Posts Tagged ‘seafood’

A delicious one-pot meal: Paella

A few years ago, my mother-in-law gave me for Christmas a wonderful gift for a foodie like me – a paella kit. It included a paella pan, Spanish rice and olive oil, and some saffron.

Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world, because harvesting it is so labor-intensive. Saffron threads are the stamens of a variety of crocus. There are three stamens per flower and each must be picked individually by hand. It has a delicate flavor; liquids are generally infused with saffron and then used in recipes.

Paella is a classic Spanish dish of saffron-flavored rice with seafood, chicken and sometimes chorizo, or Spanish sausage. I made this dish for a dinner party and it was a big hit. Serve with a nice green salad and a vinaigrette made with sherry vinegar.

Seafood, Chicken and Chorizo Paella

Ultimate Paella with Seafood, Chicken and Chorizo

The term comes from the Latin patella, a flat plate on which offerings were made to the gods. The prepared dish is placed in the middle of the dining table, as it is traditionally eaten straight from the pan.

1/2 tsp. sweet paprika (preferably Spanish smoked paprika)
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
2 tsp. kosher salt
3 chicken thighs, cut in half
5 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 Spanish chorizo sausage, thickly sliced (about ½ cup)
1/3 cup coarsely chopped roasted red peppers
1/2 cup Spanish onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped (reserve some for garnish)
2 medium ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and finely chopped
3 cups short-grain Spanish rice, preferably Calasparra
5 1/2 cups strong chicken broth
Generous pinch saffron threads (about 1/2 tsp.)
1 dozen littleneck clams, scrubbed
1 dozen mussels, scrubbed
1 pound jumbo shrimp, peeled and de-veined
1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
2 lemons, cut into wedges

Combine paprika, oregano and salt. Rub spice mixture all over the chicken, cover and refrigerate for one hour. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 325*.

Warm chicken broth in a saucepan to just below a simmer. Crush saffron slightly and stir into broth; keep warm.

Heat the oil in a 14-inch paella pan or large skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté the chorizo until lightly browned; remove from pan and set aside. Add chicken skin-side down and brown well on all sides; remove from pan and set aside. Sauté onions in the same pan; when the onions start to brown, add red peppers, garlic and half of parsley. Cook for 3 minutes over medium heat. Add tomatoes; cook until mixture caramelizes a bit, stirring occasionally.

Fold in the rice and stir-fry to coat the grains with the onion mixture. Pour in the chicken broth and stir gently to loosen browned bits from the bottom of the pan. The broth will almost fill the pan. Bring the mixture to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring the mixture a couple of times.

Press the clams into the rice. Simmer for 5 minutes more, occasionally moving the pan on top of the flame so the rice cooks evenly and starts to absorb the liquid. You should still have a lot of liquid in the pan.

Press the chicken (with any accumulated juices), chorizo, mussels and shrimp into the rice. Place the pan into the oven and bake, uncovered, for 25 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven. Place the pan on the stovetop and sprinkle with peas and parsley. Cover with foil and let rest, covered, for 10 minutes. Garnish with lemon wedges and serve.

Photo Friday: Travels

Time flies when you’re freezing half to death. I can’t believe it’s been so cold here in January. So that’s my excuse for not blogging more 😉 That and my micro-studio fell apart and I haven’t found a suitable new box for it yet. Anyway …

This week’s Photo Friday challenge is Travels, and those of you who know us know we love to travel. So for this challenge, I went back to the photos from our 25th anniversary trip to Europe in 2009. We had purchased train tickets for traveling from Rome to Florence and then from Florence to Zurich to Frankfurt to go home, and we had an extra day of travel on the tickets. So while we were in Florence, we took a side trip to Pisa.

This is when you find out how important prior planning is 😉 Since the tower isn’t stable (it’s leaning, after all), they limit the number of people who can climb it at one time, and you have to buy tickets in advance. We had no tickets, so we spent a beautiful afternoon wandering the grounds and taking pictures of the tower, the cathedral and the baptistery.

I was hungry after we traveled to Pisa and walked several blocks from the train station to the grounds, so I bought a local specialty as a snack – marinated seafood salad – and ate that as we sat and admired the beautiful marble that comprised the buildings.

Seafood salad in Pisa
Marinated seafood salad and Pisa guidebook

The popular thing to do in Pisa, apparently, is to hold your arms as if you’re preventing the tower from falling over. I can’t tell you how funny it was to see dozens of people from all over the world all posing the same way.

