Friday, 29 September 2017

Perfect Paella

This could be my favourite dish. You know that question: "What would you like for your last meal?" Well, this might be the one. There's such a collection of seafood on the top you almost can't believe it. It takes about 2 hours to make and will cost a small fortune but it WILL be the best paella you've ever had- EVER!

I will give quantities for 2 sizes- piggy or EXTRA piggy (or 8 vs 12 people)

Ingredients for 8 people 

(in a 13 inch paella pan)

  • 1 1/4 pounds ripe tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion chopped (or a little less)
  • 1 1/2 bell peppers (red, yellow and orange; seeded and chopped)
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 4 Tsp sweet smoked paprika
  • 1 heaping Tsp salt (Maldon)
  • 3 cups Arborio rice (or Spanish Valenciano rice)
  • 14 muscles (scrubbed and beards pulled off
  • 14 clams
  • 14 medium shrimp or prawns (deveined and tails removed, 3-4 with shell on for extra flavour)
  • 2 full chorizo (about 1 pound) cut diagonally thinly
  • 1/2 Tsp saffron
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 1 1/4 cups dry white wine
  • 6 Tbsp olive oil divided 

Let's do it!

1.  Cut tomatoes in half and coarsely grate tomatoes into a bowl and discard the skins. Grating gives a nice texture to the meat of the tomatoes.

Or, you can blanch the tomatoes to remove the skins and do a quick blender chop up. First score the skins only with a sharp knife making 4 cuts making an "X". This makes removing the skins easier. Place tomatoes in boiling water for 10 seconds and then remove placing in an ice water filled bowl- not long. Remove after they have cooled and remove the skins. Blend a little as we don't want total mush.

2. Put chopped onion and chopped bell peppers in a bowl.

3. In a small bowl measure paprika, salt and garlic.

4. Put rice in another bowl.

5. Seafood in a bowl.

6. Chorizo in a bowl.

7. . Heat the grill to medium hot (350- 450 degrees). Make sure your grill is level- if not make it so.

8. Toast saffron in a large sauce pan on the stove at medium heat. Stirring about 2 minutes, until fragrant. Add the 6 cups chicken broth and the white wine, cover and bring to a boil over high heat.

(Bring the remaining 3 cups of chicken broth to a boil in a small covered pan.)

9. At the grill: a slotted wooden spoon, long handled wooden spoon, your paella pan, oven mitts and all the bowls of ingredients. Keep the grill closed on your gas barbecue.

10. Heat the paella pan on the grill. Add 3 tbsp of olive oil, then the chorizo. Brown the chorizo, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes. Using the slotted spoon remove the sausage an place it back in it's bowl.

11. Saute the onion and bell peppers in the pan until the onion softens. About 5 -6 minutes.

12. Stir in the tomatoes and cook. Stir often until the liquid evaporates and the tomato paste turns a darker shade. About 12-15 minutes.

13. Stir in remaining 3 tbsp olive oil, and the garlic, paprika and salt mixture. Stir and cook 30 seconds.

14. Add rice and stir until evenly coated. Smooth out level.

15. Being careful, pour hot saffron liquid over rice and arrange chorizo on top. Cook at a steady simmer for 12 minutes.

16. Pour remainder of saffron liquid over paella so rice is just covered.

(for EXTRA piggy size- Pour enough hot plain chicken broth over paella so rice is just covered in liquid. You may not use it all.)

17. Place muscles around near the edge of the pan pushing them into the fluid. Scatter the remaining muscles, clams and shrimp over the paella.

18. Close the lid on the grill and cook until the clams and muscle open (throw away any that don't open) and the rice is al dente. About 6 - 10 minutes.

19. Remove from grill carefully and place on a trivet. Cover with paper towels for about 5 minutes. This is important to let it stand.

20. Dig in!

I love making this paella when we have company over. It is especially wonderful when we have out-of-towners come in that don't have the same access to fresh seafood that we have access to. We even made the large recipe and gave the small pan to neighbours when they had a baby- every new parent welcomes food they don't have to prepare or think about!

