Posts Tagged ‘paprika’

STEENBERGS SPICE TASTER PANEL

Tuesday, December 8th, 2015

Steenbergs Lemon Chicken Rub & Steenbergs organic Smoky Paella Spice Blend

This time around our spice taster panel was in for a treat, sampling two different, delicious spice blends, created by Axel and hand-blended in the Steenbergs factory near Ripon, North Yorkshire.  Both of them have Mediterranean influences and can be used for specific dishes, but it has been interesting and encouraging to see how diverse and varied the uses have been for these products.

STEENBERGS LEMON CHICKEN RUB

lemon-chicken-rubThis new lemon chicken rub from Steenbergs is one of the few non organic mixes. It has been developed over a number of years to combine all our favourite flavours in a chunky, easy to use rub, packed with flavour.  Although the title suggests a meaty blend, it is, like all other Steenbergs blends, fully vegetarian, just using the term ‘lemon chicken’ for the complementary Mediterranean herbs that make up this flavoursome spice mix.

Ingredients include: black pepper, salt, lemon peel, garlic, fennel seeds, parsley, coriander seed, lemon myrtle, paprika and lemon oil.

Our panel was really pleased with this product, with 77% describing it as ‘fabulous’ or ‘great’.  73% also thought it a very versatile product with possibilities including stirring into hummus, rubbing on fish or meat, sprinkling on roasted vegetables & potatoes, adding to rice or mixing into a salad dressing.

Our tasters were ingenious in their creations: rubbing, stirring, seasoning and savouring as this blend was designed to inspire.  Creations included red lentil dhal, many different chicken dishes including casserole, stew, Kievs and roast; chick peas burgers; roasted vegetables; homemade hummus; rubbed onto whole fish, flavouring savoury rice and in potato salad. One of our panel commented that there are ‘a million and one uses for this product’.

When asked to describe their perfect accompaniment to Lemon Chicken, our panel were definitely thinking healthily with 25% going for green vegetables, 25% for roasted veg (incl. potatoes) and 19% for salad, closely followed by rice (13%).

Do you ‘eat to live’ or ‘live to eat’ though, that is the question.  The majority of our taste testers definitely ‘live to eat’!

As far as the flavour was concerned, many of our team enjoyed the variety of ingredients and intensity of the blend, adding that it is ‘convenient to use for quick meals to add flavour’.  The black pepper was the predominant flavour, with some looking for a bit more lemon, but overall it was seen as a very flavoursome, versatile product.  These are the words that our taster panel used to describe the Lemon Chicken Rub.

Lemon Chicken Rub

Lemon Chicken Rub

STEENBERGS ORGANIC SMOKY PAELLA SPICE MIX

organic-smoky-paella-spice-blend-50g (1)Steenbergs organic Smoky Paella Spice Mix includes the smoky flavour of smoked paprika as well as saffron. The core blend is paprika with a hint of rosemary and loads of luxuriant saffron and garlic. The flavour of the smoked paprika is Axel Steenberg’s way of hinting at the smokiness that you get from making a traditional paella over an open fire.

Steenbergs Smoky Paella Spice seasoning is perfect with a glass of sangria to reminisce about long Spanish, balmy nights. Simply add 1-2 tsp of Steenbergs organic smoky paella spice mix to the stock when cooking paella for 4 people.

The ingredients in the spice mix, which are all organic, include: paprika (pimenton), smoked paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, ground black pepper, rosemary herb, saffron.

Our taster panel really enjoyed this blend with 92% rating it ‘Fabulous’ or ‘Great’, and 92% also saying that they would use it again – many commenting that ‘it means that making paella is so much easier as all the flavours are in one pot’.

Many of our panel used the spice blend to make traditional paella but in different ways: from flavouring the stock to marinating the chicken or prawns, or just adding in at the end.  With 76% having made paella before, lots of people had their own recipe but it is always great to see the wide variety of uses.

Our taste testers definitely demonstrated the versatility of this blend with recipes including all of the following: roasted pepper veggie lasagne sauce; pan-cooked chicken; fideua; infusing oil before adding stock; roasted butternut squash risotto; instead of turmeric; to flavour water in which to cook rice; substituting the sweet smoked paprika in Jamie Oliver’s chicken chorizo paella, as a rub on chicken which was then stir fried with peppers & mushrooms; stuffed peppers with rice & veg; used sprinkled on chicken and grilled; with seafood; shakshuka/pipperade style dish – fried onions, peppers & tinned tomatoes with poached egg on top; used in fajitas/enchiladas and on griddled chicken strips with roasted veg; fish stew and slow cooked pork ribs.  Other interesting ideas included: adding to mashed sweet potato; with spinach and feta; sprinkled on chips and on tomato salad.

We loved one of our taste tester’s descriptions of the spice blend: “a ‘flavour’ of Spain with the smoky paprika oozing through – the intensity of flavours of garlic and paprika knocking on the door.”  When asked to give just one word to sum it up, here’s what everyone came up with…

Smoky Paella Spice Mix

Smoky Paella Spice Mix

All in all a truly versatile product!

Do let us know what you think…we’re always keen to hear and will share any top tips on social media.

 

 

Recipe – cheat’s paella or cheating at rice dishes

Saturday, May 9th, 2009

During the week, we have a constant battle at the end of each day to make something nutritious for the family in the 45 minutes after picking up the kids from school and tea time.  The meal needs to be made at the same time as we’re trying to persuade the kids to look at their homework and contemplate doing their music practice.

 

Finding things that are interesting to eat, and are quick and simple, are a real challenge.  This type of cooking is sadly neglected by TV chefs and most cookery writers who assume limitless time & money and an unrestricted storecupboard, which is sadly very depleted by Thursday night.

