August 2009 Daring Cooks Challenge

This month I've been the proud host of the Daring Cooks challenge. I chose a delicious Spanish recipe, Rice with mushrooms, cuttlefish and artichokes by José Andrés, one of the most important Spanish Chefs at the moment.

But before introducing you to the recipe and the chef, I'd like to thank Ivonne and Lisa for the chance they gave me to host the challenge. Thank you girls! You're the best.

Well, back to the recipe and the chef, José Andrés trained under well-known Ferran Adria at his three Michelin star restaurant El Bulli. José Andrés lives now in Washington DC and he owns several restaurants in Washington DC area (El Jaleo, Zaytinya, Oyamel…).

The recipe I bring you is from his US TV show Made in Spain. I hope you enjoy it. (Please note my tips (2) and (3) at the bottom for alternative cooking)

Rice with mushrooms, cuttlefish and artichokes.


Cooking time: 45 minutes


  • 1 Chopping Board
  • 1 knife
  • 1 medium saucepan
  • 1 Paella pan (30 cm/11” is enough for 4 people. If not available, you may use a simple pan that size)
  • 1 Saucepan

Ingredients (serves 4):

  • 4 Artichokes (you can use jarred or freezed if fresh are not available)
  • 12 Mushrooms (button or Portobello)
  • 1 or 2 Bay leaves (optional but highly recommended)
  • 1 glass of white wine
  • 2 Cuttlefish (you can use freezed cuttlefish or squid if you don’t find it fresh)
  • “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) – about 75 gr per person ( ½ cup per person). Please read this for more info on suitable rices.
  • 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) - optional


  • 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 as shown in the video in tip #7. 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.

Sofregit (a well cooked and fragrant sauce made of olive oil, tomatoes, garlic and onions, and may at times different vegetables such as peppers or mushrooms)

Cooking time: aprox. 1 hour


  • 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 is an optional part in the recipe. I highly recommend you to try traditional one. Allioli is served together with the rice and it gives a very nice taste.

Allioli (Traditional recipe)

Cooking time: 20 min aprox.


  • 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.


José's tips for traditional recipe: It's hard to think that, when you start crushing the garlic, it will ever turn into something as dense and smooth as allioli. But don't give up. It's worth the extra time and effort to see the oil and garlic come together before your eyes. Just make sure you're adding the olive oil slowly, drop by drop. Keep moving the pestle around the mortar in a circular motion and keep dreaming of the thick, creamy sauce at the end of it all.

Allioli a la moderna (Modern recipe)

Cooking time: 3-4 minutes


  • 1 small egg
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil (as above, Spanish oil is highly recommended)
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 1 Tbs. Spanish Sherry vinegar or lemon juice (if Sherry vinegar is not available, use can use cider or white vinegar)
  • Salt to taste


  • Break the egg into a mixing bowl.
  • Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and the garlic cloves, along with the vinegar or lemon juice.
  • Using a hand blender, start mixing at high speed until the garlic is fully pureed into a loose paste.
  • Little by little, add what's left of the olive oil as you continue blending.
  • If the mixture appears too thick as you begin pouring the oil, add 1 teaspoon of water to loosen the sauce.
  • Continue adding the oil and blending until you have a rich, creamy allioli.
    The sauce will be a lovely yellow color.
  • Add salt to taste.

José's tips for modern recipe:(1) If you do not have access to a hand blender, you can use a hand mixer (the kind with the two beaters) or a food processor. If you use a food processor, you must double the recipe or the amount will be too little for the blades to catch and emulsify.(2) What happens if the oil and egg separate? Don't throw it out. You can do two things. One is to whisk it and use it as a side sauce for a fish or vegetable. But if you want to rescue the allioli, take 1 tablespoon of lukewarm water in another beaker and start adding to the mix little by little. Blend it again until you create the creamy sauce you wanted.