Ingredients for 12 people 

(17-18 inch paella pan or two 12 inch cast-iron frying pans)
  • 2 pounds ripe tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 2 bell peppers (red, yellow or orange; seeded and chopped)
  • 2 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 5 Tsp sweet smoked paprika
  • 2 Tsp salt (Maldon)
  • 4 cups Arborio rice (or Spanish Valenciano rice)
  • 24 muscles (scrubbed and beards pulled off
  • 24 clams
  • 24 medium shrimp or prawns (deveined and tails removed, 3-4 with shell on for extra flavour)
  • 3 full chorizo (about 1 1/4 pound) cut diagonally thinly
  • 1 Tsp saffron
  • 9 cups chicken broth, divided
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 7 Tbsp olive oil divided 

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Fennel and Orange Salad

Often people (especially men) believe that you "don't win friends with salad." This salad is friendly to all. If you haven't tried fennel it is a like bit liquorice flavoured. Then when you grill it you get that slight caramelization that brings in a bit of sweetness too.

I'm drawn to things that are the exception. Like grilling something that seems unlikely to grill. Like oranges!


1/2 cup (fresh) Orange juice
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp (150 ml) Olive oil
Splash of hot sauce (about 1 Tsp) such as Tabasco
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
3 Fennel bulbs, sliced thinly about 1/4" with core intact
3 Oranges
1 bunch of watercress, remove the tough stems
1/2 cup honey roasted macadamia nuts
Salt and pepper to taste


Prepare honey roasted macadamia nuts first if you can't buy them. This can be done earlier in the day or days before. See below for directions.

1. Mix Orange juice, olive oil, garlic, hot sauce, parsley and salt and pepper in glass bowl or ziplock bag.

2. Remove 1/3 of the dressing for later

3. Cut the green stalks off the white bulb of the fennel.  Slice fennel bulbs in an up and down direction keeping the bottom of the bulb intact so the slices hold together.

4. Gently place the fennel slices into the ziplock bag or dish with 2/3 of the dressing. Make sure all pieces are covered and refrigerate for at least 5 hours. You can even prepare this the day before and let it soak over night.

5. Preheat the grill to medium-high heat

6. Cut the skin off the oranges with a knife. Cut the orange into thin 1/3" slices and place them in a bag or bowl in the fridge until you grill them.

7. Season the grill with oil and place the fennel on the grill. Cook with the lid up for 5-7 minutes a side depending on the power of your grill. You will want grill marks and the fennel with soften but still have a firmness to them.

8. Add the orange slices to the grill for the last 1-2 minutes. You want a grill mark on them if you can achieve it without them drying out. You need to keep a sharp eye on things at this point.

9. Remove the fennel and orange slices and arrange them on a serving plate or large bowl with the watercress and roasted macadamia nuts. Dribble the salad with the reserved dressing and serve warm. Although it is still tasty cold a day later.

Honey roasted macadamia nuts


2 Tbsp Butter
1-3 Tbsp Honey
1 Tsp Salt (for every pound of unsalted nuts)
1/2 - 1 Cup Macadamia nuts


1. Preheat oven to 350F (I use my toaster oven)

2. In a small sauce pan over medium-low heat place butter and honey. Stir occasionally until butter is melted and mixed with the honey. This will take just a few minutes.

3. Place a sheet of parchment paper on a cookie sheet (for easier clean up) and arrange the macadamia nuts in a single layer. Drizzle with the butter/honey mixture. Place in oven.

4. Stir the nuts every 5-10 minutes until golden brown in colour. It usually takes about 20-30 minutes.

5. Remove when golden and sprinkle with salt. Let cool.

6. Try not to eat them all before you make the salad!

I saw this salad made on "licence to grill" and it is a winner! You can serve it to a large group or use it as a large part of your meal and combine it with tequila lime chicken skewers. It is a fresh fun meal to serve in the summer.