Tuesday, 24 May 2011

La Paella - A great, bank holiday, family meal

Seafood Paella ingredients - oil on canvas


The Muslims introduced rice growing to the Valencia region in south east Spain in the year 711AD, and today vast paddy fields grow acres of world famous Valencian rice which make perfect paellas.

Paella was originally a laborers' meal, cooked over an open fire in the fields and eaten directly from the pan using wooden spoons. It was at one time, common place for marsh rats to be eaten in the Paella, as rats were found in profusion along the marshy coastline

Paddy fields, Valencia

Snails were the most commonly used meat as they were cheap ; for special occasions rabbit or duck would be added and the well-off would have chicken. Anyone that tries to tell you that the original paella was a seafood dish is wrong. However, seafood paella  Paella Marisco, seems to be a favourite with tourists. Another favourite is seafood and meat combined, known as Paella Mista

Despite tourists' desire to get a well-made fresh paella and their willingness to pay over the odds for it, one of the appeals of paella to the Spanish is that it can be cooked in large quantities and will still taste good later that day or even the next day, which is a good thing as making paella is a laborious task. Making large quantities saves time later. It is popular in restaurants as it can be served all day and is popular with restaurant clientele as they can have 'instant' paella without the hassle of making it themselves.

In Valencia things are a little different, making paella is a part of local pride and every mother claims to make the best paella in the land!  So, you can only imagine how surprised I was when I came 3rd in a local Paella cooking contest in Valencia. These competitions are held in the streets, during the fabulous fiestas, known as 'LAS FALLAS'.  http://www.lasfallas.net/

Now, where did I put that medal????

Here is the recipe for Paella Valenciana, the main dish I cooked on 'COME DINE WITH ME'

Chris and Lorraine on Come dine with me

6 tablespoon olive oil
1whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces
1 rabbit, cleaned and cut into pieces
1 head garlic, cloves separated, peeled and finely chopped 
2 tomato, finely chopped
1 can butter beans
1 lb fresh string less beans
1 chicken stock cube
salt to taste
1 pinch saffron threads
dried thyme to taste (optional)
dried rosemary to taste (optional)
1 lb Paella rice
4 lemons

Heat a paella pan (un Paellero) over medium-high heat, and coat with olive oil. Add the chicken, rabbit and garlic; cook and stir until nicely browned. Move the browned meat to the sides of the pan, and add the tomato, butter beans and green beans.

Fill the paella pan almost to the top with water, measuring the water as you put it in. This is to help you to determine how much rice to add, as paella pans come in different sizes. Add the chicken stock and bring to the boil. Simmer for about 25 mins to make a nice broth.

Season with a generous amount of salt, and just enough saffron to make a nice yellow color. Season with thyme and rosemary if desired. The goal is to make a rich tasting broth that will soak into the rice to make it delicious. Stir in half as much rice as the amount of water in the pan. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until all of the liquid has been absorbed, about 25 minutes.

Let stand for 10 mins - then garnish with lemon wedges and serve.

Paella Valenciana

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Recipe of the day

Dried poppy heads - Gouache

Lime & Poppy seed Dressing

Poppy seeds are the tiny, dried, kidney-shaped seed of the
annual opium poppy - Papaver somniferum.

Poppy seeds are used to garnish breads and rolls, ground in sauces and pastry fillings, and added to vegetables and salad dressings. Turkish cuisine uses toasted poppy seeds, while Indian and Turkish spice blends rely on crushed poppy seeds for flavour and texture.
It takes about 900,000 of them to equal a pound.

Poppy seed is produced in various countries including the Netherlands, Australia, Romania and Turkey. The Dutch variety, noted for its uniform slate-blue colour, is recognized as the best quality seed and comprises most imports into the United States.

Poppy seed has been cultivated for more than 3,000 years. The tiny poppy seed actually comes from the plant that produces opium. The botanical name for the poppy flower means ‘sleep-bearing’ but the seed does not have this effect. Poppy seed was used as a condiment as early as the first century A.D.

1/2 cup lime juice
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp white onion
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp poppy seeds

Add all the ingredients to a blender, except the poppy seeds, and blend until the onions are pureed. Then add the poppy seeds and blend just once or twice to mix them in.

Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. Just give it a quick shake before you use it to mix it all back together.

Serving suggestions
Add dressing to fresh, baby spinach and avocado for a delicious, summer sidesalad !!!

Lime and poppy seed dressing

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Ophthalmic and medical photography

Proud to be a part of this....

Preface to the seventh edition

The purpose of the seventh edition of Clinical Ophthalmology, as in previous editions, is to present the basics of clinical ophthalmic practice in a systematic and succinct manner, to be used as a springboard to more in-depth study of individual topics. We have tried to be comprehensive in the inclusion of key advances, with considerable updating and revision of the text. The majority of the illustrations in this edition are new, and provide a more effective and vivid representation of many conditions. In response to trainees’ requests the present edition also places a greater emphasis on practical management, taking into account numerous published guidelines and other authoritative sources. The book is intended principally for the trainee and practising ophthalmologist, but previous editions have also been widely utilized by other eye care professionals, particularly optometrists.
Recent editions have benefited immeasurably from chapter reviews by experts in the relevant field, but this edition is the first in which a co-author has joined Jack Kanski in taking overall responsibility for the book. Brad Bowling has extensive experience in the teaching and training of ophthalmologists, and has brought an invaluable fresh perspective and energy to the text which we trust is conveyed in the pages.

