Thursday, February 10, 2011

"Paella" Fried Rice and Bread Soup for Fast Days





From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...Long before the Reformation split Christian Europe into opposing camps, the Lenten season was marked by a ritual called the Black Fast. The 40 day fast was a diet that restricted believers to one small meal a day. That meal could contain no meat, fats or dairy products and during Holy Week, the week before Easter Sunday, the meal was simply bread and water that was seasoned with salt and herbs. Believers rarely strayed from the plan. I suspect shortages contributed to their compliance, and that the fast helped ration a limited food supply during the lean months prior to harvest. The rules of the fast softened over time, and a provision was made to add breakfast and lunch to the diet, as long as their combined size was smaller than the evening meal. Since the Second Vatican Council, rules have eased further still and fasting is now required only on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, and abstinence from meat is required only on Fridays during Lent. While looking for new Lenten recipes, I found a recipe for soup that purportedly was served to fasting monks in pre-Reformation Europe. I thought you might find it interesting. The recipe appears at the end of this post.

One of the recipes I found last night is this Paella-style fried rice. It has a split personality. The dish has the flavors of a Spanish paella, but it is made like an Asian fried rice. The recipe comes from an old issue of Gourmet magazine, and I was able to test it for our own dinner. I used sausage in the dish, but I can assure you the recipe will work as well, or better, with shrimp. This is a lovely, peasant-style meal. It uses copious quantities of cumin seed and red pepper flakes, but they are well balanced and do not overpower the dish. While this is probably not a good choice for young children, older children and adults will love this Spanish-style supper. It is stir-fried in an Asian manner, so to prevent clumping you want to make sure that your cooked rice is well-chilled and that any clumps are broken into individual grains. Globs are not good. This is really easy to do, and I think those of you who try it will enjoy it. I will certainly make it again. It is a nice family meal that works well on its own or as an accompaniment to grilled meat or chicken. Here's the recipe.

"Paella" Fried Rice...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite adapted from Gourmet Magazine

Ingredients:
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
1 large onion, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
2 (3 to 4-ounce) Spanish chorizo (spicy dried pork sausage) links, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1/4-inch-thick pieces, or 8-ounces small shrimp, peeled and deveined
4 cups cold cooked rice
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1 (10-ounces) package frozen peas, thawed
1/3 cup hulled (green) pumpkin seeds, toasted
1 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro

Directions:
1) Heat oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over moderate heat until hot but not smoking. Add cumin and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, for about 1 minute. Add onion and bell pepper and cook, stirring, until softened.
2) If using chorizo add to pan and sauté over moderately high heat, stirring, until sausage begins to brown, about 3 minutes. If using shrimp, add to pan and and sauté over moderately high heat, stirring, until shrimp turn pink, about 3 minutes.
3) Add rice, crumbling it, and salt. Sauté, stirring, until some grains begin to turn golden, about 3 minutes. Add peas and sauté, stirring, just until peas are heated through. Remove from heat and stir in pumpkin seeds and cilantro. Serve hot. Yield: 4 to 6 servings.

Bread Soup For Fast Days...from La Cuisine des Monastères courtesy of Marc Meneau

Ingredients:
3 quarts vegetable stock
1/3 cup pearl barley boiled for 25 minutes in 1 quart of stock
4 slices of raisin bread about an inch thick
1 cup of white wine
2 cloves garlic, cut into halves
2 shallots, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley leaves
1 tablespoon fresh tarragon
1 tablespoon fresh chervil
2 cups watercress
3 juniper berries, crushed
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
1) Simmer chopped shallots in 3-1/2 tablespoons of white wine, without browning. Set aside and let cool.
2) Mix cooked shallots with the washed, dried, and chopped herbs. Set aside.
3) In a heavy pot, bring remainder white wine to a boil, add 1/3 of stock to pot and reduce volume of liquid by 1/4th. Repeat this process twice with the remaining stock. You should have about 1 quart of liquid by the time you are finished.
4) Season broth with juniper berries, salt, pepper; add the barley. Set aside.
5) Toast bread slices, rubbed heavily with cut garlic, and cover each of four slices of bread with 1/4 of prepared herbs.
6) Place one bread slice inside each of four deep bowls, and pour hot broth around bread. Serve immediately. Yield: 4 servings.

