Happy Secret Recipe Club Reveal Day! This is the club in which we are assigned a food blog and we make and post a recipe from it. Our assignment for April was the blog Foodness Gracious by Gerry Speirs. Gerry is a stay-at-home-dad who loves to cook and bake and has tons of amazing recipes on his blog - from crackers to caramels and curries to cookies. His photos are drool-worthy and his recent 3-in-a-row series of macaron recipes made us crave those little French bites of deliciousness. But you know when you have a gift certificate to Williams-Sonoma and you just have to buy a paella pan even though you have never made paella? Yeah? So do we. So when we saw Gerry's recipe for seafood paella, we grabbed our shiny new pan and got to work.
Seafood stock...we didn't make our own.
Trader Joe's Saffron - a great product at a great price.
Our paella pan. It's not 17 inches wide.
Gerry's recipe can be found here. Note that he mentions that it makes "a lot of paella." Note that while he admits that it's okay with paella to be a little loose with the measuring, he also mentions that his paella pan is 17 inches wide, a fact we overlooked when we decided to follow his recipe with little to no tweaks. In our 15 inch paella pan. Yeah. The convo went something like, "Honey, are you sure it says four cups of rice? That seems like a lot." "Yes, for the third time, it says 4 cups of rice. He used arborio, but it should be fine." Well, there were some moments when things were overflowing onto the stove. And we ended up calling in not one, not two, but three of the neighbors to help us eat dinner (which they didn't mind at all!).
The Evolution of Our Paella (in pictures):
Everyone (and in the end, that was about seven people total) loved the flavors in this dish. We used shrimp, clams and chorizo because we love that spicy meatiness paired with the seafood. It was really delicious and in the end every bit of rice was eaten. However, our lack of attention to the size of our pan vs. Gerry's resulted in a very crowded pan which then resulted in a consistency more like risotto than traditional paella. (Which isn't horrible!) What follows is the recipe we actually made, based on Gerry's. But next time, we will use half the amount of rice because of the size of our pan, and otherwise follow Gerry's recipe for yumminess.
8 cups seafood broth
1 teaspoon saffron
1/2 cup olive oil
2 medium onions, diced
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, with juice
6 cloves garlic, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
4 cups medium grain rice *(depending on the size of your paella pan!)
1/2 pound chorizo
1 pound littleneck clams
1/2 pound raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
Heat the seafood stock with the saffron in a large pot. In a large paella pan heat 1/2 cup of olive oil. Add the onion and cook until translucent. Add the bell pepper and continue to cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring often. Add the diced tomatoes and garlic and simmer for another 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour in 4 cups of rice and stir until it's all been covered by the tomato mixture. Slowly add the stock, stirring gently so that the rice gets coated and sits in the stock.***(See note below)
Continue to cook until rice begins to become tender. Add the chorizo and continue to cook 5 minutes. Add the clams by stuffing each one into the rice, making sure they are mostly covered by the paella. After about another 25-30 minutes, once nearly all of the stock has been absorbed, add the shrimp and cook another five minutes until shrimp turn pink. Then take the pan off the heat, cover with some foil, and allow to rest for 7-10 minutes.
Note: ***(this part took some time because all the stock wouldn't fit in the pan, so we added as much as could fit, stirred until it was absorbed, added more and continued to do this until all the stock was gone, obviously leading to our risotto-like consistency).
Amy writes: It was April vacation - a week off from school and the weather was gorgeous. I had bought some blood oranges recently and this one never got eaten. It was sitting there staring at me, begging to be used in a recipe. Then I remembered a blood orange-infused olive oil I purchased at Boston Olive Oil Company. I started to think about cookies. I love shortbread, and shortbread cookies are so nice and light that they are perfect for the sunny springtime weather we were experiencing. I used a Bon Appetit recipe I found online here for the basis of this one, changing the flavorings and disregarding the chocolate.
The dough was extremely crumbly, I have to admit. In fact, I couldn't use about half of it because it just fell apart on me. But that was okay, since there are only two people in our household and we don't need to be eating full batches of cookies. If you can figure out how to prevent the extreme crumbliness, I'd appreciate any suggestions!
