Monday, October 22, 2018

Paella Party for My Parents #KitchenMatrixCookingProject


My parents' birthdays are five days apart. Well, two years and five days. Kinda funny that Jake and I  also celebrate our birthdays within a week - again, two years and a week. So, our family birthday celebrations are slightly easier to schedule because we have joint dinners for them and for us. This year, my parents were in Hawaii for my dad's birthday; I scheduled a party when they came back. Happy birthdays to Nonna and Nonno!


While they were in Hawaii, I asked my mom if they wanted lasagna or paella for their party. She didn't even hesitate...and she didn't ask for my dad's input either. "Paella!" she declared. Perfect timing, too, because I knew I needed to post a paella dish for this week's #KitchenMatrixCookingProject. Before I get to our paella party, here's what the other gals are sharing this week...






For years, my paella pan languished in the cupboard, collecting dust. Then a friend from Spain gave me a paella lesson. And it's been on our table pretty often after that. I just needed a confidence boost and a nudge. If I might say so myself, I have mastered getting that desired socarrat at the bottom of the rice! Practice indeed makes perfect.


This week I suggested the Kitchen Matrix Cooking Project crew use Bittman's Paella Generator as inspiration. You can read more about our year-long project here. In any case, Bittman gives universal directions and an ingredient wheel with suggestions that include mussels, squid, chickpeas, snowpeas, almond, bacon, and more. I went with prawns, chicken thighs, and littleneck clams for this paella party. I made two pans' worth. You can halve this recipe for a single pan.

Ingredients serves 12
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 pound fresh shrimp, peeled (peels and heads reserved)
  • 1 pound littleneck clams, scrubbed clean
  • 12 T olive oil (Juan told me 1 T per serving)
  • 2 organic onions, peeled and diced
  • 2 bell peppers (I used a yellow bell pepper and a red bell pepper)
  • 5 ripe, organic tomatoes, chopped
  • 4 C Spanish paella rice
  • 2 generous pinches saffon
  • 2 Carmencita Paella Spice Mix sachets+
  • 2 coloring packets, optional+ 
  • 7 to 8 C fish stock, warmed
  • 1 to 2 C white wine
+Juan used these and they brought some back from Spain for me, so I use it. But, in a pinch, you can add a blend of paprika, pepper, and clove to the pot. These packets also include a food coloring that makes regular paella a rich golden color.

Procedure

Peel and dice the onions. Deseed and dice the bell pepper. Heat olive oil in the paella pan. Stir in the onions and bell pepper. Cook the chicken through. Sauté until the onion is softened and translucent. Add in the tomatoes and cook until they have lost their shape slightly, approximately 6 to 7 minutes.

Sprinkle the seasoning packet into the pot and add the saffron to the side so it's not where the heat is most concentrated. Tip in the rice.


Nestle the shrimp and clams into the rice. Pour in the stock and the wine. At this point, do not stir. Gently shake the pan to distribute the rice and seafood evenly. But do not stir. Ever. As Juan instructed me: "This is not risotto."

Bring the pan to a boil, then turn down to a simmer. Watch the pan and keep turning it so that the rice cooks evenly. As it cooks, the stock will be fully absorbed.

You will see fewer and fewer bubbles popping up through the top. When it is completely dry, it's done. The rice should also be crackling. It reminds me of rice krispies. Snap, crackle, and pop!

When you no longer see any bubbles, remove the pan from the heat. The shrimp should be opaque and the clams open, too. Tent it with foil and let it steam for 10 more minutes.


To serve, use a flat spatula to scrape the soccarat from the bottom. Invert the scoop onto the individual plates to show off your soccarat, that delicious, crusty goodness on the bottom of the pan! 

Puerto Rican Papas Rellenas (Picadillo-Stuffed Potatoes) #FoodieReads


When I heard Chef José Andrés being interviewed on NPR last month, his story was intriguing and compelling, so much so that I went home and ordered the book - We Fed an Island: The True Story of Rebuilding Puerto Rico, One Meal at a Time by José Andrés* - immediately. 

