Saturday, November 14, 2009

Sangria and Seafood Paella

Went to Spain for the last couple of days and I took a "cooking" class. Well, I watched someone else make food more-like but here were the recipes, and they were delicious. 


Tools required:

· A jug / pitcher.
· A wooden spatchulla.
· Thirst.


· Fruit, washed and chopped (orange, lemon, apple, peach…).
· White sugar.
· Brandy and fruit liquour if you like such as peach snaps.
· Red wine.
· Orange and lemon soda, or juice.
· Ice.


Place the fruit in the jug, add the sugar and the brandy (count until 3 or 23) and mix with the spatchulla.

Then 2/3 of red wine and top up with the soda / juice.

Serve chilled or with ice and carefull, it’s so sweet, refreshing and easy-drinking, you may get under ground before you realize.


In 10 easy steps

Tools required:

· Fire (or it’s electric equivalent).
· A flat pan (a flat frying pan but not a wok).
· A wooden spatchulla.
· Hunger and patience.


· Prawns.
· White fish, boneless and skinless, in chunks.
· Calamari rings / squid fish.
· Mussels / clams, clean.
· Olive oil.
· Onion and garlic, chopped.
· Red pepper/capsicum, courgette/zuccini, green asparragus, carrot, green peas, green beans or any other seasonal vegetable of your choice, chopped small.
· Tomatoes, blended.
· White rice (long grain if you don’t want a mashy paella).
· Fish broth.
· Olive oil.
· White sugar.
· A pinch of safron.


1- Cover the bottom of the pan with olive oil, heat and slightly fry the prawns for a minute. Take them out and save for the end.

2- Add the garlic and the onion until it appears translucent.

3- Add the rest of the veggies and cook slowly and then the tomato until all the colors start blending.

4- Toast a little sugar and mix the golden caramel with the vegetable base.

5- Add the rice, a handful per person, plus one for the pan , cook for a minute ensuring it doesn’t stick at the bottom with the wooden spatchulla.

6- Fully cover with broth, sprinkle the safron all over and allow to cook with no rush, slowly, at the lowest heat until the rice is about 74.18% cooked or until somehow you can predict it only needs 5 more minutes and has enough broth for it. Trick: taste a little bit and by the way check if it’s salty enough.

7- Place the sea food on top, in circles if you want a charming one.

8- Once it’s 95% cooked (the rice is tender but not mashy and the fish is done but not flaked out) cover the paella with a tapa, wether it is a lid, foil or a cloth. Wait for 10 minutes or take the chance to open a chilled bottle of white wine or fresh water or prepare a jug of sangría.

9- Proceed to enjoy your paella served on a plate or eating straight from the pan with a wooden spoon like the creators of this dish from Valencia’s countryside (although they had no fish there -minor detail- but you could have done a meaty paella instead).

10- Lay on your bed or your beach towel, on the beach (supposing it’s already 4pm and the sun is not roasting) and close your eyes. Think about how mellow it feels or instead, think nothing and just chill... For 30 minutes! If you crash out and sleep through the afternoon that’s not a “siesta”! Traditionally, the man of the house prepares a paella on Sundays and does the washing up as well.


To prepare a broth, slightly fry in a deep pot the parts of the fish or meat you don’t eat in a bit of olive oil and add salt. You can also use garlic, parsley or white pepper if you like. Then add a large amount of water, allow to boil for about an hour and strain it.
You can either add the clean mussels with the shell closed or steam them first for a couple of minutes with a little white wine and mix this liquid with the fish broth.
The ten minute wait for the paella to meditate will allow all the flavors to settle down and fuse while the rice absorbs the rest of the broth. Be aware some times this last step overcooks the rice, so we can stop the fire when there’s still a little broth and the rice “only needs a little bit more”.
In the hypothetical case the heat wasn’t low enough and the rice got really stuck at the bottom of the pan and it’s burning, don’t scratch it and keep going like nothing happens. Eat only the top and next time you know!
If you prefer you could finish cooking the paella in the oven once you have poured the broth.

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