My tips:

  1. In Spain, rice is not stired as often as it is when cooking Italian risotto. You must stir it once or twice maximum. This tip is valid for all Spanish rice dishes like paella, arròs negre, arròs a banda…
  2. When cooking the alternative style you can change the cuttlefish or squid for diced potato.
  3. If you can’t find cuttlefish or squid, or you’re not able to eat them because of allergies, you can try to substitute them for chicken or vegetables at your choice.
  4. Sofregit can be done in advance. You can keep it in the fridge or even freeze it.
  5. For more information on how to clean and remove the heart of artichokes, please watch this video
  6. To watch how Jose Andres cooks this dish click here.
  7. For more information on how to clean and remove the heart of artichokes, please watch this video
  8. To tone down the taste when you do it by hand in a mortar, then add an egg yolk. If you want to tone it down in the alternative way use milk or soy milk. Anyway, the best alternative way is the original oil and garlic alone.
  9. Allioli must be consumed during the preparation day and preserved in the fridge before using it.
  10. For help on conversion on metric to imperial, visit this page.



Audax said...

Olga thank you for the fabulous recipe it is so tasty and easy to make and so versatile. I'm very picky when it comes to rice dishes and this was excellent and the allioli was delicious. Thank you for hosting this month DC challenge. And you input throughout the month was so good. Cheers from Audax in Australia

Jen said...

Thanks so much for hosting this challenge! It was my first!
I have 30 minutes left before midnight here on the East coast, so I plan on posting soon too.

Karen said...

Thanks Olga for a fab challenge! I love Spanish food so this was prob the first Cooks challenge that I actually got excited about! And that garlic aiolli? Omg I'm gonna make a whole bowl of it just to eat it alone! Thanks again!

Junglefrog said...

Thanks so much for this recipe Olga! I have to confess I was less happy with the squid part which kind of went wrong, but the final results were quite pleasing. I totally loved the aioli recipe which will definitely be made again and I will redo the recipe soon with proper handling of the squid (hopefully!) As far as I am concerned this was a real challenge!

chef_d said...

Thank you very much for hosting this month's challenge. I love the paella and the sofregit!

Anula said...

Olga thank you very much for this month's challenge! I just loved it! :)

trissalicious said...

Hola Olga... thanks for the challenge. I think it is safe to say that everyone loved it just looking at all the posts.

I truly love Spanish food - where I am from (Philippines) there are many dishes that are adapted from the Spanish and when you gave us this challenge it brought back fond memories of home.

Megan@Feasting on Art said...

Olga your dishes look wonderful! Thank you so much for hosting, I really enjoyed the recipes!

Eat4Fun said...

Olga... Thank you for hosting and presenting the delicious recipe for the DC Challenge. You did a wonderful job!

Mary Teresa said...

Thanks so much for the delicious recipe Olga! I loved it and from what I've seen of others blogs so did everyone else!

Mary Teresa said...

Thanks so much for the delicious recipe Olga! I loved it and from what I've seen of others blogs so did everyone else!

Valérie said...

Olga, this was a fabulous challenge. You did a great job hosting and giving us clear instructions. Thank you!

Simon said...

Hi Olga!

Thanks for hosting this month's topic, as well as the tips. They came in quite useful for someone who has never cooked a Spanish dish before :)

Lauren said...

Congrats on hosting the challenge!! It was a wonderful one =D. Your dish looks divine, awesome job!

Mrs. G said...

Thank you for hosting this month's challenge!

Jenn said...

Thanks for hosting a great challenge! I loved it!

Amy I. said...

Olga, thanks so much for being a warm and gracious host this month! This challenge was a true delight and gave me the opportunity to cook something i may never have otherwise, which was the whole reason I joined. Thanks again!

Olga said...

Thank you all for your comments. I'm very happy you all liked my proposal and I'm glad to see how you managed so well with the challenge.

Charli said...

Great pick for this month's challenge! I really really enjoyed this one and will be doing it again!!!

Medhaa said...

Thank you for this lovely recipe Olga. It is easy and so flavourful.

isa said...

Olga thank you very much for this month's challenge! I was easy and delicious!
Your dish look wonderful!

Daniela said...

Che buona questa tua ricetta, da provare quanto prima.
Ciao Daniela.

Margie said...

Thank you for (gently) pushing me to cook Spanish food. It's always a bit intimidating to cook recipes from other cultures, but your recipe selection was the perfect introduction. Challenging for sure, but so versatile. Now I've got a bag of Calasparra rice and can't wait to use it all up. Thanks again! Love your photos.

Debyi said...

Olga, this was a wonderful challenge, thank you so much! This one will definitely stay in my menu rotation.

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