Well, it seems I am not the only person who enjoys cooking with paprika. January’s Spice Trail challenge received a bumper bag of spicy paprika dishes, from bread and biscuits to meaty casseroles, tasty pasta, warming soups and a whole host of exciting vegetarian dishes. So let’s get this show on the road and take a look at this month’s round-up…
Strong Cheddar cheese and paprika are a perfect match, as in these lovely savoury biscuits from Corina at Searching for Spice. Corina recently took these to a gathering at a friend’s house and, even though they weren’t the only cheesy biscuits on offer, hers were the first to go. I can see why!
Helen from The Crazy Kitchen brings two dishes to this month’s paprika party. First up are her vibrant vegetable burgers, and while they might be cheap and cheerful, using a bag of frozen veg and a tin of baked beans as their main ingredients, I bet they taste a million dollars. The secret’s in the spicing, which features garam masala, chilli and fresh coriander as well as paprika.
Helen’s second entry come in the form of these cute little sausageless rolls, based on very similar ingredients to her vegetable burgers. As well as being beautifully spiced, these tempting little rolls are also an ideal way to sneak veggies into unsuspecting little ones. I know I’d have no arguments getting my girls to eat a plate of these.
Gayathri from Spices Galore offers us this stunning couscous salad with a chermoula dressing, laden with gorgeous herbs and spices, such as cilantro, mint, cumin, coriander and, of course, lots of lovely paprika. This tasty salad has to be as good for you on this inside as it looks on the outside.
There’s more chermoula on the menu next, this time a sumptuous chermoula marinated halloumi from Deena Kakaya who I think is as much of an artist when it comes to preparing food as she is a cook. Her dishes always look incredible. The fresh Moroccan herb and spice mix sounds like a fabulous foil for the soft, salty halloumi and sweet apricot in this dish. As Deena says herself – lip-smacking!
Paprika works wonderfully with cauliflower, as in this delightful Creole cauliflower fritters from Kellie at Food to Glow, which boasts no less than three types of paprika in its Creole blend seasoning. I’m really enjoying experimenting with cauliflower recipes at the moment, and these fritters are definitely next on my list to try.
There’s more cauliflower up next from Choclette at Chocolate Log Blog and while I might be familiar with cauliflower teamed with paprika, throwing cocoa into the mix provides a much more unusual twist to the proceedings. But, of course, it wouldn’t be a Choclette recipe without a hint of chocolate in there somewhere. Cornish cauliflower is tossed in oil and dusted with Himalayan pink salt, black pepper, cocoa and paprika and simply roasted in the oven, resulting in a wonderful nutty flavour. I am absolutely intrigued and will have to try this out for myself very soon.
Selma from Selma’s Table has also been roasting vegetables – this time we’re served some delicious roasted broccoli with toasted almonds and a sexy smoked paprika dressing. This would be an excellent side dish but I think it looks good enough to eat on its own, and the dressing also makes a great marinade for chicken or fish, or can be used to “perk up” potatoes.
Ai Lin from Nomsies Kitchen offers us a hearty winter warmer with her tasty vegetarian lasagne. Doesn’t that cooked cheese look so good on top of all those succulent, spiced vegetables? Ever since a little girl, lasagne has been one of my favourite meals, and Ai Lin’s veggie version looks a real treat.
Shaheen from Allotment 2 Kitchen always makes beautiful pies and her rich and creamy mushroom and butter bean pie is no exception. Shaheen says she often makes paprika mushroom and potato pies but felt it was time to ring the changes and swapped the potato for butter beans, which she describes as “a lovely change from the stodge of the potatoes”. To be honest, I’d be more than happy eating either.
I am totally intrigued by the coconut bacon topping this cheesy chickpea dip from Janet at The Taste Space; it’s something I’ve never come across before but does sound rather wonderful. Coconut flakes are flavoured with tamari (or soy sauce), liquid smoke, maple syrup and smoked paprika to create the wonderful smokey coconut bacon chips, which you can then use as a crunchy topping for all kinds of dips and I guess salads too. Janet’s chickpea dip sounds marvellous too.