Still, both of us loved the scent of blood orange and lavender that filled the house as the shortbreads baked. The cookies were so wonderful, though! They were crisp yet light as air, and definitely full of flavor. The olive oil lightened them up, but they still had a hint of butteriness. The blood orange and lavender complemented one another nicely. Each bite tasted of spring, and they paired nicely with a glass of orange pekoe iced tea.
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup confectioners sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons blood orange-infused olive oil
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon orange oil
2 teaspoons dried lavender flowers
zest of 1 blood orange
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, confectioners sugar, cornstarch and salt. In a separate bowl, beat butter until creamy. While continuing to mix, slowly pour olive oil into butter until fully incorporated. Stir in sugar, vanilla extract, orange oil, lavender and zest to butter mixture. Slowly add flour mixture to butter mixture, stirring together until just blended. Form dough into a ball and divide in half. Roll each half into a 6'' log, wrap logs in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Preheat oven to 325. Unwrap dough logs and cut each log into 1/3''-inch thick rounds. Place rounds about 1/2'' apart on baking sheets. Bake, rotating pans halfway through, until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire sheets and allow to cool.
Amy is away for the weekend. This means that while she is in the land of pedicures and facials I am left behind to install lighting, repair dressers, move firewood and, most important of them all, make Chris Food. For those of you that have read some earlier Chris Food posts you understand my glee. For those of you that don't understand, Chris Food is the stuff that I only get to make when Amy goes away. It is usually something a bit off the main stream (anchovies, chicken hearts, goat, squid) or way-too-close-to-being-healthy (sprouts, fish, asparagus, eggplant). Put simply, it's food that I can eat year round but Amy reserves for special occasions. Or never. Which ever comes first.
Today's recipe was inspired by the fact that I bought a pork loin to smoke and share with the neighbors until I found out that they are leaving for a week. Not one to waste food I improvised by slicing a couple of boneless chops from the loin, hit them with a mallet and 'Voila' - a dinner I would make again. It has a pretty simple prep (10 minutes) and can be served within 40 minutes.
Pan seared garlic-basil pork chops with brussels sprouts baked in seasoned ghee and macadamia nuts
14 brussels sprouts 2 boneless pork chops (~1/2 thick) 1/2 cup of flour 3 tablespoons ghee 1 tablespoon olive oil (2) 1/4 teaspoon crushed basil 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder 1/4 teaspoon crushed rosemary 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes (I used Salemme pepper) salt and papper to taste
Sprouts: Preheat oven to 350. Remove outer layer then wash. Cut in half lengthwise. Put in baking dish (I used a cast iron pan) with oil, rosemary, macademia nuts and red pepper flakes, salt. Mix. Scatter ghee across top of mix and place in oven for 40 minutes. Stir ocasionally to coat. Sprouts are done when they begin to caramelize.
Place chops on cutting board. Season both sides with garli powder, crushed basil, salt and pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and pound with mallet or heavy pan. Flip and repeat until meat is 1/4" to 1/2" thick. (This will only take a couple of hits.) Thoroughly coat with flour. Place in hot frying pan with 2 tablespoons of oil. Let meat sit until it moves when pan is shaken. Flip. Continue cooking for half of original time.
We published this picture as a Wordless Weekender yesterday, but had a few requests for the recipe, so here it is. This delicious dish was the fare at a housewarming/dinner party hosted by G and J in celebration of old friends coming back to Connecticut. We were joined by J and J, as well as C and L, and we had a wonderful time catching up and being together for a fun night of food and good company. It was the first time G had made this particular recipe, which her dad shared with her (we're not sure of the exact origin). Everyone loved how hearty and full of flavor it was - a must-try, indeed!
Tuscan Sausage Soup
2 lbs. hot or mild Italian sausage
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
3 quarts chicken broth
2 14.5-ounce cans diced tomatoes, with juice
2 15-ounce cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon dried basil
2 cups large shell pasta, uncooked
12 ounces spinach leaves
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Remove sausage from casings if necessary and cook sausage meat in a large pot until brown. Add carrots, onion, and garlic, and continue to cook, stirring often, 5-7 minutes. Add broth, tomatoes, beans and basil. Bring to a boil. Add pasta, reduce heat and simmer, covered, until pasta is tender (about 10 minutes). Stir in spinach and cook until just wilted. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve sprinkled with parmesan cheese.