Sunday Paella

 

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As a child, I grew up with my grandparents preparing paella at the cottage every Sunday in the summer. The dish is a fond memory of both the season but also my grandparents and the cottage. Later on, as I spent some time in Valencia, it was also a confirmation of a celebratory dish, as for the Sunday during the village feria, a large group of friends shared this beautiful dish served on tables set in the streets specially for the occasion. There is usually a fair amount of wine involved as well, in the form of sangria, it is summer after all (!) and maybe that’s what helps create such a festive aura 🙂

At our house, there was also a regulatory argument between my grandmother and grandfather, surrounding the making of the fire, the cornerstone of any true paella. You can make it on the stove, but you’d be missing the whole point! So as I was saying, the fire, which has to be just right, the coals need to keep for a good 30 minutes, but not too hot, or you’ll burn the paella. Next important part of the dish is the ingredients. The dish came to be in Valencia, in the Albufera region, where rice is grown and was made by peasants, so all the ingredients are what they had on hand.  Rabbit, seafood from the ocean nearby and local produce.  There is no one recipe as you will make with whatever you have on hand.  The dish is actually named from the actual pan you cook everything in. It could be a vegetarian paella, seafood, with meat, there really are no limits to your imagination! As we have fresh peas right now, those went in. The one constant is the Bomba rice, tomatoes, garlic, paprika. While cooking, the aroma is spectacular and the finished result is spectacular. Bonus? No dishes, everyone eats directly from the paella! Just have a few small dishes to collect meat bones or seafood shells. Now if that doesn’t spell fun, I don’t know what does! 🙂

Recipe

1 large tomato, diced

1 small onion, diced

2 pieces chicken

10 large shrimp

1/3 cup Bomba rice

3 cloves garlic, crushed & minced

1 red pepper, sliced

1 cup peas

1/2 cup garlic shoots, sliced

2 cups stock (seafood, chicken, I used a combination of both)

I tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

Pinch saffron

Salt to taste

Instructions

On a well lit charcoal fire, heat paella with a tablespoon of olive oil. Place chicken and cook until golden. Remove and put aside, add garlic and paprika to pan and toss, add onions, toss, add tomatoes and blend well. Add peppers and toss, then peas and garlic shoots, toss. Add rice and stir to combine and allow flavors to meld. Place chicken then add stock. Place shrimp in a circle around dish. Allow to cook for 30-40 minutes. When you think dish is ready, continue cooking for 5-10 minutes as this is when the rice will caramelize at the bottom. Remove from fire and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Serve with lemons to squeeze over rice. Serves 2. Enjoy!

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Treating yourself, a Valentine’s day celebration menu for one

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There’s nothing I enjoy more than cooking up a celebratory meal, wether it be for friends and family, or for myself. I’ve never been much of a believer of Valentine’s day celebrations while in a couple, I feel you should be showing your appreciation all year long. But when you celebrate it with children or yourself, I find it’s a great excuse to treat yourself 🙂 So  I’ll be opening a small bottle of bubbly (my favorite!) and enjoying this simple but delicious meal. Happy Valentine’s day!

Tender chicken thighs with leek julienne and creamed butternut squash with a tarragon cream sauce

Ingredients

115 gr, chicken thighs

1 cup julienne leek, white and pale green parts

1 cup butternut squash, cubed

1 small shallot, minced

50 ml coconut cream

2 sprigs tarragon

Butter

Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

Boil squash cubes in salted water, check for doneness, 10-15 minutes. Melt a nugget of butter in a small pan over medium heat and add shallot to sauté until glassy. Add cream and 1 sprig of tarragon and let simmer on low heat for 15 minutes. Mince other sprig of tarragon and set aside. Meanwhile, season chicken thighs and sauté in skillet with a little butter on medium heat until browned on both sides.  Be careful not to crowd pan to avoid boiling the meat. Take off heat and slice against the grain, set aside. Rinse off skillet and place on medium heat, add a little butter and add leeks to sauté until glassy and soft, season with salt and set aside. Remove squash when cooked and purée with a nugget of butter. If you have a plating ring, place in the middle of plate and add leek julienne, then place chicken and finish with squash purée. Even out using a spatula. Serve with tarragon cream, removing sprig, and garnish with minced tarragon.