We are extremely grateful for input and expert advice received from numerous colleagues, in particular Andy Pearson for a meticulous review of the sections on adnexal disease and Ken Nischal for detailed suggestions on paediatric topics. We also very much appreciate Irina Gout's contribution of her medical photographic expertise, without which many of the images in the book would not have been possible. The benevolence of other colleagues and ophthalmic photography departments, particularly Steven Farley, Tim Cole and Lorraine Rimmer at Blackpool Victoria Hospital, in kindly allowing the use of photographs from their collections is gratefully received, and each is acknowledged in individual legends. Finally, we would like to acknowledge the support and commitment of the staff at Elsevier Science, especially Russell Gabbedy.

The authors are acutely conscious of the privilege of involvement in contemporary ophthalmological education. We have attempted to imbue the book – and infect the reader – with our enthusiasm for the specialty.


Monday, 9 May 2011

Recipe of the day

It's here again! Yes, that tacky, kitsch but lots of fun...... 
The Eurovision party!

As a guest, I've been asked to attend in fancy dress from a country of my choice and to bring food pertaining to that country.
Well, it just has to be Spain!!. There won't be however, any Paella, tortilla or chorizo in sight!
Instead, I'll be cooking a Spanish take on a classic Moroccan dish.
Absolutely Moorish!!!!

( Moorish Pork Kebabs )

From the years 711 to 1492 Southern Spain was ruled by who were then referred to as the Moors. Today these fine and peaceful people hail from Morocco and Tunisia, but back centuries ago they were the dreaded enemy. As the Moors gained control of Spain, they also brought with them their local tastes and spices, which had an immense impact on the Spanish cuisine we know today.

The original recipe would have been made from lamb or goat and seasoned with the spices such as saffron, cumin, or coriander that the Moors so loved. Upon driving the Moors out of Spain in 1492, the free peoples of Spain wanted to reinforce their independence by celebrating the thing their previous landlords forbid, eating pork. It’s no coincidence that Spaniards love pork to this day; it is a direct response to their turmoiled past.

Makes 12 kebabs
1/2 cup olive oil
3 tbsp ground cumin
2 tbsp ground coriander
1 tbsp sweet paprika
1 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp salt, plus more, to taste
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 lb pork loin fillets cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tbsp minced garlic
1/4 c chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 c fresh lemon juice

Combine the olive oil, cumin, coriander, paprika, cayenne pepper, turmeric, oregano, salt, and pepper in a small frying pan over low heat. Cook until warmed through and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.

Place the pork pieces in a bowl and rub with the spice mixture. Add the garlic, parsley and lemon juice and toss well. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat a cast-iron grill pan over medium-high heat, or heat a grill.

Thread the meat onto skewers and season with salt. Grill on all sides until just cooked through, 12 – 15 minutes total.

Place all the ingredients into a Tagine (using a cheaper cut of pork) add vegetables of your choice and cook in the oven, for 2-3 hours on a low to medium heat.

Hand - painted Tagines

Tuesday, 3 May 2011


What a fun-filled, Royal wedding weekend. Parties galore and surround by my children, grandchildren and stepchildren, busy, busy busy.....but never too busy to entertain my guests!!
Here's a quick potato salad, great for any party and a nice healthy, fast food option.

Ensaladilla Rusa
 ( Potato salad )

The name for potato salad in Spain is ensaladilla rusa, or Russian Salad. Why? It is said that a Russian invented the salad in the late XIX century. We don’t know what the original Russian salad was like, but the Spanish have made their own version and eat it as a tapa or a side dish. Many families even prepare home-made mayonnaise to dress it. This is my version.....

Serves 6

7 medium unpeeled potatoes
6 hard-boiled eggs
16 oz can tuna, drained (optional)
1 large bunch of spring onions (finley chopped)
Small jar of green olive
Salt and pepper

Scrub the potatoes to clean off any lose dirt. Pour water into a large pot, cover and bring to a boil on high heat. Place potatoes in the pot and boil them with skins on until they are cooked, but not too soft. Don’t overcook the potatoes or when mixing the salad, you’ll end up with mashed potatoes!

Drain the water from the pot and add cold water to the pot, covering the potatoes. Change every few minutes until the potatoes are cool enough to handle with your bare hands. Refrigerate for a few minutes to cool further.

Remove from refrigerator and peel potatoes. Cut into small (approximately 1/2") cubes. Return to refrigerator while you prepare the other ingredients.

Boil the eggs until hard.and cool. Peel the eggs, and slice with an egg slicer. Reserve 12 slices of egg and place to one side (for decoration)

Put a large jar of mayonnaise into a bowl. Drain tuna thoroughly, then crumble with a fork and add to bowl. Add the potato, sliced egg and finley chopped spring onion, season and mix thoroughly. If necessary, add more mayonnaise. Smooth top of potato salad, preparing for decoration. Add egg, olives and dust with paprika.

Serve with bread sticks

Potato salad with breadsticks