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Friday, October 1, 2010

TAKE ONE: Family Cooking Challenge - Paella

"Cooking is at once child's play and adult joy. And cooking done with care is an act of love."
Craig Claiborne, Kitchen Primer

Once upon a time my interaction in the kitchen was manifested in three ways: eating, snacking and baking. Watching with a greedy curiosity I'd wait as her mother or father toiled away over a hot stove, jousted away with appliances, poking, stirring, prodding and boiling all kinds of tasty things. When the table was set and the dishes were placed in front of her hungry eyes, I'd voraciously devour the contents of her dish. In between times I can still to this day be spotted perusing the cupboards and fridge, searching high and low to gather foods for snacking. Sneakily she'd poke her hands into the pantry, scan the shelves and investigate the drawers, all in search of some tucker to tide her over til her next meal. Sometimes, when the house is quiet and empty except for myself, the cat and the dog, I'd fill the rooms with the warmth and sweet smell of cakes, cookies or muffins rising in the oven. Baking in the heat of a Bossa Nova Beat, I'd whip up mouth-watering treats, always savouring the moment when she could lick the spoon and bowl clean. 

Now, that i'm getting older, having turned twenty this year, I believe it's time I stepped up my kitchen interaction to another level. So for my third decade of life on this planet I've decided to gain some cooking skills by designating myself as weekly guest chef in the family kitchen. I mean one day I'm gonna move out and come dinner time I can't just be all like "hey so options, I've got toast, or take-away'. That's why each week I will be selecting a recipe from our exhaustive amount of recipe books and food magazines and cooking til my heart's content to get my family fed.

This week chicken, pasta and prawns were requested. Taking these wants into consideration and after much deliberation I decided to go with Paella, because I love Spanish food and it's got Chorizo. I mean c'mon big chunky chorizo, juicy prawns, succulent chicken, veggies and crunchy rice, it's just such a delightful combination.

I chose a recipe called 'Easy Paella', from the cookbook Valli Little's Delicious Cookbook, 'Five of the Best', because I knew I wouldn't have loads of time to prepare it after work. 

Easy Paella
Serves 4-6 (Depending on how hungry, or greedy you are)

  • 1tbsp (20ml olive oil)
  • 500g chicken breast fillets (preferably with skin), cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 1 chorizo sausage, chopped
  • 1 cup (200g) basmati rice
  • 1 tsp ground tumeric
  • 1 x 425g can chopped tomatoes, drained
  • 1 red capsicum, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 2 cups (500ml) chicken stock
  • 250g cooked prawns, peeled
  • 1 x 425g can cannelini beans, rinsed, drained
  • 100g baby green beans, topped, blanched and rinsed
  • 2tbsp chopped coriander leaves
  • lemon wedges, to serve

  1. I suggest preparing the beans first because this is the step I didn't achieve too well. You can find an excellent illustrated guide for blanching here.
  2. Also, for the garlic, I have a super neat way of peeling the skin off. I always pop the cloves into the microwave on medium for about 5 seconds. Presto! The skin just falls away :) plus warm garlic is a heavenly aroma!
  3. Heat the oil in a large, deep frying pan over a medium heat. Cook the chicken pieces in batches for 3-4 minutes, turning until golden and cooked through. Remove and set aside to drain on paper towels.
  4. Add the onion and chorizo to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, for 1-2 minutes, until the chorizo begins to crisp. 
  5. Add the rice and tumeric and cook, stirring for 2 minutes, then add the drained chopped tomatoes, capsicum, garlic, chilli and stock.
    Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally for 15 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed.
  6. Return the chicken to the pan with the prawns, cannelini beans and green beans. Toss and heat through for 1 minute.
  7. Stir in the coriander and serve immediately with the lemon wedges as a garnish 
  8. Que aproveche! :) - Which is Spanish for 'Enjoy your food!'

Paella on a plate

I leave you with a Bossa Nova classic. Stan Getz & Astrud Gilbert's 'The Girl from Impanema', is one of my favourite songs, especially when getting busy in the kitchen. The song written in 1962 was a worldwide hit in the mid-1960s and won a grammy for record of the year in 1965. According to myth it was inspired by Heloísa Eneida Menezes Paes Pinto (now Helô Pinheiro), a fifteen-year-old girl living in Montenegro Street of the fashionable Impanema district of Rio de Janeiro, , Brazil. Daily, she would stroll past the popular Veloso bar-café on her way to the beach, attracting the attention of regulars Jobim and Moraes. This song intrigues me endlessly with it's juxtaposition of sad lyrics about unrequited desire and sexy, saxophone. 

1 comment:

  1. Hi Eliza Jane,

    Luuuv that paella recipe - and that version of The Girl from Ipanema is one of my all-time favourites, played it at my wedding cocktail last month!!


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