Bankevair (bankevair) wrote,

Daring Cooks August Challenge

I took part in the August Daring Cook's Challenge after seeing erushi's past few posts about them. If you don't know about them, you can find them here: The Daring Kitchen. Sign up! It's a different challenge every month. Quite an interesting way to add some variety in the kitchen.

First off, the recipe:

Rice with mushrooms, cuttlefish and artichokes
Cooking time: 45 minutes

  • 1 Chopping Board
  • 1 knife
  • 1 medium saucepan
  • 1 Paella pan (30 cm/11” is enough for 4 people. If not available, you may use a simple pan that size)
  • 1 Saucepan

Ingredients (serves 4):

  • 4 Artichokes (you can use jarred or freezed if fresh are not available)
  • 12 Mushrooms (button or Portobello)
  • 1 or 2 Bay leaves (optional but highly recommended)
  • 1 glass of white wine
  • 2 Cuttlefish (you can use freezed cuttlefish or squid if you don’t find it fresh)
  • “Sofregit” (see recipe below)
  • 300 gr (2 cups) Short grain rice (Spanish types Calasparra orMontsant are preferred, but you can choose any other short grain. Thiskind of rice absorbs flavor very well) – about 75 gr per person ( ½ cupper person) Please read this for more info on suitable rices.
  • Water or Fish Stock (use 1 ½ cup of liquid per ½ cup of rice)
  • Saffron threads (if you can’t find it or afford to buy it, you can substitute it for turmeric or yellow coloring powder)
  • Allioli (olive oil and garlic sauce, similar to mayonnaise sauce) - optional


  1. Cut the cuttlefish in little strips.
  2. Add 1 or 2 tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan and put the cuttlefish in the pan.
  3. If you use fresh artichokes, clean them as shown in the video in tip #7. Cut artichokes in eights.
  4. Clean the mushrooms and cut them in fourths.
  5. Add a bay leaf to the cuttlefish and add also the artichokes and the mushrooms.
  6. Sauté until we get a golden color in the artichokes.
  7. Put a touch of white wine so all the solids in the bottom of the get mixed, getting a more flavorful dish.
  8. Add a couple or three tablespoons of sofregit and mix to make sure everything gets impregnated with the sofregit.
  9. Add all the liquid and bring it to boil.
  10. Add all the rice. Let boil for about 5 minutes in heavy heat.
  11. Add some saffron thread to enrich the dish with its flavor andcolor. Stir a little bit so the rice and the other ingredients get theentire flavor. If you’re using turmeric or yellow coloring, use only1/4 teaspoon.
  12. Turn to low heat and boil for another 8 minutes (or until rice is a little softer than “al dente”)
  13. Put the pan away from heat and let the rice stand a couple of minutes.

Sofregit (a well cooked and fragrant sauce made of olive oil, tomatoes, garlic and onions, and may at times
different vegetables such as peppers or mushrooms)-

Cooking time: aprox. 1 hour

  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 5 big red ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 small onions, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped (optional)
  • 4 or 5 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 cup of button or Portobello mushrooms, chopped (optional)
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • Salt
  • Touch of ground cumin
  • Touch of dried oregano


  1. Put all the ingredients together in a frying pan and sauté slowly until all vegetables are soft.
  2. Taste and salt if necessary (maybe it’s not!)

Allioli is the optional part of the recipe. You must choose oneof the two recipes given, even though I highly recommend you to trytraditional one. Allioli is served together with the rice and it givesa very nice taste

Allioli (Traditional recipe)
Cooking time: 20 min aprox.

  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • Pinch of salt
  • Fresh lemon juice (some drops)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil (Spanish preferred but not essential)


  1. Place the garlic in a mortar along with the salt.
  2. Using a pestle, smash the garlic cloves to a smooth paste. (Thesalt stops the garlic from slipping at the bottom of the mortar as youpound it down.)
  3. Add the lemon juice to the garlic.
  4. Drop by drop; pour the olive oil into the mortar slowly as you continue to crush the paste with your pestle.
  5. Keep turning your pestle in a slow, continuous circular motion inthe mortar. The drip needs to be slow and steady. Make sure the pastesoaks up the olive oil as you go.
  6. Keep adding the oil, drop by drop, until you have the consistencyof a very thick mayonnaise. If your allioli gets too dense, add waterto thin it out. This takes time—around 20 minutes of slow motion aroundthe mortar—to create a dense, rich sauce.

