So it was, this New Year's Eve, that we collectively dismantled Christmas. We typically wait for Three King's Day on January 6th, but it seems our decorations went...stale. The bambini chattered incessantly, excited about what I would be making them for dinner.
"Paoli? Dad? Is that right?" "No, that's a city outside of Philly. It's Paella."
"Pay who?" Tonio. "Ella. Pay Ella honey." "How much?" We are a four man (well, 3 man, 1 woman) insane asylum.
I had researched recipes online. Food Network. Rachel Ray. Allrecipes.com. Spanishrecipes.com and, of course, Giada (Kim's favorite) DeLaurentis (she had a paella recipe that she used pasta in, instead of rice). The bambini wanted seafood - which Paella has in it - so I adapted several recipes and made an all seafood Paella tonight!
I was excited to try out the Paella pan that Andrea had gotten me for Christmas! Just a little bit of olive oil to simmer 3 minced cloves of garlic, 1/2 cup of chopped, white onion, 1 chopped red bell pepper and 2 cups of rice. I let the rice brown, slightly (about 3-5 minutes) before adding 1 quart of chicken stock, 1 cup of chopped Italian parsley, 1 bay leaf and the zest from 2 lemons. You can add 1 tsp of crushed red pepper at this point to, if you want a little kick to it (I did - Autumn noticed, my poor little guerra - she does not care for spicy foods). Brought that to a boil, reduced heat to low and covered with tinfoil for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, in the 'big pan' Andrea got me last Christmas, I sauteed 1 lb of shrimp in a little olive oil and sprinkled it with paprika. When the shrimp was pink on both sides, I placed it in a bowl and worked on the 1 lb of scallops in the same pan. I put 1 tblsp of butter and 1/2 cup of white wine in the pan and cooked the scallops for about 5 minutes.
And while all that was going on, I pulled out the 'nice pot' that, you guessed it, Andrea had given me two Christmas' ago to boil up the clams!
Meanwhile, the rice mixture, once it got to the 10 minute point, I stirred it up, using Kim's happy spoon
and added the mussels to the Paella pan. At 5 minutes, I added 1 cup of frozen peas to the Paella pan and stirred it up again (Bob Marley style).
At the 20 minute mark, I added the cooked shrimp and stirred it all together - bringing oohh's and ahhh's from the assembled bambini - circling like sharks. Then the scallops. When the clams had all popped open, I added them in, stirred some more and covered it up again to simmer for a couple minutes while I rounded up Brendon and Cody who had turned our drive way into a skate park, complete with ramp.
I was pretty excited to try it - love seafood! It was amazing how this pan helped the process along, the weight and dimples in it distributing the heat evenly. I might try a few things differently next time, but liked the way it turned out tonight. It's pretty much like the cioppino we've traditionally eaten on Christmas Eve.
I can dish it out, and take it!
Autumn, Brendon, Cody and Tonio dig it!! During dinner, I told the kids the story of how, when we were kids, Kim and I would hit the beach in New Jersey. On Long Beach Island, they had protective barriers to prevent erosion made of massive black boulders every 50 yards or so called 'jetty's'. They protruded, finger like, out into the sea...
Now, you weren't supposed to walk out these, and the life guards would shrilly blow their whistles to call you back in if they saw you, but Kim and I would go out there after hours. Hunting for shells, star fish, crabs, etc. The spray of the waves crashing into the jetty felt great. The jetty's were also covered with mounds of mussels. We loved seafood, but it is pricey. One day, we came up with the brilliant idea to harvest a bucket full of these mussels and steam them up back in our room! What we didn't realize, was, when you buy mussels in a store or restaurant, they have been de-sanded. Not sure if all market mussels are farm bred or how they go about de-sanding them.
Well, we boiled them up, prepared to eat the freshest mussels we ever tasted! Only to find, that it was very much like putting a handful of sand in your mouth and chewing!! Crunchy!! We were deterred. The next day, we picked another bucket full and placed this batch in a fresh bucket of seawater overnight - thinking that maybe they'd work a lot of the sand out of their little bodies. Not so much. Still came out like chewing on sand!! Ahhh, we sure had fun...