Lapin d’Or brings us not one, not two but three variations on eggs and paprika. As someone who could probably survive on eggs alone, I’m very happy about this. There’s paprika roast potatoes with fried egg, a classic egg mayonnaise spiced up with a good sprinkling of paprika, and eggs fried in bacon fat and seasoned with, well what else? Paprika.
As I said earlier, paprika partners well with cauliflower and this pairing appears again here in my roast cauliflower cheese soup, a slightly different take on that winter warmer classic. And of course cheese and paprika is another winning combination, so this really is a bowl of comfort food at its best in my eyes.
Gayathri from Spices Galore is back with another vibrant dish, this time a Mexican style black bean soup spiced with beautiful smoky chipotle chillies, paprika and cocoa – yes, another appearance! Served with a colourful orange and red onion salsa, this soup is as pleasing on the eye as I imagine it would be on the tastebuds.
This pan fried sea bass from Julie at Julie’s Family Kitchen brings us a fresh taste of summer despite the damp, chilly weather here in the UK right now. The Spanish style marriage of fish with chorizo and spices sounds just heavenly and a wonderful way to cheer up these grey days.
Think of paprika and one of the first dishes that comes to mind might well be a goulash. Linda from Mrs Portly’s Kitchen might not claim this to be an authentic Hungarian goulash perhaps, but it is extremely tasty and the perfect winter comfort food nonetheless. And I just love the sound of her light and fluffy herb dumplings.
Another helping of goulash next from Jacki Harrison-Stanley. As Jacki doesn’t blog herself, I volunteered to cook the recipe she entered into The Spice Trail and I can vouch for the fact this mildly spiced goulash with beautifully tender, slow cooked beef is a real crowd pleaser and my family scoffed the lot very happily.
This next dish, a pork fricassee from Janie at The Hedge Combers, is such a gregarious burst of colour on the plate, you know by looking at it how good it’s going make you feel and how good it’s going to taste. I think pork and paprika are perfect bed fellows but Janie reckons the smoked paprika sauce is also “man enough to stand up to a completely meat free dish”.
Julie from Julie’s Family Kitchen returns with another extremely pretty plate, this time smoked paprika beans and chorizo. The dish was inspired by a meal at an Italian restaurant, although after playing with the ingredients she has ended up with something a little more Spanish sounding. I love the way our experiments in the kitchen can do that sometimes.
Michelle from Utterly Scrummy presents us with another splendid splash of colour and another helping of chorizo in this glorious stromboli. I’d never heard of stromboli before but now understand it to be a “Swiss Roll type savoury filled bread thing” – Michelle’s words! The combination of soft, succulent roasted vegetables, herb, spices, oozy cheese and smoky chorizo sounds like heaven on a plate to me.
Having a slight penchant for sausages, you won’t be surprised that I’m rather taken with this sausage stroganoff from Angela at My Golden Pear. Sausages are a great budget alternative to more expensive cuts of meat when it comes to cooking stews and casseroles; the best quality sausages you can afford will always be cheaper than the equivalent weight of lamb or beef. As well as cheap, Angela’s stroganoff is also simple, quick, and tasty. Definitely my kind of food.
I come over all Homer Simpson when I look at this incredible plate of pulled pork from Karen at Lavender & Lovage. Isn’t this just utterly droolsworthy? Karen says the secret to this recipe, which comes from the Ginger Pig Farmhouse Cookbook, is to use good quality free-range British pork, along with this delectable spicy rub made from a tantalising assortment of herbs, seasonings and spices, including mustard, garlic, chilli, cumin, celery and fennel seeds and, of course, smoked paprika.
Here is another classic Hungarian paprika dish from Alexandra, aka The Lass in the Apron. Her fantastic veal schnitzels are served with a beautiful scarlet-hued sauce made from soured cream, onion and paprika, a trio common in Hungarian cookery. I haven’t eaten schnitzel for many years, but I think it is definitely time to remedy that and I think this might be just the recipe to try.