I'm including a link to the broadcast because, honestly, I think you must hear his story, but you can skip the book. The story is so important and what he accomplished was phenomenal, but I found the book tedious and difficult to read.

On the Page

José Andrés is a chef, humanitarian, and founder of World Central Kitchen. He arrived within a week of Hurricane Maria devastating the island of Puerto Rico and set about trying to feed everyone he possibly could. Andrés rallies huge support from volunteers and organizes a network of kitchens around the island to provide chicken and rice as well as ham and cheese sandwiches to everyone struggling to live without food, clean water, electricity, and other services and conditions after Maria.

He's passionate and dedicated. There's no doubt about that. And he's openly critical of FEMA, Trump, the Red Cross, and other agencies who stymied his efforts with bureaucratic red tape again and again.

But there are only so many times that I need to read how inedible military MREs (meals-ready-to-eat) are. Actually, once is sufficient. I would have preferred he get on with detailing the food he was able to provide instead of harping on the fact that what was provided by our government was not a good option.

And FEMA is ineffectual. I get it. I didn't need a communication log with how many contracts they held up because of a chain of command, or lack thereof. Or how many times he tried to get access to a meeting, but didn't have the proper credentials.

Also, Trump is uninformed and says asinine things. Yep. Not news to me there either. I actually found myself cringing as Andrés quoted Trump. It's one thing to hear those soundbites on NPR; it's another to see how inarticulate Trump is...in black and white...on the page. Ugh.

I struggled to finish this book which I found so disappointing because I wanted to love it. I wanted to shove my copy into friends' hands with a hearty endorsement and gush, 'you have to read this!' But I found it pure drudgery to keep flipping these pages. However, this doesn't diminish what José Andrés was able to accomplish in Puerto Rico, or take away from his critique of our current disaster relief procedures. He's amazing and we need more people like him. I just think he needs a ghost writer, or a better editor.

On the Plate

I thought about making ham and cheese sandwiches - with lots of mayonnaise as Andrés instructs his team of volunteers - but, then, I wanted to make something new-to-us and a little bit more local to Puerto Rico. And when I started to search for recipes, I loved the idea of these mashed potato balls filled with spiced ground beef. It sounded delicious...and they were.

Picadillo is typically made with potatoes, olives, and raisins. Since the picadillo was being surrounded by potatoes, I skipped those...and I didn't have olives or raisins. I swapped in capers for the olives and skipped the raisins altogether. Also, instead of tomato sauce, I used fresh tomatoes from D's garden. So, this is definitely not a traditional recipe, but we loved it and will definitely be making it again.

Ingredients

Picadillo
  • 2 pounds ground meat (I used a mixture of ground turkey and ground beef)
  • 1 C diced onions
  • 1 C diced bell peppers (I used red bell peppers)
  • 1 to 2 T oil
  • 1 C sliced tomatoes
  • 2 T capers
  • 2 t ground smoked paprika
  • 2 t ground cumin
  • 1 t ground sweet paprika
  • 1 T fresh oregano leaves
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper

Papas Rellenas
  • 2 pounds potatoes (I used red potatoes)
  • water
  • cornstarch for rolling
  • 2 T butter
  • oil for frying
  • sauces for dipping (I used an aioli with a tad of sriracha stirred in + a drizzle more of sriracha on the potato ball for serving)

Procedure

Picadillo
Heat oil in a large pan and stir in onions and bell peppers. Cook until the onions are softened and beginning to turn translucent, approximately 5 to 6 minutes. Add the ground meat and season with paprika and cumin. Cook until the meat is browned completely. Stir in the tomatoes and capers; simmer until the tomatoes have lost their shape and liquid has been absorbed into the meat. Season to taste with salt and pepper, as needed. Stir in the fresh oregano leaves and set aside to cool.

