Spanish Paella

PaellaSo how can you have a week dedicated to rice and not touch on paella? Originating in the Valencia region on the east coast of Spain, paella is widely regarded as Spain’s national dish, as well as the identifying symbol of the Valencians. The three best known types of paella are Valencian paella, seafood paella, and mixed paella, but there are many others as well. Valencian paella is believed to be the original recipe and consists of white rice, green beans, meat (chicken and rabbit), white beans, snails, and seasoning such as saffron and rosemary. Another very common but seasonal ingredient is artichoke. Seafood paella replaces meats with seafood and omits beans and green vegetables. Mixed paella is a free-style combination of land animals, seafood, vegetables, and sometimes beans.

The dish earned it’s name from the pan in which it is prepared. Derived from the Old French word paelle for pan, which in turn comes from the Latin word patella for pan as well. Valencians use the word paella for all pans, including the specialized shallow pan used for cooking paellas. Paelleras are traditionally round, shallow and made of polished steel with two handles. As most North American home kitchens don’t have paelleras hanging around, a large, oven proof skillet will do as a replacement.

The recipe below is a bit of a twist on a traditional paella, as there is chicken and sausage, but no fish or shellfish. A key ingredient that is present though is saffron. It adds an essential taste and colour to the dish that is a must! Due to the high cost of saffron, you can use Mexican saffron rather than Spanish or European, as it tends to be cheaper. Just note that you need to use a bit more, as the flavours are not as intense. If you can’t find kosher chorizo sausage, you can use a substitute such as a smoked paprika or spiced sausage. The recipe below will serve 8 very happy people.

Ingredients:

Chicken:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon smoked sweet paprika
2 teaspoons dried oregano
salt and black pepper to taste
2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 2 inch pieces

Rice:
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
2 cups uncooked short-grain white rice
1 large pinch saffron threads
1 bay leaf
½ bunch Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped*
1 litre chicken stock
1 (398ml) can of diced tomatoes
2 lemons, zested**

Sausage & Vegetables:
½ tablespoon olive oil
1 pound chorizo sausage, casings removed and sliced/diced
1 large Spanish onion, diced
1 large red bell pepper, diced
½ cup frozen green peas

* Click here to learn how to properly clean parsley.
** Click here for tips on zesting.

Directions:

In a medium bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons olive oil, paprika, oregano, and salt and pepper. Stir in chicken pieces to coat. Cover, and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet or paella pan over medium heat. Stir in garlic, red pepper flakes, and rice. Cook, stirring, to coat rice with oil, about 3 minutes. Stir in saffron threads, bay leaf, parsley, chicken stock, diced tomatoes and lemon zest. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to low. Simmer 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat ½ tablespoon olive oil in a separate skillet over medium heat. Add the cut up sausage to the skillet and saute until the fat begins to render from the meat. Once the sausage is cooked/heated through, using a slotted spoon, remove it from the pan, but keep the majority of the fat/drippings in the pan. Return the pan to the heat, and add the marinated chicken and onion, cooking for 5-7 minutes. Add the bell pepper and cook for another 5 minutes. Once the chicken is almost fully cooked, return the sausage to the skillet, along with the peas, and mix to incorporate.

Combine the meat/vegetable mixture with the semi-cooked rice, and place in the preheated oven for 10-20 minutes, until the rice has completely finished cooking and has begun to get a bit crispy. Serve hot!

Advertisements

Cabbage Borscht – Капуста Борщ

Cabbage BorchtIngredients:

1 large cabbage, cut into large chunks*
2 cups (about 1 lb.) beets, peeled and quartered
2 cups (about 1 lb.) Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 lb. stew meat or flunken
1 – 2 beef bones, with marrow
2 (796ml) cans diced tomatoes
1 (156ml) can tomato paste
3 tablespoons lemon juice (to taste)
3-4 tablespoons chicken bouillon powder (to taste)
½ cup Brown sugar
Salt, to taste
LOTS of pepper

Instructions:

In a large stock pot, place the meat and bones, and fill with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, skimming any fat or debris that rises. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil again. Once temperature has been reached, reduce to a simmer and let cook for several hours, stirring every now and then so nothing sticks to the bottom of the pot and burns. Taste for flavouring, adding more lemon, sugar or pepper as needed. Serve hot.

* Click here to learn how to check cabbage.

Chocolate Chicken Mole

Chicken MoleYou may look at this list of ingredients and be a little shocked! Moles, meaning sauce, traditionally have at least 20 different ingredients on average and are a source of great pride. They usually involved several different types of peppers, dried fruits, nuts and a hint of chocolate. This version is a bit of a dumbed down one, as it only contains 12 (chicken and garnish not included)! If you don’t have a rotisserie chicken, you can poach or roast off the equivalent amount of chicken yourself.

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 ½ medium onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 ½ chipotle peppers with 1 ½ teaspoons adobo sauce from can (or more to taste), chopped
1 ½ cup raisins
1 (796ml) can of diced tomatoes
4 ½ tablespoons smooth peanut butter
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3 teaspoons chili powder
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 ¼ ounces unsweetened chocolate (or 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder)
1 ½ rotisserie chickens, meat removed and shredded (skin and bones discarded)
⅓ cup roughly chopped peanuts, for garnish
1 ½ teaspoon sesame seeds, for garnish
Zest of 1 orange, for garnish
Fresh cilantro, for serving
Lime wedges, for serving
2 avocados, peeled, pitted, and sliced, for serving
Flour tortillas, for serving

Directions:

Place a pot over medium heat and coat with the oil. Add the onion and garlic, stirring to soften for 5 minutes. Add the chipotle with adobo, raisins, and tomatoes, stirring to combine. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes.