Martin the Spurs Cook has brought another stroganoff to our paprika feast, featuring both sweet and smoked paprika and a whole host of fresh and dried herbs. I bet it tastes simply divine and just the kind of food I’m yearning for as the rain lashes our house here in Somerset.
More sausages up next to keep me content, this time in the form of a wonderful sausage and apple casserole from Ness at JibberJabberUK. I love apples with my pork chops but I’ve never thought to add them to a sausage casserole, so I look forward to trying this out myself. And of course the paprika and wholegrain mustard in there help to make this a gorgeous winter warmer.
Yet more sausages on the menu, this time in a spicy sausage pasta from yours truly. This is one of my all-time favourite meals. It’s rich, tasty, spicy and incredibly easy to make. Perfect, in my eyes.
Angela from My Golden Pear is treating us with another amazing paprika dish from her kitchen, along with more stunning photography. Her images always make me so hungry; I want to reach my hand into the computer screen and grab a taste. In Angela’s dish, succulent chicken thighs are coated in breadcrumbs, cheese, paprika and garlic, and then baked until golden and crispy. She suggests they might be a kind of grown up version of chicken nuggets. Only so much more tempting.
As I may well have said before, cheese and paprika go together very well, but I’ve never seen them brought together as flavouring for popcorn. But that’s exactly what Louisa from Eat Your Veg has done and the outcome sounds absolutely scrummy. I can’t wait to organise a movie night for my daughters and their friends so I can serve them some of this. I know they’re going to adore it.
I wasn’t really expecting to receive any sweet entries to this month’s Spice Trail challenge, but are final two dishes provide a lovely sweet finale to our spicy paprika feast. These paprika and walnut swirls from Sarah at Tales from the Kitchen Shed look just gorgeous and are inspired by Hungarian Paprikas Kalacs, which translates as paprika bread. This traditional paprika bread is shaped like a Swiss roll and is flaky due to the high lard content. Sarah has cleverly adapted the idea, using her own sweet dough recipe, with a lovely tender crumb, as well as creating a sweet paprika flavoured sugar cream. I don’t believe I’ve ever tried paprika in a sweet dish but that’s about to change as I plan to make these pretty swirls very soon.
Last but most definitely not least, for the pudding course of our amazing paprika banquet, Sarah from The Garden Deli has baked us a big batch of these irresistibly naughty dark chocolate and paprika cookies. While I’m a big fan of chilli and chocolate, paprika and chocolate is a new one on me but I can imagine they taste fantastic together. Another recipe I will be having a go at very soon. And what a marvellous way to end our round-up.
This month’s winner
I was thrilled with the dishes entered for the paprika challenge, all of which look so delicious, and such a varied collection of dishes too. But there can only be one winner for this month’s Spice Trail. Or can there?
The winner is set to receive a very cool gift bag from the generous souls at The Cool Chile Co, and so I passed the tricky task of choosing a winner on to them. This is what Kelly from Cool Chile had to say:
“It was a really close call and we finally narrowed it down to two. So we would like to have two winners!
“The first winner is Food to Glow for her Pan-fried Creole Cauliflower Fritters. We really liked this recipe and loved the fact that the humble cauliflower was the star of the show. The idea of the crispy, crunchy cauliflower, with the well-balanced Creole seasoning, tucked in a soft bun with crispy lettuce is a real winner for us.
“We also liked the Chermoula Marinated Halloumi from Deena Kakaya. This recipe had great flavour combinations and the balance of salty, sweet and spicy made this dish a real contender.”
Huge congratulations to both Deena and Kellie from Food to Glow for their extremely well-deserved wins. Email me your addresses and Cool Chile will send out your fabulous gift bags very soon. And thanks so much to The Cool Chile Co for their wonderful generosity in offering up not one, but two prizes this month.
Our journey along The Spice Trail continues in February as we celebrate cooking with caraway. What dish will you enter next?