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Arroz Negro (Paella with Squid Ink)

Arroz Negro (Paella with Squid Ink)

My new TV obsession is The Newsroom, an HBO drama that depicts behind the scenes events of an American Cable News company. I’m hooked on the dialogue and have grown fond of the characters (well, most of them anyway). I think however, what appeals to me most, is how everyone in the team seems to be committed to reinvent cable television news. At the end of the fourth episode entitled “I’ll Try to Fix You”, the news anchor, Will McAvoy is meant to choose between running with an unconfirmed news report that all other channels have called, or wait until the news has been verified. He chooses, despite being pressured from upper management, to wait, which was actually the better thing to do since the report was proved false.

While the drama ensues, Coldplay’s song Fix You starts playing in the background and I’ll be the first to admit a few tears were shed which I was furiously trying to hide from my husband.

The episode made me think about how there is always hope and, if we wanted to, it’s never too late to re-invent ourselves.

It also made me think about some of the older dishes that I’ve made on this blog. A while back I made a paella with squid ink called Paella Negra. It’s been a long time since I made it and while I remember the dish tasting delicious, the picture never did the dish justice.

So here is the new and improved version of Paella Negra. This recipe comes from Frank Camorra of Movida Restaurant in Melbourne. Here is: Paella Negra 2.0.

Arroz Negro (Paella with Squid Ink)

Paella Negra (Paella with Squid Ink)

Arroz Negro (Paella with Squid Ink)

Serves 6 to 8
Recipe from Frank Camorra

  • 5 vine-ripened tomatoes, scored
  • 125 ml olive oil
  • 500 grams squid, cleaned and cut into 2.5 cm squares
  • 12 pieces prawns, peeled and deveined
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 8 grams squid ink (available from delicatessens)
  • 200 ml dry white wine
  • 400 grams bomba rice
  • 1.2 litres hot fish stock
  1. Blanch the tomatoes in a saucepan of boiling water until the skin starts to blister, around 30 seconds, then place in a bowl of iced water to refresh. Peel and dice the tomatoes, then set aside.
  2. Heat 50 ml of the olive oil in a 30-34 cm paella pan over high heat. Add the squid and the prawns and cook for about a minute on each side, making sure to season. Remove and set aside.
  3. Add the rest of the olive oil along with the onion and the garlic. Cook over low heat until translucent, around 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook another 5 minutes over low heat. Now, add the white wine and continue to cook for another 15 minutes until the mixture thickens.
  4. Increase the heat to medium and add the rice. Cook the rice for about 1 to 2 minutes, stirring continuously. Now, pour in the hot stock and mix well. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium immediately and add the squid on top of the rice (save a few pieces for topping). Cook the rice for 10 minutes. The rice should have now expanded a little so reduce the heat back to low if the flame doesn’t cover the base of the pan. Move the pan around during cooking to allow the paella to cook evenly for 10 minutes.
  5. Before removing from the stove, add the prawns and the some of the saved squid and cook on high for about 1 minute to help form a crust on the bottom of the pan. Remove from the heat and cover with foil for 10 minutes. Serve warm.

On another note, I’m about to undergo a change myself! I’m so excited to let you know I’ve signed up for Pantene’s Beautiful Lengths Campaign. The campaign is to donate real hair to make wigs for women undergoing cancer treatment. National Haircut Week is from 12 to 18 November. If you are interested to learn more about this campaign, please click here.

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Seafood "Risotto" - without rice!

Seafood "Risotto" - without rice!

The truth is, haven’t we all done something crazy just for a good meal?

Sometimes, I have these ideas about food go beyond that, so much so that they are admittedly pushing the verge of deranged and demented.

Lately, I’ve been obsessing about soil.

I seriously need to get four potatoes and two kilos of soil… and some hessian sacks… All because I’ve been dreaming about making Ben Shewry’s Potato Dish which is cooked for 8 hours in a Maori hangi.  To prevent receiving that “Are you out of your mind?!”  look from my husband, I’ve been debating how to get his buy in.