You might enjoy these recipes:
Orange Rosemary Broiled Salmon - Fresh4Five
Sesame Soba Noodles - Annie's Eats
Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms - Sweet Basil Kitchen
Some Mighty Lovely Lentil Burgers - The Ungourmet
Vegetable and Barley Stuffed Peppers - Proud Italian Cook
Cheddar Cheese Souffle - Wives with Knives
Shrimp Cakes with Sweet and Sour Tomato Sauce - One Perfect Bite
Shrimp Enchiladas Verde - One Perfect Bite

59 comments:

GLENDA CHILDERS said...

Hey friend ~ Check out my blog today . . . you are a winner. (you always were.)

fondly,
Glenda

yummychunklet said...

I absolutely love fried rice, but I also throw in some Chinese sausage.

Pondside said...

I've never heard of anything like that Bread Soup - very interesting!

Eliana said...

I have never met a rice dish I didn't like but I have to say, this one look superb Mary :)

sweetpeaskitchen.com said...

This paella fried rice sounds delish and super easy! Thanks for sharing...I need to try this soon! :)

Ginny said...

Tonight I'm enjoying your story more than the recipes! Neither one of us have heard of the Black Fast. So Lent and the Friday thing are really an extension and modification of the Black Fast? I have a question about the fudge sauce. You cook while stirring constantly till it comes to a boil. Then cook five more minutes. During the last five minutes, do you let it gently simmer on it's own, or do you continue to stir? And can I halve the recipe?

crustabakes said...

I grew up eating asian fried rice, and this paella looks exactly like it. Very delicious looking. YUM!

Buttercup said...

This looks great and I really enjoyed your discussion of fasting.

Jeannie said...

Mary, you post so regularly on your blog, I can't catch up! So many posts that I have to scroll down everytime I visit here! Love the chocolate fudge and the chow fun you have in your earlier posts. Of cos this fried rice looks equally delicious!

Elin said...

Mary, I love fried rice and this looks delicious..yum yum!

Have a nice day,
Elin

Ah Tze said...

Mary, you really surprise me with your lovely fried rice! Asian eat rice nearly everyday, but not all of us know how to make a plate of lovely fried rice, you did it so well!

Sunanda said...

First visit here.. u have a very nice space here.. Started following you to get the updates..Fried rice looks superb and delicious

Food, Fun and Life in the Charente said...

Bread soup - that is something new to me. Interesting. Diane

Three-Cookies said...

Interesting history, I was not aware. Spanish fried rice sounds nice - Spain Asia fusion.

Asteri said...

It looks delicius.
I love fried rice
Cheers

Priya said...

Yumm, fried rice and soup sounds absolutely filling and delicious..

muppy said...

Thats really interesting, thankyou.

Cherine said...

I love fried rice!!

Rita said...

I really love paella and this one sounds so much easier to make.I hae heard of bread soup. I remember lent; it was very serious when I was growing up and continued the practice with my boys. But now we seem to have out grown this tradition.

Ma What's 4 dinner said...

I didn't know about the fast. See you learn something new every day. And Paella??? My favorite! Your recipe looks fantastic.

Lots of yummy love,
Alex aka Ma What's For Dinner
www.mawhats4dinner.com

Tanna at The Brick Street Bungalow said...

Mary, your recipes are always interesting; but, your stories are even more so. Thank you.

Clint said...

Now you've done it. I LOVE paella. I mean it is to die for. I have hurt myself several times making love to this heavenly dish. I like it with black beans, rice and chopped onions on the side and a couple of glasses of sangria. Ummm Ummm. Bless you, child.

Design Wine and Dine said...

A beautiful dish! I love the idea of the Spanish Paella with an Asian fried rice twist! Your idea of using shrimp would be perfect too! Thanks Mary!

Kim said...

I'm keeping this recipe of fried rice, it looks really great! tHanks! Have a good day!

Jenn said...

I love the paella rice! I mean it's got Chorizo, you know it's gonna be good!! The soup is definitely interesting! Thanks for the background on the fasting. I didn't realize it had once been so intense!

tasteofbeirut said...

Interesting about the fasting habits and bread soup; in Lebanon growing up people I knew were fasting too, just with things like lentil dishes and salads and veggies cooked in olive oil.
Paella sounds real good and much more streamlined.

StephenC said...

Thanks for the tips about fried rice (cold, broken into individual grains). Maybe now I can make a better version of it than in the past.

kitchen flavours said...

We love fried rice, and the paella fried rice looks so delicious. A really great idea! Never heard of Bread Soup before, must be really good with all the fresh herbs!