Papas Rellenas
Cube the potatoes and place in a pot, covered with water. Boil until fork tender, approximately 20 minutes. Drain potatoes and return to pot. Mash with butter 2 T until they are smooth and gummy. 


Dust your hands with cornstarch and place 1/2 C cornstarch in a small mixing bowl. Flatten about 1/2 C mashed potatoes into a disk in the palm of your hand. Add a tablespoon of picadillo to the center of the disk and bring the edges of the potato up and around. Seal the edges by rolling the potato into a smooth ball. Roll the ball in cornstarch. Repeat until all the potato has been used, making sure to coat your hands each time so they don't get sticky.

Pour oil (I used canola oil) into rimmed skillet. You'll want the oil to come up to about half the height of the balls. Once the oil is hot, gently lower the balls (I did this in two batches) into the oil and cook until golden brown. I turned mine occasionally, but they took about 6 to 7 minutes to get completely browned.

Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel-lined plate to drain.


To serve, place small pool of sriracha-spiked aioli on an individual serving plate. Top the aioli with a potato ball. Drizzle with more sriracha and serve immediately.

*This blog currently has a partnership with Amazon.com in their affiliate program, which gives me a small percentage of sales if you buy a product through a link on my blog. It doesn't cost you anything more. If you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to Amazon.com and search for the item of your choice.


Here's what everyone else read in October 2018: here.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Poulet au Citron et Lavande + La Lôyane 2016 #Winophiles #rhonevalleyvineyards #lirac #liracwines #Sponsored

This is a sponsored post written by me in conjunction with the October #Winophiles event.
Wine samples were provided for this post and this page may contain affiliate links.

This month the French Winophiles are exploring the wines of Lirac. And Rhône Valley Vineyards and Teuwen Communications graciously provided some of the bloggers with samples.* If you're reading this early enough, jump on Twitter and follow the hashtags #Winophiles, #rhonevalleyvineyards, #lirac, or #liracwines. We'll be live on Saturday, October 20th at 8am Pacific time. Or you can peruse the stream at your leisure anytime by searching for those tags.

Lirac
Lirac, named for the village, is a wine-growing Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC) that sits in the low hills along the Rhône river in the southern Rhône region of France. Vineyards have been cultivated there since the Roman times almost two millennia ago and by the 1500s the wines were lauded by the French royal courts for their quality. This AOC is completely new to me, so I was grateful for the chance to explore it.

The Other Lirac Pairings

In My Glass

Though I received four different red wines from Lirac, I opted to share my pairing for the La  Lôyane 2016 - mainly because I liked the name! “La  Lôyane” is the historical name of the region where the domaine was built; in ancient times it meant a “territory occupied by wolves.”


Domaine La  Lôyane was established in 2001, but the estate has been growing grapes in Lirac for four generations. Today, the estate is managed by Romain Dubois and his wife Laure; they oversee 75 acres in Lirac and Tavel and farm them all organically.

This single vineyard release comes from an area called “Les Theys” which boasts the oldest Grenache vines in all of Lirac, hence the 'vielles vignes' on the label.

A blend of 60% Grenache and 40% Syrah, this wine has strong garrigue aromas which refers to the wild, aromatic low-growing vegetation on the limestone hills of the Mediterranean coast. Think juniper, thyme, rosemary and lavender; 'garrigue' refers to the lot of them. For this ruby-hued wine, I got mostly lavender and thyme on the nose. And the salinity on the tongue definitely made me think of the Mediterranean.

On  My Plate

I decided to mirror those garrigue notes by making a pan-crisped chicken dish rubbed with lavender, thyme, lemon zest, and sea salt.


Poulet au Citron et Lavande

Ingredients 
serves 4 to 6, depending on appetite
  • 6 to 8 organic bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 T butter
  • juice and zest from 1 organic lemon + lemon slices for serving
  • 1 T crushed lavender + more for serving, if desired
  • 1 T flake salt
  • 1 t dried thyme
  • freshly ground pepper, as needed
Procedure

 In a large bowl, combine lavender, thyme, lemon zest, and salt. Mix well. Rub the mixture on both sides of the chicken thighs and let stand for 10 minutes.

