Monday, January 24, 2011

Make it with ..... Mondays # 4

Make it with ..... Mondays

Already it's time for another "Make it with ..... Mondays" - these weeks are flashing by so quickly.  It's seems like just yesterday that I put up a list of five forthcoming Make it with ..... Mondays challenges, and here we are already at number 4.   I'm so thrilled that so many of you have been really enjoying these challenges, and I really appreciate your participation.  I know that I have certainly been enjoying stretching my culinary boundaries, trying to use what may be familiar ingredients in different ways, and I've also been learning a lot as I research our special ingredient each week.

Challenge vanilla is now over, and you can see all the vanilla posts here.  Thank you for your wonderful entries, and it was great to also see this wonderful ingredient being used in a savoury context as well.

A reminder also that the linky for challenge quinoa is still open for another week (closing midday Monday 31 January - NZ time).  So keep those quinoa recipes coming - remember that you can link up as many posts as you like (as long as quinoa is one of the ingredients), and linking up old posts is fine too.

I was so thrilled that, in creating this challenge, I gave myself the incentive to cook and eat a whole lot of quinoa this week.  It's a grain (though I use that term loosely since, as I told you last week, it is not strictly a grain) that I really like a lot, but for some reason I don't use that often - partly, I suspect, because my partner doesn't eat it (not that he's ever tried it).  However, since he's away in India for two months (check out his blog, by the way, if you haven't already - just go to Arunachala Kiwi in my sidebar), I felt free to consume quinoa with abandon.  I made a quinoa, rocket (arugula), olive and blackened tomato salad topped with a bluenose fillet and chopped egg and caper dressing from the Peter Gordon Salads book, and a "Spanish-inspired" quinoa salad that was my own creation and was full of chorizo sausage, butter beans, juicy ripe tomatoes and olives.  I'll be sharing both of these recipes with you over the next few days, so make sure you come back.

If you're keen to give quinoa a try, but not really sure what to do with it, check out this page on Heidi Swanson's 101 Cookbooks blog.  Heidi's blog is one of the very best in the entire blogosphere in my opinion and she has lots of great quinoa recipes there.  I have made the Quinoa and Grilled Zucchini before (substituting grilled asparagus in season for the zucchini), and I'm pretty sure that before this week is out I am going to try the Warm & Nutty Cinnamon Quinoa (studded with fresh blackberries - sounds like breakfast heaven).

Now it's time to turn our attention to this week's special ingredient .....


Barcelona 147
Paprika vendor at La Boqueria Market, Barcelona

Paprika is a spice, which comes in a powdered form, ground from the dried fruit of certain varieties of Capsicum annuum, more commonly known as chilli peppers or bell peppers.  They come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, producing a powder which can vary in colour from rusty brown to bright red.

Although the plant was originally native to South America, it has adapted well to growing in cooler climates, with Spain and Hungary now being two of the main centres for growing paprika peppers.  As you might expect, therefore, it is a spice which is used fairly extensively in the cuisines of both countries.  Paprika is also produced in Yugoslavia, Turkey and the United States.

Spanish paprika comes in three grades -  sweet (dolce), semisweet (agridulce) and hot (picante);  while, Hungarian paprika comes in six grades ranging from "exquisite delicate" (Kulonleges) to hot and pungent (Eros).  Smoked paprika also comes in three grades - sweet, bittersweet and hot.

Paprika is used primarily to add colour, though using smoked paprika will certainly add an extra depth of flavour and aroma that comes from the slow oak smoking.  You will find paprika in many traditional Hungarian dishes such as paprikash and goulash.  It is also often used in processed meats such as Spanish chorizo sausage, in cheeses, cheese spreads and marinades (the Moroccon chermoula marinade for these fish kebabs or this simple Paprika Chicken are good examples).  You will often find it in the soups, stews, casseroles and vegetables that grace the Spanish, Portugese or Turkish table.  It can be used as a garnish, sprinkled over a dish to add colour, or used as an emulsifier in a dressing.

Interestingly paprika does have some nutritional value as well.  It is very high in vitamin C (more even than lemons and oranges);  it is also an excellent source of betacarotene and other antioxidants.  Before you get too excited about that though, do bear in mind that the very small quantities used at any one time will mean that any nutritional gain is almost negligible - still it's nice to know it's the good stuff, right?!