Being short on time, the only time I'm able to cook is really dinner time. So please pardon the lousy quality my photos have. There's really quite insufficient light in the kitchen at night: Enough to cook and eat by, but not quite enough to take studio quality photos.

I cooked the Sofregit the night before I was planning to cook the main dish.

The ingredients for the Sofregit.

This process was quite straightforward. Like the recipe said, I diced everything and then chucked it all in to cook. The cooking time says 1 hour, but I took 40 minutes to finish everything including preparation time. But I did have a (unwilling!) helper, thanks to iriael. As I was cooking the Sofregit, I kept getting this bad feeling that I had diced the ingredients too large. Turns out I didn't, and the large chunks actually helped because that means some texture was retained after it had all cooked and melted into this big puddle of incredibly tasty goo.

The finished Sofregit

I couldn't stop stealing from the bowl, it was so yummy! Pardon that photo, my plates and bowls are all rather strong in colouring, and is probably screwing with the colour balance in that photo there. =(

The next day, I started preparing for the main dish at 6.30pm. The whole process from start to end that day took 1 and a half hours.

Some of the ingredients needed for the main dish.

This was my first time working with Portobello Mushrooms. Goodness they are massive! Instead of spanish short grain, or whatever it was that the recipe recommended, I decided to use Sushi rice. Mainly because it was available at home, and I didn't want to go out and buy a new pack of rice for just the one dish.

Instead of cuttlefish, I've also decided to use potatoes, making it a fully vegetarian dish as my housemate doesn't quite like seafood. And seeing as this was going to be dinner for the household, I had to make sure it'd be something he'd eat!

What I found with the changes is that I had to use way more liquids than was recommended in the recipe to ensure that the rice was cooked properly. It also doubled the cooking time.
I probably also added more white wine than was necessary. Good way of getting rid of wines that don't taste that great anymore but would help flavour a dish incredibly so!

And because I couldn't find any fresh bay leaves, and had to use prepackaged ones: I found that the they weren't as strong as fresh ones would have been. Therefore I added way more than was recommended in the recipe again.

And yes, I am quite aware that you don't have to follow recipes to the letter, but I'm merely documenting my changes here.

It's cooking, it's cooking!

Let me just say now, that I've never done anything like this before. I love Paella, but I've never tried my hand at cooking anything Spanish before. Therefore I was terribly anxious as to how this would turn out. But while it was cooking, the house smelt incredible, and it tasted incredible too. With my excuse of being chef and needing to make sure that it tasted alright, I had already sneaked quite a few spoonfuls in before dinner had even started proper. Never let me work in a professional restaurant I tell you.

And while the rice was cooking, we made the Allioli aka. Garlic oil.

Hey look clamwings! There's your mum's mortar and pestle!

I dislike the taste and the smell of Garlic usually, but this was divine. Not so divine the next day.. but while I was eating it? Absolutely delicious. This took around 20 minutes and quite a bit of arm work. Thank you iriael! You basically crush all the garlic cloves, add a bit of salt, and make it all paste like before adding in olive oil bit by bit. You don't really have to add quite a lot of it if you don't want to, it all depends on what kind of consistency you'd like for your sauce / dip / gravy / paste.

And for goodness's sake, don't do what I did the next day: I accidentally went to microwave the Allioli along with the remaining of the rice. Smart move, not.

And last but not least, here's the (lousy) cover photo again!

Thoughts on this challenge

Between 4 of us, it worked out to be less than 5 dollars per person, but we did already have the rice at home.
Incredibly tasty, the pickiest eater amongst us voted this as a keeper.

I do believe I can cut the cooking time down by more than half now that I know what I'm doing and will not need to constantly check back on the recipe with a constant fear of getting it wrong.

And really, it was so so so tasty! Next time, I'm adding asparagus, more artichokes and perhaps other form of greens.

And that Sofregit, we are so totally using that as a pasta sauce by itself at some point. It'd be chunky sauce, but yummy sauce!
Tags: daring cooks
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