In a heavy skillet, melt 1 T butter in olive oil. Place the skin side of chicken down and cook for 25 to 30 minutes.


Turn the chicken over. Squeeze lemon juice over the top and cook for another 25 to 30 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, as desired, and serve immediately.


 I served this with smashed red potatoes and a salad.

Find the Sponsor...
Rhône Valley Vineyards on the web, on Instagram, on Twitter
*Disclosure: I received sample wines for recipe development, pairing, and generating social media traction. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the organizer and sponsors of this event.

Soganli Tavuk Yahnisi (Turkish Chicken Stew) #SoupSwappers


Here we are at the October Soup Saturday Swappers event. Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm started this event and each and every month, I get a new array of soup recipes to put in my to-try pile. I love all the fun themes this group picks to explore.

This month, Colleen of Faith, Hope, Love, & Luck Survive Despite a Whiskered Accomplice is hosting as we explore stews. It's definitely turning colder and darker. So, I'm grateful to have new recipes to try.

Colleen wrote: "Think true comfort food! What is the rich creamy stew which you turn to first when you are in need of a little pick me up?"





Soganli Tavuk Yahnisi
Turkish Chicken Stew

Ingredients
  • 4 boneless and skinless chicken thighs, cubed
  • 2 organic white onions, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 T butter
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1½ C tomato sauce
  • 2 T flour
  • 1½ C chicken broth
  • ½ t freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 t ground cumin
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • ½ t ground cardamom
  • cooked rice for serving


Procedure
Melt butter in olive oil in a pan with a tight-fitting lid. Stir in the onions and sauté until they start to turn translucent. Add in the chopped chicken and sauté until cooked through.

Stir in the flour, black pepper, ground cumin, ground cinnamon, and ground cardamom. Toss to coat all the chicken with the flour. Pour in the tomato sauce and chicken stock. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until the sauce is thickened and reduced, approximately 20 minutes. Ladle stew hot over a bed of cooked rice. Serve immediately.

What's your favorite stew?

2014 Long Meadow Ranch Merlot #MerlotMe #Sponsored

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf Long Meadow Ranch, one of the #MerlotMe event sponsors.
Complimentary wine was provided for this post and this page may contain affiliate links.
However, all opinions expressed here are my own.

So, here's a funny story. When I received ten bottles of Merlot from different #MerlotMe sponsors, I put a few in my easy-to-grab wine rack, a few in the wine racks down the side of my bookshelf, and a few I hadn't unpacked from their shipping boxes yet. Yikes.

When I saw a post from another #WinePW blogger that featured this wine, I commented that I needed to track down a bottle for myself. Then I was moving wine around this week and found this bottle. Oh, my goodness! Well, I didn't have to work too hard to track down a bottle, I suppose; there was one in my living room.

The Ranch
Long Meadow Ranch, in Napa Valley, is owned by the Halls - Ted, Laddie, and Christopher. And they have integrated each element to work in a complementary fashion. So the vineyards, wine-making, olive orchards, olive oil-mkaing, cattle, horses, egg-laying flock, and organic vegetable gardens overlap using simple, sustainable methods. And all their crops are certified organic. Love it!

The Wine
This Merlot is a blend of 75% Merlot, 24% Petit Verdot, 0.5% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 0.5% Sangiovese. Interesting combination!

Winemaker Ashley Heisey has both domestic and international wine-making experience and she focuses on crafting wine that is a genuine reflection of their terroir. About this wine, she notes, "Plum, black cherry and intense, but positively rich, fruit cake aromas on the nose. Graphite, cedar and tobacco flavors integrate with the balanced tannins and expand on the palate with mouth filling intensity."


