Lemon & Pea Risotto and impatient to be back on my own two feet!

IMG_0875Half way through my six week post-surgery recovery. For someone like me, hyperactive (!), it can be difficult remembering to take it slow, especially when you feel fine. When fever strikes, your body just takes over and stops you in your tracks! I’m missing the market so much, I try to console myself by remembering that when my recovery is over, it will be the best time for all the beautiful fruits and veggies. Cucumbers, tomatoes, peaches, plums, apricots and did I mention, Peaches? Can’t wait 🙂 In the meantime, my mom has graciously offered to go for me, although I’m happy for fresh fare, it’s not the same as seeing it all. To me, the market is like a candy store for a kid! It’s also a struggle creatively, the market is inspirational, it’s totally different making a list for someone else to go with the hopes of finding what you want, sometimes you see something you hadn’t thought of or something you wanted just doesn’t look quite ready yet… Plus the weather has been quite strange, mostly grey, some sun, lots of rain. I am happy that evenings are cool though, as it’s easier to sleep in the cool than in the heat 🙂

Risotto is not something I make frequently, I like mine with just one or two star ingredients, like the fresh peas for this one. Some lemon zest adds a lot of brightness and keeps the dish light. You could certainly make this with frozen peas, the peas won’t be quite as firm under tooth. The most important thing to remember is that you just can not make risotto with another type of rice such as Arborio. It absorbs a lot of liquid and has a decent amount of starch to create that creaminess that risotto is famous for. I use my spanish Bomba rice with success, it has the same basic qualities, but in an ideal world, Arborio should be used. Here’s to enjoying summer, whatever shape it may take!

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1/3 cup Arborio rice

1 tablespoon butter

1 cup peas

1 medium shallot, diced

1 tablespoon tarragon, minced

1 cup stock of your preference

1 tablespoon lemon zest

Salt & pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

Heat pan over medium-high heat, add butter and when sizzling, add shallots. Stir until glassy and add peas, mix well then add rice and stir to coat rice. Slowly add stock ( 50 ml at a time) and stir often, add tarragon and reduce heat to medium-low. When rice absorbs most of the liquid, add more stock. Continue this way, stirring and adding  small amounts of liquid until creamy and rice is cooked, maybe 20-30 minutes. Add lemon zest and parmesan, rectify seasoning if needed. Serve in bowl or dish. Serves 2. Enjoy!

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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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