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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A big bowl of sunshine to combat the february blues

This is the last stretch, the long haul before the light at the end of the tunnel. I need as much sunshine as I can get to see me through. I crave colour and strong flavours. I also fight the instinct to crawl into bed and not come back out for air before spring! This soup is all that and more, colorful, flavorful and very satisfying and the bonus is it is quick to make. 20 minutes from start to finish. BAM! Party in my mouth! Why resist when happiness is so quick and easy to achieve 🙂  I made mine with shrimp but you could easily swap the shrimp out for chicken or beef strips, tofu, fish… Whatever floats your boat! The most important part to acheive perfection is to have good quality ingredients, the stock being one of them. Making your own stock is simple even if it needs some time to simmer, you can just leave it simmering on the stove and go on with your day, you’ll see a huge difference between your homemade stock versus the grocery store variety.

Coconut & red-curry shrimp soup

Ingredients

2 cups chicken broth

1/2 of each orange, red & yellow peppers, thinly sliced

White & pale green parts of a leek, thinly sliced

100 gr. shrimps

1/4 cup coconut cream

1/2 teaspoon red curry paste

Kafir lime leaves

Lemongrass stalk, cut in 2 inch pieces

Salt to taste

Thinly sliced green onions, cilantro & lime for garnish

Instructions

Bring stock to a boil with kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass stalk. Simmer for 5 minutes then add curry paste, shrimps and vegetables. When stock comes to a boil again, add coconut cream. Let soup come back to a boil tbefore serving. Garnish with cilantro and green onions and a squeeze of lime juice. Enjoy!

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