This Aegean prawn recipe is all mine, but the idea is completely stolen from the new menu at the Real Greek restaurant. I've had it a couple of times. It's a lovely mix of plump prawns, rice, tomatoes, saffron and feta. Other than that I'm not sure what's in it. I would not pass the masterchef palate test, I can't necessarily pull apart a dish into an exact recipe. But I can build one of my own, because Monica Galetti is not here to roll her eyes and frown at me.
One ingredient that I added that definitely wasn't in the original is every Finn's favourite herb, dill. I love dill in almost anything. It's great with feta, surprisingly goes really beautifully with saffron rice which the Persians figured out 2000 years before me, and of course is the natural best friend of fish and seafood. So leaving it out of this dish should in fact be a criminal offence. Insprired by my own writing I just actually went to the fridge and scooped in a couple of spoonfuls. I know you're not supposed to eat rice cold like that, but this is good enough to risk a bout of food poisoning for.
You could leave out the dill or replace with another herb if you are
I haven't done a lot of cooking lately because husband has been away for a shocking three weeks visiting family. The only proper meal I've cooked during the time was a pot of squid puttanesca two weeks ago. We'd had our work Christmas Party (a slight timing misshap by the organising committee) and I was hungover and thus in acute need of carbs, so whipped up a quick puttanesca with some squid rings, wholewheat pasta (healthy healthy!), shook a quarter of a bottle of tabasco and about a pint of parmesan on top, sat on the sofa to watch cookery programs and shovelled the whole lot in my gob before muting Jamie and enjoying a refreshing 5 hour powernap.
Other than that I have been eating bread, cheese and tomatoes, which is my favourite food. But still, a bit pathetic. I did buy a couple of microwave meals at some point, but was disappointed so returned to bread, cheese and tomatoes which never disappoint.
Apropos of calamari and puttanesca I have started to study Italian. Knowing myself this will not last long. I can speak a few languages but I have also energetically studied many without learning a bloody thing: French, Arabic and Spanish to name a few. And Esperanto. Yes, that would have been a waste of time even if I'd learned it.
But so now I have a plan to take husband to Rome for a romantic long weekend as a birthday present later this spring, so I though it would be nice to be able to chat relaxedly with the locals over a limoncello and someone had told me Italian was an easy language. Complete lie, or alternative fact like obvious and proven untruths are called nowadays.
Anyway the plan was to become fluent in Italian in a couple of months which is pretty much how far my attention span streches. So I downloaded an app which I've been using instead of playing candy crush in the evenings for the last couple of weeks. And I even watched the Sleeping Beauty and an animation about a zoo escaping lonely elephant in YouTube in Italian. Still can't speak it. Vaffanapoli!
So I was originally thinking of cooking something Italian today for a friend I had invited for lunch. But in the end I went for more of a Greek influence. It was so much fun to cook again. I clearly need someone to cook for, I am not enough of an audience for myself.
I had made a couple of dips for starters, a tuna caper butter, roasted red pepper hommus and a feta, olive and sundried tomato spread which we ate with some bread and pitta crisps.
For mains I did the Aegean Prawns which we've both had and loved at the Real Greek. I also made some greek spiced chicken, pan-fried halloumi with vine tomatoes, asparagus, and oven chips.
The dessert was a chocolate fondant with rasperry cassis coulis and vanilla ice-cream. I've never made chocolate fondants before. I can't believe how easy it is. I thought it would be a bit more complicated as they keep doing them in Masterchef and then oohing and aahing when they come out right and are all gooey inside. I did take them out and put them back in the oven about 27 times, but in the end I thought they were pretty well executed and gooey. And I even managed a cute ice-cream quenelle on top.
Aegean prawns - prawns with rice, feta, saffron and tomatoOil
1 small red onion
2 large tomatoes
Pinch of saffron`
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
Juice of half a lemon
1 cup of risotto rice
Vegetable stock pot
Abt 2 cups Water
Chop the onion and tomatoes finely. Add a splash of oil in a deep lidded sauce pan. Add the onion and saute for a few minutes on medium heat. I added a generous splash of brandy and flambed the onions, I'm not sure if it did anything to the taste of the end result, but I just think it's fun. I often flambe things whether it's in the recipe or not.
Add the tomatoes and continue cooking until tomatoes soften. Pound the saffron in pestle and mortar and add boiling water and leave to soak for a few minutes. Chop the fresh dill.
Add the rice, dill, lemon juice and saffron to the pan. Add 2 cups of water, the vegetable stock pot, salt and pepper. Bring to boil, cover and leave to cook on low heat stirring every once in a while until the rice is done. This should take about 15 minutes. Add water if necessary, in the end it should be reasonably dry, much drier than a risotto. If the mixture is too wet in the end, leave to cook without a lid for a few minutes.
In the meanwhile devein the shrimp and season with salt and pepper.
Once the rice is almost done add the shrimp and continue cooking for a couple of minutes until the shrimp have turned pink. Fold in a handful of crumbled feta. Serve immediately.