Carefully pour the mixture into a blender. Add the peanut butter, broth, chili powder, and cinnamon. Puree the mixture until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

Return the mixture to the pot over medium heat. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chocolate and stir until melted. Add the shredded chicken and heat through.

Transfer the mole to a serving dish and garnish with peanuts, sesame seeds, and orange zest. Serve with cilantro, lime, avocado, and tortillas.

Italian Sausage, Peppers, and Onions

Sausage and PeppersIngredients:

8 (4 ounce) links sweet Italian sausage or other sweet/mild sausage
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, sliced
1 red onion, sliced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 large red bell pepper, sliced
1 green bell pepper, sliced
1 large yellow bell pepper, sliced
1 ½ teaspoons dried basil
1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano
1 (796ml) can of diced or crushed tomatoes
⅓ cup wine or beer
½ tablespoon of corn starch

Directions:

In a large pot, add the canned tomatoes and herbs, then cook on low while preparing the remaining ingredients. Place the sausage in a large skillet over medium heat, and brown on all sides. Remove from skillet, and slice. Add the sliced sausage and any drippings to the pot with the tomatoes.

Add the oil to the same skillet that you used for the sausages. Stir in the onions and garlic, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the peppers, and then stir in the wine/beer. Continue to cook and stir until peppers and onions are tender.

Once tender, add the vegetables to the pot with the tomatoes and sausages. Let everything simmer on low for an hour. If you find that the sauce is a bit too watery, take about 3 tablespoons of liquid from the pot and mix it with the cornstarch. Once dissolved, add this cornstarch slurry back to the pot. It will thicken up the sauce. Serve hot.

Classic Minestrone

minestrone 1

Ingredients:

¼ cup and 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 leek, thinly sliced*
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 carrots, diced large
2 zucchini, sliced
1 (398ml) can cut green beans
4 stalks celery, sliced
12 cups vegetable/beef/chicken stock
2 (796ml) cans diced tomatoes, with juice
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme*
1 (796ml) can cannellini beans, with liquid
½ cup elbow macaroni
salt and ground black pepper to taste

Directions:

Heat olive oil in a large pot, over medium heat. Add the garlic, leek and onion to the pot, and cook until they become translucent. Add the carrots, zucchini, green beans and celery. Cover, and reduce heat to low. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring the ingredients occasionally so that nothing burns. Add the stock, tomatoes and thyme, and scrape up the bottom of the pan to release any stuck bits. Bring the soup to a boil, then replace the lid, and reduce heat to low; simmer gently for 30 to 45 minutes. Stir in the cannellini beans with liquid and pasta. Simmer for an additional 10 minutes, or until pasta is al dente. Season with salt and pepper to taste before serving.

* click here to see how to properly clean these ingredients.

Moroccan Spicy Lentil Soup

Spicy Lentil Soup

The recipe for this soup was passed around the office with rave reviews! It was originally published in the Toronto Star many moons ago, but has since become a staple in many of the houses of my co-workers. When they heard I was doing a Moroccan Week, it became a no brainer that I include this recipe! I hope you all enjoy!

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions minced
1 clove garlic minced
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon turmeric
¼ teaspoon cayenne
1 cinnamon stick, about 2-3 inches in length
1 cup dried red lentils
5-6 cups vegetable or chicken broth
796ml can diced tomatoes
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 bay leaf
540ml can chick peas, rinsed and drained
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Directions:

In a large pot, heat oil over a medium-high heat. Add onions, garlic and ginger. Cook, stirring every 3-5 minutes, until the onion has softened, but has not browned. Stir in the paprika, turmeric, cayenne and cinnamon. Cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Stir in the lentils, and mix until they are well coated. Stir in 5 cups of stock, tomatoes, salt, pepper and the bay leaf. Raise the heat to high, and bring the soup to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and let simmer, covered, for 30-40 minutes. Add the remaining cup of stock and stir in the chickpeas, parsley and lemon juice. Simmer uncovered for a minute or so. Discard the bay leaf and cinnamon stick. Adjust the flavour as desired, adding more salt, pepper or lemon, then serve hot. Enjoy!

Best Minestrone Soup

Minestrone

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 onions, diced
2 cups chopped celery
5 carrots, sliced in ¼” rounds
6 cups vegetable broth
1 796ml can diced tomatoes, with liquid
1 769ml can crushed tomatoes
1 540ml canned kidney beans, drained
1 540ml can green beans, drained
2 cups baby spinach, rinsed and checked*
2 zucchinis, quartered and sliced
2 yellow squash, quartered and sliced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoons dried basil
salt and pepper to taste
¾ cup pasta, seashell or ditalini, or your favourite shape
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese for topping

Directions:

In a large stock pot, over medium-low heat, heat olive oil and sauté garlic for 2 to 3 minutes. Add onion and sauté for 4 to 5 minutes. Add celery and carrots, sauté for 1 to 2 minutes. Add broth, diced and crushed tomatoes and bring to boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to low and add kidney beans, green beans, spinach leaves, zucchini, squash, oregano, basil, salt and pepper. Simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, the longer the better. If the soup is too thick, or you would like more broth, you can add additional vegetable broth or water.

Fill a medium saucepan with water and add a heaping teaspoon of salt. You can omit the salt if you’re watching your sodium, but this is really your only chance to flavour the pasta itself. You could also add a teaspoon of bouillon to the water instead of salt. Bring the water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until tender. Drain water and set aside. Once pasta is cooked and soup is heated through place 2 tablespoons cooked pasta into individual serving bowls. Ladle soup on top of pasta and sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top.

* To learn how to check spinach, click here.