Saturday, January 30, 2010

red pepper pilaf and postie problems

My first subscription copy of Country Living arrived this week (a Christmas present from Mum and Dad) miraculously intact - by which I mean, still in some form you could physically read, i.e. turn the pages, even if you didn't have opposable thumbs. If you can imagine the trajectory of my magazine from the printers in West Yorkshire in the UK to our little Alpine village 1500 km away, that's a lot of handling and you could forgive the odd torn or punctured packaging or dog-eared page. But the most dangerous leg of its journey, the critical stage which determines whether it arrives flat, as the publishers intended, or geometrically folded and creased like some origami composition, is the final two feet, the arm's length between the yellow Postman Pat van and our mail box.

The posties here in the country don't like to get out of the car (it's against their human rights or something), so rather than knock on your door and hand larger items to you, they bend and fold and wrestle them into the mail box. Two Christmases ago, a calendar measuring a square foot and featuring beautiful photographs of Scotland - clearly identifiable as a gift - was manhandled into a quarter of its size and forced so tightly into the mail box that it required a screwdriver to prise it out. It means having to be on postie alert on magazine days - and especially over the Christmas period.

This recipe for red pepper pilaf with chilli and cashews, featured in said mag, is a one-pot rice dish made with sweet red peppers and fiery chillis. I didn't have cashews to hand so I used peanuts (any nuts would work well I think) and I used a good squirt of Sriracha chilli sauce instead of paprika. Great as a starter or as a vegetable side dish with a main.


Serves 4-6
4-5 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 red peppers, seeded and cut into strips
12 oz/350 g long grain rice
handful of fine spaghetti, broken into small pieces
1 tbsp smoked hot pimentón or sweet hot paprika or chilli flakes
2 hot green chillies, seeded and diced
4 oz/100 g cashew nuts, toasted
3-4 large red peppers, halved lengthwise and seeded

Heat the oil in a heavy pan and fry the onion gently until caramelized and very dark. Push aside and add the pepper strips and fry until soft. Sir in the rice and pasta and turn in the oil.

Add enough water to cover to the depth of two fingers, salt, stir in the pimentón or paprika, turn down the heat and leave to simmer for about 15 minutes until the water has been absorbed and the rice is nearly tender. Stir in the diced green chilli and sprinkle with the roasted nuts. Cover with a cloth and leave for 10 minutes to settle and swell.

Arrange the pepper halves on a baking try and roast in the oven at a high heat until the flesh softens but hasn't yet collapsed. Heap the rice into the shells and place in the oven for another 5 minutes to heat through.


Neil King said...

We don't usually have this problem. Our postie doesn't get out of his van (which, pleasingly, is red) but instead honks his horn (so to speak) so that we can go and fetch any outsize items. If we don't answer, he opens the front door and pops (ouch!) the stuff in (so to speak again) given that he can open the door without getting out the van. If we're out and the door is locked, then it's the origami school of delivery into the post box for Hello! mag.

Kathie said...

Our letter carrier normally places our mail in our rural-style mailbox along the road at the head of our driveway. Should there be an oversize item, he brings the day's entire delivery up to the house, with the smaller items bundled together by a couple rubber bands, and leaves the whole lot on the old table on our roofed kitchen porch, where it stays reasonably (though not necessarily totally) dry.

BTW, Neil, did my calendar manage to arrive neither folded, spindled nor mutilated?

Anonymous said...

I wouldnt be fussed with an origami 'Hello' (I arrive at the dentist in good time for a read of that) But darling..CL! tell postie mummy wouldn't be pleased!We'll get you a CL size post box for next Christmas.

Sarah said...

Anonymous - lol - darling!

Charlene said...

Thanks for the comment you left on my blog a while ago! A link exchange sounds good. I will add your blog to my sidebar, if that's ok!

Oooh, and those peppers look yummy!

Sanchita said...

Hey Sarah, I make a similar dish called stuffed capsicum but this is much easier to serve and eat as you slice and open the capsicums..which looks great as well. Thanks a lot for this idea..I was thinking what to make for Sunday lunch but I think I know what I want to eat now...Thanks.

Kaycie said...

These peppers look delicious. I can't wait to try the recipe for myself.

Alyssa said...

I've added you! Sorry for taking so long to respond! Busy over here. hanks for noticing my blog! I'm always happy to have new followers. Let me know if you ever need someone to illustrate some food for you! :P (Although your photographs make it look absolutely mouthwatering!)

creampuff said...

Oh my gosh that postie story is hilarious! Glad the magazine made it somewhat safely. And the pilaf is delicious!

Caffettiera said...

Your post really made me laugh! When I lived in the UK, on the other hand, I had an opposite, but equally funny, experience. I once sent a large box of food from Italy: the postman arrived when nobody was at home, and he should have left an advice slip telling us what to do in order to collect the pack; what he thought instead, was that going to the post would be a huge annoyance for us, and decided to hide the box somewhere. So he walked behind the house, had a good look around, and decided that the only rain safe hiding place was... in the trash bin. For our good luck it was empty even if not exactly clean.

Thanks for the story and the recipe!