PeggyR said...

This looks very tastey!

Keeley said...

Mmmm... I love fried rice and I love paella. I'm always looking for a shortcut, so I'll try thi sone this weekend with half chorizo, half shrimp.

Big Dude said...

The rice dish sounds delicious Mary, I like the chorizo in it.

Southerncook said...

Both recipes sound sooooooooo good and the Paella Fried Rice is a beautiful dish. I always enjoy visiting your blog Mary.

Carolyn/A Southerners Notebook

Fresh Local and Best said...

This is the first time I am learning of Black Fast. I think a period of austerity when it comes to food is good for grounding the soul and developing an appreciation for the simpler things. The paella is quite an attractive recipe. I adore chorizo and shrimp. The soup looks quite cleansing and is perfect for this holiday.

Candace said...

For some reason, I've always been intimidated by the thought of preparing paella. This fusion dish is perfect for me. Love!

From the Kitchen said...

I've got what I need to do the "paella". I checked it twice and there's no saffron. I don't have saffron. I know you have some = )!! I'll be doing the dish with shrimp. I did have some Polish sausage that would be quite nice I think; however, after slicing up half of it for a dish, sweet Oliver helped himself when I left the kitchen. Yes, he consumed 1/2 pound of Polish sausage in less than 30 seconds!! He's our first "grazer" and we haven't quite figured out how to outsmart him. So, shrimp it shall be!

Best,
Bonnie

Lulu B said...

Wow this looks so tasty, big fan of rice so this dish is definately going to go down well :o)

Claudia said...

The rice looks wonderful but in these dark, cold days I am really attracted to the soup!

Brandie@thecountrycook said...

You always come up with the best combination of flavors!!

Lucie said...

Interesting story, Mary! I always learn a lot when I head over to your blog :) The paella rice sounds divine!

Joanne said...

Wow. This really made me glad that I was born in the present day and not back in the times of the Black fast. It sounds...not so much fun.

I love this paella fried rice though! A fun take on a Chinese classic!

Mateja ^_^ said...

My family and I we all love love love this rice, we call it colorful rice and it's a frequent guest on our dinner table! Thank you for sharing :)

That Girl said...

I love paella so I am very intrigued by this fried rice hybrid.

Faith said...

What a great post, Mary! I loved reading about the Black Fast...very interesting! I also love the idea of Paella Fried Rice, it looks absolutely delicious!

The Blonde Duck said...

Oh Ben would love this!

All That I'm Eating said...

I've not seen anything like this before. It looks really good! Really interesting about the Black Fast.

teresa said...

very interesting! i love getting a little history whenever i can! this looks delicious, i just love all the colors in there!

Kankana said...

Fried Rice is yet another comfort food for me .. and your dish looks so much like the one I usually make .. beautiful !

Catherine said...

This sounds wonderful! I am interested in trying the bread soup.
Cheers~

Emma said...

Great post! Your fried rice looks very tasty I must say, I'd love a bowl right now :)

Beth said...

Your fried rice looks great. And since my husband is allergic to shrimp, a sausage version would be perfect for us!

Lizzy said...

A speedy paella? Marvelous!!! I love it, but reserve it for special occasions. It looks wonderful, Mary!

Simply Life said...

paella is one of my favorite things- this looks great!

Reeni said...

Your paella fried rice looks wonderful Mary, like something my family and I would love, being big fans of chorizo! Maybe I'm crazy but the bread soup sounds pretty good too!

Elaine said...

I wonder how the paella dish would taste with both the chorizo and shrimp. It looks like a very satisfying meal. The bread soup sounds so interesting made with raisin bread. I would like to try to make both of these.

Miriam said...

Excellent recipes! As always :). Enjoy your weekend, Miriam@Meatless Meals For Meat Eaters

Junia said...

thanks so much for the blog visit! you are quite a cook yourself - looking forward to your posts too! :)

Biren @ Roti n Rice said...

We love paella and this easy fried rice version would work very nicely for us. I need to give this a try :)

lena said...

hi mary, i had missed so many of your posts..time to catch up. I think this paella rice is very similiar to our asian version of fried rice except for the added cumins.I've seen some cooking paella in a slightly different method, different versions where they boil and simmer the rice in the paella pan until cooked , both ways sound good to me. YOur bread soup is interesting and new to me.

abdul said...

Sounds and looks delicious! Thank you for sharing your recipe! on

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