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Posts Tagged ‘saffron’

PaellaBake_First

Cottage season is almost over and we’re heading right into the holidays: Canadian Thanksgiving, Halloween, American Thanksgiving and then Christmas! My how time flies. This “recipe” has become a “go to” recipe for brunches and lunches at the cottage where refrigerator space is at a premium and standard grocery items are difficult to find (to say the least). It’s the perfect recipe to reinvent ‘leftovers.” For the last couple of years, whenever I make a one pot rice dish like Paella, Jumbalaya, Risotto or even a pasta dish like JT’s Mediterranean Pasta, I ALWAYs make 2 extra servings. The trick is to set aside the two extra servings so that you’re not even tempted to finish off every last bite and lick the plate clean ;-p! The two extra servings combined with eggs and a little flavouring bake up into the most delicious dish, you will be tempted to make the recipe just to rebake it for brunch the following day! And the best part is that it freezes very well, so even if there is only two dining on leftovers, freeze the rest cut into single portions in a ziplock bag, ready for a quick lunch or a fancy brunch.

LimerickLake

On some mornings the lake is so very still.

PaellaBake

Bits of the seafood, chicken and chorizo dot the delicious egg bake.

Paella Bake

A KitchenInspirations Original Recipe

Serves 8

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F (177° C). Prepare a square baking pan with perpendicular sides (some square cake pans have angled sides). Line with parchment so that it extends up two of the sides. Spray lightly with nonstick spray.
  2. Combine eggs and La Bomba and whisk well. Fold gently into the leftover paella being careful not to squish the rice into a mushy mess.
  3. Pour into the prepared pan and jiggle around making sure that the proteins are distributed evenly. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean.
  4. Cool slightly and cut into 8 portions with a very sharp knife. Serve with lemon slices and a light salad.
PaellaBake2

Would you care for a slice?

PaellaBake3

Our Paellas are always full of flavour.

LimerickLake_Sunset

Red sky at night, sailors’ delight!

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Cocktails inside the screen-in porch, so peaceful.

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October is slipping through our fingers very quickly. Socially, we are already booking into November which never ceases to amaze me. Blogs are filling the virtual world with comforting fall recipes, halloween decorations and stories. My dear friend Kelly (a fellow Canadian who recently moved to California , the delightful writer and creative genius of Inspired Edibles) made a comment on my last spooky story about a haunted house tour in London she participated in several years ago and that reminded me of my own haunting experience in the UK. So I would like to continue with the Spooky Story series on my humble blog (to be honest, I had no idea I had so many of them!) Please pardon the photos in this post of our trip to the UK, they were before digital cameras and I simply took an iPhone photo of them for this post!

It was about 4 years into our marriage and JT and I were vacationing in the UK; we rented a car and drove from  town to town from the south-west to the south-east culminating our adventure in London for a few days (as a side note: we saw the Queen Mother speed along in her Rolls Royce while we were walking to Buckingham Palace). We specifically chose to stay in old mansions and guest houses on this trip, it was not only budget friendly but it also was much more fun than the large international hotels.

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Bibury Court Hotel

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This was high fashion in 1990! Well, at least my hair was high.

One such town was Bibury which is a quaint little picturesque town in the heart of the Cotswolds. We stayed at a very large, very old manor house Bibury Court Hotel, incidentally the same manor house that JT and his dear Mom stayed in several years earlier. “The hotel is found on the edge of the famous village of Bibury, once described by William Morris as ‘the most beautiful village in England” taken verbatim from their website!

On these holidays, one of the things JT really loves to do is visit old castles and there were plenty of them in England; of course his favourite part of the castle was always the dungeon! As you can well imagine, my young self was not thrilled at such prospects, but as a good young wife, I accompanied him through many a dungeon throughout England and each one gave me the willies — some worse than others.

After our visit to Warwick Castle, I was particularly spooked. Not sure why, but as soon as I entered the very ghoulish dungeon I had an uneasy feeling and some very cold air wafted over me (of course, dungeons are cold and damp so that wasn’t entirely unusual).  The uneasy feeling was so overwhelming that I was unable to spend more than a second in the dungeon and we had to cut our time short. We retreated to our lovely manor house on the edge of town.

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This was the creepiest room by far in the dungeon.

We rented a lovely room which was pleasantly decorated and reasonably spacious for the time. But the view was something to be desired, particularly by someone who was recently spooked by dungeon spirits; our room over looked the grave yard (cue scary music). JT was nice enough to see if there was another room facing a different direction but sadly they were fully booked so we were stuck. I said it didn’t bother me, but you know it did.

We had a lovely dinner in the converted restaurant coach house and an after dinner drink in the quaint little bar tucked in beneath the grand old staircase in the manor house. And then it was time to retire. I tried not to think of the old cemetery, but it weighed heavily on my mind.

