When I decided on doing the ‘Around the World series'(see my earlier post on this), Spain was one of the countries that I definitely wanted to learn more about. Spectacular natural landscapes, such diverse history, home of flamenco and bull flighting, marvelous architecture, and of course its varied, colorful foods …made Spain first on my list of countries to explore! My husband however thinks that the very popular Hindi movie ‘Zindagi na milegi dobaara‘ starring my most favorite actor, Hrithik Roshan has a lot to do with me falling in love with Spain. 🙂 LOL!.
Anyways, I started my exploration with the book ‘Savoring Spain and Portugal‘ by Joyce Goldstein which is a well-researched and written compendium of Spanish and Portuguese foods. This book is part travelogue, part history and part authentic recipes and I am absolutely enjoying reading through it. Spanish and Portuguese explorers brought on a culinary revolution by introducing Europe to peppers,chillies, corn, green beans, kidney beans,tomatoes,avocados,summer and winter squashes,pumpkins,regular and sweet potatoes,pineapples,vanilla,chocolate,cashews and peanuts. These new foods combined with geography defined the development of both Spanish and Portuguese cushiness and also led to diverse regional cuisines within each of these countries.
Whenever I think of Spanish cuisine, Paella is definitely the first thing that comes to mind! I have had it several times – at restaurants before and enjoyed it immensely and so learning how to make a paella certainly seemed like the first thing to learn!. Plus I had the privilege of learning an authentic recipe from my very close friend Angela who is a 2nd generation Spanish who fervently cooks Spanish cuisine and also blogs about it through her blog Coconaristacook. Angela is not just a good friend..she is my friend, philosopher and guide…a savior, she is my ‘angel’! Her son and my son are in the same class and also do several activities like soccer and other sports together. And that’s where Angela comes in – I can always count on her to pick the boys up, remind me of deadlines and open houses, advise me on teenager problems, provide an ear when I want to vent about stuff etc etc. In short, what would I do without her? 🙂
OK So for the Paella learning, we decided to get together at our house with Angela teaching me how to make Paella her way. I made a couple Indian dishes in advance and Angela also brought her Paella pan and her famous ‘flan’ for dessert. Turned out to be a fabulous evening with the kids all hanging out together and we couples having a great time partly cooking, partly chatting while also emptying two bottles of Cabornet alongside. Oh what fun 🙂
Paella takes its name from the shallow pan that is traditionally used to cook it and is called the ‘Paellera’. This dish originated in Valencia where it is typically made with medium grain rice, rabbit meat or chicken, beans and often snails. Less traditional versions use other shellfish and occasionally sausage,ham or meatballs. Traditionally paella is also prepared outdoors over an open fire. But as Angela demonstrated to me, it can be cooked very successfully over a conventional stove top oven as well. Cooking the rice in this fashion results in some crusty rice bits on the bottom and that Angela tells me is highly desired. Angela’s version of Paella uses chicken and shrimp and she has been making her mother’s recipe for several years now. Her version does not use tomatoes or beans but these can be easily incorporated into the same recipe.
And here’s the link to Angela’s delicious citrusy flan recipe.
Here is Angela’s Paella recipe which was absolutely delicious – seriously it was the best paella I have ever tasted!
I am bringing this recipe over to Angie’s Fiesta Friday#54 this week.