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Archive for April, 2010

Again, my page devoted to promoting Etsy artists has changed.  You have one week to view their stunning works and then I will shift to another grouping.  This spectacular group of artists are in a class all their own.  Please visit and support the handmade movement!

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An Important Note

It was brought to my attention that there is some confusion in my recipe calling for Paella spice mix.  This spice mix is NOT sold in my store but it posted in the post BEFORE the Paella recipe.  Hope that clarifies any confusion I may have caused.  Well, got to get back to my life outside of the web.  Take care all!

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Hello spice and cooking lovers around the world.  It is finally time for my Paella recipe.  Remember that the post yesterday contains all the spice mixture you will need to make this wonderful dish from Spain.  I have people ask me all the time if they need a Paella pan to make Paella.  No, you don’t.  A large, heavy skillet will do the trick nicely.  Many people wonder if they can make Paella on an electric stove.  Yes, you can.  I know a lot is made of cooking Paella out-of-doors  in smokey clay like oven.  There is some argument for even heating of larger pans and there is a lot of argument for cooking over coal generated heat such as the essence of the cooking and ingredients marry.  Sure, it would be ideal to use a Paella pan in the out-of-doors on a coal laden cooker, but, hey, nothing is perfect.  I do have a friend that utilizes an old pot belly barbeque as her cooking base.  All I know is that her Paella is the best I have ever had.  I use gas heat, but any heat source should work.

I was also asked in my “comments” section about using other than seafood.  I can’t imagine why not.  In fact, after very little research I came up with numerous Paella recipes from the interior regions of Spain for Paella made with various sausages, rabbit, chicken, etc.  So, yes, you don’t have to use strictly fare from the sea for Paella.  If you are interested in one of these seafood-less recipes just Google “Paella Recipes” and there will be many.

Photo Courtesy of:  http://img4.cookinglight.com/i/2005/07/0507p137-tapas_table-l.jpg

PAELLA  FOR TEN

1 3/4 cups extra virgin olive oil (Spanish Olive oil is a must)

9 pieces of chicken

11 fresh, large shrimp (deveined and cleaned)

meat of two crabs

2 lobster tails

8 red pimento (canned is fine)

8 2/3 cups long grain rice (Do Not use instant rice or oriental rice)

2 lemons

1/3 cup thinly sliced red bell peppers

1/3 cup thinly sliced yellow bell peppers

1/2 cup thinly sliced onions

1 cup artichoke hearts (not pickled but canned in water)

15 muscles or clams

1 1/4 cups cubed halibut

1 can diced tomatoes (regular sized can)

1 small pkg. frozen peas

approximately 11 cups of water

Make sure before you begin cooking you hang a picture of Antonio Bandera over your stove/cooking surface for inspiration.  Pour yourself your favorite drink and take a deep breath! 

Begin by placing the olive oil in the Paella pan and then heat the pan over medium to medium high heat.  Fry the chicken pieces.  When nearly browned add tomato sauce and keep cooking.  The meat needs to be done.

Add some salt and cut up the Halibut into smaller pieces.  Add the Halibut to the fried chicken pieces in the Paella pan.  Cook.

When chicken and fish are done add the vegetables and stir a few times.  After a couple of minutes add water and Paella spices (see Paella spice blend recipe on last post)

Let the mixture boil on medium high for 25 to 30 minutes.  Taste to see if salt is adequate.  If not, add some.  

You are ready for the rice.  Add rice and stir.  Now you want to add the lobster in pieces, crab pieces, shrimp and clams/muscles.  Please make sure clams/muscles and shrimp are fresh!  Lower the heat to simmer and let cook for another 20 minutes, watching the rice, heat and water carefully so that the rice does not burn.  If rice is not quite ready, add a bit more water until rice is ready.  Make sure the heat is not to high or to low.  Cooking will generally take 20 minutes with most long grain rice types.

When rice is ready and fluid is nearly gone throw in the peas and turn off the heat.  Take the red pimento and slice them into a cute arrangement on the top of the Paella.  Make the decoration “cute” if you must.

Cover the Paella pan and let rest 5-10 minutes before serving.  While Paella is resting, cut the lemons into 8 to 10 pieces.  Place a serving of Paella with a lemon slice on each plate and serve immediately.  Ummmmmm.   Your guests will love this dish, especially if it is served with a large wine glass filled with your favorite dry, white wine.

Make sure you have a Spanish soundtrack playing in the background while you eat and get drunk.  ENJOY!

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Hey herb (no, not that type of herb), spice and cooking fans.  How many of you wish you could pull off a great tasting Paella for friends and family.  Hey, how about a Paella party where everyone brings a different Spanish wine to share.  LOVE IT!   If you live near a beach, make it a beach party.  YEAH.  Imagine.

  Photo complements of:  http://www.pxleyes.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/top_11_computer_generated_landscapes/9.jpg

Well, hold onto your horse as you race along that beach because here is the simple spice mix recipe for use with Paella.  Some of you may think I am putting the cart before the horse, and perhaps I am — as I often do — but the mix will come before the actual Paella recipe.  By the time I post my Paella recipe you will be drooling all over the keys on your computer and the spice mix will be ready to go!

PAELLA SPICE BLEND MIX

1 tsp crushed Rosemary

3  tsp salt

2 1/2 tsp Sweet Spanish Paprika

1 tsp ground garlic

2 tsp raw cane sugar

2 tsp Spanish Saffron

Really, reader, the most important ingredient here is the Saffron!  Make sure it is Spanish and fresh.  By the way, the same should be said for your men! 