"Holding up" the Leaning Tower of Pisa
“Holding up" the Leaning Tower of Pisa

The tower *is* leaning to a frightening degree. It was definitely worth the side trip to see it again (for me – Dan had never seen it before).

The Leaning Tower of Pisa

GYO: Shrimp Bun – Vietnamese-style Rice Noodle Salad

Grow Your Own Food Blogging EventSome friends introduced me to Vietnamese cooking a few years ago, at the restaurant Great Saigon on Virginia Beach Blvd. in Janaf Mall. One of my favorite meals to get there is bun, or meat served over salad and rice noodles with a hot, sweet, salty and sour sauce or dressing.

I decided to try making it at home by combining a recipe I found at with one from the cookbook The Best International Recipe by the editors of Cook’s Illustrated magazine. It’s a bit more work than I want to do on a weeknight, but next time, I’ll mix up the dressing ahead of time and maybe skip the shallots.

This is my contribution to the food blogging event Grow Your Own, originated by Andrea of Andrea’s Recipes, which celebrates raising and cooking our own fresh food. The lemongrass, mint and chiles in this recipe came from my garden. We had a huge crop of hot chiles last year, and I still have some in the freezer.

Here’s a tip: To preserve whole hot chiles, place them on a cookie sheet and put it in the freezer. Freeze until fully frozen, then remove to a zipper-lock bag and keep in the freezer. When ready to use, remove the number of chiles needed from the bag and let thaw on a plate on the counter. This will take about 10 minutes, depending on the size of the chile. Trust me, they maintain their hotness 🙂

Shrimp Bun – Korean-style Rice Noodle Salad

Ingredients – serves 4

2 tbsp. fish sauce
2 tbsp. canola or peanut oil
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1 lb. peeled and deveined large or extra-large shrimp
2 stalks lemongrass, trimmed and crushed with the side of a knife

1/3 cup fish sauce
1/4 cup warm water
3 tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tbsp. granulated sugar
2 fresh hot chiles, minced
1 clove garlic, minced

1/8 cup canola or peanut oil
1/2 shallot, julienned
salt to taste

2 carrots, or 6 baby carrots, peeled and shredded
1/2 cucumber, peeled and julienned (cut into matchstick shapes)
4 oz. dried rice noodles
2 cups lettuce, any kind, cut into bite-size pieces
1/4 cup fresh basil, cut into chiffonade (ribbons)
1/4 cup fresh mint, cut into chiffonade (ribbons)
1 cup bean sprouts
1 cup chopped peanuts


SHRIMP: Combine shrimp with marinade ingredients; seal in a zipper-lock bag, place in a leak-proof container, and refrigerate for 1 hour, turning occasionally.

DRESSING: Whisk dressing ingredients in a medium bowl until sugar is dissolved. Set aside.

SHALLOTS: Heat oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and cook for 5 minutes, until golden brown, stirring occasionally. Strain shallots through a sieve into a small bowl; reserve oil. Place fried shallots on a paper-towel-lined plate to drain, and set aside.

SALAD: Place rice noodles in a large bowl and cover with boiling water. Let stand 20 minutes, then drain. Combine the noodles with the shallot oil, 1/4 of the lettuce, and 1/2 of the bean sprouts, carrots and cucumber, tossing well.

Pre-heat grill or grill pan. Remove shrimp from bag and discard marinade. Grill shrimp 2-1/2 minutes per side, till completely opaque. Place 1/4 of the noodle mixture in each of 4 bowls. Top each serving with 1/4 of the shrimp and 2 tbsp. of the dressing. Pile 1/4 of each of the remaining ingredients around the rim of the bowls and top with 1/4 of the fried shallots. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts and serve.

Grow Your Own: Vietnamese Shrimp-Noodle Salad (Bun)

Grow Your Own: Japanese Salad

A couple of weeks ago, some friends had a sushi party, where they made several types of sushi for a wonderful dinner. Thanks again, Bill and Barbara, for a fun, delicious dinner!

I brought a Japanese shrimp-noodle-cucumber salad I discovered last year and really enjoyed. It went over well 🙂 I used green onions from our garden in this dish.

