The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Recipe to add zest to boiled rice, frittata and other dishes

Photo: Savoury rice and cold meat

Photo: Savoury rice with cold meat

Simple boiled rice, such as good basmati, or a dish like frittata can be a joy, especially if you add a little something to lift it above the ordinary. In my wilder years, I learned to cook by trial and error after accepting a position in a Chelsea, London household even though I did not have the foggiest idea of even how to boil an egg.
Nowadays I would probably be summarily fired after Day Two but this couple were exceptionally kind people. On this blog I call them Smart Wife and Kind Husband. In England, the term Smart means relatively wealthy, well educated and well connected, rather than just intelligent. This couple were movers and shakers and way ahead of their time.
Kind Husband taught me how to make a simple dish, like baked egg, into a triumph of texture and flavour. Smart Wife showed me how to make a vichychoisse to die for, how to tart up macaroni cheese and a host of nifty shortcuts that would turn a basic dish into something superb.

“If all else fails feed your guests loads of expensive treats and some really good wine. After a few glasses they will guzzle whatever you put in front of them.”

My one regret about living with Danny is that he doesn’t like macaroni cheese – prinked up or the bog standard that I adore.

The  Chelsea expert tips and tricks were something that I forgot over the intervening years. I was totally focussed on my career and rarely cooked.
It is only in the past few years that we have rediscovered the joys of simplicity when it comes to cooking and how easy it can be to turn a plain dish into a memorable treat. It did take many experiments but each experience taught us a great deal, mainly about combinations that work  and how to pull around semi failures.

Photo: Fritatta with the special mixture

Photo: Fritatta with the special mixture

Dannyis very keen on developing these building blocks and has come up with a great combination addition to add to many dishes, like rice and frittata. He has not tried freezing it in batches yet but I cannot think of any reason why it should not work. Just thaw and reheat before adding. The combination of onion, garlic, bell peppers and romano peppers is sweet and delicious.

Ingredients
1 medium red onion (white will also work) about 100g to 150g unpeeled
50g approx each of red bell pepper, yellow or green bell pepper and romano pepper – that is a slice off each pepper
One or two cloves of garlic, approx 4g to 5g unpeeled
100 ml of boiling water
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp of either oyster sauce, mushroom sauce or red wine at a pinch
half tsb vegetable stock powder (or veg or chicken stock cube)
quarter tsb ground black pepper

Method
1. Pour the olive oil into a frying pan and heat it up at a quite low setting to avoid burning the ingredients (our ring goes from 1 to 9 and D sets it to 2 for 10 minutes while he prepares the veg)
2. Meanwhile peel and chop the onion, reasonably fine
3. Peel the garlic cloves and chop finely
4. Wash and slice the peppers into cubes about 1cm square
5. Add the onions to the heated oil in the frying pan and stir
6. While the onions are frying, in a jug or mug, mix the stock powder, balsamic, soy, oyster sauce, blavk pepper and the water and mix together
7. 5 minutes after the onions started to fry, add the garlic
8. After 5 more minutes add the peppers
9. After 10 more minutes add the liquid mix and cover the pan
10. Cook for another 10 minutes.

That’s it.
If you are cooking boiled rice, just add the rice to the frying pan, mix well and serve. A few cherry tomatoes added now are a great addition in season.
When we  cook frittata, we just add the beaten egg and stir it all together.

Simple boiled rice, like good basmati, or a dish like frittata can be a joy, especially if you add a little something to lift it above the ordinary. In my wilder years, I learned to cook (link) by trial and error after accepting a position in a Chelsea, London household even though I did not have the foggiest idea of even how to boil an egg.
Nowadays I would be summarily fired after Day Two but these were exceptionally kind people, towards me at least. I called them Smart Wife and Kind Husband. In England, the term Smart means relatively wealthy, well educated and well connected, rather than just intelligent. These were movers and shakers of their time.
He taught me how to make a simple dish, like baked egg, into a triumph of texture and flavour. That is something that I forgot over the intervening years when I was earning good money and mostly had the best of restaurant or take-out food.
It is only in the past few years that I have rediscovered the joys of simplicity and how easy it can be to turn a plain dish into a memorable treat. It did take many forgettable attempts but the experiences taught me a great deal, mainly about what works in combination and how to pull around semi failures.
Danny has developed this great addition to add to many dishes, like rice and frittata. He has not tried freezing it in batches yet but I cannot think of any reason why it should not work. Just thaw and reheat before adding. The combination of onion, garlic, bell peppers and romano peppers is sweet and delicious.

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2 Comments

  1. Marigold

    This reminds me of the “sofrito” my dear old dad used to use as a base for most of his Cuban recipes (minus the soy, balsamic, and stock).

  2. Veronica

    ooh, this sounds like a brilliant standby to keep in the freezer! Thanks Fiona!

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