So now it's time to get cooking - put your thinking cap on, get creative, and see what you can come up with.  Maybe you'll make a delicious stew or goulash (it's winter for many of you right now, so that shouldn't be too much of a hardship);  an interesting paella or pilaf;  maybe you'll be brave enough to try making your own sausages or chorizo;  anybody game to try a cake or cookies? I'm sure there are many "unexpected" ways in which you could use this ingredient.  Can't wait to see what you come up with.

There are really only two rules for participating in this event:
  1. Your post must feature this week's ingredient.  If, however, over time you have found a good substitute when you come across this ingredient in recipes (maybe because you don't like it, or it's not readily available in your area, or someone in your family has an allergy to it), then, please tell us about it, show us what you use instead and explain to us why, and then of course link up - this is after all a learning experience and it's good to know about alternatives.
  2. Your blog post must link back to this post and mention "Make it with ..... Mondays"
That's it - create your post (or feel free to link up an old post if you have one that uses this week's ingredient);  multiple posts are welcome;  then scroll down to the bottom of this page where you will see a small box that says "You are next, click here to enter". Click on that link, and follow the simple instructions - please link directly to your post, not just your blog home page.

Want to join in but don't have a blog?  No problem - just email me your thoughts, ideas and recipes, and I'll include them in a round-up the following week.  To email me just go to the "Contact Me" button on my sidebar.

If you would like to use a badge in your post, simply copy the code in the box beneath the badge below and paste it into your post.  Feel free to also use it in your sidebar if you wish.


Please link your posts for "Make it with ..... Mondays" challenge paprika using the linky at the bottom of this page.  The linky will be open until 11.59am Monday 7 February (NZT).

Please go to this page to link your posts for "Make it with ..... Mondays" challenge quinoa.  The linky will be open until 11.59am Monday 31 January (NZT).

Last of all, before you get linking, here is a preview of what's coming up over the next 4 weeks:

Week commencing Monday 31 January - we're making it with Nutella
Week commencing Monday 7 February - we're making it with almonds
Week commencing Monday 14 February - we're making it with polenta
Week commencing Monday 21 February - we're making it with coffee


  1. It's amazing how far a little paprika goes - my recipe only contains half a teaspoon of the smoked variety but the depth of flavour it adds to the dish is absolutely huge. I'm looking forward to seeing the other recipes that are linked up - paprika is one of my favourite spices.

  2. Suzy Q! I have to tell you that I cooked Quinoa this weekend and everyone loved it! I will be posting up the recipe tonight and will link to your linky. Thanks for the inspiration! I just got some spicey paprika for christmas, so I will be making something this week to link up certainly. What fun to be challenged! very cool! hugs! Alex

  3. April that is a wonderful looking dish - I love all the different vegetables in this, and I can well imagine the lovely deep smokey flavour coming from the paprika. Paprika is one of my favourite spices too - especially the smoked paprika. Thanks so much for sharing this with Make it with ... Mondays.

    Hi Alex - I'm so pleased you took the plunge with the quinoa, and that it turned out so well. Can't wait to see what you come up with for using your paprika.

    Sue :-)

  4. I loveee Paprika too and hopefully will have something for u soon!
    And am happy to see next months list too, will have lods for Nutella for sure :-)))
    Love that pic of the vendor:-) I have some excellent Hungarian paprika which i totally loveee to use!!!

  5. Hi Suzy Q! you got me again! My sister in law gave me some hot paprika for christmas from Hungary and I couldn't wait to make something traditional, so here is my version of Chicken Paprikash with some help from my mother. I made my version gluten free! Hugs and thanks for pushing us babycakes. It feels so good! :) Alex

  6. Made this for Sunday Cafe, and I made it up as I went along cooking for the days event. Everyone said it was good, so I thought I would share here. Thanks for hosting.

  7. Hi Mia - thanks look forward to seeing what you come up with. I have only ever used Spanish paprika so will be keen to hear about your Hungarian :-)

    Hi Alex - your Chicken Paprikash looks wonderful - very delicious and sounds like an absolute "must-try". Thanks for joining in and once again challenging yourself :-)

    Hi Melynda - your Paprika and Meatballs look fabulous - I know someone around this house would love this dish :-) Thanks for joining in again.

    Sue xo


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