The Pairing
Though she suggests pairing this Merlot with grass-fed beef, ribs, or pulled pork sandwiches, I decided to go with a Middle Eastern-inspired poultry dish. I made a Pomegranate Chicken Tagine to go with the 2014 Long Meadow Ranch Merlot.

Find Long Meadow Ranch
on the web, on Facebook, on Twitter, on Instagram
*Disclosure: I received compensation in the form of wine samples for recipe development and generating social media traction. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the organizer and sponsors of this event.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Whole Vermilion Snapper with Fennel and Blood Oranges #FreakyFruitsFriday #MelissasProduce #Sponsored

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Melissa's Produce.
I received complimentary product for the purpose of review and recipe development,
but all opinions are honest and they are my own. This page may contain affiliate links.

You can read more about this #FreakyFruitsFriday challenge in my Spicy Prawn and Freaky Fruits Noodle Salad recipe post from last Friday. But the Enthusiastic Kitchen Elf could not be swayed from his idea of roasting a whole fish with the blood oranges. Okay, fine. Before I get to our recipe, though, please see the list of the other creations today...


Today's Freaky Fruit: Blood Oranges

In my mind, there's nothing really freaky about the blood orange, besides the name. These are usually slightly smaller than the average orange with skin that might have darker red blotches. The pulp can be deep pink to crimson, but it can also just have streaks of color interspersed with a typical orange flesh. They are also, at least in my experience, sweeter than regular oranges.


Whole Vermilion Snapper 
with Fennel and Blood Oranges

Ingredients serves 3 to 4
  • 2 whole vermillion snapper, approximately 1-1/2 pounds each, scaled and gutted
  • 4 blood oranges, 2 thinly sliced + 2 supremed
  • juice from 1 blood orange
  • 1 fennel, trimmed and thinly sliced  (approximately 1-1/2 C, divided)
  • 1 onion, peeled and thinly sliced (approximately 1-1/2 C)
  • 4 T olive oil + more for salad
  • 1 t fennel pollen, divided
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper

Procedure
In a mixing bowl, toss together onions and 1 C sliced fennel. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lay out the whole fish on silicone mat or parchment-lined baking sheets. Sprinkle the inside of the cavity with salt, pepper, and 1/2 t fennel pollen. Stuff the cavity with the onion-fennel mixture and blood orange slices.

Lay more of the fennel-onion on top and cover with a slice or two of blood orange. Drizzle olive oil over the top. Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper.

Roast in the oven for 20 minutes. The fish is done with the flesh in the thickest part has turned opaque. While the fish cooks, mix remaining 1/2 C sliced fennel with blood orange juice and a splash of olive oil. Toss to coat and season, to taste, with salt and pepper.


To serve, move whole fish to a platter. Add fennel salad to the sides and top with supremed blood orange segments. Serve immediately.

You may find Melissa's...
on the web, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram

*Disclosure: I received product for free from the sponsor for recipe development, however, I have received no additional compensation for my post. My opinion is 100% my own and 100% accurate.

Leftover Chinese Food, a Hotel Room, and a Plastic Cup of Peju #MerlotMe #Sponsored

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf Peju Winery, one of the #MerlotMe event sponsors.
Complimentary wine was provided for this post and this page may contain affiliate links.
However, all opinions expressed here are my own.

As a food blogger, a huge number of our meals are photo ready and paired with wine. But not always. Sometimes, I'm sitting in a hotel, eating cold leftover Chinese food from lunch, and drinking wine from a plastic cup. At least it was good wine!


We had spent nearly twelve hours at a robotics competition. The robot was broken. 


The boys were working on the code for the following day. I just wanted to take a shower and read a book.


But I was grateful for the bottle of Merlot that Peju Winery had sent me for #MerlotMe. Though this is a California winery, it was completely new to me. And I was happy to make its acquaintance.

Peju was started by Tony and Herta Peju in the early 80s with a laser focus on being sustainable and environmentally conscious across all five of their estates. Over three decades later, that meticulous care is still in force. In fact, the Peju daughters, Lisa and Ariana, are poised to take the reins in the near future.