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and place in a tight jar.  I recommend you use this mix immediately on the Paella recipe that I will soon be posting.  You will need to use all the spice mix with the recipe.  So, it is just a one time use blend.  But, well worth it if you like the real thing!  And, as with most cooking around the world, there are many, many different recipes for Paella and many different amounts of spices used in each recipe.  I find this one meets my needs best.  I hope you enjoy it as much as you will the Paella recipe that will follow shortly (a couple of days).  In the meantime, let me leave you with this:

 

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Now this is one post I will enjoy.  Not just because I love Antonio Banderas (which I do), but because of the passionate herbs and spices used to make some of the most delicious meals in the world!  To whet your appetite, my friends, I offer one such passionate export from Spain.  Spiciness is in his soul and oh what a lovely exterior covers that soul!

Photo Compliments of:  http://imstars.aufeminin.com/stars/fan/antonio-banderas/

Ah, the lights are low, Lisa Gerrard on the CD and I am ready to post.  Although herbs and spice use is a must in Spanish cooking, we need to understand that subtlety is the key to Spanish cuisine.  Most Spanish dishes are well spiced with just a gentle hint of flavoring that marries the ingredients into incredible works of art.  For centuries, the Spaniards have used home-grown as well as imported spices in their cooking.  As with my other posts, I will briefly outline the major spices used in Spanish cooking.

1.  Parsley.  Parsley is the most commonly used spice in all Spanish cooking.  It is used as garnish, coloring, and tasteful herb.

2.  Paprika.  Paprika can be spicy or sweet and is often used as a colorants in Spanish cooking.

3.  Vanilla.  Surely Vanilla will be found in nearly every Spanish home.  It is a common ingredient in the sweet dishes of Spain.

4.  Cayenne.  Cayenne comes in two varieties:  hot and sweet.  Both are used often in Spanish cuisine.

5.  Pepper.

6.  Bay Leaf.  This bittersweet herb is used in many cooking many dishes to add that little extra “something.”  The entire leaf is then removed from the dish before serving.

7.  Mint.  Some have said that aside from Parsley, Mint is the next most popular flavor in Spanish cooking. 

8.  Garlic.  Like Parsley and Mint, there is rarely a home or Spanish dish that is without this aromatic flavoring.

9.  Tarragon. 

10.  Nutmeg. 

11.  Cloves.

12.  Cinnamon

13.  Saffron.  As we all now, what is Spain (or its cuisine) without Saffron.  In fact in Consuegra there is a Saffron Festival every year where competitions of all sorts are held, including Saffron separation (the yellow from the flower that makes the sweet, strong scent of Saffron).

14.  Basil.  Basil is used in Spanish cuisine, but not nearly as commonly as it is in the rest of the Mediterranean.

15.  Thyme. 

16.  Rosemary.

17.  Sage.

18.  Oregano.

This brief introduction to Spanish herbs and spices should whet your appetite for my next post:  a beautiful and simple blend of herbs and spices to use in Spanish Paella, one of my most favorite dishes. 

Photo Complements of:  http://blognitivedissonance.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/08/paella.jpg

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Come in and see my new Etsy artists on my Etsy Artists You Must See page.  What a delicious bunch this is.  I am always humbled by the talented artists on etsy.  You will be as well.

1.2 The Great Gallery by S. Brian Owen

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Yes, Haggis and Scotland.  Lord, that last pic says it all.  Scotland is a rugged and beautiful place, but it is as a result of its ruggedness that its early residents had little in the way of wealth  or trade.  As a result, spice use in cooking was minimal and tended towards salt, turnips and onions.  Sugar and brown sugar use came a bit later as did the addition of lavender as a flavoring agent.  Using Haggis as an example of a well-known Scottish dish, we know that it is a lovely mixture of oatmeal, meat (windpipe, heart, liver and lungs of sheep) and whatever spices were available, all placed in the sewn up stomach of a sheep (dead sheep we might add) and then boiled and roasted.  It is of critical note at this point that the best spice used in Scotland is Scotch Whiskey.  Yes, no surprise there!  Just ask Craig Ferguson and his Scottish lads below.  Ummmm.  Haggis and whiskey look fun to me.  Maybe they have to be drunk to eat the Haggis.

Photo complements of:  http://www.videosat.org/scotsman/

 

Early and traditional Scottish cooking relied on sheep for meat, potatoes, turnips, onions, leeks, carrots, honey, salt, butter, dairy products and occasional rice.  As other ingredients became available to the residents of Scotland, the use of ginger, almonds, cinnamon, and raisins became more common .  Oats, of course, were considered the “backbone of many a sturdy Scotsman,” as it was said for many years.  It really wasn’t until more modern times that olive oil, lemons and other more common cooking elements were added to Scottish cooking.  In the Late Middle Ages the Scotts allied with the French in what was known as the “Auld Alliance.”  This led to the introduction of new herbs and spices, especially among the class that could afford them.   

Many experts today agree that Scottish cooking still has a heavy reliance on fat, which contributes to a high rate of heart disease and obesity in the country.  Drink as well has taken its toll on the Scotsman health.  Haggis is extremely high in fat and having it fried is a common meal in Scotland.  Also, fish and chip shops, introduced by the British, have led to further consumption of high fat foods.  But, in recent years influences from other countries has begun to lead to restaurants feeding healthier fair.  Perhaps someday, Scotland will be the gold standard of culinary invention and delight.  However, don’t hold your breath (unless you’re eating Haggis) waiting for Scotland to become a world leader in spice and herb flavored cooking. 

But, if you want a good Scotch, Scotland is for you.  And, if you want to taste a true Scotsman, Scotland is your only option.  BYOS (Bring Your Own Spices).    

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