The Daring Cooks #3 Spanish dish of rice, mushrooms, cuttlefish and artichokes...

The host of this month's Daring Cooks challenge was Olga from Las Cosas de Olga and Olga’s Recipes. She have chosen a delicious Spanish recipe - Rice with mushrooms, cuttlefish and artichokes by José Andrés, one of the most important Spanish Chefs at the moment.

I really enjoyed this month's challenge. It was delicious - my Hubby had 2 BIG portions, accompanied by a pint of Kilkenny... I remember similar dish when I was in Barcelona - I loved it then too :) It was very easy to make, especially if you prepare your Sofregit in advance. The only 'hard work' was with the allioli - over 20 minutes of constant stirring in the mortar - and I wasn't happy with my final result, but it was tasty (the most important thing!).
I will be making this dish again for sure. Next time I'll try to experiment with different 'main ingredient' - maybe chicken, vegetarian version etc. ...

How to make it...

- 4 Artichokes (see 'my changes' below)
- 12 Mushrooms (button or Portobello)
- 1 or 2 Bay leaves (optional but highly recommended)
- 1 glass of white wine
- 2 Cuttlefish or Squid (see 'my changes' below)
- “Sofregit” (see recipe below)
- 300 gr (2 cups) Short grain rice (Spanish types Calasparra or Montsant are preferred, but you can choose any other short grain. This kind of rice absorbs flavor very well) of about 75 gr per person ( ½ cup per person)
- 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)

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

My (Anula's) changes:
- Personally I had to omit the artichokes as I couldn't get them - neither fresh nor frozen...
- Instead of cuttlefish I used: scallops, mussels, squid and prawns - they all worked great!
- The rice I used was normal risotto, as it was the most similar to those recommended in the recipe, I could get. I used water not a fish stock.

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

Allioli (Traditional recipe):
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled
- Pinch of salt
- Fresh lemon juice (some drops)
- Extra-virgin olive oil (Spanish preferred but not essential)
Place the garlic in a mortar along with the salt. Using a pestle, smash the garlic cloves to a smooth paste. (The salt stops the garlic from slipping at the bottom of the mortar as you pound it down.) Add the lemon juice to the garlic. Drop by drop, pour the olive oil into the mortar slowly as you continue to crush the paste with your pestle. Keep turning your pestle in a slow, continuous circular motion in the mortar. The drip needs to be slow and steady. Make sure the paste soaks up the olive oil as you go. Keep adding the oil, drop by drop, until you have the consistency of a very thick mayonnaise. If your allioli gets too dense, add water to thin it out. This takes time—around 20 minutes of slow motion around the mortar—to create a dense, rich sauce.