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 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!

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

I almost forgot them (!), Fresh minted pea soup

IMG_0795

When I went to the market last weekend, with the fact that I didn’t know when I’d be back in mind, I bought quite a large quantity of fresh produce. I bought this bag of fresh peas, thinking I could make something further into the week. As I was rummaging around my produce drawers in the fridge, I found the bag of peas, which I had completely forgotten! Great surprise 🙂 Minted pea soup it is! This is a soup that I love making when the heat starts as you eat it cold, it is tasty and refreshing, Mint and peas go well together, top it off with some coconut cream and you have a delicious summer soup that starts off a BBQ dinner perfectly. So even if it’s rainy out there (what a weird summer to date!), enjoy it to it’s fullest ’cause it won’t last!

IMG_0800RECIPE

1 cup freshly shelled peas

3/4 cups stock

1 small shallot, minced

1 small bunch mint, leaves and stalk

1 teaspoon butter

Salt & pepper to taste

IMG_0798

INSTRUCTIONS

Heat a small saucepan on medium heat, add butter and when sizzling, add shallots. Stir until shallots are glassy then add peas. Stir to blend and add stock, season with salt and pepper. Cook at a gentle simmer for 5 minutes or until peas are cooked. Place contents of the saucepan in blender with coconut cream and mint and blend on high until smooth. Serve in bowl and garnish with mint leaves, edible flowers and coconut cream. Serves 1. Enjoy!

IMG_0815IMG_0827

Surgery & Strawberry Jam

IMG_0760

So the proper strawberry season has started. I bought a big bunch of them, had them with breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert! I even had some left over for some jam 🙂 Last weekend was a mad frenzy of getting the house and fridge ready for my knee surgery recovery. Cooking, cleaning, more cooking, more cleaning… And now I need to sit still and rest, not the easiest feat for me. I am slightly depressed I can’t go to the market to walk the aisles and take in the beauty of all that summer bounty.  I hope I can make it at least once or twice before my 6 weeks of recuperation are up… I hope I get some more recipes up here before the summer is up!!! For this strawberry jam, I made a large quantity (6 jars), but you can make as much or as little as you like. Just be sure to weigh your hulled strawberries to get the right ratio of sugar to fruit. Usually, jam is a 1 to 1 ratio of sugar to fruit, I prefer my jam on the more fruity side, so I go for a 3/4 to 1 ratio of sugar to fruit. I have been making it this way for years and my jam has always kept well, just make sure to properly sterilize your jars and you should be good 🙂 Another particularity of my jams is that I like them on the slightly runny side, again you can do it the classic way and have them firm, it’s all about finding your personal preference! I’ve made enough to treat myself through the year and a few to treat friends and family 🙂

IMG_0759IMG_0762IMG_0765

STRAWBERRY JAM

3 quarts strawberries, rinsed and hulled and weighed

3/4 to exact weight of fruit in sugar

1 vanilla bean, halved and scraped

Juice of 1 lemon

EQUIPMENT

Jam mason jars, 250 ml or 125 ml for offering ( this recipe made 4 250ml + 3 125ml jars)

Jam funnel

Ladle

INSTRUCTIONS

Place strawberries, sugar, vanilla bean and lemon juice in saucepan and blend well. Cover and allow strawberries to let out their juice ( 2-3 hours ). Bring a large pot of water to a boil and place a tea towel at the bottom, then jam jars inside to sterilize. After 20 minutes, turn heat off and keep covered until jam is set. Place saucepan on medium-heat and bring the strawberries to a boil, lower heat to medium for a soft boil on jam. Place a small plate in freezer for testing jam. occasionally stir jam. After 20 minutes start checking for jam set by putting a spoonful in the frozen plate. Jam is set when you can run your finger through the jam and it stays streaked. Continue until desired texture, making sure not to overcook as jam will harden. Remove jars from hot water bath and let them drip dry on clean kitchen towel. Using a jam funnel, ladle jam into sterilised jars. Screw on the jar lids and let the jam cool. The lids should pop, confirming that your jam is properly sealed. If some jars don’t, you can refrigerate them. Enjoy on weekend croissants, toast or as an ice cream and yogurt topping!

IMG_0779IMG_0782

 

Strawberries at last! Strawberry panzanella, inspired by eat in my kitchen

IMG_0711

Walking through the market, looking for some supper inspiration after a long day, my eyes fell upon the first of the strawberries. My heart skipped. I think I started missing fresh strawberries from the moment they went out of season last summer! I was feeling too lazy to bake a pie and I can’t say strawberries inspire a proper supper. Then I remembered the last eat in my kitchen post, which was a strawberry-berry panzanella salad. I’d never made panzanella and as usual, love a challenge discovering new recipes. So, without following Meike Peters recipe, I imagined what my salad could look like. I have arugula growing, I could stop by the cheese chop and buy some mozzarella di buffala, grill my sourdough bread cut up into croutons and top it with a balsamic reduction. And by George, it was lovely! A light summer supper for a hot summer evening, bursting with berry flavour 🙂 I am one happy camper!!!

IMG_0708IMG_0709IMG_0712IMG_0719IMG_0721

RECIPE

1 small pint strawberries, hulled and quartered

1 small bunch arugula, roughly chopped in halves

1/2 muzzarella di buffala

Balsamic reduction

4-5 leaves, thinly sliced + more to garnish

2 cups cubed stale bread, lightly oiled, salted and grilled

1 tablespoon olive oil

Salt & pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

To make the balsamic reduction, place 1 cup balsamic vinegar in small saucepan and simmer on low heat until reduced to a thick syrup. Place lettuce and strawberries in bowl with sliced basil and mix. Top with slices of mozzarella and drizzle with the balsamic reduction. Top with basil to garnish and serve. Serves one. Enjoy!

IMG_0735

A quick and easy dinner – Salmon, mango & avocado salad

IMG_0706Sometimes there are just too many things to do. Too much work, too many errands, too many projects. That’s when imagination is key, because despite being busy, I still want to eat well. And I still want it to be good. I am always amazed at the last-minute, 15 minutes or less dinners I come up with. When friends or colleagues say that they’re just too busy to cook, I have to scratch my head. Build up a repertoire of easy go-to recipes and from time to time, improvise. You’ll be surprised at what you come up with! The weather isn’t quite what it usually is at this time of year, however I really crave fresh fruits and veggies. Although these are not local, avocado, mango with tomato and basil really work well together and as a side to salmon, well it’s just really delicious!

RECIPE

120 gr. salmon filet,

1/2 avocado, thinly sliced

1/2 mango, peeled and thinly sliced

5-6 cherry tomatoes, cut in halves

Thinly sliced red onion

Basil, cilantro and mint, minced

1 green onion, thinly sliced, for garnishing

1/2 lime

Mexican chili

1 teaspoon sesame oil

Salt & pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

Heat skillet on medium and add sesame oil to coat. Salt salmon fillet and place skin side up and cook until browned (3-4 minutes). Turn on other and cook a further 2-3 minutes or until salmon is cooked but just pink in center. Remove from heat. In a serving bowl, add avocado, mango, tomatoes and herbs. Season with salt, pepper and mexican chili. Toss to mix and top with salmon. Garnish with green onion slices and a squeeze of lime juice. Serves 1. Bon appétit!

IMG_0698IMG_0704IMG_0705