Saturday, August 1, 2009

Easy Peasy Paella

So you have company coming, and you're just not sure what to make tonight.
Try making paella. It's a one pan dish, with loads of flavour and it looks fantastic. Don't let the number of ingredients intimidate you. I've broken it down by groups/categories, and find that easier to manage myself. I use Valencia rice, but Aboria works as well.

Any shallow (about 2 inch pan) should work. 10"-12" pan should be enough to feed about 4-5 people, and 13-14" pan will yield enough for about 6-8 people.

The following recipe is for a 14" pan. Adjust ingredients for a smaller pan/group of ppl.

Ingredients & Method

32 oz chicken stock, remove one cup and warm in microwave.
Add a pinch of saffron to the cup of warm stock and let steep while you prepare the rest.

Marinate the seafood with a couple of pinches of salt, sugar, and paprika, pepper, or cheat with some Cheasepeake seasoning :)
1/4 lb medium to large shrimp
1/4 lb fresh fish
1/4 lb bay scallops or large ones cut in half

In your pan, start with the following ingredients, in order.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 link Spanish Chorizo (about 8 inches, sliced, when oil starts rendering, add)
4-6 chicken thighs, skin down on pan (cook until skin is brownish, and outside of chicken is no longer pink. Remove from pan and set aside.

Add into the oily pan the Aromatics
1 chopped/diced onion (you can use Spanish, or white or red)
2-4 cloves chopped garlic
2 teaspoons Spanish smoked paprika (or whatever you have)
When onions are translucent-

Add in 2 cups Valencia rice.
Cover and toss the rice with the wonderful aromatics.
Salt and pepper at this time.
Cook until rice is opaque. Add in the cup of saffron infused stock, cook for a while until all stock is absorbed, and add in the rest of the stock.
Stir briefly to loosen up the rice into the stock. Add back in the cooked chicken, and place in intervals between the rice. Bring to a boil, and then turn down fire to low.

At this point you want to leave the rice alone for about 20 mins. Cover pan with foil.

Meanwhile prepare:
1 cup green peas
1 small can artichoke hearts (optional, remove from marinade)
1 red pepper (seeded, sliced into strips)
12 mussels (scrubbed and remove beard)
2 lemons (cut into wedges, and slice down one side close to rind/segment
1 tbs chopped flat leaf parsley
Turn on oven at 375 degrees.

Remove foil, scatter green peas, archichoke hearts.
place strips of red pepper in a cirle, fanning outwards.

Poke into rice, shrimp, fish, scallops and cover again with foil for about 10 mins.

Add mussels on top of pan, and put entire pan into the oven for another 10 mins.
Just before serving, sprinkle chopped parsley,
and decorate edges of pan with lemon wedges.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Crab and Lobster Soup, Anyone?

We had some friends over the other day for a dungeness crab and lobster boil the other day. Needless to say, there was some leftover crab, which I promptly shelled and froze. Also, prior to everyone eating, I gathered the lobster heads and crab shells in a pot and boiled it, rendering about 7 cups of stock. The stock I kept frozen as well until 2 weeks later....

The following recipe is a lighter version of your traditional bisque without the roux. I'll save the heavier bisque for the fall and winter months. So, I guess it's just a soup.

Sake Crab and Lobster Soup

7 cups crab/lobster stock*, reduced to about 5 cups

1/2 a stick of butter
3-4 shallots (or 1/2 a sweet onion), chopped/diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup of Sake

3 cups of crab meat (approximate)

1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup of flat parsley, chopped

salt and pepper to taste
  1. Melt butter, add in chopped shallots/onions, and minced garlic
  2. Sweat onions/garlic until translucent, and just about to carmelize.
  3. Add in 1/2 cup of sake. You may light it if you wish to burn off the alcohol. Bring to a boil, until almost dry.
  4. Add in crab/lobster stock. Bring to a boil.
  5. Add in crab meat.
  6. Turn down heat, and add in cream.
  7. Season with salt and pepper as needed.
  8. Serve soup decorated with sliced lobster meat, and a sprinkling of chopped parsley.
*the crab/lobster (5 lobster heads, 5 dungeness crab shells) I used to make the stock had been boiled in crab boil seasoning. So, there was already quite a bit of flavor in the stock. If making the stock from scratch, I would saute some garlic, onion, a couple of carrot sticks and celery, with the shells, together with a cup of wine. Add a bay leaf or two, and enough water just to cover the shells.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Hawaiian Trifle

I have to say, I LOVE theme parties. If done right, it's a great way to learn about another culture (even if it is superficial) for a few hours. Attendees who take the time to seek and don on appropriate wear, show that they made some effort in finding out about the dress of another place. The food, if mimicking the theme delicacies, offer guests a gastronomical insight to another world.

So when, my daugther's daisy scout troop had their end of year party, luau styled potluck. I jumped on the chance to make something Hawaiian; or at least Hawaiian influenced. My mind raced through all the wonderful food I sampled in Hawaii - Ahi Poke, chicken long rice, manapua... but kids being the finicky eaters they are sometimes, I settled on a dessert. It just had to be something simple to make, and I did not want to bake. Scouring the web, I came across a number of Pineapple trifle recipes, which was the base for the inspiration of the one I put together.

Hawaiian Trifle (kids version)

you will need a trifle bowl or a tall clear bowl to see the layers.

1 sour cream angel food cake (cut into 1 inch cubes)
1 fresh pineapple (cored and cut into bite size pieces. Save the crown for decoration)
1 large tub cool whip (I really recommend whipped cream, but if pressed for time...)
1 large instant vanilla pudding mix (prepared according to directions)
1 pint strawberries (quarted or sliced & slice 2 for decoration)

1 tbs rum extract (mix into prepared pudding)
1/2 cup toasted shredded coconut (optional)

Layer bottom of bowl with angel food cake
Dollop/spread a layer of vanilla pudding on cake layer.
Add cut pineapple and strawberries, and sprinkle toasted coconut (if you wish)
Dollop/spread a layer of cool whip
Repeat process with cake, fruit, pudding, etc.
Finish off layers with coolwhip.
Stick on the washed/cleaned pineapple crown, and decorate with strawberry hearts around.
Keep dessert chilled until ready to serve.