Should I go with the “bad news/good news”  tactic.  “I need to buy two kilos of soil to cook four potatoes…. but not to worry, I don’t need a hangi like the original recipe… I can just cook it in our oven.”

Or maybe the multipurpose excuse.  “If we get the two kilos of soil, then once I’m done using it for the cooking, we can use it to bury the holes the dogs have dug in the garden!”

Once in a while, I get away with the “Just trust me…. it’ll be worth it.” argument.

Take this weekend for instance.  I had been wanting to make Marque Restaurants’s Risotto of Local Calamari, Prawns & Broth for quite some time but was too lazy to drive.  When I tried to get my husband to take me,  he questioned why we had travel to another suburb when I could have as easily picked up the seafood at the local fish monger.

“Not the same!” I told him.  The quality and variety of seafood was incomparable.  “Seafood is seafood.” he said.

“Trust me. ” I told him.

The result of that unwavering trust is this Seafood Risotto which has been adapted from one of my favourite restaurants in Sydney, Marque.  The recipe is a truly a wonderful surprise.  You think you are having a bowl of creamy rice but it is finely cut squid and a creamy cauliflower puree that gives the dish that risotto like texture.  We had recently gone there for dinner and I was sad to find out that the dish wasn’t offered on the menu anymore.  Which of course, led to the weekend quest to find the best possible seafood in Sydney and come up with my own version.

And so what to do about the two kilos of soil for the potatoes?

I guess the other option is to just write about it in this blog and let him find out the same time as everybody else.

Seafood "Risotto" with scampi, pippies and squid (but no rice!)

Seafood "Risotto" with scampi, pippies and squid (but no rice!)

 

Seafood “Risotto”

Serves 4
This recipe was adapted from Marque Restaurant

For the “Risotto”

  • 400 grams squid, cleaned and skinned
  • 4 scampi plus 4 large prawns (or 8 large prawns), peeled, deveined and head and shells reserved
  • handful of pippies
  • 1/4 cauliflower
  • 270 ml milk
  • 1 medium leek, diced
  • 100 grams butter
  • Prawn Broth (recipe follows)
  • Basil leaves
  1. Place the squid in the freezer for an hour to make it easier to cut. When ready, finely dice the body until they are almost the size of grains of rice. Reserve the tentacles for plating. Set the diced squid aside until ready to use.
  2. Break the cauliflower up into florets, place in a sauce pan with the milk and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Allow the cauliflower to simmer until soft, around 40 minutes, making sure that the milk does not spill over.
  4. Strain half the milk from the cauliflower and using a hand blender, puree the cauliflower until smooth. You may need to add some of the reserved milk to make the puree smoother.
  5. Heat half the butter in a large pan. Add the prawns/scampi and cook until golden, remove and keep in a warm place. Add the squid tentacles and pippies cook until the shells open and the squid is cooked through. Again, keep in a warm place until ready to serve.
  6. Add the remaining butter and the leeks and saute until soft, around 5 minutes over a low/medium heat.
  7. Add the cut up squid and around 6 to 8 heaping tablespoons of the cauliflower puree. The idea is to achieve that creamy look of a risotto.
  8. To plate, put the squid risotto on a plate, top with the seafood, basil leaves and some of the prawn broth.

For the prawn broth

  • 50 ml olive oil
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • reserved head and shells of the scampi/prawns
  1. Saute the carrot, onion and garlic around 5 minutes. Add the reserved heads and shells and saute another three minutes. Using the back of a wooden spoon, crush the head and shells to extract as much flavour as possible.
  2. Add the chicken stock and allow to simmer around 30 minutes. Strain and the stock and place back in a sauce pan and allow to reduce until half the quantity is left (you will only need about 2 to 3 tablespoons each serve).
  3. Before serving, froth the prawn broth with a hand blender.

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