paella cook off

My second tasting challenge will be a bit different, because there is nothing about either dish that I like less or more. It’s more about what is available in the store and what your mood is for the night. Tonight is a very special night for me because I’m cooking out, in someone else’s kitchen and the dish for the night is paella. I will rely on my good friend’s experience and time living with a Spanish family in the Valencia region. From her time here, she brought home the passion and love for Spanish food from her Abuela (grandmother). She was the matriarch in the family and everybody had great respect for her both as a person and as a cook.

I must admit that it was a pretty nostalgic cooking night. Putting these recipes together brought back a lot of memories for my friend about her deceased Abuela, about who she was, what kind of person she was, and what role she played in the family and the neighborhood.
The two paellas we are making simultaneously tonight have a few things in common. They are simple, cooked with deep passion for food, and recall great memories. And, obviously, they both include rice.
I myself can’t decide which one I like better. I love them both. I know that some people who are not big fans of seafood will turn more to the meat version. But if you are like me and love both types of paella the best solution might be to combine them into one! And there is nothing wrong about that. The most important part is to pick the right rice. It has to be short grain. In worst case circumstances when you can’t find paella rice just use risotto rice, but never long grain rice.
Use your paella pan, but if you don’t have one and don’t want to spend money to get a new one, you can always use a Dutch oven but then you will have to adjust the amount of liquid.

29. March 2014 · 1 comment · Categories: Rice · Tags: , ,

seafood paella13
If you love fish and seafood you will love this paella. It’s rich with fishy flavors and doesn’t take that much time to prepare. If you can find a premade seafood/fish stock that’s even better because it will save you up some time, but the way we did it actually brought out even more flavor. Or at least that was the plan… We made the fish/seafood stock but when making two paella dishes simultaneously, there had to be some glitches. We added the chicken broth instead. The minute we realized it we were both so upset but luckily we had to add more liquid at the end so we got some of the seafood stock in there as well.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that even if you don’t find the seafood/fish stock anywhere and have no time to do it from scratch you can still make a pretty tasty and fishy paella. There will be a lot of flavors from the fish itself and seafood.
My friend who lived in the south of Spain would talk about how her host grandmother (Abuela) often made paella for large family gatherings and used whatever seafood or fish was available at the local market. What I really like about paella is that there is no wrong way you can go with it and if you hear it from somebody who was comes from that culture and raised over a dozen of kids and grandkids and every single one of them licked their place, then you know you’re making something exceptional.
With this paella we decided to make the Sofrito base ahead of time and add it to the pan together with all other ingredients. With seafood paella you have to be really careful not to turn the shrimp and fish into mush. More »

29. March 2014 · 1 comment · Categories: Rice · Tags: , ,

meat paella1This paella is for the meat lovers. It has no hint of seafood or fish.
If you don’t have saffron you can replace it with the orange coloring or no saffron at all. The paprika addition will help the coloring anyway. With this recipe we are making the Sofrito base on the pan while the meat is searing and pushed aside towards the edges of the pan. The base will get burned a little bit but this is exactly what you want. It will give an extra flavor to the whole dish. And from what I was told these bits of burned pieces are a true delicacy that you want to scrape off and eat with bread. More »

plate1Moving back to the Washington D.C. area doesn’t mean I will stop using maple syrup in cooking. I haven’t used it that often simply because I was never a big fan of maple.  I can say that now that I’m no longer in Canada J. They will not deport me for committing a maple crime. I actually think I got converted just around the end of our stay in Montreal but only thanks to the fact that I found the right syrup. I can finally say I LIKE it and it tastes magnificent. We brought some with us so I will definitely be cooking with maple syrup soon again. This recipe, however, it is something simple and fast that you can prepare for your family after you get home from work. You can marinade the pork overnight which will definitely bring up the flavors. More »

steak5I love all kinds of steak cuts but this is by far my favorite. It’s a rather expensive cut of beef so we would not eat it every day. The flank steak or hanger steak is way more accessible for every day dinner and still pretty tasty. When I was growing up in Poland we wouldn’t eat a lot of steaks.  We would make beef stews, beef tartar or just grind it and combine with other meats to make things e.g. golabki. It’s simply because steaks were not “our” thing. Now having access to all kinds of cuts I like to make it up for all the “lost years”J. It’s always fast and easy to make a simple red wine sauce in the same pan you used to sear the steak. It definitely will take a little bit more time to make the béarnaise sauce, not to mention the extra calories, but this French classic, a baby of hollandaise sauce, is truly worth the effort. More »