Peju's Rutherford Estate, in Napa Valley, is a certified organic vineyard and produces primarily Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc. The Persephone Ranch, the Pope Valley, is sustainably farmed and grows Sauvignon Blanc, Zinfandel, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot. This 2014 Merlot is comprised of a 97% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot, and 1% Cabernet Franc from both of those vineyards.

This is an elegant wine. And, despite my horrible drinking vessel, the wine felt deliciously decadent and complex. With bright aromas of red fruits, its taste leaned more towards a chocolate mousse with a silky mouthfeel and hints of spice. Delicious! And at a suggested retail price of $42, it falls somewhere between an everyday bottle and a fancy dinner bottle.

I'll be honest: it wasn't bad with the fish and black bean sauce and veggie chow mein I was eating while sitting cross-legged on the bed. I'll definitely be tracking down another bottle soon and pairing it with a home-cooked meal. I'm picturing a rib-eye and mushroom risotto or something with a similar flavor profile. Stay tuned.

Find Peju Winery
on the web, on Facebook, on Twitter, on Instagram
*Disclosure: I received compensation in the form of wine samples for recipe development and generating social media traction. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the organizer and sponsors of this event.

Tahini-Poached Black Cod Over Squid Ink Pasta #SeafoodMonthChallenge


A friend sent me a link to this Seafood Month Challenge levied by the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Read about the challenge here. I'm always up for a cooking challenge!


What luck that my CSF (community-supported fishery) Real Good Fish share this week was freshly caught black cod also called sablefish. This black cod was caught by fisherman Daniel Deyerle on the FV Sea Harvest II with a Bottom Set Long Line off of Moss Landing. Black cod caught this way is a 'best choice' according to Seafood Watch.


I decided to poach the black cod in a lemon-tahini sauce and serve it atop squid ink pasta. The peanut gallery wanted cheese, cheese, and more cheese on top. So I pulled out a wedge of Grana Padano and they went to town.


Luckily I had a glut of lemons that the boys had just picked from my parents' tree for a Lemon Meringue Tart I made for a friend's dad last weekend. I served this slightly tart pasta with grilled zucchini and poured a Greco di Tufo to pair. Che squisito!

Ingredients serves 4

  • 1 to 1-1/2 pounds black cod fillets
  • 3/4 C tahini
  • 1/2 C freshly squeezed lemon juice (this was approximately 6 Meyer lemons)
  • 1/2 C warm water
  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic, peeled and pressed
  • 2 T toasted sesame oil, divided
  • 1 t butter
  • 4 C baby kale leaves
  • squid ink pasta
  • Grana Padano cheese, for serving
  • black sesame seeds for serving

Procedure

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together tahini, lemon juice, and warm water until well-combined. Set aside.

In a large skillet, melt butter in 1 T sesame oil. Place the cod fillets, skin-side down, in the pan and sear for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the fish from the pan and set aside. 

In the same pan, stir in the pressed garlic and cook for just a minute until it is aromatic but hasn't yet started to brown. Add in the baby kale and cook until it just starts to wilt. Pour in the tahini and bring to a simmer. Gently lower the fillets into the tahini sauce, this time skin-side up, and cover to poach. You just want the fish opaque, ours took just about 4 minutes; it'll depend on the thickness of your pieces. Once the fish is cooked, remove it from the sauce.

Cook pasta according to the package directions. Drain the pasta and fold it into the tahini sauce. Drizzle with remaining sesame oil and toss to coat completely.


To serve, place a portion of pasta on individual serving plates. Top with the cooked black cod and sprinkle with black sesame seeds.


Let diners grate as much cheese over the top as they wish. My crew wanted lots of cheese.


That's my offering for the third week of the #SeafoodMonthChallenge. We'll be back next week with our take on finfish. Okay, I'll have to put on my thinking cap for that one.

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