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That was the window that the wind and ghosts were pouring in from. The grave yard was directly outside.

Eventually, I drifted off to sleep but it wasn’t a restful sleep. As I lay curled up on the comfy bed, snuggled under the generous duvet, the large windows facing the grave yard at the foot of the bed flung themselves open and the curtains wafted menacingly in the cold fall winds sending a chill throughout the room. But it wasn’t just wind blowing in; there were ghosts…lots of them. Apparently that is the moment I jumped out of bed and screamed to shut the windows. Of course, the windows were not open and nor were there cold winds nor ghosts blowing in. Occasionally, when I am stressed I talk in my sleep and the only way to console me is to agree and remedy, however ridiculous it may be. JT learned this lesson with the bed spiders (sorry Chgo John, that’s a whole other story). So JT simply got up and pretended to whisk out the ghosts,  close the windows and lock them down tight, explaining what he was doing along the way.  That seemed to be good enough for  me and I was able to continue my sleep with the consolation that the grave yard and ghosts were on the other side of the locked windows. The next morning, JT took quite the delight in telling me the story but I had no recollection!

I’m sure it was the heavy, meat laden meal I had that night which no doubt contributed to my restless night; had I chosen something lighter, such as vegetarian Paella, I may not have had such vivid dreams of ghosts and grave yards!

I have documented several paella recipes on my blog (please see here, and here)

VegPaella_0971

A traditional Paella Pan is essential to make this authentic dish

Seafood Paella with Salmon Chorizo

Original recipe from Matiz La Bomba Paella Rice on back of bag. This particular bag of rice was a beautiful gift from our biscotti neighbour, wasn’t that thoughtful? This was only the second time I made this dish the authentic way on top of the stove. Nothing was even remotely over cooked!

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 c dry white wine
  • 1 tsp saffron
  • approximately 650 g of seafood, I used Shrimp, Bay Scallops, Salmon and Cod
  • 1 Salmon Chorizo (for recipe, please click here)
  • 4 cups vegetable or fish broth, warmed
  • 1/2 vidalia onion, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup diced tomatoes (I used unsalted)
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced finely
  • 1/4 c green peas
  • 1/4 c sweet corn
  • 3/4 cup of La Bomba Pealla Rice
  • 2 tbsp EVOO

Directions:

  1. About 1 hour to 1 day prior tocooking the Paella, add the saffron to the white wine and refrigerate.
  2. In a Paella Pan, on medium heat, add 2 tbsp EVOO and sweat the onions until translucent, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the chopped red pepper and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic, diced tomatoes  and white wine saffron mix and simmer for another 5 minutes. This is the Sofrito.
  4. Add La Bomba rice and stir until the rice is thoroughly covered with the Sofrito.
  5. Slowly add the broth to the paella, moving the rice around gently until it is evenly distributed throughout the pan. The instructions indicate not to stir the rice after this point.
  6. After about 10 minutes of simmering, add your selection of seafood into the mixture, evenly distributing and gently burying it within the rice. After 15 minutes, add the peas and corn and cook for another 10 minutes.
  7. Once the broth has been completely absorbed, remove from heat and cover with a lid or aluminum foil and allow to sit for 10 minutes.
  8. Serve in the Paella pan garnished with lemon and lime wedges (which I forgot!).
VegPaella_0975

The rice is short grain and soaks up the vegetable stock like a risotto rice would, making a deliciously creamy dish;jl

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Our neighbours were kind enough to bring us back authentic Paella rice called La Bomba.

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I even used Saffron from Morocco! The dish was perfect in every way.

I thought you might enjoy some photos from the Thanksgiving weekend in Muskoka:

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Unfortunately, the colours were just past their prime.

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Some of the golden colours were still quite beautiful.

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The scenery made for a beautiful drive.

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A few leaves still hanging on for dear life!

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Sunrise from the boat house at my brother’s place

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The setting sun still produces an incredible effect in the sky.

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Did I mention that I prepare my posts well in advance? Here’s proof!

I know I’m a (lot) late for St. Patrick’s Day, but perhaps you will bookmark it for next year or any time. The Friday before St. Patrick’s Day I saw a lovely post for Beef and Guinness Pie at my friend Karen’s Back Road Journal and even though I can’t tell you how tempting it was, I had to resist making it as we’d already had beef a few times that week and I usually like to keep it to once per week, maximum three times per month. So when she suggested we pop over to Colin Bofin’s blog, an actual Irish dude in Ireland, I was all over it! Colin prepares a Guinness Stew that has the most irresistible dumplings and I’m certain that his home has incredible aromas when he prepares this dish. Still having had too much beef that week, I started to wonder through Conor’s blog and I came across a lovely Irish Seafood Chowder and Scones. I couldn’t help but think that I had found my St. Patrick’s Day recipe. Thanks Conor, I’ll be stopping by your blog for inspiration again.