 

The cheat’s paella is something that fills the gap.  It assumes only that you have got some rice, some onions, some garlic and some paprika in the house. 

 

I am also going to explain it a bit differently from the way most recipes are shown; one of my issues with much of cookery done on TV and in books is that it is done as if we are in a chemistry lesson, i.e. here’s a list of things you need and a load of steps to follow.  I don’t think this is how cooking should be explained or shown as most cooking is based around a few processes or steps that can then be built on infinitely to make a whole range of different flavours but based around the same starting concept.  Paella is similar, or at least a cheat’s paella is similar.

 

The core process

 

Stage 1 – making the rice

 

225g     Rice (theoretically it should be paella/risotto rice but we actually prefer a long-grained rice like basmati, plus basmati is more versatile in our house)

450ml   Water

6          Threads of saffron (optional)

 

Cook the rice how you would normally cook it until it is still a bit crunchy.  This should take about 10 minutes.  If you want to use the saffron, put the saffron in a mug or measuring jug, boil some water in a kettle and pour about 200ml of hot water onto the saffron.  Leave it to infuse for about 10 minutes, then strain this liquid into the rice and use it to cook the rice, replacing 200ml of the 450ml of water from the above recipe.  Actually, there is no need to be this precise – we assume a cupped hand of rice per person and then just cover the rice with water and cook, topping up as you need it.  With rice practice makes you better (rarely perfect). 

 

Stage 2 – making the base flavour

 

3          Cloves garlic

1          Medium-sized onion

2tbsp    Olive oil

2tsp      Paprika

Pinch    Salt

 

Chop up garlic and onion finely.  I actually put these in a food processor as our children are at that stage where (if they can see them) garlic and onions are the devil’s food, but if you chop them up really finely they don’t even notice that they are eating it.  Add the olive oil to a heavy-bottomed pan and over a medium heat cook the garlic-onions until they are just beginning to brown at the edges.  Add the paprika and salt and stir together.

 

Personalising the dish

 

Stage 3 – being creative

 

This is the stage at which you personalise the rice dish.  Basically you need some vegetables (traditionally this would be 2 rice tomatoes and 1 red pepper but we often add broccoli as the kids love eating this) and some protein (traditionally wild rabbit, crayfish, prawns or snails, none of which are very easy to come by, so we use ham, pre-cooked prawns and any left-over meat in the fridge).  Down below is how we did it the other day:

 

1          Breast of chicken, chopped into bite sized cubes

10        Scallops

16        Slices of chorizo

10        Pre-cooked prawns

 

These things are cooked together with the garlic-onion in the order needed to ensure that they are all cooked through.  Raw chicken is added a few minutes before starting to the cook the garlic-onions and will take about the same length of time as the onions.  The scallops take about 3 minutes so are added towards the end of cooking the onions, i.e. after about 5-6 minutes, then the chorizo and prawns are added in the last 2 minutes just to cook them through.  Add the drained rice to the vegetables and meat and mix thoroughly.

 

Serve with a green salad.

 

It is useful to have the oven on at 125oC at the same time, so if you get your timing wrong, you can either put the rice of the meat mix into the oven to keep warm, or if your kids are playing up and don’t come to tea straight away you can keep the whole lot warm in the oven without it spoiling.

 

Variations on a theme

 

You can make this into any style of cuisine by changing the flavour in Stage 2, so if you replace the paprika with curry powder, it can become a kedgeree style meal.  Here are some simple ideas:

 

1tsp Madras curry powder, plus replace chorizo with fish = cheat’s kedgeree rice

 

1tsp Nasi goreng, plus change chorizo for cooked ham, and add some salted peanuts (coarsely chopped) and 1 tablespoon light soy sauce = cheat’s Indonesian nasi goreng

Wood-smoked food

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

We have just had a couple of really disappointing smoked meals.  We had been sent a couple of Smoker Bags, which are made by SAVU in Finland, to try. 

The concept is great: they are aluminium foil bags with a 3-ply system that supposedly keeps the smoke in the bag via a bottom layer in the bag that contains the hickory or alder wood chips.

Firstly, we tried the Smoker Bag for Poultry with hickory wood chips.  We seasoned some chicken thighs and legs with sunflower oil, some salt and pepper and put them into the bags.  We cooked them in the oven for 30 minutes and then took out the cooked chicken, eating them with some boiled new potatoes and steamed broccoli.  The chicken did not taste at all smoked and our house smelt as though someone had lit a bonfire in it, albeit using pleasantly flavoured sweet hickory wood.

Today, we tried the Smoker Bag for Fish which was used alder wood chips.  This time we cooked cod fillets.  I did not season them at all this time as I was slightly concerned that maybe the seasoning had interfered with the smoke flavouring of the chicken legs, but added a smidgeon of milk.  I cooked them in the oven for only 20 minutes.   We served the “smoked” cod fillets with mashed potatoes with steamed mange tout and baby corn.  While the house did not get smoked out, the end result was still a real disappointment with very little smokiness coming through into the end product.

Getting decently flavoured home-smoked food is really difficult.  We are often asked for organic smoked paprika but find it hard to come by; actually, it seems impossible.  The problem is the smoking process: you need to find an organically certified smokery that’s willing to have a crack at smoking the paprika; then you need to find someone who’s willing to take sufficient volume to make it commercially viable (around 500kg).  There are no willing takers for either!

Anyway, it’s given me an idea for a new spices blend that would bring together that smokiness without the need of a Smoker Bag or a barbecue.  I’ll use this as a way of explaining how we come up with new ideas (the good, the bad and the truly disgusting), but it may take a couple of weeks to finesse the blend itself.