Japanese Noodle, Shrimp and Cucumber Salad

2/3 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup vegetable oil (I used peanut oil)
3 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. dry mustard
1 pinch cayenne pepper

1 lb. fresh bean sprouts
14 oz. dried chuka soba noodles (I used spaghetti, broken in half)
1/4 cup toasted sesame oil
2 lb. cooked bay shrimp
3 large cucumbers, peeled, halved, seeded and thinly sliced
6 green onions, sliced
1 tbsp. black sesame seeds, for garnish

Dressing: Whisk together vinegar, soy sauce, oil, sugar and mustard in small bowl. Season with cayenne pepper. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and leave at room temperature).

Salad: Bring large pot of salted water to boil. Add noodles and boil until tender, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes. Blanch bean sprouts in boiling water 30 seconds. Drain and refresh in cold water. Drain well.

Place noodles and sprouts in a large bowl. Add sesame oil and toss to coat. (Can be prepared up to 6 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate bean sprouts and noodles separately.) Add bean sprouts, shrimp, cucumbers and onions to noodles. Drizzle with dressing. Toss gently to combine. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Japanese Salad

This is my contribution to Grow Your Own, the twice-monthly food blogging event that celebrates home-grown food. It’s hosted this month by the founder, Andrea of Andrea’s Recipes.

Grow Your Own: Ceviche

Grow Your Own 2008I just love ceviche. For years, I was afraid to try it – I was concerned about getting sick somehow from eating raw fish or shellfish, even though it’s “cooked” in acid (lemon and lime juice), which probably kills pretty much all the pathogens that might be on it.

Then a couple of years ago, my friend Barbara and I went to visit our friend Liz in Colorado. Of course, Mexican food is very popular there, and we ordered ceviche one night at dinner. It was great! Tangy, spicy, with the sweet shrimp and savory cilantro. I fell in love. There’s a Peruvian restaurant in Norfolk called Imperio Inca that has some delicious ceviche, as an appetizer and a couple of dinner platters. I tried making it myself once, but we weren’t crazy about how it turned out.

Then last month, Liz had a gallery opening at the d’Art Center and a party at her house afterward, where she served homemade ceviche, which was fabulous. Well, now I had to try it again. After looking through my cookbooks, I found a wonderful recipe for it in Cook’s Illustrated’s The Best International Recipe. So I made it again, and it was deee-lish! I bought a bag of lemons and limes so I can make it again!

Shrimp Ceviche

1 lb. large or extra-large shrimp, large sea scallops, fish fillets or a combination
1 tsp. grated zest of 1 lime
1/2 cup juice from 4 limes
1/2 cup juice from 4 lemons
1 small red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and chopped fine (I used a red pimento pepper)
1 small jalapeno chile, stemmed, seeded and minced
1 medium garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
4 scallions, sliced thin
3 tbsp. cilantro, minced
1/2 tsp. sugar
Ground black pepper

If using shrimp, peel, devein and slice in half lengthwise (I also cut them into thirds). If using scallops, remove the side tendon and slice into 1/3-inch-thick rounds. If using fish, remove any bones and slice into 1-inch squares about 1/3 inch thick.

Stir the lime zest, lime and lemon juices, bell pepper, jalapeno, garlic and 1/2 tsp. salt together in a bowl. Gently stir in the seafood, cover with plastic, and refrigerate until seafood is firm, opaque and appears cooked, 45-60 minutes (mine took about 75 minutes – the shrimp should be pink). Stir about halfway through marinating.

Place the mixture in a fine-mesh strainer, leaving it a little wet, then return it to the bowl. Gently stir in oil, scallions, cilantro and sugar. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve with tortilla chips.


This is another entry for Grow Your Own, the twice-monthly food blogging event started by Andrea of Andrea’s Recipes about a year ago, and hosted this month by Noob Cook. GYO celebrates the food we grow ourselves. The red pimento and jalapeno peppers came from our garden. And check out the tomato jam, also from our garden!

Paella for dinner

Last Christmas, my mother-in-law, Barb, gave me a paella kit, among other lovely gifts. She knows how much I love to cook and have people over to cook for, so it was a really cool present 🙂 It came with a bottle of Spanish extra-virgin olive oil, a bag of calasparra rice, a half gram of saffron, a paella pan and a recipe. So we just had to buy the meats, seafood and some of the veggies, since we used some tomatoes and onions from the garden.

We had two couples over for dinner last night and made the paella, and it was just delicious. I’m going to add to this post later, but I just wanted to get this photo up and show it to my MIL. Thanks, Barb 🙂


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