipe and perfect for those summer get-togethers.

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Serves 6 to 8

Butter, for greasing the pan.
2 cups Marinara or tomato-basil sauce
1 cup Arborio rice

Bechamel Sauce
3 tbsp butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups whole milk, at room temperature
1/4 tsp Kosher salt
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

To assemble
1/2 cup plus 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 oz thinly sliced prosciutto, coarsely chopped
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
4 large eggs, at room temperature, beaten
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup plain breadcrumbs

Place an oven rack in the center of the oven.Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Butter the bottom and sides of a 9 inch spring form pan. Wrap the outside of the pan with foil.

For the rice:
Bring the marinara sauce and rice to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 6 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool.
For the bechamel sauce:
Melt the butter in a 1 quart saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the flour and whisk until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Gradually add the milk, whisking constantly to prevent lumps. Simmer the sauce over medium-low heat, whisking constantly until the sauce is thick and smooth, about 7 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the salt and grated nutmeg.

For assembly:
Mix together the bechamel sauce, rice mixture, 1/2 cup of the Parmesan and the prosciutto and peas in a medium bowl. Slowly mix in the eggs, salt and pepper.
Pour the mixture into the prepared spring form pan and cover with foil. Place in a shallow roasting pan. Add enough hot water to come halfway up the side of the spring form pan. Bake for 1 hour.

Preheat the broiler. Remove the foil and sprinkle the top with the remaining 1/3 cup cheese and the breadcrumbs. Broil just enough to melt the cheese and create a crispy crust, about 3 minutes/
Cool for 15 minutes.
Loosen the risotto from the sides of the pan by running a thin metal spatula around the edge. Remove the sides of the pan. Cut into wedges and serve.

Thai coconut rice

Creamy exotic coconut rice combined with a little bite from red pepper flakes and ginger, creates a delicious dish to accompany a wide range of entrees.

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Serves 4

1 cup uncooked basmati rice or 1 cup jasmine rice or 1 cup long grain rice
1 (14 ounce) cans coconut milk
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/8 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh ginger
finely chopped crystallized ginger (optional)
sliced toasted almonds (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan, except the crystallized ginger and sliced almonds.
Stir well to combine.
Cook over medium high heat, stirring until mixture comes to a low boil.
Immediately reduce heat to low.
Cover and cook for about 18 minutes.
Fluff with a fork, then cover, and let sit for 5 more minutes.
Garnish the finished rice with the candied ginger and the sliced toasted almonds.

Baked curried rice with apples and coconut

I love anything curried and this baked brown rice dish is a no-fuss recipe that needs to be left alone for 45 minutes in the oven. Your reward for doing next to nothing is a pot of tender, fragrant, slightly spicy grains (if you want more heat, use up to a tablespoon more curry powder).

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Serves 4

2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 to 1 ½ tbsp curry powder
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 cup brown Basmati rice
Salt and black pepper
One 14-ounce can coconut milk
1⁄4 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
2 tart apples, (Granny Smith) cored and chopped
1⁄2 cup chopped fresh cilantro + extra for garnish
1⁄4 cup Greek-style yogurt, optional

Heat the oven to 350°F. Put the oil in a large ovenproof saucepan over medium heat. A minute later, add the curry powder and ginger and cook, stirring, for about a minute. Add the rice and some salt and pepper; cook, stirring, until the rice is glossy and translucent, just a minute or 2.

Measure 1 & 3/4 cups of the coconut milk; stir it into the rice mixture. Bring to a boil, then cover tightly and transfer to the oven. Bake, undisturbed, for 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, put the shredded coconut in a small skillet over medium heat and toast, shaking the pan and stirring often, until it begins to brown, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the rice from the oven, uncover, and use a fork to stir in the shredded coconut, apples, and cilantro. Replace the lid and let it rest for 10 minutes.
Taste and adjust the seasoning and fluff again. Serve immediately or at room temperature, topped with yogurt and a sprinkling of cilantro if you like.

Asian brown rice, avocado, ginger and peanut bowl

The combination of crunchy peanuts, creamy avocados, and the sweet bite of ginger make for a dish that’s full of complex flavors, yet easy to make. Serve it on its own or with tofu for a vegetarian meal, or add grilled chicken, fish, or shrimp.

