Saturday, January 7, 2017


My kitchen: new induction cooktop and electric oven!

Oh no! I burned the lentil soup! In an instant, the lentils and carrots at the bottom of the pot scorched, ruining lunch and a perfectly good pan.

This happened on my brand-new induction cooktop. I hadn’t intended to use it until learning more about how it works. But, as luck would have it, when I turned on the big old gas stove to heat up lunch, the burner sputtered out—an empty butane tank. Ben called some burly friends and they, unceremoniously, moved the old stove out. Bye-bye, bombonas (butane tanks).

I put the pot on the new cooktop, turned up the heat dial and touched “P” for power. By the time I turned to get the soup bowls ready, the soup had scorched.

I felt like a dolt. Or, anyway, a novitiate in the kitchen. There’s going to be a learning curve here, as I adapt to a new way of cooking. So, “P” for power is great for bringing a pot of water to a boil to cook pasta—but not for anything with solids that rest on the superheated bottom.

Smaller oven, but 11-pound turkey just fits!

My new eye-level electric oven presented no orientation problems, other than needing to convert Fahrenheit to Celsius for temperature settings. I put in an 11-pound stuffed turkey, basted it with olive oil and white wine every 30 minutes. The turkey was roasted in less than three hours. While I made the gravy, I popped mashed potatoes with pimentón and roasted Brussels sprouts in the oven to reheat.

Roast garlic under broiler/grill.

I’m using the oven way more than I did the oversize one on the old gas stove. It is radically more efficient. Plus, I need it to do a few things that I used to do on an open gas flame—like roast a head of garlic (to add to lentils or black-eyed peas) or roast bell peppers.

Cut peppers in half and flatten them to roast under broiler/grill.

And, I can’t use my clay cazuelas and earthenware tagine on the cooktop (only pans with ferrous content, that a magnet will stick to, work on induction), so, until I get a special induction plate, I am using the oven for clay-pot cooking too.

My first experiment—arroz marinero, seafood rice in cazuela—was a little off on the timing. Although I know from experience how earthenware holds the heat, I still managed to overcook the rice in cazuela!

Note to self: stand back when opening the oven to avoid an eye-level blast of steam.

Baked Rice with Seafood in Cazuela
Cazuela de Arroz Marinero al Horno

Rice and seafood, baked in an earthenware cazuela.

Bring cazuela right to the table to serve.

A touch of saffron gives rice a golden hue.

An earthenware cazuela takes a long time to come up to temperature, but once the liquid starts to bubble, the cazuela holds the heat for a long time. Take the rice out of the oven before it is completely tender and allow it to finish cooking in a 10-minute waiting time. 
Bomba is a variety of Spanish rice that doesn’t readily overcook and turn mushy. If not available, use medium round-grain paella rice or Italian risotto rice. 

If you can get whole shrimp with the heads on and you don’t mind peeling them, they’re best because the shells add flavor to the oil for cooking the sofrito. If whole shrimp are not an easy option, just skip the first step in this recipe.

Serves 4-6.

Par-boiled artichokes and frozen peas.
1 pound whole jumbo shrimp
1/3 cup olive oil
½ cup chopped onion
½ cup chopped red or green bell pepper
2 cloves garlic, chopped
¾ cup grated tomatoes (2-3 plum tomatoes)
¼ cup dry Sherry or manzanilla
½ teaspoon pimentón (paprika)
Saffron (optional), crushed
2 tablespoons hot water
2 cups round-grain rice, preferably bomba variety
½ pound cleaned squid, cut in rings
12 ounces monkfish fillet, cut in 1 ½ -inch cubes
5 cups fish or chicken stock
1 cup frozen peas
Artichoke bottoms, frozen or par-boiled
Sprigs of fresh mint or chopped parsley

Fry heads and shells to flavor oil.
Peel the shrimp, keeping the heads and shells. Reserve the bodies. Heat the oil in a skillet. Add the shrimp heads and shells and fry them on medium heat until they change color. Remove from heat. Tilt the pan so oil runs to one side and carefully skim out the shrimp heads and shells. When they are cool, discard.

Cook tomatoes until jammy-thick.

Add the onion, pepper and garlic to the oil and sauté on medium heat until softened and beginning to brown, 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes. Turn up the heat and cook until reduced to a thick sauce. Add the Sherry and cook until evaporated. Stir in the pimentón.

Dissolve the saffron, if using, in the hot water. Stir it into the sofrito tomato sauce. Scrape all of the sauce into a 12-inch cazuela. Add the rice.

Add the cut-up squid and cubes of monkfish to the skillet and sauté them very quickly. Add to the sofrito and rice in the cazuela.

The cazuela can be prepared up to this point at least 1 hour in advance.

Preheat oven to 425ºF. Bring the fish stock to a boil. Taste it and add enough salt to season the cooked rice. Stir the hot stock into the cazuela. Add the peas and artichoke bottoms.

Bake the rice uncovered. Careful of escaping steam when opening the oven!
Carefully place the cazuela, uncovered, in the oven. Bake until the liquid just begins to bubble, about 20 minutes. Carefully slide oven rack partially out. Add the reserved shrimp to the cazuela and stir the rice. 

Lower oven temperature to 350ºF. Return the cazuela to the oven and cook until most of the liquid has been absorbed, but rice still has a kernel of hardness, about 15 minutes. Remove the cazuela from the oven and allow it to set 10 minutes. Garnish with sprigs of mint. Serve the rice from the cazuela.

Earthenware cookware holds the heat for a long time.

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  1. I'm still not ready to abandon my gas stove/convection oven. But a lot of good cooks I know have moved to induction. Maybe it was just an excuse to buy new pots. :-)

    1. David: I cannot bear to give up cazuelas! But it was time to phase out bottled gas tanks from my life. I will replace an old favorite (cast aluminum) stew pot. Now experimenting with Spanish rolled steel deep skillets in place of round-bottom wok. Challenges, right in the kitchen!

    2. I found an old piece of Corningware that has permanent scorch marks from leaving it on an electric stove :-(

    3. David: Corning glass won't heat on induction, so not an issue. The cooktop doesn't make heat, tho it does retain some after removing a pan.

  2. Hi Janet, I couldn't help but laugh while reading about your trials with the new stove top and oven! It's nice to hear someone with your expertise in the kitchen, can have issues too! Your baked recipe with seafood in the cazuela reminds me of your FABULOUS! Paella!
    Oh to be is Spain! Patty

  3. HAPPY NEW YEAR, Janet (though belated wishes, I know: sorry - been away). Your kitchen looks great and so are your ideas for using dried figs. Yummy, yummy. How do you have so many lamb shanks in your freezer? In the UK we but individually (from a farm shop) and eat them within the couple of days; never any left over to go in the freezer. Enjoy the kitchen - like an new acquaintance, it takes time to become a friend/

    1. JohnD: Feliz año to you, too. Thanks for the kitchen good wishes. The shanks added up--one by one-- over many months. One does not make a meal, so I would freeze it. Finally had enough to use them up. (Not usual to find just shanks at the butcher.)

    2. Thanks for clarifying. Patience is clearly a virtue I need better to practice, if I'm going to enjoy - and I know I will - your recipes, Janet.