Yesterday morning after breakfast and the proper amount of coffee; I set about chopping onions, garlic and tomatoes. I wrote about the game plan yesterday and I pretty much kept to the plan, my husband helped quite a bit; he had browned the chicken and andouille sausage for me and put them aside so that I can work on the sofrito, which is the Spanish name for the caramelized onion, garlic and tomato mixture. He also scrubbed the mussels and clams, at this point I was ready to peel and rinse the shrimp. So at this point, the pan is simmering with sofrito mixture and the rice has been added, you have to let it toast in the mixture for just a little bit, to give the rice a chance to absorb that rich onion, garlic, tomatoey goodness and then you add chicken stock, saffron, salt, pepper and paprika. I had all of this cooking together for ten minutes before I started adding the shrimp and my husband added the mussels and the clams. He then cook charge of the scallops, searing them and searing quite a few shrimp as well while he had the separate pan hot and ready. We then covered the paella pan with another large pan so that steam could generate to open the clams and mussels. It took about ten minutes and I have to say that this was a very yummy paella; my husband and I kept adding tiny amounts of extra chicken stock throughout the cooking process so that the rice wouldn’t get too dry and the mussels and clams had liquid to steam so they would cook through. This paella was definitely a work of love and it tasted like it.
Do you love hot and spicy foods or do you avoid them for fear of what tomorrow might bring?
I love spicy foods, albeit not necessarily hot, spicy should not have to mean feeling as if your mouth is on fire or that the skin inside your mouth is peeling off. I love spice such as how nutmeg spikes up the flavor profile of spinach or the way it gives added depth to béchamel sauce. Cinnamon is another spice that perks up a variety of dishes, it is a secret ingredient in my husband’s chili; I can spill this little secret because there are a few more secrets to his chili, one slip won’t be the end of the world.
Saffron is another lovely spice that brings so much to the plate and the table; it is one of the key ingredients in my paella and I love adding it to my sautéed cauliflower.
One of the most exciting discoveries that I have made about spices is how beneficial they are to our overall health. Turmeric has been shown to have great effects on brain health, cinnamon has excellent antioxidant properties and nutmeg just has to have medicinal properties, just think of how wonderful you feel after eating pumpkin pie, it must be the nutmeg, I’m sure of it.
Just the thought of cooking without pepper, salt, cayenne, oregano, paprika or any other spice, leaves me bereft of joy and anticipation; where would all of the fun be without spices and the experimentation and individuality of spicing something up?
Spices have been in our culinary history for eons and we are so very lucky for it.
I have to confess that after driving for most of the week, this weekend I really didn’t feel like going down the mountain into town to go grocery shopping, The problem with that is what do you do when your larder is dwindling down in reserves? Well, you have to look and cross your fingers that you have something or a combination of things that can come together to make dinner.
I lucked out, in the freezer I had a 2lb of easy-peel raw shrimp, in the refrigerator I had chorizo sausage, the pantry had rice, saffron threads, diced tomatoes, and I always have onions, garlic and chicken stock. This combination of ingredients gives me what I need to make a cheap version of paella. I made enough for at least two days, leftovers are the best and this only gets better the following day anyway.
It is pretty easy to make, prepping isn’t so bad either, I diced three onions and minced about six cloves of garlic, the baby boy loves onion and garlic a lot, the diced tomatoes came from the pantry, slicing the chorizo sausage takes all of two minutes and the shrimp shells slide off being easy peel. The first thing is to sauté the shrimp, put them aside and then sauté the chorizo slices and put them along with the shrimp. In the same pan, you sauté the onions until they are translucent, then the garlic, then add the tomatoes. This lovely mixture that you sauté until caramelized, is called a sofrito. I added four cups of rice and stirred everything together, I then added six cups of warmed chicken stock and let the rice absorb the stock. It takes around 15 to 20 minutes. When the rice is ready, I put the saffron threads in, a huge pinch, along with salt and pepper, after stirring it all together, I threw the shrimp and the chorizo back in and viola, dinner for us and leftovers for the baby boy during the beginning of the week.