Eggplant rag├╣ with creamy polenta, chasing rainbows, beautiful sunsets and Bittersweet moments

SCN_0001The end of summer is usually a time in the season that I love. Fresh fruits and veggies abound, evenings get cooler. Cozy evenings call for warm and comforting dishes and a better nights sleep for being more comfortable! This year, because of our weird summer, it feels like I’ve been cheated out of this. I’m enjoying the cool evenings and the market, but I’m not quite prepared to let go of the summer. Where were the heat waves, most of all, who stole our sun??? Cross my fingers that autumn isn’t dismal and grey… On a more positive note, after a big rainfall last week, a beautiful rainbow appeared. I always wonder if there is a pot of gold at the end of it…! ­čÖé We’ve also had some beautiful sunsets recently, take a look!

I’m slowly edging towards filling and comforting foods. Eggplant can be so boring, and totally spectacular. It all depends on how you cook it, olive oil and garlic LOVE eggplant. A very simple and delicious side is to saut├ę some garlic in olive oil then add cubed eggplant. Allow the eggplant to caramelize , stir, continue until golden brown. Delicious! This rag├╣ is a version of that, with eggplant and tomatoes to finish it off. It’s beautiful with polenta but would also do nicely with some fresh Pappardelle topped with flaked Parmesan and a light drizzle of olive oil. Happy cooking! ­čÖé

RECIPE

1 medium size Fond May eggplant (or small eggplant), cubed

1 custard marrow, quartered and sliced

1 shallot, thinly sliced

3 Roma tomatoes, cubed

2 large cloves garlic, crushed and sliced

1 sprig fresh oregano, thyme and basil, shredded, keeping top of basil for garnish

1/2 cup polenta

2 cups broth

Parmesan

Salt & pepper to taste

IMG_1004IMG_1007IMG_1011

INSTRUCTIONS

Bring broth to a boil, add polenta, whisking constantly. Continue to stir regularly, meanwhile heat a skillet on medium heat. Add oil to coat, add garlic and shallot, stir occasionally until golden. Add marrow, eggplant and herbs, stir to blend. Allow to caramelize, stirring only to distribute colour evenly, When well browned add tomatoes and stir to coat. Allow to reduce lightly, remove from heat. Verify polenta is cooked, then plate, coating polenta with rag├╣. Lightly drizzle with olive oil and garnish with basil. Makes 2 portions. Both polenta and rag├╣ can be frozen separately. Enjoy!

 

IMG_1026IMG_1025IMG_1024

 

 

Sunday Paella

 

IMG_0860[1]

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┬ámaybe that’s what helps create such a festive aura┬á­čÖé

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┬áI 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.┬á Rabbit, seafood from the ocean nearby and local produce. ┬áThere is no one recipe as you will make with whatever you have on hand. ┬áThe 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.┬áWhile┬ácooking,┬áthe aroma is spectacular┬áand the finished result is spectacular. Bonus?┬áNo 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! ­čÖé

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!

IMG_0857[1]IMG_0854[1]IMG_0858[1]IMG_0863[1]IMG_0860[1]IMG_0861[1]