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1 cup short grain brown rice (or leftover cooked short grain brown rice, then miss the rice-cooking part of the recipe))
Kosher salt, to taste
3 1⁄2 tbsp soy sauce
3 1⁄2 tbsp. mirin
3 1⁄2 tbsp. sake
1 tbsp. sugar
1 cup cilantro leaves and tender stems, plus more for garnish
1⁄2 cup dry roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
1⁄4 cup pickled ginger, thinly sliced. (Available from the Asian section at your supermarket. It’s in a glass jar)
5 scallions, thinly sliced
2 avocados, peeled, pitted, and thinly sliced
1 English cucumber, peeled, seeded, halved lengthwise and sliced into 1⁄4” pieces (1/2 moon shape)
Zest and juice of 1 lime

Rinse the rice in a strainer under cold running water for 30 seconds. Bring 12 cups water to a boil in a large pot with a tight-fitting lid over high heat. Add the rice, stir it once, and boil, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Pour the rice into a strainer over the sink; cool to room temperature.

Combine soy sauce, mirin, sake, and sugar in a 2-qt saucepan over medium-high; cook until sugar has dissolved, 3-5 minutes. Cool the sauce slightly. (It is a teriyaki sauce)

Combine rice, teriyaki sauce (You may only need half of it at the most. taste to tell), the cilantro, peanuts, ginger, scallions, avocados, cucumber, and zest and juice in a bowl; transfer to a serving platter and garnish with cilantro.

** I had some leftover salmon in the fridge and put chunks of it in the salad and it was delicious!

Stuffed roast peppers with goat cheese, chorizo, rice, tomato, zucchini and orange

This started out as a vegetarian recipe and still can, if you eliminate the chorizo. I happen to think it adds a layer of flavor  that raises the bar. If you don’t like goat cheese they work really well with feta cheese too.

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This recipe serves 2 but can easily be doubled

1¾oz wholegrain long-grain rice
1 red and 1 yellow pepper
olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
8oz Spanish chorizo, diced very small or crumbled.
1 courgette, diced
2½oz cherry tomatoes, halved
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp ground cumin ( roast my cumin before grinding it)
1 tsp ground coriander
¾oz toasted flaked almonds
½ orange, zest only, finely grated
3 heaped tbsp roughly chopped fresh Italian parsley (or cilantro)
3½oz mild goats’ cheese, rind removed and cheese cut into chunks (or feta cheese, but make it the Greek one)
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400F
Cook the rice in a pan of boiling water for 25 minutes, or until just tender, then drain.
Meanwhile, cut the peppers in half from top to bottom and discard the seeds. Place, open-side up, on a baking tray (cut a sliver from the base if necessary to help them sit flat). Bake for 15 minutes.

Add 1 tbsp olive oil to a frying pan and over medium heat, fry the chorizo for 5 minutes, then add the onion and courgette over a medium heat, stirring regularly, for 4-5 minutes, or until softened and lightly browned.

Add the tomatoes, garlic, cumin and coriander and cook for a minute, stirring constantly. Tip into a large heatproof bowl and stir in the almonds and orange zest.

Add the rice and parsley and season with a little salt and lots of pepper. Mix together.

Fill the peppers with the rice mixture. Dot with the cheese and return to the oven for 10 minutes, or until the peppers are softened and the filling is piping hot.

Asian fish parcels with coconut rice

This dish is so easy to make and a delight to the senses. The coconut rice really makes a difference and gives an exotic richness to the rice. It’s well worth growing your own Kaffir lime tree either in a pot or in the garden. They are very easy to grow and you have instant Indonesian/Thai flavors at your doorstep.

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Serves 4

4 white fish fillets, 5 to 6 oz each, (haddock, halibut, sea bass or cod)
4 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro (coriander)
1 red chili, chopped
1 good sized shallot, thinly sliced
1 lime, sliced, plus extra lime halves to serve
2 lemongrass stalks, 1 roughly chopped and 1 bashed
10 1/2oz basmati rice
2 fresh or dried Kaffir lime leaves
2 fl oz  coconut milk or even better, coconut cream
salt to taste
dry roasted peanuts, chopped for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350 F
Cut 4 pieces of nonstick baking parchment into a 12 inch square
Put a fish fillet in the center of each piece and arrange some of the cilantro, chili, shallot, lime and chopped lemongrass evenly over each.
Wrap them up into neat parcels, transfer them to a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, max.
Put the rice in a lidded pan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Simmer with the lid on for 10 minutes or until the rice is soft.
When the rice is cooked and the water is absorbed, stir in the coconut milk.
Serve with the rice alongside the fish parcels with some extra lime halves. If you serve with the parcels open, then sprinkle the fish with some finely chopped dry roasted peanuts.