Vegetable Samfaina

This hearty vegetable dish is so comforting, a great meal for a vegetarian or fantastic side dish for many occasions.  Try it with whatever vegetables you have on hand and create your own favorite.

1 large white onion, roughly chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 tbsp each of basil, parsley and oregano

2 smaller zucchini (quartered lengthwise and in about 1″ chunks

1 eggplant, cut in similar pieces to zucchini

2 cups mixed colored peppers – cut in rough chunks

1 28 oz can good quality tomatoes

extra virgin olive oil

kosher salt

freshly ground black pepper

Cover bottom of saucepan with olive oil and saute onions until they just start to soften and get little brown bits of carmelization.  Add garlic and the rest of the vegetables – stir well and add tomatoes. Taste for seasoning and add a bit of kosher salt and freshly ground pepper as needed.

Allow to stew at a very gentle boil until all the vegetables have softened and are tender, (about 30 minutes) but still hold their shape.  Taste again, and adjust seasonings if needed.

Don’t you just feel like a taste?

Seafood Paella

The seafood paella is so versatile, and can easily be transported between economy and luxury depending on what type of seafood you use.  This version is top of the line!  Nothing but delicious fresh shell fish, and  some chorizo sausage for that little bit of heat.

Preheat oven to 350

3 tbsp vegetable oil

1 small red onion, finely diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 1/2 cups rice

2 wine cured, dried chorizo sausages, sliced

4 cups chicken stock (hot)

1 tbsp saffron threads

1 tbsp each chopped basil and oregano

1 tsp turmeric

10 scallops

10 prawns (in shell – deveined)

10 clams

10 mussels

2 small lobster tails, split lengthwise

1/2 cup whole black olives

1/2 cup quartered artichokes

1/4 cup minced sun dried tomatoes

6 thin slices each – red, yellow, orange and green peppers

2 lemons

2 tomatoes

scallions (green spring onions)

parsley

In paella pan (or other flat saute pan that can go in the oven) heat oil and saute onion until soft, add garlic and chorizo sausage.  Stir briefly then add dry rice.  Toast rice lightly and continue to stir.

Add saffron threads, turmeric and herbs to chicken stock.

Add chicken stock one cup at a time to rice mixture, allowing rice to absorb liquid before adding more.  Once you have 3 cups chicken stock introduced and the rice is starting to soften, add the artichokes, sun dried tomatoes and olives.  Stir well, and gently nestle the seafood in – pushing the shells deep into the rice so that it is almost covered.  Reserve the lobster tails to arrange last.  At this point most of the liquid should have been absorbed so you can add the last bit of chicken stock.  Arrange the strips of colored peppers in a pinwheel on top of the paella – cover with tin foil and allow to finish in the oven – about 20-30 minutes.

While paella is in the oven, diced the tomatoes and warm gently in a saucepan.

Test for doneness with a fork – gently scoop out some rice and if it is cooked through take a peek to make sure your shells have opened – this should be all the cooking time the fish needs.  The shells are incredible when they fill with the rice mixture hiding the little nugget of a clam or mussel.

Remove from the oven, pile your cooked tomatoes in the center of the dish, and scatter parsley and green onions over top.

Make sure to serve with lemon wedges – encourage everybody to squeeze lemon on their serving – it really brings out the flavour.  Have a spare empty bowl at the table for all the shells.

Chipotle Chicken

Once upon a time, I had a Spanish Tapas Bar … strangely enough (to me anyway) one of the most requested dishes was the chicken livers in Chipotle Cream.  When we started to provide this dish with your choice of chicken liver, chicken breast, chorizo sausage, and even prawns or scallops, it really took off!  This version uses chorizo sausage and chicken breasts but it is so versatile you can use whatever you like once you have the chipotle cream made.

2 chicken breasts – sliced into bite size pieces

2 wine cured, dried chorizo sausages

3 tbsp butter

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

1 tbsp chicken stock concentrate

3 garlic cloves

2 chipotle chiles, in adobo sauce – minced

kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

scallions (green spring onion)

Melt butter, and saute garlic just until tender.  Stir in 1 minced chipotle chile and the cream.  Cook over moderate heat until sauce has thickened – taste for seasoning, and add more chipotle (if you like it a bit hot) and perhaps a bit of salt and pepper.  Like it?  If not loving it, add more chipotle!  Add sliced chorizo sausage and chicken pieces.  Let cook over moderate heat until sauce has thickened, developed a glossy rich look and the chicken is cooked through.  Garnish with thinly sliced scallions.

Serve with rice – or our favorite – paella!  The sauce is so delicious make sure to serve bread for dipping …

Chicken and Chorizo Paella – Casa Katarina style

Once upon a time I had a really fun Spanish Tapas Bar … one of our specialties was Paella.  We served either a meat paella, a seafood paella, or the specialty of the house – Paella Parellada combining the best of all!

Olive oil

2 cups rice

4 cups good quality chicken stock (1 tsp saffron threads & 1 tsp turmeric powder added)

3 chorizo sausages, thinly sliced

4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite size pieces

1/2 red onion, diced

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 stalks celery, finely sliced

1 zucchini, quartered and sliced

1/2 red and yellow pepper – diced

1/2 cup sliced green beans

1 tsp each dried oregano, parsley, basil

1/2 cup whole olives

1/2 cup quartered artichoke hearts

salt and pepper to taste

2 roma tomatoes, diced

1/2 cup scallions, thinly sliced

2 tbsp fresh parsley, roughly chopped

lemon wedges

Remember – all recipes are just guidelines!  Use whatever vegetables and meat you have on hand.  This particular recipe is for a meat paella – but feel free to do this with your own appetite in mind.  One of our favorites is a seafood paella – and so impressive!  Watch for a photo of that one of these days …..

Heat olive oil in paella pan (or other casserole style dish that is not too deep and can be used on both the top of the range and in the oven).  When oil has heated, add onions and sweat just until translucent.  Add chicken breast and cook until almost cooked through – stirring just enough to allow bits of carmelization on the meat.  Add the fresh vegetables and saute lightly.  Stir in dry rice, seasonings and stir for a few minutes to allow the rice to heat up a bit, and brown lightly.

Heat chicken stock and dissolve saffron threads along with turmeric powder.

Slowly pour 3 cups of chicken stock into rice/vegetable/meat mixture and allow to cook just until most of the liquid has been absorbed.  Stir in the chorizo sausage, olives and artichoke hearts.  Add the rest of the chicken stock if needed.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Go creative – add thinly sliced colored peppers to the top around the dish before covering with tin foil, or your lid, and baking at 350 just until rice has full absorbed and is fluffy.

Saute tomatoes only until heated through and pile in the center of your paella – scatter with scallions and parsley.

Be sure to serve with fresh lemon wedges to be squeezed over top – this really brings out the flavour!