Colin made his own prawn stock from scratch (actually, they look more like our langoustines) but I remembered I had a bag of lobster carcass in my freezer and I knew I had the ingredients for my stock. At the time, we were still off eating fresh salmon because I wasn’t sure what the influenza implications were, so I used a tin of salmon instead. I also omitted the potato and cut down the carrot just because I’m still trying to reduce my carbs. The broth is a luxurious, creamy, velvety broth with much resemblance to the Provençal Fish Soup I made in October 2011; I cannot resist adding tomatoes and saffron to fish soup, it’s such a compelling flavour combination for my taste.

Irish Inspired Fish Chowder_4313

Don’t be fooled, there is an incredible amount of flavour in the carcass of a lobster, even if someone already ate all the good bits!

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An incredible smooth, creamy fish velouté

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A few chunks of seafood added to the centre spices up the soup and adds an incredible texture and flavour; the Shrimp was so sweet.

“Irish” Fish Chowder

Makes ~1.5 litres of stock

Ingredients:

  • ~542 g lobster carcass (or you can use the actual beast with the meat). Use only larger bits of shell (the smaller one’s may jam up your blender) or wrap the entire carcass in cheese cloth to contain
  • 260 g celeriac, chopped finely
  • 250 g onion, chopped finely
  • 160 g carrot, grated
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 1 tomato
  • 200 g skinless, boneless canned salmon (or use fresh)
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 tsp saffron
  • 2 L water
  • sea salt to taste
  • 1-2 tbsp canola oil
  • 50 g per serving mixed seafood, such as shrimp, calamari, crab, whitefish, mussels and such

Directions:

  1. Soak the saffron in 1/2 cup of white wine. Set aside.
  2. Heat the canola oil in a large stock pot. Sauté the onions, garlic, carrot and celery root. Turn the heat down.
  3. Add the lobster carcass, bay leaves, salmon and saffron wine and stir well.
  4. Drain the oil or water off the salmon and add it to the pot.
  5. Cover with 2 L of fresh cold water and turn the heat up.
  6. Gently simmer for about 1 hour or until vegetables are soft and the broth is fragrant with the ingredients.
  7. Strain the liquid into a large bowl with high sides.
  8. Remove all the bits of shell from the strained vegetables. Return the vegetables to the broth and blend until smooth and creamy with a good heavy duty immersion blender. Strain through a fine sieve, reserving the pulp. Add cup of the strained soup to the pulp and blend again with the immersion blender, you will be surprised how much more of this pulp can be blended down fine enough to be pushed through the sieve. Press through the fine sieve again into the reserved strained soup. Return this liquid to the soup pot and begin to boil it down to reduce to about 1.5 L. What you want to end up with is a thick, flavourful chowder.
  9. When you have the consistency you want, add the mixed seafood (about 50 g per person) and cook through. Ladle the hot chowder into lovely rimmed bowls and pile 50 g of mixed seafood into the centre of each bowl, serve with warm oat scones and butter (pop over to Colin’s blog for the scone recipe).
Irish Oat Scones_4312

The oat scones were wonderful with a small pat of butter oozily melting into them.

Irish Oat Scones_4310

The oat scones had more texture than a regular scone and was perfect for dipping into the soup.

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Today is Wednesday and it is my first day at the courthouse for jury duty. We don’t live far from the core, so taking the subway is the most efficient way to go, plus parking would set me back about $20 per day (pretty cheap considering it could be as high as $60 per day in the financial district)! Our transit system is called TTC (Toronto Transit Commission), and the subway is often called The Rocket! I’m taking The Rocket downtown. Yes, it is as lame as it sounds! I have to be there at 8:30am. I am not looking forward to it. I hope there is wifi, but then again I do have the 3G network, so I can be in touch. I will take a book, perhaps a title that will make me undesirable to be a juror. Any suggestions?

I have made this paella before, calling it cottage paella, but I thought I would reiterate the recipe, it turned out very well on the weekend.

Seafood Paella

The smoked paprika really adds a nice flavour to this dish

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup brown rice (because it is gluten free)
  • 400g halibut cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 12-16 Black tiger shrimp (25-30/lb is the best size so you can just pop them in your mouth) (I like to peel and remove tails so you are not having to dive into the food with hands and feet to eat!)
  • 400g bay scallops
  • 12-16 mussels, cleaned
  • 1 tsp saffron, in about 1/2 cup of white wine
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • salt
  • 3 finely minced cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup chopped yellow pepper (into 1/2″ cubes)
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes (low sodium)
  • 1/2 cup chopped Vidalia onion
  • 1 can mini corn cobs
  • 2-3 tbsp EV olive oil
  • 1-2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup of chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions
  • Lemon and lime slices for garnish
  • hot pepper flakes if you dare!