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Microwaved Chocolate ricotta cheesecake with stewed strawberries and hazelnut brittle

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Ingredients

1/2 cup ricotta

35 gr dark chocolate, melted

1 Tb sour cream

1 egg, separated

1 tsp cocoa

5 ml vanilla

3 1/2 Tb sugar

1 Tb hazelnuts, crushed

6-7 frozen strawberries

25 ml red wine

5 ml rum

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Instructions

Using frozen strawberries is ideal in the winter months, when strawberries aren’t in season, they will be ideal for stewing. In a small bowl, combine wine, rum, 1 teaspoon sugar and strawberries, cover and set aside. Allow to stew for 1-2 hours. In a small skillet, brown hazelnuts in a small nugget of butter. Place hazelnuts on small sheet of parchment paper.In a small saucepan, add 2 Tb sugar with 1 Tb water and place on medium heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved then leave until golden amber in colour, roughly 10 minutes. Keep an eye to avoid burning the caramel. Pour over hazelnuts quickly and set aside to allow to harden. Meanwhile, blend ricotta with the egg yolk, 1 Tb sugar, cocoa, melted chocolate, sour cream and vanilla until smooth. An immersion hand blender is ideal for this, whisking by hand is fine. Whisk egg whites until stiff and foamy. Fold in whites into ricotta batter. Place in microwave safe dish and cook on medium-low heat for roughly 5 minutes. Keep an eye out as microwave temperatures vary greatly. Allow to cool before unmolding. Serve in dessert plate with stewed strawberries and garnish with brittle that you broke down into 1 decorative piece and roughly grind remainder. Serve and enjoy!

 

Stick to your ribs chili and can’t stop eating them biscuits

It’s Super Bowl Sunday, so I was inspired to cook up some comfort fare, such as a delicious chili with biscuits to sop up all that juicy goodness. Each are absolutely delicious on their own ( I actually ate ALL the biscuits, I just couldn’t stop! ), but why deny yourself perfection?  The long simmer of the chili breaks down the chicken and ends up melting into the sauce. The biscuits are so flaky and delicious, they can be eaten alone, with jam & butter, anything really! I used a combination of whey leftover from making greek yogurt and yogourt instead of buttermilk and the result is fantastic! So let the chili simmer, crack open a beer and enjoy your Sunday!

Chicken chili

Ingredients

230 gr. chicken thighs, cubed

2/3 cup red lentils

1 medium onion, diced

1/2 of each orange, red & yellow peppers, diced

1 tomato, diced

1/2 cup corn kernels

1 1/2 cup tomato sauce

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 stick cinnamon

1 tablespoon mexican chili

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon cumin

Salt and pepper to taste

Garnish with sour cream, grated cheese, diced avocado and cilantro

Instructions

Sauté chicken thighs until browned, add onions and continue cooking until soft and translucent. Add garlic, chili, cumin and paprika and sweat the spices for 1-2 minutes. Add peppers, tomatoes, tomato sauce, corn & cinnamon. Cover and simmer on low heat for 1 1/2 hours. Check that chicken has pulled apart, if not muddle with a wooden spoon until meat pulls appart. Continue simmering for a further hour uncovered. Add lentils and cook for 30 minutes more. Serves 2 with toppings and biscuits. Both can be frozen seperately for 3-4 months. Enjoy!

Biscuits

Ingredients

1 cup flour

4 tablespoons butter

45ml whey

45ml yogourt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

Instructions

Preheat oven to 425 ° . Sift all the dry ingredients together. Cut in the butter until rough crumbles occur without overworking, add liquid and stir in using a wooden spoon. When you have a shaggy dough, lightly need with your hands 5 or 6 times. It’s important not to overwork the dough, keeping pockets of butter will make the dough flaky. Roll out the dough to 1″ thickness and cut using a floured cutter or glass. PLace on parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes or until light golden brown. Let cool. Makes 6 medium or 8 small biscuits, biscuits can be frozen in an airtight container for 3-4 months.