Thursday, June 17, 2010

Day 4 - Stuffed Tomatoes and Ras El Hanout Rice

It was actually dry today so I managed to get some long over due gardening done.

I weeded the greenhouse, and around the outside perimeter too, then transplanted some grown on tomato plants, my two not very happy looking aubergines, and my sprightly pepper plants.  I am so glad we have the greenhouse, it has proved it's value and was well worth the effort of hunting it down in the UK and bringing it with us, even though we did stress over the poly getting damaged before it was erected.

I also managed to plant out my spinach, my purple sprouting boroccoli, and my broad beans.  I did make a start on the weeding, but found that the hunger pangs drove me inside before the storm did.

Tonight's offering is actually a family favourite, another one pot dish (I am such a lazy cook).

Whilst generally I find supermarkets to be akin to the outer rings of hell, I do enjoy specialist shops, and one of my favourites is the North African supermarket in Clermont Ferrand.  This little shop of treasures has all things weird and wonderful, some larder staples and a good range of herbs and spices, one of which is a prepared Ras El Hanout mix for rice.

I have tried to make my own mix, but it can be so difficult to find uncommon herbs and spices in France that it is a false economy to make your own especially as at a bare minimum it needs at least 12 ingredients.

For my stuffed tomatoes then you need some good sized ripe tomatoes, for a main course I serve 2 per person, just 1 for a starter.

Cut the top off and scoop out the centre into a bowl and chop finely, add some minced meat, not much, you only need about 150g for 4 decent sized tomatoes and preferably a drier mince like beef or chicken, add salt, pepper, a chopped garlic clove and a generous dash of paprika and mix together.

Spoon the mixture back into the tomato, top with a slice of mozzarella, and put the tomato lid back on.

Place the stuffed tomatoes in a shallow oven proof dish.

Into the dish add 2 heaped tablespoons of basmatic rice per person, and a teaspoon of Ras El Hanout spice mix per serving of rice, then pour over boiling water until the rice is completely covered and the water level is at least 2 cm above the level of the rice.  Try to use a shallow dish, so that the water does not get deep enough to enter into the suffed tomatoes but sits sort of half way up them.

Bake in the oven for 1 hour covered at 200°C, then uncover and cook for a further 15 minutes.  If your dish is deeper you may need to check halfway through for liquid levels for the rice.

We ate our dinner on our laps in front of the TV, watching Shrek (again), and yet another storm rolled in, and now it is raining again.

Recipe for Ras el Hanout
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground ginger
I teaspoon turmeic
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

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