Directions:

Steps 1-4 may be done 2-4 hours in advance.

  1. Soak saffron in in the white wine for about 10 minutes.
  2. Sprinkle the smoked paprika on the halibut and return to refrigerator.
  3. Cook rice in saffron soaked wine and water until almost done – you will finish cooking during the assembly stage.
  4. Assembly Stage:
    Just before you wish to serve, preheat oven to 400°F.
  5. Heat olive oil in a pan and sauté onions until translucent. Add  garlic and stir just until you can smell its aroma. Add all the vegetables but the parsley and the green onions and lemons and limes.  Stir well, if too dry, add a bit of the about 1 cup vegetable stock until a desired wetness is achieved.
  6. Add halibut and shrimp and put into the hot oven for about 8-10 minutes. After about 10 minutes, add the mussels and scallops and stir well. Return to oven for an additional 5-10 minutes. Stir a couple of times.
  7. Stir in chopped parsley and serve with lemon and lime wedges. Serve hot.
  8. Enjoy!

Brown rice is very nice

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A couple of months ago, fellow food blogger Charles blogged about a Bouillabaisse recipe and that inspired me to want to make one of my own. It’s finally getting chilly here in Toronto so it’s definitely soup weather!

In 2008 we were fortunate enough to travel with our dear friends Paul and T to Europe. We traveled for 15 days from Vienna to Budapest (I have family there) to Venice to Provence and finally to Paris. We ate, drank and lived like kings and queen’s and had an amazing time. In Marseille I ate the most wonderful fish soup and through Charles’ inspiration, I shall try to recreate my version of this famous Provençal Soup.

Paul, Eva and Theresa sitting on a ledge at Notre-Dame de la Garde

View from Notre-Dame de la Garde

On Charles’ blog post I mentioned that I have a secret ingredient. Are you ready? I keep a zip lock bag in my freezer. Wow! Crazy isn’t it? Every time I make shrimp and clean the shells/tails from them (raw), I drop them into this baggy instead of tossing them in the compost bin. Over the summer, I have accumulated quite a lot. Also, if we have lobster or crab which we did, I always save the shells and drop them into this baggy. This is going to be my flavour base.

The secret ingredient

Because I wanted to keep relatively true to the origin of the soup, I based my recipe on Epicurious because it read like the one I had in Marseille, although I have altered it to our taste. The recipe makes 8 servings, so I will cool and freeze 6 servings for future use. The fresh seafood will be for 2 servings and I will deal with it in the final cooking and assembly stage.

Everybody in the pot!

Ingredients:

  • 250g or 2 medium leeks (white and pale green parts only), cleaned and chopped
  • 1 large fennel bulb, stalks discarded, reserving fronds for garnish, and bulb chopped
  • 200g or 1medium carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 500g or 1 celery root, peeled and cubed (I have used this instead of celery as I don’t want to thicken the soup with a roux, I’ll thicken it with vegetables instead).
  • 6 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp Herbes de Provence
  • 2 California or 4 Turkish bay leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/8 teaspoon crumbled saffron threads
  • 500g or 1 large ziplock bag of shrimp tails, lobster shells and such
  • 1 cup of raw shrimp
  • 2 cans chopped stewed tomatoes (about 4 cups)
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 4 (3- by 1-inch) strips fresh orange zest
  • 4L water
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. In a large soup kettle, put two tables spoons of EVOO and heat gently. Add leeks, fennel, carrot, celery root, garlic, herbes de Provence, bay leaves, cayenne, saffron and 1/2 teaspoon pepper cooking over medium heat, stirring occasionally about 10 minutes.
  2. Add the water and the bag of shrimp tails, lobsters shells and such. Bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer, stirring occasionally for 2-3 hours (the broth should have a lovely seafood flavour and aroma).
  3. Force this mixture (yes, even the shrimp tails and lobster shells) through a food mill. You will not believe the flavour you will get from the seafood dregs!
  4. Add the canned tomatoes, wine and orange zest and bring back up to a boil for a minute or two. Remove from heat and allow to cool for a bout 15 minutes. Now press this through a fine sieve to make it a creamy silken soup (although the authentic soup does have some bits and chunks in it)
  5. Salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Set aside to cool and portion into plastic containers for freezing.

Ingredients for serving for two:

  • 2 portions of the previously made soup
  • 6 raw large shrimp
  • 300g of sturdy white fish, such as Haddock, or Hallibut
  • any other seafood you wish to add

Directions:

  1. On the day that you wish to serve this soup, defrost the portions you need, and reheat to a slow boil. Add the fish and shrimp and cook through.
  2. Serve immediately with crostini and saffron aioli.

Provençal Fish Soup

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